Tuesday, March 02, 2004

SOME ARAMAIC ELEPHANTINE PAPYRI are on display in the Norton Museum of Art in West Palm Beach, Florida:
Papyrus scrolls detail ancient Jewish life in Egypt at Norton exhibit (Palm Beach Daily News)
By JAN SJOSTROM, Daily News Arts Editor

Tuesday, March 2, 2004 � On July 3, 449 B.C., Ananiah and Tamut were married in Khnum, a town on Elephantine Island in the Nile River near present-day Aswan.

Actually, their relationship was well-established by then. Ananiah, a Jewish temple official, and his wife, Tamut, an Egyptian slave, already had a young son, Palti. But in Egypt 2,500 years ago, formal marriage was superfluous until children were born, and the future disposition of property became an issue.

Ananiah's and Tamut's marriage is documented in the first of eight papyrus scrolls recording important legal transactions in their and their children's lives over 47 years.

The scrolls form the foundation of Jewish Life in Ancient Egypt: A Family Archive from the Nile Valley at the Norton Museum of Art. The exhibition was organized by the Brooklyn Museum of Art from its 8,000-piece Egyptian collection.

Charles Edwin Wilbour, an avid amateur Egyptologist and one-time Tammany Hall printer and publisher, bought the scrolls in 1893 while cruising the Nile River on his houseboat.

He sealed them in a biscuit tin, tucked the tin in the bottom of a trunk, and forgot about it. The scrolls remained undisturbed for 54 years, when Wilbour's daughter discovered the trunk in her attic, and donated its contents to the Brooklyn Museum.


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