Studies on the political history of the Second Intermediate Period

by Jürgen von Beckerath


Beckerath, Jürgen von. 1964. “Untersuchungen zur politische Geschichte der zweiten Zwischenzeit in Ägypten”. Ägyptologische Forschungen 23: 20–26.

English translation of the original German text

Pages 20-26

2. The Royal papyrus of Turin

After investigating the tradition of Manetho's Second Intermediate Period, we now turn to the Royal papyrus of Turin, the only surviving copy of an official Egyptian royal list. This list, from which Manetho must have presented a much later, and certainly more corrupt “edition”, continued until the Thirtieth Dynasty, did not follow a particular local tradition, but apparently unified all the local traditions. Only in this way is it to be understood that it lists princes of Thebes as well as small kings from the delta, The central office, in which all these records were collected, could probably have been Memphis, where, apart from a few exceptions, was always the administrative capital of Egypt. The Memphite origin of the royal list is also proven by the fact that it places Ptah at the head of the dynasties of gods ruling the country in prehistoric times.

As for the Second Intermediate Period, we believe that this list of kings once gave a complete list of all rulers. It can be shown that not even those that only ruled a few months in a very small part of the country are missing. If the Turin papyrus had not been so badly destroyed, we would undoubtedly have a complete and, apart from a few errors in copying, reliable list of all kings up to the end of the Second Intermediate Period.

We owe the recognition of the great historical value of the papyrus, which had previously been neglected by historians, to Edward Meyer, who in his “Egyptian Chronology” gave the best description and presentation of his history at the same time.[1] Therefore it does not need to be repeated again here.

Although the main fragments of Seyffarth's really astonishing achievement were already arranged correctly in 1826,[2] the papyrus was in an almost hopeless state around the turn of the century when Ed. Meyer saw it. The numerous larger and smaller fragments were disordered and hardly accessible even to the expert. Due to lack of the opportunity of also using the text in the recto of the papyrus, only suggestions could be made for the exchange of entire columns, as suggested by Pieper in his dissertation. This also explains the excessive skepticism that was later shown towards this list.

The restoration and new publication of the royal papyrus demanded by Meyer was finally carried out in the 1930s by the then director of the Turin Museum, Giulio Farina, with the help of the brilliant papyrus restorer H. Ibscher. The restored papyrus is now on display in the museum. It was published by Farina in 1938 in a publication (Il Papiro dei Re restaurato, Roma 1938), which unfortunately does not correspond in any way to the great work of restoration. In the spring of 1952, thanks to the kind assistance of the current Director of the Turin Museum, Professor Scamuzzi, whom I also sincerely thank, I myself had the opportunity to study the relevant fragments for the purposes of these investigations. Now the grand publication of Sir Alan Gardiner, The Royal Canon of Turin, Oxford 1959, is also available, which fortunately also include the recto.[3] Unfortunately, no photographic plates are added there, so that the original must still be consulted about controversial readings and especially for the arrangement of the fragments.

More than half of the preserved part of the royal list, namely the last six of a total of eleven columns, refer to the period of the Thirteenth to Seveneenth dynasties, which shows that the number of kings Manetho indicated for this period is not exaggerated. The Twelfth Dynasty ranges in the papyrus from column V line 19 (heading) to column VI line 3 (summation). Then, after an unfortunately destroyed heading in line 4, the rulers of the Second Intermediate Period follow from line 5. Column XI ends without a final summation. The remains of names still preserved there show that we are still in the Second Intermediate Period, i.e. before the New Kingdom. Either another, twelfth column is lost to the left of this column, which would have contained the last kings of the Second Intermediate Period (at most about a dozen names), the pharaohs of the Eighteenth and Nineteenth dynasties up to Ramses II as well as a concluding text. Or—and this would be particularly suggested by the fact that the fragments of column XI on the recto are empty—the intended copy of the royal list could no longer be completed by the scribe on this papyrus due to lack of space, and he broke it off even before he had reached the end of the interim period and the beginning of the New Kingdom. The fact that he lacked space can already be seen by the fact that towards the end he wrote ever smaller and narrower. In any case, not all that much was missing on the whole list.

According to Farina's count, columns VI - XI probably contained a total of 183 lines. There are four lines of column VI which contain the last rulers of the Twelfth Dynasty, their summation and a heading. But of the remaining 179 lines at least two more, probably four, are as we shall see, summations. Thus, by the end of column XI, about 175 kings of the Second Intermediate Period had been recorded, to which would then be added some who either stood in a lost column XII, or could not be accommodated at the end. If one compares this with the total number of rulers of the Thirteenth to Seventeenth dynasties (179) produced above from the Manethonian tradition, there is, indeed, a striking coincidence.

One should therefore expect that here also the dynastic division handed down by Manetho could still be established. We already know that Turin Papyrus also hold such a thing.[4] Indeed, the Eleventh and Twelfth dynasties, are exactly the same as that of the Manetho, whereas previously several Manethonian dynasties corresponded to only one of the Turin list. One of the most significant discoveries in Farina's reworking of the papyrus is the discovery of a fragment that contained the summation of a dynasty of six Hyksos (ḥḳꜢ-ḫꜢst) with a reign of 108 years.[5] There can be little doubt that this ruling group corresponds to Manetho's Fifteenth Dynasty. As the only one among the rulers listed in the papyrus, these six bear the title ḥḳꜢ-ḫꜢswt, while all the others always carry the title of the throne, nsw-bjt (nj-swt-bjt) “King of Upper and Lower Egypt”, it does not matter that occasionally the birth name is mentioned instead, and still less that they were often kings who ruled only parts of the land. This elevation of the Fifteenth Dynasty finds a parallel in the fact that Manetho lists only these six rulers by name, while he only summarily names the other dynasties of the interim. Apparently only these had longer reigns. The sum total of 108 years obtained in the papyrus gives an average of 18 years for each of these six. Farina was probably right in putting another small fragment into this dynasty, containing a reign of more than 40 years.

The sparse nature of the fragments in the last two columns of the papyrus raises some doubts about the correctness of their arrangement by Farina.[6] The position of fragments no. 125-127, 130-131 and 142 in column XI column is probably to be regarded as assured; which is confirmed by the fact that this column on the recto match the protective strips the scribes used to release at the beginning of a papyrus. Furthermore, columns X and XI in the list of kings clearly differ from the thick characters of column IX Column because of their smaller writing; the fragments set by Farina in column X can therefore not belong to column IX because of their writing, and they can not belong to column XI because they are inscribed on the recto. It can also be taken for granted that the Fifteenth Dynasty was in column X of the Turin Papyrus. Whether the line arrangement assumed by Farina is correct, must however remain open at first.

There are further references to a division of dynasties in columns VI - XI of the papyrus which corresponded to the Second Intermediate Period. Previously, the lines in which the formula m nsyt “he spent in the royal reign...” (i.e. “he ruled...”) between the king's name and a number were considered to be the beginnings of new dynasties. These words are, of course, to be found behind every king's name, but they were only written out at the top of the list so as to not have to repeat the whole formula in every line. In the first two columns of the list of kings, they are replaced by dots that correspond to our repetition signs, later the scribe omitted them altogether.

The jrj.n.f formula is repeated every time the enumeration of kings was interrupted by a dynasty summation. In addition, it is also repeated occasionally, at fairly regular intervals. For example, it occurs at least twice within the series of rulers of the Thirteenth Dynasty. It can be shown that here neither a change of residence nor a change of the sphere of power justifies the beginning of a new group of rulers; still less can there be any talk of new families, since the legitimate succession to the throne during this time was obviously one of the exceptions. Helck (Manetho, p. 84) has clearly explained these otherwise inexplicable[7] jrj.n.f formulas by the fact that the list of the Turin papyrus was copied from a vorlage which had a different division with fewer number of lines in the individual columns. In this model the jrj.n.f formula, as it is the right and natural one, would have stood not only after every dynasty summation, but also at the beginning of every column and the writer of our papyrus would have copied it without thinking. So we can probably disregard this formula when searching for traces of a dynasty division, and assume that in this list of kings each dynasty was concluded by a summation.

In columns VI-XI, which interest us, such summations—at least what remains—are now actually five. The first (in VI 3) concludes the Twelfth Dynasty. Another one is the already mentioned sum of the Fifteenth Dynasty set by Farina in X 21. On another, likewise newly found fragment, which Farina also places in column X, rnpt... “they ruled years...” can still be read. If Farina has placed this tiny fragment correctly, it must be a remnant of the summation of the dynasty before the Fifteenth Dynasty. In any case, however, a summation would be required in the relevant row concerned. This could also have been in the penultimate line of column X, since the last line contains a formula, and the position of the few characters that can not be deciphered from the preceding line argues against the fact that it is a royal name. Finally in XI 14—also largely destroyed—a summation can be seen. Of course, besides these summations, more could have been lost in the gaps between the surviving fragments of the papyrus.

Assuming Farina's arrangement of the fragments in column X is correct- in my opinion a huge shift is not likely anyway - then the papyrus between the end of the Twelfth and the beginning of the Fifteenth Dynasty (minus the heading in VI 4 and the summation in X 14) would have comprised 126 lines, just ten less than the total number of kings of the Thirteenthth and Fourteenth dynasties of Manetho to which they must correspond.

Where could the gap between these two dynasties be found in the Turin list? That it was listed can be assumed because according to Manetho, there was a fundamental difference between the Thirteenth and Fourteenth dynasties (Diospolites and Xoites). Thus, even in the Turin papyrus they were hardly united to form one dynasty like the dynasties of the Old Kingdom, all of which resided in Memphis. As has already been said by Meyer and others, the break can not be found between lines 3 and 4 in column VIII: In VIII 4 there is indeed a jrj.n.f formula, but this is not preceded by a summation. Such a line could only have stood after the 27th line of this column, where several lines are completely lost.

However, we would then have to assume that the Thirteenth Dynasty in the Turin papyrus would have included at least 79 kings (as opposed to 60 in Manetho), and that at the end of this dynasty monuments of no more than 20 rulers would have been preserved for us. In contrast, as Meyer points out, the fact that we are scarcely familiar with any names from column VIII is perfectly suited to Manetho's Fourteenth Dynasty, which is said to have consisted of kings of the delta. Also, king Nehasi named in the first line of this column—according to Meyer one of the last rulers of the Thirteenth Dynasty—must probably be attributed to the Fourteenth Dynasty. Since he is attested as the son of a king and the papyrus does not include a jrj.n.f formula for him, the Fourteenth Dynasty 14 probably already begun in column VI. The summation of the Thirteenth Dynasty could have been in one of the lost lines between VII 24 and 27 (but of course not in the last, 28th line). Then the Thirteenth Dynasty would have had 46/49 kings in the royal list of the Turin papyrus and the Fourteenth accordingly 73/76 kings. The number for the Thirteenth Dynasty probably increases by one, because in one line of column VI the omission of a reign was noted. A comparison of the numbers thus obtained to those of Manetho makes it very clear where on the papyrus we may assume the break between the Thirteenth and Fourteenth dynasties.

Royal Canon:Manetho:
VI 5 – VII 23/26 = 47-50 KingsThirteenth Dynasty, 60 Diospolites
VII 25/28 - X 13 = 73-76 KingsFourteenth Dynasty, 76 Xoites

If we put the sum of the Thirteenth Dynasty in VII 27, the Fourteenth Dynasty of the papyrus has just as many kings as Manetho and the Thirteenth dynasty just 10 less, which can easily be explained as an error in Manetho. The comparison between the papyrus and the Greek tradition then yields a not so unfavorable picture for this tradition:

Royal Canon:Manetho:
VI 5 – VII 26 = 50 Kings13th Dynasty, 60 Diospolites
VII 28 – X 13 = 76 Kings14th Dynasty, 76 Xoites
X 15–20 = 6 Hyksos15th Dynasty, 6 Shepherds

However, the prerequisite for this reconstruction was that Farina placed the fragments of column X in the right place. This can not be proven by these fragments. The question then arises whether we should even refer here to the much younger, but demonstrably closely related, tradition of Manetho for the reconstruction of the papyrus. If the fragment with the end of the Hyksos dynasty were moved a few lines higher within column X, the number of kings of the Fourteenth Dynasty in the papyrus would be reduced accordingly. However, this could probably only be a few lines, since otherwise there would not be enough space for fragments 180 and 182, which with their fantastic name forms are closely related to fragment 41 in column IX, and thus belong to the Fourteenth Dynasty. Conversely, a lower arrangement of the Fifteenth Dynasty in column X would be a more difficult task, increasing the number of kings of the Fourteenth Dynasty beyond Manetho's 76 rulers; it is obvious that such an assumption would need really compelling reasons in view of this already astonishing number. Thus, when compared to Manetho, Farina probably arranged the Hyksos fragment in column X correctly; the text of his edition unfortunately does not tell us how he achieved this order.

While the equating of the Hyksos dynasty in column X of the Turin Papyrus with Manetho's Fifteenth Dynasty and the kings preceding it with the Thirteenth and Fourteenth dynasties is somewhat plausible, the comparison of the remaining list of kings with Manetho seems to be much more difficult, especially because of the hopeless state of the papyrus here.

Manetho subsequently named the Fifteenth Dynasty's contemporaries and vassals, presumably a total of 37 kings, according to his statement “other shepherds” and Thebanians. It can be assumed that in the last lines of column X, as well as in column XI, the papyrus enumerated such contemporaries of Hyksos, their total number can no longer determined, firstly because of the uncertainty of the position of the fragments in column X, and secondly because of the sudden break off of the list at the end of column XI. Whether or not we accept another column that has now been lost, the list of the kings of the Second Intermediate Period does not appear to have been fully completed here.

If we start again from the assumption, now also supported by the comparison with Manetho, that the fragments in question are in the right place in Farina, then there are still 10 lines in column X, after the Hyksos, and a total of 35 lines remain in column XI. Of these, two lines, XI 14 and apparently also X 30, are summations, so that 43 royal names would have been listed here, some more might have been omitted at the end, or there was another lost column.

Among the fragments arranged here, the group consisting of fragments 125-127, 130-131 and 142, which contains the first 17 rows of XI. Column contained in whole or in part, be considered secured. Since it is empty on the recto and must belong to the upper edge of the papyrus, there is nowhere else for them.[8] But apart from the here received, unfortunately also mostly incomplete name is in column XI as well as in the lower part of X, barely a sign to read. The only name still recognizable between line 21 and the end of column C seems to be a “Hyksos” scarab. At the end of Column XI find two or three throne names of the form... -hAb-Ra, where the first component is unfortunately destroyed every time. Names of this form are documented in the 14th dynasty as well as on scarabs in the Hyksos style, but not on Upper Egyptian monuments. Under the names in the first lines of the XI. Columns, however, are at least three distinctly Theban. With Stock (Studien, p. 79 f.) We may therefore use the Theban princes of the Hyksos period, the so-called 17th dynasty. Their series ends with the summation in line 15. There, however, it says “Sum: Kings 5, they ruled...” (the rest is missing, unfortunately), but 5 lines before there is no dynasty break.[9] Nor is it to be assumed that a summation was omitted here, for otherwise one would have to rip the series of these Thebans into two dynasties. Stock also classified his 17th dynasty in line 1-14 of the Xth column without regard to the jrj.n.f formula[10] he adopted from Farina. But how is the statement “5 kings” to be explained in the summation? I would like to assume that there is a misspelling at this point, that is, the tens were accidentally left out.[11] Then the sum of the kings should actually have been 15, and the first ruler of this dynasty should have been in the last line of the preceding column X, where the formula “he reigned...” is preserved.

It is striking that here, apparently, first Lower Egyptians, then Thebans and then again Lower Egyptians were enumerated, while in Manetho only two groups, the “other shepherds” and “Thebans” are mentioned. But we already noted that the “Sixteenth Dynasty” and the “Seventeenth Dynasty” probably date back to a misunderstanding on the part of the epitome of the manethonic work, while Manetho apparently only summarily called these kings. It is quite possible that his model here, like the Turin Papyrus, had more than two groups. The Thebans may well have been grouped together as one dynasty as a locally unified group among them, while it is well conceivable that behind the “shepherds” of the so-called Sixteenth Dynasty various local princes conceal sub and central Egypt, of which in the list of the papyrus a group were listed and the others after the Thebans. The order of all these Hyksos contemporaries will probably depend on their relative importance. The most important group of local princes of this time would have to be found in col. X 22-29, which unfortunately was completely destroyed in the papyrus. Only after them the Theban princes rank here (X 31-XI 14) and then the others after them.

Thus, the following division of the royal names of the Second Intermediate Period would be reconstructed in the Turin royal papyrus:

col. VI1-4
(until the 12th Dynasty)
23 (24) Kings of the 13th Dynasty
col. VII1-26
26 Kings of the 13th Dynasty
1 King of the 14th Dynasty
col. VIII
col. IX
}62 Kings of the 14th Dynasty
col. X1-13
13 Kings of the 14th Dynasty
6 Kings of the 15th Dynasty (“Hyksos”)
8 Kings of the 16th Dynasty
1 King of the 17th Dynasty
col. XI1-14
16-35 (?)
14 Kings of the 17th Dynasty
20 (?)Kings of the 16th Dynasty


  1. APAW Berlin 1904, especially p. 105 ff.
  2. Older useful publications are Lepsius, Auswahl, pl. III-VI and Wilkinson, The Fragments of the Hieratic Papyrus at Turin, containing the names of Egyptian Kings, with the hieratic inscription at the back (London 1851).
  3. The king's list is known to be written on the back of a no longer required tax list from the time of Ramesses II. Therefore, we refer to this as the recto, while the king list is the verso.
  4. Cf. Helck, Manetho, p. 83.
  5. The fragment in question had already been seen and recorded by Seyffarth, but remained set aside; Cf., Gardiner, Canon, p. 13. His recovery is due to G. Botti.
  6. The uncertainty of the arrangement of the fragments in col. IX -XI now also highlights Gardiner.
  7. Hayes, JNES 12, 1953, p. 38: “Since ... it is impossible to equate the three groups into which the Turin Canon divides the dynasty with changes in the location of the Residence, some other explanation for this grouping must be sought”.
  8. This position is confirmed, as can now be seen from Gardiner's publication, also by an adhesive point in the papyrus.
  9. The jrj.n.f formula in line 10 is supplemented by Farina only because of the information in line 15.
  10. In his list p. 79, where the jrj.n.f formula should have been marked as completed.
  11. Between the word “kings” and the number 5 is still an inexplicable point to see, which may be instead of the omitted tens mark.

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