Recovered fragments of 3,000 yr old papyrus may shed new light on Egyptian history

February 28th, 2009 - 4:44 pm ICT by ANI  

Washington, Feb 28 (ANI): Archaeologists in Italy have recovered new papyrus fragments, dating back to 3,000 years, which may finally help solve a century-old puzzle, shedding new light on ancient Egyptian history.
According to a report in Discovery News, the ancient fragments were found stored between two sheets of glass in the basement of the Museo Egizio, a museum, in Turin, Italy.
The fragments belong to a 3,000-year-old unique document, known as the Turin Kinglist.
Like many ancient Egyptian documents, the Turin Kinglist is written on the stem of a papyrus plant.
Believed to date from the long reign of Ramesses II, the papyrus contains an ancient list of Egyptian kings.
Written in an ancient Egyptian cursive writing system called hieratic, the papyrus was purchased in Thebes by the Italian diplomat and explorer Bernardino Drovetti in 1822.
Placed in a box along with other papyri, the parchment disintegrated into small fragments by the time it arrived in Italy.
Scholars from the British Museum were tipped off to the existence of the additional fragments after reviewing a 1959 analysis of the papyrus by a British archaeologist.
In his work, the archaeologist, Alan Gardiner, mentions fragments that were not included in the final reconstruction on display at the museum.
After an extensive search, museum researchers found the pieces.
The finding could help more accurately piece together what is considered to be a key item for understanding ancient Egyptian history.
“This is one of the most important documents to reconstruct the chronology of Egypt between the 1st and 17th Dynasty,” Federico Bottigliengo, Egyptologist at the Turin museum, told Discovery News.
“Unlike other lists of kings, it enumerates all rulers, including the minor ones and those considered usurpers. Moreover, it records the length of reigns in years, and in some cases even in months and days,” he said.
Now made of 160 fragments, the Turin Kinglist basically lacks two important parts: the introduction of the list and the ending.
“Some of the finest scholars have worked on the papyrus last century, but disagreement about its reconstruction has remained. It has been a never-ending puzzle,” Bottigliengo said.
“The enumeration of the kings does not continue after the 17th Dynasty. We are confident that the recovered fragments will help reconstruct some of the missing parts as well as add new knowledge to Egyptian history and chronology,” he added.
“It is possible that some dates will have to be changed and names of pharaohs will have to be added,” he further added. (ANI)

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