Diary of Merer

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The diary of Merer (Papyrus Jarf A and B) are logbooks written over 4,500 years ago that record the daily activities of workers who took part in the building of the Great Pyramid of Giza. The text was found in 2013 by a French mission under the direction of Pierre Tallet [fr] of Sorbonne University in a cave in Wadi al-Jarf. The text is written with hieroglyphs and hieratic on papyrus.[1] These papyri are the oldest ones with text ever found.[1][2] The diary of Merer is from the 26th year of the reign of Pharaoh Khufu.[3] The text describes several months of work with the transportation of limestone from Tora to Giza.[4] Merer was a middle ranking official with the title inspector (sHD). He was responsible for bringing stones from the Tora quarries to the pyramid. The stones were most likely used for cladding the outside of the pyramid. About every ten days, two or three round trips were done. About 40 boatsmen worked under him. The period covered in the papyri extends from July to November.[5]

The entries in the logbooks are all arranged along the same line. At the top there is a heading naming the month and the season. Under that there is a horizontal line listing the days of the months. Under the entries for the days, there are always two vertical columns describing what happened on these days (Section B II): [Day 1] The director of 6 Idjeru casts for Heliopolis in a transport boat to bring us food from Heliopolis while the elite is in Tura, Day 2 Inspector Merer spends the day with his troop hauling stones in Tora North; spending the night at Tora North.[6]

In addition to Merer, a few other people are mentioned in the fragments. The most important one is Ankhhaf, who is also known from other sources. In the papyri he is called a nobleman (iry-pat) and overseer of Ra-shi-Khufu. The latter place was the harbour at Giza where the stones for the pyramid construction arrived.[7] Several places are mentioned in the logbooks. Tura North and Tura South are the quarries.[8] Ra-shi-Khufu is the harbour of Giza.[9]

The diary of Merer is the first historical reference that describes the daily life of the people who worked with the building of the great pyramid. The Egyptian archaeologist Zahi Hawass describes the texts as “the greatest discovery in Egypt in the 21st century.”[1] The papyrus is exhibited at the Egyptian Museum in Cairo.[citation needed]


  1. ^ a b c "The World's Oldest Papyrus and What It Can Tell Us About the Great Pyramids". Smithsonian.com. Retrieved 11 September 2017.
  2. ^ "The Earliest Known Egyptian Papyri". HistoryofInformation.com. Retrieved 11 September 2017.
  3. ^ Pierre Tallet: Les papyrus de la Mer Rouge I, Le journal de Merer, (papyrus Jarf A et B), MIFAO 136, Cairo 2017, ISBN 9782724707069, p. 160
  4. ^ "World's Oldest Harbor Discovered in Egypt". LiveScience. Retrieved 11 September 2017.
  5. ^ Tallet: Les papyrus de la Mer Rouge I, p. 160
  6. ^ Tallet: Les papyrus de la Mer Rouge I, p. 150
  7. ^ Tallet: Les papyrus de la Mer Rouge I, pp. 63. 66
  8. ^ Tallet: Les papyrus de la Mer Rouge I, pp. 52, 55
  9. ^ Tallet: Les papyrus de la Mer Rouge I, p. 42