Turin king list: Contents

The fragmented nature of the Turin king list papyrus makes a precise interpretation difficult. It necessitates a careful analysis of the papyrus's physical state as well as all of its contents, especially the king list, but both sides are looked at.

Origin and purpose

As with most papyri, the provenance of this papyrus roll is uncertain, but indirect evidence point to the Theban necropolis as the likely place of discovery. It is a distinct possibility that it was found in the tomb of a scribe, as the papyrus was reused. However, it is basically just guesswork.

The original document contained a tax-register written sometime during the reign of Ramesses II (1279–1213 BCE), or one of his close successors.1 When this tax-record became obsolete, the blank back side was used to add the king list, most likely while the papyrus was still relatively new, though a few years to a decade later cannot be ruled out. It contains the records of every Egyptian king with his exact position in chronological order, from the gods to the mortal kings.

The Turin King List is often referred to as a canon, but that designation implies a selection based on doctrine, which would have suppressed or omitted kings considered illegitimate. The inscribed king lists of Abydos, Saqqara, and Karnak deliberately excluded several rulers and should be classified as canons.

The Turin King List, on the other hand, is a chronological list of kings, with no indications of excluded or suppressed kings. The length of their reigns is included, which is absent from all the other lists, and the chronological order seems to be reliable in most cases. The Royal Canon of Turin is undoubtedly a more memorable moniker than the Turin King List, however, accuracy is of importance, which is why this website prefer to use the Turin King List.

We can safely assume the reign of Ramesses II as the original date of creation, but this does not necessarily mean the list included any of the kings of the New Kingdom. Early in the Eighteenth Dynasty, the administration likely needed a chronological record of the kingdom for political and/or religious reasons. By associating himself with well-known ancestors, the king asserted and legitimized his right to rule the Two Lands.

Dating the papyrus

Ramesses II on the recto
Ramesses II, recto (fr. 10+11)

There is no preserved date written on the papyrus roll, neither on the tax-register (recto), nor on the king-list (verso). The recto mentions an “Inspector of the wells of Ramesses Meryamun,” an official during the reign of Ramesses II, indicating that the tax-register was created either during his reign, or possibly shortly afterward, as the office could have persisted for a few years during the remaining Nineteenth Dynasty. It cannot be determined whether the content of the king list was updated to include any of the New Kingdom kings, or simply was a copy of an even older list. The king-list comes to an end in the section that records the kings of the Late Second Intermediate Period (SIP), the last fully preserved name is Sekhemra Shedwaset, “the Might of Ra which rescues Thebes,” an otherwise unattested Theban king, ruling late in the SIP.

Orthographically, the hieratic text also suggests a Nineteenth Dynasty origin, but until carbon dating of the papyrus is performed, we can only estimate a date of creation to sometime during the reign of Ramesses II (c. 1279—1213 BC), making the papyrus more than 3200 years old.

Following the death of Queen Neferusobek (died 1802 BC), the last ruler of the Twelfth Dynasty, the chronology for the next several centuries is sparse, chaotic and confusing, which is why the period is dubbed the SIP. The lack of contemporary records make any specific theory as to the cause highly speculative, but the number of competing dynasties support a weakening of the central government. The records from Manetho show that his records too were a corrupted mess.

Table 1: Dynasties 13 to 18 in Manetho
13 60 kings of Diospolis, 453 years 60 kings of Diospolis, 453 years
14 76 kings of Xois, 184 years 76 kings of Xois, 184 years
15 6 Hyksos, 284 years Kings of Diospolis, 250 years
16 32 Hyksos, 518 years 5 kings of Thebes, 190 years
17 43 Hyksos and 43 kings of Thebes, 151 years 4 Hyksos of Memphis, 103 years
18 16 kings of Thebes, 263 years 14 kings of Thebes, 348 years
Tot. 276 kings 159 + x kings.

This is a clear indication that not even the Egyptians themselves had a clear picture of the events that took place during these troubled times. The records that survived were not always complete, nor fully preserved, making it all but impossible to get a clear picture, which is understandable as the timespan is not mere decades but centuries. Furthermore, Manetho is also susceptible to translation and transcription errors by the non-native epitomists, that could not be expected to correctly interpret the strange and foreign names. The Turin king list preserve a total of 138 kings2 after the Twelfth Dynasty, but we are left in the dark as to where it ended.

Physical characteristics

To determine the physical properties of the papyrus roll, careful consideration of the joins and patches is necessary to assure the position of the columns according to established research. A full-size papyrus roll during the New Kingdom usually consisted of up to twenty sheets,3 aligned with the right edge of one sheet overlapping the left of the next, joined together by adding an adhesive starch paste, and flattening the joins with a mallet.4
The papyrus is roughly 43 cm in height, corresponding to a full-sized roll,5 and measure about 169 cm in length, or about six and a half joined sheets (see Table 2), for an total area of 7267 cm2. The placed fragments amount to an area of 2116 cm2, or only about 29% of the original papyrus, not including the fragments Gardiner marked "doubtful and useless".6

Obviously, single sheets of papyri would be troublesome to use and handle in many ways, especially storage. So to create a larger writing surface, a number of sheets were pasted together, or “joined.” The joins can be easily seen, and from the size and position of the fragments, it is obvious that two are missing; one to the right of column 3, and one to the right of column 11. With six joins, we can determine that the complete roll consisted of seven sheets, each about 265 mm wide, for a total width of about 1855 mm. The alignment of the fragments is not perfect in all cases, as small variations naturally occurr, such as stretching one part only on the vertical axis, but another only on the horizontal, while yet another will be stretched on both, or none.

Figure 1: The sheets and joins of the tax-register
Figure 1: Location of the joins in the Turin King List

When produced, the papyrus roll was rolled up with sheet 7 as the innermost sheet, only exposing the rightmost part of sheet 1. It was probably fastened A narrow strip of papyrus was most likely added along the right edge of Sheet 1 to strengthen it, protecting the exposed outer part of the roll from tearing when unrolled, but this also made it thicker.7

When the tax-register had served its purpose, instead of discarding it, the blank verso was reused for the kinglist. This process of reusing papyri was probably done regularly and entailed little more than trimming and rerolling the papyrus. It would also be natural to remove the thicker part since it would likely had suffered from wear by constant handling, and as it would become the innermost sheet for the king list, it would naturally resist being rolled up. It definitely would seem prudent to remove this section to create a structurally sound refurbished papyrus roll. It is also entirely possible that this section was cut off to be reused once the kinglist had served its purpose.8

Figure 2: The trimmed tax-register
Figure 2: The trimmed tax-register

The ancient Egyptians did not roll papyri around bone or wooden sticks like the Romans did.9 With the papyrus roll ready for use, it was turned over horizontally, and rolled back with the tax-register on the outside and the blank side ready for use on the inside. Rerolling was not good for the integrity of the papyrus as it had already settled with the horizontal fibres on the inside, but it probably mattered little to the scribe as it was not intended to be kept in the archives. The trimming of the sheet meant that it lost approximately 130-150 mm; shortening the papyrus roll to approximately 1705 mm.

Figure 3: the Turin King List
Figure 3: The sheets of the Turin King List

The king list is written from right to left beginning with column 1 on Sheet 7, and the trimmed part of Sheet 1 at the end of column 11. The papyrus starts with a blank margin, 11 cm wide, after which the hieratic writing begins, from the right, to the left.

Table 2: Papyrus sheets of the Turin King List
7-Columns 1–2. Wide right margin.
6[6]Columns 2–3.
55Columns 3–5.
44Columns 5–6.
33Columns 7–8.
22Columns 9–10.
1[1]Column 11. (trimmed)
Preparing the papyrus for the king list
Figure 4: Preparing the papyrus for the king-list


The upper half of the papyrus suffered damage while rolled up, as is evident by a series of holes at an interval of 16 cm, about 4 cm from the top edge.10 The cause of the damage is most likely from some sharp object perforating the papyrus. The holes were repaired before the papyrus was ever used, and were not marked on the lithographs of Lepsius or Wilkinson.11 The eight patches were first marked by Gardiner. The position and size of Patch number 4 is approximated, since it is lost.

Figure 5: Location of the patches
Figure 5: Location of the patches in the Turin King List
Table 3: Location of patches (right to left)
PatchColumnSize (mm)Gap to next (mm)
12.1–2.635 x 75148
23.2–3.631 x 68114
34.2–4.625 x 56316 (158)
56.3–6.629 x 48136
67.1–7.723 x 91127
78.2–8.833 x 91138
89.3–9.919 x 82181
911.5–11.927 x 77

The hieratic

The paleography indicates that the signs are similar to those found in other documents from the late Nineteenth or early Twentieth Dynasties, and it is evident that the papyrus was not produced by a single hand, but rather by a number of copyists. An indispensable source for transcribing hieratic is the Hieratiche Paläographie,12 especially volume 2 which concentrates on the hieratic of the New Kingdom. The transcription of the hieratic script is obviously best left to experienced palaeologists who can distinguish and interpret the smallest traces and nuances in the script. Gardiner’s transcription is, as expected, correct, with emendations and clarifications by Ryholt.13 The orthography of the names is mostly correct, but a few names were damaged or erroneously copied. The transcription made by Gardiner is as expected, very good, only a few very minor corrections have been suggested by later studies.

The hieratic text consists of 24–31 horizontal lines written in eleven columns, from right to left. The columns are 8–17 cm wide; with a line spacing of about 5 mm, but in columns 2 and 11, it is almost zero.14 The first 2½ columns list gods, demigods, and spirits; the remaining 8½, the historical kings.

Roman numerals have been used ever since the facsimiles by Lepsius, but to avoid confusion with the new reconstructions, plain numbers are used. To distinguish text in the papyrus, each column and row of the papyrus is numbered and put in parenthesis, except when used in a table. For example, (4.7) refers to column 4, row 7, which was written as IV 7 in older works.

The historical kings begin with Meni (3.10) and occupy the rest of the papyrus. The number of lines increases as the papyrus nears the end, as the scribe needed to compact the writing to be able to fit all the remaining kings onto the papyrus. The list of kings ends in column 11 with partial names of unidentifiable late Second Intermediate Period kings.

Table 4: Number of columns and rows in the Turin King List

It can be safely assumed that the king list was preceded with some sort of introduction describing the nature of its content, probably including the date and name of the scribe, but unfortunately, the first column is almost entirely lost. The structural similarity (gods ⇒ spirits ⇒ mortal kings) with the king lists of Manetho was noted already by Champollion and attempts to reconcile the two has been attempted ever since.

Ditto marks and rubra

Writing the same text over and over is tedious and unnecessary, the scribes of Egypt had long since learned to use ditto marks for repeating words or sentences. A hieratic ditto mark simply consists of a dot,15 and was used in the king list to replace three texts: The name of each king is followed by the text “he acted in kingship” which was only written out at the top of a column, and ditto marks were used below that for the repeating text. Ditto marks were also used for the signs for months, and days, but never for years. Numbers were always written out in full.

The full formula for an entry reads:

He acted in kingship x years, y months, z days
Dual King Name. He acted in kingship x years, y months and z days.16
nsw-bit Name ir.n=f m nswyt rnpt x Ꜣbd y hrw z

Using ditto marks, the same line looks like this:

He acted in kingship x years, y months, z days using ditto marks

Most likely the source used for the king list was a half-size papyrus since the top rows of columns 4 and 9 contain ditto marks. This means that the scribe made a sign-by-sign copy of the original, not caring that the ditto marks were out of sync with the topmost row, nor that the kingship formula occurs at irregular intervals within the columns.

The list of kings contains a total of 31 rows with ditto-marks.

Red ink (Latin: Rubra) was used to highlight some words on rows concerning the historical kings, except 1.21 which belong to the section of gods. The only royal title that is written in red ink is for Djoser, doubtless due to his good reputation in later times. Red ink was also used on the unplaced Fr. 4.

Figure 6: Red ink in the king list
Figure 6: Red ink in the Royal Canon of Turin

Headings and summations

There are six headings and ten summations in the king list, which divide it into five sections. The first four summations suggest that different sources were used to gather the data, rather than any historical division by the Egyptians themselves. To them the line of kings was uninterrupted. However, the dynastic divisions were likely invented during the Ptolemaic Dynasty a millennia later, as Manetho divided the periods covered in the papyrus into nineteen dynasties. Furthermore, the two Intermediate Periods are modern definitions of the breakdown of the Old and the Middle Kingdoms.

The dynasties of Egypt as we know them were clearly not defined by the time of the New Kingdom, it seems to be a later invention during the Ptolemaic Period. The headings and summations divide the papyrus into sections similar to the dynasties of Manetho, however, there are only eleven clear divisions, or dynasties, not nineteen as would be expected. By the time of Manetho, the list of kings had evolved and been divided into better defined periods.

Most numbers found in the king list, follow after the name of a specific king, detailing the length of his reign. Numbers are also found in summations, but not in headings. The numbers in summations specify the number of kings, the length that particular group of kings reigned, and totals calculated where multiple groupings are summed up. The reliability of the totals in the summations is impossible to assess, as no section of the papyrus preserves all the individual reign-lengths.

The papyrus is arranged into two parts: mythological and historical kings. The mythological part can further be divided into three sections: gods, demigods, and spirits, as per Manetho. The historical part is a sequence of kings that are arranged chronologically, with headings and summations at irregular intervals. The headings provide the name of the founder, after which each king is listed, followed by a summation that calculates the number of kings and the duration of their reigns.

The headings and summations divide the papyrus into sections similar to the dynasties of Manetho, however, there are only eleven clear divisions or dynasties, not nineteen as would be expected.

The historical king list can be divided into six sections, each starting with a heading, naming the founder and from where the kings ruled. Following this is a sequential list of kings and their reign length, one per line, and lastly, a summation of the section, where the duration and the number of kings are calculated. There are only six headings, but ten summations, some of which obviously have no corresponding heading, effectively yielding ten distinct periods (see Table 5.)

It is tempting to equate those ten periods with the dynasties of Manetho, and while there are general similarities, dynasties 1–10 appears as one heading and four summations in the papyrus. However, better-defined dynasties had likely appeared in the tradition by the time of Manetho, a millennium later.

Table 5: Sections of the papyrus
Gods, demigods and spirits1.13.9
H1Heading of Dynasty 1–103.10
a  Dynasty 1–53.114.2539
S1  Summation of Dynasty 1–54.26
b  Dynasty 6–85.15.1313
S2  Summation of Dynasty 6–85.145.17
c  Dynasty 9–105.186.918
S3  Summation of Dynasty 9–106.10
H2Heading of Dynasty 116.11
d  Dynasty 116.126.176
S4  Summation of Dynasty 116.18
H3Heading of Dynasty 126.19
e  Dynasty 126.207.28
S5  Summation of Dynasty 127.3
H4Heading of Dynasty 13–147.4
f  Dynasty 137.58.2852
S6  Summation of Dynasty 138.29
g  Dynasty 149.110.2050
S7  Summation of Dynasty 1410.21
H5Heading of Dynasty 1510.22
h  Dynasty 1510.2310.286
S8  Summation of Dynasty 1510.29
H6Heading of Dynasty 1610.30
i  Dynasty 1610.3111.1415
S9  Summation of Dynasty 1611.15
j  Unidentified (Abydos?) Dynasty11.1611.3116
Total number of kings  223

Headings and Summations details

The designations above is only to help distinguish the natural divisions of the the kings into sections that can then in turn be further detailed below. The mythological section preceding the mortal kings is disregarded for obvious reasons.

Heading 1 (3.10)

The details of the first ten dynasties of historical kings. This is evident as there are three summations between the first and second headings. Only the name of Meni is preserved in the heading, the rest is lost. During the New Kingdom, the first ten dynasties were seemingly considered one continuous period, subdivided into three distinct phases, perhaps due to imperfect or lacking records. The further division into five dynasties happened later, probably during the Ptolemaic Period.

Section a (3.11–4.25)

A continuous lineage of thirty-nine kings of the First through Fifth Dynasties (Meni to Unas.) Many of the names are orthographically incorrect or outright lost due to the poor state of the papyrus. Total preserved reigns: 313 years, 2 months, 5 days.

  • 1. Meni
  • 2. Ity
  • 3. lost
  • 4. ...tiu
  • 5. Qenty
  • 6. Merigeregipen
  • 7. Semsem
  • 8. ...beh
  • 9. Bau...
  • 10. ...kau
  • 11. ...netjer
  • 12. lost
  • 13. Senedj
  • 14. Aaka
  • 15. Neferkasokar
  • 16. Hudjefa
  • 17. Bebti
  • 18. Nebka
  • 19. Djoserit
  • 20. Djoserti
  • 21. ...djefa
  • 22. Hu....
  • 23. Snoferu
  • 24. lost
  • 25. lost
  • 26. Kha...
  • 27. lost
  • 28. lost
  • 29. lost
  • 30. lost
  • 31. ...kaf
  • 32. lost
  • 33. lost
  • 34. lost
  • 35. lost
  • 36. lost
  • 37. Menkauhor
  • 38. Djedu
  • 39. Unis

Summation 1 (4.26)

Summation of the First through Fifth Dynasties; 39 kings17 from Meni to Unas, amounting to x years. Summation 2 contain the sum for all previous reigns (955 years, 15 days), but also the reign length of the 13 kings following Unas (181 years, 6 months, 3 days + a 6-year lacuna). Subtracting these, the reign length of the first five dynasties comes to 768 years (an average reign of ~20 years).

Section b (5.1–5.13)

A continuous lineage of 13 kings of the Sixth to Eight Dynasties (Teti to Neferirkara.) It is notable that there is no indication of a dynastic break after the Sixth Dynasty, the kings simply continue. Total preserved reigns: 165 years, 5 months, 23 days (164 years, 17 months, 23 days).

  • 1. lost
  • 2. lost
  • 3. lost
  • 4. lost
  • 5. lost
  • 6. lost
  • 7. Netiqerty
  • 8. Neferka Khered Seneb
  • 9. Nefer
  • 10. Ibi
  • 11. lost
  • 12. lost
  • 13. lost

Summation 2 (5.14–5.17)

Summation of the Sixth through Eight Dynasties; [13]18 kings until [Neferirkara],19 amounting to 181 years, 6 months and 3 days, and a lacuna of 6 years. Total: [13] kings for 1[87 years, 6 months, and 3 days.]20 The lacuna notation suggests the wsf in 5.7 was in fact the source. Summation continues with the First through Eight Dynasties; [52]21 kings of the house of Meni, for [949 years] and 15 days, and a lacuna of 6 years. Total: [52] kings for 955 years and 1[5] days.

Section c (5.18–6.9)

A continuous lineage of 18 kings of the Ninth and Tenth Dynasties, unfortunately most are lost. Total preserved reigns: None.

  • 1. lost
  • 2. lost
  • 3. Neferkara
  • 4. Khety
  • 5. Senen...
  • 6. lost Neferkara
  • 7. Mer... Khety
  • 8. Shed...y
  • 9. H...
  • 10. lost
  • 11. lost
  • 12. lost
  • 13. lost
  • 14. lost
  • 15. lost
  • 16. lost
  • 17. lost
  • 18. lost

Summation 3 (6.10)

Summation of the Ninth and Tenth Dynasties, however, only the initial signs remain, any dates are lost in lacuna.

Heading 2 (6.11)

Written in red ink, only the initial signs of “the kings of...” remain, the rest is lost.

Section d (6.12–6.17)

The seven kings of the Eleventh Dynasty, from Mentuhotep I to Mentuhotep III. Total preserved reigns: 120 years.

  • 1. lost
  • 2. lost
  • 3. lost
  • 4. lost
  • 5. lost
  • 6. Nebhapetra
  • 7. Sankhkara

Summation 4 (6.18)

Total: 6 kings for 1[36 years and a lacuna of] 7 years. Total: 143 [years.] The seven-year lacuna probably belong to the last king of the dynasty, Mentuhotep IV. The number of years must be 136 as we know the total (143), and the lacuna (7).

Heading 3 (6.19)

Heading for the Twelfth Dynasty of which only the middle portion “Kings of the residence Itj-tawy” remain.

Section e (6.20–7.2)

Eight kings of the Twelfth Dynasty. Total preserved reigns: 206 years, 2 months, 21 days (literally: 205 years, 13 months, 51 days).

  • 1. ...pib(ra)
  • 2. ...ka(ra)
  • 3. lost
  • 4. lost
  • 5. lost
  • 6. lost
  • 7. Maakherura
  • 8. Neferusobekra

Summation 5 (7.3)

Summation of the Twelfth Dynasty. Total: 8 kings of Itj-tawy for 213 years, 1 month, and 17 days.

Table 6. Reigns of the Twelfth Dynasty22
Turin king listAfricanusEusebius
Amenemhat I103029
Senusret I2–345454646
Amenemhat II33530 + x3838
Senusret II8/9194848
Senusret III203930 + x88
Amenemhat III14640 + x842 years
for the last
three kings
Amenemhat IV109 y, 3 m, 27 d8
Sobekneferu33 y, 10 m, 24 d4
Total36–37217205 y, 13 m, 51 d160182

The 217 years total of the highest attested years from the archaeological record, does not account for the known 36 years of coregencies, which would only yield a total reign of about 181 years for the entire dynasty. According to Africanus, the dynasty ruled for 160 years,23 while Eusebius allotted 182 years,24 though both only counted seven kings. There is a king Ammenemes mentioned in the epitomes, between the Eleventh and Twelfth Dynasties, with a reign of 16 years. The name and position indicate that it is a corrupted record of Amenemhat I, perhaps misinterpreting wsf 6 as 16.

Heading 4 (7.4)

Kings who came after the children (?) of The Dual King, [Sehote]pibra, may he live, prosper and be healthy.

Heading for the Thirteenth Dynasty, and possibly also for the Fourteenth. The two dynasties combine for 101 names, which is roughly 45% of all the names of the mortal kings present in the papyrus.

Section f (7.5–8.27)

Fifty-two kings of the Thirteenth Dynasty. Total preserved reigns: 77 years, 7 months, 1 day (73 years, 47 months, 241 days).

  • 1. Khutawyra
  • 2. Sekhemkara
  • 3. Amenhemhet(ra)
  • 4. Sehotepibra
  • 5. Iufni
  • 6. Sankhibra
  • 7. Semenkara
  • 8. Sehotepibra
  • 9. Sewadjkara
  • 10. Nedjemibra
  • 11. Sobek(hote)p
  • 12. Ren...neb
  • 13. Awtibra
  • 14. Sedjefa...kara
  • 15. Sekhemra Khutawy Sobekhotep
  • 16. User...kara Khendjer
  • 17. ...ka(ra) Imyremeshaw
  • 18. ...ka
  • 19. ...ibra Seth
  • 20. Sekhemkara ... Sobekhotep
  • 21. Kha...ra Neferhotep
  • 22. Sihathor
  • 23. Kha...neferra Sobekhotep
  • 24. lost
  • 25. Khahotepra
  • 26. Wahibra Jaib
  • 27. Merneferra
  • 28. Merhotepra
  • 29. Sankhenra Sewadjtu
  • 30. Mersekhemra Ined
  • 31. Sewadjkara Hori
  • 32. Merka... Sobek(hotep)
  • 33. lost
  • 34. lost
  • 35. lost
  • 36. lost
  • 37. lost
  • 38. lost
  • 39. lost
  • 40. Mer...ra
  • 41. Merkheperra
  • 42. Merka(ra)
  • 43. lost
  • 44. lost
  • 45. lost
  • 46. ...mes
  • 47. ...maatra Ibi
  • 48. ...webenra Hor
  • 49. ...kara
  • 50. ...enra
  • 51. ...ra
  • 52. ...enra

Summation 6 (8.29)

Only a small section of the text remains, the rest is lost. There is no heading for the kings of the Fourteenth Dynasty.

Section g (9.1–10.20)

Fifty kings of the Fourteenth Dynasty. Total preserved reigns: 18 years, 8 months, 3 days (17 years, 15 months, 153 days).

  • 1. Nehesy
  • 2. Khatira
  • 3. Nebfautra
  • 4. Sehabra
  • 5. Merdjefara
  • 6. Sewadjkara
  • 7. Nebdjefara
  • 8. Webenra
  • 9. lost
  • 10. ...djefara
  • 11. ...benra
  • 12. Awtibra
  • 13. Heribra
  • 14. Nebsenra
  • 15. ...ra
  • 16. Sekheperenra
  • 17. Djedkherura
  • 18. Sankhibra
  • 19. Nefertum....ra
  • 20. Sekhem...ra
  • 21. Kakemura
  • 22. Neferibra
  • 23. I...ra
  • 24. Khakara
  • 25. Aakara
  • 26. Semenenra Hapu
  • 27. Djedkara Nebnati
  • 28. ...kara Bebnum
  • 29. lost
  • 30. lost
  • 31. lost
  • 32. lost
  • 33. lost
  • 34. lost
  • 35. lost
  • 36. lost
  • 37. Senefer...ra
  • 38. Men...ra
  • 39. Djed...
  • 40. lost
  • 41. lost
  • 42. lost
  • 43. Inek...
  • 44. Ineb...
  • 45. Ip...
  • 46. lost
  • 47. lost
  • 48. lost
  • 49. lost
  • 50. lost

Summation 7 (10.21)

Only a small section of the text remains, the rest is lost.

Heading 5 (10.22)

Possibly contained a heading for the Hyksos Fifteenth Dynasty, as the previous row hold part of a summation, but it is by no means certain.

Section h (10.23–10.28)

Six kings of the Hyksos Fifteenth Dynasty, of which only a partial name of the last king remain. Total preserved reigns: 40 years.

  • 1. lost
  • 2. lost
  • 3. lost
  • 4. lost
  • 5. lost
  • 6. Khamudy

Summation 8 (10.29)

Total: 6 foreign kings reigned for 100 + x years

Heading 6 (10.30)

Lost in lacuna.

Section i (10.31–11.14)

Fifteen kings of the Sixteenth Dynasty. It is clear that the record of the first king of the Sixteenth Dynasty is lost in lacuna. From the emended fifteen kings in the summation of the dynasty (11.15) it is clear that one missing king must have been present in 10.30, adding to the 14 kings present (11.1-14). Total preserved reigns: 62 years.

  • 1. lost
  • 2. Sekhem...ra
  • 3. Sekhemra
  • 4. Sekhemra S...
  • 5. Se...enra
  • 6. Nebiriawra
  • 7. Nebitawra
  • 8. Semenenra
  • 9. Seuserra
  • 10. Sekhemra Shedwaset
  • 11. lost
  • 12. lost
  • 13. lost
  • 14. lost
  • 15. lost

Summation 9 (11.15)

5 kings ...
The number is clearly a 5, but seeing as there are exactly 15 rows between Heading 6 and this row, the number should be emended as 15.

Section j (11.16–11.31)

Sixteen kings of an unidentified Dynasty, perhaps the short-lived Abydos Dynasty. Total preserved reigns: 14 years.

  • 1. User...ra
  • 2. User...
  • 3. lost
  • 4. lost
  • 5. lost
  • 6. lost
  • 7. lost
  • 8. lost
  • 9. lost
  • 10. lost
  • 11. ...hebra
  • 12. lost
  • 13. lost
  • 14. lost
  • 15. lost
  • 16. ...enra

Details about the kings

Only a few fragments remain of the mythological section of the papyrus, presumably detailing gods, demigods, and spirits. The mythological kings mentioned by Manetho25 were likely present at the beginning of the papyrus, as the names of Gods are found in the first column, probably describing the Great Ennead. Most of this section is sadly almost entirely lost.

The historical kings begin with Meni of the First Dynasty, and continue to the end of the Second Intermediate Period, where the papyrus is in tatters, and only a few small fragments survive. While there are no information about the gender in the king list, Manetho explicitly refers to several female rulers, meaning there must have existed some sort of traditional lists where the gender was included. Only one female ruler has been identified in the king list, Sobekneferu (7.2), but with no indication of gender.

On each line, the title nsw-bit (the Dual King, or The King of Upper and Lower Egypt) precedes the king’s prenomen enclosed in a cartouche, followed by the divine determinative,26 indicating their divinity. It remains unknown why the recorded names in the New Kingdom king lists are not always the expected prenomen. The early dynasties use of the nebty name is understandable, as the kings of that period did not use prenomina, as is the scribe adding the nomen into the cartouche of kings with the same prenomen, presumably to distinguish them from each other. This inconsistency is also present in Manetho, where most recorded names use the Greek form of the prenomen, but a few use the nomen instead. There is evidence of hypercorrection of the royal names over time, that is, by adding the ubiquitous divine -ra to their name. The variations of the recorded names in the king list can be found in Table 7.

The recording of the names of the kings is inconsistent throughout the papyrus, likely due to gathering information from multiple sources (see 0). There is no mention of concurrent dynasties, coregency, ethnicity, gender, reputation, or any other secondary criterion. The only exceptions are two kings of the Thirteenth Dynasty that include the names of their fathers.27

The G7-sign Gardiner’s G7-sign “Horus/falcon on a standard”, is a determinative/logogram for ’king’ or ’god,’ and often placed within the cartouche to emphasize a royal name, but also immediately adjacent behind the cartouche.

Table 7: Variations of the kings name
Cartouche: (prenomen) Prenomen in a cartouche
Cartouche: (nomen) Nomen in a cartouche
5.10, 5.21, 7.2, 7.7, 7.9, 7.15-16, 9.1, 9.10, 9.13-15, 11.5-6
Cartouche (prenomen + nomen) Prenomen and nomen in the same cartouche
7.19, 7.20, 7.23-25, 7.28, 8.2, 8.5-6
Cartouche: (prenomen) (nomen) Prenomen and nomen in their own cartouches
5.23, 8.7-8
Cartouche: (prenomen) nomen Prenomen in a cartouche, nomen no cartouche
5.7-8, 7.21-22, 8.22-23, 9.25?, 9.26-28

The king’s name was followed by a formula indicating the reign length.

Hieroglyphics: ir n.f m nsyt

ir.n=i m nsw.yt
“he acted in kingship”

This formula followed immediately after a kings name, followed by the length of reign, near the end of each row, like a spreadsheet. These numbers were arranged in columns, leaving empty space between the king’s name and the reign. Despite the lack of ditto-marks, this is a clear indication that the formula was implied, but not written.

Number of kings

Determining the number of kings found on the papyrus, we first find the total number of lines in columns 3–11, which is 250 (see Table 8.) Discarding the ten rows of the spirits in 3.1–9, and the empty 3.14, 240 lines remain. The headings and summations of the dynasties account for another 18 lines, subtracting these, the total number of remaining lines, or kings, is 223. The names of 97 kings are lost or consist only of a single sign or traces, leaving 73 partial names, and only 53 complete names.

There are 76 kings listed before the eight of the Twelfth Dynasty, followed by 139 of the Second Intermediate Period, totalling 223 kings, not accounting for names that were lost in lacuna notations.

Table 8: Counting the kings
Complete names  4571107150453
Partial names  8743159117973
Lost names  21311171124201797
Kings  142522212628302730223
Heading rows  1002100206
Summation rows  01421102112
Total  152626252829303131241

Accounting for the 61 rows that does not concern the dynastic kings, we have the rows of column 1 (25) and 2 (26), plus the first nine of column 3. The blank 3.14 that is a long row from column 2 still needs to be counted here, bringing the number of excluded rows to 61. Adding the 241 rows of table 8 above, we arrive at 302—the total number of rows.

Length of reign and age at death

The length of reign is recorded in two ways: years, months, and days, or round years alone. The variation is due to the sources used to collect the information. In the modern studies, the cursive hieratic has been read as these variants: variants of rnpt in the Royal Canon of Turin , probably due to the cursive nature of hieratic, or a careless scribe.
To be consistent, the ligature is presumed to be rnpt Hsb (regnal years)  rnpt-ḥsb (regnal years).28 The older interpretations ḥꜢt-sp and rnpt-sp are no longer regarded as correct, but the matter is not entirely settled.

The ages of the early kings (3.11–4.5) are recorded after their reign lengths, by the formula:

Royal Canon of Turin: ‘in his lifetime’ formula
His lifetime
ꜤḥꜢ=f m Ꜥnḫ

This formula was likely derived from Source A, detailing kings of the first two dynasties only. There are no indications that the other sources held this information. However, the ages should be viewed with due scepticism, as they seem uncommonly high for the times.

Table 9: Preserved ages in the Turin King List.
PositionKingHis lifetime (age)
3.17Adjib74 years
3.18Semerkhet72 years
3.19Qa’a63 years
3.20Hotepsekhemwy95 years
3.22Ninetjer95 years
3.23Wadjenes70 years
3.24Senedj54 years
3.25Sneferka70 years
4.1Neferkasokar10-30 + x years
4.2Hudjefa I34 years
4.3Khasekhemwy40 + x years

Reign lengths and totals

As can be expected, it is impossible to assess the credibility of the reigns attributed in the papyrus. The quality of the sources used to compile the reigns are unknown, and as a result, the reliability of the numbers is impossible to quantify. The uncertainty of the reign-lengths of even well-attested kings makes assessing the numbers an impossible task. A mathematical error produced at any time during the multiple sources, and their copies, could have remained undetected, and impossible to correct.

Most figures found in the king list, follow after the name of a specific king, detailing the length of his reign. Numbers are also found in summations, but not in headings. The numbers in summations specify the number of kings, the length that particular group of kings reigned, and totals calculated where multiple groupings are summed up. The reliability of the totals in the summations is impossible to assess, as no section of the papyrus preserves all the individual reign-lengths. The total for the individual reign-lengths is calculated in Table 10 below.

Table 10: The summations and reigns
§ Preserved reigns
(computed by adding reigns)
§ Summations
a 313 years, 2 months, 5 days S1 lacuna 768 years: calculated by S3 minus S2 (cf. Table 5 above)
b 165 years, 5 months, 23 days
(164 years, 17 months, 23 days)
S2 181 years, 6 months, 3 days (+6 year lacuna)
949 years, 15 days (+6 year lacuna).
Total: 955 years, 1[5] days
c None S3 18 kings, lacuna
d 120 years S4 6 kings, 136 years (+7 year lacuna)
Total: 143 years
e 206 years, 1 months, 21 days
(205 years, 13 months, 21 days)
S5 8 kings, 213 years, 1 month, 18 days
f 77 years, 7 months, 1 day
(73 years, 47 months, 241 days)
S6 lacuna
g 18 years, 8 months, 3 days
(17 years, 15 months, 153 days)
S7 lacuna
h 40 years S8 6 kings, 100 + x years
i 62 years S9 [1]5 kings, lacuna

Long lines

Several times the scribe miscalculated the length of entries so that they encroached the next column he would write. This forced the starting point of the particular line to move to the left compared to the rest of the column. To separate the entries, he drew lines around the text that infringed upon the new column, and then continued the writing of the new column. This is evident in at least four places (2.16/3.14, 5.16/6.15, 7.3/8.4, and 8.3/9.4,) and possibly also on framents 4 and 147.29

Figure 7: Long lines in the Turin King List
Figure 7: Long lines in the Turin King List

Damage and human error

The inconsistent details provided about the individual kings are more apparent in the older parts of the document. This is hardly surprising since the ancient sources used must have survived conflicts, fire, flooding, and other hardships for up to a thousand years. The accuracy of records from such a remote time would naturally be circumspect, and not entirely reliable. Over the millennia, sporadic copying errors would undoubtedly have occurred, which would have permutated the original texts, causing some kings and information about their reigns to be lost. Each subsequent copy also compounded the errors, and ultimately resulted in a somewhat inaccurate duplicate of a duplicate etc.

The age of Kakau (3.21) was left blank, perhaps by simple omission. The cartouche open is missing from the records of Sneferka (3.25), Nebka (4.4), and Snoferu (4.9). The summation of Dynasty XVI (11.15) preserve the number of kings as 5, while there are 15 entries (10.31 to 11.14), probably due to a scribal error.

Notation of lacuna

Several notations of Lacuna notation in the Royal Canon of Turin (G41:G36)wsf (meaning gap or ‘lacuna’) were present on a vorlage of the papyrus and used where a part of the source text was missing or unreadable, including names, dates, or reigns.30 A lost lacuna notation for the missing ten kings found in the Abydos Canon (41-50) is missing following Netiqerty (5.7), which is corroborated by the lacuna notations in summations 2 (5.15) and 3 (5.16). The next immediate names are corrupted, nfr-kꜢ ẖrd-snb (5.8), nfr-kꜢ (5.9), and nfr (5.10) which suggest that there was a larger lacuna in the sources, and the scribe did not realize that the lacuna notation included more than one king.

A lacuna notation, presumably for Mentuhotep IV, in the summation of the Eleventh Dynasty (6.18), can only mean that another notation is itself lost in lacuna at the end of the entry for Mentuhotep III (6.17). The lacuna notation after sḫm-kꜢ-rꜤ (7.6) account for Nerikara, whose name is absent in the king list.31 There is a lacuna notation for the number of months in the reigns of Ꜣw-ib-rꜤ (9.12), and sw-wsr-rꜤ (11.8). It is impossible to determine if the notation after nb-sn-rꜤ (9.14) included one or more kings.

Figure 8: Notations of lacuna in the king list.
Figure 8: Notations of lacuna in the Royal Canon of Turin

Corrupted names

The kings of the Archaic Period did not use a nomen or prenomen, which caused problems in later periods. The solution was to assign new names to these ancient kings. The other New Kingdom king lists contain the same names, suggesting canonization at an earlier date, however, none of these names is orthographically correct according to contemporary attestations. The changes range from slight to unrecognizable. Toward the end of the Archaic Period kings, a lacuna is preserved in the name Hudjefa.32 The scarce remains of the papyrus make in unclear to what extent corrupted names occurred, especially in the older parts.

Some signs were simply misread or erroneously copied by the scribe, resulting in a slightly corrupted name, as can be seen in several places. For example, an O29-sign was incorrectly copied as a V30-sign in (9.27), resulting in the name Nebnati, which is a mistake for Anati. It is unsurprising and quite expected that there would be several errors in such a long text. The scribe was rather careless at times; several names have the sun-disc added after the cartouche open. This was likely done automatically as he wrote the nsw-bit title, and failed to notice his error.33

There is evidence to suggest that kings were interchanged on at least one and possibly two occasions. The highest attested year of Pepi I (mry-rꜤ) is 25, and the highest year of Nemtyemsaf I (mr.n-rꜤ) is 5. The names in (5.3) and (5.4) are lost, but the years are recorded as 20 and 44 respectively, suggesting that the rows were interchanged. Both names use the signs mr and rꜤ, and the kings were probably simply interchanged by the scribe.

Sobkhotep I (7.19) and Wegaf (7.5) would have been recorded more or less across from each other in adjacent columns in Vorlage E. Their names share the elements ḥw, tꜢwy and rꜤ, suggesting that the similar names may have been interchanged by the scribe.

There is no evidence suggesting that any kings were deliberately omitted from the king list. Prehistoric kings might have been included among the "spirits" preceding the historical kings, but since no names are preserved, it will remain unknown. Though there are no imaginary kings, Mentuhotep I (6.12) did not adopt royal titles during his lifetime, these were awarded posthumously by his successors. Part of his (severely damaged) name is preserved in the Karnak Canon (12), alongside the Horus name tpy-Ꜥ.34 Neferkasokar (4.1) is unlikely to be historical, as there are no contemporary attestations of his name. Whether the name is fictious, or a false etymology of an unidentifiable name remain unknown.35

As can be expected, it is impossible to assess the credibility of the reigns attributed in the papyrus. The quality of the sources used to compile the reigns are unknown, and as a result, the reliability of the numbers is impossible to quantify. The uncertainty of the reign-lengths of even well-attested kings makes assessing the numbers an impossible task. A mathematical error produced at any time during the multiple sources, and their copies, could have remained undetected, and impossible to correct.

A twelfth column?

Ryholt suggested that a twelfth column was removed in ancient times; presumably to reuse the blank recto side.36 This is further corroborated by the fact that sheet 1 is less than half the width of the other papyrus sheets. However, as discussed earlier above, the outer sheet of the papyrus roll was likely trimmed before being reused for the king list. It is uncertain whether the king list was a direct copy of the information on an older papyrus that needed to be preserved or an updated version that included later kings not present in the original.

The cut-off part, as per Ryholt, would presumably have held the names of the kings of the Seventeenth through Nineteenth dynasties. The exact number is uncertain, probably about 25 (see Table 15, it is obviously unknown how many would have been present in a twelfth column.). Some kings of the proposed Abydos Dynasty might also have been present, depending on the number of NK kings, and how elaborate the headings and summations were. Adding these kings, or perhaps only some of them, the complete papyrus would have included some 330 rows with close to 250 kings.

The estimated number of rulers between the late Second Intermediate Period, from the Seventeenth through the New Kingdom is somewhat uncertain, as we do not know the exact number of rulers. The number of kings depends on the Egyptologist consulted, ranging from 8 to 15 for the Seventeenth Dynasty alone. Furthermore, the exact succession of the Late Amarna Period is still unclear, the exact number of rulers and their positions remain uncertain.

Table 15: The rulers of the 17th through 19th Dynasties up to Ramesses II
Dynasty No. Rulers
XVII 14 Nebmaatra, Djehuty, Sobekhotep VIII, Senusret IV, Mentuhotep VII, Rahotep, Sobekemsaf I, Sobekemsaf II, Intef VI, Intef VII, Intef VIII, Senakhtenra, Seqenenra, Kamose
XVIII 15 Ahmose, Amenhotep I, Thutmose I, Thutmose II, Hatshepsut, Thutmose III, Amenhotep II, Thutmose IV, Amenhotep III, Amenhotep IV, Neferneferuaten, Smenkhkara, Tutankhamun, Ay, Horemheb
XIX 3 Ramesses I, Seti I, Ramesses II
Sum 32

Current state of the papyrus

The Royal Canon display at the Museo Egizio in Turin
Display case in Museo Egizio 2015

Apart from the piece cut off in antiquity, the papyrus was presumably intact upon its discovery and only subsequently fell to pieces owing to the rough handling. It now consists of more than 300 fragments. Seyffarth pasted the fragments onto papier végétal in 1826, but this was removed and remounted/reconstructed in 1930 by Hugo Ibscher and Farina also handled the fragments in the subsequent years.37 However, the papyrus suffered evident damage during this process, as can be seen when comparing it to the facsimiles of Lepsius and Wilkinson; the photographs shows that numerous fragments were damaged along the edges and that many signs along the edges were lost in the process. This makes the facsimiles that more important as they preserve signs that are lost today.

There are still a number of important fragments whose exact position has not been established, and numerous smaller fragments, mostly very small, have never been published at all. Among the unpublished fragments are parts of royal names of both historical rulers and gods, figures relating to reigns of kings, and parts of headings and summations.38

In September 2019, the Museo Egizio made high-quality photographs of the papyrus available online.39 Unfortunately, the photos only show the fragments as arranged by Farina (in three panels), and does not include Gardiner's unplaced fragments, nor any of the unpublished ones. Hopefully, these will be added at a later date. Still, these photos (including the recto!) are an incredible improvement over the previous photos published by Farina some 80 years ago.

In 2022, one of the foremost experts in papyrus restoration in the world, Myriam Krutzsch from the Egyptian Museum in Berlin, worked on the King List for ten weeks in Turin, where she removed all traces of the previous glue and fabrics used to join the fragile parts together by Seyffarth in 1826, and by Ibscher and Farina in the 1930s. The cleaning process showed that many of the numbered fragments were themselves made up of even smaller fragments, revealing just how impressive and good Seyffarth's reconstruction of the fragments was.

Inventory number

The papyrus is descibed in two nineteenth century catalogues of the Museum, and was still considered to be the original document at the time. The official Museum inventory number is Cat. 1874, from the 1882 catalogue, though it is often referred to as pTurin 1874.

Museum catalogue 1855.40

Room A. No. 1. Chronological papyrus
(Frame hanging on the right side of the room.)

It contains a list of kings from the beginning of the Egyptian monarchy until the Nineteenth Dynasty, the era in which it seems to have been written. We find the name of Ramesses in the midst of various accounting records on the backside. It is a great pity that it is in this state due to carelessness by those who transported it to us from Egypt. The illustrious Seyffarth patiently established the order of the fragments, but there are doubts about the arrangement by the patient German. However, even in the current state it greatly helps history through the series of names written on the same fragments, by means of the numbers assigned to each reign, and the amounts placed at the end of each dynasty. This shows that the system of Manetho was domestic.

Museum catalogue 1882.41

No. 1874. Hieratic opisthographic papyrus, composed of tiny fragments glued on blotting paper, 2.31 m wide, 0.46 tall. This papyrus, called a royal chronology, written on both sides, contain on the recto a series of royal cartouches, starting from the divine dynasties until the Nineteenth Dynasty; and on the verso, in the midst of accounting records, you find the cartouche of Ramesses II, which dates the papyrus. The illustrious Seyffarth arranged it in its present state. Mr Lepsius published the recto of the papyrus in 1842 in his Auswahl der wichtigsten Urkunden des Aegyptischen Alterthums, and afterwards Mr. Wilkinson, recorded the verso (Orcurti, II 129, n. 1). - Upper floor, room I. n. 126.



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Many of the referenced books and journal articles above
are available for free in the Reference Library.