Feature object: Oracular papyrus bundle, Third Intermediate-Late Period

Feature object: Oracular papyrus bundle, Third Intermediate-Late Period
When the ancient Egyptians wanted to know what lay ahead, they could consult an oracle. Oracles are first firmly attested in the New Kingdom (ca.1550-1069BCE) but it is likely the practice of asking for divine guidance is much older.

One of the most well documented oracles was the oracle of the deified king Amenhotep I at the tomb builders' village of Deir el-Medina west of Thebes. Although the details of how an oracle was consulted on a day to day basis are not yet fully understood, texts tell us that the oracle of Amenhotep I could be asked questions via his statue as it was carried in processions. The statue would (apparently) indicate the answer to the petitioner's question with a yes/no by 'moving' backwards and forwards.

The god patiently listened to any kind of question, ranging from health matters to business transactions, but usually only the results of questions connected with legal disputes were recorded in court documentation complete with the date and witnesses to the god's ruling. An example of this is an ostracon recording a property dispute (British Museum EA5625 https://goo.gl/UCpdEE) between two villagers. These records were found on papyri and ostraca in a large rubbish pit (which was originally a failed well) at the site.

A chapel dedicated to Amenhotep I and his mother Ahmose Nefertari near the village was also linked to the oracle.

McDowell A.G. (1999) Village life in Ancient Egypt - Laundry lists and love songs. New York: Oxford University Press p.107



  1. A Gabrielle Sure, some posts in the Collection have sharing disabled due to copyright or intellectual property reasons. For example, in some instances I had to apply for permission at museums to photograph objects and specify the purpose for taking the photograph, or have special permission from my University to post an image, other posts contain original artwork or research.
    In other cases I have found people resharing my posts with comments irrelevant to the post content (usually racism/hate speech) so I have disabled sharing of those posts also. If there is a particular post which you cannot reshare but would like to, let me know and I can review it. Thanks for your interest in this Collection!

  2. Enjoy your day fixing to go to sleep in N.Texas.Here its 10:30pm.

  3. Whats in there ??, fine out by 3D or more laser images. Tks.


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