Ostracon of a Dispute Over a Hut

Fragmentary limestone ostracon with a hieratic inscription recording the resolution of a dispute over a hut inherited by the workman Wennofer. The inscription is unusual in being incised and filled with blue frit, a technique used for formal hieroglyphic inscriptions. Perhaps Wennofer set this ostracon into a wall of the disputed hut like a stele.

Ostracon, the Greek term for potsherd, is used by Egyptologists to refer to sherds of pottery or limestone flakes, which were used as a cheap and readily available material on which write or draw. The text and drawings often consist of letters, bills, personal notes, inventories, sketches and scribal exercises, but also of literary texts, like love poems and wisdom texts.

Dispute Over a Hut
Dispute Over a Hut

Egyptian ostraca were used for artist’s sketchings, cartoons-caricatures, letter documents, school–practice writing, and graffiti. This particular ostracon may be a sketch by an artisan working on the prince’s tomb.

New Kingdom, 20th Dynasty, reign of Ramesses III, ca. 1186-1155 BC. Limestone, from Deir el-Medina, Western Thebes. Now in the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford. AN 655