Demotic Ostraca and Other Inscriptions from the Sacred Animal Necropolis, North Saqqara

Series: Texts from Excavations (16)
This volume publishes the demotic ostraca discovered by the Egypt Exploration Society in the Sacred Animal Necropolis at North Saqqara more than thirty years ago. This site, with its complex of galleries and temple buildings, has brought new insights into Egyptian art and architecture, as well as important information about the economy and organisation of what has turned out to be a cosmopolitan area. The majority of the four hundred or more ostraca published in this volume are written on potsherds, but there are also limestone and gypsum plaster fragments and writing-boards. Collectively, they preserve two different types of text: firstly jar-labels or dockets originally written upon a complete vessel in order to describe its contents or to give directions for its delivery, and secondly compositions written upon a sherd that had already been broken from its parent vessel, or a flake of limestone or some similar material. The texts include literary and magical compositions and a range of texts which argue for the existence of a scribal school of some kind. There is also a short oracular question, various dedications to the gods of the Necropolis, an appeal to the Mother of the Apis, lists of payments and divine images, and a document of self-sale or self-hire which is probably the earliest such document so far recognised. Some of the texts date from the Achaemenid period but the majority are undoubtedly Ptolemaic with some preponderance to the first half of the dynasty.