Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Papyrus of Sitnebsekhtu, Heqanakht Letter IV

Middle Kingdom
Dynasty 12
reign of Senwosret I
ca. 1961–1917 B.C.
From Egypt, Upper Egypt, Thebes, Deir el-Bahri, Tomb of Ipy (TT 315, MMA 516B), Tomb of Meseh, MMA excavations, 1921–22
Papyrus, ink
H. 28 cm (11 in.), W. 9.9 cm (3 7/8 in.)
Credit Line:
Rogers Fund and Edward S. Harkness Gift, 1922
Accession Number:
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 107
Heqanakht was a native of Thebes (present day Luxor) during the early twelfth dynasty. As "ka-servant" of a high official he was responsible for the high official's statue cult and the administration of the land and income that had been endowed to maintain this cult. The letters and accounts written by Heqanakht and one or more scribes on sheets of papyrus were discovered by Museum excavator Herbert E. Winlock in the excavation season of 1921-1922 in the tomb of Meseh, who had a side passage and crypt in the tomb complex of the vizier Ipy, one of the rock cut tombs along the cliff overlooking the temples at Deir el-Bahri. The documents - some still folded, tied and sealed, when found - provide unique insights into the domestic and financial affairs of an average middle class family that lived almost four thousand years ago.

This letter was sent to a woman named Sitnebsekhtu by her daughter of the same name. It was probably written for the daughter by a scribe. The text consists primarily of greetings and the request not to let someone named Gereg be neglectful about … Unfortunately, the text is missing at this point and we do not know what was so important that Sitnebsekhtu felt the need to write home about.
[Work]shop-overseer [Sitnebsekhtu]. Gereg.
[A daughter] who speaks to her mother, Sitnebsekhtu who speaks to Sitneb[sekht]u: A thousand phrases of greeting to you in life, prosperity, health. [May] you [be well], with your heart sweet. May Hathor sweeten your heart for me. Don't be concerned about me. Look, I am healthy.
Look, as for all that is brought to [Nefer]-abdu as memorandum, the same is brought to you. And greetings to Gereg in life, prosperity, health. Look, I have had Si[hathor] come to check on you. Don't let Gereg be neglectful about his [...]. And greetings to the whole house in life, prosperity, health.
(after James P. Allen, The Heqanakht Papyri, 2002)
Museum excavations; acquired by the Museum in the division of finds, 1922.

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