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Ancient Egyptian Law


Admission requirements


No actual law codes from ancient Egypt appear to have come down to us, although several legal manuals have survived, which some authors suggest are the actual law codes. In this course we will examine some of the basic aspects of the Egyptian legal system. To achieve this, we will examine these manuals as well as hieroglyphic, hieratic and demotic sources such as sales, loans, donations, marriage and divorce, inheritance, lease, etc., including a famous lawsuit from Assyut (170 BC). The translations of these sources – mostly written on papyrus – will be provided prior to each class.

Course objectives

To acquaint students with the basic principles of the legal system of ancient Egypt and (demotic) papyrology using translations of legal documents from the Old Kingdom to the Roman Period.


The timetables are available through My Timetable.

Mode of instruction

Seminar and own presentation

Assessment method

Student presentation on a legal source (c. 25 minutes) for 30% of final grade (if a student scores an 8 for this presentation, (s)he will start the written exam with a 2.4).
Written exam at the end of the course after study of the mandatory literature (70% of final grade).
Resit if result of written exam is unsatisfactory (< 5.5). The grade for the presentation still stands.

Regulation retake passed exams
In this course it is possible to retake an exam that has been passed (cf. art. and further of the Course and Examination Regulations) ​[alleen opnemen als het ook een minorvak is: "on the condition that this course is not part of the minor."]. Students who have passed the exam may retake the final written assessment (test) of the course if they meet certain requirements. To retake a passed exam, students need to ask the Student Administration Office (OIC) for permission. For more information, go to 'course and exam enrollment' > 'permission for retaking a passed exam' on the student website.

Reading list

  • J.G. Manning, ‘Egypt. Demotic Law’, in: (R. Westbrook (ed.), A History of Ancient Near Eastern Law, Vol. 2 (Handbuch der Orientalistik / Handbook of Oriental Studies. Ägyptologie I, 72/2) 2003, pp. 819-862

  • K. Donker van Heel, Djekhy & Son. Doing Business in Ancient Egypt (2012)


Enrolment through MyStudyMap is mandatory.

Check the website under “course and exam enrollment” for information on how to register for the course.

Aanmelden Studeren à la carte

Kies uit de onderstaande mogelijkheden (weghalen wat niet van toepassing is):
Informatie voor belangstellenden die deze cursus in het kader van Studeren à la carte willen volgen (zonder tentamen), oa. over kosten, inschrijving en voorwaarden.


  • For substantive questions, contact the lecturer listed in the right information bar.

  • For questions about enrolment, admission, etc, contact the Education Administration Office: Vrieshof


In case of (corona)restrictions imposed by the government, this course description is subject to change.