Great Papyrus Harris

13 Things You Should Know About the Great Harris Papyrus, the Longest Known Papyrus From Egypt

Experts believe that it was kept secretly in Ramesses' mortuary temple mainly because it had sufficient information about his reign.

Papyrus Harris is the largest and most gorgeously preserved papyri to survive from ancient Egypt. Multiple scrolls and manuscripts containing various messages and descriptions were discovered ever since the excavations commenced. However, not one comes close to ‘Harris’ as only a few lines of the papyri were distorted; the rest of the manuscript was in perfect condition. The Papyrus Harris tells a long and detailed tale of what happened in Ramesses III’s era. Ramesses III was the second Pharoah of the twentieth dynasty of Egypt.

Ramesses 3
Ramesses III. Source:

Let’s have a look at some of the significant details, shall we?

1) As stated above, Papyrus Harris is the largest papyri to survive from ancient Egypt. No other manuscript or record matches its length.

2) The Papyrus Harris was discovered from a hole in the floor of a cliff-tomb near Deir el-Medinah by local citizens of Egypt in 1855.

3) The document was initially purchased by a man named ‘Harris’. Hence, the experts decided to name it ‘Papyrus Harris’.

4) The scroll is approximately 133 feet long and contains over 117 columns of 12 or 13 lines each.

5) The manuscript is written in clear and concise hieratic characters. It is believed to be an original state document. Hence, it’s written in large, beautiful handwriting.

6) According to the archaeologists and experts, the papyrus was written after the death of Ramesses III in 1153 B.C.

7) Experts believe that it was kept secretly in his mortuary temple mainly because it had sufficient information about his reign.

8) Ramesses III reigned from 1186 to 1155 BC and is considered to be the last great monarch of Egypt.

9) It is believed that the papyrus was probably written around 1,200 BCE. The writer of the papyrus remains unknown to date.

10) The text of the papyrus is written in hieratic, which is a cursive script that originated from hieroglyphics. It is said that it was much easier and quicker to write than the symbols of hieroglyphics.

11) It is said that Ramesses III was brutally murdered by his conspirators. Hence, all the records that indicated the presence of any valuables were buried somewhere by his trusted advisors.

12) It is believed that Queen Tiye and Prince Pentawere plotted against Ramesses III. Quite a lot of ancient documents suggest that Pentawere was found guilty at trial, and then took his own life.

13) The researchers discovered that Ramesses’ throat was brutally slashed. The embalmers inserted an amulet of Eye of Horus inside the gash due to its healing properties.

The experts and archaeologists have not been able to discover the remnants of Queen Tiye as yet. However, it is said that Ramesses’ throat was covered with multiple layers of linen back when his remains were discovered. The papyrus contains all significant details regarding his murder and reign. There were multiple conspirators in his harem, and the papyrus was never meant to be found by any of them.

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