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The Archive of the Theban Choachyte Petebaste Son of Peteamunip (Floruit 7th Century BCE)

A mortuary priest revived after 2700 years.

Koenraad Donker van Heel
06 July 2021

With the publication of two books dealing with the archive of the Ancient Egyptian mortuary priest Petebaste (Thebes, c. 700 BCE) the Leiden Papyrological Institute has a world first.

Brill published The Archive of the Theban Choachyte Petebaste Son of Peteamunip (Floruit 7th Century BCE). Abnormal Hieratic Papyrus Louvre E 3228 A-H in its P.L.Bat. series.

Almost simultaneously the American University in Cairo Press brought out the non-technical Dealing with the Dead in Ancient Egypt. The Funerary Business of Petebaste. Both books were written by Koen Donker van Heel, lecturer in Demotic at Leiden University. Never before in Egyptology two books about the same subject were published by two different publishing houses for two different target audiences, namely Egyptologists, (legal) historians, etc. on the one hand, and the general public on the other. Each book also  comes with its own writing style. What makes the archive of Petebaste so unique is the script that was used to write the documents in this archive. This is the so-called abnormal hieratic, a shorthand script that is read by only very few people worldwide, because it is simply too difficult. Ten years ago there were only four experts who could, but these days we have reached the double digits owing to the Leiden curriculum, the only one in the world that offers a course. Thanks to the archive of Petebaste we can learn all sorts of things about the lease and sale of slaves, the mortuary services (for a fee), embalming (involving dancers, singers and beer), a conflict about payments, the black kings of the 25th dynasty, the fourfold division of a house and a tree, a case before the supreme court  about a preposterously low amount of money, and much, much more. By making this archive accessible once again, Petebaste is revived after 2700 years.

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