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Ptolemaic High Priests of Letopolis: Sources

The genealogy of the family of the Ptolemaic High Priests of Letopolis (HPLs) under the Ptolemies is klnown only from contemporary material. Most, if not all, of the original sources were discovered in the early 19th century as a series of hieroglyphic and demotic funerary stelae, together with an impressive number of sarcophagi of various HPLs. The number of sarcophagi, whose proximity in time can mostly be established on genealogical grounds, suggests that they were originally discovered together at an unknown location, probably a family vault somewhere near Memphis.

The pricipal sources used for this genealogy are listed below. A visual summary of how each source contributes to the reconstruction given at this site can be seen by selecting the source identifier.

Relief Talbot

Inscription naming HPL Horemhotep I

Louvre D13

Sarcophagus of HPL Ankh-hapi

BM 380

Funerary stele of HPL Horemhotep II

Florence 2179

Sarcophagus of HPL Heriu I

Louvre D12

Sarcophagus of HPL Imhotep

Berlin 46

Sarcophagus of HPL Wennefer

Louvre C316

Offering stele of HPL Ahmes, HPL Horemhotep III and Wennefer son of Nesnunuer

Louvre 328

Funerary stele of Nesnunuer

Bologna 1943

Funerary stele of HPL Ahmes

BM 378

Funerary stele of HPL Heriu II

Louvre N427a

Offering table of HPL Psamtek

Louvre C124

Funerary stele of HPL Heriu III

CCG 31103

Funerary stele of HPL Pahenetjer-Petehoremhab

CCG 31099

Funerary stele of HPL Anemhor-Pashen

The source material has been studied occasionally in the last five decades, though not yet in full. The central section of the family, from Heriu I to Heriu III, was largely known to Spiegelberg in 1908, but was first studied in detail by Eberhard Otto published in 1956. Much of the sources material was studied by Jan Quaegebeur in a series of articles that were primarily concerned with the priesthood of the cult of Arsinoe II, or with the genealogy of the High Priests of Memphis; Dorothy Thompson publshed a genealogical chart synthesising these results in her book Memphis Under the Ptolemies. The only recent study is a paper published by Quaegebeur with Agnes Rammant-Peeters on the connection between the family of Ankh-hapi and the later HPLs. Some other items have been studied in isolation by Kaplony, and by Munro. Two sarcophagi studied incidentally by Marie-Louise Buhl, who did not recognise that their owners were otherwise-unknown HPLs, have been noticed in PP, but have not previously been incorporated in any study of the family.

The genealogy presented here draws on all this previous work, but offers a number of corrections and additions. In particular, Quaegebeur's theory that Heriu III was the father of Pahenetjer-Petehoremhab can be conclusively disproved on chronological grounds, and his proposal that Heriu I was the son of Horemhotep II is also unlikely; in both cases alternatives are proposed. It is suggested, to my knowledge fior the first time, that the HPL Heriu of Florence 2179 should be identified with Heriu I, father of the HPL Ahmes and probably father of the HPLs Horemhotep III and Wennefer. If this is correct, then the only unattached HPL is Imhotep, known only through his sarcophagus Louvre D12. In view of the cluster of sarchopagi we possess stretching from Ankh-hapi in the third century to Heriu II in the second, it seems likely that he belongs to this period, but his exact relationship remains obscure.

Details of particular differences of interpretation may be found at the relevant points of the genealogy.

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