The ostraca mentioned in the articles below are being prepared for publication by Klaas Worp (Greek ostraca), Brian Muhs (Demotic), Jacques van der Vliet (Coptic), Rob Demaree (Hieratic), and Tasha Vorderstrasse (Arabic).
A crate of ancient Egyptian relics discovered at a National Trust property has turned out to be a large collection of inscribed pottery sherds known as 'ostraka', used by scribes to write a variety of notes and messages.
Among the pieces, found during work in the cellars of Kingston Lacy in Dorset are over one hundred tax receipts given by officials for poll tax, mortgages and income tax, providing a fascinating glimpse into everyday life in ancient Egypt.
The ancient sherds form part of a considerable collection of Egyptian artefacts brought to Kingston Lacy in the 19th century by its owner, pioneer Egyptologist William John Bankes. more at 24 hour museum.org
Same news item from the Guardian
Egyptians' ancient tax burden revealed
A dusty crate of broken bits of pottery discovered at a stately home in Dorset has given a fresh insight into the life of the ancient Egyptians - and it turns out that concerns over mortgages, taxes and simply making ends meet were as important then as they are now.
More than 200 "ostraka" - potsherds inscribed with notes - were found in the cellar of the National Trust property Kingston Lacy, near Wimborne Minster
Revealing the find yesterday, experts said some of the ostraka featured lists of temple priests who "stood before the god", but most were concerned with the minutiae of everyday life.
Among the messages translated are receipts for a poll tax bill paid by a farmer, tax paid on handicrafts, income tax from a crop of dates and tax for the maintenance of public utilities.
At least 16 of the tax receipts were issued to the same taxpayer, Patsibtis, son of Petorzmethis. He is also a taxpayer on more than 20 ostraka in the British Museum and other collections.
Brian Muhs, who oversaw the translations, said: "Because there are a lot of ostraka, and many relate to the same people, we are able to build up a picture of what life was like. It is possible to build up a picture of income, jobs, family makeup.
"Some show that the lives of farmers were very hard and they ended each year in debt and had to sell their harvest of dates to pay their taxes," added Mr Muhs. "It was a perpetual cycle of hardship.: more at the Guardian
Source: Chuck Jones and Brian Muhs (thanks).