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Mrs. Naunakhte & FamilyThe Women of Ramesside Deir al-Medina$

Koenraad Donker van Heel

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9789774167737

Published to Cairo Scholarship Online: September 2017

DOI: 10.5743/cairo/9789774167737.001.0001

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Two Scribes Called Amunnakhte

Two Scribes Called Amunnakhte

Chapter:
(p.211) 16 Two Scribes Called Amunnakhte
Source:
Mrs. Naunakhte & Family
Author(s):

Koenraad Donker van Heel

Publisher:
American University in Cairo Press
DOI:10.5743/cairo/9789774167737.003.0016

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter focuses on two scribes, both named Amunnakhte; one is the son of Khaemnun and Naunakhte, the other the son of Ipuy. It first considers O. DeM 225 from early Dynasty 20, which shows Amunnakhte the son of Khaemnun and Naunakhte being commissioned by a Mrs. Iy to manufacture a coffin. It then examines the letters that Amunnakhte and Maaninakhtef wrote each other, including one in which he urges the latter to take care of their business. It also analyzes P. DeM 4–6, believed to have been written by three different scribes, and concludes with a discussion of P. Vienna KM 3925 verso, the writing of which is somehow slightly reminiscent of Amunnakhte son of Ipuy, but which also mentions the scribe Amunmose who brought something to a number of men and women, among them Amunnakhte son of Khaemnun and Naunakhte.

Keywords:   scribes, Amunnakhte, Khaemnun, Naunakhte, Amunnakhte son of Ipuy, letters, Maaninakhtef, Amunmose

The workman-carpenter-scribe Amunnakhte son of Khaemnun and Naunakhte inherited some of his mother’s possessions, including a number of household goods. The five siblings who were allowed to take their pick from these items took turns taking the objects of their choice, but it is striking that Amunnakhte always came to pick first or second in line (see chapter 7, “A Day in the Life of Menatnakhte”). He also inherited the library of his mother’s first husband and added several items to it.

In the sources from Deir al-Medina it is sometimes difficult to distinguish between him and the famous scribe Amunnakhte son of Ipuy, who officiated from the reign of Ramesses III onward, or other people of the same name. Note, for instance, O. DeM 336, in which the scribe Amunmose writes to either the scribe Amunnakhte son of Ipuy or to ‘our’ Amunnakhte about seventy-nine glazed objects, possibly ushabtis (in the lacuna). Since this Amunmose was clearly a friend of the family (see chapter 8, “A Boy with a Golden Pair of Hands”), this may actually be ‘our’ Amunnakhte.

We may, however, be sure that our man is meant in O. DeM 225 from early Dynasty 20 (the same case is probably also recorded in P. DeM 26 recto ll. 1–8, but this is very damaged). In this text he is commissioned by a Mrs. Iy to manufacture a coffin, probably for the burial of her late husband. Perhaps she had first asked a man called Amuneminet to do this, but this deal somehow never materialized, and he brought the issue before the court—no doubt because the hut on the col between the village and the Valley of the Kings or in the valley itself, which would be given to Amunnakhte as compensation, had been promised to him earlier.

(p.212) Said by the workman Amuneminet to the court of listeners, (consisting of) the scribe Pentaweret, the scribe Paser, the chief of police Pentaweret, the chief of police Montumose. What was said by the workman Amuneminet and the female citizen Iy, (the widow) of Huy, who is deceased. “She said: ‘I made a coffin for my husband and I buried him.’ So she said. She (then) said to the scribe Amunnakhte: ‘Make a coffin for Huy (and) you take for yourself his hut.’ [So she] said. She said to the scribe Amunnakhte: ‘Let the coffin be […]…. There is no […].’ I said to her: ‘[…].’ And I […].”

As usual, one quickly loses track of who said what to whom, but the gist is that Amuneminet felt wronged by Iy (the text breaks off here), so he now demanded compensation. In any case, the important thing to note here is that apparently in specific circumstances widows could dispose of (some of) the property of their late husbands as they saw fit. This was either because it was the conjugal property (with her deciding what was to be her one-third), or because her husband had put her in charge of the division of his inheritance.

Somehow it feels sad to see a grown man taking a poor widow to court about something as delicate as the burial of her husband, but in this case there seems little room for a different interpretation. Not all the people we meet are nice. Maybe Iy or even her deceased husband had actually promised Amuneminet that he could have the hut after his death, and a promise by mouth—probably supported by an oath—would have carried the same weight as any written document, especially if there had been witnesses to hear the oath. But, as so often, we do not know what happened.

If we look in Who’s Who, we will only find a few references to our man, who is called Amunnakhte (xxvi), which is partly explained by the fact that it is so difficult to distinguish between our man and the scribe Amunnakhte son of Ipuy, such as in the so-called name stones, which generally list only a name and sometimes also a title (e.g., O. IFAO 437 and 1096).

We do know that our Amunnakhte liked to refer to himself as sesh ‘scribe’ on more than one occasion, however. The official records, such as the work journals O. DeM 41 and 47 from year 1 of Ramesses IV, refer to him without any title. There he is simply Amunnakhte son of Khaemnun. Or he sometimes occurs as in O. BM EA 50730 + 50745 from the same year, where he appears almost side by side with the scribe (p.213) Amunnakhte, as the workman Amunnakhte. But in a source such as the unpublished O. Ashmolean Museum 284, for instance, which mentions copper, woodwork, and a scribe Amunnakhte, we really cannot be sure which of the two Amunnakhtes is meant, although it is tempting to think that the mention of woodwork gives him away.

Earlier in this book O. Berlin P 12630 was construed as a letter illustrating the stinginess of the scribe Amunnakhte son of Ipuy, but what if it was addressed to our Amunnakhte? The letter is clearly about woodwork and a carpenter who had been stupid enough to deliver his products after some empty promises, also by our Amunnakhte. If this is really the case, then the woman addressed here would be our Amunnakhte’s wife, who is, however, not known by name. We do know he was married, because he had at least one son, who was named Khaemnun, and there must have been many more sons and daughters. But as with his brother Maaninakhtef, women do not play a very large role in his dossier.

(Recto) Memo from the workman Mose to the ci[tizen …]. To wit: the scribe Amunnakhte, your husband, has taken one coffin from me, saying: “I will give you the ox to pay for it.” To this day he has not given it. I told it to Paâkhet and he said to me: “Give me a bed for it and I will bring the ox for you when it has grown up.” I gave him the bed. No coffin, no bed to this day. (Verso) If you (want to) give the ox, then let it be brought. If no ox (?), then let one bring the bed and the coffin (back).

In this letter, the use of the title ‘scribe’ therefore either means that the sender had indeed written this letter to the wife of the senior scribe, or to the wife of our Amunnakhte son of Naunakhte, in which case he may have deemed it advisable to at least uphold decorum. After all, he was trying to get paid.

Amunnakhte seems to have been an average villager (except for the fact that he could read and write), so at times we see him attending parties, as in O. Berlin P 14328, together with his brothers Neferhotep and Maaninakhtef. He was sometimes also called upon to do his civic duty, such as attending official court meetings, or at least the taking of an Oath of the Lord by others. In O. Ashmolean Museum 137 from year 3 of Ramesses V he witnessed such an event, when one policeman promised the other to repay a loan of grain, probably after the new harvest, which often happened (p.214) in Egypt. Taking a grain loan was simple, as long as one was prepared to repay it with 50 percent interest. If the loan was not paid in time, the amount to be repaid would be doubled. But the profit involved made it worthwhile, as the abnormal hieratic grain loan on Tablet MMA 35.3.318 from around 686 BCE shows:

Regnal year 5, first month of the shemu season, day 2. Has said the farmer of the Domain of Amun Paterenuphis son of Pakeri to the prophet of Amun Horsiese son of Djedkhonsuiufankh: “I have received from you the 30 (sacks) of barley at interest in barley. It is I who shall give them to you in regnal year 6, fourth month of the akhet season, day 30, being 45 (sacks) of barley. They shall be delivered to your house, whereas I will have nothing to discuss with you.”

In other words, Paterenuphis borrowed thirty sacks of barley around October 686, which he promised to pay back with 50 percent interest in June the next year. These dates are no coincidence. September and October were the usual months in which people concluded land leases, and the following June was the time of harvest. Still, Paterenuphis would have to pay about 3,600 liters of barley, when he had borrowed only 2,400. Was this really worthwhile? It would seem so. If we set the eventual yield of one sack of seed at eight hundred liters (ten sacks), Paterenuphis could expect to harvest no less than three hundred sacks (24,000 liters) of barley, so after the repayment of the loan and 10 percent taxes he would still be left with 225 sacks (18,000 liters). Not bad for half a year’s work.

Just like some of his brothers, Amunnakhte worked as a carpenter alongside his regular job, and it may well be that he is the man referred to as ‘the draftsman Amunnakhte’ in O. DeM 232 (Ramesses III). The text lists two payments, to a carpenter for woodwork and to Amunnakhte. The fact that these payments are listed together on a single ostracon suggests that Amunnakhte and the anonymous carpenter—who may have been one of his brothers—had worked together on a single assignment. In O. DeM 553 (Ramesses III) an Amunnakhte is paid for his work on a coffin:

What was given to the draftsman Amunnakhte in return for the large coffin […]: fine linen dress 1, makes 1 shenaty. Barley 1 sack and 4 mats, makes 1 shenaty. Wood for door 1, makes 2 shenaty. Sleeping mat 1, 3 jugs, (p.215) makes 2 shenaty. Total: 5 shenaty, entered (as) paid. Given to him in [return for …]: … Woman’s chair 1, makes 1 shenaty, which is also with him. Box 1, which makes 1 shenaty. Basket 1.

In O. Glasgow D.1925.68 (O. Colin Campbell 3) from the middle of Dynasty 20 we see him and his brother Maaninakhtef doing woodwork for the vizier, which can perhaps be interpreted as a clear recognition of their skills. The text also mentions a sesh ‘scribe’ Khaemnun. Could this actually be their own father, and if so, does this mean that Naunakhte’s husband Khaemnun could also read and write—or (more probably) could this have been one of their own sons? It would be one of only two references in all the sources from Deir al-Medina, and the first hypothesis would presuppose that Naunakhte taught her husband to do this, which sounds utterly impossible. Even if the woman was the nebet per ‘the mistress of the house,’ teaching boys would be one thing, teaching your husband quite another. Maybe this Khaemnun was Amunnakhte’s own son.

Amunnakhte and Maaninakhtef wrote each other letters, and in the Valley of the Kings Swiss archaeologists also found a model letter (or a draft) from Maaninakhtef to Amunnakhte (O. KV 18/3.576). In one of the letters—P. DeM 11—the former urges him to take care of their business. Unfortunately the papyrus is damaged, and it is also unknown whether they had a conflict with some Syrians or—in two out of three cases—just one woman called Kharery.

The scribe Maaninakhtef greets the scribe Amunnakhte. In life, prosperity, health and in the favor of [Pa]rahorakhty. To wit: I am here, saying to Meres[ger, Mistress of the] West and all the gods of [Thebes], to watch you, while you […]. Now, what is this you being so stupid and to bring the […] house of Hay? I’m not afraid of […] Syrian (or Mrs. Kharery) of the West, as a person who listens […] father, at this place where you are. Make sure that you give one bed to […] Thebes (and a) chair. You shall let him bring them […] Syrian (or Mrs. Kharery) this time. When the letter [reaches you, go to] this place where the three Syrians are [… and have] them brought to me …

Could it be that Maaninakhtef spent much of his time in Hu, trying to manage his carpenter’s shop from there? In any case, we know the brothers were not confined to the village for their business, but also (p.216) traded with the people from Thebes on the eastern bank of the Nile (as one would expect) and downriver in Hu.

Letters from ancient Egypt are notoriously difficult to interpret, because we often do not understand the context in which they were written. P. DeM 4 (Ramesses V) is somehow different, because it is a rather desperate letter by a friend who feels that Amunnakhte is holding a grudge against him. After the usual flowery introduction (which we will skip here), Mr. Nakhtsobek, who refers to himself as sesh ‘scribe,’ comes to the point.

To wit: what kind of crime have I committed against you? Am I not your old bread-eating companion? Has the hour indeed come that you will turn yourself away? What must I do? Write to me about the crime that I committed [against] you [through] the policeman B[asa]. But if you will not write to me something good or bad, then [this is going to be] a bad day. It is not as if I am asking something from you at all. Any person is happy (‘sweet’) to be with his old bread-eating companion. Of course new things are good, but an old companion is better. When my letter reaches you, [you] must write about your situation through the policeman Basa. Instruct me about […] today. Do not let <it be> said: “Do not enter your (my) house. ( … )”

Could this by any chance be the same Nakhtsobek who at some point in time owned P. Chester Beatty I, to which he then added a colophon with his own name (see below)? And did he present this papyrus to Amunnakhte? In his brilliant essay on the owners of the Chester Beatty papyri—the scribe Qenhirkhopshef, Naunakhte, Khaemnun (possibly), Amunnakhte, and finally Maaninakhtef—Pestman reconstructed what happened to Qenhirkhopshef’s library after he passed away, using P. Chester Beatty III as a case study.

During the first stage of the history of this library the papyrus contained only a Dream Book on the recto and part of the verso, which was written in the reign of Ramesses II. The papyrus then came into the possession of Qenhirkhopshef, who used the verso of the papyrus to copy the story of the Battle of Qadesh and write a model letter to the vizier Panehsy.

When the archive reached Amunnakhte, he wrote a new colophon in a rather unusual place, smack in the middle of the text on the recto, where there was an empty space (see chapter 8, “A Boy with a Golden (p.217) Pair of Hands”). It is difficult to believe that someone who so proudly added his name to this text would have been the person responsible for the mutilation of the papyrus that happened at a later date. Maaninakhtef would seem the most likely suspect. Amunnakhte did deposit several new documents in the archive, such as P. DeM 11 (a letter by Maaninakhtef) and also P. DeM 4 (see above).

It so happens that there may be two more letters (P. DeM 5 and 6) to Amunnakhte, suggesting he was not the most easygoing person who ever walked the planet. Černý, who published these letters, thought that they were indeed from Nakhtsobek to Amunnakhte, as did Pestman, but this was contested by Deborah Sweeney, in the Journal of Egyptian Archaeology

84. She argued that, on the basis of the way the scribe or scribes who wrote P. DeM 4–6 wrote the maculine article pa ‘the,’ the texts were actually written by three different scribes, and perhaps even four if we include the very fragmentary P. DeM 22 in this dossier (as some do). Sweeney is an expert on Deir al-Medina, but perhaps the mistake made here is the assumption that our handwriting—or Nakhtsobek’s several thousand years ago—has to look exactly the same each time we write something (see below). There are so many factors influencing our handwriting that it is actually a miracle we can produce similar-looking writing most of the time. Although Sweeney did have a point in stating that the sender and the addressee are not known by name in either P. DeM 5 or 6, the tone of voice in all three letters is intimate and very direct, much more so than usual, and—this may be the decisive argument—P. DeM 4–6 were also found together (many P. DeM refer to the children of Naunakhte and Khaemnun), so why would it be different for P. DeM 5–6? Wente, in Letters from Ancient Egypt (1990), elegantly skirted this problem by simply listing P. DeM 4–6 in consecutive order without any commentary.

So it is time to move on to P. DeM 5, although it should be kept in mind that these numbers do not in any way need to represent the chronological order of events. We will skip the very short introduction, which this time does not list the gods who have to protect the addressee.

What’s with you? Write and let me know the state of your heart, so that I can enter it. Now, from when I was a boy to this day I have been with you, but I do not understand your nature. Is it good for a man if he says something to his companion two times, and he does not listen to him? Like (p.218) the hin measure of ointment I requested from you. You told me: “I will let it be brought to you, so that you will not be lacking.” Write to me about your situation instead of (sending) the ointment. May Amun be before you. You may find something useful in them (?). It is not good at all what you have done to me repeatedly. On another note: soak some bread, and let it be brought [to me] as quickly as possible. May your health be good.

These are people who know each other very intimately. The sender cleverly reminds the addressee that they have been friends ever since they were kids, and even then he was something of an enigma. So could it be that our Amunnakhte simply resorted to silence if he was angry or hurt, knowing full well that this was a very effective way to make other people feel very uncomfortable? According to Sweeney one of the essential elements in this letter is that the sending of the ointment could have served as a token of reconciliation, in a village where gift-giving was important. This may be so, but in this letter the sender actually says: “Look, forget about the ointment, just tell me what’s the matter.” There may well be an underlying mechanism of gift-giving to reestablish a broken relationship in place here, but can we just this once look at this letter and simply try to understand it with our hearts? Or do we really have to suppose that the sender and the addressee would never have made amends if no ointment was transferred between the two of them? It is difficult to believe. These were, after all, friends.

P. DeM 6 raises even more questions. The recently assigned dating to Dynasty 19, and more specifically the reign of Ramesses II, is not correct, if only because the text fits so snugly into a Dynasty 20 context. The flowery intro is again skipped, although it should be noted that the gods invoked in it are not the same as the ones mentioned elsewhere.

You are with me as a brother forever, [me acting as (?)] an adult freeman (private citizen) with (?) you every day. [To wit: …], as for my writing to you yesterday, saying: “Let one bring me one hin of o[intment for your] bread-eating companion.”

Look here, she has come, but you have not let [one bring] it. If there is none, can’t you give up your clothing and let them bring what I wrote to you about? When my letter reaches you, you must let the ointment be brought about which I wrote to you. See to it immediately. Do not let the man wait, while you […] run off for her to the village (Deir al-Medina).

(p.219) Now look, I have intercepted her and I have not let her know that I wrote to you: “She is here.” She has come to stand before (the oracle of) Nefertari, life, prosperity, health, because of a dream. Take care of her and do not do what you do day in, day out. I am the one who writes to you daily, but you do not write back. May your health be good.

“She is here” is expressed by two simple words: su dy ‘she here.’ Clear language goes a long way to help, and it has been noted before that the language of the workmen would make a wonderful dissertation that would make any Late Egyptian grammarian cry.

Clear language. Deborah Sweeney and Janet Johnson are some of the authors who make gender studies fun and interesting, and therefore relevant. They write in a clear and crisp language that readers can understand. Some of the other literature in this genre is—unfortunately—never read, because it is unintelligible. An article or book should give the reader an understanding of what life was (or could have been) like for the women in Deir al-Medina or ancient Egypt in general. The sources themselves are difficult enough to deal with in the first place, so that passages such as the following (by an author who shall remain anonymous) should perhaps be replaced with clear and crisp language:

The generational tombs in the Western Necropolis (of Deir al-Medina) reflect an increasing awareness of the relatedness of individuals, who share a common destiny in this life and the next. This shift toward lineage-based burial might represent a different type of social awareness and responsibility, or a material response to economic pressure, i.e., limited time and resources, or perhaps an increased desire to enhance one’s opportunities in living contexts through associations with dead, though related, members of the community. This last point is relevant to the competitive nature of employment in this specific village.

A Mr. Wepemnofret—or Wep for short—who was one of King Khufu’s many sons, chose to have himself buried in the immediate environment of his father’s pyramid in about 2650 BCE (as did other siblings), so maybe this whole ‘increasing awareness of the relatedness of individuals’ concept is nonsense. The Deir al-Medina women delivered children at the cost of great pain and quite often death, reared them, cared for them, worried about them, and, more often than they wished, had to bury them. The evidence (p.220) for villagers practicing a cult for their forebears is overwhelming. There was very little wrong with their awareness of who was a relative and who was not. So perhaps we should rephrase things a bit:

The generational tombs in the western necropolis may reflect either a clearly felt family bond or simply a lack of burial space. Also, being able to point to an ancestor’s tomb proved that people were village people, and thus eligible for a position.

(This is actually how I make my money. Turning fuzzy stuff into something people can understand.)

But we are not finished with P. DeM 6 yet, because some crucial passages have been translated differently by previous authors. For one thing, if this is indeed a letter from Nakhtsobek to Amunnakhte, it would seem that Amunnakhte was not in the village at all, because the woman referred to in this letter ran away to the village, unless of course one accepts Wente’s translation: “Do not keep the man waiting, while you (the addressee) […] run off for her to the village,” which seems to refer to Černý’s rendering (in French). So does the notion that the bread-eating companion in P. DeM 6 is in this case actually the woman (the essential signs that would determine whether it was a man or a woman are almost erased), whereas in P. DeM 4 the same expression is used by Nakhtsobek to refer to himself. I myself have very little doubt that Nakhtsobek is once again referring to himself here, and that the whole woman thing is an entirely new subject.

So we return to the idea proposed by Sweeney that the writing of the masculine article pa demonstrates that P. DeM 4–6 were written by three different scribes.

In ancient Egyptian the masculine article pa was written from right to left in hieratic, with the sign of the duck flying (Gardiner G 40) and the vulture (Gardiner G 1). If we look at the way pa is written in P. DeM 4–6, it looks rather uniform in P. DeM 4 and shows some spectacular variations in P. DeM 5. The characters in P. DeM 6 are also uniformly written, but they take a slightly more cursive form in P. DeM 4. It would seem therefore that Sweeney’s observation that the texts were all written by different scribes is correct. It should be noted, however, that all the other words from P. DeM 4–6 in her paleographical tables contradict this observation because they show (too) many similarities across P. DeM

(p.221) 4–6. In other words, the only real obstacle to identifying P. DeM 4–6 as the products of a single scribe is the masculine article pa. Is that enough?

Two Scribes Called Amunnakhte

Figure 11. P. DeM 4 (left), P. DeM 5 (middle), and P. DeM 6 (right; table adapted from Sweeney, Journal of Egyptian Archaeology 84)

As we can see, the examples from P. DeM 4–6 show great variety, although some of these variations are easily explained by external factors such as amount of ink left on the brush, pressure exerted by the scribe when he put the brush on the papyrus, and the like. Other factors possibly involved are haste, state of mind, and concentration, but this has been commented on elsewhere (K. Donker van Heel, Djekhy & Son: Doing Business in Ancient Egypt (p.222) (Cairo: American University in Cairo Press, 2012), chapter 12). Still, if we look at pa in P. DeM 5 verso l. 3, we see that it is actually identical to the examples from P. DeM 4, which proves that the scribe of P. DeM 5 knew exactly how to write the form employed by the scribe of P. DeM 4.

In layman’s terms: the scribe of P. DeM 5 apparently wrote pa in an elaborate (‘Sunday’) and an abbreviated (‘weekday’) form. This phenomenon had already been explained earlier by Jack Janssen, who noted that the famous Deir al-Medina scribe Djehutymose employed no fewer than three separate forms of pa.

Two Scribes Called Amunnakhte

Figure 12. Djehutymose’s three ways to write pa

(from K. Donker van Heel, in R.J. Demarée and A. Egberts, eds., Deir el-Medina in the Third Millennium AD: A Tribute to Jac. J. Janssen (Leiden, 2000))

Here we see another Sunday form (left), a weekday form (right), and an even more cursive weekday form (middle), showing that the use of pa to ascribe texts to separate scribes may not be a very reliable criterion.

The next thing that we will have to prove is, Did Nakhtsobek also employ the more cursive weekday variant as displayed by the scribe of P. DeM 6? And it turns out he did. When P. Chester Beatty I—which was to belong to ‘our’ Amunnakhte at some later date—came into Nakhtsobek’s possession, he added a colophon (‘scribe Nakhtsobek of The Tomb’) in which he uses the exact form of pa employed by the scribe of P. DeM 6.

Two Scribes Called Amunnakhte

Figure 13. Nakhtsobek’s colophon in P. Chester Beatty I

(from K. Donker van Heel, in R.J. Demarée and A. Egberts, eds., Deir el-Medina in the Third Millennium AD: A Tribute to Jac. J. Janssen (Leiden, 2000))

(p.223) So the next question is, Given that the scribe of P. DeM 5 wrote pa once just like Nakhtsobek did in P. DeM 4, and that Nakhtsobek did write pa in his colophon exactly like the scribe of P. DeM 6, should we not be allowed to propose with Černý (probably the greatest expert on New Kingdom administrative hieratic ever) that he was—or at least could very well have been—the scribe of P. DeM 4–6, all the more so because the examples of Djehutymose’s writings of pa have already proved that a single scribe could employ three separate forms as he saw fit? In that case the writings of pa used by Nakhtsobek would have been as follows: Sunday form, weekday form, and cursive weekday form:

Two Scribes Called Amunnakhte

Figure 14. Nakhtsobek’s three ways to write pa

(from K. Donker van Heel, in R.J. Demarée and A. Egberts, eds., Deir el-Medina in the Third Millennium AD: A Tribute to Jac. J. Janssen (Leiden, 2000))

The last document to be discussed in this chapter is P. Vienna KM 3925 verso. The recto contains a magical text, unconnected with the administrative document on the verso. The writing is somehow slightly reminiscent of the scribe Amunnakhte son of Ipuy. Which is not to say that he wrote this text. Chris Eyre has shown that there may well have been ‘schools’ in Deir al-Medina teaching students to acquire a specific handwriting, in much the same way as Rembrandt taught his students to paint the way he did (or at least paint in a way that would not interfere with his own additions to the painting).

The verso was erased to write the present text. The content is not readily understood. The header mentions the scribe Amunmose who brought something to a number of men and women, among whom we find—if we trust the Leiden Deir el-Medina Database—our Amunnakhte, and also a man called Aânakhte son of Khaemnun (according to Kitchen, Ramesside Inscriptions), who occurs only in this papyrus, at least with a filiation. According to Who’s Who he was also known as Minnakhte. If this really was a son of Khaemnun and Naunakhte, he did not live to see the division of his mother’s inheritance. In O. DeM 398, a list of people doing (p.224) work from year 3 of Ramesses IV, he appears with Amunnakhte. He is also found in O. DeM 828 + O. Vienna H. 1 (year 25 of Ramesses III), which also mentions their sister’s husband Weserhat and their father Khaemnun (ll. 12–13; see chapter 6, “Was Husband Number Two a Demotion?”).

The recent publication of the papyrus, however, suggests more. The editor reads the alleged ‘Aânakhte son of Khaemnun’ as ‘Wasetnakhte son of Khaemnun,’ which is awkward, because she was his daughter, and the correct reading should then be ‘Wasetnakhte {son of} <daughter of> Khaemnun).’ He also read the name ‘Maaninakhtef son of Khaemnun’ in column II l. 1. Although the passage is severely damaged, the reading seems correct, even if Kitchen had Hat[…] followed by the determinative one expects for the name of Maaninakhtef’s father Khaemnun.

The scribe Amunmose could be the same man who was in such close contact with Maaninakhtef in some of the letters that were kept with the family archive. Then again, there were more scribes called Amunmose in Deir al-Medina, but in the future it may prove to be worthwhile to check lists such as these for just these kinds of (possible) relationships.

What makes this text interesting is that there are just names; no amounts or commodities are delivered. In a way one could say this describes our Amunnakhte perfectly well. He had at least one son, so he must have had a wife. But who was she?