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The Diary of Merer (Papyrus Jarf A and B) is the name for papyrus logbooks written over 4,500 years ago that record the daily activities of stone transportation from the Tura limestone quarry to and from Giza during the 4th Dynasty. They are the oldest known papyri with text.[1][2] The text was found in 2013 by a French mission under the direction of Pierre Tallet [fr] of Paris-Sorbonne University in a cave in Wadi al-Jarf. The text is written with hieroglyphs and hieratic on papyrus.[1] The diary of Merer, a middle ranking official with the title inspector (sHD), is thought to date to the 26th year of the reign of Pharaoh Khufu[3] and describes several months of work with the transportation of limestone from Tura to Giza.[4] Though the diary does not specify where the stones were to be used or for what purpose, given the diary may date to what is widely considered the very end of Khufu's reign, Tallet believes they were most likely for cladding the outside of the Great Pyramid. About every ten days, two or three round trips were done. About 40 boatmen worked under him. The period covered in the papyri extends from July to November.[5]

The entries in the logbooks are all arranged along the same line. At the top there is a heading naming the month and the season. Under that there is a horizontal line listing the days of the months. Under the entries for the days, there are always two vertical columns describing what happened on these days (Section B II): [Day 1] The director of 6 Idjeru casts for Heliopolis in a transport boat to bring us food from Heliopolis while the elite is in Tura, Day 2 Inspector Merer spends the day with his troop hauling stones in Tura North; spending the night at Tura North.[6]

In addition to Merer, a few other people are mentioned in the fragments. The most important is Ankhhaf, known from other sources, who is believed to have been a prince and vizier under Khufu and/or Khafre. In the papyri he is called a nobleman (iry-pat) and overseer of Ra-shi-Khufu. The latter place was the harbour at Giza where Tallet believes the casing stones were transported. [7] Several places are mentioned in the logbooks. Tura North and Tura South are the quarries.[8]

The Egyptian archaeologist Zahi Hawass describes the Diary of Merer as “the greatest discovery in Egypt in the 21st century.”[1] The papyrus is exhibited at the Egyptian Museum in Cairo.[citation needed]


  1. ^ a b c "The World's Oldest Papyrus and What It Can Tell Us About the Great Pyramids". Retrieved 11 September 2017.
  2. ^ "The Earliest Known Egyptian Papyri". Retrieved 11 September 2017.
  3. ^ Pierre Tallet: Les papyrus de la Mer Rouge I, Le journal de Merer, (papyrus Jarf A et B), MIFAO 136, Cairo 2017, ISBN 9782724707069, p. 160
  4. ^ "World's Oldest Harbor Discovered in Egypt". LiveScience. Retrieved 11 September 2017.
  5. ^ Tallet: Les papyrus de la Mer Rouge I, p. 160
  6. ^ Tallet: Les papyrus de la Mer Rouge I, p. 150
  7. ^ Tallet: Les papyrus de la Mer Rouge I, pp. 42, 63, 66
  8. ^ Tallet: Les papyrus de la Mer Rouge I, pp. 52, 55