Egyptian Texts:  9.4


Date:   2nd century B.C. 
Language:   Demotic
Format:   see key to translations

Over a hundred 'self-dedication' documents have been discovered in several locations in the Faiyum district; all of them are probably dated to the 2nd century B.C.   Their purpose remains puzzling. Why did the applicants need to pay to commit themselves to a life of servitude? And why were the majority of the largest group of applicants, from Tebtunis, unable to state the name of their father?

The documents have been analysed by K. Ryholt, "A Self-Dedication Addressed to Anubis" ( PDF ). Some of the documents have been translated by H. Thompson, "Two Demotic Self-Dedications" ( ); and by A. Migahid, "Eine demotische Hierodulie-Urkunde aus dem Fajjum. P. Kairo 50018" ( PDF ).

[A]   P. BM 10624   [ TM 2752 ],   Tebtunis,   195 B.C.,   translated by H. Thompson

Year 10 Mechir of King Ptolemy the son of Ptolemy and Arsinoe the gods Philopatores, when the priest of Alexander and the gods Adelphoi, the gods Euergetai, the gods Philopatores, the god Epiphanes Eucharistos, and the god Ptolemy Eucharistos, 5 was Syl... son of Andron, and the bearer of the prize of victory {athlophoros} before Berenice the goddess Euergetis was the lady Iamneia daughter of Hyperbassas (?), and the bearer of the golden basket {kanephoros} before Arsinoe Philadelphos was the lady Pyrrha daughter of Pyranos, and the priestess of Arsinoe 10 Philopator was Eirene daughter of Ptolemaios.

The free-born youth Imhotep, son of 'I know not his name', his mother being Senamun, has said before Soknebtynis: I am [your servant] together with my children and my children's children and all the property and chattels [belonging to me] and those which I shall acquire from to-day onwards; and I will give you [2½ (?) kite for rent] of service before Soknebtynis in every month, I not altering the silver (?) 15 of them as my debt (?) from one month to the next. The amount which is altered, I have to pay it [as 1 to 1½ (?)] in the month following the month named, besides the rent [aforesaid (?)] without delay. Nor shall any fiend, wry, . . . sleeping man, man of Amente be able to dominate me and my [children and] my children's children except you (?). I shall not be able [to be free] 20 with my children and my children's children in your [precincts for ever (?)].

Wrote Petethoout son of Petamun. Wrote Sebek . . . Wrote Sebek . . . Wrote Pa-Hapi son of . . . Wrote . . .

[B]   P. Mich.inv. 3603,   unknown location,   182 B.C.,   translated by K. Ryholt

  [Regnal-year 23 of king] Ptolemy [ son of Ptolemy ], living forever.

[Has said the servant of Anubis, the] great god, . . . [son of] . . ., whose mother is Tahôr: [I am your] servant from this day onwards until eternity, and I shall give . . .  kite every month] as servant fee before Anubis, the great god. 5 [No spirit], an ancient one, a demon, a great one, [a person who is in the west], any [person] on earth [will be able] to exercise authority over her apart from you [from this day onwards] until eternity

Written in regnal-year 23, second month of shemu {Payni}, day 1.

[C ]   P. Cairo 50018   [ TM 44343 ],   Euhemeria,   ? 176-170 B.C.,   translated by A. Migahid

[Regnal year ..., month ... of season ..., day ... of pharaoh Ptolemy and] Cleopatra, who are called ... 

. . . temple-servant document which we have made   -   Ṯȝy-n-im 5 [son of] ...-ḥr, and ...-wsir [son/daughter of] . . ., and Pȝ-dy-ḥr-pȝ-rʿ son of . . ., [and] . . .  [son/daughter of] ...-stm, and Ḥr-m-ḫy [son of] . . .   -   by saying before [Isis]-Nepherses, the [great goddess], 10 [and] Harpsenesis, the great god and [ ? Sobek ], the great god and the other gods, [who] dwell with her:   We are [your servants with] our children and [the children] of our children. 15 [We will] give you 3 pieces of silver, 7½ kite, your halves  [1½ pieces of silver, 3¾ kite], makes 3 pieces of silver, [7]½ kite again [as our] servant-fee per year.  We will give [you] 9 kite per month, a piece of silver and . . . kite 20 [without] postponing the payment of money from one month to the next. [Otherwise we will give] you 1½ times the amount [in the month that follows] the same month. [You will] protect us from the spirits or [a  N]ile demon or a dead . . . 25 No demon . . . may have power over us and [over our children] who . . . 

It is written.

[D]   P. BM 10622   [ TM 45756 ],   Tebtunis,   137 B.C.,   translated by H. Thompson

Year 33 Mechir 23 of King Ptolemy and Cleopatra the gods Euergetai, the children of Ptolemy and Cleopatra the gods Epiphaneis, and Queen Cleopatra his wife the goddess Euergetis, when the priest of Alexander, the gods Soteres, the gods Adelphoi, the gods Euergetai, the gods Philopatores, the gods Epiphaneis, the god Eupator, the god Philometor, and the gods Euergetai, was he who is in Rakote, 5 and the athlophoros before Berenice the goddess Euergetis was she who is in Rakote, and the kanephoros before Arsinoe Philadelphos was she who is in Rakote, and the priestess of Arsinoe Philopator was she who is in Rakote.

The female servant Tanebtynis daughter of Sokmenis, her mother being Esoeris, has said before my master Soknebtynis the great god: I am your female servant together with my children and my children's children; I shall not be able 10 to be free in your  precincts for ever and ever. You shall protect me, you shall keep me safe, you shall guard me, you shall keep me sound, you shall protect me from every male spirit, every female spirit, every sleeping man, every epileptic (?), every drowned man, every ḥmr, every incubus (?), every dead man, every [man of] the river, every madman (?), every fiend, every red thing, every wry, every pestilence (?) whatsoever. I will give you 1¼ kite, its half 5/6 (?) = 1¼ kite again in copper kite (?) at 24 to 2 kite silver 15 [for] my rent of service in each month from year 33 Mechir until the completion of 99 years [=] 1204½ months = 99 years again, and I will give it to thy priests monthly, without having postoned the silver of the month to the following month. You and your bailiffs are those who shall be entrusted with everything and who speak with me (?) in respect of everything aforesaid, and I will do them at you bidding compulsorily without delay.

Written by Pa... son of Marres (?).

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