Shipping and Trade in Rammeside Egypt

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Shipping and Trade in Ramesside Egypt Author(s): Edward W. Castle Source: Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient, Vol. 35, No. 3 (1992), pp. 239-277 Published by: BRILL Stable URL: . Accessed: 05/03/2011 16:33 Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of JSTOR's Terms and Conditions of Use, available at . JSTOR's Terms and Conditions of Use provides, in part, that unless you have obtained prior permission, you may not download an entire issue of a journal or multiple copies of articles, and you may use content in the JSTOR archive only for your personal, non-commercial use. Please contact the publisher regarding any further use of this work. Publisher contact information may be obtained at . . Each copy of any part of a JSTOR transmission must contain the same copyright notice that appears on the screen or printed page of such transmission. JSTOR is a not-for-profit service that helps scholars, researchers, and students discover, use, and build upon a wide range of content in a trusted digital archive. We use information technology and tools to increase productivity and facilitate new forms of scholarship. For more information about JSTOR, please contact [email protected] BRILL is collaborating with JSTOR to digitize, preserve and extend access to Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient.

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Shipping and Trade in Ramesside Egypt Author(s): Edward W. Castle Source: Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient, Vol. 35, No. 3 (1992), pp. 239-277 Published by: BRILL Stable URL: . Accessed: 05/03/2011 16:33Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of JSTOR's Terms and Conditions of Use, available at . JSTOR's Terms and Conditions of Use provides, in part, that unless you have obtained prior permission, you may not download an entire issue of a journal or multiple copies of articles, and you may use content in the JSTOR archive only for your personal, non-commercial use. Please contact the publisher regarding any further use of this work. Publisher contact information may be obtained at . . Each copy of any part of a JSTOR transmission must contain the same copyright notice that appears on the screen or printed page of such transmission. JSTOR is a not-for-profit service that helps scholars, researchers, and students discover, use, and build upon a wide range of content in a trusted digital archive. We use information technology and tools to increase productivity and facilitate new forms of scholarship. For more information about JSTOR, please contact [email protected]

BRILL is collaborating with JSTOR to digitize, preserve and extend access to Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient.

and Journalof theEconomic SocialHistoryof the Orient,Vol. XXXV


EDWARD W. CASTLE(University of Chicago)

Apart from commerce carried on at the local level between villages, the redistribution system of the Egyptian economy, in a physical sense, operated by shipping along the Nile and ancillary canals. For this reason, a study of the documents concerned with shipping and trade is essential to a study of the commercial operations of the large institutions, their relationship to one another and whatever private enterprise may have existed apart from these institutions. On this last point, it should perhaps be kept in mind from the start that because any small scale private enterprise is less likely than the bureaucracies of the large institutions to have left direct documentary evidence on papyrus, we should expect to find a bias towards the official bureaucracies there. On the other hand, evidence on ostraca is likely to be biased towards transactions on a smaller scale. In general, the main sources on which we have to rely are records kept by temple and state institutions. These may include documents dealing with the transport of grain, ship's logs recording daily transactions and movements of personnel and goods, accounts of transactions between institutions and other entities, administrative

* I would like to thank ProfessorEdward F Wente for reading the original draftof this paper, and for his many helpful comments and suggestions. I would also like to thank Professor John A. Brminkmanfor his active interest in its subject matter, and for assistance with the Mesopotamian material. I am also obliged to Professor

Dennis Pardee for his comments on the Ugaritic material. Nevertheless, responsibility for its content remains mine alone.



correspondence such as reports from officials to their superiors, records of legal proceedings, royal decrees and some few others. Shzppingand the CentralEconomy The backbone of Egypt's economy was its agricultural production, mainly of grain, and particularly of emmer and barley. Documents support the expectation that riverine traffic was intense following the harvest when grain had to be transported from field to granary. The late Ramesside pAmiens') deals with a flotilla of twenty-one ships belonging to the great temple of Amun engaged in the transport of grain. The ships involved were of considerable size, two of them carrying cargo of over 900 sacks each, equivalent to almost forty-three tonnes and occupying approximately 65.5 cubic metres of each vessel2). According to the Nauri Decree3), the temple of Osiris at Abydos was provided with ships one hundred cubits, or over fifty metres in length. pHarris 14) records the building of a sacred barge 130 cubits, or almost sixty-eight metres in length. By comparison, the funerary vessel of Khufu 5) found at Giza measures just under fortyfour metres. According to pHarris 16), Ramesses III donated no less than eighty-two vessels to the temple of Medinet Habu, though most of these were not large transport ships. The grain carried by the flotilla of pAmiens was collected from various provincial estates, with each ship carrying grain belonging to several separate foundations. Gardiner supposed that the cargo was to be discharged at Thebes en masse, to be distributed from there to the institutions having a claim on it 7). It is known that temples might1) Gardiner, RAD, 1-13 2) Gardiner, JEA 27 (1941), 47 3) Nauri decree, 24, KRI I, 45-58. Hams I, Brussels: Fondation Egyp4) pHarris I, 7, 5 W Erichsen, Papyrus V, tologique Relne Elisabeth. Bibliotheca Aegypthaca 1933 of 5) I. E. S. Edwards, ThePyramtds Egypt. Viking, 1986, 121. 6) pHarris I, 12b, 10ff. 7) Gardiner, JEA 27 (1941), 41.





possess estates far afield from the temple proper, and consequently possessed an administrative network that might extend throughout the country. pAnastasi IV8) attests to the fact that a temple of Sety II in Thebes possessed vineyards and administrators (rwdw) in the northern delta. It would be clearly inefficient for an institution to transport produce over long distances in half-empty ships9) for redistribution from the temple's immediate precincts. Administrative cooperation between the various temple institutions and the Crown is to be anticipated, and evidence for this is found in the Amiens and Harris papyri. pAmiens rt. 2, 4-6 contains the following entry: Mnw-scnb s3 B3k-Imn n pr Imn r bt.f 2,4) imw n imy-r3 ChCw 2,5) rdit n.f m p3 iw n Imn-shsh-t.f hr _dnw n web Ky-sn m it n rmnyt r bt.fh3r 600, smn 335, rmnyt n pr RC-ms-sw-mry-Imn .Hwt-r-p3-wd Tbw h3r 37 1/4 1/8 2,6) rdit n.f m st tn hr dnw pn m zt n rmnytpr Sty-Mr-n-Pth m pr Imn r bt.f h3r 227 2/4 1/8 2,4) 2,5) Vessel of the ships' commander Minseankh son of Bakamun of the house of Amun, under his authority: What was given to him in the Island of Amun-who-runsacross-his-boundary at the threshing-floor of the priest Ky-sen, namely grain of the domain of the House of Ramessu-MryImn of Mansion-by-the-Stela, under his authority: 600 sacks. Balance 335. Domain of Tjebu: 37 3/8 sacks. What was given to him in this place at this threshing-floor: namely grain of the domain of the House of Sety-Merenptah in the House of Amun, under his authority: 227 5/8 sacks.


It seems clear here and in other cases, that grain from fields belonging to the House of Sety-Merenptah is being tallied as belonging to8) pAnastasi IV, 7, 1 = Gardiner, LEM 41, 14. 9) pAnastasi VIII demonstrates that inefficient use of shipping could be subject to administrative rebuke. See KRI III, 499, passim.



the Karnak temple of Ramesses IIo0). As Gardiner11) puts it, the temple of Sety-Merenptah seems to be under some financial obligation to the temple of Ramesses II. But to put it another way, what we have here is likely to be just one part of a reciprocal arrangement by which the two institutions obtained the most efficient use of available transport and manpower12). The Wilbour papyrus, in Gardiner's words "teems" with evidence of similar obligations between temples, and between Temple and Crown13). pTurin 188214), vs. 1,2 ff. and pLeyden 34815), vs. 9,1 are concerned with transport of grain receipts. In both cases, the ships are described as ChCw. The same type of vessel is described as transporting inw from Nubia in the Nauri decree16). In the case of the Turin papyrus, the shipment of grain belonging to the temple of Amun-Re was under the authority of a stable-master of the Residence, attesting to the close administrative cooperation between Temple and Crown. The Crown too possessed its own boats. The verso of pSallier IV 7) 9, 1 ff. refers to grain which has been loaded onto a boat belonging to the granary of Pharaoh under the authority of a royal scribe and overseer of the granary who in turn is under the supervision of a deputy commander of the army'8). The letter is written by a royal scribe and steward of the funerary temple of Merenptah at Thebes "in the House of Amun". Again we see the symnbiotic relationship between Temple and Crown administration. In the opinion of10) According to Gardiner, part of the Karnak complex comprismg the Hypostyle Hall. See JEA 27 (1941), 44. 11) Gardiner, JEA 27 (1941), 50. vol. II. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 12) Cf. Gardiner, TheWilbour Papyrus,1948, 209f. 13) Gardiner, JEA 27 (1941), 50. 14) pTurin 1882 (= re-edition of pTurin A of Gardiner, LEM), Gardiner,

RAD, 82. 15) Gardiner, LEM, 132-137 Translated m Caminos, LEM, 489-501. 16) Nauri decree, 83 17) pSallier IV, vs. 9, lff. = Gardiner, JEA 27 (1941), 62ff. Brussels: Editions de 18) On which see J -M. Kruchten, Le Dicretd'Horemheb l'Universit6 de Bruxelles, 1981, 45.











administrative duties in a reciprocal arrangement by which certain cultivable lands belonging to the temple were placed at the disposal of the Crown. Since, as he observes, they were responsible for the receipt of temple revenues, and several sources attest to vast royal donations to the temples, it might be better to consider that the Crown had a vested and controlling interest in the Temple, in which case the vast concessions granted to the temples would have served the interests of the Crown as much as the Temple. But the temples' ships were not solely concerned with the transport of grain. During the Ramesside period, the delta area around Lake Menzalah was renowned for its orchards and vineyards, and title to these estates might be possessed by foundations in the far south. The vast orchards and vineyards of the estate of Ka-en-keme belonged to the domain of Amun during the reign of Ramesses II, and winedockets from there are common at his mortuary temple at Thebes, while olive oil from the same orchards later found its way to the temple at Medinet Habu20). As stated above, pAnastasi IV2') reveals that a mortuary temple of Sety II in Thebes possessed vineyards in the delta. A captain of a scow belonging to this temple reports loading over 1500 jars of wine and fruit including grapes onto two cattle-ferries belonging to the temple and conveying them, not south, but north from Piramesse to be handed over to temple administrators somewhere north of Piramesse. The vineyard concerned is reported to have had twentyone workers, of which four were said to be old men and six children. The ships belonging to the temples were not restricted to domestic transport. The Nauri inscription indicates that ships belonging to the temple of Osiris at Abydos traded in Nubia. Line 40 of the same

Chicago Press, 1961, 209

19) H. Kees, Ancient Egypt: A Cultural Topography Chicago:



20) H. Kees, Ancient Egypt, 201f.

21) pAnastasi IV 6,11 = Gardiner, LEM, 34-55



inscription mentions foreign traders (iwtyw n h3st) attached to the temple. pHarris 1.29, 1 refers to ships attached to the 'temple for transport of goods from God's Land to the treasury and storehouse of Medinet Habu. The historical section of pHarris I describes a royal expedition returning from a voyage to Punt via the Red Sea and overland to Coptos22), while lines 78, 1 ff. refer to a journey by ship and land to copper mines, probably in the Sinai. Taxes on Shipping The Nauri decree expressly forbids commanders of a fortress built by Sety I near Nauri from taking goods from ships belonging to the aforementioned temple of Osiris returning from Nubia. Kees considers this an exemption from the normal exaction of imposts. Some support for this may be found in the inscriptions of Rekhmire 23) from the reign of Thutmose III. These inscriptions include a list of taxes paid by officials including one Senmut, commander of the fortress of Bigeh. The items specified as paid include precisely the kinds of goods that the Nauri inscription forbids the fortress commanders from taking from the temple's ships: specifically gold and hides. It appears that officials were levied a fixed amount to be paid in taxes to the Crown, while what they were able to exact in excess of that con-

stituted personal


This suggests that some fixed rate should have applied to the exaction of imposts, to check uncontrolled exploitation. Nevertheless, Lichtheim 25) has shown that claims of a ten-percent tariff on imports at Naucratis26) and Elephantine27) are based on a misinterpretation

22) pHarris I. 77, 8. 23) See Breasted, AR II, 716. 24) H. Kees, Ancient Egypt, 104f. 25) M. Lichtheim, "The Naucratis Stela Once Again", in Studies in Honor of GeorgeH. Hughes. Studies in Ancient Oriental Civilizations 39 (1976), 139ff. 26) Erman, ZAS 38, 130ff. 27) Roeder, G., Urkundenzur Religion des alten Aegypten,Jena, 1915, 177f.





of the texts, so that if there was a fixed rate of duty, it remains unknown. If the interests of Temple and Crown were as close as the evidence of overlapping administrative functions seems to indicate, the exemptions from transit taxes may be seen to disadvantage not royal interests so much as those of the officials charged with collecting the taxes. On this question, Kees28) considers highly probable Schaedel's opinion that such exemption decrees were intended to reimburse the temples for financial and logistic support during wartime29). Wars were and remain highly expensive undertakings. The temples possessed vast financial reserves, and as we have seen, large numbers of ships of the type which would be ideal for the transport of troops and matirnelduring military campaigns. The vast quantities of booty returned to the treasuries of Amun following such campaigns could be seen as repayment, lending additional weight to the theory. It can be shown from the Amarna letters that official imposts were exacted from foreign ships entering Egypt from the north. Diplomatic correspondence from the king of Alagiya to an Egyptian king reads, in part:" Ces hommessont mes marchands. Monfrire, laisse-lesaller si2rement sans [de]laz. Que et personnene s'approchede mes marchandsou de mon navirepour exiger quelquechose en ton nom."so0)

Private Participationin the Economy The second column on the verso of the Amiens papyrus records the collection of small amounts of grain from various individuals. Some of these amounts consist of only one or two sacks, and individual cultivators are named as suppliers of the grain. Line x + 2 records 1 1/4 sacks of grain "of the domain of the administrator (rwdw)28) AnczentEgypt, 104. Studien 6. 29) Schaedel, Dze Ltsten des grossenPapyrusHarrs. Leipzzger Aegytologische

Glueckstadt: J J Augustin, 1936, 70. d'el . 30) EA 39, 14-20: transl. William L. Moran, Les Lettres Amarna.Paris: Les Editions du Cerf, 1987, 208.



Ptahmose by the hand of the cultivator (ihwty) Efenennebu, brought from the house of the overseer of cattle Amenhotep" 31). Another line (x + 4) records grain provided "by the hand of the scribe Pennestowe, brought from the house of the sandalmaker Heryebhimace from the farm land that he tilled". Lines x + 6 and x + 9 contain the phrase "by the hand of'" the same scribe, while the corresponding entry in x + 11 has "by the hand of the rwdw Hori". From these parallels, it seems clear that the term ihwty does not necessarily refer to the individual who performs the actual cultivating of the land, as Gardiner concluded by different reasoning32). Menu33) agreed with Gardiner that the term is not restricted to field labourers, and may also refer to a type of manager or administrator. Stuchevsky, in a publication recently reviewed by Janssen34), has proposed that this term was applied to three different kinds of individuals: firstly, it was applied to actual farm labourers on state and temple estates; secondly to "agents of the fisc" responsible for controlling the production of eight to twelve of these primary cultivators or fieldhands; thirdly, it was applied to private possessors of fields. According to the recorded yield from the kind of land mentioned in pValengay I as being cultivated by landholders or lessees35) at Elephantine, one sack of grain would constitute the expected yield from only one tenth of an aroura36). The vivid picture of the terrified peasant in pLansing confronted by a failed crop on the one hand and

31) Gardiner, JEA 27, 52 = RAD 9, 1-3 32) Gardiner, JEA 27, 21f.des et attache la terre h dans 33) Bernadette Menu, Le rig'mejuridique terres du personnel le Papyrus Wilbour Lille: 1970, 139ff. 34) I. A. Stuchevsky, Zemledel'tsy gosudarstvennogo khozyarstva drevnego Egzpta epokhi Ramessidov (The Cultivatorsof the State Economy in Ancient Egypt durinng Ramesside the

Period), Moskva: Izdatel'stvo "Nauka",

Administrationin Egypt during the TwentiethDynasty, in Bibliotheca XLIII, 3/4 Ornentalis

1982. Review- Janssen, Agrarian

(1986), 351 ff. 35) The status of these individuals is discussed below 36) This concurs with the average yield on basin land, as noted by Klaus Baer "The Low Price of Land in Ancient Egypt", in JARCE 1 (1962), 30.




the tax-collector on the other comes to mind37). However, it is not necessary to conclude that these quantities constituted the total yield of fields cultivated by these individuals, and in fact some entries record balances apparently outstanding38). The individuals recorded on the verso of pAmiens as having produced grain "from the farm land the he/she tilled" are variously a sandalmaker (x + 4), a townswoman (Cnhn nzwt, x + 5) and a scribe (x + 6). The Gurob fragments M39) name various individuals from whom grain is being collected, and one of these is also a woman40). Whether or not field cultivation was exclusively a male occupation 4), it was certainly one eschewed by scribes42). It would seem then that at least some of these individuals held some kind of lease or title to the lands in question and were not mere sharecroppers working for the temple. Neither do they appear to be Temple employees. Despite the expression "from the land which he/she tilled", it seems that they must have employed others to do the actual cultivating on lands to which they enjoyed some kind of right43). Baer considered private ownership of land to be attested for all periods in ancient Egypt44). According to Gardiner, the status of the numerous smallholders mentioned in the apportioning paragraphs of pWilbour "either was, or else closely resembled, that of private owners"15). Baer considered

37) On which, cf. Gardiner, JEA 27, 53, n. 1. 38) E.g. x + 4, x + 5 39) Gurob fragments M = RAD 33 Gardiner, Wilbour II, 207 40) Gurob fragments M, line 10. Gardiner, RAD, 33,12. 41) That it was is suggested for the Middle Kingdom by the list of servants in William C. Hayes, A Papyrus of the Late Middle Kingdom in the BrooklynMuseum. New York: The Brooklyn Museum, 1955, 108. No feminine form of ihwty is known to the Wb. (1. 214), nor to William A. Ward, Essays on Feminine Titles of the Middle Kingdom and Related Subjects. Beirut: American University of Beirut, 1986. 42) Cf. pAnastasi II, 6, 7ff. = Caminos, LEM, 50ff. 43) Cf. Gardiner, The Wilbour Papyrus, vol. II, 209 44) Klaus Baer, "The Low Price of Land in Ancient Egypt", In JARCE 1 (1962), 25ff. 45) Gardiner, The Wilbour Papyrus, vol. II, 75



pWilbour "a register of rents due to various institutions for land to which they held complete or partial ownership rights"'46). The question of private enterprise is an interesting one, on which I intend to publish more in the near future. The Horemheb Decree contains the following statement: "If a nm4y makes a vessel with its gear for himself in order to beable to serve Pharaoh [...]"47)

The same class of people designated as nm4yw appear in pValengy I where they are described as paying gold into the royal Treasury in return for cultivation rights. The mayor of Elephantine complains to the Chief Taxing Master that a scribe of the House of the Adoratress of Amun is demanding taxes supposedly due to that institution from certain lands for which payments as rent or taxes are already being remitted directly to the Royal Treasury by the nmhyw engaged in their cultivation. That these payments are specified as being made in gold, rather than in grain as we have seen in the case of the cultivators named in the Gurob fragments, suggests a greater degree of independence. Payment in gold rather than in kind seems to indicate that the nmbyw are not attached as staff to either Temple or Crown. In the light of the available evidence, Kruchten considers nmkyw to be private individuals 48). Baer considers these lands to be privately owned49), in which case the gold would represent taxes. The question of the use of gold in exchange will be taken up below. Considering the private status of these cultivators and the above passage in the Horemheb decree involving nm4yw, it is certain that private ownership of ships existed during the Ramesside period50). pTurin 1895 + 200651) records the use of fishing boats for the46) Klaus Baer, JARCE 1 (1962), 32. Brussels: Editions de l'Unlversit6 de 47) J -M. Kruchten, Le Dicretd'Horemheb. Bruxelles, 1981, line 1348) Kruchten, Le Dicret d'Horemheb, 45.

49) Klaus Baer, JARCE 1 (1962), 40, n. 98. 50) See also Janssen, Ship's Logs, 99. 51) Gardiner, RAD, 35ff. JEA 27 (1941), 22ff.




transport of grain. This text records the use by a scribe of the necropolis of two boats, one belonging to a fisherman and another to a "skipper". The fisherman is allowed one sack as rations, whereas the skipper is given twenty for his services. In neither case is the boat designated as belonging to any institution, and they would appear to be private vessels hired out by the scribe of the necropolis for the immediate purpose. The amounts given to the fisherman and skipper are not to be relied upon absolutely since Gardiner52) has been able to show that the accounts have been falsified by the scribe using some creative but incriminatingly inaccurate accounting. Other instances of the transport of grain by fisherman are recorded. A similar payment of one sack is recorded as payment for boat expenses in pTurin 2008 + 201653), while in the same text three sacks are allowed for the hire of a boat to travel from a place called "The New Land of the Pylons of the House of Osiris" to Heliopolis. pGeneva D191, 13 records the use of an Cq3y-boatof a fisherman for the transport of grain54). The three men connected with this vessel seem to be taking advantage of a woman acting in an official capacity in her husband's absence in order to remunerate themselves rather lavishly to the amount of 2 1/2 sacks of grain each 55). These instances seem clear evidence, if it were necessary, that private vessels were available for hire for the transport of people and goods. It appears that the large official institutions made use of these vessels whenever necessary, and as the Nauri decree seems to imply, officials had the power to requisition them, a power which did not go unabused. Some evidence for the private ownership of vessels engaged in foreign trade is supplied by pAnastasi IV:p3y.k mnsw ii hr H3r 3tpw m bt nb nfr

"Your ship is come from Syria loaded with all manner of good

things.''" 56)52) JEA 27 (1941), 30ff.53)

54) Cerny, LRL, 57 2, 55) Cf. Jac. J Janssen, Wepwawet 30-31.

eTurin 2008 + 2016, III, 15ff. = Janssen, Ship's Logs, 78.

56) pAnastasi IV 3, 10f. = Gardiner, LEM, 36, 4.



Here the ship is represented as belonging to a wealthy individual, and while the document is a panegyric rather than an administrative document, it may be argued that the scribe is obliged to paint his complimentary picture within the limits of what was socially possible. No office is attributed to him although this might be expected in a panegyric if he were understood to hold some official position. Even so, there would be no need to assume that the holding of office and the exercise of trade or manufacture for private enrichment were mutually exclusive activities in ancient Egypt. While nmhyw were private individuals outside the bureaucracy, holders of official positions may well have carried on private trading activities with their own vessels, retaining iwtyw for this purpose. Some evidence for this will be presented below. While private ownership of boats is attested, capital is also attested in the hands of private individuals (nm4yw) in the form of gold. Given this, it is only a small step to a degree of private enterprise. The Role of Traders Traders attached to temples are well attested. pHarris I. 46, 2 mentions "innumerable traders" attached to the temple of Ptah built by Ramesses III. As mentioned above, the Nauri inscription, line 40 refers to Iwtyw n b3st, "foreign traders" in the service of the temple of Osiris. Notwithstanding the edicts of the Nauri decree, Ramesses II, visiting Abydos, finds his father's temple unfinished and its endowments violated57). His re-endowment provides for the welfare of the temple, iwtyw hr irt s'wyt hr zry m nbw hd hmt, "while traders trade with their consignments, their revenue therof58)57) Great Abydos inscription, lines 34-35, in K. Kitchen, RamessideInscrtptzons II, 325ff. 58) It would be possible to translate b3kw as "products" or "workmanship", in which case the reference could be to the selling of objects made of gold, silver and copper However, I have taken the suffix of to refer to the traders and try to in order to avoid a possible redundancy in the use of try This passage appears in a list of endowments providing income to the temple. It seems clear therefore from context that the metals should be understood as temple revenue.





being gold, silver and copper." 59) pTurin 2008 + 2016 demonstrates, in Janssen's view, that traders attached to the temple provided an indirect way for people to obtain goods manufactured in temple workshops60). The title hry iwtyw appears in connection with traders belonging to temples. One of these is attached to a temple of the Aten, demonstrating that the temples built during the Amarna period functioned similarly in this respect61). However, traders are also attested as belonging to individuals. pBM 1005362) cites 16 traders as recipients of property stolen from tombs. Eight of these come from the town of Mi-wer, modern Kom Medinet Ghurob situated on the Bahr Yusuf at the entrance to the Faiyum where it would have been well situated for trading with that area. Three, and perhaps a fourth, of the other traders appear also in pBM 10068. These are described as belonging to the army commander, chief of the Twhr troops Amen-nufer63). Of the other traders in pBM 10068, rt. 4, another four are listed as belonging to the same army commander, one to a troop-captain of the temple of Re, and two to a singer of the temple of Sobek in Crocodilopolis, daughter of a former commander. One belongs to another officer of Twhr troops, while two belong to temples. Altogether then, two belong directly to temple estates, three are attached to temple functionaries and thus perhaps (or perhaps not) indirectly to temple estates, while nine belong to military officers. The exact status of these traders is unclear, but one of them is said to have possessed a slave64). pBM 1006865), rt. 4,2 refers to "tradersaus der Zeit Setis I. Strassbourg: Triibner, 1896, 61, 59) Spiegelberg, Rechnungen n. 1 Mariette, Abydos 1/8, 84 (= KRI II, 333, 1-2). 60) Ship's Logs, 101 61) Mariette, Monuments divers recueillis en Egypte et en Nubie, P1. 56. See also Mariette, Cat. d'Abydos, 410, #1115 62) pBM 10053, rt. passim. Peet, The Great Tomb Robberiesof the TwentzethEgyptian Dynasty Oxford: OUP, 1930 63) Rt. 4,4. 64) pBM 10052, rt. 8,2 (Peet, Tomb Robberies):"There was brought S. the slave of the merchant Pesienwese" So already Janssen, Ship's Logs, 102. 65) pBM 10068, rt. 4,2 (Peet, Tomb Robberies).



of every house" in connection with these traders. Janssen 66) is unconvinced that this refers to private commercial firms as Peet suggests, since pr, "house" could refer to "estates" in this and other similar statements67). However, as noted, pBM 10052 68) refers to a slave belonging to one of the traders involved in these proceedings. Since ownership of a slave suggests a degree of independence, perhaps more weight could be given to the possibility than Janssen is prepared to concede. At the least the "houses" to which these traders belonged could well include the private estates of titled individuals such as the above-mentioned for whom they conducted profitable private ventures. Traders are otherwise attested as dealing in slaves in pCairo 6573969), where the purchases result in litigation. Payment in this case is in commodities. James70) speculates persuasively that even traders attached to temples may have had some degree of independence, reflecting the fact "that the national autocracy, the all-pervading authority of the king and, by a kind of devolved, unspecified proxy, of the temples, was modified to the point of being ignored" in other aspects of Egyptian life. In support of this, he cites two documents described as ship's logs published by Janssen71). Kemp rightly considers that the internal mobility provided by shipping "provides, in fact, a weighty argument against the view that personal economic transactions were so often cosy reciprocal exchanges between relations and neighbours as to form the only serious alternative to redistribution"72),

but he is incorrect in stating that iowtyw

"appear always in the employ of someone else, either a temple or an66) Janssen, Ship's Logs, 103. 67) E.g. pLansing 4, 10 = Gardiner, LEM, 103, where Caminos (LEM, 384) translates, "ship's crews of every (commercial) house" 68) pBM 10052, rt. 8,2 (Peet, Great Tomb Robberies). 69) pCairo 65739 Gardiner, JEA 21 (1935), 140ff. 70) Pharaoh's People, 249 71) J Janssen, Two Ancient Egypttan Ship's Logs. Leiden: 1961. 72) Barry J Kemp, Ancient Egypt: Anatomy of a Civilization. London: Routledge, 1989, 257





official." 73)The statement is repudiated by many references to i!tyw in the tomb robbery papyri where the scribes are otherwise particular in referring to the affiliations of witnesses for purposes of identification7"). Further, any affiliations of the swtyw of pBoulaq 11 remain unstated. On the other hand, many iotyw were certainly attached to institutions and individuals. Because he doubts the existence of free traders in this period, Reineke prefers to translate Jwty as "Handelsagent"75). Nevertheless, some doubt still attaches to the status of the swtyw, and Kemp's preference for the more neutral "trader" 76) remains acceptable since its semantic range is exclusive of neither dependent nor independent status. Their status may nevertheless turn out to be somewhat more complex77). Foreign Tradersand Exchange The tomb of Qenamun contains a scene depicting Syrian traders landing at a quay, probably at Thebes78). At least three Egyptian traders are shown on the quay, one of these being a woman. From the nature of the stalls in which they sit, it seems reasonable to assume that these Egyptians are acting in a private capacity, as James suggests79). On whether they are acting as private individuals or agents of a temple, Kemp reserves judgement, but nevertheless believes that this scene represents "the very kind of mechanism that is required for an economic model which allows greater scope to private enterprise" 80). The two male traders are shown holding hand73) Kemp, Ancient Egypt, 257 74) E.g. pBM 10053 rt. 3,1, 3,2; 4,5 and passim; pBM 10052, 8,2. 75) Walter F. Reineke, "Waren die gwtyw wirklich Kaufleute?", Altorsentalische

76) Kemp, Ancient Egypt, 257 77) I intend to treat this subject more fully in a future paper 78) N de Garis Davies and R. O Faulkner, in JEA 33 (1949), 40ff. 79) T G H. James, Pharaoh's People.London: The Bodley Head, 1984, 254. Cf. the local market scene in the tomb of Ipuy, in N de G Davies, Two Ramesstde Tombsat Thebes.New York: 1927, plates XXX, XXXI, reproduced m James,Pharaoh's People, fig. 25 80) Kemp, Ancient Egypt, 255

Forschungen6 (1979), 13



scales. Davies and Faulkner had suggested that the purpose of these scales might be to weigh out precious metal used in transactions. Kemp too considers that the presence of these scales implies "that metals were part of the transaction" 81). James, on the other hand,

considersit "unlikelythat any of the goods offeredfor sale in these booths could have been worth bargainingfor in gold or silver." he the describes only identifiable transaction Nevertheless, accurately in the scene where "a Syrianoffersa large stoppered probably jar, of oil ... whilethe tradermakeshis bargainusinghis balance" In 82). this case, the objectbeing tradedcould well be an expensiveitem, especiallyif the jar containedsome valuableoil or importedwine. International tradeduringthis periodseems to have been restricted to luxury goods, exceptionsprobablyarising only out of special In circumstances83). any case, the objectin questionshouldprobably be interpretedas representing only a sample of a larger quantity offeredfor sale: followingthe well-dressed being Syrianis a stream of labourers bearingmorevessels,someof the latterbeingof the same kind as that being shownto the Egyptian.Documentary evidencefor the importof Syrianwine is providedby a Ugariticdocumentwhichrefers to "20 (jars of) hsp-wine for Ql, who is setting out for Egypt""84). The stated quantity would be excessive for personal consumption, and must be considered as part of a cargo destined for Egypt. It should be pointed out that whereas much of the silver which reached Egypt seems to have been imported via Syria, Egypt was the main exporter of gold. Gold was therefore considerably cheaper in Egypt. During the 14th to 13th centuries, the price of one shekelof gold in Ugarit was three to four shekelsof silver85), whereas in Egypt81) Kemp, Ancient Egypt, 253 82) James, Pharaoh's People,256. 83) Cf. I. Singer, Tel Aviv 10 (1983), 4. 84) PRU II 84 (= RS 16.127):27 Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 85) Peter C. Craigie, Ugant and the Old Testament. 1983, 41. M. Heltzer, "The Metal Trade of Ugarit and the Problem of Transportation of Commercial Goods", in Iraq 39 (1977), 205.





during the New Kingdom up to as late as the 17th year of Ramesses IX86) the price was only about two shekelsof silver. Clearly, any astute Syrian trader would have been keen to acquire gold at the Egyptian price. Ugaritic texts attest to the fact that state employees were paid in silver, and that in fact silver was widely used as currency there during the same period87). Weigall believes that until supplanted by the kite owing to the gradual depreciation of this standard, the sct of about 7.6 to 8 grams functioned as the equivalent of the Assyrian shekel88), an equivalence which would have been desirable in commercial ventures such as that shown in this representation, which also depicts the kind of conditions under which silver exchange could have reached the Egyptian marketplace. It is of interest that the Tell el Amarna hoard includes a figurine which has been identified as Hittite89), and which must have reached Egypt through Levantine trade. The scene from the tomb of Qenamun, which dates from the reign of Amenhotep III, may find a Syrian correlative in a Ugaritic document referring to Amenhotep III, a merchant, ships and silver, although the precise purport of the text is uncertain90). The activity of Syrian merchants operating in Egypt is further reflected in a text recording the allotment of a quantity of oil to one "Abrm of Egypt" 91). Another text possibly refers to a ship-owner of the same name92). Yet another fragmentary text contains the isolated86) Cerny, "Prices and Wages in Egypt in the Ramesside Period", in Cahzers d'Histozre Mondiale I (1954), 905f. 87) M. Heltzer, "Royal Economy in Ancient Ugant", in E. Lipinski, State and Temple Eonomy, vol. II. OrientaliaLovantensiaAnalecta 6. Leuven, 1979, 471f. and passim. 88) A. Weigall, Weights and Balances. Cataloguegendraldes antzquztlsigyptiennesdu of Musie du Caire, 1908, pp. 10, 11-12, 13 He does not discuss the 9ct the so-called of Hauskaufurkunde the Old Kingdom (Urk. 1. 157f.). 89) Martha R. Bell, "A Hittite Pendant from Amarna", in AmericanJournal of Archaeology90 (1986), 145ff. 90) KTU 2.42 (= RS 18.113A = PRU V 8). D Pardee, "Epigraphic and 19 Philological Notes", in Ugarzt-Forschungen, (1987), 204ff. RS 18.42 (= PRU V 95): 3-4. 91) 92) RS 19 126 (= PRU V 123): 7



words myrm, "Egypt" and mkr[m(?)], "merchant[s"(?)]93), the latter appearing as a borrowing in Egyptian94). Apart from shipping, Ugaritic sources suggest that overland trade was conducted between Syria and Egypt95). PreciousMetal as a Means of Exchange It has been generally accepted by Egyptologists that all commercial exchange in Egypt was conducted by means of barter, the comparative values of goods for exchange being expressed for the sake of convenience in terms of quantities of standard commodities such as metal or grain 96). While such a barter system certainly existed at the local level it should be considered but part of a larger system in which precious metal was employed as a form of currency. Reference has already been made to a passage in the great Abydos inscription referring to traders belonging to a temple who "trade with their consignments, their revenue thereof being gold, silver and copper" 97). pLansing 4, 8 ff. portrays traders carrying goods from town to town up and down the Nile. Caminos98) found this passage puzzling. The difficulty lies in the phrase which he evidently understood as iw. w shnt mi hmtyand translated "and are as busy as brass" 99). In fact hmtyis not "brass" but "copper" though this hardly helps the sense. To satisfy sense and context & should be understood as a writing of the preposition m, a writing not unknown to these texts 100). We may then translate the relevant passage:93) RS 18.285[A] (= PRU V 126): 4-5 vol. 1, 95*. 94) Gardiner, Anczent Onomastica, Egyptzan Littiratures 95) Jesus-Luis Cunchillos, TextesOugarntques, II. Correspondence. tome Anciennesdu Proche-Ortent. Parts: Editions du Cerf, 1989, 405, and n. 183 96) Cf. Jac. J Janssen, "Prolegomena to the Study of Egypt's Economic History during the New Kingdom", in SAK 3 (1975), 177 97) KRI II, 333, if. 98) Cammnos,LEM, 386, n. (4, 10). 99) Caminos, LEM, 384. 100) Caminos, LEM, 551.





"The traders fare downstream and upstream as they do business with copper, carrying goods one town to another as they supply him who has not, although the tax-people carry gold, the most precious of all minerals." The passage occurs in a tendentious school text in which the scribe is attempting to show to disadvantage all professions other than his own. He attempts to demonstrate the meanness of the traders' condition by contrasting the relative values of the metals in which they are said to deal with that handled by the htriw. But this is mere hyperbole since traders were not restricted to the use of copper. On the contrary, they are specifically recorded as paying in gold for purchases. pBoulaq 11101) contains accounts of the sale of small quantities of goods, principally beef and wine. The majority of the transactions appear to be debits entered against the names of various traders, but one of the transactions clearly shows a trader paying for his purchases with gold:6. 3bd 2-nw 3bt sw 25 isp m-c iwty B3kz

7. 6. 7.

nbw Sct 2 1/2 r swnt iwf Second month of Inundation, day 25, received from the trader Baki: gold 2 1/2 sct in payment for meat102).While admitting that this entry involves payment in gold03),

James prefers to argue from the silence of the entries where commodities are valued in terms of their equivalent in metal that "we should not conclude that payments were actually made in metal as specified. If they were so made, it would suggest that metals, in particular gold and silver, were commonly used as 'currency' in the truest sense; from which it should follow that substantial quantities

185ff. 101) T E. Peet, The Unit of Value iCty, People,248. 102) pBoulaq 11 3, 6-7 See also James, Pharaoh's Pharaoh's 249 People, 103) James,



of these metals were in circulation, available for trading, and regularly passed from hand to hand" 104). As Peet notes, these transactions seem to involve retailers making purchases from a wholesaler. The trader's method of payment might be understood to suggest private status. Deliveries are made in some cases 105)to the same trader on consecutive days, so that the sphere of activity appears to be strictly local unless they happen to be acting as buyers or agents for other dealers. The two Brooklyn account papyri published by Condon106) are thought by Janssen to resemble texts such as pBoulaq 11 "in which an institution, probably a temple, settles its accounts with retail dealers" 07). While the wholesaler may well be a temple, there seems no inherent reason why these texts could not originate from private commercial concerns, if only we could be sure of their existence. In any case, the possibility should not be prejudiced. Regarding pValengay I, Gardiner'08) questions the expressionf3y nbw in connection with payments to the Crown of rents or taxes by nm4yw engaged in cultivation, indicating that he would have expected to find hd, "silver" instead of gold, as in pHarris I 46,1, and understands it simply to indicate payment. However, the same expression is used of htrznw (tax-collectors?) in pLansing 4, 9 f. followed by the phrase p3 sbq n znr nb, "the most precious of all minerals". The expression is suggested by Cerny as a restoration of the traces in pTurin 1887, vs. 1, 9109) to which Gardiner somewhat reluctantly acquiesces. In the light of pBoulaq 11, where a trader specifically pays in gold and where commodities are valued in terms of the same metal, there seems no reason to exclude the use of gold in domestic commercial exchange, at least at the upper levels. As104) James, Pharaoh's People, 260 105) E.g. Col. 3, 8 & 11. 106) V Condon, "Two Account Papyri of the Late 18th Dynasty (Brooklyn 35.1453 A and B)", in Revue d'Egyptologze35, 57ff 107) Jac. J Janssen, "Two Variant Accounts", in Vara Aegyptzaca 1(1985), 109 108) Gardiner, RdE 6, 121 n. (o). 109) Gardiner, RAD, 79a, n. 6a-b.





noted above, the great Abydos inscription refers to traders dealing in gold, silver and copper. If private individuals were able to pay tax or rent in gold rather than in kind we may reasonably assume this gold to have been obtained from the sale of grain. That silver might be obtained in this way is demonstrated by the legal defence offered by a woman being questioned in connection with silver stolen from tombs. Asked to explain the source of silver in her possession, she explains that it was obtained from the sale of barley 10). The veracity of her testimony is irrelevant; it was intended to be plausible. As stated, pBoulaq 11 attests a trader paying for his purchases with gold. Wenamun, 1,10; 2,10 and 2,40 show that gold and silver mightbe used for foreign exchange"'). That a temple might employ the

same means of exchange domestically is shown in a text originally cited by Peet 2) where a temple provides gold, silver and copper "for the rations of the Necropolis." Kees is of the opinion that gold production was a royal monopoly. He presents no evidence for his statement, but some support might be provided by the admonitions against pilfering addressed to the men involved in gold production in the Redesiyeh inscription of SetyI: "Was das Gold betrifft, das Flezschder Gitter, so ist es nzchtEure Sache. Seine (Amun's) Augen [wachen] iiberseine Sachen. Sie lieben nwchtUnrechtan ihremBesztz'" 13).

Further documentary evidence of temple involvement in the production of gold is provided by Koenig' 14).110) pBM 10052, 11,4ff. 111) Some of this is in the form of metal vessels. 112) pTurin Cat. 1881, recto, line above cols. I-II. Quoted by Peet, Griffith Studies, 124f. Now published in Kitchen, Ramesside Inscriptions VI, 612. 3-4. 114) Yvan Koenlg, "Livraisons d'or et de galene au tr6sor du temple d'Amon sous la XXe dynastle: document A, partie inf6reure", in BIFAO 83, 249ff.

I der Sethos' in WadiMia. Nachrichten 113) Transl. S. Schott, Kanais.Der Tempel Akademie Wissenschaften Goettingen der in Nr 6, 150 Lepsius, Denkmaeler, 140, (1961),



On the question of monopoly in general, Kemp is of the opinion that no monopolies of natural resources were held by the Crown or Temple. To support this, he points to the fact that there was no shortage of alabaster for the vase makers of Middle Egypt in the First Intermediate Period. He means to demonstrate that it would have been possible for private individuals to exploit the quarries at Hatnub without expeditions organized under royal control. Royal monopoly is ipsofacto precluded in a period of collapse of royal authority, but who can say that any pre-existing royal monopoly had not been assumed by a local ruler? In point of fact, just such opportunities are the fuel of secessionism. How gold found its way into public circulation becomes a point of interest. There is certain evidence for one of the sources in the tomb robbery papyri where even the names, affiliations and origin of traders receiving stolen tomb furniture are recorded, and the Redesiyeh inscription above implies that pilfering occurred in the course of production. However, there must have been legitimate sources for gold also, otherwise the mere possession of it would have been incriminating. Another source of gold appears in the Nauri inscription where we learn by implication that fortress commanders were wont to exact imposts in gold from vessels coming from Nubia. An examination of the tax lists in Rekhmire's inscriptions115) shows that while the amount of gold paid as tax on offices ranges from about 5 to 6 deben, the commandant of the fortress of Elephantine pays no less than 40, the commandant of the fortress of Bigeh 20, while the next highest amount of gold is a mere 8 debenpaid by the mayor of Edfu. Clearly officials of the southern frontier were in the best position to obtain gold. It is clear from the Semnah inscription of Sesostris III16) that a trading post existed north of the Second Cataract during the Middle Kingdom. Another market existed at Aswan, and it is not difficult to see Egyptian traders obtaining gold directly or indirectlyRecords 717ff. II. 115) Breasted, Ancient

116) Berlin 14753 = Sethe, Lesestiicke,84f.





from officials at markets such as these in exchange for luxury items from the north. Although this information pertains to the Middle Kingdom and the Eighteenth Dynasty, it seems safe to conclude that trading remained intense in the south during the Ramesside period. Officials stationed in Nubian outposts such as Nauri would have been eager customers for luxuries from home, and as we have seen, had access to the gold with which to pay for them. As noted above, a passage from pTurin 188111") concerns gold, silver and copper provided by a temple for the rations of the Necropolis: "Receipt of the hd from the deputy Minkhau of the temple of Isis for the rations of the Necropolis: good gold 1 kite, equivalent to 5 khar(of corn); silver 4 kite, equivalent to 6 khar;a kerchief18), equivalent to 2 khar;and 20 deben copper, equivalent to 5 khar." of These metals, together with a garment, are classified as hd which, apart from its primary meaning of "silver", has acquired the extended meaning of "payment", all sorts of commodities being capable of inclusion under this term "9). While otherwise it is common for commodities to be valued in terms of metal for purposes of barter, here the metals are curiously valued in equivalents of khar of grain. Cerny, in contradiction of his previous statement that the workmen of the Necropolis "were all paid entirely in kind"120) quotes this passage as evidence that the workmen received metal in lieu of the usual form of payment 121). However, it is not necessary to assume that the metal actually reached the men. In view of the fact that grain equivalents are given for the quantities of metal, it may well be that the metal was provided for the purpose of purchasing the usual grain rations from some third party, more likely a private117) Peet, GriffithStudies, 124f. Now published in Kitchen, RamesstdeInscriptions 118) 119) 120) 121) On zdg, see Janssen, CommodityPrices, 282ff. Cf. Janssen, CommodityPrices, 499ff. Prices and Wages, 916. Prices and Wages, 905.

VI, 612.



individual or trader than another temple. On the other hand, the grain equivalents may indicate the usual amounts of grain payments which are being supplanted by payments in metal for some reason, perhaps on account of a temporary shortage of grain. In any case, the metal must be seen as a form of currency. .By itself, the fact that hd came to acquire the extended meaning of "payment" suggests that the exchange of silver in commercial transactions was or had been general practice. While a barter system is everywhere in evidence in the Deir el Medinah ostraca, it seems clear that elsewhere trade was also conducted by means of metal exchange. Kemp too concludes that "we should accept that a substantial amount of gold and silver was always in circulation" 122). The large quantity of ostraca dealing with the economic activities of the inhabitants of Deir el Medinah has survived as a result of the unique convergence of a number of factors. Because of the skills required for the decoration of Royal tombs, the inhabitants of the village enjoyed an abnormally high literacy rate. The location of the village within the Theban necropolis provided access to an ample supply of limestone flakes suitable for writing, while the dry conditions encouraged preservation of their inscriptions. Ostraca are not common in Egypt outside the Theban necropolis. This volume of evidence from Deir el Medinah, however, may not speak accurately for the rest of the country. While the necropolis area was heavily policed, the village itself was surrounded by a wall and accessed by way of a single, guarded gate. Although there is no direct evidence for it, it might well have been thought prudent for the authorities to discourage commerce in precious metal on the part of the workmen as a security measure so that any trade in precious metal became ipso facto evidence of tomb robbery. While the tomb robbery papyri show that trade in stolen metal did indeed occur, they also constitute evidence of its detection.122) Kemp, AncrentEgypt, 259





If metal was used as a means of exchange, there arises the question of how this exchange was carried out in practice. Exchange:Standardsand Practice The basic unit of weight by which metals were measured was the deben.Another unit frequently encountered in the New Kingdom was variously called sct, snc(t), or snzw, which has been shown to be equivalent in value to 1/12 of the deben'23). This unit has been conventionally translated as "piece" to avoid any suggestion as to its actual form 124). James 125) prefers the even more neutral translation "unit". It appears that precious metals were frequently handled in the convenient form of rings. Representations of gold and silver in this form appear in the tombs of Rekhmire126) and Sobekhotep 27), where the rings often appear to be open and linked in the form of chains. Actual finds of treasure show that silver was also handled in this form"28). Weigall has produced evidence of an Old Kingdom writing of the word debenin the context of weights where it is written with a circular determinative, which may also stand as an abbreviated form of the word in other examples. In at least one instance this is more specifically depicted as an open ring"29). Since the primary lexical value of dbn appears to involve circularity"30), it appears that originally in the context of metals the123) Gardiner, "Four Account Papyri of the 18th Dynasty from Kahun", in 43 Zeitschrift fiir AegyptischeSprache und Altertumskunde (1906), 45 The Unit of Value sCty, 199 124) Peet, 125) James, Pharaoh's People, 268, n. 20 126) Percy E. Newberry, The Life of Rekhmzra.Westminster- Constable, 1900, Plate V 127) British Museum No. 921 See James, Pharaoh's People, Plate 10 128) The Tod treasure is published in F Bisson de la Rocque, Le Trisor de Tod. de Orientale.Service des Cairo, 1953 Also in Centenaire l'Institut FranCats d'Archeologze Antiquites de l'Egypte. Le Caire: 1981, 104ff. Also in Un Sikclede Fouilles Franfaises en Egypte, 1880-1980 l'Ecole du Caire (IFAO), 1981, 144ff. The Tell el Amarna treasure trove is published in H. Frankfort and J D S. Pendlebury, City of AkhenatenII: London, 1933 See particularly Plate XLIII, 4. 129) Weigall, Weights and Balances, iii. 130) Wb. 5 436, 6ff.



word deben indicated one of these rings, perhaps acquiring a fixed weight which later became a standard. Peet 131) rejects Weigall's conclusions out of hand, but the evidence is not so easily disposed of. In fact, Peet himself vacillates on this question in a footnote 132). Certainly a stone weight inscribed , "belonging to a sem-priest named Ammpy (sic) and also Ptahenkau" 33) can hardly be dismissed out of hand as "a suppose (sic) writing of the word deben" 34). Weigall's conclusions require the existence of an Old Kingdom debenweighing 13-14 grams as opposed to that of the New Kingdom which weighed about 91 grams. James has commented on the fact that the 11th Dynasty farmer Hekanakhte proposed payment of rent for land using "24 copper debens"135). Baer136) translates without comment "24 deben of copper", but as James points out '37), this would have been written hmty dbn 24, not, as we have here, dbn hmty24. In this case it seems clear that what are to be understood are not merely units of weight, but concrete objects. The implications of this cannot be easily dismissed. Consideration has to be given to the possibility that what we have here may be the coincidence of original and derived meaning in the form of copper rings perhaps weighing one deben each138). Peet 139) has originally referred to a metal object rather than to suggested that ~ct an abstract measure of value.#

Documents. New York, 1962, 44, n. 57

134) Peet, The Unit of Value Isty, 199 T G. H. James, The Hekanakhte Papersand OtherEarly Middle Kingdom 135)139f.), misrepresents James' "copper", Helck incorrectly for dbn.

131) The Unit of Value SCty,199 132) Note 2. 133) Weigall, Wezghtsand Balances, iv

It is to be noted that Helck (Altaegyptzsche des vor Aktenkunde 3. und 2. JahrtausendsChristus. Muenchner Aegyptologische Studien 31, p. position here. The sign that James reads for hmty, understands him to read as a second determinative 136) JAOS 83 (1963), 9 137) James, Hekanakhte, 44, n. 57 138) Cf. James, Hekanakhte, 118. 139) Peet, "The Egyptian Words for 'Money', Presentedto F Ll. Griffith, 122, n. 1.a.

'Buy' and 'Sell', in Studies





The word ict has been discussed at some length. This word seems to have existed alongside a synonym Inc/t, in addition to another written sniw 140). inCappears with Ict as a synonym in two versions of Spell 129 of the Book of the Dead141). In the Hekanakhte letters, the writing of ict appears to have been twice emended to sn ct by the addition of n, in one case written inside the S of ~ct42). The words seem to have been so closely identified that vcthas been claimed by Drioton to have arisen from a graphically abbreviated spelling of snCtthrough the elision of n, to which he compares the writing of rmt, "man" without m. Wente also comments on "the close association, if not iden-

and Ct'" tity, of nnct 43), but rejects Drioton's hypothesis, tentatively

suggestinginsteada possibledialecticalvariation.

carsign, but notesanotherexamplein the hieraticwherethe circular of touchesignis possible.Any relationship the sealsignto "ring" has been rejected Peet'44) on the groundsthat the seal sign originally byrepresenteda cylinder seal attached to a cord145). However, it is ques-

sct determined with the seal Wente cites occurrencesof inC, and sCty

maintained the tionablewhetherthis distinctionwas scrupulously by of the later periods. Egyptians The word _dbct, "seal"146), having clear lexical associationwith"finger" is determined variously with the (cylinder) seal, the circular cartouche and the "block" sign, the last of which, as Wente notes, is used as a second determinative of inC in Spell 129 of the Book of

the Dead in the Tomb of RamessesVI, and whichhe suggests"mayalso be related to the metal lump sign used to determine the OldBrill, 1975, 102ff. ' 141) Etienne Drioton, "Un document sur la vie chere Thebes au debut de laXVIII dynastle", in Bulletin de la Societi Franpaised'Egyptologze,No. 12 (February 140) Jac. J Janssen, CommodityPrices from the Ramesside Period. Leiden: E. J

1953), 15-17

143) Edward F Wente, "A Note on the Eloquent Peasant, B I, 13-15", in JNES 24 (1965), 106. Prices, 102). 144) Peet's position is misrepresented by Janssen (Commodity145) Peet, The Unit of Value Fty, 198. 146) Wb. 5.566,6.

142) James, Hekanakhte, 113



Kingdom ict, regarded as a concrete unit of value" 147). Wente148) believes with Piankoffthat the inc of Spell 129 of the Book of the Dead

means "ring" or "seal". As 6ern? has noted, a word written vCt "occursseveraltimesin an 18thdynastymagicaltext, whereit seemsto designate the flat "seal" of a signet ring"149).

"seal" fordbct. The Wb. givesonly the translation However,Garis dinertranslates as "signet-ring" whichtranslation supported it ''150) by a Ptolemaic writing W of the verbdbc'51),"to seal". The related fromrods as of ringsdesignedto attachvariousobjectsfor suspension or chains. Apartfromthis, even the cylinderseal may be foundmountedona circularmetal braceletto be worn on the arm, possibly complicating the later understanding of the original significance of the sign as a Hebrew tbCtl52) also carries the meaning of "signet ring" 15s) as well

cylindersealhangingfroma cord. Such a mountedcylindersealwas found on the arm of Sheshonq11154). The Hebrew furtherindicatesone of the formsin which gold .tbct in itis presented to the temple Numbers 31:50, where appears in with )sCdh, association "armlet",smyd,"bracelet" 155), Cgyl, "ring",147) Wente, JNES 24, 107 148) Wente, JNES, 106. 149) Cerny, Prices and Wages, 912. 150) Gardiner, Sign-list S20, in Gardiner, Grammar, 3rd. ed., 506. 151) Wb. 5.566. 152) BDB, 371, b. The word is probably an Egyptian loan word rather than a derivative of Hebrew tbc, "to seal" which is best explained as another loan from Egyptian dbc (Wb. 5.566,12). The Egyptian dbct is attested from the Old Kingdom. Cf. Thomas O Lambdin, "Egyptian Loan Words in the Old Testament", in JAOS 73 (1953), 151. 153) Gen. 41:41-42: "Pharaoh said to Joseph, "Behold, I have set you over the whole land of Egypt." Pharaoh took his ring (tbCt) from his hand, and put it upon Joseph's hand.. " 154) Colin A. Hope, Gold of the Pharaohs. Melbourne: Museum of Victoria, 1988, Plate 80. The seal itself is mounted on a spindle so that it might be used, but it is not Egyptian and is to be considered decorative rather than functional. 155) For this and the preceding see K. Galling, BiblischesReallexikon.Tiibingen: J C.B. Mohr (Paul Siebeck), 1977, 285; Abb. 75, 1-3




as well as kwmx, a word of unclear meaning and derivation. This seems to suggest that, as far as precious metals were concerned, the distinction between bullion and personal adornment was slightS56). The large assemblage of silver coils in the Oriental Institute Museum '57) suggests that this was also true of Mesopotamia. One of these is a coiled bar weighing sixty shekels58). Others have smaller pieces of wire attached as though to make up a particular weight "59). The open rings could have been cut from such spiral forms. It appears that there existed a unit of value equivalent to 1/12 of a debenof silver, and variously called sct, vnctand snzw. Janssen has produced strong evidence for a writing snzw applied to the same unit of value 160). However, this does not dispose of the various plene and znct.Given the sound evidence for the variant writings of s'Ct writings, they can hardly be mutually exclusive. It seems necessary therefore to accept the existence of three competing readings. Peet'61) puzzles at some length over the fact that 'ct, although "beyond all doubt ... a perfectly concrete unit, and in fact a fixed weight" should be accompanied by the "abstract determinative" does not always determine abstract .-w . In point of fact, .concepts. In )c, "Schriftstuck" (Wb. 4.418,9) the determinative represents a concrete papyrus roll. Its use in .. ~ ct, "knife" (Wb. 4.417,8) is perhaps analogous. 0 The analogy is clear enough if we consider that what V ,, iVct represents is a piece of silver bar cut from a parent coil of bar stock,156) The necklaces of gold beads represented in the tomb of Rekhmire point in the same direction. See Percy E. Newberry, The Life of Rekhmzra.WestminsterConstable, 1900, Plate V 157) Oriental Institute, A 9507, A 9509-A 9518, A 9527-A 9530, A 9540, A 9543-A 9632, A 9637 These objects were pointed out to me by Richard H. Beal. 158) A 9543 159) A 9571, A 9574. 160) Janssen, Commodity Prices, 102ff. Helck's characterisation of Janssen's reading as "kaum wahrscheznlich" (Lexikon der Aegyptologie III.1207, n. 35) is in unjustified. Janssen's reading is sound. Helck's reading (ibid) of hnct the Hauskaufurkunde (Urk. 1.157) should be corrected to fct. 161) The Unit of Value iCty, 197



in the same way that a letter is cut from a roll of papyrus. By this interpretation, s't, deriving from sc, "to cut", would refer to its being cut from a parent roll of metal. Vycichl 162) translates as "coupure". is According to Janssen's observations, the writing svCtls'nct supand he believes that all planted after the Eighteenth Dynasty by sniw, in ostraca and papyri of the Nineteenth and writings of .ic-" Twentieth Dynasties should be read as sniw. He states: "it has to be stressed that nowhere in the ostraca and account papyri of the Nineteenth and Twentieth Dynasty I have (sic) come across even thefaintest trace of a reading 'cty or incty'' 63).

It would appear then, that after the Eighteenth Dynasty, ict is supplanted by another word also potentially derived from a verb meaning "to cut", namely sn (Wb. 3.456,15), This is supported by the observation of Wb. 4.415,13 that the verb Sc, ",to cut" was in the process of dropping out of usage during the New Kingdom, to be supplanted by s'Cd (Wb. 4.422). It is of considerable importance to this that it is therefore indicated that the connection between s~, "to study cut" and ict was never lost sight of in the minds of the Egyptians, and that whatever standard of weight may have applied to this word, its connection with some tangible metal object or coupurewas always maintained. As stated above, the ctl/inct or sniw was equivalent to 1/12th of a deben. However, no silver rings of this weight are found in the Tell el Amarna hoard. Those in the Tod treasure hoard have unfortunately been weighed in their connected groups rather than as separate objects. Nevertheless, no discernible system is apparent there either. During the development of coinage, it became necessary to secure the integrity of coins from dishonest paring of the metal. For this reason, coins of valuable metals came to be milled around the edge.162) W Vycichl, "La shat, etalon mon6taire de I'Egypte Pharaonlque", in

Bulletin de la Socziti d'Egyptologie, Genave, vol. 3, 1980, 27ff. 163) Janssen, CommodityPrices, 103-104.





The application of such a device to protect the integrity of a metal bar of fixed weight would probably be less successful, and consequently metal used in exchange would certainly have been weighed in the course of transactions. It is not difficult to see that any rings or bars of fixed weight, if they ever existed in anything but theory, would have been subjected to considerable cutting in the course of commercial exchange. The existence of attempts to protect the integrity of rings or twisted bars of fixed weight should perhaps not be rejected out of hand. Three of the metal rings in the Tell el Amarna hoard are reported to have incised designs on the ends'64). Unfortunately the publication does not give the weights of these pieces separately. Metal hoards containing open rings and scrap similar to those from Tell el Amarna and Tod have been found at Ugarit 65). One of these consists of rings and scrap of electrum166). In assessing the evidence, Cerny came to the conclusion that the sct "was a flat, round piece of metal 1/12 deben, that is about 7.6 grams, in weight, possibly with an inscription to indicate this weight or the name of the issuing authority", adding "If so, the 'piece' was practically a coin"1 67). However, if this were correct, it would be strange, as Janssen '68) observes, that no such objects have been found. The evidence seems to suggest the existence at some point of open rings of silver having a weight fixed at 1/12 debenwhich was employed as a standard unit of weight equivalent to the Assyrian shekel169), the words sct and sniw being descriptive of their physical nature. Since,164) H. Frankfort and J D S. Pendlebury, The City of Akhenaten,Part III, 60, and Plate XLIII, 4. It can best be seen in the photograph reproduced by James in Pharaoh's People, Plate 11. 165) F.-A. Claude Schaeffer, in Syria 13 (1932), Iff., pl. IX, lower right, and pl. XVI. 166) F.-A. Claude Schaeffer, in Syria 16 (1935), 144f. and fig. 6. 167) 6ern', Prices and Wages, 912. 168) Janssen, CommodityPrices, 105 169) The Old Kingdom sct of Urk. 1.157 may have been of different value.



however, the integrity of these rings would have been difficult to maintain against dishonesty and the need for fractional values in practice, and would consequently have been subject to much weighing, it would no longer have been either possible or necessary to maintain the fixed weight of the rings. Nevertheless, the standard would have been maintained by weighing. Weigall cites several inscribed examples of weights of this standard 170).

Conclusions The impression gained from this examination of shipping and trade is of an economy highly centralized around the great institutions of Temple and Crown. In terms of administration, the distinction between the institutions remain unclear. We find officials of the Crown responsible for the collection of Temple income, and Temple institutions cooperating between themselves and the Crown to obtain efficient use of resources. An overall impression is gained of a highly stratified administrative structure separated vertically into contiguous departments of Temple and Crown with lateral movement of officials common. The situation is compounded by the changing political relationship between the Crown, the military and the High Priesthood of Amun during this period. An efficient redistribution system seems to have functioned both through and outside the great institutions through the agency of traders, attached to temples and private. Gold, silver and copper were used by these as a means of exchange, as well as barter in other commodities, as for example in the sale of slaves in pCairo 65739. Private ownership of boats is certain, and private ownership of vessels plying trade with Syria probable, though subject to official imposts. In terms of the relationship between officials and populace, the various royal decrees attest considerable power to commandeer or requisition on the part of the bureaucracy and the army which was170) Weigall, Weightsand Balances, xii.





sometimes abused, leading to frequent disputes. Official policy seems to have encouraged private ownership of boats and made use of such private vessels. While evidently subject to occasional requisitioning, private owners seem to have been remunerated for use of their vessels, and fishermen are seen taking advantage of an official when an opportunity presented itself. It appears certain that a considerable degree of private enterprise existed alongside an extensive bureaucracy, the latter differentiated mainly nominally according to divine or royal affiliation. ADDENDUM Having read a draft of this paper, Professor John A. Brinkman advises me that the Mesopotamian silver coils in the Oriental Institute Museum have been published by Marvin A. Powell: A Contributionto the History of Money in Mesopotamiaprzor to the Invention of LuborMatous',vol. II, eds. B. Hru'ka and G. KoCoinage,in Festschrift mor6czy = AssyriologiaV, Budapest, 1978 (appeared 1981), 211-243. Powell's observations, working with the Mesopotamian evidence, support conclusions reached in this paper from the Egyptian evidence. Powell (p. 234) notes that E. Sollberger, discussing the use of silver rings in Ur III texts, had already suggested that "the rings in question would be similar to those helicoidal rings well known from North-European tombs of the Early Middle Ages. Payments or gifts could be made by cutting off pieces equivalent to the desired amount" (JCS 10 (1956), 23). Powell's conclusions were arrived at independently. His attention was drawn to Sollberger's remarks by W.W. Hallo along with the latter's own note (BiOr 20 (1963), 138) on the subject subsequent to the preparation of his manuscript. Powell notes that, as is well known, metals were traded in Mesopotamia in a form denoted in texts by Sumerian HAR, corresponding to Akkadian .ewirum (semerum,semerum).He proposes that these words, indicating a circular object, do not mean simply "ring"



in the usual sense, but may refer to a coil of metal, this being the convenient form in which metals were handled and used for monetary purposes. This corresponds closely to what has been proposed for the Egyptian dbn, as to both etymology and usage. The earliest textual references to HARknown to Powell are from the Old Akkadian period. It is unclear, as he says, whether currency or jewellery is intended in the texts cited. However, an Old Akkadian text cited by CAD seems clear enough: "Paid 5 (silver) coils, the price of 20 sheep" (CAD, vol. 15, p. 224, 2c: semeru, Met. Mus. 86.11.134 r. iii 11). References to silver, gold, bronze and copper IAR are common in the Ur III period. In the texts, their nominal value may not correspond exactly to their actual weight as given in the same text (Powell, p. 215). As Powell agrees, this caused no real difficulty in practice since they would have been weighed in handling (p. 217). On the wearing of precious metals, he notes that he is not able to discover any clear-cut evidence after the Old Babylonian period where these "rings" function primarily as money as opposed to ornamentation (p. 219). In discussing a passage from the Cruciform Monument of Mani'tu'u: "1 talent anneaux en 30 en mon d'or,a Shamash maitre, d'argent, mines anneaux je pr'sentai"(transl. Limet, Metal, p. 145: CT XXXII, no. 91022 certes, (pl. 4), XI, 1. 5-8 and 25-28), Powell describes this monument as "apparently an Old Babylonian forgery" (p. 219). Sollberger, while concurring in its characterization as a pious fraud, has argued convincingly for a Neo-Babylonian date for this inscription (E. Sollberger, The Cruciform Monument, in Jaarbercht ex OrienteLux 20 (1968), 50 ff.). Powell points out that the term for "one-eighth of a shekel", bitqu, attested from the Middle Babylonian period on, translates literally as "a cutting" (p. 222). This corresponds to the meaning proposed for the Egyptian .ct or sniw, if not to its weight.




He postulates that amounts smaller than this were paid in fragments or scrap silver called .ibirtu which he derives from the verb lebiru, "to break to pieces", "to shatter". The Egyptian equivalent would be hd m qnqn, "silver scrap" (Wb. 5.56,6), the verb qnqnmeaning "to strike", "to beat". Such scrap is found in both the Tod and Amarna hoards together with the clipped rings and, as Powell has shown, silver was handled in the same form at Megiddo where the published hoard consists in part of pieces which appear to have been struck from coils or rings (Powell, p. 243, pl. IIIc: OIP 62 (1948), pl. 229: Oriental Institute cat. A 18925). It becomes increasingly clear that precious metals were handled as both scrap and in the form of helicoidal rings throughout the Fertile Crescent, and that they were used as a form of currency quite early in Mesopotamia, and in Egypt certainly by the New Kingdom, and probably earlier. On the other hand, it should be pointed out that Powell's tentative speculations on early coinage (p. 223 ff.) are not supported by statement which he cites (p. 226 and n. 36). This was based (erny's on Egyptian evidence which better supports the conclusion that precious metals in Egypt were frequently handled and used as a means of exchange in the form of rings cut from a parent coil, as Powell has successfully shown for Mesopotamia.ABBREVIATIONSAR BDB Breasted, J H., Ancient Records of Egypt. 5 vols. New York: Russell and Russell, 1962. Francis Brown, S. R. Driver and Charles A. Briggs, A Hebrew and English Lexicon of the Old TestamentBased on the Lexicon of William Gesenius. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1972. Bibliotheca Orientalis. Leiden: 1943The Assyrian Dictionary of the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago. Chicago and Glfickstadt: 1956Cuneiform Textfrom Babylonian Tablets, etc., in the Brztish Museum. London: 1896Journal of CuneiformStudies. New Haven and Cambridge, Mass.. 1947Kitchen, K. A., Ramesside Inscriptions. Oxford: Blackwell (1975-). M. Dietrich, O Loretz, J Sanmartin, Die Keilalphabetischen Texteaus Ugarit, I. Neukirchen-Vluyn, 1976.


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