The Ancient Egyptian Testamentary Disposition

Author Nico van Blerk

ISSN: 2411-7870
Affiliations: LLB MA D Litt & Phil (Unisa). Senior Lecturer in Ancient Near Eastern Studies in the Department of Biblical and Ancient Studies at the University of South Africa
Source: Fundamina, Volume 26 Issue 1, p. 199-231


This contribution discusses the ancient Egyptian testamentary disposition document as an arrangement made prior to death. It discusses from a legal perspective different documents used for this purpose. The purpose of a testamentary disposition was to make decisions about one’s assets before death. An attempt is made to indicate that the testamentary disposition document was used from very early in ancient Egyptian history and different documents were used as a will by the testator/testatrix. The purpose of the testamentary disposition was, essentially, to alter the customary intestate succession law. The initial emphasis and connection with religion diminished as different documents were used to make provision prior to death of what was to become of one’s estate. Studying these different testamentary dispositions, we may learn more about testate succession law in ancient Egypt.