Letter to the Dead
Letter to the Dead
Egypt (Naga ed-Deir, N3500), Old Kingdom, Dynasty 6, 2350 to 2150 B.C.E.
Ink on papyrus,
On loan from the Bancroft Library, Univeristy of California at Berkeley,
Photo © Joan Ann Lansberry
"The ancient Egyptians believed that they could communicate with the dead, and that the dead could interact with the living--for good or for evil. So it was very important to maintain the cult of deceased relatives. In return for their offerings, the donors expected to be able to count on the assistance of the departed. They made requests for assistance in letters written on pottery, linen, or papyrus that they left in the tomb along with their offerings. This letter, one of only fifteen to have survived, is from an unidentified sender to a man named Tetiseneb. Tetiseneb's son was apparently suffering from some type of ailment, and the letter asks the father to drive away the demon responsible, pleading with him to 'Heal your child!'" (From Info Card)