© SMB Ägyptisches Museum und Papyrussammlung

ADAGE OF AḤIQAR. The Aḥiqar story narrates how Aḥiqar, who was an adviser to Sennacherib and Esarhaddon, is unjustly betrayed by his nephew—whom he had adopted as a son and successor. Aḥiqar is imprisoned, awaiting execution during the reign of Esarhaddon. He escapes execution, however, when he reminds the executioner of a favor Aḥiqar had done him during Sennacherib’s reign—when he had similarly saved the executioner from an unjust death. The executioner kills another prisoner instead and presents it to Esarhaddon as the body of Aḥiqar. The earliest copies of the Story of Aḥiqar do not survive beyond this point, but later versions narrate how Aḥiqar emerges from hiding, helps the Egyptian king and returns in triumph to Assyria.

The original fifth-century B.C.E. Aramaic version of the Story of Aḥiqar was discovered on Elephantine Island in 1907 by German archaeologists. Most of the damaged papyrus, including this fragment, is kept in the library of the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin.