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Elizabeth Frood
The sherds of pottery that litter the site of Deir el-Medina, and the thousands of these sherds that
were used as writing material, bear testimony to the work of potters who supplied the village with
ceramic vessels. These potters belonged to the service staff of the village and were thus
employees of the 'state'. In order to fulfil their obligations they were required to deliver units
(b3kw) of ceramics to the village on a regular basis. In this paper I examine the records of the
deliveries made by these potters in order to evaluate aspects of their work and deliveries during
the 19
and 20
Dynasties in a manner complementary to the other studies in this volume.
I divide my discussion into four sections. The first section surveys the texts available
concerning the potters and their dating. Section 2 concentrates on the documentation of aspects of
the organization of the potters' work and their interactions with the community. The third section
evaluates the actual deliveries and delivery patterns of the potters. The nature of the b3kw of the
potter is examined and deficits or short-falls in delivery are traced. The vessels themselves are
analysed in section 4. The implications of the occurrence of three vessel types in the 'potter texts'
are discussed. Research in this area has been necessarily limited, and the potential for further
research on the classification of vessel-types is emphasized.
Paul Nicholson has postulated several organizational levels of the potting industry in ancient
Egypt. Potteries were attached to all major state institutions, including temples and palaces. Study
of the documentation enumerating the deliveries of the potters of Deir el-Medina illuminates
some aspects of organization of this 'state-level' industry, specifically the production of vessels
for those involved with royal building projects. I However, the nature of the sources concerning
these individuals imposes limitations upon any analysis. The differences between the methods of
recording deliveries in the and 20
Dynasties and the variations that occur within the
different textual categories themselves have significant implications when examining the nature
of the deliveries or the organization of the work.
1 Sources for pottery deliveries
l.1ldentifYing potters
The artisans responsible for the supply of ceramic vessels to the community of Deir el-Medina
were termed p3 qd, variously written as IT1'5l, [HlI]Jft, [Hli, and n ~ . This term can alternatively
mean 'builder,2 and these two potential meanings can create confusion, as noted by both T. Eric
I am very grateful to Jac. J. Janssen who provided the inspiration for this work and has been very generous
with his time and advice during my initial research and in the course of recent revision. This paper was
initially presented as a component of a Master of Arts degree completed at The University of Auckland,
New Zealand, in 1998 under the guidance of Anthony Spalinger. This work could not have been undertaken
without his advice and support. Jaromir Malek, Diana Magee, and Elizabeth Miles provided patient and
helpful guidance through the resources of the Griffith Institute, Oxford. During the revisions of the paper I
was most fortunate to be able to discuss the material with John Baines and Lynn Meskel!. My thanks to
Rob Demaree for his invaluable suggestions and advice.
I 'The Pottery Workshop at Q 48.4 at Tell el-Amarna', in Ateliers de potiers et productions ceramiques en
Egypte, ed. P. Ballet (Cairo, 1992),70.
2 Jrb. V, 72-73.
Peet and Jac. J. Janssen.
Potential difficulties in translation can be resolved if the term p3 qd, or
an individual known to hold that title, is associated with a vessel delivery. Moreover, the activity
of builders was not generally recorded in the Deir el-Medina data, particularly when compared
with the numerous references to the delivery of pottery by people termed p. qd. One exception to
this is the recto of P. Turin 1923, 2-3 where p. ~ r y qd ... n pr jmn came to take measurements
and make calculations for the construction of a well near the Necropolis.
Here the translation 'the
master builder ... of the domain of Amun' is appropriate. The meaning 'builder' in this text is
exceptional; the individual was associated with the temple workforce rather than the workmen's
village. The status of qd as builder is, therefore, related to a different work organization. The title
(try qd is not otherwise attested in any context concerning potters. It can be concluded that the
title qd, when occurring with reference to events in or deliveries to Deir el-Medina, generally
refers to a potter.
1.2 Categories oftexts
My discussion of the categories of text I use as sources follows the model provided by Janssen in
the preceding paper (see above p. 2). I treat some texts that do not appear to correspond to any
one of these categories at the end of this section. In comparison with the texts concerning wood
deliveries, there are significantly fewer sources concerning pottery. I have identified 90 ostraca
that record deliveries of unfilled ceramic-ware, although I argue that some of these may not be
connected to the smdt-potters. To these sources can be added diverse papyrus documents, one
from the end of the 19
and several from the later 20
Dynasty, some of which do not fit easily
into any category.
The largest numbers of sources for pottery delivery are Joumal-of-the-Necropolis texts
(Janssen's Category A). The series ofjournal ostraca documenting the final years of Ramesses III
and the first two years of Ramesses IV provide the most complete account of ceramic deliveries; I p
have identified 28 ostraca in this group. The nature of the data included in these texts changed
over time and from scribe to scribe.
It is nevertheless possible to use this evidence to trace
patterns of delivery and deficit and to gain some insight into the nature of each delivery, although
the contents of the deliveries themselves are rarely enumerated.
Journal papyri from the later 20
Dynasty provide further information about supply, often
detailing the contents of the delivery and the name of the potter. However, these journals are
extremely fragmentary. Even in the documents from the best attested reign, that of Ramesses IX,
only eight years are represented, and most fragments, except for the comparatively substantial
3 T. E. Peet, The Great Tomb-Robberies of the Twentieth Egyptian Dynasty, reprint (Oxford, 1930), I, 96, 7,
102 n. 41, noted the potential ambiguity of the title in P BM 10068, translating qd Wenennefer and qd
Bakenmut as 'builders' and qd 'Ahawy as a potter. See also J. J. Janssen, Commodity Prices in the
Ramessid Period: An Economic Study of the Village of Necropolis Workmen at Thebes (Leiden, 1975),40
n. 8, in reference to a qd Herunefer. Manfred Gutgesell, Die Datierung der Ostraka und Papyri aus Deir
el-.Hedineh ind ihre okonomische Interpretation I: Die 20. Dynastie, Hildesheimer Agyptologische
Beitrage 18 (Hildesheim, 1983),219, misunderstands the title and includes p:; jqd in his list of workers'
4 R. Ventura, 'On the Location of the Administrative Outpost of the Community of Workmen in Western 1(
Thebes', JEA 73 (1987), 149-60. II
5 For discussion of the orthography and textual context of qd, including texts from Deir el-Medina, see P.F.
Donnan, Faces in Clay: Technique, Imagery and Allusion in a Corpus ofCeramic Sculpture from Ancient
Egypt, Milnchner Agyptologische Studien 52 (Mainz, 2002), 87-99.
6 J. J. Janssen, 'Appendix: the "Journal of the Necropolis" Ostraca from the Reign of Ramesses Ill', in
Village Voices: Proceedings of the Symposium "Texts from Deir el-Medfna and their Interpretation"
Leiden. May 3J-June I. 1991, ed. R. J. Demaree and A. Egberts, CNWS Publications 13 (Leiden, 1992),
d, or
)ll to
xt is
t the
en in
) any
~ i O o d
ot be
, one
es III
ies; I
s are
:8 IX,
nd qd
'n the
, Deir
n', in
journal from year 17, do not record more than 20 days.
The data available for these deliveries are
limited and it is difficult to draw firm conclusions. Differences in the data provided by these texts
may be related to different function. The papyrus texts were probably drawn up for the central
administration while ostraca were used by the local authorities; the two contexts required
different levels of detail and types of information. Other papyrus documentation is available from
this period in the form of payment texts and house lists, illuminating aspects of the potters'
organization and situation.
The other numerically significant textual category for pottery delivery is Janssen's Category E,
the Dynasty lists which record quantities of ceramics alongside food and fuel, and
occasionally other items including tools and implements. Janssen suggests that these ostraca
document deliveries that were later recorded in the journal ostraca and papyri, providing
significant comparative data for these texts.
The 29 ostraca recording pottery enumerate variable
amounts of a number of different vessel types, perhaps providing clues to the nature of the b;kw,
the term used to record units of ceramics delivered in journal and account ostraca.
Important supplementary and complementary data is found in a small group of account ostraca
from the 19
and perhaps the very beginning of the 20
Dynasties which record the activities of
individual potters, sometimes alongside those of the woodcutters (Categories B, B I, Cl). These
accounts detail deliveries and, more commonly, deficits, often giving the names of the vessels and
amounts involved, data that were not generally included in the journal ostraca. In comparison
with the texts concerning, for example, woodcutters (see above pp. 12-15), fishermen,9 and
laundrymen,lO potters are rarely named (see Appendix); two of the texts I include in these
categories are anonymous although I argue that there is sufficient evidence to assign them to a B
or C category. Those that are less clear are included in Category D, discussed below.
O. IFAO 387 (unpubl.), O. Qurna 61811, O. DeM 91, and O. Berlin P 10840 (Hierati.sche
Papyrus Berlin III, pI. 32; KRII, 368)11 are accounts of the deficits incurred by the potters Menna
and Nakhy during the early 19
Dynasty. O. IFAO 387 records deficits of both these potters,
while O. Qurna 61811 records the deficit of just Menna. The other two texts are not so clear. O.
Qurna 618/1 belongs to Category C, while I assign the other three to Category B, but see the
discussion in 2.2 below.
Three accounts from the late 19
and early 20
Dynasties record deliveries made by the potters
Ptahemheb and Neferher, once together in one text and twice alone, along with accounts of wood
deliveries. They are hence assigned to categories Bl (0. Cairo 25591; O. Cairo 25633) and Cl
(0. DeM 343).12
Although the identity of the potter in O. DeM 346 is not stated, deliveries are made on two
separate days to the scribe Amenemope, known as a srndt-scribe of Right.
The delivery to this
scribe may indicate that the text refers to the supply of pottery by a single individual, hencc its
7 D. Valbelle, "Les ouvriers de la Tombe": Deir el-Medineh a!'epoque ramesside, I3dE 96 (Cairo, 1985),
53, table I.
8 Commodity Prices, 485.
9 J. 1. Janssen, Village Varia: Ten Studies on the History and Administration of DeiI' el-Medina,
Egyptologisehe Uitgaven 11 (Leiden, 1997),38-46.
to J. J. Janssen and R. M. Janssen, 'The Laundrymen of the Theban Necropolis', ArOr 70 (2002), 12.
1I ,.fgyptens Aufttieg zur Weltmacht (Mainz, 1987),202, cat. 121; Les artistes de Pharaon: Deir el-Medineh
et la Vallee des Rots (Paris, 2002), 104, cat. 41.
12 Pierre Grandet recently published further texts connected with these potters (Catalogue des ostraca
hieratiques non litteraires de Deir el-MMimih IX). O. DeM 868 records deliveries of Ptahemhcb and
Neferher as well as Hori and Parahotep. Deliveries by Hori are also recorded in O. DeM 869. These texts
are included in the tables on pp. 36-7 and in an addendum to the end of this chapter.
13 B. G. Davies, Who's Who at Deir el-Medina: A Prosopographic Study of the Royal Workmen's
Community, Egyptologische Uitgaven 13 (Leiden, 1999),284.
tentative inclusion in Category C.
In contrast, O. DeM 135 records the delivery of two unnamed
potters so the text is included in Category B.
My Category D consists of 13 ostraca that do not include names, and in which the numbers of
potters referred to is unclear. Two of these texts warrant further discussion. The recto of O. DeM
143 records deficits of wood deliveries for two woodcutters and so is assigned by Janssen to
Category B 1 (above p. 2). The verso, which is entirely a pottery account, includes no names, so I
have assigned it to my Category D. O. Strasbourg H 26
does not refer explicitly to vessel types;
the recto only gives dates and notes of supply 'by the hand of' unnamed individuals as 'complete
(mJ:t)'; this form of text has a parallel in the recto of O. Gardiner 80 (HO 61/ 4). On the verso of
O. Strasbourg H 26 the text may record 'deficit of the [potter)' (1. 4), although the end of the line
is broken away; qd was restored by Jaroslav Cerny (Nb 35.61).16 I include this text as a pottery
account although its status remains uncertain (see section 3.7). O. Cairo 25704, assigned to
Category D, is also problematic and may not record a pottery delivery (see section 2.3).
Among my remaining sources, O. DeM 73 concerns a legal dispute over the hiring of a donkey
(Janssen's Category F). The verso of 0. Berlin P 10654 (unpubl.) seems to refer to the firing of
vessels in ten day periods (see 3.4). 0. DeM 337 and O. BM 50728
may concern the distribution
of vessels to workmen. O. BM 50728 is problematic and is discussed at greater length in sections
2.3 and 4.2. A potter is included at the end of a list of smdt in O. IFAO 351 (unpubl.; rto, 2),
following a gardener and a doorkeeper. Line 3 begins with the word 'vessels' (qr/:u) but the rest is
lost. It is unclear whether this text refers to a delivery; the list of smdt in lines 1-2 may indicate
that it is associated with an aspect of organization. O. Cairo 25597 records the distribution of
'bundles' to members of the smdt, including a potter. Tassign these texts to my Category G, texts
that are related to the organization and distribution of the potter's work, rather than explicitly
enumerating delivery.
These categories are necessarily artificial; the contents of the texts in each category are often
complementary and the relationship between them unclear. The fragmentary nature of many of
the texts must also be kept in mind (see above p. 2). I do not claim that my categories reflect any
ancient administrative system of recording. We have little access to any such broader 'systems' in
the material. Any division of the documentation concerning potters into these 'classes' or
'categories' can impose certain expectations about individual texts.1S Such a division is, however,
a useful tool in analysing the texts and understanding their potential and limitations for
illuminating aspects of the organization and deliveries of the potters.
1.3 Dating oftexts
My criteria for dating the texts again follows those presented by Janssen for the woodcutters (see
above p. 3) and I have modelled the tables in this section upon those he has developed. As in
Janssen's tables, I present the texts in six lists, with the seventh reserved for undatable texts.
Discussions of the dates of individual ostraca and papyri by Manfred GutgeseU
and Benedict
14 If, as I argue in 2.2, there was usually only one potter assigned to eaeh side of the crew.
15 Yvan Koenig, Les ostraca hieratiques inMits de fa Bibliotheque Nationale et Universitaire de
Strasbourg, DFIFAO 33 (Cairo, 1997), pI. 7-8.
16 Koenig, by contrast, tentatively restores nty, ibid., pI. 8.
17 R. J. Demaree, Ramesside Ostraca (London, 2002), pI. 124-5.
18 There is often a fine line between 'account' texts and 'journals'. The guide of Janssen, 'Appendix: the
"journal of the necropolis" ostraea from the reign of Ramesses III', 92-4 provides my criteria for classifying
the journal documentation from this reign.
19 Die Datierung del' Ostraka und Papyri aus DeiI' el-Medineh und ihre iikonomische interpretation I: Die
20. Dynastie, Hildesheimer Agyptologische Beitrage 18 (Hildesheirn, 1983); id., Die Datienmg del'
Ostraka und Papyri aus DeiI' el-Medilleh iI: Die Ostl'aka der 19. Dynastie, Hildesheimer Agyptologische
Beitragc 44 (Hildesheirn, 20(2).
O. Pe
O. D<
! o. Tu
I ~
20 Davi
21 See
22 ibid.:
23 Gutg
24 ibid.,
25 ibid.,
rs of
~ n to
,so I
so of
~ line
~ d to
flg of
'est is
on of
fly of
:t any
s' or
s for
, (see
As in
re de
x: the
I: Die
g der
are noted. Since many of the sources for pottery deliveries also deal with fuel supply,
there is some overlap in the data. Despite this, I feel these tables provide useful points of
comparison with those for the woodcutters. Presenting the texts in this way also establishes a
framework and reference points for the analysis that follows.
I have expanded Janssen's group I to include earlier years of Ramesses III, beginning with year
20, in order to incorporate some account ostraca dated to these years. At the end of group I, I
include 2 journal texts dated to year 5 of Ramesses IV (0. DeM 655; 656). Group II includes texts
dating to the reign of Sety L As with the woodcutter documents, this group consists mainly of
Category E texts; O. Cairo 25704, a Category D text dated to the wl;tm-mswt of Sety I, is the only
exception?l Group III contains texts dated to the reign of Ramesses II, largely on the basis of
names. In accordance with Davies' discussion of the year 9 date in O. Berlin P 10840, the
accounts of Menna and Nakhy could date to either Sety I or Ramesses 11.22 I include them in
Group III. I have identified a smaller number of accounts and journal texts from the late 19
Dynasty (Group IV) and three texts that possibly date to the reign of Ramesses III (Group V).
Group VI, as in Janssen's list, contains mainly papyrus documents from the later 20
whose diverse contents means that they cannot be easily assigned to textual categories.
! Group I
: o. Gardiner 80 (HO 611 4) yr 21
! O. DeM l43vso
yr 2424
: O. Petrie 50 (HO 1911) yr25W
O. DeM 169 + O. Berlin P 12633 yr25 W
O. DeM 35 yr28W A
A O. Turin 57153 yr26
O. Or. Inst. Chicago 16998 (unpub!') yr26 D
yr27 A
A yr27
yr 28 A O. DeM 156
. - ~
D O. Strasbourg H 26 yr 29
20 Davies. Who's Who.
21 See S. Wimmer, 'Hieratische Palaographie: zur Datierung der nicht-literarischen Ostraka', in
Proceedings of the Seventh International Congress ofEgyptologists, Cambridge, 3 ~ 9 September 1995, cd.
C. J. Eyre (Leuven, 1998), 1230-31, for discussion of the dating of this text.
22 ibid., 124, contra Gutgesell, who dates O. IFAO 387 and o. DeM 91 to the latter half of the 19
Die Datierung, Die Ostraka del' 19. Dynastie, 49,146.
23 Gutgesell, Die Datierung, 20. Dynastie, 102.
24 ibid., 368.
25 ibid., 120.
10. DeM 165
0. DeM 154
0. DeM 157
0, DeM 159
I O,DeM 36
IO.DeM 37
i 0. DeM 166
I O.DeM 153
i 0. DeM 38
0. Berlin P 12631
0, DeM 40 + 0. Strasbourg H 42
0. OeM 41
0. DeM47
0, Berlin P 12641 + 12628
0, DeM 160 0, Strasbourg H 5
0, DeM 161 -:- Strasbourg H 82
0. DeM44
0. DeM45
0, Gardiner 113 (liO 7311)
0, Cairo 25597
0. DeM 655
.0, DeM 656
I Group II
0, DeM 1-19
O. DeM22
26 ibid., 123.
27 ibid., 36.
28 ibid., 47-8.
yr 30
yr31 W A
yr 31 W
yr 31 A
yr 31 I A
yr 31
yr 31 W27
yr 32
yr 32/1
yr 1W
yrlW A
yr 1/2 A
yr2 A
yr2 A
yr2 G
yr5 A
yr5 A
I 0. Or
[ Grou]
i O,De
l ~
r ~
0. Del
0. Cai
10. Cai
10. Del
i O. Del
29 Davi
}O ibid.,
31 ibid..
32 For
. O.DeM28
O. Or. Inst. Chicago 18878 (unpubl.)
O. Gardiner 43 (HO 26/ 2)
I o. Cairo 25704 yr2
Group III
O. DeM 91
O. Berlin P 10840 yr 9 Sety IIRamesses rr29
I O. IFAO 387 (unpubl.)
! O. Qurna 618/1
O. DeM623
O. BM 50728
O. DeM202
i Group IV
O. DeM606
Bl O. Cairo 25591
O. Cairo 25633 Bl
O. DeM 343 yr6 Cl
o. DeM 868 yr6 C
29 Davies, Who's Who, 124.
30 ibid., 219 n. 201. Gutgesell considers the dating of this text very uncertain but inclines towards year 2 of
Ramesses II, Die Datierung, Die Ostraka der 19. Dynastie, 47.
3] ibid., 159.
32 For the scribes mentioned in this text, see Davies, PVho's Who, 127; Gutgesell, Die Datierung. Die
Ostraka der 19. Dynastie, 91.
O. DeM 869 yr6 B
O. DeM 135 B
P. Greg (P. UC 34336) yrs 5-7 Siptah A
o. Cairo 25593 D
Group V
O. Michaelides 33 (OM, pi. 67) Ramesses m33
P. Turin 1961 Ramesses III
O. DeM 416 Ramesses IIIIIV
Group VI
P. Turin 1880 yT 29 Ramesses III
O. DeM346
Ramesses IV_y36
O. Gardiner 145 (unpuhl.)
yr 1 Ramesses y37
! P. Turin 2044 (unpuhl.)
yr 1 Ramesses yJ8
P. Turin 2081+2095 (unpuhl.) mid 20
O. Berlin 10654 (unpubl.) late 20
Dynasty40 G
I P. Turin 20701133, 134 +, rto late 20
Dynasty4J A
I P. Turin 2014 (unpuhl.)
late 20
P. Turin 1881 + yr 7 Ramesses IX
P. Turin 1900+ yrs 4-9 Ramesses IX
P. Turin 20711224 [140] yr 10 Ramesses IX
. year yr 17 Ramesses IX
33 Gutgesell, Die Datierung, 20. Dynastie, 253.
34 ibid., 309-12. For the numbering of this papyrus, see J. J. IanssenJorthcoming.
35 ibid., 369.
36 Davies, Who's Who, 284, contra Gutgesel1, who dates the text to Ramesses II, Die Datierung, Die
Ostraka der 19. Dynastie, 159.
37 Gutgesell, Die Dalierung, 20. Dynastie, 77-8.
38 ibid., 256.
39 Janssen, Commodity Prices, 98; Gutgesell, Die Datier/mg, 20. Dynastie, 227-32.
40 ibid., 442.
41 ibid., 242.
42 Janssen and Janssen, 'The Laundrymen of the Theban Necropolis', 5 n. 30.
43 Kitchen, RIVI, 637-38.
. O. GI:
' I F l
O. IFi
i O.De
2 Th
2.1 Th
of the
the de
of the
notes f
44 The (
the late
45 One 1
that the
single (
46 Rapp
g. Die
P. Turin 1898+ yr 3 Ramesses X
P. Turin 1888 yr 1 Ramesses XI
yrs 8-10 Ramesses XI
Anonymous Turin fragment
(Cerny MSS 3.616)
Group VII
O. Gardiner 88 (HO 5511)
O. DeM703
O. DeM337
O. IFAO 245 (unpub!.)
I O.lFAO 351
. O. CaIro 25245
i O. DeM 871-3
2 The organization of work and delivery
2.1 The evidence for workshops
Account texts in particular provide important clues for understanding aspects of the organization
of the potters' work, including the number of potters delivering at anyone time, supervision of
the deliveries, and distribution of the vessels to the workmen. However, since the scribes were
interested primarily in documenting the receipt or deficit of the pottery, such information is
largely based on inference. Although it is possible to identify stages within the delivery process
through the documentation, evidence for the organization of the pottery workshops themselves is
virtually non-existent.
Hypotheses about the workshops can be made from limited
archaeological data and by analogy with the evidence for the pottery industries at el-Amarna and
ethnoarchaeological research.
The written sources are almost devoid of information concerning the location of the workshops
of the potters of Deir el-Medina and the archaeological evidence is ambiguous. Bernard Bruyere
identified what he considered wasters from a potter's workshop on the exterior of the
Dynasty village at the base of the wall of Thutmose I, beneath the 19
Dynasty house SE 1. He
therefore assumed that most pottery production occurred within the village itself.
notes that most of the private home complexes at el-Amarna had pottery kilns, implying domestic
44 The dating of this text is very uncertain, but Gutgesell considers it to be from the reign of Ramesses II or
the late 19
Dynasty, Die Datierung. Die Ostraka der 19. Dynastie, lOS, n. 95.
45 One text may refer to the work of the potter in making vessels. The verso of O. Berlin P 10654 (unpubl.)
records the potter 'fashioning (qd)' vessels on days 10,20 and 30 of II 1bt and day 10 of III 1bt. It may be
that these dates are the days on which the shaping or firing of the ceramics occurred. The recording of
single days favours the interpretation that the text records firing events. However, little else about the
potters' work can be inferred from this text. A translation ofthis text is provided in section 3.3 in another
46 Rapport sur les fouilles de Deir el Medineh (1934-1935): Troisieme Partie: Le village, les dfJcharges
publiques. fa station de repos du col de la Valtee des Rots, IFAO (Cairo, 1939), 264, 341.
production of some simple forms alongside those produced in the kilns of the state-controlled
workshops.47 There is no further evidence for such a practice at Deir el-Medina. Dominique
Valbelle also assumed that the potters worked close to the village,48 but there is no archaeological
evidence for workshops in the vicinity.
Rostislav Holthoer's survey of New Kingdom kiln sites does not include any at Deir el
Medina. However, he did record a kiln associated with a 19
to 22
Dynasty habitation to the left
of the road between Deir el-Medina and Medinet Habu. This kiln is small, being only 11Ocm wide
and 70cm high, and may be considered too small for the considerable production levels of the
Deir el-Medina potters.
Nicholson has also noted that the kilns identified by Holthoer at el
Amarna were in fact ovens associated with different industries.
This casts some doubt over
t e x t ~
Holthoer's identifications. It is also uncertain how far el-Amarna is comparable to Deir el
IS p<
Some textual evidence may indicate that the workshops were located some distance from the
village. The service staff of Deir el-Medina was generally regarded as 'of the outside', their
deliveries perhaps made to 'the gatehouse of the necropolis', p; lJtm n p; lJr from a location
external to the village itself, although this is nowhere stated in a text concerning pottery
but t
delivery.51 A workshop location on the floodplain also seems appropriate, in view of the
quantities of water required by potteries. The town register on the verso ofP. BM 10068, dated to the d
year 12, probably of Ramesses XI, seems to support such a location.
Three potters are included
in the list of houses centred on Medinet Habu; two of these, rAhawy and Bakenmut, are known sumn
from contemporaneous journal papyri. The potter r Ahawy 'of the tomb' is also included among Pash(
those receiving grain who 'belong to every house [within] the enclosure wall of the temple of Ipuy.
Usermaatre meriamun.' These 'houses' are not necessarily to be equated with their workshops.
Potteries are generally regarded as unpleasant and anti-social operations, requiring their
on th
location on the outskirts of settlements.
Such an assumption may sometimes be based on
imposition of modern concepts of pollution. Although the pottery workshop at el-Amarna was on
the outskirts of the main city area,54 there is ethnographic evidence for pottery workshops sited
within residential areas.
Be that as it may, the location of the pottery workshops which supplied
47 'The Firing of Pottery', in An Introduction to Ancient Egyptian Pottery, eds D. Arnold and 1. Bourriau
(Mainz, 1993), 113; Nicholson, 'The Pottery Workshop at Q 48.4 at Tell e1-Amarna', 67.
The S1
48 Ouvriers, 265.
e x a m ~
49 New Kingdom Pharaonic Sites: The Pottery, ed. T. Siive-Soderbergh, vol. 5:1, The Scandanavian joint
expedition to sudanese Nubia (Copenhagen, Oslo, Stockholm, 1977),22.
as one
50 'The Firing of Pottery', 112. Evidence of pottery kilns was also found behind the mortuary temple of
side OJ
Amenhotep son of Hapu: A. Varille and C. Robichon, 'Quatre nouveaux temples Thebains', CdE 10
(1935), L It has been suggested that these kilns were a component of the industrial area which operated
put the
on behalf of the mortuary temples: 1. D. Bourriau, P. T. Nicholson, and P. 1. Rose, 'Pottery', in Ancient The
Egyptian Materials and Technology, eds P. T. Nicholson and I. Shaw (Cambridge, 2000), 139-40. found
5l See for example, Giornale of year 17 of Ramesses IX (Botti and Peet, pI. 14), rto, B I, 1112, with 1.
seem t
Cemy, A Community of Workmen at Thebes in the Ramesside period, BdE 50 (Cairo, 1973), 184-5, but see
now Janssen, section 8. For discussion of the role of the p, I:Jtm n p, I:Jr see, for example, R. Ventura, 'On
(the) p
the Location of the Administrative Outpost of the Conununity of Workmen in Western Thebes', JEA 73
(1987), 14960.
52 J. J. Janssen, 'A New Kingdom Settlement: The Verso of Pap. BM 10068', AOF 19 (1992), 8-23. 56A.L
53 P.T. Nicholson and H. L. Patterson, 'Pottery Making in Upper Egypt: An Ethnoarchaeological Study',
World Archaeology 17 (1985), 226. For a negative description of the potters' trade in a literary text
1983), :
transmitted within Deir el-Medina, see W. Heick, Die Lehre des Dw;-M}, KAT (Wiesbaden, 1970),53-58, 57 This
IX. of this t
54 'The pottery workshop at Q 48.4 at Tell el-Amarna', 61. 58 Hene,
55 Nessim Henry Henein, Poterie et potiers d 'Al-Qasr, oasis de Dakhla, BdE 116 (Cairo, 1997).
eir el
he left
of the
at el-
It over
eir e1
)m the
, their
of the
ated to
Iple of
~ their
jed on
.vas on
s sited
iI1 joint
3ple of
:dE 10
with J.
but see
ra, 'On
rEA 73
.ry text
the village and their internal organization remains a mystery. Only when the potters come into
contact with the village through delivery do they become more visible in the record.
2.2 How many potters?
Throughout the 19
and 20
Dynasties, the numbers of potters delivering to the village at anyone
time seems to have remained largely stable. Potteries are understood to be substantial operations
involving, probably, a master potter and a number of assistants.
Evidence for the wider
organization of the workshops on this level, as well as any adaptations made in response to
changes in the size of the village, is not apparent in the data (see above pp. 12-15). Where the
texts do enumerate numbers of potters we can conclude that two were responsible for delivery; it
is possible that one potter was assigned to each side of the crew but the texts are not generally
explicit concerning this level of the organization.
Some evidence for potter numbers is found in the 19
Dynasty account texts. O. IFAO 387
(unpub!.) separately records the deficits of two potters, that ofMerma preceding that ofNakhy. O.
OeM 91 records a deficit accumulated by Menna in lines 1-3. In line 4 Nakhy's name is written
but the rest of the line was left blank or erased. Cerny noted that three lines on the verso of this
ostracon had been erased, perhaps indicating that the account was originally intended to record
the deliveries of both men.
Another account in this group, O. Berlin P 10840, is more difficult to interpret. The recto
summarizes Menna's total deficit for 5 months, stating that he is 'under the authority of the scribe
Pashed' (r-lJt sf P3-sd). On the verso are three lines of text, the first giving the name of a scribe,
Ipuy. Lines 2 and 3 record very high totals of vessels (94 qbw vessels and 992lbw vessels). The
relationship between the text on the recto and that on the verso is unclear; the numbers of vessels
on the verso are almost double the amount of those on the recto. Other sources recording the
actions of Pashed and Ipuy indicate that they were smdt-scribes responsible for the supervision of
deliveries. Their separate appearance in this text may indicate that deficits for each side of the
crew were enumerated seperately, because smdt-scribes seem to have been assigned to Right and
It is not clear whether Menna was responsible to the different sides for both deficits or
whether the verso deficits belong to a second potter, perhaps Nakhy. If the latter is the case, the
deficits of O. DeM 91 and O. IF AO 387 may also reflect the division into Right and Left. The
work, organization, and administration of the crew was structured by this division, so it would
seem logical that the work and deliveries of the potters should be organized on this basis as well.
The situation is often not made explicit and these texts can be interpreted in various ways. For
example, an undated and anonymous account text, O. OeM 135, records: 'deficit of the potters
two men (4,t n p3 qd s 2)' (1. 1). The totals of vessels that follow are not divided into two groups,
as one might expect. It is therefore not clear whether the two men were required to deliver to one
side of the crew, to the viIIage as a single unit, or whether, for the sake of expediency, the scribe
put the totals for each side together.
The only clear statements concerning a division of the potter's deliveries to Right and Left are
found in the account ostraca and the journal papyrus from the late 19
Dynasty. These texts also
seem to confirm that two potters usually delivered to the village at anyone time. In O. Cairo
25591 rto, 4-5 is recorded: 'receipt of the b;kw of (the) potter Ptah[emheb], receipt of the b;kw of
(the) potter Nefer[her].' The text breaks off at the end of these lines, so it cannot be ascertained
56 A. L. Kelley, 'Some Reflections on Pottery and Society in Ancient Egypt' in Papers of the Pottery
Workshop; Third International Congress of Egyptology, Toronto. Sept. 1982, ed. A. L. Kelley (Toronto,
57 This idea is recorded as a note in Cerny Nb. 104.l39. No mention of the verso is made in the publication
of this text: Catalogue des ostraca, I, pI. 54.
58 Hence my tentative assignment of this text, and O. DeM 91, to Category B; see also, Davies, Who's Who,
124. For discussion of the role of ,muil-scribes, see section 2.3, with references.
whether these deliveries were made to different sides of the crew. The preceding entries
concerning units of fuel were separately enumerated for each side, Right preceding Left (rto, 1-2).
Perhaps the pottery delivery followed this pattern.
Two further texts, O. Cairo 25633 and O. DeM 343, are more explicit. O. Cairo 25633 vso, 1-2
records: 'receipt of the b;kw of (the) potter, Neferher of Left, (ssp b;kw qd n smM'. O.
DeM 343, 1-2, in contrast, records; 'Year 6, I smw 1, receipt by the hand of (the) potter
Ptahemheb of Right (qd n wnmy).' Ptahemheb continued to deliver to Right into the
reign of Siptah at the end of the 19
Dynasty, as recorded in P. Greg rto A, 11: 'potter Ptahemheb

of Right to the scribe Pentaweret - 2 b;kw.'59 Other entries in this text (vso B, 11-13) also
separately enumerate deliveries of b;kw for each side, the entry on vso B, 8 also recording the
name Ptah[ emheb]. 60 From these texts we can posit that, in the late 19
Dynasty the potters
Ptahemheb and Neferher were probably required to deliver to the right and left sides of the crew
respectively, as successors of Menna and Nakhy, the only other pair of potters named in the 19
Dynasty documentation.
In the journal ostraca from the reign of Ramesses II which record deliveries to Right, the use of

the singular in the standard entry marking pottery delivery 'entered by the hand of the potter Uw
m-Ijrt p; qd),61 and variants, seems to record the activities of only one potter. However, p; qd is a
formulaic way of referring to potters and it is possible that the title may conceal varying numbers
of men.
The lists of smdt, representing Right and Left, included on the verso of the Turin Strike
Papyrus (RAD, 45-7) do not clarify the situation for the mid_20
Dynasty. The entry after 'those
who produce pots (nty qd)', in the first list (vso, 1, 19) is lost, although there is space for only one
name. The second list also ineludes only one potter, (vso, 4, 11), and the list ends here.
is possible to interpret these lists as indicating the presence of only one potter for each side of the
crew. The speech of the door-keeper Khaemwaset, entered later in this text, where he promises to
increase the numbers of potters to '4 men (on) Right and 4 (on) Left, total; 8 men' (vso, 2, 16),
can perhaps be interpreted as pure rhetoric (see above p. 13). There is little further evidence for
numbers of potters in the journals of year 29 and later, but no such increase seems to have
In the papyrus journals from the late 20
Dynasty, deliveries of the potter's b;kw are separately
enumerated for each side.
The entries in these texts indicate some variation in numbers of
potters, although we still seem to be dealing with only one or two men. In P. Turin 2044
(unpubl.), from year 1 of Ramesses V, an entry records: "Left, the two potters: [deficit] p;
qd 2 [4;])" (rto I, 5). Thus, at times, two potters may have been expected to deliver to one side.
The only potter's name recorded in the later papyrus journals is that of In the Journal
of Year 7 of Ramesses IX (P. Turin 1881: Pleyte and Rossi, pI. 1-8; KRI VI, 609-19), pottery
deliveries are made by but there is no indication whether these were made to Right or
Left (vso, col. V, 1-3; col. VI, 7-8). In verso col. VII, 1-2, the entry for a lost day in III smw
records 'received by the hand of the potter [ ... ], Right and Left: vessels: Ibw-vessels 150, qb(w)
59 Janssen, Village Varia, 117.
60 ibid., 122.
61 For this phrase, see section 2.3.
62 The potter 'Omek also occurs in P. Turin 2081 +2095 rto. 1 (unpubl.) from the mid 20
Dynasty. The text
records a delivery but the details are lost.
63 For example, P. Turin 2070/133, 134 + 3 frgs rto, II, 10-11 (KRJ VI, 426-8, entered as Cat. 2070/154); P
Turin 1881 (Pleyte and Rossi, pI. 1-8) vso, VII, 1-2; P. Turin 1900 (KRI VI, 619-24) vso, II, 7; Turin
Necropolis Journal Year 3 Ramesses X (P. Turin 1898: Botti and Peet, pI. 50-63; KRIVI, 687-99) rto, III,
9-10,13-14; Turin Journal Year I Ramesses XI (P. Turin 1888: Botti and Peet, pl. 63; KRJVI,
850-1) vso dockets, A, 2-4.
, 1-2).
I)'. O.
Ito the
) also
ng the
: crew
le 19
use of
:er Uw
'ldis a
It re.
of the
ises to
~ , 16),
ce for
, have
ers of
~ h t or
e text
;4); P.
.0, III,
vessels 70.' It seems likely that ("Ahawy's name is to be restored here. This last entry may indicate
that I"Aha",), could be responsible for deliveries to both Right and Left.
In P. Turin 2018 (KRI VI, 851-63), listing payments of grain to the crew and the smdt dating to
the end of the 20
Dynasty, I"Ahawy is included in the list of smdt for Left (A vso, 1, 10-12; B rto,
II, 9-11; B vso, II, 17). In the list of smdt for Right is recorded the name of the potter Bakenmut
(A rto, IV, 15-17; A vso, I, 2-6; B rto, II, 2-4). In one entry in this text he is recorded as 'potter
Bakenmut, son of r Aha'wy' (A rto, la, 3-5). It is very likely that potting was a skill passed from
father to son, and here we see a family of craftsmen responsible for delivery of ceramics to the
village. In contrast with the evidence for the woodcutters (see above p. 15), there seems to be
little indication of a change in numbers of potters to reflect any decrease in the size of the crew,
except for the Journal of Year 7. Perhaps I"Ahawy was assisted in his delivery by his son, the
responsibility for supply at this time falling to a single family who could be noted in greater or
lesser detail in the record.
The potter rAhawy is also entered in a list of potters (m qdw) in P. Turin 2014 (UTlpubl.), rto
The text is not dated, but his name places it in the late 20
Dynasty. As Janssen observes,
the names of the laundrymen included in the list in this papyrus are different from those listed in
P. Turin 2018, perhaps indicating some distance in time between the two texts.
The writing of
the plural in the title to the list (m qdw) is formulaic and need not indieate that more than one
potter is meant.
The number of potters delivering to the village at anyone time seems generally to have been
stable at two men. Some flexibility may be detected in the papyrus documents of the late 20
Dynasty, although the numbers do not seem to vary beyond one or two. The potential for
flexibility in the numbers of smdt has been noted by Janssen for both the woodcutters and the
fishermen (see above p. 15). It is possible that the fonnulae used for recording ceramic deliveries
in earlier texts may conceal variations in their numbers.
2.3 Interpreting receipt and distribution
As Davies has shown in his study of the family histories in the village, the smdt were
administered by their O\'i'll scribes.
Possibly the earliest explicit attestation of smdt-scribes
occurs in a pottery account. On the recto of O. Berlin P 10840 the potter Menna is said to be
'under the authority (r-!;!) of the scribe Pashed' (I. 1). Pashed and the scribe mentioned on the
verso of the ostracon (1. 1), Ipuy, are knovro from other contemporaneous texts to have been
involved in smdt-deliveries and the deliveries of produce such as dates and loaves to the village.
Scribes also occur with less explicit statements of authority in two other pottery accounts. In O.
OeM 346 quantities of vessels were delivered on II prt 20 and 23 'by the hand of (m-4rt)' the
scribe Amenemope. Davies records two smdt-scribes named Amenemope, one from the reign of
Ramesses II and one from Ramesses IV_V.69 I am inclined to assign this text the earlier date on
the basis of its similarity to O. OeM 623. On the verso of O. OeM 623, a number of vessels are
entered for I smw 1. On the recto a quantity of wood is 'entered by the hand Uw m-4rt) of the
scribe Pentaweret' for the same date. Two smdt-scribes named Pentawcret held office in the 19
Dynasty, one late in the reign of Ramesses II and one at the very end of the dynasty.7o The
Pentaweret of the late 19
Dynasty is recorded as receiving 2 b3kw from the potter Ptahemheb (P.
64 Compare the 'family firms' of fishermen, Janssen, Village Varia, 40.
65 The line numbers given here follow CernY's provisional transcription (17.15.41-6; 17.17.25-9).
66 Janssen and Janssen, 'The Laundrymen of the Theban Necropolis', 5.
67 Who's Who, 123-42.
68 ibid., 124. Davies doubts the equation Cerny made between this Pashed and the like-named draughtsman,
69 Who's Who, 283-4.
70 ibid., 125-6,283.
Greg rto, A, II). The phrase jw tn-4rt can be used of both potters and scribes. In the case of
scribes, it is likely they were involved in receiving and recording the ceramics rathcr than
physical transportation and delivery. The interpretation of tn-4rt is crucial here. Although I
translate the preposition literally, it can be understood more flexibly as 'under the responsibility
of, which could express a range of levels of responsibility for supply, from physical delivery to
for (
recording receipt.
When pots are delivered or received 'by the hand' of someone who is not given the title
'potter' or otherwise connected with the stndt, the status of the delivery is less clear. Valbelle
to in
notes the distinction between ceramics brought by the potters and vessels filled with beer and
other commodities provided by institutions.72 Usually the content of the latter vessels is given. 73
However, in some cases the entry is uncertain, particularly with the delivery ofjn/:lt vessels. In O.
DeM 23, 5, 16 jn/:ll vessels are delivered 'by the hand of Amenemope, while in O. DeM 26, 2-3,
the a
30 large jn/:lt vessels are recorded 'by the hand of Nebnefer, 'entered 27, deficit 3.' Neither of

these men is given any title and it is possible that they are ordinary workmen. 74

The problems associated with interpreting the deliveries of jnl:zt vessels can be best illustrated
by O. Cairo 25704, which records the delivery ofjn/:ll vessels in year 2 of Sety I; no month or day
is given. Although Davies connects this delivery with the known smdt-scribe Tjay or the member
of the smdl, Tjiro,75 the status of this text remains uncertain. Line 2 records: 'the one who brought
very vessels returned to Tj[ ... J (nty rdj jn/:lt ('5t sp sn m-hyt m
0[... ])', while line 3
has: 'the one who brought small (?) jn/:lt vessels assigned to [ ... J(nty rdj jn/:lt lrj? m-Is ('5? m-('
[ ... )),.76 The non-standard means of entering the delivery, nty rdj, may indicate that this text
451 d
records a more specialized range of vessels, not necessarily to be associated \vith the smdt-potters.
jn/:lt vessels have a restricted range of occurrence in the Deir el-Medina documentation and are
sometimes associated with festival deliveries (see the discussion of O. BM 50728 below and
section 4.2). Therefore these vessels may not belong with the unfilled ceramics delivered by the
text I
There is little evidence in the texts that potters were assisted in the delivery of their wares by
other members of the smdt, as is the case with the woodcutters (see above pp. 12ff.). Entries in the
journal OStraca record deliveries 'by the hand of the potter (m-4rt P5 qd),77 or 'entered by the
hand of the potter (jw m-4rt P5 qd)'.78 This may indicate delivery by the potters themselves but
the use of such formulaic phraseology in recording delivery may conceal a number of possible
alternatives for this aspect of supply. Considering the quantities involved and the probable size of
is no'
71 For discussion, sec P. Tallet, 'Deux pretres-sem tMbains de la XXe dynastie', BIFAO 99 (1999), 417. An
alternative translation of the phrase, with similar implications, would be 'arrived by the hand of.
72 Ouvriers, 265. For the representation of such tilled vessels in the ceramic repertoire from Deir el-Medina
see, for example, L. Bavay, S. Marchand, and P. Tallet, 'Les jarres inscrites du Nouvel Empire provenant
de Deir aI-Medina', CaMers de la Ceramique Egyptienne 6 (2000), 77-86, with references.
of the
73 For example, all deliveries of wine to the village were made in mnt-amphorae: Janssen, Commodity
Prices, 350. mnt vessels are only once recorded as part of a potter's deliveries. In O. Or. Inst Chicago
79 Tw
16998 (unpubL), 30 mnt vessels are entered alongside 30 qbw vessels and 150 Ibw vessels (1. 3). The entry
of a wood delivery in line 2 may indicate that this text records deliveries by the smdt. For the 'elite' status
of the mnt, see Bourriau, Nicholson, and Rice, 'Pottery', l37.
74 O. DeM 202 records quantities of dpr and lbw vessels entered 'by the hand of Wepwawetmose.
Although the status of this text can be questioned, lbw vessels are a more standard part of the smdt-potters'
80 In 1
75 Who's Who, 106 with n. 302.
76 For the readings of m-hyt mJ and rrt-{s m
, see D. Valbelle, 'Remarques sur les textes neo-egyptiens
non-Iitteraires ( 6-10)', BIFAO 77 (1977), 129-13 L
81 For
77 For example O. DeM 159, 10; O. DeM 39 rto, 4
of hig
78 For example O. DeM 35, addition above line 7; O. DeM 154 rto, 15-6; O. DeM 38, 7; O. DeM 47, vso, 4.
,e of
19h I
ry to
ler of
line 3
? m
s text
Id are
If and
)y the
res by
in the
)y the
es but
;ize of
17. An
e entry
, status
vso, 4.
the vessels, the delivery could have involved several trips and/or the use of assistants who are not
mentioned because they had no responsibility.
The distribution of the ceramics among the community is only rarely attested. O. DeM 337
seems to record numbers of pots owed to particular workmen: 'III :;ot 10: deficit of 3lbw vessels
for (n) Amenemope; deficit of I ds vessel, 1 dpy vessel, and 3 lbw vessels for (n) Nakhy.' Both
these names are common and it is impossible to date the text on this basis.
This text may
indicate that not only were records made of the potters' debts to the crew in general, deficits owed
to individual crew members could be documented as well.
O. BM 50728, dated to year 2, probably of Ramesses II, also seems to relate to the processing
and distribution of a particular type of ceramic, recording vessels delivered to individual
workmen as well as deficits owed to them. The first five lines of the recto set out the purpose of
the account: 'Year 2 [ ... ] the record of the vessels for Left (p:; SOJW m n n smM - a total
of 10 + 5 vessels. Specification (wp s(t) for the crew concerning the 10 + 5
(vessels). ,80 The numbers of vessels given to each member of the crew are then detailed. The first
group of five vessels is clearly allocated to four named workmen, one for each man. Baki,
probably the foreman of the crew,81 received two, corresponding to the hierarchal systems of
distribution known from accounts of rations and other provisions. Lines 7-10 continue with the
allocation of different vessel types to named individuals. The end of the recto is very broken, but
lines 11 and 12 seem to have recorded vessels owed to Amenmose (4:;t n jmn-msw), Pa-[... ] and
twtw(?), and in this the text provides a parallel for O. DeM 337. In O. BM 50728 rto, 11-12, the
4;1 determinative was crossed out, possibly indicating that the debt was paid.
O. BM 50728 includes some unusual qualifications for the vessels, including terms related
perhaps to quality ('very good' jn!Jt njr nJr, 'middling good' nJr and the
designation of certain vessels as being 'in the fashion of hbny (vessels?) (m qd hbny).' These
designations and the total of b;q oil given in the last line of the recto may indicate that the
text records the delivery of filled jn!Jt vessels for a specific, perhaps festival or ritual, context. I
therefore doubt whether the text is concerned with the distribution of ceramics delivered by the
smdt potters (see 4.2 for further discussion of this text).
In contrast, O. Cairo 25597, dated to year 2 of Ramesses IV, records items distributed to
members of the smdt. The distribution list begins on line 2 with 'specification (wp-st)' and
includes a coppersmith, a water-carrier, as well as the potter Herunefer who received 5 bundles
(mrw or ors); the content of these bundles is not stated. Although the context for this distribution
is not clear, this is the only text known to me in which a potter seems to receive a payment,
perhaps in exchange for work.
Some aspects of organization of work, such as distribution of pots among the villagers,
probably did not require the level of administration and documentation needed for the record of
delivery. Details concerning the processing of delivery remain unclear, such as the precise nature
of the receipt and distribution of the products. However, the texts do allow the stages of delivery
79 Two workmen named Nakhy are known from the late 19
Dynasty, Janssen, Commodity Prices, 86.
Amenemope is a common name in all periods, ibid., 42. Although a potter Nakhy is known from this
period, I doubt whether this text should be understood as referring to the deficits of untitled but named
potters; instead I read the n as a preposition rather than the indirect genitive. It would be very unusual for a
potter to be untitled and the text does not follow the standard pattern for potter accounts recording deficits;
compare O. DeM 91; O. IFAO 387; O. DeM 135; O. Gardiner 88 vso.
80 In these lines, the number 10 is written in black ink while 5 is written in red. Some of the numbers
referring to allocations to individual workmen in the following lines of the text are also written in red. The
meaning of the use of red ink: in the text requires further investigation.
81 For Baki and his family see, Davies, Who's Who, 2-12. If the provision of an extra vessel is an indicator
of higher status, this text would provide evidence that Baki continued in office into the early years of
Ramesses II.
to be traced, illuminating aspects of the organization of the potters' work and their relationship
with the community ofDeir el-Medina.
2.4 Donkey hire by potters
Although it can be assumed that donkeys were necessary for the delivery of ceramics to the
village, J know of only one relevant text and that refers only indirectly to the potters' use of
donkeys. There seem to be no hireage texts for potters comparable to those attested for
woodcutters and watercarriers.
O. DeM 73 Ito details a legal case concerning a donkey in the 20
year of Ramesses III. The
text records the resolution of a dispute (del) between the potter Herunefer, who was the
complainant, and the workman Anynakht.
Herunefer hired a donkey from Anynakht. The
donkey proved unsatisfactory and an exchange was agreed upon in the presence of (m-blM a
scribe of the mat, Amennakhe
'The bad donkey was handed over to him I}r swd n./) and
he gave him Uw.f djt./) an (other) she-donkey in its place' (11. 3-4). The text concludes with the
taking of an oath 'on account of it (br pbwy.s),' presumably by Anynakht.
As Janssen observes in reference to the woodcutters and watercarriers, texts about the hireage
of donkeys are comparatively rare and are concentrated in the reigns of Ramesses III and IV.
Those that survive perhaps refer to rather unusual situations, as here. The distinctive nature of this
text lends support to Janssen's proposal that there was a 'pool' of donkeys, perhaps state or
communally owned rather than belonging to the workmen themselves, available for deliveries to
the village (see above p. 29).
3 Documenting supply
3.1 The timing ofexpected deliveries
Janssen has determined, through analysis of the journal OStraca of the reigns of Ramesses TIT and
IV, that deliveries of ceramics were expected every ten days.84 That this was the practice in the
early 19
Dynasty is confirmed by the delivery lists of wood and pottery. Where the lists are
dated, these dates usually fall on days 10,85 20,86 or 30
of the month, which are the days on
which deliveries were also recorded later in the 20
It is likely that vessels were not expected on any particular day within this time frame and could
be delivered in smaller amounts throughout the period, like the deliveries by the gardeners and
P. Greg vso, B, II, 8 documents the receipt of b,kw of 'the potter' for year 6 of
for (
of tl
Siptah on the 19
day of IV lvt. This delivery is then recorded in the summary information for IV
lvt 10 to 20. A journal ostracon of the reign of Ramesses III records that, on II smw 7, the potter
entered two blkw, 'one (w') for I smw 30, one for II smw 10' (0. DeM 38, 7). The account text O.
DeM 346, of the mid_20
Dynasty, documents the receipt of two quantities of vessels within three
days. On II prt 20, 30 qbt vessels and 110 lbw vessels were received or delivered by the hand of
O. E
82 For Anynakht see, Davies, Who's Who, 74-5. The potter Herunefer is also known from O. Cairo 25597.
39 (:1
83 The role of the 'scribe of the mat (s.v n un;)' in this text has been discussed by Ben Haring, 'The Scribe
of the Mat: From Agrarian Administration to Local Justice', in Deir el-Medina in the Third Millennium
J a n s ~
90 'b,
AD: A Tribute to Jac. J Janssen, eds R. J. Demaree and A. Egberts, Egyptologische Uitgaven 14 (Leiden,
91 ibi
2000), 149. For the legal status of this text see A. G. McDowell, Jurisdiction in the Workmen's Community
92 O.
ofDeir el-Medina, Egyptologische Uitgaven 5 (Leiden, 1990), 146-7.
84 Commodity Prices, 485-6.
85 O. DeM 1; 5; 7; 10; 12; 13; 17; 23; O. Gardiner 43.
94 Fe
86 O. DeM 2; 8; 15; 24; O. Or. lust. Chicago 18878. reCOl
87 O. DeM 3; 4; 9; 11; 12; 14; 18; 22; O. DH 6; 7.
88 J. J. Janssen, 'b;kw: From Work to Product', SAK 20 (1993),90 n. 52.
95 L;
se of
I for
; the
,M a
) and
h the
i IV.
.te or
ies to
I and
n the
:s are
fS on
6 of
or IV
the scribe Amenemope (rto, 11. 1-2). On II prt 23 a further 42 dpr vessels 'making(?/9 22 qb/
vessels' and 100 tbw vessels were also entered by the scribe Amenemope (vso, n. 1-4). This text
may record part payments of the delivery expected for II prt 20-30. The data concerning the
timing of delivery therefore correspond to the evidence discussed by Janssen for the woodcutters
(see above pp. 18ff.). As in the woodcutter texts, if the delivery was completed in full during the
10 day period, it was recorded as mI}. Any deficit or shortfall in delivery was entered as (w)gJ(t)
or gJ nlr.
3.2 The terminology ofsupply: bJkw
From the late 19
or early 20
Dynasties the deliveries of ceramics were recorded in units of
bJlnv in both account and journal ostraca. Janssen has discussed the use and meaning of the tenn
b;kw in the Deir el-Medina material. b'lkw in its absolute sense means 'work', but Janssen has
shown that in many cases in these documents the meaning can shift from 'work' to the
'result/product of the work.'90 Within this usage, the b;kw of the potter seems to have a more
specific meaning. Janssen has concluded that it signifies a fixed amount that was due every ten
days, a 'quota'. He cites the example ofO. DeM 38,7 where two b3kw were recorded, 'one for I
smw 30, one for II smw 10. ,91 The detenninatives used in the writing of b3lnv support this
interpretation. Although in the late 19
and early 20
Dynasty texts b;kw was detennined by the
papyrus roll,92 from the middle to the end of the reign of Ramesses III the vessel detenninative
was used.
The change to this detenninative from one with a more abstract meaning signals that
here b;kw is a work requirement consisting of an amount of ceramics.
The usage of b;kw in the journals and accounts implies that this amount was fixed, a 'quota',
that would therefore be quantifiable. There are records of the entry of two b;kw, often to make up
for overdue deliveries, and occasionally even half b;kw.
These references certainly imply that
the b'Ilnv was a predetennined amount that could be doubled or halved when necessary. The
documenting of deficits in the texts also shows that each delivery was expected to consist of a
predetermined amount. The Category E text O. DeM 12 seems to record such a deficit. On line 4
of this delivery list is written 'deficit, namely deficit of vessels (4; qrlJt 4;).,95 Since qrl}t is the
generic tenn for vessels, the implication is that the expected delivery of ceramics, probably a
mixture of types and quantities, was not made. To determine the composition of each b;kw in
terms of vessel types and numbers is, however, difficult.
3.3 b3kw in the J(jh Dynasty accounts (text categories B, C. E)
The 19
Dynasty accounts of the deficits of the potters Menna and Nakhy indicate that deliveries
were pre-determined as amounts that, if not delivered in full, were recorded to be made up later.
O. Berlin P 10840 records an accumulation of deficits owed by Menna, 'from year 9 III ;fJt 1 to
III prt 30, making 5 months: 53 qbt vessels, 575 {bw vessels' (11. 2-3). This account shows the
scale of thc deficit that the potter could incur over a period of time if complete deliveries were not
89 Cerny's transcription of the text contains an ellipsis and query at this point (Catalogue VII, pI. 2).
Janssen (pers. corron.) has suggested that the two dashes in the hieratic facsimile could be read as Jr. n.
90 'h;kw: From Work to Product', 89.
91 ibid., 89-90.
nO. DeM 606 rto, 6,11; O. Cairo 25591 rto, 4-5 and O. Cairo 25633 vso, 1; P. Greg rto, B, 23; A, 11; vso,
B, 8, 11-12.
93 The journal ostraca from the mid_20
Dynasty consistently use this determinative.
94 For an examples entries of two b:;kw see O. DeM 154 rto, 16; P. Greg rto, A, II, 11-12. Half units are
recorded in O. DeM 44 rto, 20; P. Turin 1961 (Pleyte and Rossi, pI. 99) vso II, 5; Anonymous Turin
fragment (Cerny MSS 3.616).
95 t ~ ~ l o : n
O. DeM 135 is a testimony to the precision with which such deficits were recorded. This
undated text enumerates the deficit of two potters: 'Deficit of the potters, 2 men:
29 qbw
vessels, 5 g;y vessels, \00 Ibw vessels, 9 dp(r) vessels to (r) qbw vessels, making 4Y2: Total,
making 33Y2 qbw vessels.' The final two lines seem to indicate that 9 dpr vessels were equivalent
in some way to 4Yz qbw vessels.
When added to the 29 qbw vessels in line 2 this gives the total
of 33Y2. Perhaps the potters were initially required to deliver 9 dpr vessels, along with the other
vessels, but the decision was made to convert these dpr vessels into their equivalent in qbw
vessels. Here, it must be borne in mind that this text records deficit rather than delivery. It seems
to reflect the scribe's accounting mentality, precisely recording the precise value of the deficit,
which may have been rounded up or down in reality. The meticulous record of deficit does imply
fixed vessel deliveries, with a specific amount being due every ten days.
Although such texts imply the presence of a quota, it is difficult to quantify that quota in terms
of numbers and types of vessels. In this context, O. DeM 135 provides an additional insight. The
conversion of one vessel type into its equivalent in another type, if it is a concrete conversion
rather than a statement of value, implies a certain flexibility within the deliveries. Perhaps this
document shows the superiors of the crew specifying, or making adjustments to, the amounts of
ceramics required every ten days, in accordance with the needs of the crew.
Such an interpretation could explain the range of vessel types and quantities enumerated in the
th defi
Dynasty delivery lists, while also perhaps accounting for the precise documentation of
It is
deficits. These ostraca note deliveries of at least eight different vessel types in varying quantities
and combinations, including qbw,IOO kJ-/:lr-kJ, 101 gJy,102 Ibw,103 dpr,104 and dS.
I05 and
Some of these vessel names are very rare in other documentation. The dpr vessel, although
common in these lists and in 19
Dynasty pottery accounts, does not appear to occur later.
pattern could suggest a reduction in the vessel repertoire in the 20
Dyllasty, but the contents of
deliveries are not generally enumerated in the later data, potentially concealing some vessel types.
Deliveries of lbw vessels are recorded in the majority of the surviving lists and, as will be
illustrated below, Ibw vessels, alongside qbw vessels, remained the core of the potters' deliveries
in the 20
Dynasty. It is possible that qbw and !bw are classes of ceramics rather than distinct
vessel types, so that the terms may cover a wider range of forms (see section 6.1).
1, - (I. 1).
97 Compare O. DeM 346, where 42 dpr vessels may be the equivalent of 22 qbt vessels (see section 3.1).
The flexibility of equivalence between the two types may indicate flexibility in the form and valuation of
these vessels (see section 4.1).
98 Janssen, Commodity Prices,434; O. DeM 1,6; 15,3; 17,4; 23, 5.
99 Wb. II, 126; W. F. Reineke, 'Der Zusammenhang der altag}ptischen Rohl- und LiingenmaBe', MfG 9
(1963),148; O. DeM 5,6; 7, 6; 11,4.
100 Janssen, Commodity Prices, 412-5. qbw is a feminine word and can also be spelt qbt: Valbelle, Guvriers,
18; O. DeM J, 7; 4, 5; 7, 5; 10,4; O. DR 5, 4; O. Gardiner 43,5.
101 Wb. V, 93. O. DeM 28, 3; O. DR 6, 8. lOi 0
102 Janssen, Commodity Prices, 426-8. O. DeM 5, 5; 9, 6; 10,7; 22,5; O. DR 8, 3; O. Gardiner 43,6. 108
10J Janssen, Commodity Prices, 433-4. O. DeM 1,8; 3, 4; 4, 6; 6, 6; 8, 6; 10,5; 11,6; 13,6; 15,4; 16, 5; 17, 109 0
3; 22,6; O. DR 5, 7; 6, 9; 7, 5; 8,4; O. Or. lnst. Chicago 18878,5; O. Gardiner 43, 7. O. DeM 28,8 records 110
a vessel (see section 4.1). III 0
104 This vessel is not included in Janssen, Commodity Prices, or in the Worterbuch. It is written ",lith the 1110
generic term for vessel, qr/.lt, confirming its nature as such. O. DeM 2,5; 3, 3; 5, 7; 6, 5; 9, 5; 10,6; 16,5; 113 0
O. DR 5, 6; O. Or. lnst. Chicago 18878,4. 4prt vessels, presumably a different orthography of the same 114 C
term, occur in hieratic inscriptions from the tomb of Tutankhamun: 1. Cerny, Hieratic lnscriptionsfrom the
Il5 't
Tomb of TutCankhamun, TutCankhamiin's Tomb Series II (Oxford, 1965), 6, with references. See also G. 116 Ir
Bouvier, BlFAG 101 (2001),90 note g.
105 Wb. V, 485; Janssen, Commodity Prices, 472-4. O. DeM 6,4; 8, 5; 13,5; 16,5; 22, 4; O. DR 5, 6; 7,4.
1(l{j See the documents cited in n. 100; also O. DeM 346 vso, 3.
. The
, this
Its of
.n the
m of
, This
lts of
ill be
1 3.1).
ion of
5; 17,
ith the
: same
Jm the
Iso G.
The degree to which the composition of deliveries could vary from list to list illustrates the
flexiblity of the institution. On I 3!Jt 10 of year 3 of Sety I, 7 vessels (3 good, 2 poor), 37 qbw
vessels (deficit of 3), and 58 Ibw vessels (deficit of 2) were delivered.
On the 20
day of that
month, dpr vessels were delivered (the rest of the text is lost).108 80 dpr vessels and 50 Ibw
vessels were delivered on the last day of I 3!Jt,109 while on the last day of II ;!Jt, 40 qbw vessels
and 50 Ibw vessels were delivered.
On day 10 of III ;!Jt, 80 g3y vessels, 90 vessels, and 40
dpr vessels were delivered.
Not only do several vcssel types occur in each delivery, but totals
for each vessel type also vary considerably as weI!. Ibw vessels tend to total between 50 and 60
for each list in which they occur.1l2 However, many of the attested totals documented are
significantly larger, between 100 and 300 lbw.1l3 These texts may point to there being variable
deliveries that resulted from commissions in response to specific needs. However, this is only one
possible interpretation based upon a comparatively small group of texts. The question must be
asked whether a similar understanding can be gained from the qualitatively different sources of
the 20
3.4 Recording b3kw in the 20
The recording of pottery deliveries was less explicit in the 20
Dynasty with deliveries and
deficits generally noted as b3kw and (w)4;(t) of the potter without further clarifying information.
It is difficult to determine whether the quantities and contents of the deliveries were as flexible
and varying as the 19
Dynasty data suggest. Indeed, as Janssen has concluded, it is virtually
impossible to prove what was meant by the term' b;kw l' .114
In the rare cases where journal entries on ostraca of the reigns of Ramesses III and Ramesses
N record numbers of vessels, this information is difficult to interpret. O. DeM 154 rto, recording
journal entries in year 31 of Ramesses III, documents the delivery made by the potter on II smw
29: 'entered by the hand of the potter, 2 b;kw, (plus?) 50 lbw vessels for II smw 30, deficit 65' (II.
15-16). Janssen alternatively translates this part of the text as: '[e ]ntered from the potter, 2 b;kw
(consisting of) 50 lbw vessels', comparing it with O. Berlin P 10654 (unpub!.) vso, 1 where the
same amount of 50 vessels is also mentioned. I IS There is a number of possible readings of O.
DeM 154 rto. The two b3kw may be deliveries owing from earlier in the month,116 while, on the
other hand, the 50 Ibw vessels may be an early partial payment for II smw 30, with 65 vessels
remaining outstanding. Since we do not have the rest of the journal for II smw and the entry for
day 20 records neither delivery nor deficit, it is difficult to draw firm conclusions. Nonetheless, it
seems unlikely that the b3kw referred to in the text consisted of 50 lbw vessels. The supporting
evidence of the late 20
Dynasty ostracon O. Berlin P 10654 vso is ambiguous also, referring to
the production of 50 vessels in the first line; the numbers are lost thereafter:
II ;!Jt 10; the potter fashioned
50 (vessels)
day 20; the potter [fashioned x (vessels)]
107 O. DeM 1,6-8.
108 O. DeM 2, 5.
109 O. DeM 3, 3-4.
110 O. DeM 4,5-6.
1110. DeM 5, 5-7.
112 O. DeM 1,8; 3,4; 8, 6; 16,5; O. DH 5, 7; 6, 9; O. Or. Inst. Chicago 18878,5.
113 O. DeM 6, 6; 13,6; 22, 6; 15,4; 17,3; O. DH 7,6.
ll4 Commodity Prices, 488; 'b;kw: From Work to Product', 89.
115 'b;kw; From Work to Product', 89.
116 In a similar situation O. DeM 40, 14-5 records 'by the hand of the potter: 3 b;kw'. Janssen, Commodity
Prices, 487-8, concludes that two of the b;kw were payments for the first two decades although, ' ... the
non-delivery is nowhere stated ... ', while the third delivery was due for the five epagomenal days.
day 30; fashioning [x (vessels)]
III 11]t 10; while he (fashioned?)118 [x (vessels)]
3.5 b
day 20:
total; 230 qbw vessels [ ...]
the n
specifYing it (wp Sf) 23 vessels.
In recording the actual work of the potters, this text is unique. While units of 50 vessels seem to
be specified, any connection with a blkw is not made explicit and can only be inferredYo perio
Janssen also cites the example of O. DeM 35, on which a note above line 7 recording entries
for IIprt 19 of year 28 of Ramesses III reads: 'entered by the hand of the potter as one b3kw 100
qbw vessels, 45 lbw vessels.' Although this text indicates that the b3kw consisted of 100 qbw
vessels and 45 lbw vessels the phrase m w( b3kw could imply that the vessels enumerated were
the e:
those making up this particular delivery, perhaps differing from, although equivalent to, the recor
contents of earlier deliveries and the standard b3kw. The higher number of qbw vessels than Ibw epagt
vessels, which is very unusual when compared with other texts enumerating these two types, 5 ep::
suggests that this entry is exceptional not only in its formulation. It may be that this delivery ofth,
required special enumeration; perhaps the potter altered the original order and provided an bee)!
equivalent number of qbw vessels instead oflbw vessels.
The two uneertain entries of O. DeM 154 and O. DeM 35 are the only texts in which actual
vessel types are enumerated in 20
, Dynasty journal ostraca. O. DeM 35 in particular may suggest
that the composition of b3kw could be flexible. Other surviving records of pottery deliveries from
An e
the reign of Rarnesses III usually state only whether or not the potter entered his deliveries
'complete' or was in deficit. O. DeM 143 vso 5, datable to year 24 of Ramesses III, does,
however, enter a deficit of lbw vessels for the five epagomenal days. Although the exact figures
as 65
are lost, the final two lines record an unknown total (dnuf) of qbw vessels and a total of 680 lbw

vessels, these probably being deficits incurred since IV smw 30, the day the potter first fell behind
in deliveries, as the account records. In O. DeM 165, which largely documents deficits incurred in
prt 1
year 30 III prt and thereafter, a note to one side records: 'year 29, entered for the five
(epagomenal) days 30 lbw vessels, his deficit 85' (11. 4a5a).
Where vessel numbers are enumerated in these 20
Dynasty texts they vary, in some cases
considerably, although the relationships of these numbers with the context of the documents must
be kept in mind. The vessel types are less varied than in the 19
Dynasty sources. Mostly qbw and
that 1
[bw vessels are enumerated in large quantities, which confirms that these vessel types were the
basis of the potters' b 3kw. The deficit accounts from the reign of Ramesses II (group III) record
only qbw and lbw vessels,l2I in contrast with the variety of vessels represented in the delivery deliv
lists. The delivery lists of the 19
Dynasty appear to be exceptional in the variety of vessel types large
they enumerate. They may represent deliveries from other specialized workshops or supplies for vess!
particular purposes. The similarity between the 19
Dynasty delivery lists of pottery and wood on en1:r)
the one hand, and of specialty breads and beer on the other hand, may indicate that these inter
deliveries were, in general, more specialized; they were perhaps associated with festivals. Such an here
association is illuminated by a study of one of the vessel types less commonly enumerated in A1
these texts (see section 4.2). However, the regularity of delivery in these lists, recorded in tenday b3kJ.i
blocks, is closely comparable with the regular b3kw delivery. For the 20
Dynasty, it must be potu
borne in mind that b3kw, which is mostly unqualified in the journal ostraca, may cover a range of the (
vessel types. sing.
liS Q0"--1!i11
122 G
ll9 Cerny noted that the line here was left blank. 123
120 The specification of jnJ:z1 vessels may also suggest that this text refers to a specialized, perhaps unique lUF,
production series. For jnJ:zt see section 4.2. me
0. DeM 91; O. Berlin P 10840 vso; O. IFAO 387. 126 C
em to
l qbw
), the
ed an
, from
red in
; must
re thc
es for
ted in
lst be
1ge of
3.5 bikw in the late 20
Dynasty papyrus documents
Where pottery deliveries are recorded in the journal papyri, the numbers of vessels involved and
the name of the potter are often included. A further contrast with earlier records is that the tenn
b;kw is rarely employed. The more fonnal status of the papyri may explain such differences. This
status may also be one reason, despite the large amount of documentation surviving from this
period, deliveries of pottery are only recorded occasionally. Those that are recorded may have
been special deliveries, and hence worthy of note. When b;kw are recorded, as in earlier records,
these may be variable in size and consist largely of{bw and qbw vessels.
The recto ofP. Turin 2070/133, 134 + 3 fragments (KRIVI, 426-8), contains journal entries for
the epagomenal days of the year 2 of a king later than Ramesses IV.
The entry for the final day
records the deliveries of the potter: 'Right: the potter - 29 [qb]w vessels, 145 lbw vessels. Five
epagomenal days; 100 [+ 45?] Ibwvessels. [Left]: the potter 29 [qbw?] vessels, 145lbwvessels.
5 epagomenal days; 145' (Col. II, 10-11). The deliveries are enumerated separately for each side
of the crew although, if the restorations are correct, the totals are the same for each side. As is to
be expected, qbw and !bw vessels are the only vessel types mentioned.
P. Turin 1881+ (Pleyte and Rossi, pI. 1-8; KRIVI, 609-19) records entries for years 6-8 of
Ramesses IX; the potter is only mentioned on three occasions in year 7. For IV ;lu 29 the entry
reads: 'received by the hand of the potter - qbw vessels 65, !bw vessels 65' (vso, V, 1-2).
An entry for 65 handfuls of plants follows in this list and seems to be associated with this
delivery. An entry on the same line also records 2 khar of k3Y ), probably 'roe,.123 The
following line records: 'again by his hand (w/:lm m-fjrt.j) (for) I prt 10; 100 [b[w] vessels', as well
as 65 handfuls of plants and an unknown measure of 'roe'. It seems that the potter had also been
charged with delivering produce to the village; perhaps the organization of deliveries was
disrupted in this period. Other entries record deliveries 'received by the hand of' scribes.
prt 18, almost three months later, made another delivery of 300 Ibw vessels (vso, VI, 7-8)
while in III smw there were 'received by the hand of the potter (for) Right and Left' 1501bw
vessels and 70 qbw vessels (vso, VII, 1-2). P. Turin 1881 + is an unusual text which, rather than
noting events day by day, records only a few days from a few months of each year, perhaps days
on which events occurred that were more significant, in the eyes of the scribe. Valbelle observes
that the scribe was running out of space on the papyrus, increasing the likelihood that the entries
he recorded were those he considered important.
If the deliveries recorded in this text were the only ones made for year 7 of Ramesses IX, the
delivery patterns of the potters may have changed. Rather than delivering units every decade,
large deliveries were made every two to three months. This would explain the large totals of
vessels supplied. However, as Janssen cautions, scribal inaccuracies mean that the absence of an
entry in the journal does not necessarily mean that the delivery was not made.126 An alternative
interpretation is that the 'standard' deliveries were made every ten days and that those recorded
here were supplementary and worthy of special mention.
An entry in P. Turin 1900+ (KRl VI, 619-24) vso, 11,7 may indicate that regular deliveries of
blkw continued, at least in the early years of Ramesses IX. Year 9, II 31Jt 19 records: 'Right; the
potter's b3kw [ ... ] (wnmy p; qd n b3kw [... J),. The context of this delivery is similar to those of
the earlier 20
Dynasty, with supply of fuel and gypsum being recorded as well. However, the
single mention of a potter's b,kw in this entry in the papyrus may be as unique as those in P.
122 Gutgesell, Die Datierung. 20. Dynastie, 242.
123 Janssen, Village Varia, 53.
124 For example vso 2a; vso 5, 5; vso 5, 10; vso 6, 1.
125 Ouvriers, 63-4.
126 Commodity Prices, 486.
Turin l88l. Journal entries from years 10 and 17 of Ramesses IX support this interpretation. P. A
Turin 2071/140 (KRIVI 637,15), rto, 9 records delivery of vegetables and pottery, '2l(?) qb(w) varia
vessels, 110 [+ x] [bw vessels', for day 30, IV smw, year 10. The Turin Necropolis Journal of year vana
17, rto B II, 2-3 (Botti and Peet, pI. 16) is the only record of a pottery delivery in this substantial inclu
text covering two full months: 'potter rAhawy; 33 qbw vessels, 165 [bw vessels.' This may Dyna
indicate that the delivery was an unusual, hence noteworthy, event, especially in relation to (HO
references to problems with smdt organization earlier in the text (see section 3.7). the p
Deliveries of varying quantities of pottery are entered a number of times for different sides of recei'
the crew in the journal of year 3 of Ramesses X (P. Turin 1898 +; Botti and Peet pI. 50-63; KRI Re
VI, 687-99). On III prt 18, even though the crew was not working because of the 'foreigners cornr
(Omyw)', 30 qb(w) vessels and 30 [+ x] [[bw] vessels were delivered to Right (rto I, 11). On the wood
last day of IV prt, 9 qb(w) and 27 ([)bw vessels were delivered to Left (the entry for Right is comp
lost; rto II, 14). The entry for II smw 19 records, 'crew not working, Right: 28 qb(w) vessels, 300 Janss,
[b(w) vessels; Left: 28 qb(w) vessels, 15 g1(y) vessels, 300 [b(w) vessels' (rto III, 9-10). The entry amou
for g1y vessels is unusual in this text. Two days later there was a further delivery for Right alone: largel
'the potter - 30 qb(w) vessels, 150 [b(w) vessels' (rto III, 13-14). In the month of III smw, qbw
and [bw vessels were delivered on two occasions, day 5 and day 30.127 On IV smw 1, 1 qbw was
delivered perhaps to Right, while 90 [bw vessels were delivered to Left (rto V, 18-9). If each
are in
delivery of vessels to the village was flexible in size and composition, the entries in this journal
as a c
may also illustrate that deliveries to different sides of the crew could be varied as well.
The journal text of year 1 of Ramesses XI, P. Turin 1898+, VSO,128 records for I 10t 24: 'Right;
from the hand of (the) potter [ ...] 18 qb(w) vessels, 50 [+x] [bw vessels, Left; from the hand of
3.7 In
(the) potter [ ...]y,129 10 [+x] (/,Hh vessels [ r ~ R ~ ~ o : : ] [... J' (vso, Text A, 2-4). Again the
delivery is separately enumerated for the different sides of the crew; breaks in the text mean that
the composition of the delivery is unknown. If the entry on line 4 is a variant orthography of a
this b
type of vessel, (/,1(/,1,130 it may indicate a specialized delivery, because (/,1(/,1 vessels are not
otherwise attested in the pottery deliveries.
Further deliveries are recorded in this journal, again
in a very broken context: 'by the hand ofthe potter [ ...], lbw vessels 51 [+ x? . .]' (vso dockets, B,
5-6); later, 18 qbw vessels and 50 lbw vessels are recorded (vso dockets, C, 2). This is the latest
or adr
surviving record of pottery deliveries to the necropolis workmen in the 20
3.6 Conclusion: the meanings ofb1kw
The Turin Necropolis journals seem to support the interpretation of the nature of the b1kw found
in the earlier documentation. Despite the possibility that delivery patterns may have altered or that
from t
some entries may represent extra deliveries, these documents indicate that [bw and qbw vessels
formed the core of any quota of pottery delivered to the village, occasionally supplemented with
other vessel types.
the pa
127 On III mw 5,29 qb(w) vessels and 150 !bw vessels were delivered to Right. Left received 19 qb(w)
vessels and 150 !bw vessels (Botti and Peet, pI. 57, rto IV, 15-9). The papyrus is damaged in the entries for
III mw 30, but the surviving text indicates that deliveries of over 100 !bw vessels were made to Right and
both fbw and rq?lbw vessels were delivered to Left (Botti and Peet, pI. 59, rto V, 17-19). Unusually, this
latter entry records !bw vessels before qbw. 132 For
128 Botti and Peet, pI. 63; KRI VI, 850-1. I follow the reassessment of Jtirgen von Beckerath in my reading
34; see
of this text: 'Papyrus Turin 1898+, vso', SAK21 (1994),29-33. 133 'Th(
129 Perhaps the name of the potter CAhawy can be restored here. 134 C. J
130 Wh. V, 532; W. F. Reineke, 'Der Zusammenhang der altagyptischen Hohl- und UingenmaBe', MID 9
East, e
131 4343 vessels are included in a list of products in O. Cairo 25678 vso, 17, along with fbw vessels (1. 18). discuss
Valbelle, citing this text, considers that 4343 vessels could replace qbw vessels and were perhaps be mad
synonymous (in her reference, Duvriers, 265 n. 12, read 25678 for 25673).
135 Con:
n. p,
m to
es of
11 the
:ht is
~ n t r y
ld of
I the
s, B,
:8 for
, this
A further correspondence between the papyrus documents and the earlier ostraca is the
variation in the numbers of vessels being delivered. If these figures do represent regular, the
variation in vessel totals may reflect responses to the changing needs of the crew, perhaps
including orders made by the superiors of the crew to the potters. The use of b;kw in one 20
Dynasty account ostracon exemplifies the flexible character of commissions. O. Gardiner 80, 4-5
(HO 6114) states, after recording the complete deliveries during III smw: 'received as the b;kw of
the potter, entered complete like his custom of every day.' This text implies that the deliveries
received during that month constituted the potter's commission, which he managed to fulfiL
Records survive of other members of the smdt, such as gardeners and woodcutters, receiving
commands to deliver specific amounts.132 Janssen notes the commission received by the
woodcutter Saroy, in year 29, III ,fJt 7, to deliver 380 units every 10 days. This order can be
compared with that of Saroy's colleague, who received a commission to deliver 500 units.
Janssen observes, the quotas of the woodcutters often deviated quickly from these specified
amounts (see above p. 20). Such orders might have been regular, normal occurrences that are
largely invisible in the written record,
Although no known text records such an assignment to the potters to deliver specific amounts,
texts that record varying quantities of ceramics and texts in which vessels other than qbw and tbw
are included suggest that such commissions were madc. The b;kw may, therefore, be understood
as a commission or expected dclivery of a predetermined unit of ceramics. Although theoretically
quantifiablc, the b;kw was flexible, so that we cannot determinc what amount was expected
except in specific deliveries.
3.7 Implications ofdefiCits
Other factors may also have operated to produce differential sizes of deliveries. Firing was an
unpredictable process, with a certain amount of wasters inevitably being produced each time, On
this basis Christopher Eyre has suggested the one b;kw may have been the equivalent of one
firing, which could vary in composition and in success,134 Although this hypothesis is viable,
there is no direct evidence to support it and it is also possible that the needs of the crew were
taken into account in each individual b;kw or work requirement. Where problems in the workshop
or administrative breakdowns affected deliveries, these are likely to be reflected in the records as
deficits. By examining patterns of deficit within the documentation it is possible to observe the
impact of external problems in the Theban area on the potters' deliveries in the mid 20
The journal ostraca of the reigns of Ramesses III and IV (Group I) again provide the most
detailed documentation of delivery and deficit, although only very general trends can be deduced
from the materiaL Janssen's analysis of pottery deliveries at the end of Ramesses Ill's reign to
early Ramesses IV led to the conclusion that deliveries of commodities were generally very
irregular at this time whereas in the preceding years they had been more stable.
The details of
the pattern of deficits can be supplemented by a few account ostraca from the reign of Ramesses
III. It must be borne in mind that the idiosyncrasies of scribal record keeping mean that some
months record no deliveries at all even though deliveries were most probably made.
132 For the commissioning of the smdt see J, J. Janssen, 'The Year of the Strikes', BSEG 16 (1992), 44 n.
34; see also Janssen's section 7 in this volume.
133 'The Year of the Strikes'. 44-6.
134 C. J. Eyre, 'Work and the Organization of Work in the New Kingdom', in Labor in the Ancient Near
East, ed, M. A. Powell (New Haven, 1987), 193. Janssen, 'b;kw: From Work to Product', 90 n.
observes that, if this were the case, the potters would have delivered once per decade, The limited evidence
discussed in 3.1 and a review of the delivery dates in the texts included in 3.3 indicate that deliveries could
be made on more than one occasion during the ten-day period,
135 Commodity Prices, 488.
The account of O. Gardiner 80 (HO 61/ 4) for year 21 of Ramesses III records deliveries that
were made complete for the entire month of III smw; the final line, "entered complete like his
custom of every day", although formulaic, may be an indicator of a reputation for efficiency and
for t:
punctuality. The records from a few years later appear to tarnish this reputation. The account text
far 11
O. DeM 143, datable to year 24, while recording complete deliveries for III smw 30 and IV smw
10 and 20, enters deficits for IV smw 30, the five epagomenal days, and the first two decades of I
3bt (11. 1-7). Reasons for the accumulation of such a substantial deficit, beyond internal
production problems, are unknown. This text warns us that, although the relationship between
administrative problems at Deir el-Medina and deficit is clear at times, less easily identifiable
in th,
factors may also have had an impact. By year 27 deliveries appear to have returned to normal,
the p
with no deficits being entered and every delivery recorded as complete (0. DeM 33 vso, 8; O.
DeM 34 rto, 7, 16, vso, 11); a deficit is, however, noted for the epagomenal days of year 28 in O.
DeM 156 vso, 4.
From year 29 deficits are again a consistent feature of the record, during the time when labour
troubles began to disrupt the community. The first hint of delivery problems may be found in the
problematic O. Strasbourg H 26. If the entries on the recto refer to the potter, this text records
m a d ~
complete deliveries throughout I and II smw and probably through the epagomenal days and II
3bt. The verso may refer more explicitly to pottery deliveries, with the final line recording: 'IV
Jbt 10: deficit of the [potter)'. However, the reading of qd is based on a restoration (Cerny Nb.
in thi
35.61) and the status of this text as a pottery account could be questioned. There are more certain
references to delivery from later in year 29. In I prt 30 the potter made deliveries to Right and
Left; details of the content of delivery are not given (0. Turin 57007 vso, 4-5). The strike action
began in the village only ten days later, on II prt 10.
The only further entry recording a pottery
delivery is in P. Turin 1961 (Pleyte and Rossi, pI. 99), possibly from the end of year 29; IV prt 30
notes for Right 'the potter: I Y;,', while 'the potter: l' is noted for Left (vso, II, 5, 7).137 There are
no further records of pottery deliveries until year 30, although the consistent deficits incurred by
the woodcutters during year 29 and into year 30 are evidence of the impact of the strikes (see
for II
above p. 21).138
Deficits are recorded in an account text for III prt 30 and probably IV prt 10 of year 30, but a
delivery oftv.'o b3kw was promptly made to remedy this deficit (0. DeM 165 rto, 1-2). O. DeM
~ A h a '
154 rto, 15-16, of year 31, records the delivery of two b3kw on II smw 29, probably overdue
payments for days 10 and 20. A number of fbw vessels are also specified. I interpret these as
perhaps an early payment for II smw 30, although they may relate to the two b3kw. A deficit of 65
is noted. Complete deliveries are made in IV ;lJl, but since they are noted specifically, they may
have been considered late, one b3kw being entered on day 13 for day 10, and one being entered
for Right only on day 21 (0. DeM 157, 8-9, 17). From then into the reign of Ramesses IV, the may
potters made deliveries late or were making good deficits. In II smw 7 of year 32 the debt was diffic
paid for I smw 30 and at the same time the b3kw was delivered three days early for II smw 10 (0. or the
DeM 38, 7, 17, 23). No sooner had these deliveries been made then the potter was in debt again I
for the rest of the month. Disruptions to pottery and fuel deliveries (see above p. 21) throughout wide]
year 30 and into year 31 are symptoms of continued labour problems within the village, or of subst
general administrative problems in the Theban area.
side I
136 RAD 49, 15. P. J. Frandsen, 'Editing reality: the Turin Strike Papyrus', in Studies in Egyptology
presented to Miriam Lichtheim, ed. S. Israelit-Groll, (Jerusalem, 1990), 166-99.
137 Janssen considers that the documentation of half units may point to a scarcity of materials: Commodity
Prices, 488. A reference to a half unit may also be found in an anonymous papyrus fragment in Turin 140 Fo
(Cerny MSS 3.616) which records, 'the potter 2'h'; this probably means 2'h bJkw. 141 Fo
138 Janssen, 'The Year ofthe Strikes', 46-8.
B9 Disruptions in local administration may have directly impacted pottery production if, as Colin Hope
suggests, the 'state' provided clay to these workshops: Egyptian Pottery, Shire Egyptology 5 (princes
been ~
:8 that
ce his
It text
, smw
:s of!
8; O.
in O.
in the

md II
It and

Jrt 30
re are
ed by
, (see
but a
se as
" the

or of

O. DeM 40 rto, 15, from I gUt of year 1 of Ramesses IV, records that the potter delivered three
bgk:w on day 24, probably overdue deliveries for days 10 and 20 (the deficits are not noted), and
for the epagomenal days, for which the deficit was entered in a note in a separate column on the
far left. A deficit is also recorded for day 30 (vso, 9). From this point on the deliveries tend to be
complete, although often a few days late.
There are still occasional deficits, but the deliveries
appear to have been generally more regular than in the final years of Ramesses IILI41 The
increasing irregularity of delivery is probably a symptom of the general decay of the
administration of the Necropolis at the end of a long reign. The more regular deliveries beginning
in the first year of Ramesses IV perhaps correspond with a renewed interest in the Necropolis on
the part of the successor king who was eager to get work on his tomb underway.
These documents provide the only opportunity to trace a pattern of deficit in pottery deliveries
against well documented changes and problems in the administration of the village. They show
that such an equation between the two is possible; this may have implications for the more
incomplete records of the end of the dynasty. It is difficult to determine from the papyrus texts
whether deliveries continued on a regular basis in the closing years of the 20
Dynasty or were
made in large consignments more infrequently, as the surviving evidence seems to suggest. Since
there were significant civil disturbances in the Theban area throughout this period, deliveries
could have been affected to the point that they became more unusual events and warranted entry
in the journals.
The Turin Necropolis journal for year 17 of Ramesses IX provides the best example from this
period. From II prl on, the text includes entries concerning the smdt in general: from the
ambiguous entry 'taking the smdt of the Tomb of Left by the scribe of the Tomb, Hori' (Botti and
Peet, pI. 14; rto B, I, 8) to the entries a few lines later, 'crew not working, while the smdt were
outside under the authority (rJ(wy of the two scribes of the Necropolis, [ ... ] crew not working,
there being no smdt outside' (rto B, I, 12). These entries seem to indicate that there was some
reorganization of, or problem with, the smdt, although a record of a wood delivery was entered
for II prl 15. The entry for II prt 18 records: 'crew not working, while their smdt were under the
authority of the two scribes of the Tomb of the Outside, without any payments (1)' (Botti and
Peet, pI. 15; rto B, I, 18). On II prt 24 a delivery of fish was made and on day 25 the potter
rAhawy delivered a number of vessels (Botti and Peet, pI. 16; rto, B, II, 1-3). Although these
entries are difficult to interpret, it seems that the crew was facing both deficits in grain delivery
and problems with the smdt. In this context the delivery of pottery can perhaps be seen as a
special occurrence; no text from the end of the 20
Dynasty explicitly records a potter's deficit
perhaps indicating that there was no longer an expected pattern to delivery.
The interpretations presented here are speculative; moreover, other factors that left no trace
may have had an impact on production. The deficits entered for year 25 of Ramesses III are
difficult to explain except in terms of unknowable production problems specific to the workshops
or the personal circumstances of the potters, as are the causes for the deficits recorded in the early
Dynasty. Such deficits cannot be equated with any known problems in the village or the
wider Theban area. The accounts of the potters Menna and N akhy in the early 19
Dynasty record
substantial deficits, especially those incurred by Menna in a year 9 where he is in deficit for five
months, totalling 53 qbw vessels and 575 fbw vessels. Further deficit totals, perhaps for the other
side of the crew, are even larger: 94 qbw vessels and 992 lbw vessels (0. Berlin P 10840). The
Risborough, 1987), 10. This argument may apply only to high quality ceramics considering the ready
availability ofNile silt for the production of most basic vessels.
140 For example O. DeM 47 rto, 3, 11; vso, 4.
141 For example, the following texts record deficits in year 1 = I prt 30 (0. DeM 47 rto, 11), III prt 30 (0.
Berlin P 12641 + 12628, 7), II smw 20(7) (0. DeM 161 vso, 3). O. DeM 44 rto, 20 records a delivery of 1y,
b?klv for III smw 29. Janssen considers that, since no delivery was recorded for day 20, materials may have
been scarce at this time: Commodity Prices, 488.
patterns of deficit incurred by the potters that can be traced in the texts cannot generally be Ana
correlated with external administrative problems and decay. rese
4 Equations of word and object: an analysis offour pot-types
A notable feature of the 'potter texts' from Deir el-Medina is the substantial number of vessels 4.1:
delivered to the village every ten days. Although the exact number due in each b,kw varied, the I ha
totals of some deliveries indicate that there was a significant and constant need for ceramics in the thrOl
community. In the lives of the villagers this pottery was essential. It was the principal means to mult
store, prepare, and serve food and to carry out many other activities within the domestic and work refer
spheres. Janssen observes in Commodity Prices that we have virtually no cvidence for the
exchange value of ceramics, beeause price texts generally refer only to metal or stone vessels.
Vessels used for a wide variety of domestic purposes would have had a low value and high
turnover; millions of pot sherds were found within the rubbish dumps of the village, including the
Grands PuitS.
Since their role was so essential, it is desirable to learn about the various forms of
In thl
the vessels - their sizes and range of functions - in order to advance our understanding of the
villagers' daily lives.
noted that most Mesopotamian names of vessels relate directly to their material,
their function, or their capacity, but concluded that the Egyptians derived their vessel names from
something other than vessel function. This conclusion was largely based on the 1935
lexicographic analysis of Egyptian vessels by Robert du Mesnil du Buisson, whose study is the
only one that covers a wide range of ceramics, including some of the vessel names that occur in
the Deir el-Medina 'potter texts'. He considered that the qbw vessel was connected to qb, 'fresh,
cool', an appropriate concept for a jar.145 He equated the g,y vessel with the verb g,w, 'to be
narrow', perhaps suggesting a jar with a narrow neck. 146
Edward Brovarski has done preliminary work on some Old Kingdom and First Intermediate
Period vessel terms,147 and Patricia Paice has studies connections between vessel shapes and their
functions as depicted in tomb reliefs.
The most valuable recent examination of the intersection
of lexicography and a ceramic corpus is that of Janet Bourriau and Stephen Quirke on the Middle
Kingdom ceramic repertoire from Lahun.
An approach comparable to that taken at Lahun would be ideal for the material from Deir el Fig. 1
Medina but a full statistical analysis of the archaeological material in relation to the textual data Urk. r
that is a prerequisite for determining lexicographic relations is beyond the scope of this study.
The VI
407_8 and n. 5.
lS enu
143 ibid., 488.
144 New Kingdom Pharaonic Sites: The Pottery, 41; see J. Bourriau and S. Quirke, 'The Late Middle
Kingdom Ceramic Repertoire in Words and Objects', in Lahun studies, ed. S. Quirke, (Reigate, 1998), 60
1, for a more recent discussion of the basis of classifications.
145 Les noms et signes egyptiens designant des vases ou objets simi/aires (Paris, 1935),30.
l46 Noms et signes, 72. Janssen, Commodity Prices, 427, considers that du Mesnil du Buisson's suggestions
150 FoUl
and explanations for the g'ly are unconvincing and concludes that no identification of the g'ly is apparant. P. Turi:
Ricardo A. Caminos considered it to be an open bowl or cup since it was used more as a container for Howevl
ISl Jans:
vegetables and flowers than liquids (CLEM, 194-5), corresponding to the use of g,y vessels for natron,
152 The
lotus leaves, and fruit in the Medinet Habu festival lists: A. Spalinger, 'Medinet Habu and Deir el-.Yledina
IS3 The
Combined', in Deir el-Medina in the Third Millennium AD: A Tribute to Jac. J. Janssen, eds R. 1. Demaree
and A. Egberts, Egyptologische Uitgaven 14 (Leiden, 2000), 314. Although the shape of the g'l)' remains these m
unknown, Janssen has determined a capacity of 20 hin: Two Ancient Egyptian Ship's Logs: Papyrus Leiden detenni
1350 verso and Papyrus Turin 2008 + 2016 (Leiden, 1961),88. vessel,
l47 'Lexicographical Studies in Egyptian Pottery', Bulletin de Liaison du Groupe International d'Etude de determi:
fa Ceramique Egyptienne 7 (1982), 36-7.
154 P. GJ
14S 'The Pottery of Daily Life in Ancient Egypt', JSSEA 19 (1989), 50-88. bibliogr
149 'The Late Middle Kingdom Ceramic Repertoire in Words and Objects', 60-83.
IS5 Com,
lly be
:d, the
in the
Dr the
of the
is the
:cur in
'to be
i their
eir el
t! data
8), 60

ler for
Analysis of the occurrence of vessel types in the potter texts can be related to the present stage of
research into vessel shape and size to produce some further insights both into the potters'
products and into the documentation for the supply of particular ceramic types.
4.1 The basic pots: qbw and [bw
I have shown above that [bw and qbw vessels formed the basis of deliveries to the village
throughout the and Dynasties. Therefore it seems likely that they were simple,
multipurpose vessels distinct from each another in shape and/or size. There is a standard way of
referring to them in the records: qbw vessels precede [bw vessels and many fewer are usually
enumerated. This relationship points to a qualitative differentiation between the two. ISO Both are
used as containers for liquids, such as beer and water.
I consider that these two terms designate
classes of vessels rather than fixed single shapes, their names perhaps referring to a wider range
of forms. Difference in size may account for the differentation in numbers delivered in the texts.
In the following discussion I assess the evidence for these two 'classes' of vessels.
{Jb lbw) vessels are included among the offerings of Thutmose III at Karnak, indicating a
possible shape for the vessel.
.It. 0P. ...L II I' I
Fig. 1. ob-nw-k; vessels in the offerings of Thutmose III at Karnak (Wreszinski, Atlas II, pI. 33;
Urk. IV, 636).
The vessel shown is distinctive, being beaker-like, and wider at the base than at the neck.
ub-nw-k; vessel here is the equivalent of the u-m-Icw of P. Harris I 36a, 7. A significant number
is enumerated in this text as containers tor incense, perhaps indicating a smaller, cup-like
Janssen has considered that the [x]-n-k; termination, which is fairly common in vessel
terminology, indicates that the vessels were cups; the name of the vessel given in the compound
determines the shape.155 In the inscription of the High Priest Osorkon, the Ob/lb-n-k; is written
150 Four texts which enumerate qbw and fbw vessels show a ratio of 1:5 O. Or. Inst. Chicago 16698 rto, 3;
P. Turin 2070/133, 134 + frgs rto, 10-11; Giornale of year 17, rto, B II, 1-3; P. Turin 1898, rto, III, 14.
However, since these are isolated examples, it is uncertain how widely applicable such a ratio was.
151 Janssen, Commodity Prices, 433; Valbelle, Ouvriers, 265.
152 The equivalence between the l;b andlbw is confirmed in CLEM, 186-7.
153 The determinative given for a qby vessel in the offering list ofThutmose III at Elcphantine indicates that
these may have been quite close in shape to the IJb-nw-h of the Karnak list. The simple elongated 'beaker'
determinative is quite distinct from the determinatives given for the other vases in the list, including the Ub
vessel, which is sho,,"n with a definite neck (Urk. IV, 828, 4). However, the occurrence of different
determinatives within a single text does not offer a basis for a classification of vessel forms.
154 P. Grandet, Le Papyrus Harris I (EM 9999), BdE 109 (Cairo, 1994), I, 272; see vol. IT, 141, n. 576 for a
bibliography for lbw.
l55 Commodity Prices, 409.
with a goblet detenninative.
The vessels recorded in these texts may be smaller cup versions of
larger Ibw jars, with the wide mouth and lack of defined neck perhaps pointing to a vessel
associated with food preparation and service.
The delivery list O. DeM 28,8 records f;b-nw-kJ
vessels, perhaps as a fuller writing of !bw or as a distinct fonn v.'ithin the Ibw class. Vessels
categorized as Ibw may have had a generalized function as cups or containers for both liquid and
solid foods. A comparison can be made with the ~ n w vessels which are recorded in significant
numbers in the papyrus documents from Lahun and are equated by Bourriau and Quirke with the
drinking cups known from the site, the only vessel fonn which they consider could have been
used in such numbers.
The b;kw of the Deir el-Medina potters show that Ibw vessels too were
delivered in large quantities.
The lower numbers of qbw vessels in the deliveries may be related to their larger size. In Poids
No. 5135, 3 the weight of a metal qbw vessel is stated to be 20 deben, or 1.8 kg. Valbelle
concludes from this that the qbw was significantly larger than the Ibw.
That qbw designates a
simple storage jar may be indicated by the name itself. If the connection suggested by du Mesnil
du Buisson between qbw vessels and qb 'cool' can be accepted, it may suggest that qbw vessels
were storage jars, perhaps for water and other liquids. The connection may also suggest the
material of manufacture; qbw vessels could have been made from marl clay which cools water
through evaporation.
As storage jars, qbw vessels may have been connected in shape or broad function with the qbw
If a,
n-wt 'canopic jar'. The coincidence of the name suggests some correspondence. The simple
canopic jar fonns given by Georges Nagel for Tomb 359 seem similar in shape to vessels found
in the cellar of a house in the village.
However, Nagel's sample is so small that any
identification is tentative. Janssen cautions that the standard shape of a canopic jar was rarely
used as the fonn of bronze or pottery vessels.
This may be a principle of decorum vessels
with a funerary purpose not being equated in fonn with ordinary domestic ceramics. The
connection between qbw and qbw-n-wt may be simply that they were both, in one fonn or
another, storage jars.
Although the qbw may have been proportionally larger than the lbw, it is very unlikely that
into i
either fonn had a fixed capacity at Deir el-Medina, W. W. Struve [V. V. Struve] offered the only
attempt to determine the capacity of the qbw (or qby) vessel, based largely on Greek evidence and
his research on P. Boulaq 18.
Wolfgang HeIck's review of this evidence led him to conclude
than 1
156 R. A. Caminos, The Chronicle ofPrince Osorkon, Analecta Orientalia 37 (Rome, 1958), 129.
157 p, Cairo 58088 indicates that !bw could have had a large size, in this case accommodating 3 ds measures.
See also, Janssen, Commodity Prices, 433 n. 170. C. Daniel, 'Les noms egyptiens de certains types de vases
grecs', Studia et Acta Orientalia 5-6 (1967), 383-5, equates the lIb vessel with the Greek 1:0 o<:7tW; and the
Mycenaean di-pa. He notes that the di-pa depicted on a tablet corresponds in shape with the form of the fib
indicated by the determinative used for the word. The depictions of the di-pa that Daniel cites are not
163 DG
comparable in form with the Ibw depicted in the Karnak offering list: D. H. F. Gray, 'Linear Band evidee
Archaeology', Bulletin of the Institute of Classical Studies of the UniverSity of London 6 (1959), pI. 7. I andDI
would argue that the form of the lbw was very flexible.
164 It 1
158 Bourriau and Quirke, 'The Late Middle Kingdom Ceramic Repertoire in Words and Objects', 74. some!
159 Catalogues des poids a inscriptions hieratiques de Deir el-Medineh: Nos 5001-5423, DFIFAO 16
165 D a ~
(Cairo, 1973), 18.
166 FOI
160 La ceramique du Nouvel Empire aDeir el Medineh, DFIFAO 10 (Cairo, 1938),35 cf. 122, no. 38, 42,
167 Da.
161 Commodity Prices, 412.
162 Mathematischer Papyrus des staatlichen Museums der SchOnen Kunste in Moskau (Berlin, 1930), 55
2.5 1itr
lions of
llid and
vith the
Ie been
)0 were
n Poids
;est the
s water
:le qbw
s found
lat any
; rarely
:s. The
lce and

le vases
and the
'the !.b
are not
. Band
pI. 7. I
'AO 16
>30), 55
that the qbw had no fixed capacity. Rather it seems that vessels such as the Ibw and qbw could
correspond to a range of different ds measures.
Two texts may point to some, perhaps proportional, equivalence between qbw vessels and dpr
vessels. In O. DeM 135, the record of the accumulated deficits of two potters includes a
conversion from dpr vessels into qbw vessels: '9 dpr vessels to (=) qbw vessels, making Ur.n)
4Y:z' (see section 3.1). Such a conversion may indicate a size ratio between the vessels. O. DeM
346 vso, 3 records 42 dpr vessels '[making Ur.n)] 22 qbt vessels' (see n. 89 for the restoration).
Ibw vessels may also be equated with dpr vessels in O. DeM 202: 'dpr vessels 30 [as?] 15, !.bw
50' (1\. 3_4).164 The restoration here is problematic and the hypothesis of any equivalence between
the two types must remain tentative.
O. Berlin P 10654 vso displays a similar complexity in possible equivalences, this time
between qbw vessels and jnJ;t vessels. This text (discussed in section 3.3) seems to record the
potters' production of ceramics on days 10, 20, and 30 of II :;bt, and day 10 of IIIi{lt. The final
two lines state: 'total: 230 of (n) qbw vessels [ ...], specifying it (wp st) 23 jnJ;t vessels.' At first
sight such a text seems to point to a proportional relationship between these vessels, a qbw being
one tenth of ajnJ;t. Such a ratio is quite possible, because jnJ;t vessels do seem to have been large:
Heick's calculations from O. Gardiner 81 indicate that ajnJ;t vessel was 2% of a mnt-amphora.
If a mnt had a liquid capacity of c. 20 hin and a hin was 0.48 litres, the capacity of a jnl;zt would
have been c. 53 hin or 25.51itres. O. Berlin P 10654 vso would then show that a qbw vessel had a
capacity of c. 5.3 hin, or 2.5 litres, whieh is a sensible size for a storage jar.
Although it is
tempting to make such equations from this data, this evidence is based on assumptions about the
capacity of other vessel types so is tentative. HeIck estimated that the ds vessel had a eapacity of
approximately 3 litres.
If so, the qbw in P. Boulaq 18 would have been double the size ofa ds
measure in order to contain the 2 ds (e. 6 litres).
Contextual study of the equation between qbw vessels and other types in O. Berlin P 10654
vso, O. DeM 135, and O. DeM 346 vso, indicates some form of size ratio operated although we
cannot easily determine the flexibility of that ratio or how it was used. A conversion of one vessel
into its equivalent of another type is unusual in a text like O. Berlin P 10654 vso which seems to
document the actual produetion of vessels, even their firing. If the last two lines of the text
represent the total of ceramics produced in this process then the specification of a relationship
between the two vessels types is rather strange. Perhaps the original order was for 230 qbw
vessels, and this was then converted into the equivalent in vessels. If vessels had a more
restricted, even ritual, function, the equivalence expressed here may be more abstract or complex
than a ratio of capacity. The size of vessels delivered may have been standardized to some extent,
probably based on ease of delivery and manageability within a domestic eontext rather than as
fixed measures.
In such a context, a value relationship might well have operated. The jnl;zt, as a specialized
vessel, may have had a more established value, in relation to which the qbw vessels could be set.
163 Das Bier im Alten A'gypten (Berlin, 1971), 47. See also Anthony Spalinger's re-evaluation of the
evidence for the capacity of these vessels, including discussion of O. DeM 135 and 202: 'Medinet Habu
and Deir el-Medina Combined', 314. His conclusions largely correspond with mine.
164 It may also be possible to read: dpr 30 15 lbw 50, which would support the hypothesis of
some sort of equivalence.
165 Das Bier, 47.
16<5 For a review of evidence concerning the capacity of the mnl, including discussion of this text, see A.
Spalinger, 'Medinet Habu and Deir el-Medina Combined', 312-3.
167 Das Bier, 46. R. L. Miller, ,(is-vessels, Beer Mugs, Cirrhosis and Casting Slag', GM 115 (1990), 64,
suggests that the ds was a drinking vessel, perhaps to be equated with depictions given in Nagel,
Ceramique, 199-206. Miller identifies a jar found at Saqqara as a ds vessel, noting that it had a capacity of
2.5 litres, roughly corresponding to Heick's estimate.
In O. DeM 135 the scribe may well have calculated the value of the vessels owed, down to the
half vessel. A parallel for this is found in O. Turin 57062 vso, 4, where 2Yz jnJ:tt vessels are set
against five vessel types which precede them (their names are lost). The recording of five vessels
compared with half that amount in jnJ:tt vessels, producing the unusual amount of a half vessel,
again suggests a value equivalence. Since vessels do not appear with fixed values in the price
texts, their worth may well have been assessed in relation to other vessel types.
4.2 A specialized vessel: jnJ.zt
Apart from the two vessel types or classes that formed the basis of the deliveries of ceramics to
the village, the potter texts also occasionally enumerate other types. jnJ:tt vessels, although well
known from other contexts, are rare in the potter texts. A few texts that may indicate their
production or delivery by the Deir el-Medina potters illuminate aspects of its function and context
of use. The pattern of occurrence ofjnJ:tt vessels indicates a specialized vessel type, the shape of
which is unknown. The jnJ:tt vessel is most widely documented as a storage container for beer,
and, as Walter F. Reineke notes, outside the data from Deir el-Medina it was often made of gold
or silver.
That this vessel could be supplied as part of the ceramic requirement of the village
seems to be indicated by the delivery lists from the early 19
Dynasty (Category E). Some of
these lists record jnJ.zt vessels, although they are not always indisputably connected with the smdt
In the Category E delivery lists of wood and ceramics jnJ:tt vessels occur four times, their total
amount being low in comparison with the other vessels enumerated in these texts. In O. DeM 1, 6,
a total of 7 jnl:u vessels are delivered, 5 of good quality, 2 of poor. In O. DeM 17, 4, only 3 jnJ.zt
vessels were delivered (2 good, 1 poor), in comparison with 290 lbw recorded in the previous
line, and in O. DeM 15, 3, 7 j n ~ l t vessels were delivered as against 295 Ibw vessels. 16 jnJ.zt
vessels are documented in O. DeM 23, 5 (the text is broken and the reading at the end of the line
v e ~
Only two texts explicitly includejnJ:tt vessels in pottery deliveries. 0 Qurna 618/1 records two
jnJ:tt vessels among the deficit of 55 qbw and 265 Ibw vessels incurred by the potter Menna. O.
Michaelides 33 rto, 3-6. J 70 This text records for III Jot 30 matching deliveries from a potter to
Right and Left, among other deliveries of wood and gypsum: 'the potter: 1, jnlp vessels 20 (pJ qd
1 jnJ.zt 20).'171 The stroke read as 'one' after the title p, qd could refer to the b,kw of the potter,
with jnJ:tt vessels being an addition to the quota delivered.
jnJ:tt vessels were, therefore, a
component of the potters' repertoire, and this fact may complicate the interpretation of other texts
where they occur.
More generally jnJ.zt vessels are recorded as being delivered filled with beer
and thus are probably not associated with ceramic delivery.
174 (
J68 'Der Zusammenhang der altagyptischen Hohl- und UingenmaBe', MID 9 (1963), 146.
169 Kitchen restores: '16jnl;i vessels [by the hand of A]meneminet' (KRII, 367, 8 a-b) but there does not
appear to be space for this formula in the break. The rest of this text is similar to the other wood and pottery
delivery lists. See the discussion of parallel texts in section 2.3.
170 Goedicke-Wente, pJ . 67. However, I follow CernY's transcription of the text here (Nb. 108.30).
171 Contra Goedicke and Wente who restore IT1l ] on line 3. On line 7 Goedicke and Wente read 27 jnl;t
vessels instead of 20 vessels and the restoration for 'the [plasterer], (Pi q(/) given by Cerny.
179 1
172 Alternatively it could refer to a single potter although this would be unusual in this context (see section
2.1). Compare the reading of this text with that discussed for O. DeM 154 rto, 15-6 in section 3.4.
173 Other entries for this day include specialty breads and ds measures of beer (11.7-8), while the follo\Ving
entry for IV ;!Jt 1 records a festival of Hathor (1. 9). Although an association with a festival context is
possible, the delivery of jnl;ts, as discussed by Spahnger, is recorded separately from the breads and ds
measures, and is included among more standard delveries: 'Medinet Habu and Dei! elMedina Combined',
l to the
are set
e price
mics to
:e their

mpe of
Ir beer,
of gold
ome of
le smdt
:ir total
M 1,6,
r 3
:he line
'ds two
mao O.
)tter to
(pJ qd
fore, a
;r texts
th beer
oes not
rrtext is
and ds
vessels of beer occur consistently in a series of six Category E ostraca that seem to
document the delivery of commodities associated with festival or temple offerings.
Four of
these texts state that the commodities were delivered by an individual; in O. DeM 20 and O. DeM
25 the deliveries are made by a local priest. Each of these six texts lists items that include
speciality foodstuffs and vessels of beer rather than the fuel and 'plain', unfilled pottery of
standard deliveries: 'II smw 12, by the hand of the local priest (w('b Sf): 175 60 large j nJ:zt vessels of
beer, entered 56, deficit 4, 120 (bundles of) vegetables, ISO s('t cakes, and 100 rJ:zs cakes' (0.
DeM 20). The only exception in this group is O. DeM 26, where 30 'large' vessels are
recorded, 27 are entered (jw), and there is a deficit on. No beer is recorded with these vessels.
The recto of O. DeM 29 may confirm that lists containing such products are associated with
rituals or festivals rather than deliveries of materials to the village. 176
total of various (sbn)jnl)tvessels of beer: 653 [+x]
the record of the [ ... ]
which were given as offerings (snw) [...]
good bread: loaves of [ ... ]
s('t cake: [x oipeJ
rJ:zs cakes: [ ... J
jnJ:zt vessels of beer: [ ... J
beer [ ... ]
Connections of this vessel type with the temple or festival sphere nmy explain features of the
unique and difficult distribution text, O. BM 50728, discussed in section 2.3. The text records the
allocation ofjnJ:zt vessels to individual crew members. The 10 + 5jnJ:zt vessels seem to be grouped
into four different categories, perhaps to quality of the vessel or its contents, and
possibly its shape or finish:
'5 doubly good jnJ:zt vessels in the fashion of hbny [vessels?]
being returned (m hyt); 2 for Baky, I for Huy, 1 (for) ('Omek, 1 for Qaha, totalS' (11. 5-6). Six
vessels given to individuals in line 7, one for each nmn, are stated to be 'middling good (11fr m
hry-jb)', and line 10 enumerates two vessels that also have a designation, perhaps reading "not
. " (J 3)
very poor _ 1."" \\ .
If the jnJ:zt vessels were more specialized beer vessels used in festival or ritual contexts, then the
note of quality, either of contents or of the vessel itself, would have been important. This concern
with quality can also be seen in the delivery lists, where the jnJ:zt vessels are described as either
'good' or 'poor' .178
Particularly difficult to understand in this context are the writings of hbny, perhaps referring to
this well-known amphora-shaped vessel.
The five doubly goodjnl)t vessels are designated 'in
174 O. DeM 19; 20; 21; 25; 26; 27. For further discussion of these texts, see Spalinger, 'Deir e1Medina and
Medinet Habu Combined', 311.
175 l=n (1. 1). For another writing of this title see O. DeM 25, 2.
176 The verso of this text records only nswt bjty mnm;rtr
177 For the use of red ink in this text see p. 19 n. 75 above.
178 O. DeM 1, 6; 17,4. For discussion of the meaning of snn, in these contexts, see D. Valbelle,
Catalogue des poids ainscriptions hieratiques de Deir e/.Afedineh, Nos 500l-5423, DFIFAO 16 (Cairo,
179 Wh. II, 487. There are depictions of the hbnylhbnt vessel in Urk IV, 1130,8; 1135,2 and in the tomb of
Rekhmire: N. de G. Davies, The Tomb of at Thebes, The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Egyptian Expedition 11 (New York, 1943), I, pIs. 33, 34. In these examples, it is shaped as an amphora,
sometimes without handles, and often contains honey. E. A. W. Budge, An Egyptian Hieroglyphic
Dictionary (London, 1920),446, gave the capacity of a hbnt ndst as one quarter of a hin. F. G. Hilton-Price,
in an earlier publication, 'Notes on Some Egyptian Antiquities in My Collection', TSBA 9 (1886), 353,
noted the same capacity for this vessel. Here see also T. G. H. James, The Heqanakhte Papers and Other
Early Middle Kingdom Documents (New York, 1962), 118.
the fashion of hbny vessels' 0) (vso, 5). This seems to express an equivalence
between the two vessel types, perhaps representing an addition or finish to the vessel that
increased its value. Du Mesnil du Buisson speculated in his discussion of the hhnl vessel that the
word related to hbny, "ebony" t"'..:, ruJ:-Oi) and indicated a blackened colour or lustre to the
hbny also occurs as an annotation above the entries of jni}.t vessels for particular
workmen in lines 8-12 of the recto. The entry on line 13 (hhny n [ ... ]) may indicate that hhny
vessels themselves were also delivered to the workmen named in the following lines. So far as I
know hbny vessels do not occur in other Deir el-Medina texts.l8J These notations may also refer
to some sort of finishing to the j ni}.t vesseL
The inclusion of more unusual designations for the vessels certainly points to the exceptional
nature ofthe delivery in O. BM 50728, as does the entry of an amount ((i}.(w) of bJq oil (8) in line
lOon the verso, after the specification of 10 further jnlJl vessels for particular workmen (pJ WpWl
n plIO n jnlJt n tJ jst). Janssen observes that this oil was rarely used by the workmen as it was
too expensive.
It is possible that the text refers to the delivery of jni}.t vessels of bJq oil, the
references to quality therefore referring to the quality of oil rather than the vessel itself. The
designation hbny may be associated with this as welL
Complicating this analysis is the proposed large size ofjni}.t vessels (discussed in section 4.1),
which may account to some extent for its more restricted function within the vessel repertoire.
jnlJt vessels occur only rarely in the Medinet Habu festival calendar, indicating that even within
the temple their use was specialized.
The ealculation of the equivalence in contents of the
vessels in O. Gardiner 81 indicates that we are dealing with a set capacity for these vessel types in
this text.
If the capacity of a jni}.t was 53 hin or 25.5 Htres, this would equate to a significant
quantity of bJq oil per person. 185
O. BM 50728 remains a puzzle. Despite thc difficulties in interpretation, it seems most likely
that it records allocation of vessels, possibly filled with oil or beer, for festival or cultic purposes.
The careful documentation of such a distribution may also indicate that the vessels were not to be
kept by the men, perhaps only being used by them for the event and then returned to the temple.
A large size may serve to explain their more limited and specialized oecurrence in the data,
perhaps restricted to the religious sphere rather than playing a role in the domestic life of the
In this instance, contextual analysis of texts that seem to relate to ceramic deliveries can alter
our understanding of these texts and illuminate the role and function of a vessel type in the
community. For vessels that were delivered more commonly, we can observe the potential for
flexibility in the classification systems; these would repay further detailed study .
S Conclusion
Analysis of the texts concerning pottery delivery leaves a number of questions unanswered and
areas unexplored; the limited number of sources available and problems inherent in them restrict
their potential for interpretation. However, some insights into the organization and administrative
structures of Deir el-Medina are fortheoming from the material. Within the meticulous record
keeping of the village, the key theme seems to be flexibility. This flexibility is apparent in the
180 Noms et signes, 28.
181 Janssen did not include them in his chapter on 'Vessels' in Commodity Prices. None of the references
for the entry in the Wb II, 487 has a Deir e1-Medina provenance.
182 Commodity Prices, 330.
183 On the occurrence of the jnl,tt in the Medinet Hahn festival lists, see A. Spalinger, 'Medinet Habn and
Deir ei-Medina Combined', 311-2.
]84 Heick, Das Bier, 46.
185 Even if the mnt was only 10 hin, a jnl,tt would still be of a substantial size, c. 11-12 iitres: Janssen,
Commodity Prices. 434.
number of potters assigned to the crew, the size and content of the quota required every 10 days,
and the timing of deliveries. The final section of my study also points to the potential flexibility of
form, size, and function of the pots themselves.
Although we can find implications in the 'potter texts' for features of society beyond the
village itself, such as the specifie interpretation of b;kw or the occurrence of vessels in royal
festival calendars, it must be borne in mind that the real value of the Deir el-Medina material lies
in its potential to illuminate the lives of ordinary people in Ramessid Egypt. For that purpose we
need to attend most closely to the village context.
Appendix: The potters of Deir el-Medina
Names of potters in documents relating to the delivery of ceramics:
Names of potters in documents concerning matters other than the supply of ceramics:
I 1 (Omek
i Turin Strike Papyrus, RAD 47,6
2 Khonsu O. Turin 57192, 1
3 Herunefer O. DeM 73 rto, 2
4 Paaeminet I O. Berlin P 12343 vso, 3
5 Bakenmut P. Turin 2018 A rto, la, 5; rto IV, 17; vso, I, 6; B rto, II, 4; D
I rto, 14; P. BM 10068, vso V, l3
6 Wenennefer ! P. BM 10068 vso V, 14
el that
1at the
to the
ar as I
) refer
in line
it was
til, the
f. The
1 4.1),
of the
pes in
tto be
~ m p l e .
. data,
of the
1 alter
in the
ial for
:d and
in the
)U and
1 I Menna O. IFAO 387, 1; O. Qurna 618i1; O. DeM 91, 1; O. Berlin P
10840 vso, 1
2 Nakhy
O. IFAO 387,4; O. DeM 91,4
3 I Ptahemheb O. Cairo 25591 rto, 5; O. DeM 343, 2; P. Greg vso, B, 8; rto
4 Parahotep O. DeM 868
5 Hori O. DeM 868; O. DeM 869
6 Herunefer O. Cairo 25597 rto, 3
7 Neferher O. Cairo 25591 rto, 5; O. Cairo 25633 vso, 2
8 Amennakht O. DeM 44 rto, 8
9 'Dmek P. Turin 2081+2095, rto, 1
10 <'Ahawy P. Turin 1881 vso, V, 1; VI, 7; VII, 1 (?); Giornale of year 17
rto, B II, 2; P. Turin 2018 A vso, 1, 12; B rto, II, 11; B vso, II,
17; P BM 10068 vso, VI, 25; P. Turin 2014 rto, 27-8; P BM
10054 vso II, 9
Pierre Grandet's Catalogue des ostraca hieratiques non litteraires de Deir el-Medineh IXbecame
available just as this chapter went to the press. This volume contains a number of important potter
texts. I have included them in the tables on pages 33-7 and provide a short account of them here.
O. DeM is the longest and most detailed potter account known to me. I will be adressing the
issues it raises in a further publication. It records deliveries made by the potters Ptahemheb,
Parahotep, Hori and Neferher for the months of I ;bt to I prt of a year 6. The title p; qd occurs
only in line I, in reference to Ptahemheb, but probably also covers the other individuals named.
Ptahemheb and Neferher are known from other potter accounts discussed in this chapter. O. DeM
869, also published by Grandet and dated to a year 6, records deliveries made by Hori of qbw and
lbw vessels to Right. Both Hori and Parahotep are not otherwise attested in the potter texts. In O.
DeM 868, details of delivery are grouped according to individual potters. In line 13 Neferher
delivers vessels to Left (t; rj; smM; this is the only statement concerning Right or Left in this
text. That four potters deliver during the same general period emphasizes the potential number of
potters involved in delivery, which is not generally apparent in many of the potter texts.
Ptahemheb and Neferher make deliveries on different days in IV ;bt. The vessel numbers vary,
except for those delivered as the making good of deficits by Ptahemheb which are consistent
sums (II. 3-4). The vessels delivered include qbw and Ibw vessels, as well as g;y andjn/:lt; this text
therefore provides further evidence thatjnJ:tt vessels were part of the potter's repertoire.
Grandet follows Gutgesell in assigning a date in the mid-20
Dynasty to O. DeM 868 and 869.
My assignment of a late Dynasty date to the other account ostraca of Ptahemheb and
Neferher (0. Cairo 25591, O. Cairo 25633, and O. DeM 343) is based on the record of
Ptahemheb's deliveries in P. Greg, firmly dated by Janssen to the reign of Siptah.
places Ptahemheb in the 20
Dynasty on the basis of the occurrence of this name in P. Turin
2006+ 1961, usually dated to year 29 of Ramesses 111. [87 The Ptahemheb in this text is not a potter
and so is a different individual. I propose that the late 19
Dynasty date of the other documents
should therefore be retained and should also be adopted for O. DeM 868 and 869.
Further texts relevant to potters in Grandet's volume include O. DeM 877 in which a list of
arrears in water supplies are measured in jn/:lt vessels. O. DeM 871-3 are sherds bearing the
phrase m
qd. Grandet considers these phrases, along with the phrase m/:l m-rJrt p;-J:tm-nlr
'complete by the hand ofPahemnetjer/the priest' on O. DeM 870, as delivery marks inscribed on
the pots themselves.
186 Janssen, Village Varia, 115-6.
187 Gutgesell, Die Datierung, 20. Dynastie, 252, 309-12.
188 Catalogue des ostraca IX, 49-50.
l Eil
Die A

Juni 2(

J., Ja
2 Sieht
el ME
6 MeD
g Venn
II: Ta
10 Ein P
II Gutg!
12 Allan
13 Held