1991-92 Annual Report
Professor George R. Hughes worked for several years on ten Demotic papyri from a town called Hawara in the Egyptian Fayum. Due to failing health, it became clear that he could not complete this project without assistance. Professor Janet Johnson therefore proposed that Richard Jasnow help Hughes in the preparation of the text edition, a suggestion which he accepted. Most of Mr. Jasnow's personal time has thus been spent on completing the publication of these papyri, which are in the collection of the Oriental Institute. The documents belong to an archive that began in the middle of the fourth century b.c. and continued for about two hundred years. The Oriental Institute possesses the earliest of the texts; later papyri from the archive are in the collections of Cairo, Copenhagen, Hamburg, and London. One of the great joys of studying with Professor Hughes was receiving the opportunity to read through these imposing papyri, which were given a place of honor on the long table in his office. He well recalls how excited he was to encounter a papyrus dated "year one of Alexander" (the Great). The archive consists of marriage settlements, transfers of property, and sale contracts; the information gleaned from them will be a significant contribution to the economic history of the period. The style of script is quite elegant and beautiful; one document is, in fact, exhibited in the Oriental Institute Museum. Professor Hughes had prepared virtually final translations, but Mr. Jasnow is writing the commentary and compiling the necessary indices and glossaries. Apart from his work on the Hawara archive, he notes that the article written jointly with Günter Vittmann on the abnormal hieratic letter to the dead is finished and has been submitted for publication. This letter was apparently dictated by a woman and addressed to her deceased husband. In the document she describes the terrible injustices she has suffered at the hands of other members of the family; the dispute is probably over inheritance. She appeals to her husband to come to her aid in the letter, which was recited at the tomb of the dead man. We do not know, unfortunately, whether her plea was successful.