Dealing with the Dead in Ancient Egypt

The Funerary Business of Petebaste

Koenraad Donker van Heel

An intimate look at the true story of the funerary business of a Theban mortuary priest 2800 years ago as unearthed by an ancient papyrus Petebaste

English edition
4 June 2021
156 pp.
15X23cm
ISBN 9781617979965
For sale worldwide

$34.95

This book is currently not available for purchase.

An intimate look at the true story of the funerary business of a Theban mortuary priest 2800 years ago as unearthed by an ancient papyrus

Petebaste son of Peteamunip, the choachyte, or water-pourer, lived during the first half of the seventh century BCE in the reigns of the Twenty-fifth Dynasty Kushite kings Shabaka and Taharqa and was responsible for the comfortable and carefree afterlife of his deceased clients by bringing their weekly libations.

But Petebaste was also responsible for a wide range of other activities—he provided a tomb to the family of the deceased, managed the costs of the personnel and commodities, and took care of all necessary paperwork, while also tending to the gruesome preparation of the mortal remains of the deceased.

Drawing on an archive of eight abnormal hieratic papyri in the Louvre that deal specifically with the affairs of a single family, Donker van Heel takes a deep dive into the business dealings of this Theban mortuary priest. In intimate detail, he illuminates the final stage of the embalming and coffining process of a woman called Taperet (‘Mrs. Seedcorn’) on the night before she would be taken from the embalming workshop to her final resting place, providing fascinating insight into the practical day-to-day aspects of funerary practices in ancient Egypt.

To read an excerpt, click here.

For the Table of Contents, click here.    

Koenraad Donker van Heel

Koen Donker van Heel studied Egyptology at Leiden University. He received his PhD on the scientific edition of the papyrus archive of Djekhy & Son in 1996. He has published works on the legal, social and economic aspects of ancient Egypt, and now works in PR and communications.
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