one of a group of nine Demotic papyri discovered at el-Hiba (ancient Teudjoi) on the eastern bank of the Nile River in Middle Egypt. They are all concerned with the affairs of a priestly family who lived there during the sixth and seventh centuries BCE. The text, twenty-five columns in length, is a draft copy of a complaint addressed by one member of the family, Petiese, to the chief finance minister of Egypt in the reign of the Persian king Darius I, concerning the injustices which he and his relatives suffered at the hands of other priests in their native town.

Petiese's complaint is divided into four parts. The first narrates the circumstances leading to its submission. In the ninth year of the reign of Darius, a certain Ahmose came to Teudjoi and claimed a priestly stipend, which he said was owed him. This could not be paid because the temple finances were in such parlous condition. Seeking an explanation for this state of affairs, Ahmose was directed to the temple scribe, who happened to be the writer of the complaint, Petiese. As the latter recounts, he blamed the temple clergy, with whom he was in dispute, for its financial woes. These priests learned of his accusation and sought to exact revenge. Lucky to escape with his life, Petiese fled to Memphis and asked the chief finance minister to take up his case and see that justice was done. That official instructed him to write a full history of his difficulties with the priests and how they arose, and it is to this account that the second part of the complaint is devoted.

According to Petiese, his great-great-grandfather had been inspector of a large tract of Egyptian territory extending from Memphis in the North to Aswan in the South. Finding the temple of Amun at Teudjoi with its staff depleted, and struggling under a heavy burden of taxation, he arranged for its taxes to be remitted and restored it to its former prosperity, erecting a stela and two statues of himself there to commemorate his pious deed. As a reward, he was given the stipend of the prophet of Amun of Teudjoi and other benefices as well. Subsequently, he raised a second stela on which his various priestly offices were enumerated.

The stipends of Petiese's ancestor were inherited by his son and grandson. However, when the latter, Petiese's grandfather, was sent to accompany the king on a journey to Asia, his benefices were confiscated by the other priests and divided among them. After his death, his son, Petiese's father, refused to renounce his claim to the stipend of the prophet of Amun and was therefore forced to flee from Teudjoi with his family. In his absence, the priests demolished his house, defaced one of the stelae set up by his ancestor, and threw his statues into the river. Petiese, acting on behalf of his father, was able to obtain a small financial compensation from them; he rebuilt the house and moved the family back into it. At the time when his petition was drawn up, however, the priestly stipend that he claimed was still being denied him.

The third part of Petiese's complaint purports to give copies, in Hieratic, of the texts on the two stelae erected by his great-great-grandfather in the temple of Teudjoi. The fourth part comprises three hymns which condemn the wickedness of evildoers and extol the righteousness of the god Amun, who avenges the ones whom they have wronged. Plainly, Petiese's opponents are destined for divine retribution.

Papyrus Rylands IX is important for the insights that it provides into Egyptian economic affairs, social and political history, temple administration, and legal procedure during the sixth and seventh centuries BCE. One has to exercise caution in using it as a source of evidence, since the text is written in a tendentious manner and some of the statements made in it are contradicted by contemporary documents. Nevertheless, employed with due care, it has much to offer. Regrettably, the outcome of Petiese's complaint is unknown. The papyrus in which it is preserved is the latest of the texts in the family archive to which it belongs. Thereafter, the affairs of Petiese and his relatives are a closed book.


  • Griffith, F. L1. Catalogue of the Demotic Papyri in the John Rylands Library, Manchester. Manchester and London, 1909. Vol. 1, plates 23–47; vol. 2, plates 21–42; vol. 3, pp. 60–112 and 218–53. Original edition of text, including photographs, hand copies and glossary. Still not entirely superseded.
  • Vittmann, Günter. Der demotische Papyrus Rylands 9. Ägypten und Altes Testament, 38. Wiesbaden, 1998. Most recent edition, with comprehensive commentary and bibliography.

Mark Smith