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Historical Papyrus in Five Pieces, ca. 1809-1743 B.C.E.

Brooklyn Museum: Historical Papyrus in Five Pieces

Historical Papyrus in Five Pieces, ca. 1809-1743 B.C.E. Papyrus, ink, 35.1446a: 10 3/8 x 11 13/16 in. (26.3 x 30 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Gift of Theodora Wilbour, 35.1446a-e

This document is part of a criminal register of the Great Prison at Thebes. Years later the reverse side of the papyrus was used to probate a will by a Theban noblewoman, named Senebtisi. She sought to establish ownership of ninety-five household servants. Forty-five appear to be Asiatic, probably Semites like the Biblical Joseph.

In addition to lending credibility to the Biblical account of Joseph being sold into slavery in Egypt, the document mentions five clauses of definitive law. No law-codes have been found in Egypt similar to that of Hammurabi or Lipit-Ishtar. So references to codes attest to the existence of the lost legal code of Egypt.

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