The Heqanakht Letters (3.1)
(515 words)

Subject: Archival Documents from the Biblical World; Egyptian Archival Documents; Letters; Middle Kingdom Letters


The three letters translated here provide a unique glimpse into the life of a middle-class Egyptian family of the early Middle Kingdom. They were written by a ka-servant named Heqanakht, who served the mortuary cult of an official’s tomb in Thebes, probably during the first decade of the reign of Senwosret I, second king of the 12th Dynasty (ca. 1971–1926 bce). The letters, along with a number of Heqanakht’s accounts and some scribal equipment, were stored in an adjacent, unused tomb. When the latter was used for a burial, apparently during Heqanakht’s absence, the documents were sealed up behind a wall used to block access to the burial chamber. As a result, the letters were never sent and remained undisturbed until their discovery by an expedition of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1922. With the exception of one account, all the documents are now in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum.

The letters were i…

Cite this page
Allen, James P., “The Heqanakht Letters (3.1)”, in: Context of Scripture Online, Editor in Chief: W. Hallo. Consulted online on 24 May 2017 <>

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