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Someone asked me about this rather unusual Egyptian papyrus.




He had contacted the seller already to make sure that is was really ancient.

The seller wrote:

'Hi it is esteemated to come back to 1860 - 1780 BC....'


The Museum does not show it online but it is a copy of the so called 'satirical papyrus' in the Egyptian Museum in Cairo.

Images of it have been published in various academic papers.



Great care has been taken to replicate the tears and missing parts even though the reproduction is hand drawn not mechanically or photographically replicated.

It is a very interesting scene!


Starting on the left, the large fragment is somewhat similar in theme as the previously described cat and mouse vignette of the London papyrus. Four cats are serving a lady mouse at her toilet, who is sipping from a goblet handed over by the left cat. The mouse is dressed in an ankle-length robe and she is seated on a tall braided stool, while laying her feet on a footrest. The mouse is surely pampered: one of the servant-cats is taking care of her large wig by arranging the hair locks (this cat even has its own small wig, held up with a hairpin). Another of the servants is gently bearing a baby mouse in a sling: just like a human nursemaid. The last of the four cats carries a jar of liquid and a large sunshade to wave cool air. The next vignette is incomplete and even more tattered. Bearing a yoke on his shoulder, a jackal has brought two jars of water. Another jackal( the faker rendered this figure as a crocodile!) is giving drink to an ox lying behind a brick wall by pouring water from one of these jars in front of him. On the small loose papyrus fragment the back of a third jackal can be recognised, who is walking on the brick enclosure wall: this fragment is not replicated on the forgery.


The exact provenance of all three papyri is unknown, but they are presumably from the ancient workmen's village of Deir el Medina, though Houlihan, in Wit & humour in ancient Egypt says that The Cairo papyrus was acquired in Tuna el-Gebel


No doubt someone who does not take the care to investigate further before falling for this deceit will buy it.

Watch out for another one on eBay!


Of course this is an honest copy of the original in the Egyptian Museum. It even copies the fragmentary nature of it in reasonable detail. It was not made  to deceive. The deception, the fraud, is the intention of the seller to sell it as if it were genuinely ancient.


For more information  and about satirical papyri in general see this really interesting paper by Ms Vibeke C Berens of the University of Leiden


The Ramesside satirical papyri. Revealing the nature of ancient Egyptian satire.Vibeke C Berens Universiteit Leiden

In case you are wondering, no, everything offered by this eBay seller (and hundreds of others!!) are simply tourist souvenirs and other types of reproduction and outright fake.

This one is even more money!

This is copy from a vignette from the Book of The Dead papyrus of Maiherpri who was an ancient Egyptian nobleman of Nubian origin buried in the Valley of the Kings, in tomb KV36.


This one is not really a fake, it's a tourist souvenir.

Here is another in slightly different colours.