Patterns of discard: the disposal of administrative materials in Middle and New Kingdom Egypt. Modes and significance of discard practices of sealings and written documents in the “Great Organizations”
The primary function of scarabs during all the periods during which they were used in Egypt was amuletic, yet scarabs were often used as the most prevalent type of seal for public administrations. The use of seals for both public and private purposes to secure rooms, containers, and correspondence reached a high point in the Middle Kingdom, attested by the variety of private and institutional names and patterns of the seals and their use within sophisticated control systems including counter stamping. The study of public accounting and administrative documents is fundamental about the royal properties and temples.
What was the value of sealings in themselves, were they counted, and in this case when and by whom, were they considered receipts of sorts, how were they disposed of? These are fundamental questions for painting a fully fledged picture of administrative practices besides the simple act of recording in writing: the latter practices, however, would not have been recorded, if not occasionally, in texts and thus they can only be grasped at by an internal analysis of the material evidence. The mode of disposal of an item tells us about how it was valued, at least in a given context. This keyword lay at the heart of the investigation: to review all evidence relating to how seal impressions were discarded in order to attempt at reconstructing a lost dimensions of accounting and this approach can only depend upon the context of retrieval of the sealings. It is necessary to consider not only where but also what was discarded in order to asses its value.