Manuscripts and monuments: the ten contracts of Djefai-Hapi and economies of knowledge

Authors

  • Jochem Kahl Freie Universität Berlin

DOI:

https://doi.org/10.56004/v1k83

Keywords:

Asyut, Tebtynis, knowledge transfer, materiality, epistemic sites, tomb inscription

Abstract

Reconfigured and recontextualized several times, the ten contracts inscribed on the walls of the monumental tomb of the regional governor Djefai-Hapi I at Asyut (c. 1920 BC) are a particularly striking example of how different material and different contexts generate new meaning. Originally written on papyrus or leather, the ten contracts between Djefai-Hapi and the priests of the main deities of his city and the necropolis staff ensured that Djefai-Hapi would be able to participate in the local cult(s) on a regular basis after his death. Put in a new context, the 'tomb edition' of the ten contracts went beyond Djefai-Hapi's insistence on later successors honouring his agreements. It exercised a powerful effect on Djefai-Hapi's deification in a dynamic interplay of monumental tomb-architecture, high-quality statues, elegant language used in the tomb-inscriptions, and Asyut's local cults. After more than two millennia, the contracts were stored in a temple more than 200km away from Asyut and did not have legal meaning any more. Instead, they had changed to a commemorative text written on papyrus. Defining and reconstructing actors, institutions, materials, and working processes provides insight into the colourful history of knowledge transfer in Ancient Egypt.

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Published

2022-05-01

How to Cite

Kahl, J. (2022). Manuscripts and monuments: the ten contracts of Djefai-Hapi and economies of knowledge. Manuscript and Text Cultures, 1, 83–111. https://doi.org/10.56004/v1k83