Episode 72: The Home Front (Letters to Ahmose)

Personal Correspondence in Early New Kingdom Thebes

Letters are a rare and exciting find for Egyptologists. Especially when they’re intact; and especially when there’s a number of them all concerning the same individual. By a miracle of preservation, a corpus of letters survive from Thebes c.1480 BCE. These letters were sent to (and from) a single scribe: Ahmose, “Peniaty’s man,” a middle-class Egyptian living and working in the Egypt of Thutmose III. In this episode, we meet him.

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The letter of Ptahu to Ahmose, concerning a maid-servant taken by Tetimose (British Museum)

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Two letters of the Ahmose corpus, in transcription: (top) Teti writes to Ahmose concerning a house; (bottom) Ahmose writes to the treasurer  Tey concerning a maid-servant.

Papyrus; Hieratic epistolary text verso and recto.

A letter from Ahmose to an official, of which only the introduction survives (British Museum). Not discussed in episode.

ahmose-shabti

A shabti (servant figurine) of Ahmose (Glanville 1928)

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A kohl (charcoal eye-liner) box of Ahmose (Glanville 1928)

Bibliography

Edward F. Wente, Letters from Ancient Egypt, 1990.

S.R.K. Glanville, “The Letters of Aahmose of Peniati,”Journal of Egyptian Archaeology 14 (1928) JSTOR

T. Eric Peet, “Two Eighteenth Dynasty Letters,” Journal of Egyptian Archaeology 12 (1926) JSTOR

Elizabeth Frood, “Social Structure and Daily Life,” in Toby Wilkinson (ed.) The Egyptian World 2010.

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