Turin Papyrus of Kings: History & Facts

Turin Papyrus

Also known as the Turin Canon, the Turin Papyrus of Kings is an important ancient Egyptian manuscript which provides a list of all kings of the 1st dynasty down to the 17th dynasty. The listing was made around the 13th or 12th century bc, during the reign of 19th dynasty pharaoh Ramses II.

Where is the Turin Papyrus?

As the name of the manuscript rightly suggests, the listing of Egyptian kings can be found in the Egyptian Museum in Turin, Italy.

How reliable is the Turin Papyrus?

The physical condition of the papyrus did not fare so well over its more than two-millennium existence. It is a bit fragmented; regardless, scholars still rely on it as it is the closest chronological account of Egyptian rulers that we have to this day.

The compilers of the list included the regnal years of the Egyptian kings down to the last days of the monarchs. As a result, it offers researchers deep insight when tracking the succession of kings and the various dynasties that ruled ancient Egypt.

Famous Egyptian historian and priest Manetho most likely drew heavily from the Turin Papyrus when writing his very detailed history of ancient Egypt, its culture and its kings and queens. The few fragments of Manetho’s work, which was most likely commissioned by Ptolemy II Philadelphus (c. 284-246 BC), relied heavily on very good oral and written sources. One of those written sources was definitely the Turin Papyrus.

Manetho (c. 300 BC), a Ptolemaic era historian and priest, is famed for dividing the rulers of ancient Egypt into 30 dynasties. His division remains widely used by scholars when studying ancient Egyptian history.

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