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Papyrus with a calendar of lucky and unlucky days

British Museum

British Museum
London, United Kingdom

Today we might check our horoscopes in the newspaper, while in ancient Egypt it seems that they consulted calendars that kept track of good days and bad days. This papyrus from the late Nineteenth Dynasty (around 1225 BC) is the most extensive calendar of lucky and unlucky days that survived from ancient Egypt. It yields entries for days during eight months.
The entry for each day is prefaced by three hieroglyphs that indicate 'good' or 'bad'. The 'bad' hieroglyphs are written in red. If a day is partly good and partly bad, the relevant hieroglyphs can be mixed to represent the assessment of the day. The character of a day often derives from events told in mythological history. For some days the text is quite obscure, and others may not appear to the modern reader as good or bad as they did to the Egyptians.
An example of a bad day: 'Do not go out on this day. Do not turn your back to do any work at sunset. Whoever is born on this day will die through a serpent'.
An example of a good day: 'This is the day on which the gods received their hearts. The world keeps the festival'.

Details

  • Title: Papyrus with a calendar of lucky and unlucky days
  • Physical Dimensions: Length: 159.00cm (frame); Width: 27.00cm (frame)
  • External Link: British Museum collection online
  • Registration number: .10184.1
  • Place: Excavated/Findspot Thebes
  • Period/culture: 19th Dynasty
  • Material: papyrus
  • Copyright: Photo: © Trustees of the British Museum
  • Acquisition: Purchased from Sallier, Francois

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