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Ancient Egyptian Texts:  7.27


DECISORY OATHS


Provenance:   (A) Djeme/Memnoneia , (B-D) Pathyris
Script:   Demotic
Translated by:   S.P. Vleeming & V. Massa
Format:   see key to translations

A feature of Egyptian law was the use of oaths - often called 'temple oaths' because they were usually made in temples - to establish innocence if other proof was unavailable. If the accused person made the oath as specified, then the accusation against them would be dropped.

The examples translated here contain accusations of violence, theft, failure to return a dowry, and failure to repay debts to the relative of a dead woman.   The translation of A is taken from S.P. Vleeming, "Ostraka Varia" (1994), no. 57, p. 131. The other translations are taken from V. Massa, "Temple oaths in Ptolemaic Egypt" ( PDF - with many other examples ).


[A]   O. Varia 57 = P. L. Bat. 26 57   ( 3rd/2nd century B.C. )

Wording of the oath which Hor son of Mer-aa (?) will take, for Phib son of Doson, in the gate of Djeme, in the temple of Mont-Lord-of-Medamud, in year 6, 2nd month of the mu season {Payni}, day 12, saying: 'By the Bull of Medamud, which resides here, with each god which resides here, this blemish of a blow which is on your head, I am not the one who has done it to you, and I do not know who has done it.' - 'There is no falsehood in this oath.'

If Hor takes the oath, Phib will be far from him; if he does not take it, Hor will give 200 deben. And Ihoeret, your wife, with Petekhons, her son, will take this oath into Hor's hands, saying, 'Oath of truth'.

They have given the oath into the hand of Thotortaios.

[B]   O. Turin S. 12682 + G. 22   ( February 95 B.C. )

Wording of the oath which Horos, son of Nekhoutes, will take in the temple of Nebkhounis for Petosiris, son of Harekusis, in year 19, 1st month of the pr.t season {Tybi}, day 20: 'As Sobek lives, who resides here with each god who resides with him: As to the 3 cows. I did not steal them, and I do not know anyone else who stole them.'

If Horos takes the oath, Petosiris will be far from him; if he he refrains from taking it, Petosiris will take an oath on the value [of the 3 cows] and Horus will pay them to Petosiris.

[C]   O. Turin G. 5   ( August 124 B.C. )

Wording of the oath which Tagombes, daughter of . . . [will take for] Esthladas, son of Dryton, in the Temple [of Nebkhounis in] year 46, 4th month of the mw season {Mesore}, day 11: 'As Sobek lives, who [resides here with each god who resides] with him: As to this inw-cloth, which is estimated for these . . . talents [and the inw-cloth . . . making 2 inw-cloths, making 3 talents, and copper money [. . . and the other womans things? . . .] which are written in my "writing concerning the wife", making . . . talents, there is nothing among them you have given me in my hand, apart from this inw-[cloth] . . .'

If she [takes the oath, he will return to her] this inw-cloth [and the other things mentioned above; if she refrains from taking it] she will be far [from him] . . .

[D]   O. Turin S. 12778 + S. 12875   ( November 123 B.C. )

[Wording of the oath which Thaibis], daughter of Phibis [will take in the temple of Nebkhounis] for Herienoupis,[son of . . ., in year 48], 2nd month of the akhet season {Phaophi}, day 12: 'As Sobek lives, [who resides here with] each god who resides with him: Esoeris (?), [daughter of . . ., your . . . (?)] did not go to the gate of the gods while it belonged to her [to lend me silver money], gold money, wheat, barley, castor oil, or anything on earth . . . according to (?) the document in which (?) Ḥb, the son of Herpaesis, [. . . has written . . .]'

If she takes the aforementioned oath, [and if Phibis], son of Nekhoutes, and Panebkhounis, son of Nekhoutes, [and Horos, son of] Nekhoutes, her children, swear in her hand saying: '[This oath] is true', if they take the oath, then Herienoupis [will be far from her; if she refrains from] taking it, the thing that they will reveal, [she will give it].

{on the reverse:}

In year 48, [Thaibis] daughter of Phibis, and Phibis [son of Nekhoutes], and Panebkhounis son of Nekhoutes, [and] Horos son of Nekhoutes, her children, came to the temple of Nebkhounis [and they took] the oath written above.

Written by Esnebonychos, son of Thotomous (?) [the priest] who has access . . .


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