A Pickled Goose and Two Pillows – Cuisine and Comfort in Ptolemaic Egypt, 9 May 137 B.C.

Geese were very popular in ancient Egypt as food and also for the use of their grease and feathers.  As well, the Egyptian god Geb – called also ‘The Great Cackler’ figured centrally in ancient Egyptian religion:

'The Great Cackler,' Geb source - Budge

‘The Great Cackler,’ Geb   source – Budge

pl9_22268 -source - waltersgallery-greco-roman ca. 304-145 bc

pl9_22268 -source – waltersgallery-greco-roman ca. 304-145 bc

Notables and those with enough resources could build up a gooseherd, as depicted in the banner photo above; apparently quite an honourable task.  Hence, robbery of a goose and/or its outputs was considered worthy of  writing about, as is the case of the letter being examined in this blog, which was written by a village bureaucrat to his superiors.

Title:              Official letter, [9 May 137 B.C.]
Author:       Phanesis, Village scribe
Subjects:    Tenant farmers [of royal land in the area]
Police Larceny 
Unlawful entry
Officials and employees 
 
 
 
Official letter Year 33 Pharmouthi 17 [148 B.C. May 13 or 137 B.C. May 10

Official letter Year 33 Pharmouthi 17 [148 B.C. May 13 or 137 B.C. May 10

P.Duk.inv. 599 [above]  A Papyrus copy of a letter written by Phanesis, a village scribe in the Herakleopolites (Heracleopolite Nome, see below map), Egypt.  Written to Amenneus and sent with a cover letter by two people.

map of the Nile valley, Ptolemaic era.  Source-library.duke.edu

map of the Nile valley, Ptolemaic era. Source-library.duke.edu

Letter reports that one of the tenants of royal land, Horion, sent the guards or police of the island of Rhodon to Heracleopolis Magna [a large town in the southern Fayuum] to meet Komanos, the epistates [chief of police.]

That same day Agathinos and Philammon and others with them sealed the house of  Ababikis.

Thereafter, Horion and one of the other tenants of royal land, Petesouchos, and their  accomplices broke into the house and stole a pickled goose and two pillows.

One can imagine that the two pillows were stuffed with the feathers and down of the pickled goose.

The farewell of the cover letter reads, “be of good health.”

Dated to Pharmouthi 17, year 33 (9 May 137 B.C.), the same day as the cover letter.  The above image of a goose, now in the Walters Gallery, is approximately the same date as this letter.

‘…one of three texts detailing a home invasion by agents of an archiphylakites*  who made off with (among other things) a pickled goose and two pillows.’

In another blog I will provide a little background on letters composed during the Ptolemaic period in Egypt.

*Head of local police

What is left today of herakleopolis  source - www.helsinki.fi

What is left today of herakleopolis source – http://www.helsinki.fi

Source – www.papyri.info_apis_duke.apis 31194729
 
 
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About dianabuja

With a group of BaTwa (pygmy) women potters, with whom we've worked to enhance production and sales of their wonderful pots - fantastic for cooking and serving. To see the 2 blogs on this work enter 'batwa pots' into the search engine located just above this picture. Blog entries throughout this site are about Africa, as well as about the Middle East and life in general - reflecting over 35 years of work and research in Africa and the Middle East – Come and join me!
This entry was posted in Egypt, Egyptology, Fayyum, Giza, Heracleopolis, Keeping the peace, Ptolemaic era and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to A Pickled Goose and Two Pillows – Cuisine and Comfort in Ptolemaic Egypt, 9 May 137 B.C.

  1. dianabuja says:

    Thanks and glad you enjoyed it – there are so many fascinating letters and other records in the demotic language fro the Fayum, and I’ll be posting more.

    Like

  2. victori7 says:

    Again, an excellent post Thanks.

    Liked by 1 person

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