JURISDICTION IN THE WORKMEN'S COMMUNITY OF DEIR EL-MEDINA (EGYPT)

ANDREA GRIET MCDOWELL, University of Pennsylvania

Abstract

This thesis is a study of the authorities concerned with law and order in Deir el-Med(')ina, based on the ostraca and papyri from the village. The focus is on the mechanics of the individual legal bodies, their interaction with one another, and the different categories of legal problems.^ After a discussion of legal terminology, there follows a study of titles which attempts to distinguish members of the community from outside officials. It seems that some legal investigations which at first appear to have been handled internally were in fact taken over by the vizier's office; and that outside officials were often among the judges on the "local" court.^ A separate chapter is devoted to the htm, "the enclosure," named as the location of several legal events.^ Chapter 4 concerns the mechanics of an oracular judgement and the jurisdiction of the oracle. It emerges that the oracle rather than the court heard disputes over immovable property, perhaps because most buildings in the village were state property and so not under the jurisdiction of the local community.^ From here we turn to a discussion of the knbt (court), including knbt membership, procedure, and jurisdiction. It appears that the knbt did have some coercive measures at its disposal, although it seldom used them.^ Chapter 6 covers cases dealt with directly by the authorities, particularly outside authorities. The officials generally did not bother with courts and trials when investigating offenses against the state, but arrested suspects, interrogated them directly, and punished the guilty. Criminal offenses against individuals were apparently handled similarly.^ The last chapter concerns the "Pharaoh", who passed laws and heard some disputes between officials from different branches of the administration.^ In sum, the main conclusions are that a distinction was drawn between various types of cases, namely immovable property cases, civil disputes, and criminal cases; and that these were handled differently. But the lines were not over sharp: the various legal bodies co-operated, so that the oracle could deliver a verdict the court, the scribes of the vizier could join the local judges, and local officials cooperated with higher authorities in the investigation of criminal matters. ^

Subject Area

History, Ancient

Recommended Citation

ANDREA GRIET MCDOWELL, "JURISDICTION IN THE WORKMEN'S COMMUNITY OF DEIR EL-MEDINA (EGYPT)" (January 1, 1987). Dissertations available from ProQuest. Paper AAI8714089.
http://repository.upenn.edu/dissertations/AAI8714089

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