Papyrus of Sitnebsekhtu, Heqanakht Letter IV

Middle Kingdom

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.

Papyrus of Sitnebsekhtu, Heqanakht Letter IV, Papyrus, ink

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