The Brooklyn Oracle Papyrus
Egyptian, Classical, Ancient Near Eastern Art
On View: 19th Dynasty to Roman Period, Martha A. and Robert S. Rubin Gallery, 3rd Floor
The Brooklyn Oracle Papyrus records the petition of a man named Pemou on behalf of his father, Harsiese. Harsiese was an ordinary priest in the service of the god Amun-Re at Karnak, but he wished to leave that god's service and join the priesthood of the neighboring temple of Montu-Re-Horakhty. Because temple personnel were seen as the property of the divinity, the god had to be consulted about any change in staff. Pemou asked for the god's advice on behalf of his father, and the god responded favorably. To record the verdict, Pemou had this papyrus drawn up and decorated.
The papyrus shows the procession of a image of Amun-Re, the fragments of whose shrine can be seen above the carrying poles borne by the priests. Above the shrine appear two ostrich-feather fans shading the god from the sun. In front of the priestly file stand the highestranking members of the Theban priesthood, all dressed in leopard-skin costumes with their respective names and titles written on their shoulder sashes.
The figure closest to and facing the shrine is Montuemhat, Fourth Prophet of Amun-Re. Although Montuemhat did not hold the highest title of the Theban pffesthood, he was Mayor of Thebes, thus serving in one of the highest posItions of power in southern Egypt. He had many exceptionally fine sculptures of himself made and built one of the largest tombs in the Theban necropolis. Some of the reliefs from Montuemhat's tomb are shown in a nearby vitrine.
The figure with the ostrich plumes on his head is the chief lector priest, reading aloud the processional ritual written on the papyrus roll he holds before him. The next-to-last figure on the right is the vizier Nespeqashuty, the highest official in the land, wearing the costume of his office, a high skirt with halter straps. Many reliefs from his tomb can be seen in the installation Temples, Tombs, and the Egyptian Universe. The figure behind him is most likely the petitioner Pemou or his father Harsiese.
After the papyrus was drawn up, fifty priests who had witnessed the events signed it. The fragment here contains the signatures, titles, and genealogies of six of those officials, including those of Montuemhat and Nespeqashuty. Each of the officials penned his own entry, as the variety of handwriting in this section of the papyrus attests.
Papyrus, pigment, ink
October 4, 651 B.C.E.
Late Period, Saite Period
Overall: 10 15/16 × 210 5/16 in. (27.8 × 534.2 cm)
a: Frame: 17 1/8 x 50 3/8 in. (43.5 x 128 cm)
a: Largest Fragment: 11 1/4 x 12 11/16 in. (28.5 x 32.3 cm)
1.frag.47.218.3a: Frame: 1 1/8 x 6 1/8 in. (2.9 x 15.5 cm)
1.frag.47.218.3a: Largest Fragment: 13/16 x 1 1/2 in. (2.1 x 3.8 cm)
2.frag.47.218.3a: Small Box of Fragments: 1 3/4 x 4 1/16 x 4 (show scale)
Bequest of Theodora Wilbour from the collection of her father, Charles Edwin Wilbour
No known copyright restrictions
This work may be in the public domain in the United States. Works created by United States and non-United States nationals published prior to 1923 are in the public domain, subject to the terms of any applicable treaty or agreement.
You may download and use Brooklyn Museum images of this work. Please include caption information from this page and credit the Brooklyn Museum. If you need a high resolution file, please fill out our online application form
The Museum does not warrant that the use of this work will not infringe on the rights of third parties, such as artists or artists' heirs holding the rights to the work. It is your responsibility to determine and satisfy copyright or other use restrictions before copying, transmitting, or making other use of protected items beyond that allowed by "fair use," as such term is understood under the United States Copyright Act.
The Brooklyn Museum makes no representations or warranties with respect to the application or terms of any international agreement governing copyright protection in the United States for works created by foreign nationals.
For further information about copyright, we recommend resources at the United States Library of Congress
, Cornell University
, Copyright and Cultural Institutions: Guidelines for U.S. Libraries, Archives, and Museums
, and Copyright Watch
For more information about the Museum's rights project, including how rights types are assigned, please see our blog posts on copyright
If you have any information regarding this work and rights to it, please contact email@example.com
The Brooklyn Oracle Papyrus, October 4, 651 B.C.E. Papyrus, pigment, ink, Overall: 10 15/16 × 210 5/16 in. (27.8 × 534.2 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Bequest of Theodora Wilbour from the collection of her father, Charles Edwin Wilbour, 47.218.3a-j (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 47.218.3a-j_SL1.jpg)
overall, 47.218.3a-j_SL1.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph
"CUR" at the beginning of an image file name means that the image was created by a curatorial staff member. These study images may be digital point-and-shoot photographs, when we don\'t yet have high-quality studio photography, or they may be scans of older negatives, slides, or photographic prints, providing historical documentation of the object.
Not every record you will find here is complete. More information is available for some works than for others, and some entries have been updated more recently. Records are frequently reviewed and revised, and we welcome
any additional information you might have.