Paneb was a chief of the Theban workers of Deir el-Medina, who is infamous for the numerous allegations against him including; debauchery, bribery, theft (including royal stone and objects from tombs), sexual assault and violence.

Paneb as depicted in his tomb (TT211)
Paneb as depicted in his tomb (TT211)
New Kingdom, Ramesside period – modern analysis suggests the reign of Siptah
Tomb TT211, Theban Necropolis, Deir el-Medina, Egypt.

The Papyrus Salt 124 (also known as the British Museum Papyrus 10055) (Museum number EA10055) presents the numerous charges against him in a letter to the Vizier of the time.

Amennakht, the author of Papyrus Salt 124, presents himself as a worker and the son of former chief-worker Nebnefer. When his father died, his brother, Neferhotep, took over as chief-worker and was assassinated by an “enemy“. This opponent was regarded as either foreign adversaries or a native army during Amenmesse’s takeover of Thebes. Though Amennakht felt entitled to the position of head workman, the vizier, Paraemheb, assigned it to Paneb.
Though he believes the role is not Paneb’s to begin with, he goes on to outline a series of allegations of various severity to better explain his claim that Paneb should be removed from the position of chief-workman.

Workman Paneb makes offering to Meretseger. Possibly the infamous Paneb of the Worker’s Village, who appears in the Papyrus Salt 124, where he stands accused of various crimes, including thievery and adultery.
British Museum. EA8508

While Amennakht charged Paneb of numerous offences, the multiple claims of embezzlement and labour exploitation are highlighted and appear to generate the most problems for Paneb. The first of Amennakht’s allegations, aside from those directly related to his political interests, concerns Paneb’s theft of Seti II’s tomb, which included the covering of Seti’s chariot, storehouses from the tomb, and five doors, four of which were eventually discovered. He stole incense, special oil and wine, and a particular statue inscribed with the king’s name, and while Amenakht attests to reporting these actions, Paneb swore an oath that “I did not upset a stone in the neighbourhood of the Place of Pharaoh.

In addition to outright thievery, Paneb misappropriated manpower and other resources for his own benefit. According to Amennakht, Paneb instructed his stone workers to steal stone from Seti II’s worksite and use it to create columns for his personal tomb. In one instance, he not only commanded his workmen to build a plaited bed, but also had their wives weave garments for him. In addition, he took many work tools and broke one (Recto 2.13). Some things appeared to be quite valuable, as workers searched for a month for a tool he took before sneaking it back onto the job site.

He took not just from his worksite, but also from other tombs. He stole from the tomb of a workman named Nakhtmin, taking his bed, probably a stele, and other unidentified items. He also took a (mummified or model) geese from Ramesses II’s daughter’s funeral, but later claimed not to have done so. In fact, he had a proclivity for exploring tombs in general, as Amennakht accuses him of entering three tombs, presumably to steal goods, but it appears to have had a rebellious undertone, as he also sat on Seti II’s sarcophagus, a great sign of disrespect to both Seti II and the institution of kingship in Egypt.


Paneb was charged of numerous counts of sexual assault and adultery, but the text contains numerous ambiguities that make the nature of the charges unclear. The charges are unique in that they are levelled by his son Aapehty against the door-keepers, who are the people who stand at the tomb’s door at work sites but also perform a variety of other functions, including probable legal functions. Though Černý seems to assume that the door-keepers may have worked as bailiffs, A.G. McDowell, a notable Egyptologist in the study of Deir el-Medina, speculates that the door-keepers’ legal function was limited and that Aapehty merely testified to them because they stood in a public part of the worksite.

Aapehty swore under oath about the alleged episodes of debauchery, including one in which he personally participated. All of the episodes of debauchery involved married women, with the exception of one daughter, who was also the lady Aapehty debauched. Černý’s translation of “debauched” does not necessarily indicate mutual permission, making it unclear if Paneb and Aapehty’s actions were considered rape. However, it is evident that Paneb molested a woman by force at least once (albeit this is Amennakht’s statement, not Aapehty’s), when he seized a woman named Yemenwaw’s garments and “threw her on top of [a] wall and violated her“.

Paneb is a prominent character in Christian Jacq’s serial book The Stone of Light, which follows the artisans of Deir el-Medina throughout the XIX and XX dynasties.

Amennakht’s character defamation of Paneb included accusations that would make Paneb appear “like a mad man, as Amennakht clearly perceived him. As part of this, there are numerous charges that paint Paneb as an aggressive, emotionally unstable chief-worker, which he may have been. Amennahkt even casts the former chief-worker Neferhotep against Paneb, claiming that Paneb pursued Neferhotep, and bashed out doors when he hid in a room, and threatened to kill him. He did not slay Neferhotep, but he did beat nine men over the course of a single night. This supposedly led to Neferhotep protesting to the Vizier at the time, Amenmose, who attempted to punish Paneb, but was removed when Paneb complained directly to the Pharaoh, Amenmesse.

Though his confrontation with Neferhotep is perhaps most strongly related to Amennakht’s ambitions, there are other instances of violent outbursts. In one instance he told the other chief workman (there are two chief workmen at any one time) that he was going to attack and kill him, though the absence of any further explanation in the papyrus indicates that nothing came of the threat. He is further accused of beating up workmen at a night-party, going up on top of a wall, and throwing bricks at people.