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responsibilities letter senwosret attached

Irer lived in a town attached to the pyramid of Senwosret II (r. 1844–1837 B.C.E. ) called Hotep-Senwosret. Irer was responsible for managing a household during the owner’s absence on business. She also had responsibilities as a priestess in the temple dedicated to the deceased Senwosret II. In a letter she wrote to the owner, she complains that she was unable to supervise the weaver’s workshop attached to the household because of her responsibilities as a priestess. Irer’s tone in the letter fluctuates between the subservience of an employee and annoyance that the owner is not fulfilling his responsibilities. She uses the standard formula, calling herself “your humble servant” and referring to the owner as “the lord, l.p.h.” The initials refer to the Egyptian expression, “may he live, may he prosper, and may he be healthy,” that follows each mention of a superior in writing. Yet Irer is straightforward in complaining that she cannot supervise the weavers properly if food supplies do not arrive from her master. Irer’s letter demonstrates the way that household weaving shops were managed.


Edward F. Wente, Letters from Ancient Egypt (Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1990): 82–83.

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