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The Harem

Conspiracy
 

This relates to the reign of Ramesses III, at some point in his reign there was an attempt to assassinate the king and to place the child of Thi (a secondary wife) on the throne. The attempt had the support and help of the harem women, several officials and a troop commander. Magic was implicated - spells and wax images are noted. Higher ranking officials were allowed to take their own lives, others were put to death. The conspiracy failed Ramesses III (as his mummy shows) did not die from a violent death and was succeeded by his son Ramesses IV.

 

(1) 'And the commission was given to thc treasurer Mentu-em-taui, the treasurer Paif-roui, (2) the fan-bearer Karo, the councillor Pa-besat, the councillor Kedenden, the council]or Baal-mahar, (3) the councillor Pa-aru-sunu, the councillor Tehutirekh-nefer, the royal interpreter Pen-rennu, the scribe Mai, (4) the scribe Pra-em-heb of the chancery, the colour-bearer Hor-a, of the garrison; to this effect:-
(5) 'Regarding the speeches which people have uttered, and which are unknown, you shall institute an enquiry about them. (6) They shall be brought to a trial to see if they deserve death. Then they shall put themselves to death with their own hand.'
Ramesses III. warns the judges to conduct the affair conscientiously, and concludes with these words:-

(1) 'If all that has happened was such that it was actually done by them, (2) let their doing be upon their own heads. (3) I am the guardian and protector for ever, and (4) bearer of the royal insignia of justice in presence of the god-king (5) Amen-Ra, and in presence of the prince of eternity, Osiris.'
This is followed by a second and longer section, which enables us to understand very clearly tile result of the trial:-
(1) 'These are the persons who were brought up on account of their great crimes before the judgment-seat, to be judged by the treasurer Mentu-em-taui, by the treasurer Paif-roui, by the fan-bearer Karo, by the councillor Pa-besat, by the scribe Mai of the chancery, and by the standard-bearer Hor-a, and who were judged and found guilty, and to whom punishment was awarded, that their offence might be expiated.
(2) 'The chief culprit Beka-kamen. He was house-steward. He was brought up because of actual participation in the doings of the wife Thi and the women of the harem. He had conspired with them, and had carried abroad their commission given by word of mouth to their mothers and sisters there, to stir up the people, and to assemble the malcontents, to commit & crime against their lord. They set him before the elders of the judgment-seat. They judged his offence, and found him guilty of having done so, and he was fully convicted of his crime. The judges awarded him his punishment.
(3) 'Tho chief culprit lIestu-su-Ru. He was a councillor. He was brought up because of his actual participation in the doings of Beku-kamell, the house-steward. IIe had conspired with the women to stir up the malcontents, to commit a crime against their lord. They set him before the elders of the judgement-seat. They judged his offence. They found him guilty, and awarded him his punishment.

(4) 'The chief culprit Panauk. He was the royal secretary of the harem, for the service of the women's house. He was brought up on account of his actual participation in the conspiracy of Beka-kanmen and Mestu-su-Ra, to commit a crime against their lord. They set him before the elders of the judgement-seat. They judged his offence. They found him guilty, and awarded him his punishment.

(5) 'The chief culprit Pen-tuauu. He was the royal secretary of the harem, for the service of the women's house. He was brought up on account of his actual participation in the conspiracy of Beka-kamen and Mestu-su-Ra and the other chief culprit, who was the overseer of the harem of the women in the women's house, to increase the number of the malcontents who had conspired to commit a crime against their lord. They set him before the elders of the judgement-seat. They judged his offence. They found him guilty, and awarded him his punishment.

(6) 'The chief culprit Pa-nef-emtu-Amen. He was a landsurveyor, for the service of the women's house. He was brought up because he had listened to the speeches which the conspirators and the women of the women's house had indulged in, without giving information of them. He was set before the elders of the judgement seat. They judged his offence, and found him guilty, and awarded him his punishment.

(7) 'The chief culprit Karpusa. He was a land-surveyor, for the service of the women's house. He was brought up on account of the talk which he had heard, but had kept silence. He was set before the elders of the judgement-seat, and they judged his offence, and found him guilty, and awarded him his punishment.

(S) 'The Chief culprit Kha-em-apet. He was a land-surveyor, for the service of the women's house. He was brought up on account of the talk which he had heard, but had kept silence. He was set before tbe elders of the judgement-seat, and they judged his offence, and found him guilty, anti awarded him his punishment.

(9) 'The chief culprit Kha-em-maanro. He was a land-surveyor, for the service of the women's house. He was brought up because of the talk which he had heard, but had kept silence. He was set before the elders of the judgement-seat, and they judged his offence, and found him guilty, and awarded him his punishment.

(10) 'The chief culprit Seti-em-pa-Tehuti. He was a land-surveyor, for the service of the women's house. He was brought up on account of the talk which he had heard, but had kept silence. He was set before the elders of the judgement-seat, and they judged his offence, and found him guilty, and awarded him his punishment.
(11) 'The chief culprit Seti-em-pa-Amen. He was a land surveyor, for the service of the women's house. He was brought up on account of the talk which he had heard, but had kept silence. He was set before the elders of the judgement-sent, and they judged his offence, and found him guilty, and awarded him his punishment.
(12) 'The chief culprit Ua-ro-maat. He was a councillor. He was brought up because he had been an ear-witness of the communications of the overseer of the house, and had hold his tongue and kept silence, without giving any information thereof. He was set before the elders of the judgment-seat, and they found him guilty, and awarded him his punishment.

(13) ' The chief culprit Akh-heh-set. He was the accomplice of Beka-kamen. He was brought up because he had been an ear-witness of the communications of Beka-kamen. He had been his confidant without having reported it. He was set before the elders of the judgment-seat, and they found him guilty, and awarded him his punishment.

(14) The chief culprit Pa-lo-ka. He was a councillor, and scribe of the treasury. He was brought up on account of his actual participation with Beka-kamen. He had also heard his communications, without having made report of them. He was set before the elders of the judgment-seat. They found him guilty, and awarded him his pumishment.

(15) 'The chief culprit, the Libyan Inini. He was a councillor. He was brought up because of his actual participation with Beka-kamen. He had listened to his communications without having made report of them. He was set before the elders of the judgment-seat. They found him guilty, and awarded him his punishment.

(1)'The wives of the people of the gate of thc women's house who had joined the conspirators, were brought before the elders of the judgment-seat They found them guilty, and awarded them their punishment. Six women.

(2) 'The chief culprit Pa-keti, a son of Lema. He was treasurer. He was brought up on account of his actual participation with the chief accused, Pen-heban. He had conspired with him to assemble the malcontents, to commit a crime against their lord. He was brought before the elders of the judgment-seat. They found him guilty, and awarded him his punishment.

(3) 'The chief culprit Ban-em-us. He was the captain of the foreign legion of the Cushi. He was brought up on account of a message, which his sister, who was in the service of the women's house, had sent to him, to stir up the people who were malcontent (saying), " Come, accomplish the crime against thy lord." He was set before Kedenden, Baal-mahar, Pa-aru-sunu, and Tehuti-rekhnefer. They judged him, and found him guilty, and awarded him his punishment

(4) 'Persons who were brought up on account of their crime, and on account of their actual participation with Beka-kamen (namely), Pa-as and Pen-ta-ur. They were set before the elders of the judgment-seat to be tried. They found them guilty, laid them down by their arms (i.e. by force) at the judgment-seat, and they died by their own hand without their expiation being completed.

(5) 'The chief accused Pa-as: he was a captain of the soldiers. The chief accused Mes-sui: he was a scribe of the treasury. The chief Kamen : he was an Overseer. The chief accused I-ri: He was a priest of the goddless Sekhet. The chief accused Nebt'efau: he was a councillor. The chief accused Shat-setem: he was a scribe of the treasury. Making together, 6.

(6) 'These are the persons who were brought up, on account of their crime, to the judgment-seat, before Kedenden, Baal-mahar, Pa-aru-sunu, Tehuti-rekh-nefer, and Meri-usi-Amen. They judged them for their crime, they found them guilty. They laid them down before the tribunal. They died by their own hand.

(7) 'Pen-ta-ur; so is called the second of this name. He was brought up because of his actual participation with Thi, his mother, when they hatched the conspiracy with the women of the women's house, and because of the crime which was to have been committed against their lord. He was set before the councillors to be judged. They found him guilty, they laid him down where he stood. He died by his own hand.

(8) ' The chief accused Han-uten-Amen. He was a councillor. He was brought up because of the crime of the women of the women's house. He had been an ear-witness in the midst of them, without having given information. They set him before the councillors to judge him. They found him guilty. They laid him down where he stood. He died by his own hand.

(9) ' The chief accused Amen-khau. He was Adon for the service of the women's house. He was brought up because of the crime of the women of the women's house. He had been an ear-witness among them, without having given information. They set him before the councillors to be judged. They found him guilty. They laid him down where he stood. He died by his own hand.

(10) 'The chief accused Pa-ari. He was a royal scribe of the harem, for the service of the women's house. He was brought up because of the crime of the women of the women's house. He had been an ear-witness in the midst of them, without having given information of it. They set him before the councillors to be judged. They found him guilty. They laid him down where he stood. He died by his own hand.

Page 6(1) 'These are the persons who received their punishment, and had their noses and their ears cut off, because they had in fact neglected to give full evidence in their depositions. The women had arrived and had reached the place where these were. They kept a beer-house there, and they were in league with Pa-as. Their crime was thus expiated.

(2) 'The chief culprit Pa-bast. He was a councillor. His punishment was accomplished on him. He died by his own hand.

(3) 'The chief culprit Mai. He was scribe in the chancery.

(4) 'The chief culprit Tai-nekht-tha. He was commander of the garrison.

(5) 'The chief culprit Nanai. He was the overseer of the Sakht (?)

(6) 'Persons, about whom it was doubtful if they had conspired with them with thoroughly evil intentions.

(7) 'They laid down, without completing his expiation, the chief culprit Hor-a. He was the standard-bearer of the garrison.'

 

The Turin Papyrus ends here, but the extracts from the same trial have also been found in fragments of the Lee and Rollin Papyrus:-


.... to all the people of this place., in which I am staying, and to all inhabitants of the country. Thus then spake Penhi, who was superintendent of the herds of cattle, to him: 'If I only possessed a writing, which would give me power and strength !'
Then he gave him a writing from the rolls of the books of Ramesses III, the great god, his lord. Then there came upon him a divine magic, an enchantment for men. He reached (thereby ?) to the side of the women's house, and into that other great and deep place. He formed human figures of wax, with thc intention of having them carried in by the hand of the land-surveyor Adiroma; to alienate the mind of one of the girls, and to bewitch the others. Some of the discourses were carried in, others were brought out. Now, however, he was brought to trial on account of them, and there was found in them incitation to all kinds of wickedness, and all kinds of villany, which it was his intention to have done. It was true, that be had done all this in conjunction with the other chief culprits, who, like him, were without a god or a goddess. They inflicted upon him the great punishment of death, such as the holy writings pronounced against him.

From a second fragment:

[He had committed this offence and was judged] for it. They found in it the material for all kinds of wickedness and all kinds of villany which his heart had imagined to do. It was true, (namely) [all that he had done in conjunction with] the other chief culprits, who, like him, were without a god or a goddess. Such were the grievous crimes, worthy of death and the grievous sins [in the country], which he had done. But now he was convicted on account of those grievous offences worthy of death, which he had committed. He died by his own hand. For the elders, who were before him, had given sentence that he should die by his own hand [With the other chief culprits, who, like him,] were without the sun-god Ra, according as the holy writings declared what should he done to him.

The Rollin Papyrus mention the 'official' statement:

He had made some magical writings to ward off ill luck; he had made some gods of wax, and some human figures, to paralyse the limbs of a man; and he had put these into the hand of Bekakamen, though the sun-god Ra did not permit that he should accomplish this, either he or the superintendent of the house, or the other chief culprits, because he (the god) said, ' Let them go forward with it, that they may furnish grounds for proceeding against them.' Thus had he attempted to complete the shameful deeds which he had prepared, without the sun-god Ra having granted them actual success. He was brought to trial, and they found out the real facts, consisting in all kinds of crime and I all sorts of villany, which his heart had imagined to do. It was true that he had purposed to do all this in concert with all the chief culprits, who were like him. This was I a grievous crime, worthy of death, and grievous wickedness for the land which he had committed. But they found out the grievous crime, worthy of death, which he had committed. He died by his own hand.