Religious text of Tanaweruow, daughter of Hartophnakhthes and Tatita

Roman Period, Nero
reign of Nero
A.D. 54–68
From Egypt, Northern Upper Egypt, Qaw el-Kebir (Antaeopolis): Pernebwadjyt
Papyrus, ink
Credit Line:
Gift of Edward S. Harkness, 1931
Accession Number:
  • Description

    Papyrus Harkness is a religious mortuary text inscribed for the deceased woman Tanaweruow, whose father Hartophnakthes is the principal recitant. The papyrus has recently been fully translated and analyzed, allowing an overview of this unusual text.
    The papyrus comprises several sections: a) Hartophnakhthes addresses Tanaweruow at the embalming place, promising to equip her tomb; b) he goes to the tomb and equips it, addressing the tomb as her alter-ego and animating it with the Opening of the Mouth ritual; c) the deceased utters a lament; d) the father returns to the embalming place where he recites texts associated with the hours of the night preceding his daughter's burial; e) the next day he recites texts associated with the hours of the day; f) he recites glorifications to his daughter at the tomb; g) further glorifications conclude with a litany to various gods, blessed spirits, and the deceased herself; h) after his daughter's interment the father speaks to the tomb as the mother of the deceased who will give (re)birth to the one lying within it; i) the father concludes the rites at the tomb with libations. Especially sections a-c and h-i are rather unusual compositions.
    The text derives much effect from remarkably vivid imagery. Nautical imagery is prominent, with the deceased's transition to the afterlife described as a voyage on board a ship (the coffin?) which deities provide for her, and they behold her beneath the sails of Osiris which may be a reference to her mummy bandages. The father laments the wastefulness of her loss by comparing her with fruit which has been given to those unworthy of it. The appllication of a cloth to her eyes and the wrapping of her limbs is described as "the cloud seizing her and the darkness enveloping her," while libations or offerings may be called "dew."

  • Signatures, Inscriptions, and Markings

    Inscription: Demotic; names the woman Tanaweruow, daughter of Hartophnakhthes. The latter was holders of priestly offices associated with the town of PernebWadyt in the 10th U.E. nome not far north of Antaeopolis. Born of Tatita.

  • Provenance

    Said to be from Qau el-Kebir. Pruchased by Howard Carter from Nicolas Tano in Cairo, 1924. Purchased in London from Carter for the Museum by Edward S. Harkness, 1925. Donated to the Museum by Harkness, 1931.

  • See also
    In the Museum
    Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History