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The Elephantine Papyri. Robert Hutto. Through the nineteenth century and into the beginning of the twentieth, a collection of papyri was found at and around a. The Elephantine papyri are written in Aramaic, the lingua franca of the Persian period from Asia Minor to Arabia and Upper. Egypt. In vocabulary, phraseology. One of the oldest collections of Jewish manuscripts, dating from the fifth century BCE, the Elephantine papyri were written by the Jewish community at.

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Though some fragments on papyrus are much older, the largest number of papyri are written in Aramaicthe lingua franca of the Persian Empireand document the Jewish community among soldiers elephanhine at Elephantine under Persian rule, — BCE. A elehpantine defective strip of papyrus with writing on both sides. He was the first person to find Aramaic papyri. In this case, Ananiah and Tamut already had a young son when the document was drawn up.

In the course of this appeal, the Jewish inhabitants of Elephantine speak of the antiquity of the damaged temple:. Canaan and Israel in Antiquity: This unique Jewish community possessed its own temple to Yahweh on the island, apparently functioning alongside the long-established papyyri shrine of the local ram-headed deity Khnum.

University of California Press, They are a collection of ancient Jewish manuscripts dating from the 5th century BCE.

Elephantine papyri

Ancient marriage documents generally formalized already existing relationships. Brooklyn Museum of Art. As such proximity might suggest, the Egyptians, Jews, and Persians in Elephantine all lived among one another.

It was at this time that scholars finally realized that “Wilbour had acquired the first Elephantine papyri”. The Elephantine Papyri consist of documents from the Egyptian border fortresses of Elephantine elephahtine Syene Aswanwhich yielded hundreds of papyri in Hieratic and Demotic EgyptianAramaicGreekLatin and Copticspanning a period of years. The property, in a town on Elephantine Island, named for the god Khnumwas located across the street from the Temple of Yahou and adjacent to the Persian family of Ubil’s Father.


Further Elephantine papyri are at the Brooklyn Museum. Anat-Yahu is described as either the wife [12] or paredra, sacred consort [13] of Yahweh or as a hypostatized aspect of Yahweh.

The first modern indications as to the existence of this community were revealed in papyri bought by Giovanni Belzoni. Retrieved 3 December Official excavation of the island commenced inproviding an archaeological context for the fascinating details of daily life revealed in the archives.

This page was last edited on 1 Decemberat A Family Archive from the Nile Valley. It was rare for a slave to be freed. As with all property transfers within a family, this gift was described as made “in love”. As an institution, slavery in Egypt at that time differed in notable ways from the practice in some other cultures: The boundary description included here refers to the Temple of Yahou in Elephantine, now rebuilt eight years after its destruction in BCE during a civil war conflict that arose out of a land dispute.

Princeton University Press,pp. There was a response of both governors Bagoas and Delaiah which gave the permission by decree to rebuild the temple written in the form of a memorandum: They included an Egyptian who held the post of gardener of the Egyptian god Khnum and, on the other side, two Persian boatmen. Nearly twenty-two years after her marriage to Ananiah, Tamut’s master released her and her daughter, Yehoishema, from slavery.

Excavation work done in revealed the remains of the Jewish colony centered on a small temple.

The papyri have been grouped here by topic, such as marriage contract, real estate transaction, or loan agreement. For his daughter Yehoishema’s dowry, Ananiah had transferred to her partial ownership of the house he shared with Tamut. The documents include letters and legal contracts from family and other archives, and are thus an invaluable source of knowledge for scholars of varied disciplines such as epistolographylaw, society, religion, language and onomastics.


A multicultural couple marries, buys a house, raises kids. This papyrus records the sale of the remaining portion of Ananiah and Tamut’s house to Yehoishema’s husband.

The Elephantine Papyri

Image of document is in gallery below. You may say in Egypt Egyptian slaves retained control over personal property, had professions, and were entitled to compensation. The receipt demonstrates that friendly business relations continued between Egyptians and Jews in Elephantine after the expulsion of the Persians by pharaoh Amyrtaios of the 28th Dynasty.

The eight papyri contained at the Brooklyn Museum concern one particular Jewish family, providing specific information about the daily lives of a man called Ananiah, a Jewish temple official; his wife, Tamut, an Egyptian slave; and their children, over the course of paphri years. The legal descriptions of the house preserve the names of Ananiah’s neighbors.

Because Tamut was a slave when she married Ananiah, the contract has special conditions: The renovation of the house and its gradual transfers to family members are the central concerns of the next several documents in Ananiah’s family archive. The Jews had their own temple to Yahweh [1] evincing polytheistic beliefs, which functioned alongside that of Khnum.

Elephantine Papyri

The ‘Passover letter’ of BCE discovered inwhich gives detailed instructions for properly keeping the passover is in the Egyptian Museum of Berlin. Be ritually clean and take heed. In contrast to Jewish documents like this one, contemporaneous Egyptian marriage documents were negotiated between a husband and eleohantine. Views Read Edit View history.