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Later papyri

Papyrus was the nearest Egyptian equivalent of paper, and was used as a writing material. The earliest papyrus (unused) was found in a first dynasty tomb at Saqqara. The only papyri which survive from the Old Kingdom are some administrative archives and the occasional letter. From the Middle Kingdom onwards we find them used for literary and religious texts as well. For scribbling notes, the Egyptians tended to use ostraka. The largest group of papyri are versions of the Book of the Dead, a guide to what the deceased might expect to have to do and say to reach the next world. These make their earliest appearances near the beginning of the 18th dynasty, and continue right into the Roman period; they are descended from the Pyramid Texts and the Coffin Texts. Book of the Dead papyri also form the vast majority of papyrus finds from tombs.

One or two small fragments of papyri had been found in the shafts within the tomb chapel, and then some others in the courtyard. You can see them here mounted in a frame. They include some fragments of Books of the Dead of the Third Intermediate Period, and parts of some Coptic and Greek documents.

papyrus fragments

© Nigel Strudwick 1997-2014