miércoles, 8 de julio de 2015

Part of a legal document written on papyrus for a woman named Naunakhte in about 1145 BC.

Part of a legal document written on papyrus for a woman named Naunakhte in about 1145 BC.
The Woman
Naunakhte was one of the inhabitants of the village we now know as Deir el-Medina, from the present-day Arabic name of the site. This was no ordinary community: a compact settlement set amidst the limestone cliffs of Western Thebes, it was home to the workers who created the royal tombs in the Valley of the Kings. They included draughtsmen, scribes, painters, and the workmen who were organised in gangs to hollow out the rock-cut tombs. Thanks to the wealth of documents discovered at the site, written on papyrus or ostraca (pieces of limestone or potsherds), we know more about this special village than any other settlement in Ancient Egypt. Naunakhte was married twice, first to a scribe named Kenhikhopshef, by whom she had no children, and secondly to a workman named Khaemnun, with whom she has eight children. She inherited property from her first husband, and also perhaps from her father. Although women in Ancient Egypt had virtually no earning-power and their life was essentially focused on marriage and raising children, they exercised independent control of any property that had come to them outside their marriage.
The Document
One of several legal documents connected with Naunakhte and her family, this is the most important, her will. It records a declaration which she made late in life before a court consisting of 14 villagers, in year 3 of Ramesses V. In this, she specified that her property should be divided between five of her children (three sons and two daughters), but that three others (a son and two daughters), who had dissatisfied her, should not receive anything: ‘But see,’ she says, ‘I am grown old, and see, they are not looking after me in my turn...They shall not participate in the division of my one-third, but in the two-thirds of their father they shall participate.’ Naunakhte’s property seems to have consisted mostly of furniture and utensils, plus a few metal vessels of greater value plus a few metal vessels of greater value. She made a special point of giving one of these, a bowl, to one of the three sons amongst the five ‘good’ children who would inherit her property. 


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