The Turin king list

A hieratic papyrus at the Egyptian Museum in Turin, Italy, is without a doubt the most important king list of Ancient Egypt. It is often referred to as the Turin king list, or the Royal Canon of Turin, which originate with Champollion’s 1824 description as “un véritable tableau chronologique, un canon royal”, a true chronological timeline, a royal canon.[1] The papyrus is in very poor shape, less than a third of it remains, having crumbled into hundreds of tiny fragments by handling and during the transport to Italy, after its discovery around 1820. The king list is written on the back side of a Nineteenth Dynasty discarded administative papyrus from the reign of Ramesses II.

The intact papyrus would have contained the names of 223 kings. Of these, 126 are complete or partial, and the remaining 97 entirely lost in the lacuna. Many of the preserved names does not appear inscribed on the Abydos, Saqqara, and Karnak king lists from the New Kingdom. Despite its importance, there has been no scientific study, and high quality photographs of the papyrus were not published until September of 2019. Instead we have to rely on traced facsimiles from the 1840’s and 1850’s, which naturally contain a few minor errors. This is perhaps not as bad as it sounds, since the papyrus has deteriorated due to mounting and re-mounting during the intervening 175 years. The facsimiles offer us a glimpse of a better preserved king list, as several signs seen in the facsimiles, has been irretrievably lost.

The bicentenary of the discovery of the king list is in
1 year, 5 months, and 2 days
(discovered in November 1824)

The Turin king list

Several notations of lacuna are present, originating from a prototype or vorlage of the papyrus, and used where a part of the source text was missing or unreadable. The chronological sequence of the kings seems to be quite reliable, as it even include kings or queens left out of the other king lists.


The papyrus was lost for some 3000 years, perhaps buried in a forgotten tomb or temple near Thebes in Upper Egypt. Unlike the other king lists of the New Kingdom, it was not produced for religious purposes, but instead as an administrative chronological reference aid, containing the names and reign lengths of the kings of the Two Lands. There is no evidence of any intentional exclusion or supression of kings, as contemporary and ephemeral kings are included, even the foreign kings of the Second Intermediate Period.

The Turin king list is an ancient Egyptian full-size papyrus roll written in hieratic, sadly it is in very poor shape, only one third of the full papyrus remains. Its original use was as a tax-register dating to the reign of Ramesses II (1279–1213 BCE), evident from the text, "Inspector of the wells of rꜤ-msw-mry-imn," i.e. an official during the reign of Ramesses II.[2] There is a slight possibility that same position still existed during the subsequent reigns of Merneptah and Seti II, providing an approximate date for the papyrus, somewhere in the 1275–1200 BCE range.

Rolls of papyrus were manufactured with the horizontal fibres on the inside, and the vertical fibres on the outside. The natural way to write on papyri, was on the inside of the roll (i.e. along the horizontal fibres), which also served to protect the writing when it was rolled up.[3] This side is called the recto, or front side.

It was first assumed that the king list was the initial document, however, as the tax-register was written along the horizontal fibres, it naturally must be the original.[4] So, the tax-register is written on the recto, or front side, with the king list on the verso, or back side. There is no indication as to when the king list was written, whether a few months, years, or even decades later.


The papyrus was likely intact when rediscovered in the late 1810s near Thebes in Egypt; however, the provenance is unknown. Being suddenly exposed to the elements and being handled by human hands after thousands of years in isolation, caused the fragile papyrus to begin to crumble. Bernardino Drovetti, the French Consul-General of Egypt at the time, acquired the papyrus sometime in the 1818–22 timeframe. It is unknown if he personally, or one of his agents bought it. The stories put forth by Maspero and Winlock as to the discovery are likely fabrications created to add some colour to the likely unremarkable discovery.

[the Papyrus] was purchased in Thebes almost untouched by Drovetti around 1818, and unintentionally mutilated during his transport of it. The leftovers were acquired by the collection of the Piedmontese government in 1820 and deposited in Museum of Turin, where Champollion saw them in 1824.

Gaston Maspero [5]

When the papyrus was found by Drovetti, either in 1823 or in 1824, it was apparently complete, and he put it into a jar which he tied about his waist, mounted his donkey, and proceeded to ride into town. The joggling which the jar got along the path was disastrous. When Drovetti opened it the extraordinary document had been reduced to mere scraps ... but so much had disappeared in dust on that ride on donkey-back that only the barest outline of the original document remains today.

Herbert Winlock [6]

Drovetti clearly failed to note the importance of the papyrus, and simply stored it in a box together with many other papyri he acquired in Egypt.[7] As there is no clear provenance of the discovery, the archaeological context is irretrievably lost. Drovetti and his agents amassed a huge collection of Egyptian artefacts, and textual papyri did not receive special care[8] but were unceremoniously dumped together in a big box by the hundreds. It was, after all, only a papyrus without elaborate drawings of gods and kings. As the European market in Egyptian artefacts was rapidly growing, it was to be sold to the highest bidder.

The Drovetti Collection on the ground floor of the Museo Egizio by Marco Nicolosino, 1832.
The Drovetti Collection on the ground floor of the Museo Egizio by Marco Nicolosino, 1832.

Drovetti had the antiquities he acquired in Egypt shipped and stored in Livorno already in 1820,[9] and after France declined to buy his collection, he started negotiations with his native Piedmont. Victor Emmanuel I, the King of Sardinia, showed great interest in the collection, but Drovetti’s asking price of 400,000 lire was an enormous sum for the small kingdom. The negotiations stalled when the king abdicated in favour of his brother Charles Felix. Ultimately, Drovetti accepted the deal, and the king signed the purchase on January 24, 1824.[10]

The collection included 170 Egyptian papyri,[11] and was only the first of three collections that he sold.[12] Transported from storage in Livorno to Genua by sea, from there to Turin by wagons, it arrived in February of 1824. Housed in the Academy of Sciences building, the collection was unpacked immediately and temporarily placed in rooms on the ground floor. The Drovetti collection de facto became the Egyptian Museum of Turin, a detached section of the Museum of Antiquities. Formally inaugurated on June 10, 1824, the Museum was still undergoing planning and construction, but not opened to the public until 1832.


Towards the end of 1823, Jean-François Champollion completed his Summary of the hieroglyphic system of the ancient Egyptians,[13] laying the foundation for the decipherment of the Egyptian hieroglyphs. His decipherment effort was being hampered by inaccurate and unreliable transcriptions of the available hieroglyphic texts, which were filled with errors and omissions. To further the research, it was imperative to obtain new error-free transcriptions of the texts held in the Egyptian collections throughout Europe, most of them in Italy. His plan was to visit the collections and make exact copies himself.

Champollion 1831
Champollion 1831
To that end, he arrived in Turin on the morning of June 7, 1824. Two days later he received the necessary documents from the Minister of the Interior, Count de Cholex, to begin his research, and, guided by his friend Count Balbo, President of the Royal Academy of Sciences in Turin, he entered the vast halls of the palace holding the newly acquired Drovetti Collection.

Over the next months, Champollion established his work programme and succeeded in mastering the new results that were coming his way. Amadeo Peyron, Hellenist and faculty professor, and Costanzo Gazzera, Orientalist and librarian of the university quickly became Champollion’s best friends and helpers. Together they started spreading the results obtained, both orally and in writing, to the curious public. Champollion intended to make copies of the entire collection, and tirelessly they helped him unpack and arrange the smaller items, as well as copying, making impressions and casting them in wax or plaster.

In addition to the enormous task of working through the entire collection, he also carried out the painstaking examination of the papyri in the Museum, which Count Cholex had entrusted to him, giving him unlimited authority, apparently over the head of San-Quintino, who was appointed curator of all the Egyptian antiquities in Turin at the time and who had already taken most of the Drovetti Collection papyri over to the university building. San-Quintino was appalled that Champollion was granted access to the documents, and ultimately confronted him as if he were a presumptuous intruder, which gave rise to very embarrassing scenes; incidentally, the director's bad moods were well known.

Champollion had already made a serious complaint about the director on June 18. A second letter of complaint was sent to the minister on August 24, as it was now a question of opening, organizing and identifying 175 papyri, of which only 20 had been unrolled. In the end, he was given the keys to the museum, and of course this gave rise to new feuds as time went on.

In early November, after weeks of restless work, he learned about a lot of papyri scraps held in the Palace.[14] However, he insisted on seeing them all, down to the last shred, so it was agreed that they were to be lain out on a table for him to peruse the next morning.

On November 6th, he wrote:

“Upon entering this room, I saw a table ten feet long and covered with a thick layer of papyri shreds across its entire width, at least half a foot thick... I immediately decided to examine all remains that covered this table of desolation, one by one. With restrained breath, for fear of turning them to dust, I collected this or that piece of papyrus, which may be the last and only remains of the memory of a king who may have lived in the immense palace of Karnak.

I am convinced that these papyri belonged to the archives of a temple or other public depository. However, the most important of these, one whose mutilation I will ceaselessly deplore, is a historical treasure, a chronological table, a true royal canon in hieratic writing, containing four times as many dynasties as an intact Abydos Table. Most remarkable is that none of the names are in any way similar to those of the Abydos Table. It seems equally certain to me that the remains of this historical Canon dates to no later than the Nineteenth Dynasty”

Letter to his brother.[15]

He spent nine more days fervently searching for the remnants of this priceless papyrus amidst thousands of scraps, until he finally had gathered 40 pieces, which he was able to bring to 46, and a little later to 50 with much effort and patience. “Finally,” he writes on November 15, “I have gathered from the remains of this royal canon, which is Manetho in hieratic writing, some 160–180 royal throne names; many are intact, but many are – be it at the beginning or at the end – mutilated. A number follow the name, which will be a means of chronological arrangement. The most striking result is undoubtedly evidence that the Egyptians, at a very remote time, counted nearly 200 reigns before the Seventeenth Dynasty - since this text is found among archival remains that do not exceed past the Twentieth Dynasty; for in all these fragments there is not a single cartouche similar to those of the Eighteenth, Nineteenth or subsequent dynasties.”

Since the fragments could not even come close to forming a whole text, he concluded that only a small part of the papyrus was saved from destruction and said: “It is the greatest disappointment of my literary life to have discovered this manuscript in such a deplorable state. I will never console myself; the wound will bleed for a long time.”

Champollion made tracings of each fragment in a booklet,[16] providing each with a unique Latin letter, ranging from A to Z, and when the alphabet ran out, continued from Aa to Vv. Remarkably, of all the fragments, only fragment Uu show the recto, and it is in fact the same fragment as the already traced Nn, which does show the verso.

Fragments discovered by Champollion (in red)
Fragments discovered by Champollion (in red)

Though the king list was an important discovery, he returned to work, copying as much of the collection as possible, all while expanding his knowledge about the ancient Egyptian language. It should be noted that Champollion made no effort to reconstruct the papyrus, he just simply copied the fragments he discovered. Neither did he publish the fragments or names he found, a task that was left to his brother Jacques-Joseph Champollion-Figeac, some twenty years after[17] Jean-François untimely death in 1832.

For years rumours persisted that the jealous San-Quintino had secretly removed fragments. The rumours started after Seyffarth’s reconstruction in 1826, who had spent weeks patiently sorting through the debris from the “Table of desolation,” examining the scraps one by one, and he not only managed to reunite a number of fragments so well that they appeared to not have been broken in the first place, but also found more than 100 additional fragments that Champollion has missed. This did not sit well with Champollion, or his inner circle, and accusations started flying, no doubt fuelled by the well-known enmity between Seyffarth and Champollion. In retrospect, the claim that San-Quintino hid fragments from the Frenchman is certainly possible but not corroborated by fact, and could simply be an attempt to mitigate Seyffarth’s clearly superior arrangement of the papyrus.

While the tracings of Champollion are not entirely accurate, comparing the fragments in his notebook to the photos of the papyrus, fragments Dd and Ii have been identified.

fr. Ii joins fragments T and Jj, forming fr. 98, containing the titles for 9.11-13.
fr. Dd joins below fr. F, forming part of fr. 20, containing the titles for 3.18-21.

This leaves only the K, Q, R, Mm, Rr, and Ss fragments still unidentified.

Champollion’s unidentified fragments
Champollion’s unidentified fragments

It should come as no surprise that Champollion only found parts of 21 fragments during his cursory inspection, while Seyffarth diligently devoted several weeks examining every scrap managed to find a total of 164. Further examination by modern scholars shows that though most of the fragments added by Seyffarth indeed belong to the papyrus, there is at least 25 that does not. Unsurprisingly there is also at least 15 blank fragments.

As luck would have it, it was very fortunate for Egyptology that it was Champollion that discovered the king list. It is arguably possible that we would have been ignorant of its importance, perhaps even its existence, if lesser able hands had examined the scraps before the Frenchman, and then discarded the fragments as garbage.


Written right to left, as is usual with hieratic papyri, most lines yield the name of a particular king, followed by a number of years, months and days ruled. Unlike the other king lists, it include the Hyksos kings, ephemeral rulers, and those only ruling over small territories.

The poor state of the papyrus only allows for a mostly conjectural reconstruction, but by close examination of the fibres, as well as comparing the writing on both sides of the papyrus, the placement of the fragments can be determined with a good amount of accuracy. Many of the royal names and their chronological positions originate with this unique and invaluable papyrus.


Gustav Seyffarth portait 1837
Seyffarth 1837 portait

The Saxon scholar Gustav Seyffarth had developed a flawed hieroglyphic system, where the signs were purely phonetic, which was competing with Champollion’s system. Seyffarth’s system was proven to be incorrect by none other than Champollion himself, a fact which Seyffarth refused acknowledge. It is clear from their correspondence that after meeting in Italy, they soon became enemies, though socially they kept up a civil and courteous façade.

Seyffarth arrived in Turin in late May of 1826,[18] and immediately began the restoration of the multitudes of papyri in the Drovetti collection, among them the king list.

Champollion might have discovered the fragments, but Seyffarth did the actual work of puzzling all the pieces together into a somewhat cohesive papyrus. His careful consideration of the fibres, coloring, and the writing on the both sides would prove to be crucial, as his arrangement of the fragments resulted in the king list as we know it today.

The Egyptian Museum of Turin preserved a huge box with at least half a million of papyri fragments, the largest were three inches long and two inches broad. I devoted six weeks to a close examination of each of the fragments, and put them together as far as was possible. The papyrus I thus obtained was eight feet long and one foot high.

From Seyffarth’s autobiography.[19]

It was obvious from the start that the fragments of the papyrus were only small parts of a whole text, and to be understood, in need of being reassembled to find a context. This meant examining and sorting through the countless fragments found in the box, from many different papyri, and try to find which fragments belonged to the papyrus.

Seyffarth patiently sorted through the vast pile of fragment debris, examining the scraps one by one, and managed to reunite some fragments so well that they do not appear to have ever been broken, as seen in the facsimiles of Lepsius and Wilkinson. His diligence was rewarded as he found more than 100 fragments neglected or missed by Champollion, who did not go through the debris as thoroughly as he might have.

Champollion claimed that San Quintino hid fragments from him, which was probably only an attempt to mitigate his hurt pride, when confronted with Seyffarth’s superior arrangement.[20] It is to Seyffarth’s merit that he did not try to restore the papyrus according to his own beliefs about the hieroglyphic system, instead he took a scientific route by matching the fragments according to fibres, colour, thickness, and writing. Seyffarth’s arrangement is exceptional, as subsequent reconstructions show that he positioned most of the fragments in their correct position. In all he restored some fifteen papyri during his time at the Museum.[21]

When the arrangement was as complete as Seyffarth could make it, he glued the fragments together with blotting paper. Seyffarth did not publish his restoration, but his unpublished tracings of the papyrus is in the archives of the Brooklyn Museum.[22] Champollion saw Seyffarth as a charlatan.[23] His opinion of Seyffarth could explain why he did not trust in his arrangement of the papyrus. Add to this that Seyffarth saw Champollion as The Enemy,[24] and did his best to discredit the Frenchman’s system to anyone that would listen.

When Champollion saw Seyffarth’s arrangement of the papyrus,[25] instead of acknowledging the accomplishment, he saw only conspiracy and deceit. So much that he accused San Quintino, who was cataloguing Drovetti’s collection at the Museum, of having hidden fragments from him, only to later surrender them to Seyffarth. This claim was circulated in Champollion’s circle of friends, and his brother later reiterated the claim.[26] Thought it should be noted that the Champollion-San Quintino feud was well known at the time, and the possibility cannot be entirely discarded. San Quintino was making a detailed inventory of the collection for the Academy as it was being unpacked, and it would seem probable, even likely, that after Champollion had examined the pile of papyri debris, his scrutiny resulted in him finding fragments that were neglected or missed by the Frenchman.

Champollion’s death in 1832 did not deter Seyffarth from writing an anecdote about the discovery of the papyrus:

Before me, Champollion had examined the same box of fragments and declared it completely useless, and out of ignorance and arrogance even had half of it thrown into the privy during the absence of the Inspector, depriving the world of one of its most precious treasures.

G. Seyffarth 1843.[27]

Seyffarth repeated this (likely invented) story of ill will towards Champoillion in his autobiography.[28] Seyffarth’s enmity towards the Frenchman clearly did not end with Champollion’s passing. The famous Champollion rejecting Seyffarth’s arrangement of the papyrus, caused it to be viewed with circumspect, if not contempt. The support for the Frenchman was almost universal, as he was after all the expert on hieroglyphics, while the views of Seyffarth were incorrect. The rejection was exasperated by Champollion’s untimely death, which reinforced the derision of the arrangement without any objective analysis or investigation. Lest they disagree with the late master, the subject of the papyrus was neglected, even avoided, despite its obvious value to scholars. However, this was about to change—albeit slowly.

The polemic surrounding the arrangement of the papyrus lasted several years, but eventually scholars who took the time to examine the papyrus, realised that the arrangement was indeed very good. The first account in more than a decade was by Samuel Birch of the antiquities department of the British Museum, who held a presentation at the Royal Society detailing his analysis of the king list in November 1841.[29]


The pioneering German Egyptologist Karl Richard Lepsius visited Turin in December 1835, and made careful traces of both sides of Seyffarth’s arrangement.[30] While in Paris three years later, Lepsius obtained copies of Champollion’s isolated fragments, courtesy of his brother. The following year, in London, Lepsius saw Samuel Birch’s copy of Édouard Dulaurier’s copy of Seyffarth.[31] Lepsius also saw a manuscript of twelve pages that was stolen from Champollion by his pupil Salvolini who deviously claimed it as his work.[32]

After noticing discrepancies between the different copies that was circulating among the scholars, he returned to Turin in 1841, to once and for all establish that he indeed had an exact copy. He also wanted to verify that he had correctly identified the location in the papyrus of the Twelfth Dynasty.[33]

Detail (Lepsius)
In 1842, Lepsius published "A selection of important ancient Egyptian documents",[34] with numbered fragments from 1 to 164. Taking special care to present the papyrus as it was arranged by Seyffarth, without any corrections or amendments, he also chose to omit the admittedly less important tax-register, and included no commentary at all, letting the facsimiles speak for themselves. These facsimiles are still very important today, as the papyrus has since deteriorated further, from handling, mounting and remounting, and of course, time.

The edition of Lepsius made the content of the papyrus available for scholars to study, and though still a touchy subject, studies slowly began to appear. Wilkinson’s edition added to the credibility of Seyffarth’s arrangement, and finally broke the camels back. However, the studies were slow in appearing and concerned themselves more with aligning the king list to fit with Manetho’s list of kings. The director of the Turin Museum at the time, Francesco Barucchi, mentioned the king list only in passing in 1844.[35] The following year, Christian Bunsen, a German diplomat and scholar, looked into some of the details preserved in the king list.[36] It was not a very long or detailed study, but a good start nonetheless. In 1846, famed Assyrologist Edward Hincks examined the correspondence of the king lists with Manetho, but again, it was not a very thorough investigation.[37]

Detail (Lesueur)
The French architect Jean-Baptiste Lesueur tried to make sense of the Manethonian tradition, by trying to reconcile the two in 1846.[38] His facsimiles are identical copies of Lepsius, but with most of the smaller fragments left out. He attempted to complete the king list by finishing partial signs, and adding whole lines of text in red ink, which are of course inaccurate. Ironically, his facsimiles does not include the signs that were written in red ink on the papyrus.

Sir John Gardner Wilkinson, the Father of British Egyptology, visited the Turin Museum in 1849 and also made tracings of the hieratic on both sides of the papyrus. His edition was published in 1851[39] and is nearly identical to Lepsius’, whose edition he happily praised as complete.[40] There are only a few minor differences, but most importantly; Wilkinson also included the tax-register on the reverse, which Lepsius had omitted. While Lepsius included no commentary, Wilkinson wrote a detailed description, and included in a new, and more detailed examination of the papyrus by Hincks.[41]

It should be noted that the facsimiles of Lepsius and Wilkinson are not always accurate, but since they are not photographs, naturally a few minor errors are to be expected.[42] They are still very relevant, due to the much deteriorated state of the papyrus today. The addition of Wilkinson’s edition seems to have added incentive for further study of the king list. The first catalogue of the Turin Museum was produced in 1855 by Pietro Camillo Orcurti, who described the content of each column briefly.[43] Four years later, Heinrich Brugsch examined the names found in the king list, and included a plate with a transcription of the fragments from the Fourth to Twelfth dynasties.[44]

Franz Joseph Lauth’s examination[45] of Manethonian tradition included the king list in his handwritten book in 1865. The following year, Vicomte de Rougé researched the first six dynasties, utilizing the corresponding parts of the Turin king list.[46] Alfred Wiedemann described the papyrus briefly in his Egyptian History in 1886,[47] but the first real investigation was performed by the historian Edouard Meyer in his "Egyptian Chronology" in 1904.[48]

The 1930 restoration

Photo by Farina (detail)
When Giulio Farina took over as director of the Egyptian Museum in Turin in 1928, he had a workshop set up for the restoration of the papyri of the Museum, and managed to bring in the papyrus conservation specialist Dr. Hugo Ibscher from Berlin in 1930.[49] Ibscher detached the fragments from the blotting paper on which Seyffarth had glued them, and began the arduous task of re-examining and reassembly of the papyrus. The mounting of the papyrus by Seyffarth remained untouched for more than a century, until Ibscher's thorough examination resulted in the removal of many fragments from Seyffarth’s arrangement that do not belong to this papyrus.[50] The process of removing the papyrus from the blotting paper caused damage along the edges and many minute signs or traces of signs were lost, making the facsimiles of Lepsius and Wilkinson all that more valuable. To protect the papyrus, it was placed between two glass panes in three separate frames. While Ibscher only worked on the restoration for a few weeks, the restoration was long and difficult, and was not completed until October of 1934.[51]

Farina examined every aspect of the papyrus for years, and rearranged and added a few fragments compared to Ibscher’s mounting.[52] His photographs of the papyrus are unfortunately of rather poor quality. This edition contain the first complete hieroglyphic transcription of the hieratic which is still valuable, but as additional research has proven, now mostly obsolete as fragments has been rearranged. All earlier studies concentrated more on the chronological aspect than on the actual content of the king list, and only included parts of Lepsius or Wilkinsons facsimiles. The new mounting introduced new fragments not present in Seyffarth’s arrangement. These fragments were left unnumbered, instead indicated as "Fr. ?" by Gardiner.

The Museum in Turin still hold numerous unpublished tiny fragments belonging to the papyrus.[53]

Modern studies

The advances in Egyptology since the discovery of the king list are nothing short of astounding. It is however very surprising that modern Egyptology still have not made a complete study, to once and all settle things. Instead several noteable scholars have had to make their own investigations, most which unfortunately have been limited in scope.

Detail (Gardiner)

Essential to any study of the king list, Gardiner’s The Royal Canon of Turin[54] contain detailed information on the fragments and the transcribed hieroglyphic content of the papyrus, but no photographs or facsimiles of the hieratic. Gardiner examined the papyrus several times, and a number of fragments were marked as unplaced as their positions could be established with certainty.[55] There are no translations or commentaries, except short notes about the transcript. The position of a few fragments were changed compared to Farina, but most remained in the same place Seyffarth had put them more than a century earlier. The full transcription can be found in Kitchen’s Ramesside Inscriptions II.[56]

The studies after Gardiner have been scattered and few, since many Egyptologist saw the research as exhausted. There have been notes and comments by Jürgen von Beckerath[57] [58] [59] [60] [61] [62] [63], Detlef Franke[64] [65], Jaromír Málek[66], Winfried Barta[67], Wolfgang Helck[68], and most recently, Kim Ryholt[69] [70] [71] [72] [73].

It is clear that further research is needed when you consider the 1997 study by Kim Ryholt. While concentrating on the Second Intermediate Period kings (columns 7-11), careful examination of fibre correspondence between the fragments show that there still is work to be done to find the correct positions of the fragments. Ever since Seyffarth’s restoration there are many fragments whose position remain uncertain or questionable. Ryholt proved that a completely new column of divinities must be inserted between the older columns I and II, from fragments that had been placed incorrectly in the eariler reconstructions.[74]

The king list in detail

What follows is a detailed examination of all aspects of the papyrus, especially pertaining to the king list.

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.[75] When this tax-record became obsolete, the blank back side was used to add the king list, likely while the papyrus was still somewhat fresh, but a few years to a decade cannot be excluded. 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 certainly a more distinct name 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 in the Turin king list recto
Ramesses II on the 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
1360 kings of Diospolis, 453 years60 kings of Diospolis, 453 years
1476 kings of Xois, 184 years76 kings of Xois, 184 years
156 Hyksos, 284 yearsKings of Diospolis, 250 years
1632 Hyksos, 518 years5 kings of Thebes, 190 years
1743 Hyksos and 43 kings of Thebes, 151 years4 Hyksos of Memphis, 103 years
1816 kings of Thebes, 263 years14 kings of Thebes, 348 years
Tot.276 kings159 + 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 kings[76] 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,[77] 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.[78]
The papyrus is roughly 43 cm in height, corresponding to a full-sized roll,[79] 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".[80]

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 be 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.[81]

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.[82]

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.[83] 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)
Figure 4: 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.[84] 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.[85] 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 palaeography indicates that the signs are similar to other documents from the late Nineteenth or early Twentieth Dynasties. An indispensable source for transcribing hieratic is the Hieratiche Paläographie,[86] 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.[87] 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.[88] 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,[89] 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.[90]
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

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 kings[91] 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][92] kings until [Neferirkara],[93] 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.][94] The lacuna notation suggest the wsf in 5.7 was in fact the source. Summation continues with the First through Eight Dynasties; [52][95] 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 (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 Dynasty[96]
with Successor
attested Year
Turin king listAfricanusEusebius
Amenemhat I103029
Senusret I2–345454646
Amenemhat II33530 + x3838
Senusret II8/9194848
Senusret III203930 + x88
Amenemhat III14640 + x842
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,[97] while Eusebius allotted 182 years,[98] 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 remain, 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 remain, 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 Manetho[99] 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) precedes the king’s prenomen enclosed in a cartouche, followed by the divine determinative,[100] 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.[101]

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) nomenPrenomen 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=f m
“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.

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.

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).[102] 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

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
(calculated by adding individual reigns)
A313 years, 2 months, 5 daysS1lacuna (768 years: calculated by S3 minus S2)
B165 years, 5 months, 23 days
(164 years, 17 months, 23 days)
S2181 years, 6 months, 3 days (+6 year lacuna)
S3949 years, 15 days (+6 year lacuna).
Total: 955 years, 1[5] days
CNoneS418 kings, lacuna
D120 yearsS56 kings, 136 years (+7 year lacuna)
Total: 143 years
E206 years, 1 months, 21 days
(205 years, 13 months, 21 days)
S68 kings, 213 years, 1 month, 18 days
F77 years, 7 months, 1 day
(73 years, 47 months, 241 days)
G18 years, 8 months, 3 days
(17 years, 15 months, 153 days)
H40 yearsS96 kings, 100 + x years
I62 yearsS10[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.[103]

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.[104] 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.[105] 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.[106] 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.[107]

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.[108] 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.[109]

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.

Unplaced fragments

There are a number of fragments that cannot be placed with certainty. Evidence is needed to corroborate their correct position, either by fibre corroboration, or consideration of the text on the recto. Some have had their position changed over time, as more thorough examinations of the papyrus were undertaken, but many still remain unplaced because their position can not be determined conclusively.

Giulio Farina, the director of the Turin Museum from 1928, together with papyrus conservation specialist Hugo Ibscher, began restoration of the papyrus in July 1930. Ibscher detached the 164 fragments from the blotting paper on which Seyffarth had glued them, and rearranged the fragments taking careful note of the fibres. Some fragments that did not belong to the papyrus were naturally removed; and some that had previously been impossible to reunite (probably from inv. no. 281), were added as matching fibres were established. The reassembly caused some minor damage along the edges and many minute signs or traces of signs were lost on some fragments, making the facsimiles of Lepsius and Wilkinson all that more important, as they preserve signs that are now lost.

To protect the papyrus, the fragments were placed between two glass panes in three separate frames. Over the next few years, Farina sorted through the unpublished fragments held at the museum, tweaking the positions of the fragments, until he was satisfied with the final arrangement in October of 1934.

Gardiner’s examination discarded 25 fragments as belonging to other papyri, while 15 fragments were classified as useless or doubtful, and another twelve as completely blank; they were not commented on further, and supposedly belong to the papyrus. Five fragments only contain traces, while another five only hold the sign for year, or part of the king’s title. In all, Gardiner retained 102 numbered fragments[110] on his plates, plus ten unnumbered fragments marked by question marks, added to Seyffarth’s original sheets by Ibscher or Farina.[111] These ten unnumbered fragments are referenced by Gardiner’s position.

The museum have an unknown number of unpublished fragments with parts of royal names of both kings and gods, figures relating to the reigns, and parts of headings and summations.

Determining possible positions for the unplaced fragments require an exhaustive examination looking for any fibre correspondence with the already placed fragments. Until a full investigation of the fragments can be undertaken, progress is only possible in small increments.

Table 11. Gardiner’s unplaced fragments
Unplaced (17) 1, 2, 4, 7, 29, 40, 36, 48, 50, 75, 90, 133, 135, 141, 145, 147, 30a
Does not belong (25) 24, 25, 26, 35, 37, 39, 91, 106, 115, 116, 117, 118, 119, 124, 132, 137, 138, 148, 153, 154, 157, 159, 160, 161, 162
Doubtful/useless (15) 5, 6, 13, 14, 15, 16, 27, 28, 107, 120, 121, 134, 140, 144, 146, 158
Blank on vs (12) 49, 51, 53, 54, 55, 58, 65, 68, 92, 128, 129, 149
Traces (5) 52, 56, 57, 114, 139
Years/title (5) 109, 111, 113, 136, 155, 156
The unplaced fragments
Figure 9: The unplaced fragments of the Turin king list.

Unplaced fragments detailed

  • 1*     Farina removed the small top part of fr. 1 (fibre mismatch?) from where Seyffarth had originally placed it. Vertical fibre correspondence to fr. 20 establish the position of fr. 1 at the top of the column, and there is not enough space at the top for another row. For the sake of precision, I have temporarily designated this tiny fragment as fr. 1*.
  • 2     Gardiner note that it certainly belong to the papyrus, but left it unplaced. Helck (Helck 1992, 160f) proposed that fr. 2 belongs after a small gap in 3.2; the top of fr. 1 connects to the end of 3.3. The blank recto fits with this arrangement.
  • 4     Gardiner note that it belong to a heading or summation, but did not find a place for it.
  • 5     Doubtful and useless. One row with unreadable traces.
  • 6     Doubtful and useless. One row with unreadable traces.
  • 7     Placed in column I as per Gardiner, who also noted that the position is doubtful. (Gardiner 1959: 17) It most likely belong somewhere in columns 1–3.
  • 13     Doubtful and useless
  • 14     Doubtful and useless
  • 15     Doubtful and useless
  • 16     Doubtful and useless
  • 27     Doubtful; only two rows with the year sign (rnpt)
  • 28     Doubtful and useless
  • 29     Gardiner note that the recto has a heading in red and that it probably belongs, but left it unplaced.
  • 49     Blank
  • 50     Gardiner note that it is written on a patch, probably from the top of a column, but left it unplaced. Likely to be placed to the left of fr. 18 where a patch is missing.
  • 52     Only traces on verso
  • 53     Blank
  • 54     Blank
  • 55     Blank
  • 56     Verso only a number
  • 57     Verso only a number
  • 58     Blank
  • 60     Only a part of the bee and the start of a cartouche. Not commented on otherwise by Gardiner.
  • 65     Blank
  • 66     Left in place by Gardiner, but he notes that it does not belong where Farina placed it. (Gardiner 1959: 17, X 21)
  • 68     Blank
  • 79*     This fragment was published in Lepsius where it bridged fr. 78 and 79, but was removed by Farina, as the writing on the recto of the fragment made the placement impossible. Ryholt suggested that the removed fragment could be placed in col. 9 or 10, but the position is uncertain with no mention of a fibre match with any of the surrounding fragments. (Ryholt 1997: 26)
  • 88     The vertical position in col. 7 is assured due to matching fibres, however, the position is uncertain, as there is no immediate horizontal match. The placement is of little importance as the fragment only contain the royal titles. (Ryholt 1997: 23)
  • 90     Unplaced. According to Wilkinson, fr. 90 can be aligned vertically with fr. 87 and 94.
  • 92     Blank
  • 107     Two rows of the year ligature (rnpt).
  • 109     Two rows of the year ligature (rnpt).
  • 110     Partial number
  • 111     Three rows with the year ligature (rnpt).
  • 113     The year ligature only.
  • 114     Traces of numbers
  • 120     Doubtful and useless
  • 121     Useless traces only
  • 122     Placed in column 10 by Gardiner, it was left unplaced by Ryholt. The placement is of little importance as the fragment only contain the royal titles. (Ryholt 1997: 25)
  • 123*     The small fragment at the top of fr. 123 was not present in Lepsius. It was added by Farina, and is also present in Gardiner. Ryholt joins fr. 123 with fr. 101 of col. 9, discarding the addition by Farina without comment. Fibre correspondence is unknown, it is unplaced. (cf. also Ryholt 1997: 25)
  • 125*     After Ibscher and Farina changed the positions of fr. 125 and 127, a small part on the left side of fr. 125 remain. It is only a single vertical stroke, but its fate has not been mentioned since.
  • 128     Blank
  • 129     Blank
  • 136     Two partial nsw-bit.
  • 139     Tiny trace only
  • 140     Doubtful and useless
  • 141     Contain the end of the title, and the opening cartouche and the initial signs of the name Ra...
  • 143     Months and days belonging to some unknown reign.
  • 144     Doubtful
  • 145     Two partial nsw-bit.
  • 146     Doubtful and useless.
  • 147     The fragment cannot join with fr. 150 as placed by Farina. (Gardiner 1959: 17, IX 29)
  • 149     Blank
  • 155     Two rows of the year sign (rnpt).
  • 156     Numbers, might belong.
  • 158     Useless, very small

Special considerations

fr. 59 Seyffarth had joined a fragment with a large top margin at the top right side of fr. 59 but it was moved to the left of fr. 59 by Farina, despite there being a clear horizontal fibre match. Gardiner left the fragment where Farina placed it, but remarked that the position was doubtful.

fr. 71 This fragment has no fibre correspondence with the surrounding fragments and Ryholt suggests it may be disregarded, while still placing it in col. 7 on his fig. 10. The placement is clearly to be regarded as uncertain. (Ryholt 1997: 22)

Fragments added by Farina

The following fragments were added at the Ibscher/Farina remounting in the 1930’s. These fragments are not present in the editions of Lepsius or Wilkinson. Gardiner marked these fragments with question marks, which is imprecise, so they are designated according to the positions he established.

Table 12: The fragments of Farina
Frg. #Remarks
V/7 6.7 – Small fragment, vertical fibre correspondence with fr. 61.
V/8 6.8 – Small fragment, vertical fibre correspondence with fr. 61.
V/17-18 6.17-18 – Correctly placed, verifiable by both fibres and writing.
VI/13 7.13 – This small fragment was correctly placed, evident by fibre correspondence.
VI/16 7.16 – A tiny fragment joined to the right side of fr. 77. The horizontal fibre correspondence is questionable.
VII/12 8.21 – Small fragment joined to the top of fr. 94 by Ibscher/Farina. It clearly belong, evident by the perfect matching fibres and writing.
VII/20 8.15 – The position indicated by Ryholt left of fr. 93 does not seem to offer up the claimed vertical fibre correspondence with fr. 81 since the bottom edge of fr. 81 ends in a patch. A visual inspection of fibres on the Museum photos seems to agree with Farina (placed VII/20 above to the left of fr. 87). There is a horizontal and vertical fibre correspondence with fr. 87, as per Farina.
X/13 10.21 – Part of a summation, presumably the Fourteenth Dynasty.
X/14-15 Unplaced – Judging from Farina’s placement, there can be no fibre correspondence to X/16-17, as the two fragments are placed in diagonal positions to each other.
X/16-17 10.26-27 – Records the incomplete reigns of two kings.
X/20-21 10.28-29 – The vertical position of fr. X/20-21 in col. 10 is verified by a horizontal fibre correspondence with fr. 123, but there is no conclusive vertical fibre correspondence with fr. 112.
X/24-26 2.21-23 – The horizontal alignment of fr. 22 with fr. [Gardiner X/24-26] is assured through fibre correspondence. The two fragments can be aligned vertically with fr. 11 in col. I.

The Champollion fragments

Champollion copied the fragments he discovered in 1824 into a notebook. However, several of these fragments were not part of Seyffarth’s reconstruction in 1826, and their current whereabouts is unclear. The fragments were published by his brother in 1851, where he also commented on the missing fragments. (... there are also eight fragments missing in the lithographs of Lepsius. These fragments, still unpublished, give us four names of kings in sets of two).

These ‘lost’ fragments were marked K, Q, R, Dd, Ii, Mm, Rr and Ss by Champollion. Contrary to the claim of Champollion’s brother, most of the lost fragments only show parts of nsw-bit and at most the cartouche open with the almost ubiquitous rꜤ-sign. Champollion did not preserve the outlines for fragments A to G.

Table 13: The fragments of Champollion
Ch. Fragment Ch. Fragment Ch. Fragment
A 81 (8.1-8.5) Q Gg 18 (4.4-4.6)
B 97 (9.1-9.6) Qbis 93 (8.24-8.27) Hh 34 (4.23-4.26)
C 72 (7.7-7.11) R Ii 98 (9.11-9.13)
D 72 (7.1-7.2) S 126 (11.5-11.8) Jj 98 (9.7-9.11)
E 101 (9.23-9.27) T 98 (9.12-9.14) Kk 61 (5.14, 6.13-14)
F 20 (3.16-3.17) U 22 (2.21-2.23) Ll 34 (4.17-4.19)
G 76 (7.19-7.21) V 126 (11.3-11.5) Mm
H 101 (9.20-9.22) X 93 (8.22-8.24) Nn 1 (3.7-3.12)
I 108 (8.5-8.10) Y 159 (does not belong?) Oo 79 (7.23-7.24)
J 76 (7.19-7.21) Z 126 (11.3-11.5) Pp 79 (7.25-7.27)
K Aa 34 (4.23-4.24) Qq 34 (4.14-4.16)
L 31 (4.8-4.9) Bb 97 (9.3-9.6) Rr
M 72 (7.12-7.13) Cc 108 (copy of I?) Ss
N 101 (9.15-9.19) Dd 20 (3.18-3.22) Tt 59 (5.3-5.4)
O 79 (7.24-7.27) Ee 152 (2.17-2.18) Uu 1 rt (recto of Nn)
P 97 (7.3, 8.1-6) Ff 18 (2.17-2.18) Vv 72 (7.1-7.3)
Table 14: Fragment numbers corresponding with Champollion
Fr. Champollion Fr. Champollion Fr. Champollion
1 Nn [Uu] 61 Kk 97 B, P, Bb
18 Ff, Gg 72 C, D, M, Vv 98 T, Ii, Jj
20 F, Dd 76 G, J 101 E, H, N
22 U 78 V 108 I, Cc
31 L 79 O, Oo, Pp 126 S, Z
34 Aa, Hh, Ll, Qq 81 A 152 Ee
59 Tt 93 Qbis, X 159 Y (does not belong?)

Unpublished fragments

The archives at the Museo Egizio in Turin hold an unspecified number of unpublished fragments. Despite many examinations by Egyptologists, they remain unplaced, as there is obviously no clear fibre or text correspondence with the fragments of the papyrus. Among these fragments are parts of royal names, figures relating to reigns, and parts of headings and summations.

A twelfth column?

Ryholt suggested that a twelfth column was removed in ancient times; presumably to reuse the blank recto side.[112] 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
XVII14Nebmaatra, Djehuty, Sobekhotep VIII, Senusret IV, Mentuhotep VII, Rahotep, Sobekemsaf I, Sobekemsaf II, Intef VI, Intef VII, Intef VIII, Senakhtenra, Seqenenra, Kamose
XVIII15Ahmose, Amenhotep I, Thutmose I, Thutmose II, Hatshepsut, Thutmose III, Amenhotep II, Thutmose IV, Amenhotep III, Amenhotep IV, Neferneferuaten, Smenkhkara, Tutankhamun, Ay, Horemheb
XIX3Ramesses I, Seti I, Ramesses II

The template for the king list

Examining the king list, it quickly becomes obvious that it must be a copy of an older manuscript as first proposed by Helck in 1956,[113] suggesting a literatim copy of a smaller papyrus, since transferring a text from a half-size papyrus to a full-size papyrus would require adjustment of the headings and ditto marks. The objective of the copyist was clearly not to create a new document, but rather to produce an exact copy of an older original, preserving the text as written. Whether or not the intention was to add newer kings not present in the original to the end of the list of kings is irrelevant.

It is immediately noticable that the reigns are recorded in different ways, and some kings even have their age recorded, while most only record years reigned. The more ancient parts also contain more corrupted names. It all point to that at least five sources were used to create the first king list. The details contained in these ancient records are unknown to us, but can be divided into five sections:

Source A — Dynasties 1–2, recording years, months, days and the age of the king.
Source B — Dynasties 3–6, recording only years.
Source C — Dynasties 7–10, recording years, months and days.
Source D — Dynasty 11, only recording years
Source E — Dynasty 12, recording years, months and days.

The resulting king list was merged from these sources (A to E), and compiled into a single document, that would serve as a prototype, or vorlage. There are several clues found in the text and layout of the Turin king list that point to it being a copy of another papyrus.

The transmission, or lineage of the descendants to the original manuscript, suggest the following:

  1. It is unknown when the source document containing the ‘first’ list of kings was created, but likely sometime during the New Kingdom. We designate this as Vorlage A. This is the original document from which all other
  2. From this original, a direct copy was made, designated Vorlage B. This copy suffered damage, and part of the text was lost, or became unreadable.
  3. This prompted another copy, Vorlage C, with the damaged parts marked with Lacuna notations (Lacuna notation in the Turin king list (G41:G36) - wsf ), meaning unreadable or lost.
  4. A diligent scribe noticed that there were chronological gaps, and his copy, Vorlage D, emended the lacuna notations by adding 6 years to the gaps.
  5. Vorlage E was a direct copy of Vorlage D, but on a half-size papyrus. The kingship formula was used for the first king of each dynasty and at the top of each column, while repetition marks were used in the entries following below.
  6. The king list is a literatim copy of Vorlage E, but on a full-size papyrus.

It is unclear whether any of the vorlages were updated to include kings of the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Dynasty. Only by close examination of the text can we find some clues, as the introduction is lost in lacuna. It might have included all kings up to Ramesses II, but circumstantial evidence show that it was a literatim copy of an older document, suggesting that there had been no emendations. It would be easy to assume that the copy would only contain the original writing with nothing added or subtracted, but it is impossible to know for certain.

The king list was certainly not a formal document, as the scribe copied it unto a previously used, and damaged papyrus roll. This suggest that it was not intended to be archived, but perhaps only served as an excercise or intermediary for another document.

The following figure sums up the transmission:

Figure 10: Transmission of the Turin king list.
After Ryholt, Political Situation, Table 7, p. 32
Figure 10: Transmission of the Turin king list

The nature of a full-size papyrus means that the lines are naturally longer than in a half-size, as there are more vertical surface to write the columns on. Copying a text from a small to a large document requires the adjustment of any ditto-markings to conform to the new and larger papyrus. That this was not done in the Turin king list is a clear indication that the scribe copied Vorlage E sign-by-sign, making an exact copy, without realigning the content. It also explains why there are ditto-marks in the top rows in columns 4 and 9, and also why the kingship formula occur at irregular intervals within the columns.

Reconstruction of the papyrus that the king list was copied from, i.e. Vorlage E, the half-size papyrus with the exact same writing, was first attempted by Malek in 1982.[114] A couple problems with his reconstruction was rejected by Ryholt, who proposed an improved arrangement.[115]

It is well known that writing the same text over and over is tedious and often unnecessary. The scribes of Egypt had long since learned to use ditto marks for repeating words or sentences. A hieratic ditto mark simply consist of either a horizontal line or a dot, and were used in the king list to replace 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. Ditto marks were used for the ligatures for months, and days, but not for the years ligature. Numbers were always written out in full.

The full formula for an entry reads:

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

Ditto marks are not used for the kingship formula in the rows below the top row, but instead left blank and tabulated so that the length of reign in the next row appear at the same horizontal position as the year ligature above. Using ditto marks, the row looks like this:

Turin king list: [He acted in kingship] x years, y months, z days using ditto-marks
nsw-bit Name rnpt x [Ꜣbd] y [hrw] z

Though the kingship formula was left blank and not indicated by ditto marks, the structure of the rows certainly suggest its presence. Occasionally the reign figures appear directly following the king's cartouche, without any blank gap, presumably to conserve horizontal space. The fully written out kingship formula is repeated throughout the king list, but not heading the columns as expected, but at seemingly random places in the columns.

The formula appearing at regular intervals every 13 to 16 rows is a clear indication that the original papyrus was a half-sized roll. Moreover, the distance between the rows with the formula increase slightly in the later columns, indicating that the original columns held more rows as the writing progressed, and suggesting that the writing decreased in size as the number of rows in each column increased.

Normally a scribe writes the full text at the top of the page, then use ditto marks on the subsequent rows for repeating text, and then only have to fill in the differing parts. This obviously have the advantage of being faster to write, being more aesthetically pleasing to the eye, and easier to add or update records. The scribe copied the original manuscript without consideration of the text, and did not adjust the ditto marks, which is obvious as they appear in the top row of columns 4, 8, and 9. If it was an adjusted manuscript, the top rows would contain the full text, and certainly not ditto marks.

Generally two types of ditto marks are found in papyri: horizontal lines, and small dots. Both types are found on this papyrus, while the tax-register marks are longer, fitting well with an adminstrative papyrus.

There are a total of 301 rows accounted for in the king list. Note that 3.14 should be discounted (see below), bringing the number to an even 300.
Let us take a look at where the kingship formulas appear:

Complete formula:
3.2Ꜣḫw ... 10 ir.n f m nswyt sn ... rnpt xxx7 ꜤḥꜤw ...
4.19nsw-bit ... ir.n f m nswyt ...
6.20king after heading nsw-bit sḥtp-ib-rꜤ ir.n f m nswyt ...
7.1nsw-bit mꜢꜤ-ḫrw-rꜤ ir.n f m nswyt rnpt 9 Ꜣbd.w 3 hrw 27
8.3nsw-bit mr-nrf-rꜤ ir.n f m nswyt rnpt 23 Ꜣbd 8 hrw 18
9.4nsw-bit s-ḥb-rꜤ ir.n f m nswyt rnpt 3 Ꜣbd x hrw 1
11.27nsw-bit ... ir.n f m nswyt ... 2 ...

Now for the partial formula, i.e. where the initial ir.n is preserved, we have:

Partial formula:
2.4unlikely nsw-bit šmsw ir.n ...
3.11king after heading nsw-bit mni Ꜥnḫ-ḏꜢ-snb ir.n ...
4.5ḏsr-it ir.n f [m nswyt] rnpt 19 Ꜣbd 1 ꜤḥꜤ=f-m-Ꜥnḫ ...
5.7probable sw-bit nt-iḳr-ti zꜢ-ptḥ ir.n ... (does fr. 40 belong???)
5.22unlikely nsw-bit s...twt hꜢ ... ir-n.f ...
7.5king after heading nsw-bit ḫw-tꜢwy-rꜤ [ir.n f m] nswyt rnpt 2 Ꜣbdw 3 hrw 24
7.16unlikely nsw-bit rn-snb ir.n ... Ꜣbd 4 ...
9.20unlikely nsw-bit sḫm-...-rꜤ ir.n ... ns.t ... Ꜣbd

Formula expected, but lost/missing:

1.14nsw-bit gb ꜤḥꜤ ... 13
2.2nsw-bit Ꜣpd ...
3.16nsw-bit ḳnty ...
10.6nsw-bit ...rꜤ ...
11.8nsw-bit sw-wsr-n-rꜤ ... rnpt 12 wsf hrw ...

Putting it all together in a table:

7.1Full kingship formula 7.1Partial kingship formula
7.1Lost kingship formula7.1Partial formula for founder of dynasty
Table 16: Turin king list kingship formulas

The pattern of the kingship formulas is quite obvious (especially between 4.5—9.20), appearing every 14-15 rows, suggesting the column height of Vorlage E. The Turin king list is a direct copy of Vorlage E, but on a full-size papyrus. This means that the number of rows in Vorlage E should be roughly the half of that of the king list which is a full-size papyrus.

From 4.5 to 8.3 there are 8 kingship formulas appearing every 14-15 rows. This means that that the preceding columns in Vorlage E should have a maximum of 14 rows per column. Assuming that the top rows of each column in Vorlage E contained the full kingship formula, we can extrapolate the number of rows between the known formulas.

The number of rows from 1.1 to 4.4, i.e. before the kingship formula in 4.5, is 79 (Column 1: 25, Column 2: 26, Column 3: 24, and Column 4: 4). Six columns each with 14 rows yield a total of 84 rows, which is five too many. That means that for the numbers to add up, five columns could only have held 13 rows, and one with 14. Note that 3.14 is delineated with a sort of bracket that enclose the end of the row to differentiate that it belongs to the entry of previous column. To the right of 3.14 in Vorlage E would have been a long 2.26, which was copied by the scribe as it appeared. Starting a new column, the scribe miscalculated the length of Vorlage E row 2.26 by not leaving enough horizontal space, as it would intrude on 3.14.

When 3.14 was reached, a sort of bracket was written around the end of the intruding row (as can also be seen in 5.16 and 8.3) and the king list then continued on the next row. Unlike 5.16 and 8.3, the scribe did not add a king on 3.14, perhaps because he had not yet realized that space would be a problem later on in the king list.

Putting it all together we get:

Table 17: Vorlage E reconstruction
ColumnRows/ColumnsNo. Rows
1 1.1—1.13 13
2 1.14—2.1 13
3 2.2—2.14 13
4 2.15—3.1 13
5 3.2—3.15 13
6 3.16—4.4 14
7 4.5—4.18 14
8 4.19—5.6 14
9 5.7—5.21 15
10 5.22—6.10 15
11 6.11—6.25 15
12 7.1—7.15 15
13 7.16—8.2 15
14 8.3—8.17 15
15 8.18—9.3 15
16 9.4—9.19 16
17 9.20—10.5 16
18 10.6—10.21 16
19 10.22—11.7 17
20 11.8—11.26 19
21 11.27—lost 5+x

Adding the headings, summations and ditto marked rows to the layout, the complete king list looks like this:

7.1Kingship formula 7.1Lost kingship formula7.1Partial kingship formula
7.1Heading 7.1Lost Heading7.1Summation
7.1Ditto mark7.1Partial formula for founder of dynasty
Table 18: Turin king list headings, summations, and ditto marks

With the marking of the different types of rows complete we now have a visual overview of the king list. When we rearrange the king list into 21 columns according to Vorlage E, the symmetrical pattern graciously become obvious:

7.1Kingship formula 7.1Lost kingship formula7.1Partial kingship formula
7.1Heading 7.1Lost Heading7.1Summation
7.1Ditto mark7.1Partial formula for founder of dynasty
Table 19: Vorlage E reconstruction
C O L U M NRow
Rough approximation of the vorlage of the Turin king list
Figure 11: Rough approximation of the vorlage of the Turin king list

Current state of the papyrus

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

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.[116] 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.[117]

In September 2019, the Museo Egizio made high-quality photographs of the papyrus available online.[118] 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.

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.

Museum catalogue 1855.[119]

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.[120]

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.

Image gallery

Phew! That was one long page! You have finally reached the High Quality photos. The photos of the three panels in the Museo Egizio are available on the museum webpage. It should be noted that some of the fragments in these photos are in the positions fixed by Farina in the 1930s, and one has even been subsequently rotated. The photos below are editied to align with the more current research.

Turin king list papyrus column 1

Column 1
Peter Lundström 2020
edited Museum Egizio photo

Turin king list papyrus column 2

Column 2
Peter Lundström 2020
edited Museum Egizio photo

Turin king list papyrus column 3

Column 3
Peter Lundström 2020
edited Museum Egizio photo

Turin king list papyrus column 4

Column 4
Peter Lundström 2020
edited Museum Egizio photo

Turin king list papyrus column 5

Column 5
Peter Lundström 2020
edited Museum Egizio photo

Turin king list papyrus column 6

Column 6
Peter Lundström 2020
edited Museum Egizio photo

Turin king list papyrus column 7

Column 7
Peter Lundström 2020
edited Museum Egizio photo

Turin king list papyrus column 8

Column 8
Peter Lundström 2020
edited Museum Egizio photo

Turin king list papyrus column 9

Column 9
Peter Lundström 2020
edited Museum Egizio photo

Turin king list papyrus column 10

Column 10
Peter Lundström 2020
edited Museum Egizio photo

Turin king list papyrus column 11

Column 11
Peter Lundström 2020
edited Museum Egizio photo

Turin king list unplaced fragments

Unplaced fragments
Peter Lundström 2020
edited Museum Egizio photo

Turin king list verso by Peter Lundström 2017.

Turin king list verso
Peter Lundström 2017
Facsimile created from the plates of Lepsius (1842).

Turin king list verso by Peter Lundström 2020.

Turin king list verso
Peter Lundström 2020
Photo with the fragment numbers.
(8000x2331 pixels)

Turin king list verso by Peter Lundström 2020.

Turin king list verso
Peter Lundström 2020
Photo with the fragment numbers and the papyri sheets marked.
(8000x2331 pixels)

Turin king list verso by Peter Lundström 2020.

Turin king list verso
Peter Lundström 2020
Photo with the fragment numbers and a 5 cm grid.
(8000x2331 pixels)

Turin king list verso by Peter Lundström 2020.

Turin king list verso
Peter Lundström 2020
Photo without the fragment numbers.
(8000x2331 pixels)

Turin king list verso by Peter Lundström 2020.

Turin king list verso
Peter Lundström 2020
Photo with only the photographed fragments.
(8000x2331 pixels)

Turin king list verso by Peter Lundström 2020.

Turin king list verso
Peter Lundström 2020
Increased contrast photo without the fragment numbers.
(8000x2331 pixels)

Turin king list verso by Peter Lundström 2020.

Turin king list verso
Peter Lundström 2020
Photo of the papyrus only.
(8000x2331 pixels)

The recto

Turin king list recto
Peter Lundström 2020
The tax-register on the recto of the Turin king list.
(8000x2340 pixels)

For those interested in even larger (original) images,
you might want to download this zip file (Large zip file - 203 MB)


  1. Champollion, "Papyrus Égyptiens", 297–303
  2. Gardiner, Royal Canon, pl. VIII (col. VIII, line 5)
  3. Cerny, Paper, 17.
  4. Wilcken, "Recto oder Verso?", 487-492.
  5. Maspero, Histoire ancienne, 225, note 5.
  6. Winlock, Rise and fall, 4.
  7. Donatelli 2016, 494
  8. Dawson and Uphill, Who was who, 90
  9. Lettere del conte Carlo Vidua, 241. Letter No. 41, August 7, 1820
  10. The final price was 400,000 lire, 100,000 paid in cash and the remainder in yearly installments of 15,000 lire. See Donatelli 2011, A.5
  11. Fabretti, Notizie, 13 n. 1. N.b. this resumé clearly show the number to be 169, not 170.
  12. Charles X of France bought the second for 250,000 francs in 1827, now in the Louvre, and Lepsius bought the third for the Egyptian Museum of Berlin in 1836 for 30,000 francs. See Dawson and Uphill, Who was who, 90
  13. Champollion, Précis du système hiéroglyphique des anciens Égyptiens
  14. Champollion, "Papyrus Égyptiens", 297–303.
  15. id., 302. This was written for the Bulletin, cf. Hartleben, Lettres, 87. (Letter of Nov. 6)
  16. Champollion, "Canon hiératique des dynasties égyptiennes"., Papiers de J.Fr. Champollion, vol. 16.
  17. Champollion-Figeac, "Table des Rois" 397–402, 461–472, 589–599, 653–665, Plate 149.
  18. Knortz, Skizze, 27. Letter of June 3, 1826
  19. Seyffarth, Literary life, 20f.
  20. Wilkinson, Hieratic Papyrus, iv-v.
  21. Farina, Papiro, 8. Among those restored are the "erotic" papyrus (pTurin 55001)
  22. Consecutively numbered copies of inscriptions arranged in 14 unpublished volumes. The tracings of the Canon is in volume 7, containing numbers 6283–7828 and titled "Monumenta Aegyptiaca Taurinensia." Seyffarth, Gustav. Bibliotheca Aegyptiaca 1826-1830. The Wilbour Library of Egyptology, the Brooklyn Museum. For further details, see Gardiner, Royal Canon, 12.
  23. In a letter to his brother on July 29, 1826: "I have read his book and is convinced that he knows neither the monuments, hieroglyphs, or Coptic, and that his system is in direct opposition to the facts, and especially common sense." cf. Hartleben, Lettres I, 369
  24. Knortz, Skizze, 43. Letter of Nov. 17, 1827.
  25. All the more eagerly he seized upon the important work [of Seyffarth, who was visiting Paris] sent to him on December 25, 1827, which immediately confirmed to him how disgracefully he had been deceived by San Quintino." cf. Hartleben, II, 126; Champollion-Figeac, "Table des Rois," 468
  26. Champollion-Figeac, "Table des Rois," 402f.
  27. Seyffarth, Grundsätze, 265.
  28. Seyffarth, Literary life, 21.
  29. Birch, "Observations", 203-8
  30. Lepsius, "Über die zwölfte dynastie", 441.
  31. Champollion-Figeac, "Table des Rois", 402f.
  32. id. 404.
  33. Lepsius, "Über die zwölfte dynastie", 440ff; Bunsen, Aegyptens Stelle, 84.
  34. Lepsius, Auswahl, pls. 3-6
  35. Barucchi, Discorsi, 29-30
  36. Bunsen, Aegyptens Stelle.
  37. Hincks, TRSL 3, 128–150. Two narratives of his reading held at the Royal Society in 1846.
  38. Lesueur, Chronologie.
  39. Wilkinson, Hieratic Papyrus.
  40. id., 3f.
  41. id., 47-60.
  42. Ryholt, "Late Old Kingdom", 88.
  43. Orcurti, Catalogo, 129f., 211-215.
  44. Brugsch, Histoire, Pl. 3 only in this edition.
  45. Lauth, Manetho und der Turiner Königs-papyrus.
  46. de Rougé, Recherches, 225–376, pl. 3.
  47. Wiedemann, Aegyptische Geshichte, 73–79.
  48. Meyer, Aegyptische Chronologie.
  49. Farina, Papiro, 11.
  50. Gardiner, Royal Canon, 11, 19-20
  51. Farina, Papiro, 10
  52. id. 11
  53. Ryholt, "Turin King-list", 136, note 10
  54. Gardiner, Royal Canon
  55. Gardiner, Royal Canon, plate IX
  56. Kitchen, Ramesside Inscriptions II, §288, pp. 827–844.
  57. Beckerath, "End of the Old Kingdom", 140-147
  58. Beckerath, "Untersuchungen", 20-26.
  59. Beckerath, "Dynastie der Herakleopoliten", 13-20
  60. Beckerath, "Chronologie", 45-57.
  61. Beckerath, "Bemerkungen", 49—58.
  62. Beckerath, "Some Remarks", 225-227.
  63. Beckerath, "Anmerkung", 19-21.
  64. Franke, "Zur Chronologie", 113-138.
  65. id. 245-274 ** 256
  66. Málek, "Original Version", 93-106.
  67. Barta, "Bemerkungen", 11-13.
  68. Helck, "Anmerkungen", 151–216.
  69. Ryholt, Political Situation, 25ff. Further clarified in Ryholt, "Turin King-list", 136, Table 1.
  70. Ryholt, Political Situation.
  71. Ryholt, "Late Old Kingdom", 87–100.
  72. Ryholt, "Turin King-list", 135–155.
  73. Ryholt, "Seneferka", 159–73.
  74. Ben-Tor, "Seals and Kings", 47–74.
  75. Based on the palaeographical similarities with other papyri from the same period. See Ryholt, Political Situation, 9
  76. i.e. 7.4 onwards, which ironically contain most of the preserved names of the king list.
  77. Cerny, Paper, 8f.
  78. Bridget Leach and William John Tait, "Papyrus," in Ancient Egyptian Materials and Technology (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000), 236f.
  79. Cerny, Paper, 16f.
  80. Gardiner, Royal Canon, 19–20.
  81. Cerny, Paper, 19.
  82. Ryholt, Political Situation, 9.
  83. Cerny, Paper, 11.
  84. Ryholt, "Turin King-list", 138.
  85. ibid.
  86. Möller, Hieratiche Paläographie 2
  87. Out of curiosity I compared and verified 99% of the writing, sign-by-sign, with Möller’s Hieratiche Paläographie. The last percent consist of small traces that are best left to the professionals that are able to understand and interpret the remaining signs.
  88. Farina, Papiro, 13f.
  89. Rolf Krauss, "Papyrus Ebers", 75-96. Depuydt, "Ebers Calendar", 61ff.
  90. Ryholt, "Turin king-list," 140.
  91. Number arrived at by adding the thirty-nine rows in Section A.
  92. Number arrived at by adding the thirteen rows in Section B. Including a possible lacuna notation of ten kings (5.7), would bring the total to twenty-three.
  93. The last king of Section B is Neferirkara (5.13)
  94. The missing numbers after the hundred-sign is a possible fit by adding the lacuna to the total.
  95. There are fifty-two lines in Sections A+B (39+13). If there was a lacuna notation in (5.7) indicating ten lost kings, the total would be sixty-two.
  96. Schneider, "Chronology", 174
  97. Adler and Tuffin, "Synkellos"", 84.
  98. id. 85f.
  99. Waddell, Manetho, 2-19.
  100. Gardiner sign G7, "Falcon on a standard"
  101. i.e. Sobekhotep II (7.15) and Neferhotep I (7.25), see Ryholt, "Turin King-list", 144, §18.
  102. Allen, Middle Egyptian, 108.
  103. Ryholt, "Turin King-list", 146 (§24)
  104. Helck, Untersuchungen, 14ff.
  105. Ryholt, Political Situation, 11.
  106. Hans Goedicke, "King ḥwḏfꜢ?", 50-53
  107. Ryholt, Political Situation, 27."
  108. Meaning "the forefather" or "the ancestor"
  109. Ryholt, "The Turin king-list", 151
  110. Col. I+II=14, III-V=21+3U, VI-X=43+6U, XI=8, Unpl.=16+fr.30A(?!)
  111. For details about the numbered fragments, and which were marked by Gardiner as not belonging to the Canon, see "Concordance of fragments" in Gardiner, Royal Canon, 19f.
  112. Ryholt, Political Situation, 9 writes: "The end of the papyrus seems to have been deliberately cut off in ancient times. The sharp edge along fr. 127 and 163, as well as the fact that the edge is slightly diagonal rather than parallel with the vertical fibres, suggests that the papyrus was cut rather than torn or accidentally fragmented.
  113. Helck, Untersuchungen zu Manetho und den ägyptischen Königslisten,
  114. Málek, "Original Version," 93-106.
  115. Ryholt, Political Situation, 31.
  116. Farina, Papiro, 11.
  117. Ryholt, "Turin King-list", 136 n. 10.
  119. Orcurti, Catalogo illustrato, 129-30.
  120. Fabretti, Catalogo generale, 239.


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  • Fabretti, Ariodante, Francesco Rossi and Ridolfo Lanzone. Regio Museo di Torino, Catalogo generale dei Musei di Antichità. Turin: 1882.
  • Farina, Giulio. Il Papiro dei re, restaurato. Rome: G. Bardi, 1938.
  • Franke, Detlef "Zur Chronologie des Mittleren Reiches (12.- 18. Dynastie). Teil 1: Die 12. Dynastie", Orientalia 57 (1988): 113–138.
  • ——— "Zur Chronologie des Mittleren Reiches Teil II: Die sogenannte ’Zweite Zwischenzeit’ Altägyptens", Orientalia 57 (1988): 245-274.
  • Gardiner, Alan H.. The Royal Canon of Turin. Oxford: University Press, 1959.
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  • Hartleben, Hermine Lettres de Champollion le jeune Paris: 1909
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  • Lesueur, Jean Baptiste Cicéron Chronologie des Rois d’Égypte Paris: Impremerie Nationale, 1848.
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  • Meyer, Eduard.. Aegyptische Chronologie. Berlin: 1904.
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  • Orcurti, Pier-Camillo. Catalogo illustrato dei monumenti Egizo del R. Museo di Torino. Turin: 1855.
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  • ———. "King Seneferka in the king-lists and his position in the early dynastic period", JEH 1 (2008): 159–73.
  • Schneider, Thomas "The Relative Chronology of the Middle Kingdom and the Hyksos Period (Dyns. 12–17)", Ancient Egyptian Chronology 83 (2006): 168–196.
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  • Vidua, Carlo Lettere del conte Carlo Vidua pubblicate da Cesare Balbo Vol. 2, Turin: G. Pomba, 1834
  • Waddell, W. G. Manetho Cambridge, Mass., 1940.
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  • Wilcken, Ulrich. "Recto oder Verso?", Hermes 22 (1887): 487–492.
  • Wilkinson, John Gardner. The Fragments of the Hieratic Papyrus at Turin. 2 Vols. 10 pl. London: Richards, 1851.
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Many of the referenced books and journal articles above
are available for free in the Reference Library.

Terms & information

Manetho – An Egyptian priest who wrote Aegyptiaca, “the History of Egypt” in the third century BC, and has ever since been the source for the chronology of the kingdom.

Epitome – Manetho’s original was lost in antiquity, and in the following centuries replaced by Epitomes (summaries) by rivalling advocates of Jewish, Egyptian, and Greek history that saw each side trying to establish the truth according to their point of view.

Vorlage – German for prototype or template, a vorlage is a prior version of a manuscript, in this case an earlier version of the king list.

Fibre correspondence – finding the horizontal and/or vertical position of a fragment by visually aligning the papyrus fibres.

Lacuna – a gap in the papyrus where the text is lost.

Recto and verso – Recto is the front side and verso is the back side of a written or printed text.

Ligature – a combination of two or more signs or letters into a single symbol.

Cartouche – oval band enclosing a pharaohs name

Hieratic – a cursive form of the hieroglyphic signs and ligatures

Transliteration – To translate hieroglyphs they need to be converted into a readable alphabetic script. This is known as transliteration, and use letters not normally present on keyboards:
Ꜣ Ꜥ ḥ ḫ ẖ š ḳ ṯ ḏ

The Dual King – The title of the king of all of Egypt, also presented as King of Upper and Lower Egypt.

Hyksos – Greek form of ḥḳꜢ-ḫꜢswt or “rulers of foreign lands,” referring to peoples who migrated and controlled parts Egypt during the SIP.

Mortuary Temple – where the gods and the king who built the temple were worshipped.

JSesh – I highly recommend JSesh Hieroglyphic Editor by Serge Rosmorduc, which is the best editor to use for hieroglyphic texts of any kind. It is also completely free.


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