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HomeArchaeologyAncient Egyptian Worker Took Sick Leave to Embalm his Mother

Ancient Egyptian Worker Took Sick Leave to Embalm his Mother


The British Museum homes a pill which gives a peek into work-life steadiness in historical Egypt. It paperwork the variety of sick days and why 40 staff took time without work from their office in 1250 BC. All kinds of fascinating causes have been given for why folks have been away from their work, together with a word about somebody named Buqentuf, who wanted time without work for embalming and wrapping the corpse of his lifeless mom.

The limestone pill was discovered at Deir el-Medina (Thebes). It has New Egyptian hieratic script on it, with the textual content written in purple and black ink. The writing covers either side of the pill, and the times of staff’ absence are marked by season and quantity, similar to “month 4 of Winter, day 24.” This is beneficial data for researchers who need to know extra in regards to the administrative aspect of life in Egypt. For others, there’s the human-interest angle. They need to know why folks have been absent from work.

A limestone ostracon from historical Egypt itemizing staff and their causes for being absent from work on sure dates . (The Trustees of the British Museum/ CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 )

Like Buqentuf, a number of different staff additionally had to take time without work to embalm and wrap their lifeless kinfolk. As we see right this moment, household obligations and sickness have been the most typical the reason why folks had to take sick go away. Some staff, similar to a person named Pennub, missed work as a result of their moms have been sick.  Others had causes that we wouldn’t anticipate to hear as usually right this moment, similar to males who stayed dwelling to assist round the home due to a “wife or daughter bleeding” – a reference to menstruation.

Of course, folks had to take care of their very own well being and handle their diseases as nicely. For instance, somebody known as Huynefer was often “suffering with his eye” and the scribe famous {that a} man named Seba couldn’t work after being bitten by a scorpion.

An individual named Aapehti was mentioned to have been sick regularly and likewise took time without work when he was “making offerings to god” – maybe to enhance his well being? Illness was essentially the most often recorded motive for sick go away, it seems over 100 instances on the pill.

Workers additionally took days off once they had to carry out duties for his or her superiors – which was apparently permitted in average quantities. For instance, Amenmose was allowed time away from work when he was “fetching stones for the scribe.”

Finally, there’s another excuse folks usually had to excuse themselves from work – brewing beer. While this will likely sound like nothing greater than an odd excuse for folks to exit ingesting, beer was an essential beverage in historical Egypt. It was a fortifying drink for folks to eat each day and it was related to a few of their gods and rituals!

Top Image: Ancient Egyptian mummy photographed on the archaeological museum of Florence.

Source: Massimiliano / Adobe Stock

By Alicia McDermott

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