Administrative Documents of Abusir Papyrus Archives


Hana Vymazalová

Czech Institute of Egyptology, Charles University, Prague


The papyri archives from Abusir are of key importance for the study of organization and economic aspects of the royal funerary complexes of the Old Kingdom. In this respect, these documents represent a unique and important source, containing information rather distinct from the formal and royal records or tomb inscriptions.

            The papyri illustrate the integration of the royal funerary complexes into the state economy and their connection with various institutions that provided an economical base for cemeteries (e.g. residence). The long-term intention of our project is a detailed interpretation of the Abusir documents in the context of the economy of the fifth dynasty state. The papyri fundamentally complement the archaeological sources.

            Of particular importance are the accounts, which they provide unique information concerning the organization of the mortuary cult in the temples. Although such information cannot be complete, we can learn a lot about daily incomes and outcomes of the temple economy. Not only amounts of commodities delivered to or from the funerary temple were inspected, but also their sources or destinations and names of responsible persons were recorded. These documents are more or less uniform and they work with a specific account terminology, which expresses all the necessary operations. The interpretation of the terminology is not always easy since most of the accounts are written in table form, lacking their context. However, in this respect we follow the pioneer work of Paule Posener-Kriéger.