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The purpose of this Preface, marked as number II and dated 2012, is to reformulate the evidence at our disposal
covering the system by which provincial Egypt was governed from the earliest period recorded and thus to avoid
a completely new edition of the Book itself. Several conclusions emerged during the study, which necessitated
revision of my own, no less than apparently others’ previously held views on this subject and included in the
original text of the book. Evidence will be shown that the administrations of Upper and Lower Egypt differed
substantially, well into the Dynastic Period. It further supports the view that provincial administration was
always based on City States and this collides with the belief that local administration was based on “The Nome”.
Further, that nomes were not territorial units of administration, but units of agriculture and food production.

I – Introduction

It is generally regarded as probable that the unification of Egypt was all but completed by
Dynasty “0” 1, although such “evidence” as exists is not conclusive and must be treated with
care. For example, references to state revenues found in the royal tombs of Abydos show that
their provenance varied between Upper and Lower Egypt2. Although, this may represent
taxation within a unified state, yet it can equally be the result of trade between independent
areas. Irrespective of the extent of unification, one would expect that an administrative
system covering law, agriculture, taxation, trade etc. should have been in place within the
country, whatever its territorial extent.

The initial problem, tackled by chance rather than design resulted from the division of
academic groups and their apparent, reluctance to refer to each other’s work and available
evidence. Some scholars of Pre-Dynastic Egypt who, of necessity, based their views almost
purely on archaeological evidence appear to have overlooked the fact that there existed a
great deal of continuity into historical and therefore documented times, which in retrospect

H. P ap a zia n, Domain of Pharaoh: The Structure and Components of the Economy of Old Kingdom Egypt,
97 (unpublished thesis, Chicago 2005); D. W en gr o w, The Archaeology of Early Egypt (Cambridge, 2006),
chap. 9; 207; T . A. H. W i l ki n so n, Early Dynastic Egypt (London, 1999), 47-52.
G. Dr e yer , “The Royal Tombs of Abydos”, in S. K er n er ed The Near East in Antiquity (Amman 1992),

vol. 3, 59. This supports my belief that the Double House of such departments as Treasury
! # ! does not
imply its greater importance than the singly written " If so, one would expect this to be shown by the
addition of the word
M as in Hwt, viz à viz Hwt-wrt. Furthermore, we can discount the option that the two
house determinatives indicate the two banks of the river because again we would expect ” iAbty” and “imnty”
to have been used and this never happens. What is suggested therefore is that the two “pr” signs on either side

of the “HD” sign simply show " with a redundant ! determinative, i.e. both representations being the

affected their period of study3. Other scholars, in contrast fell into the trap of ignoring the
pre-dynastic period during which state and kingship were established. One of the primary
items covered in this paper is the nature and function of the so called “nome”. It is argued
here, that contrary to general belief4 the nome was not an area of territory into which the
country was divided for the purpose of administration and government, but was, as the
Egyptian word spt for nome itself indicates: “cultivated land” or “estate”. No reference to
spwt in any form is found in the pre-dynastic period; there is, however, every indication of
the rise of city states which is widely, intentionally or otherwise, emphasized by the
researchers into that period. Wilkinson 5 maintains that as early as late Naqada I there were
five Upper Egyptian centres with powerful local elites: Thi(ni)s/Abydos, Abadiya, Naqada,
Gebelein and Hieraconpolis. To this, Hassan6 adds, albeit unsubstantiated, three: Elkab, Edfu
and Elephantine while Marcelo Campagno7 restricts himself to three during Naqada II,
namely Hieraconpolis, Naqada and Abydos.

Branislav Andelković conversely sees the Egyptian State developing from “Proto-
Nomes composed of previously independent villages which constituted chiefdoms. These
grew into larger, more complex units described as Nome-pre-states”8. In a later article
Andelković concludes: “Predynastic Egypt consisted rather of the nomes with their cities than
the cities with their neighbouring territories” 9. On the basis of such limited evidence as exists
and contrary to the above scholar, it is my opinion that Upper Egypt developed along the
lines of city-states, some independent and some possibly dependent on others, which were
defensively walled as archaeological evidence and even the very name of the new capital:
White-Walls, which we now call Memphis, show10. As already stated, there is not a single
reference in the pre-dynastic period to “spwt” or “nomes”. They were territories belonging to
and supplying food to the cities. It is my belief, although difficult if not impossible to
B . And e l ko vi ć, “Parameters of Statehood in Pre-Dynastic Egypt”, Egypt at its Origins II (2008), 1040, n.
For the opposing idea, see: E . C. Kö h ler . “Interaction Between and Roles of Upper and Lower Egypt”,
Egypt and its Origins II (2008), 536; T . A. H . W i l ki n so n. Early Dynastic Egypt 1999), 141.
T . A. H. W il k i n so n, (2000a) Royal Annals of Ancient Egypt. The Palermo Stone and its Associated
Fragments: Kegan Paul International. Studies in Egyptology, 378, 379, fig.1.
F. A. Hassan (1993) “Town and Village in Ancient Egypt: Ecology, Society and Urbanisation”, The
Archaeology of Africa: Food, Metals and Towns, 551-569.
M. Ca mp a g no , “In the Beginning was the War, Conflict and the Emergence of the Egyptian State”, Egypt
and its Origins Series I (2004), 698.
“The Upper Egyptian Commonwealth: A crucial Phase in the State Formation Process”,
Egypt at its Origins I (2004), 535-6.
“Parameters of Statehood in Predynastic Egypt”, Egypt at its Origins II, (2008), 1046.
Although currently the name is ascribed to a cliff line and the peak of Gebel Hof: D.
J ef fr e ys “Hieraconpolis and Memphis in Predynastic Tradition”. Egypt at its Origins II,

substantiate, that the concept of private ownership of land did not exist in Egypt at that
period. Land was owned by the “city” or the community, the reason presumably arising from
the problems with resetting boundaries after every year’s inundation resulting in constant
disputes. Thus, when all land was declared to be “royal”, there was no record of any upheaval
– nobody lost anything only the “landlord“ changed and whatever tenants there were
presumably remained in situ. These land areas currently referred to as nomes effectively
continued as before, feeding the country while administration remained with the cities as
discussed below (III) in connection with “Hwwt-wrwt-6”.

The system of city-states was common in ancient world. We come across it in early
Mesopotamia and of course in Classical Greece followed by Rome itself. One essential
difference however, was the rise in Egypt and ultimate takeover by the concept of divine
kingship superimposed, on the cities11. The divinity of the king of the pre-dynastic and early
dynastic periods seems absolute through the monarch’s identity with the god Horus. The
king’s name was shown as inserted into the representation of the palace with a walled
courtyard in front called Serekh; on top of this sign sat the Horus bird. Significantly however,
in one instance12 of a first dynasty king , the Horus bird’s legs dip below the top line of the
Serekh and grasp the hieroglyphic elements of the king’s name, the mace and the shield
forming a unity of name, in this case Hor-Aha. Von Beckerath applies this understanding to
other kings of this period shown with Horus bird on top of the Serekh, namely Hor-
“Scorpion” Hor-Narmer, Hor-Djer etc. The king was at this time Horus incarnate. This pre-
eminence of Horus suggests that the Upper Egyptian “State“and Kingdom originated from
one of three cities: Hieraconpolis, Naqada and Abydos13. This total divinity of the king
identified with Horus may have been slightly and progressively watered down from the
moment of transferring the capital to Memphis with its neighbouring Heliopolis, the centre of
solar worship and the god Ra14. The acceptance of Solar Religion by the Egyptian monarchy
as indeed the transfer of the capital over the border of Lower Egypt may well have been
connected with the process of unification. This process and the period over which it extended
are unknown to us, but very extensively discussed by present day scholars. The

J . B ai ne s, “Birth of Writing and Kingship”: Egypt at its Origins II (2008), 842.
J . Vo n B e c ker a t h, Handbuch der ägyptischen Königsnamen,(1999), 39
M. Ca mp a g no , “In the Beginning was the War. Conflict and the Emergence of the Egyptian State”, Egypt
at its Origins I (2004), 698; Ke mp , Ancient Egypt. Anatomy of a Civilization (1989), 34-35 and note 8.
J . C er vel lo - Au t uo r i, “The Sun Religion in the Thinite Age. Evidence and Political Significance”, Egypt
at its Origins III (2011), 1125-1149.

overwhelming opinion, though not exclusive is that it was achieved by war of conquest15.
While the possibility of conflicts between the South and the North cannot be discarded, the
evidence quoted fails to convince. Inclusion of weapons in burials is not necessarily an
indicator of warfare, as the “court-style” burials of royal women, albeit of the Middle
Kingdom and therefore much later, shows16. Surrounding of settlements and cities with walls
was likely to protect the inhabitants against marauding tribes, possibly disputes between
cities and it seems invasions by country peasantry17. The popular evidence of Hor-Narmer’s
palette which shows the Horus bird suppressing what looks like the head of the “leader” of
Lower Egypt as also other morbid items on the palette were always taken as evidence of a
military conquest of Lower Egypt by the South. This however is now placed in doubt by the
very recent work of David O’Connor18 and Christina Köhler (below).

Already Hermann Kees19 cast doubt on the idea of two separate kingdoms which he
considers as a simplification of reality and the unification as an act of one man or the result of
one victory. E. Christina Köhler20 also casts doubt on the historical significance or reference
to a conquest of Lower Egypt in the Hor-Narmer Palette. Although she lists the arguments
put forward for a war of conquest (cf. above), she expresses doubt with the comment: “and
this in the absence of any evidence of actual warfare, trauma or destruction”. While I agree
with Köhler on that point, I do not accept Kees’ rejection of the dual kingdoms.

My own rejection of the war of conquest, apart from the reasons put forward by
Köhler stems from the seemingly unbroken continuity of the provincial government system in
Lower Egypt in contrast to that in Upper Egypt visible at least down to the Fifth Dynasty and

Ca mp a g no , “In the Beginning was the War. Conflict and the Emergence of the Egyptian State”, Egypt at its
Origins I (2004), 689; An d el ko v ić, “The Upper Egyptian Commonwealth: A Crucial Phase in State
Formation Process”, Egypt at its Origins I (2004), 537;U. Har t u n g, “Interactions between Upper and Lower
Egypt”, Egypt at its Origins II (2008), 486; And el ko v ić, “Factors of State Formation in Protodynastic Egypt”,
Egypt at its Origins III (2011);K. Bard. “The Geography of Pre-Dynastic Excavated Sites and the Rise of
Complex Society”, JARCE 24 (1987), 92-93.
W . Gr aj e tz k y, Burial Customs in Ancient Egypt. Life and Death for Rich and Poor. (London 2003), 54-57
For this see Pyr. 655b [473]; 876b [463]; 1726b [611]; CT I, 289 e-f [Sp. 68] cf. CT 6, 104b [Sp. 516]. All
spells refer to gates to keep out the rHyt. Notable here are the religious sources, which most likely point to pre-
dynastic times. Another point worthy of making is the meaning of rHyt, which is generally translated as
“common people”, but here, almost certainly, means country folk or peasants. At this point it is irresistible to
suggest the possibility or even probability that the word “pat” now generally translated as elite or the like,
actually originated as city dwellers as opposed to country peasants or rHyt.
“The Narmer Palette: A New Interpretation”, Before the Pyramids: Origins of Civilisation, E . T eeter , (ed.)
Oriental Institute Chicago Publications 33, (2011)
Der Götterglaube im alten Ägypten (1941 reprinted 1987), 188
“The Interaction between and the Roles of Upper and Lower Egypt in the Formation of the Egyptian State”
Egypt and its Origins 2 (2008), 516-543; Har t u n g, “Interactions between Upper and Lower Egypt”, Egypt at
its Origins, I (2004), 485.

discussed below. Further reason for my conviction is the complete absence of any reference
to a conquest in later Egyptian literature and although arguing e silentio is always dangerous
such an event as the conquest of Lower by Upper Egypt would have been recognised as one,
if not the most important event in Egyptian history to which references would have been
made at least in the Pyramid Texts. The only reference to the “unification” is the well attested
expression smA-tAwy – “unification of the (two) lands”. Nothing warlike there! In short
therefore, it seems that Upper Egypt became an area administered by a number of city states
already in Naqada II period. One of them, perhaps in association with some others21
established a divine kingship. This god-king came to dominate the entire country. How this
happened we simply do not know22.

II –The So-called Nomes in Historical/Dynastic Times.

As stated above, reference to “Nomes” was not found in Pre-Dynastic times. With the
publication by Eva Maria Engel of her work on the early development of nomes23, it became
likely that they existed in Egypt not even just from the reign of Khasekhemwy or Den, but
possibly stretched back to the moment at which land belonging to cities became royal24.

The agricultural nature of nomes continued and the representation in the Abusir
“Chamber of Seasons” of Neuserre’ shows nomes as the idealised countryside without
reference to any officials or government departments from which offerings were being
brought to the king, but by men and women bearing no administrative titles25. This way of
representing nomes sending food offerings to the king carried by men and women and at
times women only, never associated with any officialdom comes to us throughout the period
studied here from the above mentioned tomb of Khasekhemwy down to Ne-wser-Re’.

Prior to the creation of the office of Hry-tp-aA n spAt / Specified Nome, during the Fifth
Dynasty, the only official who can with certainty be placed in the provinces as a permanent
feature is the (sAb)aD-mr 26 qualified by the titles - aD-mr-spAt – “adj-mer official in the

Hieraconpolis, Naqada Abydos and Thinis being the most likely contenders.
W il k i nso n, Early Dynastic Egypt (1999),47-52
E v a M ar i a E n ge l, “Die Entwicklung des Systems der ägyptischen Nomoi in der Frühzeit”, MDAIK 62,
For a list of various academic opinions concerning the origin and nature of nomes, ( see below ), ”Society and
Government in Ancient Egypt to the end of the NewKingdom”, (2003), 390
Fr i ed r i c h W i l he l m Fr e i her r vo n B i s si n g, “La Chambre des Trois Saisons du Sanctuaire solaire du
Roi Rathourès (Ve Dynastie) à Abousir”, ASAE 53 (1955), see plates esp. Pl. 13; Edel and Wenig, Jahreszeiten
Reliefs;W . He lc k, Die altägyptischen Gaue, (Wiesbaden 1974), 6f.
He lc k, Verwaltung, 196; Goedicke, MDAIK, 21 (1966), 19-22.

cultivated land/(Nome)”27, followed by aD-mr-Dp28 both placed in the provinces the latter
associated with the city of Dep and its area, disposing of any idea of spAt implying an
administrative unit rather than simply, as translated above, cultivated land.The title aD-mr
Hapy, associating the title with the Nile further supports a connection with irrigation and
inundation. The precise duties of the title as in the case of so many Egyptian titles were never
clearly stated. Seemingly without realising the possible implication, Pirenne29, the only
scholar to my knowledge who places the Hwwt-wryt (pl.) in the provinces as opposed to the
capital, specifically quotes the case of an official holding with other titles the combination of
aD-mr and jmj-r Hwt-wrt (see below).

Prior to the Fifth Dynasty30, the office of Nomarch as such does not seem to have
existed. Various suggestions were made pointing to officials such as jmj-r wpt , sSm-tA and
the above mentioned aD-mr31 as fulfilling this function, but in fact with the exception of the
last one as shown above, they were central officials sent to the provinces from time to time to
perform very specific functions. One example of such functions of the Jmj-r-wpwt comes
from the tomb of Memi(?) whose title is: “Overseer of Allocations (Jmj-r-wpwt) of Tied
Labourers (mrwt) and Fields/Arable Land (AHwt) in the Two Estates (prwy–Upper and Lower
Egypt?)” 32. It is perhaps logical to suggest that between the royal take-over of land
ownership and the creation of the college of the Hry-tp-aA officials (see below), nomes
continued to be administered by their previous owners, the cities.

Probably already during the Fifth Dynasty a new “college” of officials was instituted,
the members of which were periodically despatched to individual nomes, which required
special attention and ultimately some of them were appointed to specific nomes in
perpetuity33. This was the office of Hry-tp-aA n spAt,/Specific Nome34. The first such

URK I, 230, 5-6. W. Helck, Die altägyptschen Gaue (1974), 53 recognises it by placing this official IN nome
X and not being OF nome X.
URK I, 1, 17
J . P ir e n ne, Histoire des Institutions et du droit privé de l’ancienne Égypte (Bruxelles, 1932-5), II, 118-20.
Although admittedly most, if not all the evidence is only found in the Sixth Dynasty.
Helc k, Verwaltung, 196. Helck calls this official “Gauverwalter”.
URK I, 264, 3
. B ala nd a, “The Title Hry-sStA to the End of the New Kingdom”, JARCE 45 (2009), 321-22: “The
evidence....provides a strong indication that individuals were appointed to the rank or office (jAt) ....and formed a
college from which they were periodically or permanently assigned to perform functions specific to the college
in which they were deemed to have special expertise”. The most notable example of this system comes from
one of the most commonly attested titles in the Middle Kingdom, namely jmj-r aXnwty, which was sporadically
assigned to perform specific functions throughout the Twelfth Dynasty, but from Sesostris III onwards was
seemingly always permanently assigned to specific departments such as jmj-r aXnwty n xA-n-TAty etc. ( b elo w) ,
Society and Government. 285f. Other “colleges” referred to particularly are ATw, and jmj-r. This second of
these, being perhaps the oldest official title of all is more difficult to prove, however, one instance may possibly

“temporary” Nomarch known to us, who is also the first dignitary known for having been
buried in the provinces, in this case Edfu, is Izy35, who tells us that he was appointed to the
office of Companion and Hry-tp-aA-n-spAt, but then goes on that the office of Vizier was
awarded to him, presumably at some later time, in recognition.

Other officials were also designated to perform their duties in various nomes and
could be moved from one to another. The title of one such official was the well attested ATw36.
What is of interest in this case is the fact that this man also claims to have been Hry-tp-spAwt.
If we assume, that the adjective “aA” may have been simply omitted, we have here yet another
indication that the Hry-tp-aA-n-spAt officials were sporadically assigned to various nomes. The
object here however, is to show that officials of this “college” were not administrative
governors of provinces, but acted as estate managers of crown lands divided into areas to
which perhaps misleadingly we assign the Ptolemaic term: “Nomes”.

A good indication of the true meaning of “nome” throughout the period covered here
comes from a number of sources such as the Sixth Dynasty tomb at Der-el-Gebrawi
belonging to Henku, whose title was Hry-tp-aA-n-twelfth nome of Upper Egypt (nomarch in
perpetuity)37. He is most eloquent about his functions. Like other nomarchs and area
governors, he lays stress on feeding and dressing the poor and protecting them from injustice.
Most importantly however, he dealt in grain and cattle. He was in fact clearly and simply an
estate manager, albeit on a large scale.

Another good example is the Sixth Dynasty official Kar, serving under Phiops I
whose tomb is again located at Edfu 38. Kar’s inscription paints the clearest picture of what a
nome – spAt - actually was, namely as the word spAt itself indicates, a cultivated “estate”. The
passage: “The Majesty of Merenre’ caused that I should sail south to the Edfu-Nome as Sole
Companion, Hry-tp-(aA)-n-spAt, as Overseer of Southern Grain, Overseer of Priests....”

indicate that the title jmj-r was awarded independently from the subsequent assignment. In URK I, 8, 14, we
have jmj-r alone followed by the priestly title Hm-kA. This may however be reading too much into too little.
F. P etr ie, Abydos (London 1902-4), vol. III, pl. 29; Helc k, Beamtentitel, 109, n. 15. An ATw-official
associated with the tenth nome of Upper Egypt also claims the title Hry-tp-(aA)-n-spAwt (pl.) which could
possibly place him as member of the “college” sent to several nomes in turn.
M. All io t , Rapport sur les Fouilles de Tell Edfou (1933), 22, 24, 37; E . E d el, “Inschriften des Alten
Reichs. I. Die Biographie des Gaufürsten von Edfu, Jzj”, ZAS 79 (1954), 17; N. Ka n a wati, Governmental
Reforms in Old Kingdom Egypt (1980), 23.
P etr i e, Abydos III, pl. 29; Hel c k, Beamtentitel, 109, n.15.
URK I, 76f; cf. URK I, 265.
URK I, 251-255.

confirms the special assignment39. A little further in the text (p. 254, ll. 8 – 9), Kar refers to
other responsibilities covering the cattle of the nome and following that (ll. 13 – 14) to his
activity in feeding the hungry and clothing the naked whom he found in the nome. The
common occurrence of this last claim among nomarchs as well as administrative governors
suggests that as everything belonged to the king including all the people, he, through his
representatives, was responsible for keeping them fed, clothed, employed and even buried
when they had no surviving sons (p.255, l.2). However, throughout this self glorification, not
one reference to a single administrative function one would expect from a provincial
governor as opposed to an estate manager.

Possibly at the same time as the “college” of crown estate/nome managers, the
independent office of local government administrators was instituted, based on major cities
and covering varying areas of territory not necessarily corresponding to nomes. The basic
title of these officials was HAty-a, popularly translated “Mayor” or “Count”40. Possibly an
alternative and lesser title, although much rarer, was HqA - “Manager” or “Governor”41. This
division of responsibilities in the provinces, was sometimes like in other sections of
administration united in single tenure and therefore confusing to us'.

A good example of the “Administrator” as opposed to “Nomarch” is the official Meni

who was buried at Dendera and served Phiops II42. His titles were HqA-Hwt, HAty-a,
sDAwty(xtmty)-bity, smr-waty plus as usually some religious titles. Here we find no references
to agriculture or animal husbandry but only to judicial trials/adjudications (p.269, 4) and
again looking after the disadvantaged

Meni’s follower Idw I (p. 270), on the other hand, claims the titles HqA-Hwt, Hry-tp-aA-
n-spAt namely “Crown Estate Manager”. As can be expected he refers to animal husbandry (p.
270, 14). Of interest here is the fact that Idw I also claims the titles HAty-a and jmj-r-Sma. This
possible union of the local administration with crown estate management mentioned above is

URK I, 254, 3–5.
W il k i nso n, Early Dynastic Egypt (1999), 140; Already H elc k, Verwaltung,297ff and Die altägyptischen
Gaue,p. 56 recognised the institution of the HAty-a, his interpretation of the evidence is however totally different
from mine
URK VII, 31-32. This is the case of Nakht, the son of Khnumhotep II, Twelfth Dynasty, who as “another
favour to his father” was appointed by Sesostris II, HqA-Jackal Nome (sic.): “Governor (in) the Jackal Nome”. In
the text, contrary to the established system (see below) of indicating the frontiers of nomes by referring to the
two bordering nomw-aes north and south, the area covered by this official was delimited specifically as we shall
see for administrators (HAtyw-a) with no reference and therefore no dependence on nome boundaries. For this
reason, I translated the title as “Governor in the Jackal Nome” and not Governor of the Jackal Nome. Cf. URK I,
78, 13. This tempts one to compare this case to the HqAw-Hwwt-aA(w) of Lower Egypt.
URK I, 268-9

interesting, as the latter is not permanent, and opposed to such as we find in the case of
Nefertcheti-Iker43, who was HAty-a sDAwty-bity smr-waty jmj-r Hm-nTr- (Min) jmj-r it-SmA Hry-
tp-aA-n-Panopolite Nome (9)/Akhmim44. This official is also entitled “Overseer of the
Granaries of Offerings” showing that, apart from controlling temples as jmj-r Hm-nTr, the
king”s representative in his provincial properties also ensured that the gods were fed.

The third in line from Meni, Ibi II45 seems to revert to Meni’s titles and duties of
“local administrator”, no longer concerned with grain and animal husbandry. This is a further
confirmation of the temporary assignments of the Hry-tp-aA-n-spAt as opposed to the hereditary
Hry-tp-aA-n-specific nome.

There is indication that not all nomes were regarded as being equal in importance.
This seems to arise from the inscriptions of Ibi46, who was Nomarch of the 8th (Abydos)
nome under Phiops II and subsequently appointed “Overseer of the South”. Ibi says that he
was (previously) appointed (p. 142, 9) HAty-a; smr-waty; Hry-tp-aA-twelfth nome (Upper
Egypt) by MerenRe’. It seems therefore that his first permanent appointment was “nomarch
cum administrator” of the 12th nome from which he progressed to nomarch of the highly
important Abydos nome coupled with “True (mAa) Overseer of the South”, clearly a much
more extensive combination of offices. As frequently in Egyptian provincial sets of titles, so
in this case the “administrator” HAty-a/Overseer of the South and the “estate
manager/nomarch” Hry-tp-aA are again held by the same person.

The Edict of Neferkauhor by which the official Idi is appointed as “Overseer of The
South”47, covering the seven southernmost nomes (Nubia to the Sistrum Nome), emphasizes
the above mentioned division between the royal estate managers/nomarchs and local
governors: HAtyw-a/Overseers of the South. Idi, contrary to the above is never referred to as
Hry-tp-aA-n-spAt/specified nome, but only as HAty-a; Jmj-r-Sma; Jmj-r-Hm-nTr followed by the
specified area of his administrative responsibilities. Important is the statement (l. 8) following
the reference to the seven nomes, that Idi will “act as HAty-a; Jmj-r-Hm-nTr; Hry-tp HqA(w)-
niwtyw for those who are there under his (lit. your) authority”. Following points seem to
emerge: the executive title of Idi was HAty-a, not Overseer of The South, which seems to be

URK I, 265.
Interesting in this text is the expression “One who gives pleasure to the king in the entire Panopolite
Nome”.The spelling of the Nome with the house/estate determinative may be significant.
URK I, 271.
URK I, 142-145.
URK I, 299; W . C. Ha ye s, JEA 32 (1946), 16.

almost if not entirely an honorific title recognising the extensive area of responsibility. Idi
controlled governors of towns/cities within his area, but their title was “HqA of the Citizens”
and not HAty-a.48, showing the different status of these titles.

Further evidence that Egypt was subdivided into nomes or crown estates on the one
hand and major cities as centres of administration on the other, comes from a document of the
First Intermediate Period: “Behold, (the land) which they destroyed is made into nomes
(spAwt), (while) every great city..... the governing of each is being placed in the hands of ten
men acting as srw” (Qnbt / DADAt)49.

At the outset of the Middle Kingdom50, a reversal of the previous tendency comes to our
notice. While towards the end of the Old Kingdom temporary nomarchs, Hry-tp-aA-n-spAwt,
were appointed to various nomes, and some of these officials ultimately were awarded
permanent status, during the Twelfth Dynasty this process appears to have been scaled down,
progressively arrested, and ultimately, by the time of Sesostris III, dispensed with
completely.51 This, I believe resulted from the creation at the end of the Old Kingdom, of a
new, high, central official: the Jmj-r-pr-wr52. This official as our sources show was
responsible for agriculture and in virtue of his associated title “Overseer of Horns, Hooves,
Feathers and Scales”, for the full range of animal, bird, and fish husbandry53. Most
importantly, we also learn from an Eighteenth Dynasty source, that this official was likewise
responsible for periodic cattle counts, which as we know from Middle Kingdom tombs,
previously was the duty of nomarchs54.

“Nomarchs” or Hryw-tp-aA-n-Specific Nome, continued in several nomes until

Sesostris III when the title becomes extinct. Till then the management of these nomes
continued side by side with those nomes centrally controlled by the Jmj-r-pr-wr. Local
administrative functions also continued separately as before, obviously in nomes not

For the city (nwt) with man and woman determinative translated here as citizens, compare note 47.
Go l e ni sc he f f , Les papyrus hiératique no. 1115, 1116A et 1116B de l’Ermitage Impérial à St. Petersbourg
(1913), P. Petersburg 1116A ro. I, 85-87.
For nomarchs of this period see N. F a vr y, Le Nomarque sous le règne de Sésostris Ier, (Paris, 2004).
D. Fr a n ke , “The Career of Khnumhotep III of Beni Hasan “and the So Called “Decline of the Nomarchs”
in Stephen Quirke, Middle Kingdom Studies, (Malden 1991), 51-67. “City” is written with man and woman
( b elo w ) , Society and Government; 570; see especially 400-403; also 197 & 239.
This associated office to Jmj-r-pr-wr is found also delegated to the provinces. Apart from the Nomarch
Ameny (see below), we have an official‘s stela from Abydos. Among other high titles, he is also “Overseer of
Horns, Hooves, Feathers and Scales (assigned to) the Lakes of Recreation”; H. O . La n g e and H. S c hae f er ,
Grab und Denksteine des Mittleren Reiches II (CGC Nos 20001-20780; Berlin 1902-1925) no. 20538, 145. Not
very administrative and the placing of the stela may not represent his actual domicile.
URK IV, 1394, 3; Helc k, Urkunden der 18. Dynastie, (Berlin 1956), 1394, 3;.

governed by resident families of nomarchs. Where such families were in residence, their
members were usually appointed specifically to fulfil these functions or jointly with their
titles and functions of nomarch.

The emphasis on the nome/estate as opposed to the city is frequently encountered55,

giving rise to the assumption that what is actually meant are cities with their administered
areas on the one hand, and the royal cultivated estate or the nome itself on the other. In the
Middle Kingdom, the distinction between the administrative areas (later called “w”) becomes
more clearly defined as in the case of Sarenput under Sesostris I in Assuan56. It is clear that
Sarenput’s main executive titles defining his functions are HAty-a and Jmj-r-Hmw-nTr, uniting
as always administration and temple of the local god/goddess, in this case Satet. Sarenput
refers to his city (nwt) and not his nome (spAt) (p.3, 17) when receiving jnw and bAkw from
Medjaj and Kush. He opens passages in his text with “HAty-a; Jmj-r-Hm-NTr Sarenput
says...”57. Only on one occasion (p. 6, 4-5) he incorporates the title Hry-tp-aA-n-tA-sty (Nome
I–Nubian) in his list of titles as follows: “Overseer of Prophets of Satet-Mistress-of-
Elephantine, Hry-tp-aA-n-tA-sty-, Overseer of All Foreign Lands, HAty-a Sarenput”. Notably,
HAty-a appears last in the string of titles preceding the owner’s name which traditionally
indicates the main title of the official. Also, and most significantly, tA-sty is determined not
with the nome sign (spAt) but with the sign for foreign countries/desert (xAst)58. It is therefore
likely that the title usually translated nomarch here refers to Nubia and not just the first nome
of Upper Egypt although admittedly the two may have been regarded as one province.

Another important individual of the same period is Hepdjefai, whose place in administration
can largely be compared to that of Sarenput59. Throughout the text, Hepdjefai is referred to as
HAty-a60. Only in one instance does he claim the title “Hry-tp-aA of the entire (mi-kd=s)
thirteenth nome of Upper Egypt” not otherwise met in the inscription61. This seems to suggest
no more than that Hepdjefai was given a territory to supervise as administrator, which
happened to coincide with the area of the thirteenth nome. Hepdjefai emphasizes his
association with the city of Siut and his services thereto, but not the nome.

URK VII, 10,5, 41, 5-6; URK IV, 11 (often repeated) etc.
URK VII, 1-7.
URK VII, 1, 13-14; 2, 8; 4, 11.
A. J . Sp a li n ge r , “A Garland of Determinatives”, JEA 94 (2008), 139-164
URK VII, 53f.
URK VII, 54, 3, 55, 16, 56, 2.
URK VII, 66, 17.

Equally important is the case of Amenemhet/Ameny, Nomarch of the Oryx/Gazelle

Nome (sixteenth of Upper Egypt.) under Sesostris I62. He says of himself (p. 15, 14):
“moreover, I spent years as Governor (HqA) of the Oryx Nome, all the revenues (bAkw) of the
king”s government (pr-nswt) as they arose were in my hands”. He goes on to call himself (p.
15, 16-21) “HqA beloved of his city (nwt=f), dealing with cattle count and all the
taxes/obligations (bAkw) on behalf of the pr-nswt with no arrears against me in any of its
office (xA).”. During famine, he cultivated the fields of the nome, clearly royal land. Apart
from the confirmation (p. 17) of Ameny’s title Hry-tp-aA-n- Oryx/Gazelle Nome63, of
importance here is the title “Overseer of Horns, Hooves, Feathers, and Scales”. As already
mentioned above, this was the title associated with Jmj-r-pr-wr, the official created at the
outset of the Middle Kingdom to take over the management of crown lands divided into
nomes. With the two titles claimed, Ameny presents himself as (the equivalent of) this central
official but in the Oryx Nome the royal estate manager par excellence.

In contrast, Khnumhotep II of Beni Hasan,64 was purely a provincial administrator

within the area of the Oryx Nome, but unconnected with its management. He was appointed
by Amenemmes II Iry-pat-HAty-a, Jmj-r-xAswt-iAbtt – “Overseer of the Eastern Desert” by way
of inheritance from his maternal grandfather, Khnumhotep I, the latter appointed to this office
by Amenemmes I65. We are also told that the area of the responsibilities of Khnumhotep II
did not border on the fifteenth nome in the south and the seventeenth nome in the north, as a
nomarch’ s would, but were delimited by a stela in the south and the north like the sky, while
the river Nile was divided along its middle. Khnumhotep like his maternal grandfather,does
not refer to any agriculture or animal husbandry. He does however emphasize his function of
establishing city boundaries in accordance with archives and ancient tradition66. He was
therefore as it appears purely a central government administrator attached to the king and this
is strengthened by his claim that he was placed as “foremost of those who were foremost
when the Qnbt of the aH (king’s residence) assembled”67.

URK VII, 14f. ; Percy E. Newberry& F. Ll. Griffith, Beni Hasan in Archaeological Survey of Egypt (London
1893-1900), Tomb 2.
The writing of the nome incorporating both, the nome and the city determinatives, the latter in a complete
form presents us with a puzzle. Did this title imply a dual function of nomarch/administrator?
URK VII 25f.
URK VII26, 10-27, 7
URK VII, 27, 12-17.
URK VII, 30, 7-8

To follow Khnumhotep II, we look at his eldest son, Nakht68. This member of the
family was appointed by Sesostris II Governor (within) the Jackal Nome (17th in Upper
Egypt)69 again by inheritance from his maternal grandfather. It is, made clear that although he
was “Foremost in Upper Egypt” and “foremost in nobility”, again the area of his functions,
did not coincide with the area of the nome itself and therefore the above title was not
equivalent to Hry-tp-aA-n-Jackal Nome. Nakht was a local administrator and not a nomarch.

Finally, we arrive at the last stage of the great families of nomarchs in the period of
Amenemmes II and Sesostris III. A good example is Dhutyhotep, the son of a HAty-a named
Kay70. His opening titles in the text are: Iry-pat-HAty-a; Jmj-r-Hmw-nTr; Hry-tp-aA-n-Hare
Nome ; Hry-sStA-r-prw (pl.). Apart from the title sAb-aD-mr-(Dp)71 all his other numerous titles
are connected with temples. Throughout the text Dhutyhotep is addressed as HAty-a. The most
important instance of this is when he refers to his “successful arrival reaching the booth of
making the Great Count of ‘his’ herds belonging to the king together with ‘his’ herds in
‘private’ tenure by the HAty-a...”. This function was always seemingly the responsibility of
nomarchs/crown estate managers. The fact that here, Dhutyhotep, although claiming the
nomarchical title still describes himself as HAty-a, in performing this duty, cannot be
overlooked. It may well be that by this time the nomarchical title of Hry-tp-aA was purely
honorific and Dhutyhotep performed the great cattle count as deputy of the Jmj-r-pr-wr in the
capital as apparently earlier did Ameny under Sesostris I.

III – The Function of “City States” in Pharaonic Egypt.

At this stage it is necessary to return to the early part of the Dynastic Period stretching down
to late Fifth Dynasty, in order to see whether what seems to have been a possible “void” in
the administration of provincial Egypt, can be filled. In my view it can and this was done at
least in Upper Egypt, by means of the frequently encountered but generally misunderstood
institution of Hwt-wrt-6.

URK VII, 31-32.
In view of the frontiers of this official’s responsibilities which are not bordering on northern and southern
nomes like usual in the case of nomarchs, but delimited as in cases of area administrators, I choose to accept in
my translation of the title, as the missing preposition “m” meaning in or within and not “n” meaning of.
URK VII, 44-52; P . Ne wb e r r y, El Bersheh, I.(London 1893).
URK VII, 45, 8.

A variety of suggestions as to the nature of this “institution” had been put forward by
scholars72, such as “Court of Law”, “Vizier’s Office” (bureau central du royume) or the
“administrative aspect of the residence” as also my own “Enclosure of the Central
Government”73. None of these interpretations was satisfactory, although Hwt-wrt-6 included
elements of all of them. Moreover, neither the equation of Hwt-wrt-6 with wsxt, as Moreno
Garcia among others tentatively suggested, nor his interpretation of Hwt-wrt-6 as the office of
the vizier can be validly entertained74.

The fact that wsxt was a courtyard behind a gate to a walled administrative enclosure,
within which or at the gate to which, law cases and administrative transactions (wDa-mdw),
involving officials and the general public were conducted cannot be denied or even
doubted75. Even in the New Kingdom, the sign for wsxt is used as determinative for gate
(sbxt) in the Book of Day and Night76. A passage in the “Installation of the Vizier” makes it
clear and runs as follows: “As for the office (xA) in which you give audience (sDm), there is a
courtyard (wsxt) there containing records (?) of all decisions/verdicts (?)”77. Analysis of wsxt
is available78 and shows that there is not a scrap of evidence suggesting the identity of wsxt
and Hwt-wrt-(6).

J . C. Mo r e no Gar ci a, “La population MRT: une approche du problem de la servitude dans l’Égypte du
IIIe millenaire.I.” JEA. 84 (1998), 75; Moreno Garcia, Études sur l”administration, le pouvoir et l’idéologie en
Égypte de l’Ancien au Moyen Empire (1997), 135; S. Q uir ke, “The Regular Titles of the Late Middle
Kingdom”, R d’E 37 (1986), 128, n. 60; Quir ke, “The Administration of Egypt in the Late Middle
Kingdom,(New Malden 1990), 69, n. 24; N. Str ud wi c k, Administration of Egypt in the Old Kingdom, (1985),
188-198; E .Mar ti n -P ar d e y , “Die Verwaltung im Alten Reich”, Bi Or, 46 (1989), 540-544; H. Go ed ic ke,
Die Privaten Rechtsinschriften aus dem Alten Reich, 80-103.
Society and Government, Index p. 592
Mo r e no G ar c ia, Études, 120
P. Berl. 8869; P . C. S mi t h er , “An Old Kingdom Letter Concerning the Crimes of Count Sabni”, JEA 28
(1942), 16-19; Mo r eno Gar cia, Études, 130.
A. P ia n ko f f , Le livre du jour et de la nuit, L’institut francais d’archaéologie orientale, Cairo (1942). The

sign - alternates with two other versions not in the sign list. See also ( b elo w ) , Society and Government,
233, n. 1273
URK IV, 1092, 6-7; R. F a ul k ner , “Installation of the Vizier”, JEA 41 (1955). Regrettably this passage or
the latter part of it was largely restored, but other passages support the restoration: Fa u l k ner , The Ancient
Egyptian Coffin Texts (Warminster 1973) I, 157f (Spell 38); H. G . F i sc her ,”Five Inscriptions of the Old
Kingdom”, ZAS. 105, 58; W . Sp i e gelb er g, “Ein Gerichtsprotocol aus der Zeit Thutmosis IV”, ZAS. 63,
(1928). This last document records a high profile law case held at the gate (arryt) of the wsxt of the pr-aA.
Further evidence comes from the official Wrkhuu, URK I, 46-48 who claims to have wDa-mdw m wsxt
“adjudicated in the “wsxt” (47, l. 10). Also we have the Abydos Inscription of Neferhotep, He lc k, Historisch-
Biographische Texte der 2 Zwischenzeit und Neue Texte. der 18 dynastie (1975), 27, (28) where we read: “may
you be acquitted within the wsxt”.
( b elo w ) , Society and Government, 233-235

Before coming to the nature of Hwt-wrt-(6), it is necessary to emphasize certain facts,

which directly conflict with views of other scholars. Moreno Garcia’s statement79: “Etant
donné que la Hwt-wrt (parfoi appelée Hwwt-wrt 6)” is unacceptable. The two were not the
same, but the latter simply represented the total number of the former80. Equally, I reject this
scholar’s argument that Hwt-wrt was, and he sees it as one establishment only, the office of
the Vizier and, as he puts it, “centre administratif supérieur du gouvernement du pays...”81.
While evidence is at times ambiguous, nevertheless it will be argued that the Hwwt-wryt were
centres of provincial administration of which at least in the beginning there were presumably
six, and these, only throughout Upper Egypt.

Important contribution to the present study comes from the Abydos Decree of
Neferirkare’82. The object of the edict is to grant certain immunities for eternity to priests and
those who work on the gods’ estates within the Nome of Abydos. Anyone who abuses this
grant, is to be sent to the Hwt-wrt?83 (where, if convicted), he is consigned to granite quarries
(?). The last paragraph however, appears to foresee a possible miscarriage of justice: “...any
Official (sr), anyone attached to the King’s property (Jry-xt-Nswt), anyone dealing with soil
(?) (Hry-wDb) or any man who acts in accordance with this edict of (My Majesty) but is sent
to the Hwt-wrt, his estate, his field workers and all things of his consigned to (?) should be

There can be little doubt, from the above document alone, that this particular Hwt-wrt was a
local establishment in Abydos. It would seem illogical to consign specifically stated local
offenders against local gods and whose local property would be confiscated if pronounced
guilty not of a capital offence, all the way to the Capital, Memphis.

Mo r e no Gar c ia, Études, 100
The fact that Hwt-wrt-6 refers to 6 individual Hwwt-wryt is shown by the writings:
and 'wwM
! ww
'''D - A. W ei l, Die Veziere des Pharaonenreiches (Strassburg, 1908) 74 (a) and 75 (c); cf.
“Lament of Ipuwer”, P. Leyden, 344, col. 6; Z. Zab a, Les Maximes de Ptahhotep, (Prague 1956), 15, 3.
Mo r e no Gar c ia, Études, 100, 121.
URK I, 172, 6-8; Mo r eno G ar ci a, Études, 129; Go ed ic ke, Koenigliche Dokumente aus dem Alten Reich
(Wiesbaden, 1967). 22-26, and Fig. 2; D. Lo r to n, “The Treatment of Criminals in Ancient Egypt”, JESHO, 20
Part I (1977), 6-7; Lep r o ho n , Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (CAA) II, 49-53.
In the preceding two paragraphs (URK I, 171, 12-16 and 172, 1-5) referring to the offenders, the place of
consignment Sethe portrays as what looks like the hieroglyph for house–pr with an open gate followed by the
sign for Temple. This I would read tentatively as wsxt-Hwt-NTr which makes sense. Other modern scholars
however represent this as Hwt-wrt (e.g. Go ed i c ke, Koenigliche Dokumente, fig. 2). I have no means of
checking the original.

The Sixth Dynasty vizier Kagemni84 states in his autobiographical inscription that all
that His Majesty (Teti) approved was done in the Hwt-wrt-6. There is every reason to believe
that this statement refers to the management of Upper Egypt, or part of it outside the capital
city under the authority of the central Vizier and not just some institution within it. The
failure to specify the locality of the various Hwwt-wryt by our sources forces modern scholars
to speculate and make assumptions resulting in varying conclusions. Thus, when the Sixth
Dynasty official Weni says85: “His Majesty appointed me as ZAb-r-Nxn (?) I was privy to
confidential matters (involving) the person (name) of the King, the royal household and the
Hwt-wrt-6 alone with (only) the Vizier...”, I interpret it as representing the royal court at
Memphis on the one hand and that part of the country over which the central vizier lorded on
the other, as I also interpret the above statement of Kagemni.

Another point arising from the Edict of Neferirkare’ (above), poses the idea that Hwt-
wrt was some kind of law court. There is no trace of such institutions as law courts in ancient
Egypt. Trials and settlements of disputes, depending on the status of the participants took
place at the gate (arryt) backing on to, the courtyard (wsxt) of various state or religious
establishments such as the “Forecourt of the Royal Palace Enclosure in Thebes” (wsxt-n-Pr-
aA-m-Nwt-rsyt)86, “Forecourt of the Royal Palace of the Temple of Amun” (wsxt-n-Pr-aA-n-
Pr-Jmn), “Forecourt of the Government Enclosure” (wsxt-n-Pr-Nswt)87. Cases of high profile
came before the Qnbt-aAt possibly presided by the king himself sitting in the “Forecourt of
Horus” (wsxt-Hr) around the royal residence. This, on occasions is represented by the sign for
wsxt with aH, which means shrine/royal residence in its interior88. In the case of the Edict of
Neferirkare’ the offender was to be sent for trial by the srw/Qnbt at the gate, arryt of the wsxt
of the local Hwt-wrt administrative enclosure. The following often quoted passage further
supports this89: “As for any man who comes to my knowledge having been retained (xnr) on
account of it in the Hwt-wrt, who was flogged on account of it in the Hwt-wrt or who was
punished on account of it in the stp-sA”. Although this must be regarded as speculative, the
intention of this passage may well refer to such punishments as forced labour or flogging

URK I, 194-6; E d el, “Inschriften des Alten Reichs”,MIO 1, (1953), pl. 2, cols. 5 & 6.
URK I, 99, 5-6. Compare this with Henry Fischer, “Old Kingdom Inscriptions in the Yale Gallery”, MIO 7, 3,
303 (fig 3) also Inscription of Nenki under Phiops II, URK I, 260, 9.
P. Mook, Sp ie ge lb er g, ZAS, 63, 105f.
P. Anastasi, V, 14, 19, 6 & 7, Gar d i n er , Late Egyptian Miscellanes (Bruxelles 1937), 66, 16 & 67, 1.
Helc k, Historisch-biographische Texte der 2 Zwischenzeit und Neue Texte der 18 Dynastie (1975), 27, 28.
Mo r e no G ar c ia, JEA 84 (1998), 75; Études, 135; Quir k e,R d’E 37 (1986), 128 n. 60; Administration 69
n.24; Martin-Pardey, BiOr 46 (1989), 540-544; Go ed ick e, Die Privaten Rechtsinschriften (1970), 80-103;

inflicted by a local DADAt / Qnbt as opposed to serious punishment such as disfigurement or

death, only imposed by the king in his administrative enclosure (stp-sA).

Hwt-wrt, as represented by available sources, was a walled enclosure at whose gate

the local srw or Qnbt-sDmyw met to deal with problems and cases brought by members of the
population within its district and thus a centre of local government. This comes from a
passage in a document dated to the reign of the Fifth Dynasty King Isesi90: “srw nw rt-Hwt-
wrt”–Officials (Qnbt) of the gate of the Hwt-wrt. The nature of this enclosure, albeit
depending on the acceptance of my translation, comes from the tomb of a sixth dynasty
official Nebkauhor-Idw91 where, following a short list of courtiers he lists government
institutions as follows: “Hwt-wrt, Snwt (Granary), pr-HD (Treasury), pr-mDAt (Department of
Archives?), pr-xrt-xtmt Department of Confidential Records?)”. As Hwt-wrt, in contrast to the
other departments listed, is never restricted to any specific area of administration (except
possibly legal, cases as above), I consider it correct to take it in apposition to the other
departments and translate the passage: “Hwt-wrt, namely the Granary, the Treasury, the
Department of Archives and the Department of Confidential Records”. In short, therefore, the
overall centre of administration covering a specific area of the country.

As to the location of these Hwwt-wryt, the problem is complicated by the fact that no
instances of a direct association with any city such as we later find with the “w” district and
concurrently perhaps the Hwwt-aA(w)t. There are only indications such as Abydos in the
Neferirkare’ edict. A likely pointer, however, comes from the list of cities where individual
provincial viziers claim to have established their offices between the Fifth Dynasty and the
First Intermediate Period92. These clearly would have been places where an administrative
structure was already in situ. The list of these cities, in date order covers: Akhmim, Edfu,
Abydos, Meir, Koptos and Deir el Gebrawi. Surely not by coincidence, the number of the
cities is six like that of the Hwwt-wryt - (Hwt-wrt-6) and all of them are in Upper Egypt. This
restriction appears further supported by a passage from the inscription in the tomb of an early
Twelfth Dynasty provincial administrator, Hepdjefai, already referred to above: -
D ![ v t!
! 5 1 > 1 x& x e
Mw t # J 3 o e 5 " $ L “The dependants of the

P. Berlin, 11301 x+3: P o sen er , Kr ie ge r & de C a ni v al, HPBM: Fifth Series, the AbuSir Papyri BM
(1968), 5, pl. 80 (A); Posner Krieger, Archives de Neferirkare’, 2, 451-465; A. Ro cc at i, La literature
historique sous ancient empire égyptien (Paris 1982), 285-6; Va n d e n B o o r n, JNES, 44 (1988),8 and note 31.
PM. 32, 627-9; Str ud wic k,”Notes on the Mastaba of Ah-HotepHemi and Neb-Kau-Hor Idu at Saqqara”,
GM. 56 (1982), 89-94.
Str ud wic k, Administration of Egypt in the Old Kingdom, (1985), 302-3.

King of Lower Egypt (and) those who are within the Hwwt-wryt, their gods shall not accept
their white bread (offerings)”93.

One more pointer to the provincial locations of Hwwt-wryt and at the same time a
central establishment in the capital covering the control of all six of them called Hwt-wrt-6 is
the fact that only central Viziers and no other officials, with one exception of a central
official, but not a Vizier94 are ever found to hold the title Jmj-r-Hwt-wrt-695. Among
provincial Viziers on the other hand, not a single one bears this title, although at least three of
them bear titles incorporating just Hwt-wrt.96 And this is also attested with two non Viziers,
both high officials in the building trade who also claim the title Jmj-r-Hwt-wrt97.

The first Vizier bearing the full set of titles known to us is the Second Dynasty Menka98.

1. & D 1 1 O N – Hwt-wrt (of) Vizier (titulary) N

2. cW&D
! 1 1 O N – Taxes for the Royal Government (collected by?) the Hwt-wrt
of the Vizier N.

Although above translations cannot be absolutely certain without corresponding prepositions,

the connection of Hwt-wrt with collection of “taxes” and the pr-nswt, presumably the king”s
overall domain covering the whole country with everything in it seems beyond dispute99.

The association of Hwwt-wryt with pr-nswt is further supported by titles such as Hry-sStA n
nswt m Hwt-wrt nt pr-nswt - Confidential Secretary of the king in the Hwt-wrt of the “Domain
of the Crown”100. At this point however we begin to hit problems. Hry-sStA is certainly a

As we have NEVER encountered an Hwt-wrt situated in Lower Egypt, this emphasis on the
dependants/servants of the King of Lower Egypt followed by the inmates of the Hwwt-wryt gives me confidence
that this passage is a way of covering Upper and Lower Egypt by a southern official. Otherwise the passage
would have no logical explanation. For the proposed meaning of Hmw see ( b e lo w ) , Society and Government,
The official is Meri Idw who bears the title Jmj-r-Hwt-wrt-6 without being a Vizier. BM 1191; PM 37, 742;
Str ud wi c k, The Administration of Egypt, 93, nr. 57; Klaus Baer, Rank and Title in the Old Kingdom, The
Structure of the Egyptian Administration in the Fifth and Sixth Dynasties. (Chicago 1960), 79 (181).
Str ud wic k, The Administration of Egypt, Table 29, 308-9.
Str ud wic k, The Administration of Egypt, Table 31, 319.
URK I, 153, 10; 201, 15-16.
P . L aca u et J . -P . La ue r , La pyramide à degrés, vol. 5, “Insriptions à l’encre sur les vases”, 1-2. Here we
find an otherwise unknown vizier Menka mentioned in association with Hwt-wrt and jnw Pr-nswt Hwt-wrt
“taxes of the Hwt-urt of the Pr-nswt”. Following points must be noted: the “6” is not mentioned in connection
with Hwt-wrt, also at this early period already Pr-nswt and Hwt-wrt are NOT regarded as being synonymous.
This as opposed to the Pr-aA, the king’s palace enclosure in the Memphite region. See Go e let, “The Nature of
the Term Pr-aA During the Old Kingdom”, Bulletin of the Egyptological Seminar 10 (1989/90), 77-90, esp. page
Mar ie tt e, Les Mastabas de l”Ancien Empire (Paris, 1889), 70; Laca u / L a uer , Pyramide à degrés V, 1-3

central official attached to the king’s office and this would require his responsibilities
normally to extend to matters coming from all the Hwwt-wryt, namely the six provincial
centres at large, but probably not just one. It is clearly dangerous arbitrarily to assume the
addition of “six” as simply omitted by the scribe as superfluous or just implied, although both
are of course possible. There is in fact a title which although expanded by reference to its
functions, may be the same as the above and it does include the “six”: -
: ev
eJ Vs, M !d ! t X
! 4 1'D
“One who presents administrative
decisions (to the King), Expert101 on what one hears alone from the Six Hwwt-wryt”102. A
relatively complete list of all titles incorporating Hwt-wrt and Hwt-wrt-(6) is available103 from
which several interesting facts emerge. Apart from the Jmj-r Hwt-wrt / (6) which we saw
above being held almost exclusively by viziers, we have a body of officials associated with
the Hwt-wrt bearing the title Hry-sStA104. Two things are apparent: first, a number of the titles
are duplicated between Hwt-wrt and Hwt-wrt-6 and as suggested above therefore may indicate
that the “6” was simply left out as being self evident. Second, those which are qualified as to
the function performed, invariably refer to wDa-mdw – making decisions (administrative or
legal), wDa-mdw-StA – confidential decisions etc. It seems likely therefore that the function of
this group was to prepare details of the important administrative decisions arrived from the
provincial Hwwt-wryt for the King’s Office 105.

The other title in the above mentioned list, namely e #  sHD-sS – Inspector (?) of
Documents further supports the administrative function of the Hwt-wrt. The title as listed in
several varieties is: sHD-sS-n-Hwt-wrt – Inspector (?) of Documents of the Hwt-wrt. Notably,
out of the several instances quoted, not a single one refers to Hwt-wrt-6. This also applies to
the once encountered title Jmj-r sS-wDa-mdw-StA-n-Hwt-wrt - Overseer of Confidential
Administrative Documents of the Hwt-wrt.

The true meaning of the Hry-sStA is clearly shown in a passage in the Coffin Texts, CT. 1, 111c. (Sp. 33):
v +
1"333 1>K6 +46 "Z
! Iw 1 > ! !d K 5 - “O you gods who are in chaos (HHw), O
you Ennead, who are in StAw”. The meaning of the last word is therefore likely to be something like “good
organisation” or “efficiency”. The meaning of the title Hry-sStA must therefore reflect something like “Efficiency
Expert” or to put it simply “Head of Administration”.
URK I,260, 9. For comments on translation see below.
( b elo w ) , Society and Government144-145.
B ala nd a, “The Title Hry-sStA to the End of the New Kingdom”, JARCE, 45
The expression wDa-mdw is persistently translated by modern scholars as legal judging or judgment. This is
not correct. The expression means resolution of a problem or decision and can refer both to a court of law or a
government office decision.

We find cases of Hwt-wrt-6 being written as a simple plural or plural followed by the
v ! !
numeral six: K : s , e !d ! 1 ' D ! ! !
! 106 and & D ! ! ~~ 107.
e #  t & D !>Dt\ b
Likewise, we come across the title !! ! ! ! . Whereas the
first two writings represent Hwt-wrt-6, the third is unclear and cannot be easily interpreted.

The double “pr” I originally placed in line with other state departments such as ! # ! (as
against " ) and, following other scholars, assumed them to differ from each other. I am
now convinced that the former is simply the latter with an added (superfluous)
determinative109. This, leaves the double “pr” in our last title without any obvious comparison
known to me and therefore open to speculation. The two could still in theory represent Upper
and Lower Egypt, but as shown above, Hwt-wrt (6) covered only Upper Egypt. If the
equivalent in the north to Hwt-wrt was Hwt-aAt, the double determinative may have covered
both, but this again is unlikely110. Equally, the common translation of Jmy-wrt as “western”
seems over simplistic in view of cases such as found in Coffin Texts (I, 157f [Sp. 38]) and
even the establishment DAdw-n-Jmy-wrt111.

The association of Hwt-wrt and Hwt-aAt was supported by the distinct probability of the
word “great” being “wr” in Upper Egyptian while “aA”“ in Lower Egyptian dialects, an
implication already suggested by H.G. Fisher112. Thus the Twin Enneads, which we know to
S ! =!
have represented Upper and Lower Egypt respectively are described as M 7 \7 ,
which Faulkner, in my view wrongly, translates “great and mighty”, in fact both simply mean
! Z
“great”, each in its respective dialect. Elsewhere this is expressed as ! + !6ID
! -
“Great Ennead (of Lower Egypt) and Great Ennead of (Upper Egypt)”. Further apparent
confirmation of the differing terms for “great/large” in Upper and Lower Egypt comes from
the title list on a Middle Kingdom stela from Abydos of an official whose epithet is wr-n-

URK I, 183,10 (Fifth Dynasty).
Weil, Die Veziere des Pharaonenreiches, § 26, 20.
He lc k, Beamtentitel, 73; Le p si u s, Denkmäler aus Ägypten und Äthiopien (Berlin 1848-58) Vol. II, (b).
See note 2 above.
Mo r e no G ar c ia ’ s translation: “inspecteur des scribes de l’État des deux Hwt-wrt à l’ouest de la
Résidence”, Études, p. 133. This translation I cannot accept.
He lc k, URK. IV, 1381, 17; Sethe, Aegyptische Lesestuecke (Leipzig 1924), 75, 21; Fau lk n er , A Concise
Dictionary of Middle Egyptian (Oxford, 1996), 319.
( b elo w ) , Society and Government, 151-2 and note 811. Please note the misprint of “Great and Small
Enneads” which should read as above, “Great Lower Egyptian and Great Upper Egyptian “. The linking of” wr”
with Upper Egypt and “aA aA”with Lower Egypt was already commented upon by Henry.G Fischer, Varia 1,
Metropolitan Museum of Art, Egyptian Studies I (New York 1976), 10 “Epithets of Seniority”, 91.

Nswt-aA-n-Bity, “Great of the King of Upper Egypt and Great of the King of Lower Egypt” in
the respective dialects113.

The association of Lower Egyptian Hwt-aAt with Upper Egyptian Hwt-wrt could further
be supported by the titles of a late Old Kingdom official Djakhu114. This nomarch of the
Twelfth Nome of Upper Egypt opens his list of titles with HAty-a Hwt-aA(t). As HAty-a, Djakhu
would have been administrator of a district (see above), here described as Hwt-aAt contrary to
what we know about the nature of that establishment It is more likely however, that in this
instance the meaning of the title is “One Foremost of the Hwt-aA(t) “referring to the royal
palace and not any agricultural area115. Thus, here Hwt-aAt appears synonymous with Pr-aA116.
Notable however is the locality which is firmly in Upper Egypt. When the 62 cases of
officials in this period with titles involving Hwt-aAt listed by Moreno Garcia are examined it
becomes obvious, that a vast majority are associated with Lower Egypt117. There are,
however exceptions such as the Fourth Dynasty official Nezut-Nefer who claims to have
been HqA-Hwt-aAt TA-wr and HqA-Hwt-aAt WADt118. As another official, Nekankh buried in Tehne,
Middle Egypt119 who boasts of having been Jmj-r-pr-Hwt-aA(t) – Steward of the Hwt-aA(t).
Evidence, which makes one momentarily hesitate in rejecting the connection of Hwt-wrt and
Hwt-aA(t) altogether comes from the records of Vizier Weseramon120 where the same title
alternates between Hwt-wrt-6 and Hwt-aAt-6. The fact that this evidence comes from the
Eighteenth Dynasty however and therefore much later to the period studied here and also that
connection between Hwt-aAt and Viziers was never previously encountered strongly suggests
that by the New Kingdom this title may have become honorific rather than executive. In
addition, it has to be remembered that whereas Hwt-wrt-(6) came directly under the
responsibility of Viziers followed by Hryw-sStA directly associated with the person of the king
nothing like this can be said of the Hwwt-aA(w)t. Until the Eighteenth Dynasty and
L a n ge and Sc ha e fer , Grab und Denksteine no. 20538, 145. See also Grajetzki, “Der Titel Vorsteher aller
Arbeiten des Königs oder wer waren die Pyramiden –architekten im Mittleren Reich”, Sokar, nr. 14 (2007) 62,
Abb. 7-8.
URK I, 145, 14-15.
Mo r e no Gar c ia, ZÄS 125 (1998), 49 “
This suggestion is further supported by the text of Wni, URK. I, 105, 11: “I was an ATw bearing (the king’s)
sandals in the Hwt-aAt. The same implication comes from an early Twelfth Dynasty claim Griffith, Inscriptions
of Siut and Deir Rifeh, Pl. XVIII, 4 : “Knowing the procedures/secrets of the interior (Xnw) of the Hwt-aAt”. And
lastly this seems to be endorsed although not easily connected with Pr-aA as such, by passages from the Coffin
Texts CT. 204f (Sp. 47): “I have given you (the deceased) these offerings which Hathor, Lady of Punt has given
you. She gives you myrrh in the Hwt-aAt” and further from another spell CT. IV 327k (Sp. 336): “O Atum, who
is in the Hwt-aAt”.
Mo r e no Gar c ia, ZÄS, 125 (1998), 53-55
PM III 143-144
URK I, 24, 12; ibid.161-2.
W eil, Die Veziere des Pharaonenreiches, 74(a) & 75 (c).

Weseramon, this department was never associated with Viziers. The officials responsible for
Hwwt-aA(w) were entitled HqAw (see above) and Jmyw-r. Apart from this obvious
administrative difference between Hwt-aAt and Hwt-wrt the most important difference lies in
the fact that whereas the latter was directly associated with the (southern) Vizier and with
state administration, the former shows no such association and in every aspect shows itself to
have been a unit of agriculture and even royal palace, rather than administration.

IV –Conclusions

In the above paragraphs I endeavour to show some aspects of the provincial structure of
Ancient Egyptian State as it appears to have extended from the Pre-Dynastic Period. The king
emerges as lord, master and owner of all things and all people. Repeated claims by nomarchs
and provincial administrators to have fed, clothed and generally looked after the population
within their area of responsibility were done on behalf of the king, who not only claimed the
profit from his possessions, but was fully responsible for them and this included his subjects
and their well being. The Egyptian king was divine and to compare with a much later period
and different culture: “”in Greek Orthodoxy, the emperor was the head of the church, and the
church served the state”121. Further, the universal system of governing surrounded by
“Elders” (Qnbt/DADAt and the “30”) points towards a tribal chiefdom as origin of the Egyptian
kingship and therefore very remote in time122.

Egypt, from the earliest recorded time, appears to have been divided into City States
incorporating areas of productive land. By the time written records are available to us it
appears that the ownership of this land had been transferred from the citizen communities to
the divine person of the monarch. At what point in history and how this occurred, we have no
means of knowing. These crown estates (spwt ) referred to by modern scholars as nomes
continued as such throughout the pharaonic period in contrast to administrative areas centered
on cities. The nomes themselves were at least partly subdivided into smaller estates (Hwwt)
assigned to individual managers entitled HqAw, and also to temples. The overall authority over
these estates was in the Old Kingdom individually exercised by universal production
establishments called prw-Sna whose obligation was to keep the officialdom and population
fed, dressed and generally equipped.These prw-Sna in the early stages of Egyptian history
constituted the basis of provincial administration in Upper Egypt seemingly responsible to the

N. F. Ca n to r . The Civilization of the Middle Ages (N.York 1993), 69
( b elo w ) , Society and Government pp.151 ff.

Hwwt-wryt. In Lower Egypt on the other hand, there is no apparent trace of anything
equivalent to Hwwt-wryt , What we find are agricultural estates probably on a considerable
scale compared to the Hwwt, called Hwwt-aAwt. These latter were also assigned to important
officials like the famous Meten123. The notable factor is that at no time do we find any trace
of connection between Hwt-aAt and the pr-Sna. It may be that these latter establishments
formed an integral part of the former rather than vice versa.

The evidence indicates that until the Fifth Dynasty, nomes probably continued to be
administered by the provincial “city states” but controlled and supervised from the centre by
officials whose duties were temporary and specifically restricted. During the Fifth Dynasty
however, a “college” of officials appears to have been created. These officials, while
temporarily assigned to specific nomes took over all the functions of their predecessors.
Some of these temporary “nomarchs” received permanent assignments to a few specific
nomes and emerge as the great local families during the Middle Kingdom. Possibly because
of the danger which these families presented to the ruling family, an example being the rise
of the Eleventh Dynasty, the “college” itself and the permanent appointments from it were
progressively discontinued from the outset of the Middle Kingdom. Towards the end of the
Twelfth Dynasty, the families of nomarchs themselves disappear although no force against
them is recorded. It is argued here that the system was so to speak progressively re-
centralised from the outset of the Middle Kingdom in the hands of an official with the title of
Jmj-r-pr-wr. – “High Steward”.

Provincial government, in Upper Egypt only, is seen as established from the earliest
dynastic period in walled government/administrative centres based initially in six major
cities/centres. These were the Hwwt-wryt controlled by the central Vizier through his title of
Jmj-r-Hwt-wrt-6, although some of these Viziers omitted this title from their titularies,
provincial viziers in Upper Egypt clearly settled in one of the six major centres with an
administration already set up. Some of those Viziers, although again not all, claim the title
Jmj-r-Hwt-wrt (omitting the 6), referring only to the one this particular, provincial Vizier
lorded from. In Lower Egypt, there is no evidence of a similar system. Hwwt-aA(w)t also
based in or attached to cities were as seen above most unlikely to have performed this
function. Little is known of their activities. One thing seems certain: their status was

URK. I, 1-7

considerably lower than the Upper Egyptian Hwwt-wryt and they were not associated with
state administration, nor in the period here covered, with any Vizier.

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