Papyrus Zagreb E-597-3


knowledge domains
Present location
Europe » Croatia » Zagreb » Archaeological Museum Zagreb
Acquisition history

The papyrus formerly belonged to the collection of the austrian lieutenant general Baron Franz von Koller (1767–1826), who bought it from the Roman antiquities dealer Michelangelo (?) Lanci when he was in the service of the emperor of Austria in Naples (1821–1826). After the death of Franz von Koller his collection was kept in the family house in Obrist and later on in Prague. In the year 1868 the Egyptian objects of the collection were acquired from the son of Baron von Koller on behalf of the Kingdom of Croatia-Slavonia and transferred to Zagreb. Part of the collection went to the Archaeological Museum in Zagreb, including this medical papyrus (Westendorf 1999, 49; Mirnik – Uranić 1996, 44–45).

Find spot

It was acquired in Rom or in Naples in the 1820ies.

Era and Dynasty Dates » Pharaonic Period » New Kingdom

J. Monnet Saleh dates the papyrus to the Ramesside Period without giving any further details. This is taken over by W. Westendorf (Westendorf 1999, 49). No doubt the date is based on palaeographical arguments. However, the overall impression of the palaeography is rather in favour of a date in the 18th dynasty, with some forms of signs appearing already in the 17th dynasty and others still attested in the early 19th dynasty.

Text type
Medical fragment

The damaged text contains three prescriptions, each with a listing of necessary ingredients and instructions for the preparation or the administration of the drug. No quantities are mentioned. As the title of the prescriptions is not preserved, it is impossible to identify the symptoms or diseases the prescriptions are meant to cure. In any case the remedies were applied externally. M. D. Grmek writes: "Three recipes for a powder and ointments which were used in the local treatment of inflammed (sic!) moist skin lesions are presented." (Grmek 1995, 194). At the end of the first line of the text the word “another” (i.e. “another (prescription)” is written in red ink (Westendorf 1999, 49). W. Westendorf assumes that the beginning of the text and its title have been lost before the first preserved line.

Original use

The text as it is preserved gives the impression of being a simple note as memory aid.

Organic » Fiber (from plants and animals) » Papyrus
Object type
Artefact » Writing surfaces » Scroll, Artefact » Writing surfaces » Sheet
Technical description

The papyrus is a narrow strip that measures 30 cm in length and 6 cm in height. It was glued to a piece of fabric in modern times. The top and bottom of the papyrus were cut off either in ancient times or more recently, but it is impossible to tell whether any text is actually missing at the top or the bottom. At the left and right edges text doesn't have to be lost either. The text as it is ended on the third line, because the end of that line is blank. The top layer of the papyrus sheat appears to be missing in the right half in lines 2 and 3, which means that the lines are incomplete.


The main text is written in black ink, red ink was used for the only preserved heading. The text of both the second and the third prescription is indented in lines 2 and 3 compared to the first line. It is conceivable that title of recipe 2 and 3 is incomplete (red ink missing today) or that it was never written in the available space.

Egyptian-Coptic » Egyptian » Middle Egyptian

The instructions for the preparation and application of the drugs are expressed with impersonal passive verb forms. This is typical for prescriptions written in Middle Egyptian. Only the phrase r-r=w hrw 3 (?), if that is how it should actually be read, would speak for a Late Egyptian influence.

Research history

A photograph (Monnet-Saleh; Uranić), a transcription (Grmek), a hieroglyphic transliteration (Internet) and a French (Bardinet) and German translation (Westendorf) have been published in different places. A more detailed analysis of this short text, including an autopsy of the papyrus itself, is still pending.

Bibliographic references

- Grmek 1995: M. D. Grmek, The Zagreb Etruscan Ceremonial Fragment and an Ancient Egyptian Medical Papyrus, in: Lijec̆nic̆ki Vjesnik 117, 1995, 194–196.

- Mirnik – Uranić 1996: I. Mirnik – I. Uranić, Geneza egipatske zbirke Arheološkog muzeja u Zagrebu. Genesis of the Egyptian Collection of the Archaeological Museum in Zagreb, in: J. Balabanić – R. Brezinščak – K. Krizmanić (Ed.), Knjiga Sažetaka Abstracts. Symposium in Occasion of 150th Anniversary of Foundation of the Croatian National Museum 1846–1996 (Zagreb 1996), 44–45.

- Westendorf 1999: W. Westendorf, Handbuch der altägyptischen Medizin, Handbuch der Orientalistik I 36,1 (Leiden/Boston/Köln 1999), 49.

A complete bibliography can be found here.

Dr. Peter Dils

Translation and Commentary

For complete metadata, translation, and commentary, see German version.