Offending Osiris

While Papyrus Boulaq 18 vaguely implies that impalement crucifixion was a form of capital punishment for civil crimes in Egypt during the 17th century BCE, there is little doubt that this method was well entrenched in Egyptian society by the 13th century BCE during the reign of Pharaoh Seti I. The so-called “Nauri Decree” (carved on a cliff at Nauri, Sudan) by Seti I prescribes death by impalement crucifixion for anyone found guilty of selling an animal belonging to the Great Temple of Abydos or of sacrificing an animal to a god other than the temple’s patron god, Osiris.

“… Now as for any superintendent of cattle, any superintendent of donkeys, any herdsman belonging to the Temple of Menmare Happy in Abydos, who shall sell of any beast belonging to the Temple of Menmare Happy in Abydos to someone else; likewise whoever may cause it to be offered on some other document, and it not be offered to Osiris his master in the Temple of Menmare Happy in Abydos; the law shall be executed against him, by condemning him, impaled on the stake, along with forfeiting(?) his wife, his children and all his property to the Temple of Menmare Happy in Abydos, …5”

Another archaeological document known as the Papyrus Abbott, which provided accounts of an investigation into tomb robberies that occurred during the reign of Pharaoh Ramesses IX in the 12th century BCE, makes reference to impalement crucifixion as a capital punishment.

“… The notables caused this coppersmith to be examined in most severe examination in the Great Valley, but it could not be found that he knew of any place there save the two places he had pointed out. He took an oath on pain of being beaten, of having his nose and ears cut off, and of being impaled, saying I know of no place here among these tombs except this tomb which is open and this house which I pointed to you…6”

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