Letter in the Hieratic Script


Letter in the Hieratic Script  [ edit ]

For day-to-day documents, ancient Egyptian scribes wrote in a cursive, abbreviated form of hieroglyphs called “hieratic,” the script used in this short letter. A small rectangular piece of papyrus cut from a longer scroll, this letter consists of a list of festival offerings that a woman, Hetep, gave to a man, Penre, apparently to settle a previous debt. The recto consists primarily of a list of loaves of bread, cuts of meat, and assorted vegetables, while the verso includes an unusual curse formula and oath: “No male robber (of the necropolis) shall violate it; no female robbers of the necropolis shall violate it. As Re endures, as Re endures, they will reach Paenre, consisting of what Hetep gives to you because she has given it to you before Re.” After being written, the letter was folded (the horizontal creases are still visible in the thin lines of missing fibers), and the address was written, which is why the name of the addressee is upside down relative to the text on the verso.


ca. 1450 BCE


Eighteenth Dynasty


11.8cm x 15.9 cm






Beinecke Rare Book Library

Accession Number

P.CtYBR inv. 1732