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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

Assement and weighing

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). 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.

Inspection and feedback

If a student requests a review within 30 days after publication of the exam results, an exam review will be organized.

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. General information about course and exam enrolment is available on the website

Registration À la carte education and Exchange

Information for those interested in taking this course in the context of À la carte education (without taking examinations), e.g. about costs, registration and conditions.

Exchange students having questions regarding registration, may contact the Humanities International Office.