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Aramaic Adoption Contract

Egyptian, Classical, Ancient Near Eastern Art

This document originates in the archive of Ananiah and Tamut, members of a Jewish family living on Elephantine Island in the fifth century B.C.. This contract allows a man named Uriah to adopt a boy named Jedaniah and thus free him from slavery. Adoption was one legal method used to free slaves in ancient Egypt.

MEDIUM Papyrus, ink
  • Place Found: Elephantine, Egypt
  • DATES October 22, 416 B.C.E.
    PERIOD Persian Period
    DIMENSIONS 47.218.96a: Largest Fragment #1: 13/16 × 1 3/4 in. (2 × 4.5 cm) 47.218.96a: Largest Fragment #2: 1 × 1 3/16 in. (2.5 × 3 cm) a: Small Box of Fragments: 1 3/4 x 4 1/16 x 4 1/16 in. (4.5 x 10.3 x 10.3 cm) b: Glass: 15 1/2 x 17 1/16 in. (39.3 x 43.3 cm) b: Object: 11 5/8 x 13 3/4 in. (29.5 x 35 cm)
    MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
    ACCESSION NUMBER 47.218.96a-b
    CREDIT LINE Bequest of Theodora Wilbour from the collection of her father, Charles Edwin Wilbour
    CATALOGUE DESCRIPTION Papyrus inscribed on recto only in twelve lines of Aramaic. Adoption text made out to Zaccur documenting the “gift” of the houseborn slave Yedoniah to Uriah. Upper half of recto blank. Condition: Text practically intact. Upper right corner of blank portion missing. Minor gaps at edges. Papyrus folded through present left center. No writing visible but one overlap (one third of width) was clearly missing. 47.218.96a: approximately two dozen blank papyrus fragments, reputedly from the Aramaic papyrus.
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