Ancient Egyptian Texts:  9.10


Provenance:   Elephantine
Date:   281-277 or 168-164 B.C.
Script:   Demotic
Translated by:   U. Kaplony-Heckel
Format:   see key to translations

This graffito is important as a record of temple-building, and allegedly temple-pillaging, in Elephantine. But interpreting and dating it have proved difficult.

The translation is adapted from U. Kaplony-Heckel, "Zum demotischen Baugruben-Graffito vom Satis-Tempel auf Elephantine" (1987 - Google Books); she suggested that the text consisted of two halves separated in time by over a century, with A+B belonging to the reign of Ptolemy II and C+D belonging to the joint rule of Ptolemy VI and Ptolemy VIII. Since then, there have been two further studies of the graffito: by G. Vittmann, "Das demotische Graffito vom Satettempel auf Elephantine" (1997 -, who dated it all to the joint rule of Ptolemy VI and Ptolemy VIII; and by E. Bresciani et al., "Ancora sull'iscrizione demotica di Elefantina" (EVO 26, 2003), who dated it all to the reign of Ptolemy II. Meanwhile, archaeologists have shown that most of the construction of the Ptolemaic temple of Satis/Satet took place in the reign of Ptolemy VI; see F. Arnold, "A Temple Built Anew" ( ).

There is a helpful summary of the complex arguments about dates, in C. Bennett's notes about Arsinoē II. If the text belongs to the reign of Ptolemy II, then the "Medes" are assumed to be the Persians; but if it belongs to the joint rule of Ptolemy VI and Ptolemy VIII, then they are assumed to be the army of Antiochus IV.

[A]   Year 2 of the reign of Pharaoh (l.p.h.) Ptolemy (l.p.h.) the son of Ptolemy - may he live forever! That is the regnal year, which makes 25 years.

The resting place of the great Sothis, lady of Elephantine, had been brought down; for the Medes had come to Egypt.

( Palimpsest:   But Pharaoh . . . the Medes from Egypt . . . )

The Mede made you {Egypt} . . ., so that 120 deben were paid for an artaba of wheat.

[B]   It came to the last day of the fourth month of the (?) summer season {Mesore} of the 5th regnal year.

They chanted his royal titles : "A king who . . . and who can give a twelfth of an artaba of wheat and a copper piece, apart from food, clothing, oil, to each one of the stone carvers working for the great goddess."

[C]   Renewed laying of the foundations of the resting place of the Sothis in regnal year 6, on the 5th day of the first month of the (?) winter season {Tybi}, of the pharaohs (l.p.h.) - may they live forever!

[D]   Written in regnal year 6, on the 22nd day of the second month of the (?) winter season {Mechir}.

They finished digging for the storage facility and the whole resting place. There we found the foundation of three resting places that had been before this resting place; at two places walls from the side, at one place a shaft; in all, three resting places.

Written by the shrine opener at the resting place of Sothis, Wršj son of Pȝ-šr-Pȝ-wr.

Attalus' home page   |   04.10.22   |   Any comments?