Parts of the Great Papyrus Harris
||How, when and where was the Papyrus Harris found? Almost 200 years ago collectors were keen on obtaining Egyptian papyri. One of the more successful traders of artifacts was the British Commissioner to Alexandria, Anthony C. Harris (1790-1869). In February 1855 he was offered a bundle of some 20 papyri which, he was told, had been found together the previous winter behind the temple of Medinet Habu. According to the Egyptologist A. Eisenlohr these papyri were found in a rock hiding spot underneath a cache of destroyed mummies.|
The text of the complete Papyrus Harris may be found in Breasted's, `Records of Egypt', Vol. IV, pages 87-206; Sec. 151-412.
This is the yet unfinished version of the `Papyrus Harris' as found in James H. Breasted's version.
Plate 1, Date and Introduction
Year 32, third month of the third season (11th month), sixth day; under the majesty of the King of Upper and Lower Egypt; Usermare-Meriamon, L.H.P.*; Son of Re: Ramses (III), Ruler of Heliopolis, L.H.P., beloved of all gods and goddesses; king, shining in the White Crown like Osiris; ruler, brightening the Nether World like Atum; ruler of ---- of the great house in the midst of the cemetery, traversing eternity forever as king of the Nether World; King of Upper and Lower Egypt; Usermare-Meriamon; Son of Re: Ramses (III), Ruler of Heliopolis, L.H.P., the Great God. [Sec. 182]
Content and Purpose of the Document
He tells, in praise, adoration, and laudation, the many benefactions and mighty deeds, which he did as king as ruler on earth, for:
Gods of Thebes
1. The house (pr) of his august father; Amon-Re, king of gods, Mut, Khonsu, and all the gods of Thebes;
Gods of Heliopolis
2. The house (pr) of his august father, Atum, lord of the Two Lands, of Heliopolis; Re-Harakhte; Saosis (Yws-( )-st), mistress of Hotepet and all the gods of Heliopolis;
Gods of Memphis
3. The house of his august father, Ptah, the great, South-of-His-Wall, lord of "Life-of-the-Two-Lands;" Sekhmet, the great, beloved of Ptah; Nefertem, defender of the Two Lands and all the gods of Memphis;
4. The august fathers, all the gods and goddesses of South and North;
5. As well as the good benefactions [which he did for] the people of the land of Egypt and every land, to unite them all together; in order to inform the fathers, all the gods and goddesses of South and North, and all [foreigners], all citizens, all (common) folk, and all people, of the numerous benefactions and many mighty deeds, which he did upon earth as great ruler of Egypt. [Sec. 183]
II. Theban Section
I. Introductory Vignette
Plate 2. Vignette
Ramses III stands praying before Amon-Re, Mut, and Khonsu. The accompanying notes are:
Amon-Re, king of gods, lord of heaven, ruler of Thebes.
Mut, the great, mistress of Ishtu.
Khonsu in Thebes, beautiful rest.
Before the King
I tell the prayers, praises, adorations, laudations, mighty deeds and benefactions which I did for thee, in thy presence, O lord of gods.
2. Prayer to Amun, and Recital of the King's Benefactions
Pl. 3 Introduction
185. `Praises, prayers, brave deeds and benefactions which he did for the house (pr) of his august father, Amon-Re, king of gods; Mut, Khonsu, and all the gods of Thebes.
Prayer of Ramses III
186. Said King Ramses III, L.P.H., the Great God, in praising this god, his august father, Amon-Re, king of gods, the primordial, who was at first, the divine god, the self-begetter, who sustains the arm and exalts the etef-crown, maker of what is, creator of what exists, hiding himself from men and gods:
Sec. 186. Distinct Hebrew belief is here borrowed by Ramses III indicating late period times.
187. Give to me the ears, O lord of gods; hear my prayers which I make to thee. Lo, I come to thee, to Thebes, thy mysterious city. Thou art divine among the gods who are in thy image. Thou hast gone to rest in `Lord-of-Life', thy glorious seat, before the August from of thy court; (so) I have mingled with the gods, the lords of the nether world, like my father, Osiris, lord of Tazoser. Let my soul(h') be like the souls of the gods who rest at thy side in the eternal horizon. Give breath for my nostrils and water for my soul. Let me eat the oblations, the provisions of thy divine offerings. Make my majesty to be noble, abiding in thy presence like the great gods, the lords of the nether world. May I go and go out in thy presence as they do. Command thou that my fame be like theirs against my enemies; establish my offerings presented to my ka, abiding daily unto eternity.
188. I was king upon earth, ruler of the living; thou settledst the crown upon my head, as thou didst; I was inducted in peace into the august palace, I sat upon thy throne with joy of heart. Thou it was, who didst establish me upon the throne of my father, as thou didst for Horus on the throne of Osiris. I did not oppress, I did not deprive another of his throne. I did not transgress thy command, which was before me. Thou gavest peace and contentment of heart among my people (hnmm't), and every land was in adoration before me. I know of the excellent things which thou didst as king, and I multiplied for thee many benefactions and mighty deeds.
Pl. 4. Medinet Habu Temple
189. I made for thee an august house of millions of years, abiding upon the mountains of `Lord-of-Life', before thee, built of sandstone, gritstone, and black granite; the doors of electrum and copper in beaten work. Its towers were of stone, towering to heaven, adorned and carved with the graver's tool, in the great name of thy majesty. I built a wall around it, established with labor, having ramps and towers of sandstone. I dug a lake before it, flooded with Nun, planted with trees and vegetation like the Delta.
Temple Endowment and Equipment
The abode of millions of years|
This phrase might very well apply to Tell el Yehudiyeh, the place where Rameses III lived, which was situated north of Heliopolis.
190. I filled its treasury with the products of the lands of Egypt: gold, silver, every costly stone by the hundred-thousand. Its granary was overflowing with barley and wheat; (its) lands, its herds, their multitudes were like the sand of the shore. I taxed for it the Southland as well as the Northland. Nubia and Zahi [came] to it, bearing their impost. It was filled with captives, which thou gavest to me among the Nine Bows, (and with) classes which I trained by the ten-thousand. I fashioned thy great statue resting in its midst; `Amon-Endowed-with-Eternity' was its August name; it was adorned with real costly stone like the horizon. When it appeared, there was rejoicing to see it. I made for it table-vessels, of fine gold; others of silver and copper, without number. I multiplied the divine offerings presented before thee, of bread1), wine, beer, and fat geese; numerous oxen, bullocks, calves, cows, white oryxes, and gazelles offered in his slaughter yard.
191. I dragged great monuments like mountains of alabaster and hus stone, sculptured with labor, and resting on the right and the left of its portal, carved with the great name of thy majesty forever; other statues of granite and gritstone; scarabs of black granite, resting in its midst. I fashioned Ptah-Sokar, Nefertem and all the gods of heaven and earth, resting in its chapel, wrought with fine gold, and silver in beaten work, with inlay of real costly stones, beautified with labor.
Pavilion and Connected Buildings
192. I made for thee an august palace of the king in its midst, like the great house of Atum which is in heaven. The columns, doorposts, and doors were of electrum; the great balcony for the (royal) appearances was of fine gold.
Pl. 5. Temple Ships
193. I made for it ships laden with barley and wheat for transport to its granary without cessation. I made for it great treasue-ships upon the river, laden with a multitude of things for its august treasury.
194. It was surrounded with gardens and arbor-areas, filled with fruit and flowers for the two serpent-goddesses. I built their chateaux having windows; I dug a lake before them, supplied with lotus flowers.
Small Karnak Temple
195. I made for thee a mysterious horizon in thy city of Thebes over against they forecourt, O lord of gods, (named): "House (pr)-of-Ramses-Ruler-of-Heliopolis, -L.-P.-H., -in-the-House-of-Amon", abiding like the heavens bearing the sun. I built it, I laid it in sandstone, having great doors of fine gold. I filled its treasury with the things which my hands carried off, to bring before thee every day.
196. I adorned for thee Southern Opet with great monuments; I built for the a house therein like the throne of the All-Lord (named): "Temple-of-Ramses-Ruler-of-Heliopolis, -L.-P.-H. -Possessed-of-Joy-in-Karnak".
Works in Great Karnak Temple
197. I again established thy monuments in "Victorious Thebes", the place of thy heart's rest, beside thy face (named): "House-of-Usermare-Meriamon-in-the-House-of-Amon", like the shrine of the All-Lord; built of stone, like a marvel established as an eternal work; the doorways upon them were of granite, doors and doorposts of gold I supplied it with classes which I trained, bearing offerings by the hundred-thousand.
198. I made for thee a mysterious shrine in one block of fine granite; the doors upon it were of copper in hammered work, engraved with thy divine name. Thy great image rested in it, like Re in his horizon, established upon his throne unto eternity in thy great and august court.
199. I made for thee a great sacrificial tablet of silver in hammered work, mounted with fine gold, the inlay-figures being of Ketem-gold, bearing statues of the king, L.P.H., of gold in hammered work, an offering-tablet bearing thy divine offerings, offered before thee.
I made for thee a great vase-stand, for thy forecourt, mounted with fine gold, with inlay of stone; its vases were of gold, containing wine and beer, in order to present them before thee every morning.
Feast of the Appearance
200. I made for thee a storehouse for the "Feast of the Appearance", with male and female slaves. I supplied them with bread, beer, oxen, fowl, wine, incense, fruit, vegetables, flowers, pure offerings before thee every day, being an increase of the daily offering which was before.
Ornaments of Cultus Statue, Etc.
201. I made for thee a splendid amulet of gold, with inlay; great collars and tassels of Ketem-gold complete, to bind them in thy body, every time thou appearest in thy great and splendid seat in Karnak. I made for thee a statue of the king, of gold, in hammered work, resting in the place which he knows, in thy august shrine.
202. I made for thee great tablets of gold, in beaten work, engraved with the great name of thy majesty, bearing my prayers. I made for thee other tablets of silver, in beaten work, engraved with the great name of thy majesty, with the decrees of the house. I made for thee great tablets of silver, in beaten work, engraved with the great name of thy majesty, carved with the graver's tool, bearing the decrees and the inventories of the houses and temples which I made in Egypt, during my reign on earth; in order to administer them in thy name forever and ever. Thou art their protector, answering for them. I made for thee other tablets of copper in beaten work, of a mixture of six (parts), of the color of gold, engraved and carved with the engraver's tool with the great name of thy majesty, with the house-regulations of the temples; likewise the many praises and adorations which I made for thy name. Thy heart was glad at hearing them, O lord of gods.
203. I made for thee a great vase of pure silver, its rim of gold, engraved with thy name. A sieve was upon it of beaten work, of pure silver, a great sifting-vessel of silver, having a sieve and feet.
204. I wrought upon the portable images of Mut and Khonsu, fashioned and made anew in the gold-houses, made of fine gold in thick overlay, with inlay of every costly stone which Ptah made, having collars before and behind, and tassels of Ketem-gold. They rest with heart satisfied at the mighty deeds which I did for them.
Pl. 7. Stelae
205. I made for thee great stelae for thy portal, overlaid with fine gold, with inlay-figures of Ketem-gold; large bases were under them, overlaid with silver, bearing inlay-figures in gold, to the pavement line.
206. I gave thee ten-ten-thousands of measures of grain, to provision thy divine offerings of every day, to convey them to Thebes every year, in order to multiply thy granaries with barley and wheat.
207. I brought to thee the captives of the Nine Bows, the gifts of the lands and countries for thy court. I made the road to Thebes like a foot to lead before thee, bearing much provision.
211. I made for thee transports, galleys and barges, with archers equipped with their arms, upon the sea. I gave to them captains of archers and captains of galleys, manned with numerous crews, without number, in order to transport the products of the land of Zahi and the countries of the ends of the earth to thy great treasuries in `Victorious Thebes'.
The Temple in Zahi
219. I built for thee a mysterious house in the land of Zahi (D'-h), like the horizon of heaven which is in the sky, (named): "The-House-of-Ramses-Ruler-of-Heliopolis, -L.-P.-H., -in-Pekanan", as the property of thy name. I fashioned thy great statue resting in the midst of it (named): "Amon-of-Ramses-Ruler-of-Heliopolis, -L.-P.-H." The Asiatics of Retenu (Rtnw) came to it, bearing their tribute before it, for it was divine. [Sec. 184-219-246]
III. The Heliopolitan Section [Sec. 247-304]
I made for thee transports, and galleys manned with people, in order to transport the products of God's-Land to thy treasury and thy storehouse. [Sec. 270]
Relative values in ancient Egypt|
The Heliopolitan Section also contains lengthy lists of income. The main unit for weight is the `deben', about 91 grams and the kidet, qedet or kite was about 1/10 of a deben, about 9 grams. Adding up the weight of gold mentioned in just this section of the papyrus gives us 1479 deben and 3 kidet= 134.6 kilograms or 296.74 lbs. In the days of Ramses II copper was worth about 1/100 of its weight in silver, in the days of the Ptolemies the ratio was more like 1/350.
In the distant past, it seemed for a long time, there was no paper money or coins. People bartered - traded one thing of value for another. Bits and pieces of precious metal, i.e. gold, silver, copper, bronze (alloy of copper and tin), were often traded for goods. As of late some suggest that small objects usually thought to be charms were likely used as coins. How the many varieties could represent coins needs to be further studied.
IV. The Memphite Section [Sec. 305-351]
1. Introductory Vignette - Plate 43
Ramses III stands praying before Ptah, Sekhmet, and Nefertem. The accompanying notes are these:
Ptah the great, `South-of-His-Wall', lord of `Life-of-the-Two-Lands'.
Sekhmet the great, beloved of Ptah.
Nefertem, protector of the Two Lands.
Before the King
I tell the prayers, praises, adorations, laudations, mighty deeds, and benefactions, which I did for thee in thy presence, O Resi-inebef.
Relative values in ancient Egypt|
The Memphite Section also contains lengthy lists of income. Totals for gold: 265 deben 5 ½ kedit and for silver: 516 deben and 6 kedit. Translated that amounts to 24.16 kg or 53.26 lbs.
The totals for silver: 47 kg or 103.6 lbs.
V. General Section
VII. The Historical Section
Plate 75. Introduction
Said King Usermare-Meriamon (Ramses III), L.H.P., the Great God, to the princes, and all the leaders of the land, the infantry and chariotry, the Sherden (S-r-d-n), the numerous archers, and all the citizens of the land of Egypt:
Hear ye, that I may inform you of my benefactions which I did while I was king of the people (rhy-t). The land of Egypt was overthrown from without, and every man was (thrown out) of his right; they had no chief mouth (r-hr) for many years formerly until other times. The land of Egypt was in the hands of chiefs and of rulers of towns; one slew his neighbor, great and small. Other times having come after it, with empty years, Yarsu, a certain Syrian (H-rw) was with them as chief. He set the whole land tributary before him together; he united his companions and plundered their possessions. They made the gods like men, and no offerings were presented in the temples.
The Rule of Setnakht
But when the gods inclined themselves to peace, to set the land (in) its right according to its accustomed manner, they established their son, who came forth from their limbs, to be Ruler, L.H.P., of every land, upon their great throne, (even) Userkhare-Setepnere-Meriamon, L.H.P., Son of Re, Setnakht-Mererre-Meriamon, L.H.P. He was Khepri-Set, when he is enraged; he set in order the entire land of Egypt; he cleansed the great throne of Egypt; he was Ruler, L.H.P., of the Two Lands, on the throne of Atum. He gave ready faces, which had been turned away. Every man knew his brother who had been walled in. He established the temples in possession of divine offerings, to offer to the gods (psd-t) according to their customary stipulations.
The Rise of Ramses III and Death of Setnakht
He appointed me to be hereditary prince in the place of Keb, I was the great chief mouth (s-hr) of the lands of Egypt, and commander (shn) of the whole land united in one. He went to rest in his horizon, like the gods; there was done for him that which was done for Osiris; he was rowed in his king's-barge upon the river, and rested in his eternal house west of Thebes.
War with Northern Asiatics
I extended all the boundaries of Egypt; I overthrew those who invaded them from their lands. I slew the Denyen (D'-yn-yw-n) in their isles, The Thekel and the Peleset (Pw-r-s-ty) were made ashes. The Sherden and the Weshesh of the sea, they were made as those that exist not, taken captive at one time, brought as captives to Egypt, like the sand of the shore. I settled them in strongholds, bound in my name. Numerous were their classes like hundred-thousands. I taxed them all, in clothing and grain from the storehouses and granaries each year. [Sec. 403]
Accession of Ramses III
Then my father Amon-Re, lord of gods, Re-Atum, and Ptah, beautiful of face, crowned me as Lord of the Two Lands on the throne of him who begat me; I received the office of my father with joy; the land rested and rejoiced in possession of peace, being joyful at seeing me as ruler, L.H.P., of the Two Lands, like Horus when he was called to rule the Two Lands on the throne of Osiris. I was crowned with the etef-crown bearing the ureaus; I assumed the double-plumed diadem, like Tatenen. I sat upon the throne (tut)-t) of Hrakhte. I was glad in the regalia, like Atum.
Expedition to Attika More
I sent forth my messenger to the country of Atika (( )-ty-ka), to the great copper (hmt) mines which are in this place. Their galleys carried them; others on their land-journey were upon their asses. It has not been heard before, since kings reign. Their mines were found abounding in copper; it was loaded by 10,000's into their galleys. They were sent forward to Egypt, and arrived safely. It was carried and made into a heap under the balcony, in many bars of copper, like hundred-thousands, being the color of gold of three times. I allowed all the people to see them, like wonders.
Where was Atika or Attica as it is spelled today? It could not have been mines on the Sinai peninsula because then Ramses wouldn't have said: `It has not been heard before, since kings reign.' The galleys were not Egyptian ships but those of the copper producing country. The ore was carried from the mines to the ships on `their' asses, and transported from there by ship to Egypt. What was the land called of which Athens was the capital? Today there are no copper mines around Athens, but other mineral ore like pyrite and chromite are found there. Pyrite has the appearance of brass - it is a pale yellow mineral, the bisulphide of iron. Chromite is composed of iron and chromium. The latter element is surpassed in hardness only by boron and by diamonds. Mixing chromite with lead makes it yellow. Metallic chromium is prepared by reduction of the oxide by carbon. It is used in plating other metals because of its hardness and non-tarnishing properties.[John Bailar, `College Chemistry', 3rd edition, p. 618ff] We must understand that the Egyptian `hmt' is not a specific term for copper but could mean any metal. Therefore we should not assume that James Breasted's translation of `copper' is necessarily correct.