Ancient Egyptian Collections

About Ancient Egyptian Collections

The Ancient Egyptian Collections includes images of Egypt, artifacts, writings and other related image collections. The time period covers all of Ancient Egypt.

Collections

Demotic Graffiti: Temple of Isis

The Demotic Graffiti from the Temple of Isis on Philae Island

This collection of photographs represents the results of a long field project to record the numerous Demotic graffiti located on the temple of the goddess Isis located on Philae Island (Aswan, Egypt). These graffiti are written in the Demotic script used in Egypt from around 650 BC through the fifth century AD. Most of these graffiti are the personal prayers of pilgrims who visited the temple from south of Egypt during the third to sixth centuries AD.

Demotic is the fourth of five stages of the ancient Egyptian languages and is known for its extremely difficult script to read. These texts were mainly written by Nubians from south of Egypt when they came up to the temple of Isis to worship. Within the collection of graffiti are the last dated Demotic texts which are known, the last dating to December of AD 452. These are significant because the temple of Isis was the last traditional temple in Egypt which had begun to convert to Christianity mainly during the third century AD. The temple of Isis was kept open by diplomatic treaty between the Roman empire and the Meroitic Kingdom to the south. The temple was not closed until AD 538 during the reign of Justinian. These graffiti provide significant information of the continuation of traditional cults in Egypt long after most Egyptians had converted to Christianity.

The first major work on the graffiti was done by F. Ll. Griffith, who published 450 of the graffiti in his volume Catalogue of the Demotic Graffiti from the Dodecaschoenus (Oxford, 1937). This project recorded an additional 534 graffiti. These photographs serve as a companion to the volume to be published by Lockwood Press (Atlanta) later in 2015.

The Archive of Tikas

The Archive of Tikas: An Archive of Commercial Documents of a Woman from Philadelphia in the Fayum

The Archive of Tikas represents the personal business documents from ancient Egypt of a woman named Tikas. Tikas inherited a significant piece of property from her parents and later used that property as collateral for a series of financial transactions. The documents all date from the time frame of 200-180 BC in the Ptolemaic era in Egypt. This time period was the Egypt after the Greeks assumed control of Egypt after Alexander’s conquest in 332 BC and is mostly known as the time when traditional Egyptian culture was placed under significant pressures as the Greek language and customs were being systematically not being used in business and administrative procedures in favor of Greek forms and practices. The archive consists of 44 complete and fragmentary documents all written in the Egyptian script known as Demotic. Demotic Egyptian was used in Egypt from around 700 BC up through AD 300. For business purposes, the Ptolemaic period is the last phase where widespread use of Demotic is found until it is supplanted by Greek. This process began in the Ptolemaic period and was completed during the Roman period. The Egyptian language (written in Demotic) did survive and this archive is a classic example of that. The archive contains further significance as it shows that women in Egypt did have the right to own property outright and were legally capable of disposing and using that property in any manner that they wished.

These plates form the photographic record for the publication: The Archive of Tikas. A Woman’s Archive of Demotic Papyri from Philadelphia in the Fayum by Eugene Cruz-Uribe & Charles Nims, Demotische Studien 15 (Sommerhausen, Gisella Zauzich Verlag, 2015, ISBN 9783924151089). For access to high resolution images, click here: https://iu.box.com/ArchiveTikas.