Thursday, August 23, 2007

More re Egyptian tax returns

The Guardian

A dusty crate of broken bits of pottery discovered at a stately home in Dorset has given a fresh insight into the life of the ancient Egyptians - and it turns out that concerns over mortgages, taxes and simply making ends meet were as important then as they are now. More than 200 "ostraka" - potsherds inscribed with notes - were found in the cellar of the National Trust property Kingston Lacy, near Wimborne Minster.

Revealing the find yesterday, experts said some of the ostraka featured lists of temple priests who "stood before the god", but most were concerned with the minutiae of everyday life. Among the messages translated are receipts for a poll tax bill paid by a farmer, tax paid on handicrafts, income tax from a crop of dates and tax for the maintenance of public utilities. At least 16 of the tax receipts were issued to the same taxpayer, Patsibtis, son of Petorzmethis. He is also a taxpayer on more than 20 ostraka in the British Museum and other collections.

See the above page for the full story.

The story is also covered in detail on the 24Hour Museum website, with photographs.

Numbering over two hundred pieces, Bankes’ collection of ostraka are believed to have originated from the island of Elephantine in Lower Egypt. They vary in date, and a number of different languages and ancient scripts appear on them. The majority are tax receipts dating from 200 AD, in Greek, an official language of Egypt at that time.

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