|Bankes papyri collection
British Museum, London
|A group of late Ramesside papyri, collected by William John Bankes (1786-1855) at Thebes during
his second journey to Upper Egypt in 1818, have an interesting modern history attached to them.
I.E.S. Edwards, the Keeper of Egyptian Antiquities at the British Museum from 1955 to 1974,
knew of the existence of the papyri collection at Kingston Lacy from Prof. P.E. Newberry and
wrote to H.J.R.Bankes to offer him access to them. The only problem was that the family did not
know where to find them. During Edward's first visit all the likely places around the house were
searched but with no result. During his second visit to Kingston Lacy, the collection was finally
located having been carefully placed between the pages of a large atlas stored in the library.
Transliterations and translations of two complete papyri were published by Edwards in 1982 in his
journal article The Bankes papyri I and II. The remaining documents in the collection were all
fragmentary. In the 1950s and 1990s the Bankes papyri were all transferred to the British
Museum for specialist care, conservation and storage by the National Trust.
Altogether there are 16 separate documents, some of them consisting of several fragments. They
are a particularly exceptional group of manuscripts, since they include previously unknown letters
by the best known of the Ramesside correspondents - the necropolis scribes Dhutmose and
Butehamun - and the missing half of an already published letter, now known to have been written
almost certainly by the famous general Payankh. The first half of the letter was published by
Jac. Janssen in his Late Ramesside Letters and Communications (p. 37-39, pl. 23-24). The
fragment (now BM Papyrus 10302) was later joined with another larger piece (BM Papyrus 75019)
and four adjacent minor fragments (75020).
In 2006 ten of the Bankes papyri were published by R.J. Demarée in his The Bankes Late
The papyri have been conserved by Bridget Leach of the Museum's Department of Conservation
and Scientific Research.
Collected by William J. Bankes
Transferred from National
Reg. nu. 10302, 75019, 75022