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Ancient Egyptian Texts:  7.8


RESIDENTS OF THE HOUSE OF THE COW


Date:   324-279 B.C.
Language:   Demotic
Format:   see key to translations

Sometimes it is possible to trace the history of a single house in Ptolemaic Egypt in some detail. The documents shown here refer to a building in the district called House of the Cow, to the west of Thebes, near modern Karnak. For a summary of what is known about this property, see J. Rowlandson, in "A Companion to the Hellenistic World", p. 258 ( Google Books ). Details of house ownership in this district can be reconstructed down to the 2nd century B.C.; see B.P. Muhs, "The Girls Next Door" ( PDF ).

In 324 B.C., the property of a carpenter called Djufachi was divided between his three sons (A). In 315, one of those sons, Petekhons, was married to Taesi (B). By 301, Petekhons was probably dead, because his house is mentioned as occupied by his children (C). In 295, his widow Taesi took out a loan which effectively forced her to transfer ownership to Pleehe, a lector-priest (D). In 284, Pleehe ceded ownership to his wife Teihor (E+F). In 279, Teihor, by now widowed, sold the house to a woman called Teianteus (G+H).

The translations are taken from F.Ll. Griffith, "The Demotic Papyri in the John Rylands Library",   S.R.K. Glanville, "A Theban archive of the reign of Ptolemy I Soter",   A.F. Shore, "The Sale of the House of Senkhonsis Daughter of Phibis",   and M. Depauw & J. G. Manning, "Law and Legal Practice in Egypt from Alexander to the Arab Conquest", no. 6.2.1 . As often happens, there is wide variation between the different translations in the spelling of Egyptian proper names; for instance, Teianteus daughter of Zeho is sometimes called Teineni daughter of Teos. To avoid confusion, the names of the property owners have been made consistent.


[A]   P. Strasb. 1   ( 324 B.C. )   : Cession from father to son

Year 9, month of Thoth, of pharaoh Alexander. The carpenter of Amun's house, Djufachi son of Udjaiharmeten, his mother being Taei, said this to the carpenter of Amun's house, Kludj son of Djufachi, his mother being Estefeni, my eldest son:

I have ceded to you the share of the pylon and its entire roof, and the share of the terrace (?) and the share of the women's quarters and the share of the courtyard; and there belongs to the pastophoros of AmenesteuIrepres (?) Pasemteu son of Kludj the south side of the house and the other share of the pylon and the other share of the terrace (?) and the other share of the women's quarters and the other share of the courtyard; the woman Mut daughter of Kludj bearing (?) with you all expenses of the courtyard aforesaid her share, as regards which a conveyance was made to her in respect of the courtyard according to the claim which she has made good; and there belongs to Phib son of Djufachi and to Petekhons son of Djufachi two persons my sons, your younger brothers, the northern side of the house and its hut which pertains to it, being their part which comes to them from my properties and unbuilton lands; and they are to make a door in the centre (?) of its north side northwards to the King's street, and to close the door of the north side which opens onto your pylon.

The boundaries of the whole house are these: to the south, it is the house of the carpenter of the house of Amun, Amenhotep son of Pahad, which is built of stone and provided with a roof; to the north, the house of the woman Tatenefhotep daughter of Djeho, which is built in stone, and provided with a roof, the King's street being located between the two of them * * *

[B]   P. Ryl. Dem. 10   ( 315 B.C. )   : Marriage Contract

Year 2, Hathyr, of King Alexandros, son of Alexandros the god.   The carpenter of the House of Amun Petekhons son of Djufachi (?), his mother being Estefni, says to the woman Taesi daughter of Petemenopi, her mother being Esertais:

I have made you wife. I have given to you 2 pieces of silver, making 10 staters, making 2 pieces of silver again, 2 as your woman's compensation: And I will give to you 6 xmeasures of corn (?) daily, 1 piece of silver, and 2 kiti, making 6 staters, making 1 piece of silver and 2 kiti again, for your clothing yearly: also two hins of oil each month, i.e. yearly 24 hins of oil. These (?) are for your corn (?) and clothing, and I will give them to you each year. If I abandon you as wife, and hate you, and love (?) another woman more (?) than 3 you, I will give [you] 10 pieces of silver, making 50 staters, making 10 pieces of silver again. My eldest son is your eldest son, the owner of all of everything that belongs to me and of those things that I shall gain, of house, land, revenue (?), slave, female slave, silver, copper, clothing, ox, ass, small cattle, property in any chamber (?). And I will give to you this corn (?) and clothing which is written above yearly. Your agent is he who taketh surety (?) 4 for the arrears of your corn and clothing which shall be owing from me; and I will give them to you yearly instantly without delay: without quoting any patent (?), any word in the land against you.

Written by P... son of Useruêr.

{ On the back are the names of 16 witnesses: the first of them by exception writes his title 'Psesh (?) son of Mentemhê, the prophet of Mêi.' }

[C]   "BM fragments"   ( 301 B.C. )   : House Sale

{ Abstract }

. . . [says to] Arsiesis son of Panas, his mother being Tahibis:

You have paid me, you have caused my heart to be satisfied with the purchase price of the house of the woman Senkhonsis, daughter of Phibis, my wife, together with my heir, my son. The boundaries of this house aforesaid: its south the house of Kolluthes son of Djufachi and 5 Taminis, daughter of Panas: its north the house of the divine father Pinyris, son of Petemenophis, the King's street between, and the house of the woman Taous the choachyte: its east the house of Petemesteus son of Pkhorkhonsis, which is in ruins, its walls still standing: its west the house of the carpenter of [the House of Amûn,] Petekhons son of Djufachi, which is in the possession of his children. 10 Completion of the boundaries of this entire house. I have given it to you, it is yours, your house it is, built and roofed. I have no claim at all against you in respect of it. No man at all, myself included, shall be able to exercise authority over it except you from this day forward. The one who shall come against you in respect of it in any matter at all, in my name or in the name of any man at all, I will cause that he 15 be far from you and I shall cause that it be cleared for you from every right, every writing, every claim, everything on earth, on every day. Yours are [its] documents its documents {sic} in every place in which they are. Every writing [which has been made concerning it and] every [writing] which has been made for me concerning it, [and] every [writing] to which I am entitled in the name [of the woman] Senkhonsis daughter of Phibis, . . .

{ Main Text }

Year 5, Paophi, of King Ptolemy. The pastophoros has said . . .

[You have paid me, you have satisfied my heart with the purchase money for the house of the woman Senkhonsis daughter of Phibis, my wife, together with my heir, my son.] I have sold it to you for the obsequies of the woman Senkhonsis daughter of P[hibis, her mother being Stibon, and for the coffining of Phibis her father and for the coffining of Stibon his wife. The boundaries of this house aforesaid] . . . the King's street between and the house . . . northern district of Thebes in . . . 5 every claim everything . . . judgement . . .

[D]   BM 10523   ( 295 B.C. )   : Agreement to loan, secured by house.

Year 11, Paophi, of King Ptolemaios.

Taesi daughter of Petamenophis agrees to a loan of 3 debens and 6 kiti of silver from Pleehe son of Thotortais. The loan is to be repaid within two years and one month, and she offers her house as security for repayment. The body of the text is not translated.

Written by Psenpelaias son of Paret.

{ On the back are the names of 16 witnesses. }

[E]   P. Ryl. Dem. 11   ( 284 B.C. )   : House Sale from husband to wife.

Year 21, Pamenhotp, of King Ptolemaios.   The lector of the ape Pleehe, son of Thetertais and his mother Tshenkhomt (?), has declared to the woman Teihor, daughter of Harsiesi and her mother Taubasti.

You have caused my heart to agree to the silver for the price of all of everything that belongs to me, together with those things which I shall gain, house, open ground, land, revenue, slave, female slave, silver, gold, bronze, clothing, any kind of seed, ox, ass, any kind of small cattle, 2 any patent (?), any arrangement with a tenant (?), any negotiation (?) for a house, furniture of any chamber (?), any household instruments together with my house which is built and covered in, which is in the northern quarter of Ne in the House of the Cow. Its adjacent areas: its south the house of the shrineopener of Amenopi in the west of Ne, Petenefhotp son of Ieturoz; its north the house of the scribe Petemestu son of Pkhelkhons, and the house of the shrineopener of Amenopi in the west of Ne 3, Petamenopi son of Esmin, which is occupied by the woman Unmin (?) daughter of Petamenopi, making 2 houses built and roofed, the King's street lying between: its east the house of the lector in the necropolis of Djeme, Harsiesi son of Petamenopi, which is built and roofed, its western wall making to me a supporting(?)wall; its west the house of the woman Tahib daughter of Petenefhotp which is built and roofed, my window opening to the west 4 into the house named. Such (?) are the adjacent areas of the whole house; also my share of the mummies which belong to me in the necropolis of Djeme and my share of the mummies which belong to the lector of the Ape Thetertais son of Zeho, my father. I have given them to you, they are yours: your property, your house which is built and roofed, whose neighbours are written above, are they; also your share of my mummies which are in the necropolis of 5 Djeme, and your share of the mummies of Thetertais son of Zeho my father, are they.

I have received their price in silver at your hand, complete without remainder; my heart is in agreement with it (?). I have no claim on earth against you in their name. No man in the land, nor I likewise, shall be able to exercise authority over them except you from this day onward. Anyone that comes to you on account of them in my name, or in the name of any man in the land, I will cause him to withdraw from you; and I will remove them for you from every writing, every patent (?), every word in the land at any time. Yours are their writings, their patents (?) in every place in which they are. Every writing that has been made concerning them and every writing that has been made for me concerning them, and all writings in the name of which I am entitled to the property: they are yours, along with the rights conferred by them. Yours is that to which I am entitled in in the name of the writings. If it be laid upon you in the court of justice, to obtain an affidavit or to make me give proof, in virtue of the right conferred by the above contract which I have made with you, compelling me to do these things, I will make the oath or give the proof.

{ At the end, there follows another paragraph: }

I belonging to you while I am alive, I belonging to you when I am dead: and you are she who has authority over my placing tent (?) and my burial. Without alleging of any patent or any word in the land against you.

Written by . . . son of . . .

Four witnesscopies follow, all complete. {B} begins: Peuhor, son of Esmin and his mother Zeueri (?), bearing witness in year 21 . . . , and ends writes these things (?).   The others are similar, the names being: {C} Petekhons, son of Kludj and his mother Esharpkhrat.   {D} The divine father Khepekhrat, son of Petamenopi and his mother Setierboni.   {E} Harpbêk, son of Zeho and his mother Tapetenefhotp (?).

{ On the back are the names of sixteen witnesses, including the above four. }

[F]   BM 10525   ( 284 B.C. )   : Agreement to loan, secured by house

Year 21, third month of shemu {Epiphi} of pharaoh Ptolemy.   Has said the lector-priest of the Ape Pleehe son of Djehutyiirdys, whose mother is Tsherenese, to the God's father Wesirwer son of Nakhthoremheb, whose mother is Tayenese:

You have a claim against me in the amount of 9 silver kiti, making 4½ staters you have given me, and I will repay you by the last day of year 22, third month of shemu. If I do not pay you the silver kiti, making 4½ staters, mentioned above by the last day of the third month of shemu, you have caused my heart to agree to the price for the sale of my house that is built and roofed, which is in the northern district of Thebes in TheHouseoftheCow. Its boundaries: south, the house of the choachyte Petenefhotep son of Aludj, which is built and roofed; north, the house of the woman Tayiw, daughter of Petenefhotep, the King's street being between them; east, the house of the embalmer Harsiese son of Panas, which is built and roofed; west, the house of the woman Tahib daughter of Petenefhotep, which is built and roofed. These are the boundaries of the house. I have given it to you; it's yours, your house, which is built and roofed, as already specified above. I have no claim whatsoever against you regarding it. No one at all including me will be able to exercise authority over it except you, from the first of the month of Mesore, year 22 on. Whoever will come against you on account of it, in my name or in anyone's name, I will cause him to be far from you. And I will clear it for you with respect to any deed or any matter at all at any time. Yours are all of the title deeds of this house in any house in which they are. Every document that has been made concerning it, and every document 5 that has been made for me concerning it, and every document to which I am entitled regarding it they are yours, along with the rights pertaining thereto. Yours is that which I am entitled to concerning them. The oath of proof that will be required of you in the court regarding the right of the aforementioned document, which I have executed for you so that I do it, I will do it.

Additionally, the woman Teihor daughter of Horsiese, whose mother is Taubastet, says:

Accept the document from Pleehe son of Djehutyiirtys my husband, mentioned above, for the house mentioned above to cause him to do according to everything above. My heart is satisfied with it, even though I have a claim on him, by the right of the documents that he executed for me to carry out its conditions at all times. I have renounced in your favour your house mentioned here, without citing any deed or any claim whatsoever against you.

Written by Nesmin son of Pahib.

{ Witness list }

[G]   P. Ryl. Dem. 12   ( 279 B.C. )   : House Sale

Teihor, daughter of Harsiesi and her mother Taubasti, sells the house to Teianteus (?) daughter of Zeho and her mother Tamin.   The body of the text is not translated.

Written by Peuhôr son of Esmin.

{ Witnesses: }



[H]   P. Ryl. Dem. 14   ( 279 B.C. )   : Cession by father of vendor

Year 5, Thoût, of king Ptolemaios son of Ptolemaios.   The lector of the necropolis of Djeme, Harsiesi, son of Petamenopi and his mother Tahib, says to the woman Teianteus (?), daughter of Zeho and her mother Tamin.

I am without claim upon you in your house which is built and roofed, which is in the northern quarter of Ne. Its neighbours: south the house of the shrineopener of Amenopi in the west of Ne, Amenhotp son of Ieturoz, 2 its north the house of the woman Unmin daughter of Pana, the King's street being between, its east the house of the lector in the necropolis of Djeme, Harsiesi son of Pana, its west the house of the woman Tahib daughter of Amenhotp : in all (?) the neighbours of your whole house, for which the woman Teihor daughter of Harsiesi, her mother being Taubasti, my daughter, made writing for silver and cession unto you in year 5, Thoût, of the king ever living. It is yours, your house it is. I have no claim in the land against you 3 in its name. No man in the land shall be able, nor I likewise, to exercise authority over it, except you, from this day onwards. He who shall come to you on account of it in my name, in the name of the woman Teihor, daughter of Harsiesi and her mother Taubasti, my daughter, who is written above, I will cause him to withdraw claim from you: you having claim on the woman Teihor, daughter of Harsiesi and her mother Taubasti, my daughter, who is written above, for the right of the writing for silver, the writing of abandonment, which she made to you of your house which is written above, in year 5, Thoût, of the king ever living, to execute to you their rights at any time 4 instantly, without delay or a blow.

Written by Mosi son of Ret...

{ On the back are the signatures of sixteen witnesses. }


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