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Thesis submitted for the degreeof PhD



This thesis is an investigation into self-definition during two contrasting periods in Egypt's past. It consists of five chapters, plus a conclusion. Chapter I introduces the thesis, putting the topic into its historiographical background, and gives it a theoretical framework. The thesis then falls into two sections, which mirror each other, using the same types of source material. First, the New Kingdom (1550-1070 BCE) is investigated, and then the Coptic period (fourth to ninth centuries CE).

Chapter 2 assesses New Kingdom textualsources,in particularletters. Statements of self made by different members of the literate society are examined. The inconsistencies within the source materialare highlighted, as is a high degree of conformity. In Chapter3, New Kingdom Memphisis investigated. The impact of is by Memphite ideologies the the temple witnessed assessed, as on population official location (Kom harbour Rabi'a) the a residential el palace, areas, a royal and complexes, the pyramidfields.
In Chapter 4, it is seenthat a variety of foci could be appealedto by a literate Egyptian focus 2, letters in in Chapter Coptic Egypt. As define her/himself the to are of seeking in 5 Chapter the the tests self-definition seen rigid opinions. of study, revealing a range Coptic Thebes. An hierarchy Christian the the of analysis site against urban writings of is made of the intensive occupation which occurred in the floodplain and the New Kingdom between is drawn desert. In and conclusion, a comparison surrounding Coptic Egypt, and the validity of ideological statementsconcerning self-definition is considered.



and preliminary


12 13


Chapter One - Introduction A historiographical and theoretical setting Bringing the past to life Controversial identities Self-definition Ideology Absorbing the background and reaching the sources Chapter Two - Self-derinition The context The literate world Textual boundaries Letters The delineation of the world The royal context Sourcesof instability Outside the immediate royal context The apex of the ordered world The establishmentof hierarchy The expressionof discontent Differentiation within the Egyptian world Disdain for the non-familiar Maintenanceof the familiar Terms of exclusivity and difference Facing apparentideological failure in the New Kingdom textual world

14 15 18 26 35 44 46 48 48 51 55 60 66 66 72 76 86 86 88 94 95 105 108 110

Public disorder
Failure to live as an Egyptian should Conclusion Chapter Three - New Kingdom Memphis

113 114 117 117 119 123 124 128 129 133 142 143 146 148 154 157 162 164 166 167 175 in the Coptic textual world 177 177 177 178 181 185 189

Studying the ancient urban environment Cities in ancient Egypt Memphis Memphis as describedin textual sources The foci of Memphis Great temple complex of Ptah Tracing the religious beliefs of the Memphites The sacredenvironment Royal residences Harbour areas Perunefer Kom el Rabi'a Domesticidentifies Domestic pursuits Domestic adornments life in RAT Memphis as a setting for pilgrimage Conclusion Chapter Four - Self-derinition

From the New Kingdom to the Coptic The reasons Background and approach The intervening years TheCopticperiod The literate world

Letters Christian vs non-Christian letters Formulae

195 201 202 204 205

207 207 210 220 220 224 227 227 231 232 234 239 239 240 243 248 251 251 253 256 257 260 260 264

Context The delineation of theworld The powerful destabilising Potential influences The apexof the orderedworld Establishment of hierarchy Sinful self asopposed to virtuousother Differentiationwithin theEgyptianworld Theformationandmaintenance of cornmunities Language asa deviceof exclusion Thefamilial Thevulnerable fOure ideological Facingapparent The struggle to maintaina Christianidentity Exclusion Publicdisorder Conclusion Chapter Five - Coptic Thebes Citiesin CopticEgypt Thebes The startingpoint Sources Eastbank Luxortemple Kamaktemple

Westbank Desertedge/floodplain settlements qeme Ramesseum. Templeof Seti1 Desert occupations/settlements TheQum Deir el Rourni Deir el MedinaandDeir KumetMurrai SiteV11 Sheikh Abd el-Quma Bahri Deir el. Valley of the Kings Deir el Bakhit Quarrysettlement ThothHill The pilgrimagelandscape of Thebes Conclusion Conclusion Bibliography Appendix - Maps, texts and illustrations Figure I Figure 2 Figure 3 Figure 4 5 Figure 6 Figure 7 Figure Figure 8

266 268 269 277 278 280 281 283 286 289 290 294 297 298 299 300 302 307 310 315 356

Egypt, Mediterranean theoases, theSudan 356 showing ancient and sites, eastern EgypL location of mountainous areas showing ancient sites and Egypt Ptolemaic Byzantine and Islamic (post-conquest Egypt) Poetical 111 stela of Thutmosc Cairo 34006 stela BMFA 25.632 stela BMFAstela 25.632 357 358 359 360 361 362 363

Figure 9 Figure 10 Figure II Figure 12 Figure 13 Figure 14 Figure 15 Figure 16 Figure 17 Figure 18 Figure 19 Figure 20 Figure 21 Figure 22 Figure 23 Figure 24 Figure 25 Figure 26 Figure 27 Figure 28 Figure 29 Figure 30 Figure 31 Figure32 Figure 33 Figure34 Figure 35 Figure36 Figure 37 Kuban stela Kuban stela P.Anastasi1, lines 23,7-24,5 P.Bologna 1086,sectionIV P.Bibl. Nat.199 11 P-BM 10326,recto, P.BM 10326,verso P.BM 10326,lines 1-14 P.BM 10326,lines 15-vs. 6 P.BM 10326,lines vs.7-vs.17 P.BM 10326,lines vs.18-vs. 22 P.Turin 1971,recto P.Turin 1971,verso P.Turin 1971,lines I-vs. 1 P.Turin 1971,lines vs.2-vs.12 P.Anastasi11 P.BM 10103,recto, andverso 0.13M5631recto P.Berlin 10487, rccto,andverso P.Berlin 10487 P.Cairo 58053,recto P.Cairo 58053,verso P.Cairo 58053 Map showinglocationof Memphis Map of ruin fields P.Harris 500 P.AnastasiIV Ramesside to the greattemplecomplexof Ptah approaches Ear stela 364 365 366 367 368 369 370 371 372 373 374 375 376 377 378 379 380 381 382 383 384 385 386 387 388 389 390 391 392

libation basin 392

Figure 38 Figure39 Figure 40 Figure41 Figure42 Figure 43 Figure 44 Figure 45 Figure 46 Figure 47 Figure 48 Figure49 Figure 50 Figure 51 Figure 52 Figure 53 Figure.54 Figure 55 Figure 56 Figure 57 Figure 58 Figure 59 Figure 60 Figure 61 Figure 62 Figure 63 Figure 64 Figure 65 Figure 66

Map of southeastquadrant of greatPtahcomplex,showingMerenptah's palace 393 Map showinglocation of RAT Figurines Figurines,andrepresentations of Hathoron plaques Cobrastatuettes Itemsof personal adornment Oriental Institute no. 13757 Oriental Institute no. 13756 P.Metr.Mus.AccessionNo. 24.24 O.CrumVC 67 P.Mon.Epiph.300 P.Ryl. Copt.267 P.Oxy.XLVI 3314 P.Oxy.LIX 4008 O.Vind.Copt. 286 O.Medin.HabuCopt. 137 P.Herm. 3 O.CrumVC 39 P.Lond.Vl 1917 P.Mon.Epiph.140 P.Herm.4 P.Oxy.11X 4004 P.YaleCopt 19 P.Oxy.LIX 4003 Crum 1940,plate 11 Crum 1940,10, no. 11 P.Leid.Inst.69 O.Theb. 32 394 395 396 397 398 399 400 401 402 402 403 403 403 404 404 405 406 407 408 409 409 410 410 411 412 413 413

Figure 67 Figure 68 Figure 69 Figure 70 Figure 71 Figure 72 Figure 73 Figure 74 Figure 75 Figure 76 Figure 77 Figure 78 Figure 79 Figure 80 Figure 81 Figure 82 Figure 83 Figure 84 Figure 85 Figure 86 Plate I Plate 2 Plate3 Plate4 Plate5 Plate 6 Plate7 Plate8 Plate9 P.NagHamm. C4 P.NagHamm. C5 O.Brit. Mus.Copt.I. 54,1 P.Oxy.XXXJ 2603 O.CrumVC 45 P.Bal.188 P.Bal.256 P.Ryl. Copt.289 O.BriLMus.Copt.1 71.1 P.U)nd.Vl 1914 Vl 1914 P.LA: )nd. O.Mich. Copt.4 P.Mich. Copt.15 P.Mon.Epiph.222 Thebesshowingmain sitesof Coptic occupation Map of western Map of Thebes (eastandwestbanks) Map of monasteries of Epiphanius and Cyriacus Designson mud seals Ribbedamphora (scale1:10) Fragments of paintedpottery Mortuarytempleof Ramesses (MedinctHabu) III, western Thebes Houseof Butehamon, MedinetHabu Non-Egyptian at MedinetHabu prisoner,from palace Non-Egyptian from palaceat MedinetHabu prisoners, Headof Ramesses 11from Memphis Colossus 11.Memphis of Ramesscs Colossus 11,Memphis of Ramesscs Alabastersphinx,Memphis Festaltempleof Thutmosis111, Karnak 414 414 415 415 416 417 417 418 418 419 420 421 421 421 422 423 424 425 425 425 426 426 427 427 428 428 429 429 430


Plate 10 Plate 11 Plate 12 Plate 13 Plate 14 Plate 15 Plate 16 Plate 17 Plate 18 Plate 19 Plate 20 Plate21 Plate 22 Plate23 Plate 24 Plate25 Plate 26 Plate27 Plate 28 Plate29 Plate30 Plate31 Plate32 Plate33 Plate34 Plate35 Plate36 Plate37 Plate38

Stonelintels, Karnak Stonelintels, shell niches,Luxor Shell niche, Luxor Silver binding of gospels,Luxor Bronzelamp,Luxor Avenueof sphinxes, Luxor ChurchundertheAbou Fbggagmosque, Luxor Churchon westsideof temple,Luxor Second churchon westsideof temple,Luxor Coptic graffito, Djcme (MedinetHabu) Site of main churchin Djeme Coptic house.Djeme Stonelintels, Djeme View from enclosure wall of Djeme

430 431 431 432 432 433 433 434 434 435 435 436 436 437

View of the Qum andmortuarytempleof Ramcsses III (MedinetHabu/Djeme) 437 from Djeme On path to Ramesscum Magical symbol,greathypostylehall of Ramesseum Coptic graffiti, templeof Seti 1 Detail of above Valley of Queens from slopesof Qum Djemefrom slopesof Qum View south,towardssummitof Qum Potterysherd,slopes of Qum View south,Qum View north, Qum Pathsconnecting and Deir Kumct Murrai site VII, Ramesseum Dcir el Medina Valley of the Queens Deir el Roumi 438 438 439 439 440 440 441 441 442 442 443 443 444 444


Plate39 Plate40 Plate41 Plate42 Plate43 Plate44 Plate45 Plate46 Plate47 Plate48 Plate49 Plate50 Plate51 Plate52 Plate53 Plate54 Plate55 Plate56 Plate57 Plate58 Plate59 Plate60 Plate61 Plate62 Plate63

Apse of church,Deir el Roumi Room (baptistry? ), Deir el Rourni Exterior of templeof Hathor,Deir el Medina Footprintson templeroof, Deir cl Medina Deir KurnetMurrai, cultivation behind Deir Kurnet Murrai, Djemein distance DeirKumetMurrai Outlook from Deir Kumet Murrai towardsDeir el Medinaandthe Qum On pathfrom Deir el Medinato site VII Baseof mudbricktower,site VIT Site VII, view towardsRamesseum Site VII, view towardsDeir Kumet Murrai SheikhAbd el Quma,monastery of Cyriacus; Baseof mudbricktower.monastery of Epiphanius: View from mudbricktowertowardsDcir el Bahri Monasteryof Epiphanius Deir el Bahri Site of Deir el Bakhit Panoramic Thebes view over western Pyramidalsummitof the Qum Thoth I-Ell Coptic magicalpapyrus Coptic magicalpapyrus desert Monastery Wadi Qelt, Judean of St George, Mount of Temptation,Jericho

445 445 446 446 447 447 448 448 449 449 450 450 451 451 452 452 453 453 454 455 455 456 456 457 457



Coptic period textual material is referred to using the abbreviations as laid out in JF Oates et al, 2001, Checklist of editions of Greek, Latin, Demotic and Coptic papyri, ostraca and tablets,fifth edition. The edition of a text is only cited when reference is made to an editor's interpretation of a text, or when a text does not appear in the above checklist (for example, the two Arabic texts cited).

For the New Kingdom textual material, the edition of a text is referenced, as well as the (often in abbreviatedform) as used in that edition. name of a papyrus/ostracon/stela

Unless explicitly statedotherwise,any translations are the work of the author. These havebeeninformedby the work of any previoustranslators. translations



First, I thankmy supervisor,JohnTait, for his supportand immense help throughout. I am alsogratefulto my second supervisor,PeterUcko, who hasprovidedmuch useful criticism.

I am gratefulto David Jeffreys for advising me on approaches, sourcematerial, and trip to Egypt. I would aswell asprovidinginformationprior to my research references, also like to thank Dominic Montserrat who was a sourceof enthusiastic advice at an early stageof this project. BeverleyButler, Kevin MacDonald,Okashael-Daly and Carol Downer also madeuseful suggestions, and I am grateful to them. I thank the RobertKirby of the staff of the different librariesin which I haveworked, especially library. Instituteof Archaeology

This thesiswas written during the tenureof an award from the Arts and Humanities Research Board. I am gmteful to University CollegeLondon for additionalfinancial trip to Egyptwas providedby the Arts support. Fundingtowardsthecostof a research Research Board. andHumanities

Daniel Gordon has been a patient and humorous reader of drafts, and I am hugely 0

gratefulto him. In particular,I wish to thank Daniel, as well as my sister, Kate, and my parents,Katharine andWilliam, for enablingmeto reachthis point.


INTRODUCTION On the seafront at Nice, above a passageway, an inscription records France's debt to the USA in World Warl. It thanks the USA for its assistancein the 'conflit mondial de Few would now interpret World War I in such a In contrast,

la civilisation contre la barbarie.

light, and visitors to Nice pass under the inscription, barely noticing it.

when faced with similar statementson the pylons of ancient Egyptian temples, or when told of the hostility expressedby fifth century CE Egyptians towards those who did not conform to their world-view, the visitor to Egypt responds with an unquestioning fascination. So this was how people used to live.

The Egyptians of the New Kingdom (1550-1070 BCE) and the Coptic period (fourth to images Certain CE) spring to mind; were masters of self-presentation. ninth centuries that of an all-conquering Ramesses11or of a Coptic hermit, persisting in a life of denial New Kingdom General the about studies as well as more specialized odds. againstall by Egyptians forward images Egypt the Coptic to the put serve propagate and themselves (see Smith 1993,89). By such means, modem perceptions of both New

Kingdom and Coptic Egypt can be dominated by views which may only have held any in Egypt during living those meaning amongst a small proportion of people actually do inscription Just too Nice these the realities, so set of as at masks a whole periods. imagesof New Kingdom and Coptic Egypt.

Frequently theapproach to Egyptof theNew Kingdomor of theCopticperiodhasbeen limited in been has the meansof self-expression, on either placed one which emphasis been in has Egypt Life life presentedas one of patterns. or on endlesslyvariant
been have addressed. not extremes, and certain questions

15 The presentationof monolithic certainties,whether by an Egyptian of the New Kingdom or of the Coptic period, leadsto the questionsof why someattemptat rigid how far for be to any to and a society survive appears necessary self-definition between is intersections The the well and within as as oppositions consensus possible. different typesof evidence are highlighted. The contrastprovided by studying New Kingdom aswell asCopticEgyptallows a new perspective on thesequestions. These two periods,thefirst of imperialism,the secondof fragmentation and rejection,forced The New Kingdom the Egyptian to subscribeto utterly opposing world-views. 0 ., Egyptianlookedto theEgyptianpast,whereas theEgyptianof the Coptic period looked to the non-Egyptian past.

A historiographical

and theoretical


The subject of this thesis appearsto be rooted in a very contemporaryobsession: that of identity. Yet I would also argue that such a pre-occupation was relevant to nineteenth Coptic Egypt, New Kingdom twentieth and and was century scholars of early and furthermore not without significance for those actually living during the periods under investigation.

The theoretical frameworks of modem scholarship may have changed since the in differing but has this widely conclusions. nineteenth century, not always resulted Frequently it is the languageused to expressany conclusions which has changed rather than the conclusions themselves. This is especially the case when studying the more distant past, where uncertaintiesand multiple interpretationsare always going to be part of an interpretation of available evidence, whatever the theoretical outlook. Even the

debatebetweenthe presentationof facts or the developmentof theory is not new. Inan introduction to ancient history (including ancient Egypt) published in 1871, Mahaffy for 'make history historians French arena the mere tendency a who of criticised

16 he (1871,6) theory' also regardedempirical and political supportinga pre-conceived calwork: studyasmoreimportantthantheored
'I often apprehend that the present tendency of Oxford culture is to brilliant in the theoretical these style and essays, encourage writing of sketchy conception, but impatient of real labour' (1871,20). The suspicion that the developmentof theory was not as rigorous or as necessary as the accumulation of new information has lingered. The priority, especially with a

civilization as unknown as that of ancient Egypt, has been to collect evidence. Thus Janssen's (1975) work on the economic life of one community in New Kingdom Egypt first, had 'facts' to the theory would to theory; come economic made no reference follow (Janssen 1975,1). With reference to the use of postmodern theory within

history, it has been statedthat it can serve to obscure rather than reveal the past (Evans 2000). In this critique of postmodemism, in which Evans fully acceptedthe ways in he has been benefit historical to also concluded: study, of which postmodernism 'I will look humbly at the past and say despite them all [the postmodern historians]: it really happened,and we really can, if we are very scrupulous and it happened find how and reach some tenable self-crifical, and careful out though always less than final conclusions about what it all meant' (Evans 2000, 253). In archaeological and, increasingly, in Egyptological. research as well, it is hard to accessworks which do not include a section on recent theory (especially postmodem) drawn from other disciplines (for example anthropology and philosophy) as writers seek to demonstratetheir theoreticalawareness. It seemsto be a necessarystage before the actual body of the text can be reached. Both archaeologistsand Egyptologists have it is is k that to that their responding to, and useful to, naive, wor not sought emphasise been developed has fields Egyptology Yet and alongside, apart always of study. other (see Adams, W, linguistics history, textual criticism and archaeology, papyrology, of, 1997,27-8), with a time-span ranging from before the earliest hiero. lyphs to Coptic. Nevertheless, a desire to locate any archaeological/Egyptologicalresearchmore visibly in the wider arena of anthropology, history or social theory, areas which have long 01


undergone much self-reflective examination,has meant that these processes of

theoreticalexarninationare given an air of urgency.

With respect to Egypt's pharaonic past, this is particularly representedby Meskell's works, and a desire to focus on less/non-hierarchicalevidence, to emphasisethe nontextual as opposed to textual evidence (see for example, 1994). Theoretical insights have also beenused on more overtly hierarchical evidencefrom ancient Egypt and have been regarded as crucial: 'the use of a theoretical framework avoids the pitfalls of arguing from guessesabout motivations and other such imponderables' (Baines 1996b, 360). From this basis, Baines was then able to examineattitudestowards ethnic groups (in particular Libyans) as seen in literature and iconography (1996b, 363-84). Of

central relevanceto this thesis, was the reminder that in Egypt 'official ideology was aggressively uniformitarian and evidencefor cultural diversity is sparse' (1996b, 362). Researchon the Coptic period has been incorporated into wider volumes addressing very contemporarythemes(Montserrat 1998), giving a new reading of textual evidence.

Despite this theoretical awareness, theory can also make little visible impact on the actual text apart from frequent asides to cross-cultural material and parallels (see for exampleAlston 2002). This is not to say that theoreticalawarenessis not useful. Even E. P. Thompson's polemic against theory (1978), especially that generated by Althusser, is put into context by his theoretical, Marxist position in approaching the history of the ruled, rather than the history of the rulers (Burke 200 1,1).

Oneof themajoreffectsof this theoretical hasbeen self-examination within archaeology in the emphasisplacedupon issues of identity, ethnicity, nationalism, indigenous andtheinfluence on the contemporary peoples political arena(seeKohl of archaeology incidentallystressthe relevance andFawcett1995;Jones1997,1-13). Suchemphases of archaeologyoutside its immediate confines as it is used to empower the disenfranchised(Baker 1990,54-5). These increasingly anti-nationalist, anti-


(in anglesserve andmuld-cultural progressivist termsof theanalysisof culturalchange) from the nation-buildingassociationsof its past (Gosden to distancearchaeology 2001). Incidentally, the postmodern theory which can find a home in these

far left by from is the texts as preventing the some also condemned archaeological discoveryof any hard informationthus denyingthe existence of progressand thereby (seePeacock 2002,10,226-30). furtheringthecapitalist programme

from many different anglesfrom The topic of this thesiscould havebeenapproached the nineteenth centuryonwards. For example,it could havebeenusedto demonstrate the links between New Kingdom and Coptic period Egyptians, to highlight the Egyptiansto other ancientpeoplesand to 'difference'or the 'superiority' of theancient link themin with the westernworld. Thus it seems vital to examineboth the priorities is This background. to evaluate,rather than to the theoretical and of earlierresearch itself. As arguedby Burke (2001,164), the variety in the past dictate,the evidence demonstrates thattheory canneverbe "appliedto thepast"', but thatinsteadtheory can "their"period, for historians &suggest to or new answersto questions ask about new familiar questions'(2001,165).

Bringing thepast to life

V,rith a civilization as distant and, until the nineteenth century, as lost as ancient Egypt, there has been a continual demand for information on the social, not only the political, be life Egyptian, termed to the could now of what much covering of an ancient aspects 'identity politics'. Egyptologists had to satisfy the public's demand to know more

her/his Egyptian lived, how Egyptian what was, and an who ancient an ancient about pre-occupationsand religious beliefs were.

the West, so As Greece and Rome had been subsumed into the intellectual heritage of 0 too did Egyptologists hope that Egypt would become 'an automatic part of everyman's

19 inheritance' (Glanville 1942,xvii). The search wasfor the individual in Egypt, for the of the 'ordinary' personliving under pharaonic rule, to counterthe despotic experience in the Old Testament: 'much nonsense imagesgenerated has beenwritten about the of thepeople,their tearsand groans. With thesplendidorganisation evident oppression in the work, the peoplemust have beenwell managed,and there was no hardship in whatever carryingout thework' (Petrie1923,26). At the sametime, it was realised thattheindividualwas bound to be more elusivethan in more recentcivilizations:'the individual may not haveexpanded hereas he did in Greece,but Egypt was none the less, like Greece, (Berr 1927,xxvii). An undueemphasis an exceptional success' was natureof the ancient almostenlightened also continuallyplacedupon the exceptional, Egyptiancivilization,to give thereaders to admire: something 'nor canwe fail to remarkthe differencebetween themand their Asiatic rivals, theAssyrians,who evenat a muchlater period, had the greatdefectsof Asiatic impaling, flaying alive, and torturing their prisoners;as the Persians, cruelty Turks and other Orientalshave done to the presentcentury; the reproachof which cannot be extendedto the ancientEgyptians' (Wilkinson 1854,3 Baines1999d,12). compare Egyptians, In bookschartingthe 'everyday'lives of theancient writers referredto more familiar images,to bring the past closer and to render the Egyptian civilization as Egypt less something morefamiliar. Parallels werecontinuallydrawn, to makeancient ix). (Wilkinson 1857, For timedifferences strange,while at the same wereemphasised the numerous to the large number titles of the king of Egypt were compared example, held by the Prince of Wales (Petrie 1923,9), and the settingof ancientEgypt was to England:'all this soundsvery different from our own life. Insteadof the contrasted Strand, Street, High line, Piccadilly the the essential the or village or or main railway landmarkfor the Egyptianwas (and is today) the Nile' (Glanville 1933,17). Such

habits, interest Egyptians in lifestyle that their their the the the eating ancient of was (Glanville 1933). lives werenarrated homes,andtheir domestic

In stimulating and satisfying any interest in the Coptic period in Egypt, the scholar's task was, in a way, easier, as one aspectof life during that period could be understood


to thepresent. The prevalent with easyreference religiousbelief in Egypt at that time, Christianity,madeparallels simpler,yet the materialcultureof that period did not have nearlythe samedazzlingimpactasthatof thephamonic era (seeButler 1884, vii). This alsomeantthatit was the Christianbeliefswhich werethe prime, if not the only, focus of interest(Butcher 1897;Murray 1963,141). Whereinterestwas shown in the lifeof Egyptiansof the Coptic period, it was frequently only the evidencefrom patterns contexts which was available monastic or utilised. Thus it was possibleto buildup an intimateanddetailed living in a monastery in pictureof thelives of a groupof Egyptians (Winlock and Crum 1926). Their eatinghabits, domesticand thewestbankat Thebes sacredspaceas well as their businessdealingswere all chartedthrough a careful Christians lives in modemEgyptalsoprovidedwhat was thoughtto The of excavation. be a living witnessto the Coptic period, as well as to the phamonicperiod (see Lane 1842,489; Sayce1911, viii). The Coptic liturgy as still said in Coptic churchesin Egypt preservedfor modem observersa part of ancientreligious ritual supposedly linked to theEgyptians of theCopticandpharaonic period(Storrs 1943,53).

Bringing the ancient Egyptians to life was a complex process, and research was often concentratedon recovering the lives of the elite, primarily through the excavation of burial sites and through the priority given to textual finds (see Kemp 1984). Yet there were those who were interestedin the less glamorous finds and sites as well (see Petrie 1891). In common with such interests, emphasis was placed upon recording the context of finds (Petrie 1891,161), and upon the careful use of different types of sources, textual and non-textual (McLean 1913, vi-vii). Nor was the use of cross-

cultural parallels entirely haphazard,but was also guided by academicprinciples.

A comprehensive, groundedexamination of the rural populationof anthropologically UpperEgyptduring the 1920s,provedto be of use to Egyptologists seekingto explain finds (Blackman 2000 [1927]). Indeed,Blackman'swork is still of use today material (Ikram in Blackman2000 [1927], ix-x). At about the sametime, a Festschriftwas


book in Egyptology, for Francis Griffith, figure the this sections of and written a major integration Egyptological the the of and wide priorities of research reveal a desire to study parallels(Glanville 1932b). They also demonstrate anthropological Egyptfrom its orgins until theIslamicperiod.

The eight sections of the book cover history; texts and philology (hieroglyphic and hieratic); texts and philology (demotic, Coptic, Arabic and Old-Nubian); texts and philology (Greek); art, archaeologyand science(this section is only a little shorter than the three text and philology sections combined); religion; anthropology and the history of Egyptology (Glanville 1932b, vii-viii). This epitomises the broad and far-reaching

(and in no way isolationist) aims of Egyptology at this period, in which skills from integrated in Egypt's disciplines to understanding of were an order achieve past. many The contributions, by a wide range of authors, include a comparative study of burial customs in centralAfrica, the Sudan and Egypt in which the reader was warned that no generalisationscould be made (Seligman 1932,462). The volume concludes with a

series of almost random impressions gained by an Egyptologist whilst working in Egypt. His diverse interestsincluded the study of forgeries for their own sake, and his account was free from any patronising statementsof superiority Quibell 1932).

The above attempts at bringing the past to life in Egypt, through the careful use of a variety of sourcesalongside a willin gnessto use modes of comparison or parallels from ., modem as well as ancient societies, still have resonancetoday. Since the 1930s many books and articles have been produced which aim to chart the lives of the ancient Egyptians in their own terms. The vast majority of thesehave been broadly theory-free (see for example Cemy 1973; Kemp 1993), and the main differences between such language, in been has the the of use choice of of new material, and earlier works works expression, and in the prioritisation of different types of evidence. Kemp's work in particular (1993) aimed to show that the ancientEgyptians were notjust the manipulated tools/victims of theirrulers. This immediately makes his work more accessible,and the


by Egyptians thus the aims expressed achieving and real understandable ancient more is idea individual Glanville. The a action nevertheless of earlier scholarssuch as contentiousone (see Meskell 1998,152-3 on the social constructionof the term for ancientEgypt, in which 'individual'), and sometimes thoughtto be anachronistic by an individualof his/herlife was only opento a minority (see any 'public' assessment Baines1999c,25).

There has also gradually been the desire to make Egyptology a more theory-laden as a whole has become world, as academia with theory. more and more preoccupied The late 1970swerea crucialtimefor a re-evaluation of Egyptological priorities, and in particular the relationshipof Egyptology to the social sciences. Thus a group of (Weeks Egyptologists to a book entitledEgyptologyandtheSocialSciences contributed 1979). In this book, ratherthanarguingfor the impositionof theory onto Egyptology, for. for Egyptolocrical Thus looked focus settlement sites, research was a changeof 0 in Egypt be to the than sites, of excavations were priority argued monumental rather (Redford 1979, (Bietak 1979,98-9), andtheimportance of contextwas re-emphasised 4-5).

In 1976 an entire issue of the Royal Anthropological Institute News was dedicated to promoting cross-disciplinary fertilisation between Egyptology and anthropology. The major difference between Egyptology and anthropology was highlighted in the introduction to this issue (Baines 1976,3): 'its [Egyptology's] aims are, however, facts, is its in the remains those that a set of starting-point unlike of a social science, from a particular area and period, and not a body of theory'. In 1997 it was felt

necessary to produce a further publication on Egyptology and anthropology (Lustig 1997). This was comprised of a series of anthropologically oriented articles (including the use of theoreticalmodels). In one of these, terminology such as self and other was depictions Kingdom New imperialism, New Kingdom to to specifically relating applied of Nubians (Smith 1997,81-5).


The concern to locate Eg ptology in an anthropological setting, as epitomised by the rly above works, has frequently resulted in changing the emphasis of Egyptological research and the types of evidence looked for (basing it more in less elite, evidence). Any bias towards textual and monumentalevidence was now archaeologencal tilted towards non-textual, non-monumental evidence. This is a natural development given the new techniques of conducting archaeological research in Egypt, and as a reaction to the view of Egyptologists as treasurehunters. As noted above, however, an interest in the domestic, private spaceof the ancientEgyptians had always run alongside the desire to reveal luxury products, even if the focus had been on dramatising the Furthermore, the utility of ancient Eg pt to OY been noted, and ancient Egypt was included as a sociological work had long 0 in Spencer (1925). by the a series compiled study sociologist comparative 0 wealth and achievementsof the elite.

This was entitledDescriptive sociology;or groupsof sociologicalfacts. The aims of by Petrie,the editor of the volume on Egypt, was to list the the series,as described facts of eachdifferent society under uniform headings,allowing easy characteristic comparison(Petrie in Spencer1925). A further aim of the text was to allow an objectivereadingof facts: the readerwould be 'uninfluencedby the hypothesesor 1925). Despitewhat now appearas the prejudices of otherpersons'(Petriein Spencer very datedaims of the book, Spencer's of informationhold fascinationfor categories (and postmodem)reader,whereby 'bodily mutilations', 'clothing' the contemporary such as 'division of labour' and and 'magic' are listed alongsideother categories 6general government'.

in the context of six other civilizations A comparative set pt work on ancientEg .Y in thetraditionof Spencer. Here, Trigger aimedto get closerto (Trigger 1995)stands 0 O his own prejudices, terminologyas the thepastlives througheliminating same applying 005 used in the civilizations under study (1995,18). Such careful and systematic


investigation of cross-cultural categoriesthus aimed to avoid the inappropriate formed Cross-cultural between the core of parallels of parallels societies. application the argument,insteadof merely forming occasional references. One of the clearest from Trigger's work was the centralityof hierarchy which was to emerge conclusions to this form of social order. that 'this to early civilizations, and a lack of resistance independently in all the early civilizationssuggests that it must have attitudedeveloped begunasa manifestation of practical ratherthan of culturalreason,which by definition is idiosyncratic to specificculturaltraditions'(1995,111).

The increased desire to locate Egyptoloo, closely alongside other disciplines, most OY notably anthropology, has been reflected by an increasedinterest in studying the less feminist Egypt. As in debates the theory have concerning complex ancient visible developedand continued, certain studies have appearedon women in ancient Egypt in Egyptian been has lives the ancient women less placed of on making which emphasis Similarly, Robins have for 1993; Fletcher 2001). (see textual sources example elusive been removed from their pinnacle, and have been increasingly mistrusted as reliable sources (yet it is also a travesty to assume that textual evidence was always read in a straightforward, accepting manner). Instead literary theory has been used to vocalise the different techniquesutilised in ancienttexts (Loprieno 1988; 1996).

Investigation into the Coptic period in Egypt is often a sideline occupation, not fitting easily into any category of study, but overlapping with many, and forming a much been focus Yet has Egypt. for this than that also affected of smaller research pharaonic by theoretical perspectives. The demand for settlement archaeology continues as Coptic to archaeology structures, although solely recording monumental opposed is by be textual than the to shown analysis, as of study continues a much smaller source focus of the International Congress of Coptic Studies (Orlandi 1993). More recently, Bagnall (2001,243) has emphasised the need for more excavations. Modem

terminology (such as nationalism) has long been applied to the study of textual sources


(L. eipoldt1903;Frend 1982). An unusualexampleof the applicationof contemporary theoretical to Coptic texts has beenWilfong's (1998a, 131-3) analysis preoccupations in Copticmartyrdoms. of thephysicalmodificationof thebody asdescribed

Very much in the tradition of those such as Glanville and Petrie, Meskell has attempted to bring Egypt's past to life in a new way. Theoretical perspectivesinfuse her work. Despite sometimes long introductory comments dealing with, for example, third wave feminism, a frequently traditional set of sourcematerial (such as mortuary data), textual and non-textual, is then utilised, albeit from different angles (see Meskell 1999,8-95). The aim of her work was statedexplicitly in a postscript to her latest book: 'This project has drawn on a variety of scholarly traditions: the Annales historians, third wave feminism, the postprocessualschool of archaeology, and a host of disciplines such as anthropology, social theory, and literary studies. Crucial insights from those fields allow us to view Egypt from a postcolonial deconstruct to the layered preoccupationsof older scholarship, and perspective, to expose our own preconceptions, thereby reenvisioning Egypt for a new millennium'(Meskell 2002,208). Yet, if stripped of the terminology, Meskell's insights would be along the same lines as those of Glanville. She has also aimed to bring the individual to life in ancient Egypt (as has Kemp), and has presented the evidence in a similarly lively, accessible narrative. Her book on private life in Egypt (Meskell 2002), based upon the evidence from Deir el Medina, a New Kingdom settlementfor those who worked for the king on the royal necropolis at Thebes, has many of the same intentions as Glanville or Petrie's works, despite the theoretical aims expressed above. Thus when she stated (2002, 148), 'we can go some way toward reconstructing the sensuallife of the Egyptians: the material pleasures, intoxications, tastes, aromas, music and dancesthat they embraced Egyptologists far from her bodily being', that their earlier aims not enhanced were and 'were bright, Egyptians Peet (1931,7) the that a merry ancient such as who wrote people with very little taint of cruelty in their nature, who loved wine and music and feasting'. Through all theseauthors the ancientEgyptians are brought closer. Eventhe lifecycle (Meskell in Egyptians their their terms, that the of own ancient aim of viewing 2001,200; 2002,57), would not have been alien to previous scholars, nor indeed to


lifecycles (although individuals' the of universallyapplicablerelevance anyonegiven for innovation Gilchrist 2000,325-6 this the archaeological of approach on compare research).

Uniting the history of researchinto the past of Egypt has been the concern to bring it to life, to fill it with individuals who have been explained in contrast to today as well as in parallel to other civilizations from the past and present. This has been framed in an increasingly sophisticated theoretical framework, which has changed priorities and made the subject more acceptable in a contemporary context. Meskell's Egypt is

populated by sensuous individuals, free from the moralising influence of the JudeoChristian world, just as Petrie's Egypt was populated by well-ordered content workers. And the practicesof the ascetes,living in the Egyptian desert following Christian lives fit themselveswell to contemporary intemsts (see Goehring 1997), just as they can also be a source of religious inspiration (seeYanney 1992,98). These changesof emphases do not actually changewhat happened(seeThompson 1978,232-3).

The reminder that a convincing, evocative past can be captured without the overt statementof theoretical perspectivesis provided by a study of twelve individuals from 2650 BCE to 150 BCE in Egypt (Ray 2001). In this, parallels and comparisons were inserted effortlessly into a narrative which achievesits aim of bringing Egypt 'home' (Ray 2001,1). This is doubtless an aim which could justifiably be argued about at

length by theoreticians.

Controversial klentities

A continualtheme the history of study into Egypt has beena desireto find throughout is Egyptians. This topic, identity the contested much a the of ancient actual physical out increasingly been in has, the as anthropological abandoned main, and one which be (although been has to its has a superficial this shown research changed priorities


changeof emphasis: see Keita and Kittles 1997,534,541).

It is an area in which

theory has playedan undeniable role, in conjunctionwith changingpolitical situations from colonialismto postcolonialism.Only a few would now interpretthis thesistopic thought they as motivatedby a desireto find out what colour the Eg ptians were, or Ily that it was positing a uniqueraciallink betweenEgypt of the New Kingdom and the Copticperiod. That it would still be possible,however,demands first an insight into in the race of the Egyptianshas beenplayed out. How is it that bow the obsession Meskell (2001) can now theorise about identity without discussing race (despite Egypt)? ancient mentioning

Part of the essential 'fact' gathering which was carried out in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuriesinvolved the copying of reliefs from monumentsacross Egypt. This is still carried out, for example by the University of Chicago at the mortuary temple of RamessesIII at Medinet Habu, Thebes. Yet, in the early stagesof such work a major source of fascination and interest was the numerous depictions on monuments of what appeared to be non-Egyptians, often labelled by country of origin, always in submission. In his contribution to Griffith's Festschrift (Glanville 1932b - see above), Petrie noted that he had been commissionedto record such images, alongside images of Egyptians (Petrie 1932,477). He did not state who had commissioned this work, the purpose of his article instead being to describehis trip madein 1886 with Griffith.

It was on this trip thatPetriegathered the information (Petrie 1932,477-9) which was (1899). These laterprivatelyprintedasRacialphotographs fi-om Egyptianmonuments followed by castsand then images throughf irst makingpapersqueezes, wereobtained photographingthese casts (Petrie 1932,479; Drower 1995,118-9). In sixteen

both Egyptianand non-Egyptianheads catalogued pamphletsnumerousphotographs identity labelled in from terms the their supposed of each photograph cut context,with betweentypesof Egyptiansas well of thepersondepicted.Theselabelsdistinguished Egyptian' 'high for Egyptian between the of category non-Egyptian, example as and


was used. This aimedto be a scientific, objective study of use to Egyptologists, in raceat this period. Yetthisseries anthropologists andthemanywho wereinterested of pamphletsseemslike a relic of a happily past era, from which little can now be gained,otherthana deconstructive analysis.

At the time, scholars were very conscious of their interest in race, past and present, and debated continually about who (racially) the ancient Egyptians were. The state of

research at the beginning of the twentieth century was summarised by one interested party (Smith 1923,37). Smith used the term 'Brown Race' to express his theory that the proto-Egyptians were part of a widespread group of people who spread across north-east Africa and much of western Europe (Smith 1923,67-9). His work fitted

into the general scholarly discussions of the day, whereby each development in Egypt different to a wave of invasions, or population movements. The related was attributed issue of the role of Egypt in the formation of western cultdre is still debated. Glanville concluded his general introduction to the ancient Egyptians by suggesting that the alphabetarosefrom the influence of the Egyptians on the'semitic peoples' (1933,95) the implication being that we should be interested in the ancient Egyptians because without them 'our' civilization could not have arisen. The general tone of this debate has been criticised: 'why is the Near East considered to be only a precursor or foil of Greek and Europeanculture, not to the Islamic Middle EastT (Mieroop 1997,296).

Yet eventhis questionstill views ancientculturesin termsof the contributionmadeto latersocieties, like somekind of peckingorder, instead in an ancient of beinginterested culturefor its own sake. Thus theongoingAfrocentrist debate similarlyviews the race of the ancientEgyptiansof centralimportance alongsidetheir contributionto African civilization. The lifework of Diop was spentin exposingwhat he saw as the racist exclusionof black Africans from the ancient Egyptian world by scholars (see for example 1962; 1967; Dathorne 1989,127; Clarke 1989,115-7). He sought to

from counteract what be perceived asracistinitiativesto divorceEgyptianachievements


Africa by joining in theracedebate.Yet his work, in counteracting a racist bias of the involved past, also a type of racism:Egypt was now to be proved as an exclusively black civilization. Much time was spentby Diop (1967,285-8) formulating a way of testingmummifiedskin for melanincontentwhich he felt would categorically settlethe issue. In the samepublicationDiop, rather in the style of Petrie, included a large of ancientEgyptianrepresentations numberof examples of themselves and others to supporthis case. In a sense,therefore,it may be justifiably claimedthat Diop's work has just continuedan old academic debatewith a new emphasis:'like the science, history, and literaturehe critiques, Diop too ends up inventing a new Africa with in NegroidEgypt' (Masolo1994,14). NegroidPharaohs

Diop's main audience was amongst similarly minded Afrocentric scholars. Yet he ('avec Sorbonne, la mention have PhD did thesis the and eventually passed a studied at honorable') in 1960 (Fall 2000,25), having had a previous one rejected. To have

by this acceptance a renowned French university was regarded as a great achieved success by his Afrocentrist supporters (see Fall 2000). His earlier, failed thesis had been published by PrdsenceAfricaine. This publishing house is also located in Paris, where it remains dedicatedto the Afrocentrist cause, and it continued to publish Diop throughout his life (Jules-Rosette1998,2,4-8,14,244).

Interaction between Diop and mainstream Egyptologists was limited.

In 1974, the

UNESCO forum on the population of ancient Egypt provided a venue for those such as Vercoutter (1978) to discuss and refute Diop's claims. The issue of the race of the focus for Egyptians important study. ancient was still considered an Vercoutter

he 'meltin., Egypt to argued that more physical pot', and see preferred as a anthropological studies were necessaryto determine the race of the ancient Egyptians (1978,23-5). Yet those who were opposed to the Afrocentrist cause were felt not to

have preparedfor the conferenceas well as the Afrocentrists. This was felt, by some, to reflect the generalapathy in the academiccommunity on the issue (Moitt 1989,350-

30 1). The study of Egypt could still be viewed as distinct from the study of Affican
history (Noguem 1976,2).

Bernal enteredinto this debatewith the publication of the two volumes of Black Athena (1987; 1991). These received a great deal of coverage, and responses, within and outside academia. The pre-dominant message was a powerful one: that attitudes towards Egypt were inextricably linked with the racist agendas of western Europe which effectively served to obscure Egypt's contribution to Greek civilization. There is clearly much to learn from such statements(Said 1994,15-6), yet they were based on the at times deeply flawed use of evidence. The argument was aimed, in the main, at both for Egyptologists and classicists studies responded, example in a and classical book of collected articles (Baines 1996a; O'Connor 1996; Yurco 1996). Amongst the criticisms of Bernal's work was the point that much of his argument had been put forward previously (see Perkus 1995,75). It was also felt that more evidence was

be it before could convincingly argued that classical study had been primarily required motivated by racist ideology (Coleman 1992,77).

Bernal's work highlighted a very real issue, although at the same time it depended on arguments of race, using the same criteria as had always been used (for example linguistic links) to demonstratethat the 'West' was primarily dependentupon Egypt's influence on Greece. It also marked out classicalstudies as being exceptional in having a race-obsessed(and racist) past when such a past is common to the majority of academic disciplines, none of which (including classical studies) have been utterly unreflective or unaware of the issues (see Finley 1975,76-81). Furthermore, this Thus

misguided interest in promoting one culture over another has been criticised.

Baines argued (1996b, 383) thatBlackAthena merely 'perpetuatesa dependentposition in which the ancient Near East has been placed in relation to the "West"', and has suggested that Said's interest in Bernal's work is surprising, given Said's arguments defensively has Yet Bernal the stated culture over another. against prioritisation of one

31 'I wholeheartedly for agreethat all world culturesshould be studiedand appreciated what theyare' (Bernal 1992,86).

The fundamental flaw in this type of argumentremains: the pivotal role of the supposed racial identity of the ancient Egyptians (see Young 1994,157). Whilst this does allow

some very public restitution for the bias of some western scholarship (Bernal 1991, 244), it also places too much importance on racial difference. Thus the situation has arisen whereby racial interpretations 'have been imposed on the material remains of a culture even though theseremains do not in themselvesdenote race' (Bard 1996,106). And the argument, stimulated as a result of contemporary political and social inequalities, inevitably is far removed from Egypt's past, where race may have been of no concern to the ancient Egyptians (Roth 1995a; Snowden 1996,127). Importantly,

however, this is a point Bernal has acknowledged (2001,28) and he has explicitly statedthat he does not see a 'biological utility' to the term race. Atthe same time, he has exposed the polifical inadequacyat the heart of the academicdebate: 'In the United Statesand Western Europe, "one drop of black blood" is enough to label someonea "black". However, when Ancient Egypt is viewed, no one is considered"black"unless he or she conforms to the European stereotype of a WestAfrican. Very few Ancient Egyptians would have beenlabelled "white" in nineteenth-or twentieth-century Britain or America'(Bemal 2001,29).

Bernal has, therefore,becomecrucial to Afrocentrists, for whom he is seen as a An intenselypolarisedapproach welcome ally, in their at timesdogmatic to arguments. theracialidentityof Egypt's pasthasarisen. Articlescontinueto be producedin which theonly aim is to provetheraceof theancientEgyptians(seeCrawford 1995), and the 'contribution' of Egyptto Christianityhasbeenclaimedby Afrocentrists(Finch 1986). Thus introductorybookson African history routinelyincludestatements about the race of the ancient Egyptians. For example, one such book commentedon the Egyptians theancient ethnocentrism of westernscholars andthenclaimed as 'ancestors' (Boyd 1991,41). This emphasis on the African heritage of Egypt, and thereforethe west, has beenthought suitableto integrateinto the school curriculum in the USA (Crawford 1996,8). The intentionwas to empowerminoritiesin USA society,and to


Africa (Crawford 1996,5,25, the the make majoritycultureawareof achievements of (Roth 1995b, 170). The positiveeffectsof suchpoliticisationhavebeenacknowledged 15).

That these arguments are not totally misplaced is illustrated by a programme made (in 1997) about pharaonic Egypt as part of a French radio series, La Marche du Wcle. This programme failed to place Egypt in Africa, nor did it mention Diop, causing a feeling of alienation amongst Afrocentrists in France (Diop and Diop 1997; Le Comit, 4 1997). Thus it has been felt important for Egyptology to acknowledge the insights which Afrocentrism may bring to the study of ancient Egypt (Roth 1995a, 14). Afrocentrist works may now be found in specialist Egyptological libraries, indicating a its dogmatism. debate, despite this to with engage willingness Furthermore, the

necessity of putting Egypt unequivocally in Africa, and of acknowledging the racist history is the to the of continent widely accepted. approaches

Despite the desire of Afrocentrists to focus the debateon Egypt's past purely into an issue of race and achievement, the priorities of research often lie elsewhere. One category which neverthelesspersists as a focus for research, and which can be closely related to the Afrocentric perspective, is that of etluiicity. This can become almost a As argued by Malik

replacement term for race (see Keita and Kittles 1997,541).

(1996,175) a definition of ethnicity which dependsupon assertions of shared cultural belief systems 'allows us to divide humanity into discrete groups without feeling and the taint of racial ideology', and 'in actual use, the concept of ethnicity is not so different from that of race'.

is inevitably (however fluidity The argument the of ethnicity much concerning ethnicity brings to mind notions of race, which brings the argumentback to the emphasised) Afrocentrists. The 'ritual' of academic of somethingis study, in which the existence by Gilroy (1998)in an article claiming deniedbut thenstudiedanywaywas condemned


that raceshould no longer be usedas a methodof analysis. He stated(Gilroy 1998, 842) that'the piousritual in which we alwaysagreethat "race" is inventedbut are then demand justice for defer its in the to the to to world and accept embeddedness required that it helps to mark out. Despite requiresus to enterthe political arenas nevertheless differencebetweenraceand ethnicity, Gilroy's commentabout the the acknowledged useof racecouldequallybe appliedto ethnicity.

its relevance disciplinehas Nevertheless, within thearchaeological asa tool for research for (seeJones1997,61), andit is usedin thecontextof ancientEgypt (see beenargued Leahy 1995;Baines1996b,362-3,371). And this is no doubtin partto get away from (see Sn-dth 1993,89 this the stereotype who repeated of Egyptasa homogenous nation in difference Egyptian has been Much the emphasis ethnic on past, placed stereotype). in it (see terms to modem a understandable make society more easily serves also which Ray 1998,10-1).

Whether ethnicity really is a useful category to impose upon the past is questioned by the very lack of clarity which exists in contemporary discussions about the meaning of edinicity. Clear definitions have been attempted. For example, ethnicity is a 'self-

based identification least on a specific conscious with a particular social group at partly locality or origin' (Shennan 1994,14), but even this sounds almost too inclusive to be instructive. This particular point was raised by Rattansi (1994,53) who felt that the broad definitions of ethnicity were self-defeating. This is epitornised by Kamp and Yoffee's (1990,88) statementthat 'ethnic identity rests on the conscious awarenessof group members'.

Yet this vagueness concerning ethnicity is based upon much painstaking Two (Thompson 1989,3). models were research anthropological and sociological instrumental. in the better the to and ethnicity: understand primordial suggested order The former holds that ethnicityis fixed and given at birth (linking it very much with


race), and the latter arguesfor the social constructionof ethnicity, giving it a greater fluidity (for a presentation of thesemodelsseeCohen 1995,120; Banks 1996,12-3, 185; Pieterse1996,27; Jones 1997,65-79; Hall 1997,226; Cornell and Hartmann 1998,48-59).

The major proponent of the instrumental model of ethnicity was Barth (1969). Through anthropological research, he demonstrated that it was possible for people to move between ethnic groups and to cross boundaries(Barth 1969,22-5), and also argued that no simple link exists between ethnic units and culture (1969,14). The very fluidity of

his understanding of ethnicity (see 1969,29), seems to lessen its value as a term of analysis. This issue has been addressed by incorporating both the primordial and instrumental definitions of ethnicity (Jones 1997,83; Comell and Hartmann 1998,7 1).

Moreover, Bourdieu's concept of the habitus has been incorporated into the understanding of ethnicity, giving it more meaning, especially in an archaeological context(Jones 1997,88-90,96-7,128). there is an 'immanent law-laid Indeed, Bourdieu's (1977,81) approach that

down in each agent by his earliest upbringing' does

explain similarities within groupings for modes of action. The difficulty of 'escaping' from the habitus is, however, both depressing and problematic, and questions the possibility of independent action. Is ethnicity (whatever that is) really as dictatorial as the habitus? These problems have been highlighted through research carried out amongst the Kabyle in the 1970s where fundamental changesin the status of women had occurred, despite Bourdieu's belief in the basically unchanging nature of Kabyle society (see Lane 1999,108).

Awareness has (Mullings 1994,25) of the contextual of ethnicity variability allowed someflexibility to be insertedinto the analysisof ethnicityin the past. In a study of Egypt, Goudriaan(1988, preface)was able to decidethat 'the ethnicityin Ptolemaic questionof who the Egyptiansand the Greekswere reducesitself to the problem of

35 it is And in the contextual which peoplecountedas such and which circumstances'. investigation of how peopleidentifiedthemselves which is mostrelevant.

It is still hard, and perhapsimpossible, to break free from the mind-set which looks for separategroups in evidence from the past, labelling them as ethnicities. As is seen in Chapter3, dealing with the site of Memphis, the contemporary obsession with ethnicity can be all too easily imposed onto New Kingdom Egypt. The assertion of difference was clearly crucial in both New Kingdom and Coptic Egypt, but whether that can be transferred into a meaningful statementconcerning the existence of ethnic groups is doubtful. Thus in this thesis the aim is not to argue for a particular ethnicity or racial but from the rather to examine the wider context of self-definition. The evidence, origin labels in the evidenceitself are used, which, as is seen, were frequently fluid and utterly is issue Relevant the to this thesis, of comparison, of Greek as a point subjective. identity, something which had no national point of reference, yet held meaning for the Greek and non-Greek: 'a Roman, of course, would often have referred to a Greek as a Greek, not as an Athenian or Ephesian(as they would call a man a Gaul or a German), just as the Greeks had always identified non-Greeks by "national" labels' (Finley 1975, 133). Thus, I use the contrast Egyptian/non-Egyptian as a generalizationwhich hides a wealth of other levels of meaning (compareFinley 1975,62).


Accessingan individual, whetherin the past or present,and assessing what was/is important to that person is clearly going to be elusive, given the huge selfconsciousness which now surroundsall issuesto do with identity (Rowlands 1994, in films in literature, in 131). It forms a source inspiration as well contemporary as of Egypt's pastcanplay a part. music,andin this discourse


Thus a rap artist from Marseilles,the son of Italian immigrants, has called himself Akhenaton,taking inspirationfrom a king of Egypt whom he has interpretedas a humanitarian andegalitarian ruler (seeRadikal2001). For Coptsliving in the USA, the pharaonicpast, and early Christianpast, is a sourceof difference,of contemporary identity(seeAyad 1989). Links between distantpastsandthepresent havefurther been into attitudes towardsforeignersfrom the ancientworld reinforcedby an investigation from pharaonicEgypt alongsidetwentieth century to the present,including evidence USA (seeLeblanc1999). And in a publicationentitledValeuret distance,identit6set to modem Egypt soci&& en Egypte(D6cobert2000)issuesof identity from Ptolemaic by a rangeof differentauthors. havebeenexamined

Egypt's past, pharaonic and Christian, can therefore, be effortlessly incorporated into the present, and within the whole realm of identity politics numerous categories (many been individuals have investigating how flexible) cited as ways of of which are might have defined themselvesin the past. This incorporation of the past into the present has been seenas the necessaryend result, after having first distinguished the past from the present (Thomas 1990,20), yet the imposition of contemporarycategoriesonto the past is clearly full of pitfalls (see Whitehouse 1998,3).

Politically, these pitfalls may be most obvious with the analytic tools of race and ethnicity but it may also seem, given the huge weight of modem pre-conceptions, that any attempt at accessinghow the Egyptians of the New Kingdom and Coptic period defined themselves will only ever be an illusion. This is further exacerbatedby what modem historians would consider a meagre quantity of primary source material. This makes it all the more important to consider ways in which ideas about identity have been negotiated and reformulated in contemporary scholarship and life experiences. Such ideas can open new perspectives.


The self-definition of an individual may be contingenton a wealth of sometimes conflictingfactors(Wallerstein1993,80; Said 1994,336; Comell and Hartmann1998, 85). For example, the past,politics or socialclasscould be the most centralaspects to an individual (Stein 1989,78), yet for others gender (Okely 1996) or language (Anderson1994,145) couldbe more important. The dual aspectto identity, in which an individual may presenta different image than his/her actual self-image makes accessingself-definition more complex (Wallman 1983,72), especially given the potential for someone'sself-definition to changein responseto external situations (Rowlands1994,132). At thesame time, thereshouldnot be too muchemphasis upon (Bondi 1996,85). the endless of self-definition reformulation

Nevertheless, identity is clearly something which can be imposed, leamt or relearnt in accordance with changing needs and priorities. A particularly clear illustration is

provided by the writerAburish's (1998) accountof his family, from 1917 to the present day. They lived in Bethany, a small villagejust outside Jerusalem. He described how the British tried to assertauthority over the village through the local government (1998, 154-6). This was unwelcome as there was no concept of identification outside kinship and village; the idea of a state was utterly alien (1998,154-5). Members of the family

were gradually made to become aware of loyalties and identifies beyond that of their village and tribe. This process was assisted by 'professionals' who were sent into villages like Bethany to teach the inhabitants about nationalism, as well as by newspapers and radio broadcasts (Aburish 1998,42-3). And so they adopted a

Palestinian identity, fought for a Palestinian state, and then much of the younger generationof the family emigrated.

The centrality of namesas externalidentity-signifiersis shown by the continuing significance of theAburishfamily name,in spiteof thedispersalof the family. This is further reinforced by the experience of the philosopherAlthusser, as noted in his He disliked his name:'from earliestchildhood I bore the nameof a autobiography. 0


manwho still lived andwas lovedin mYmother'sthoughts:it was a deadman's name' (1994,54). And so he was thrilled when his namewas temporarilychanged when he
went to school in the countryside (1994,79).

The example of the Aburish family, and its dispersal around the world, illustrates one of the ways in which identity has been analysed as dependent on either fixity or movement (Rapport and Dawson 1998,21,27). The physical or built environment can

play an important part in identity construction (Rabinowitz 1997,24-51; Rapport and Dawson 1998,21). Jerusalem epitornises a locality which is far more than just a

location, being inspiration for those with very different self-definitions. the geographic It forms an exampleof how 'geography could be manipulated, invented, characterized, over and above the site's physical reality'(Said 1998,3).

Ideas about home and self may be conceptualised through the use of narrative and (Rapport but to to the migrants society as well vital of and myth, clearly also rest Dawson 1998,28,30,33). For the members of the Aburish family, which now

includes sixteen nationalities, this means that they still think of themselves as Palestinians- even if any connection is very minimal. At the end of his account of the Aburish family, the author tried to explain what had formed the Palestinian identity: 'however well-meaning the British colonial attitude, it was one of master and slave that was followed by the oppression by Jordan when it ruled us, rejection by other Arabs, and the Israeli insistencethat we do not exist: it is theseelementswhich have created the Palestinian idenfity'(Aburish 1998,42).

Perhaps, therefore, one of the crucial issues affecting that of identity is the political situation, especially when that involves colonialism and imperialism. Such situations rely on the creation of difference (Said 1994,9; Moore-Gilbert 1997,197), and infuse the thought, art and literature of both the powerful and the powerless societies involved in the 'relationship. One of the most renowned writers on the iniquity of such a


in fundamental is Said, how has culture a role can play situation who shown
colonial/imperialist situations: 'at the margins of Western society, all the non-European regions whose inhabitants, societies, histories and beings representeda non-European essence, were made subservient to Europe, which in turn demonstrably continued to control what was not Europe, and representedthe non-European in such a way as to sustain control' (Said 1994,106). At the sametime, it has been argued that Said has over-simplified relationships between west and east, between the ruler and the ruled (MacKenzie 1995). Thus Orientalism

westernthoughtandculturein any negativesense,but instead maynot haveinfluenced innocent interest MacKenzie 1995,211). involved (see have and respect may

thereare examples Evenif someof the edgeis removedfrom Said's argument, of the have in to the affectedapproaches colonialist/imperialist preconceptions ways which Bourdieu For be the outcome example, can even of any and research. non-westem, his based Algerian French have as comparisons to studies society of used and argued to the contrary (Reed-Danahay upon traditionalassumptions,despitehis assertions 1996). AmongsttheKabylein Algeria, Bourdieuchose the role of state not to examine institutions (for example, Koranic schools), whilst centralisingthe role of such institutions in his studies of France (Reed-Danahay 1996,75). Hence Bourdieu

'depended upon essentialized and the exotic, modem and categories of the mundane 1996,67), and 'his (Reed-Danahay traditional,evenwhen inverting thesecategories' in France were twinned with orientalistconceptions of the Kabyle' occidentalisms (1996,80). Thus a sociologistwith an aim of being 'detached'(Reed-Danahay 1996, 66) can enterinto the arenaof stereotypical upon which the colonial powers attitudes depended.

It is ironic that the f ight for self-rule by those oppressedunder colonial/imperial powers also relies on the assertion of difference. Nationalist movements depend on the belief that a certain area can be shared only by those who accept a certain identity. As

Anderson noted (1994,6), this concept of shared identity may be imagined, but this


doesnot makeit any less importantas a motivator. Assertionsof differenceform a feature of collective life' fundamental featurein society, 'a necessary organizational (Turner 1994,95), in spite of anxiety over the possible negativeresults of such delineation difference. has In Said, the the of of who argued against case of assertions difference(1995), his own political opinions seemto dependupon differencein the (Moore-Gilbert1997,191). state-hood strugglefor Palestinian

Indeed,differenceis clearly essential to self-def of use to the inition and is necessarily (see Rattansi1994,57). For the oppressed,any as well as the oppressed oppressor collectiveidentitymaybe crucialin seekingan improvedquality of life. An economic identity (see Bondi 1996,90-1), be source a primary of can such collective situation a for identity, in focus be being just that whether can a minority also give a shared and due to a sharedcultureor belief system(Wallerstein1993,82; Bhabha 1995b, 307). Barnmer(1995,59) wrote 'things that Thus in an articleaboutxenophobialxenophilia, just (xenophobia/xenophilia, often variants opposite, are say), or even appear separate impulse: base the anxietyover difference,the uneasyencounterwith the the of same racially,ethnically,or culturallydefinedother'.

National conflicts can be crucial in fermenting an apparentlymore clear-cut selfdefinition. A studyof Arab students'answers to the question'Who am F showedthat in the period during the OctoberWar, 1973, their positive feelings about themselves in their politicisation,and in hostility rose. Not surprisingly, there was an increase by Nby towardsIsraelandtheWest. Thesefeelingswere, however,speedily realigned in nationalidentification(Starr 1978,454-6). Conflicts 1974with a 16.7% decrease (Said 1995,332). 'designation the enemies' official of require necessarily They

has been in 'War Terror' identities, into the on as seen people polarise opposing initiatedsinceSeptember 112001. This doesnot passwithout comment, andthe 'clash been has the eloquently politicians at moment amongst of civilizations' so popular into leaders humanity for 'political various who section off example, criticised:


"worlds" stand to make the world more flammable'(Sen 2001). Yet, as with the inscriptionat Nice, andin theEgyptianpastaswell, apparently polarisedself-def inition
is a necessaryfeature of conflict.

In situations to definewho the other is, at leastfor the warof conflict it maybe easier it is but alwayssomething entirelysubjective,and can cover divisions on the mongers, basisof language, nation, geography, skin colouror politics(NEnh-ha1997,217). For those following a nomadicexistence,the other may be the sedentaryworld (Okely 1996), whilst for othersmattersof sexualityor gendermay be of far more relevance (Rattansi1994,47). This has beenwell recogiiisedin feminist studies,for example Beauvoir(1954,91) wrote 'what placehas humanitymadefor this portion of itself, What it, Other? have been included is defined the rights within as while which, have defined iff. it? How to men conceded Literature,tradition, education,religion

furthering have been identified the postionof themselves and all asenabling andwomen EI-Saadawi (see These 1980). on self/other the many permutations other women as beyond Bhabha's the that outside or the us; never of statement other'is show relevance it emergesforcefully, within cultural discourse, when we think we speak most intimately and indigenously "between ourselves"' (1995a, 4). discourses areproblematicto discernin thedistantpast. Some of these

Particularly relevant to this thesis, alongside the influence of a political situation on identity, are the influences of religion and the past on self-definition. Religion has long been seenas a factor in the assertion of self and other. It can enable social solidarity

(Russell 1985 [19491,15) and can be closely tied to political contingencies. One of the many settings in which this is the caseis Saudi Arabia, where religion, alongside tribal identity, is an important factor in uniting the country under the royal family. Ile

family (Nevo legitimacy is the to thus royal confer on compelled religious establishment 1998,34-5,46,48,50). A hostile context can also lead to a reassertion of religious Christianity itself arose despite perennial political

identity (see Kabbani 1989).


hostility, andcouldleadto a renunciation of the past. This was of interestto Foucault who examinedthe effect of monasticand Stoic traditionson early Christianity. He (1988,43) showedhow penitence of sin led bothto the revealingof self as well as the destruction of self - 'a breakwith one's pastidentity'.

In general, it is agreedthat the past can be of huge relevancein the formation of present identity, whether for individuals, nations or minorities (Wallerstein 1993,78; Shack 1995,115; Jones 1996,62). This can be motivated by a rejection as well as an

incorporation of the past. It has also been argued that it is possible for communities to exist without an awarenessof the past (Furedi 1993,63), and 'the retreat into the past in order to find self-justification reflects a desire to escapefrom the present and evade its challenges' (Furedi 1993,69).

The creation of pasts, as an aspectof colonial/imperial attempts to impose an identity on themselves and their 'subjects' seems to have been a central part of colonial/imperial rule (Ranger 1994,227). Use of the past by the oppressed to counteract the past

presentedby the powerful may merely representan equally manipulative attitude to the past (Furedi 1993,69), but it is proving an effective basis for the assertion of identity by the powerless (Murray 1993,108; Lowenthal 1994,3 10). Forums for the assertion of a particular past include heritage centres which also serve to demonstrate the supposed accessibility of that past (Fowler 1995,129-39; Lowenthal in Ingold et al 1998,209).

The role of variantinterests in allowing access to a particularpastis exemplifiedby the caseof modemEgypt. Study of Egypt's pharaonic pastby the Egyptiansthemselves by the colonialpowers, and, at times, activelydiscouraged (Reid was not encouraged 1985,233; Wood 1998,181-2,189). In his autobiography, Musa the activistSalama from learningaboutancientEgypt the Egyptians wrote abouthow theBritish prevented at school,astheythoughtit would create an 'unduesenseof pride and glory, and even


foster the demandfor independence' (Musa 1961,50).

At intervals during the

twentiethcentury,thepharaonic to by the Egyptiansin order to pasthasbeenappealed create a sense of separate-ness, especially following the 1922 declaration of independence (Reid 1985,240; Haarlem1988,99; Wood 1998,180,182). This is

in which theideologyof pbar-aonism to theMisr al-Fatah with reference seen movement (Wood 1998,183-4). Yet pan-Arabism part a played andIslamcameto be of far more importance, to a pharaonic andin neitherwas therea placefor appeals past (Roussillon Egypt, the ancientpastis of minimal concernto 1998,370-3). Thus, in contemporary themajorityof thepopulation(Hassan1998,214).

Nevertheless ancient Egypt's past is not devoid of contemporary relevance, as is seen by the attitudes of some contemporary Copts and the Afrocentrists, amongst others. These potent links, as felt by a contemporaryEv ptian woman, were expressed thus: 11 cly Egyptian Arab drawn from because African and were genes all these, and my am becausemy history goes back to Egypt for seven thousandyears, to Isis and Ma'at and Noon' (El-Saadawi 1998,127). Thus, despite many exceptions, a belief in

connections to such distant pasts can be vital to the present self-definition of an individual (Bhabha 1995b, 307). Hence Lowenthal (1997,182-3) emphasised the

importance of the 'I was here first' declarations of identity in debatesover antiquities, land rights or polificalrecognition.

Symbols of such a past can also becomecentralto self-definition,whether they be photographsor national treasures(Lowenthal 1995,42). One of the most overt

flag (Lewis 1998,107-11). Unsurprisingly, symbolsof nationalidentityis thenational therefore,a frequentmethod of protest againstthe actions of the West is through burning the USA flag. Personaland collective identity can also be proclaimedby in tradition. This is seenin matterssuch as personal symbols supposedlysteeped dress,for example 1994,35-41). (Trevor-Roper thewearingof thetartanin Scotland


The self-definitionof an individual, communityor nation operates at many different levels, but at the sametime the assertion of self can be expressed with clarity and be reflectiveof a real situation. The role of the state, both in promoting a forthright of identity, and in attemptingto affect the ways in which those within its statement bordersdefinethemselves, is vital. Thus, ideologycan be centralin the transmission anddefinitionof self.


This is a term which, as in the case of ethnicity, can be a source of endless definition in Gabel definitions (for 1997,133-5). list the example see of and re-definition Broadly, it has been defined as 'a system of ideas which expresswithout reciprocity the interests legitimate (Gabel less or ethnic of political, entity' an economic, more or .... 1997,136). The lack of agreementon a definition for ideology is reflected in the literature by the differing analysesof how it actually works in society (if at all).

Ideology has been assessedas a means of justifyin.,- the control of society by a dominant group. It can thus conceal inequalities and injustices in society (Hodder 1995,63). Althusser wrote at length about the 'ideological state apparatuses' which

can be comprised by structures such as religion and education. He distinguished the 'ideological state apparatuses'from the 'repressive apparatuses' such as the army or prisons, as the former function by ideology first and violence second, and the latter vice-versa (Althusser 1993,17-9). Ideoloo, can, therefore, be intimately bound up OY

with power, Althusser condemning 'ideological state apparatuses' as contributing 'to C, the capitalist relations of exploitation' (1993,28). Such 'ideological state apparatuses' are, however, relevant to pre-capitalist societies as well. For example, Althusser

(1993,25) identified the church in the Nfiddle Ages as the main method of justification for the powerful elite.


As Hodder pointedout, however,it is necessary to questionthe effectiveness of such ideas for independent to the contml and of acknowledge and resistance means potential (1995,67). With reference to ancientEgypt, Egyptologistshave beenacceptingof

by the ancientEgyptianelite, when the ancientEgyptian themselves made statements have been, in (see had little basis Baines the and when statements reality not may ideologyneednot belimited to the state,but can be linked 1996b,360). Furthermore, to any group in society(Hodder 1992,208-10), as in Coptic Egypt where more than ideology 'official' couldrun concurrently. one

Nor do ideological statements need to be expressed through written or spoken language, but can be equally powerfully made through the use of material symbols. A definition of ideology of use in an archaeologicalcontext is 'the use of symbols in relation to interest' (Hodder 1992,208). In the modem world, materialism was

identified as the defining char-acteristicof western 1960s society, whereby objects formed'a system determinedentirely by an ideological regime of production and social integration' (Baudrillard 1997,162-3). Through the communicativerole of objects and their spatial context, behaviour and living patternscan be affected (Bourdieu 1977,89).

Foucault took a less dogmatic view than Althusser on the role of ideology in society. He questionedwhether the term should be used at all, arguing that it should be replaced by looking at discourses in society which may be true or false (1986,118). Thus

ideology should not be viewed simply as something opposed to truth, but instead iniquitous be as part of a complicated assessed of not necessarily power network should 1986,140-2; (Foucault Bhabha 1995a, 3). relations

Powerwas rathertheessential to society,an integralpart of family, knowledge element (for example, Foucault1986,122; Turner 1994,21; Bond and Gilliain andtechnology 1994,20). Thus, thecapabilities of a state,howeverpowerful, arealways going to be limited asthestatefor all the omnipotence from being far its is able to of apparatuses,


forms One field (Foucault 1986,122). these the whole of of occupy power relations' of power was 'pastoral power', that exercisedby Christianity, which, according to Foucault 'proposedand spreadnew power relations throughout the ancient world' (2002,333). A more encompassing analysisof the way in which societiesfunction
ideology: from this of multi-faceted evaluation results 'But what makes the domination of a group, a caste, or a class, together with the resistance and revolts that domination comes up against, a central in is in history they that the manifest a massive and of societies phenomenon locking-together body, level form, the the the social of power of whole at global from their the proceeding and results of strategy relations with relations interaction' (Foucault 2002,348). Despite Foucault's dislike of the term ideology, his insights about power and knowledge allow a much wider understanding of ideology. Althusser's definition is it is but ideologies into the investigation for also necessary to elite, of an appropriate look at the ways in which ideologies are resisted, and denied throughout society. Furthermore, the communication of alternativeideologies, or of the apparent acceptance is forms, in of relevance. ideologies textual as well as non-textual of official


the background

and reaching the sources

The aim of this thesis, unnavelling the influences on self-deffilition during two hugely disparate periods, means that different types of evidence are considered together in a The before. been has groundswell of studies on ancient attempted not way which Egyptian life-pattems and identity have been primarily concerned with enumerating frequently is into Coptic For too lives. the the segregated evidence all those period, is deal (in the that a great written monastic particular the so about categories, Pachomian) life, increasingly including theoretical perspectives, whilst the rest of the is little for from different Coptic Thus, the noticed. period, evidence population is investigated side by side, wherever possible. communities


Considering Christianityis crucial theNew Kingdom alongside an erawhich witnessed to the argument of this thesis. It providesan apparently vast contrast,in time and in ideologies. Writers haveemphasised the contrastbetweenNew Kingdom Egypt and beliefs(for example Judeo-Christian seeMeskell2002,143); in this thesisit is seenjust how far thosebeliefs did affect life in Egypt. The thesisaims to provide new insight into theconfiguration of self-definitionin contrasting politicalsituations,and to evaluate thepower of official ideologies.

The wealthof writing on themodemdelineation of identity allows an awareness of the influencewhich a political situationor religious belief may have on the overt selfdefinitionof an individual. Theseinsightsallow thefull potentialof the sourcematerial to be utilised, giving a frameworkin which to lay the argument. The materialusedin but the is modem pre-conceptions, the of this thesis approached whole weight with intentionis to allow the materialto speakfor itself, as far as that is possible. This meansthat certain aspectsof self-definition are much more clearly witnessedthan from the into is The readingof the arose which categories others. material organised evidence.

The source material has beenchosenfor its potential in revealing different perspectives, both official and non-official, on self-definition. The two sections of the thesis, New Kingdom and Coptic, mirror each other and are linked, in that the same types of (Chapters in formed by 2 4), These textual evidence and are evidence are used. for Memphis New Kingdom by letters, two the urban sites, non-textual, and particular Egypt (Chapter 3) and Thebes for Coptic Egypt (Chapter 5). The thesis is thus This

dependent upon published material, some of it well-known, some of it not.

is integrated in order to achievea new perspective on the enduring problem of evidence self-definition.




The written word was central to the New Kingdom state. The ability to participate fully in written discourse defined a person's status within Egyptian society, and literacy As ideal to a means of articulating power, and strived attain. which many was an At time, the the written the texts the same used. much of state, were values asserting itself. different The for be the scripts of state questioning a vehicle word could also in Egypt, functions different textual highlight the Egyptian the with of ancient hieroglyphs primarily for the monumental and hieratic for the less formal. Accessing into formulation insight history the in Egyptian from of an this allows em extant texts focus Letters decline. this the imperial during of chapter, are and might of self a period literate from derive the because they body spectrums of across selectedas a of evidence society, including highly crafted statements and seemingly more spontaneous to in the to They self-expression open a of means expose order are studied messages. literate Egyptian living in what would appearto have beena tightly defined society.

The context

Uniting the years 1550 -1070 under the term 'New Kingdom' suggests a cohesive era in which stability and centralised power were the norm. The timespan is vast,

however, and political and religious changes were by no means unknown (Assmann 1996,225-315). Furthermore, much of the historical detail is still debated and

uncertain, especially regarding the transitions between different monarchs. This is in female king. As Hatshepsut, the the the case understanding accessionof particularly in the Coptic period, an era more frequently associatedwith change, there were power in and phases which segmentsof the population were vulnerable to attack and struggles in which the religious beliefs of the population changed (see for example Assmann


1995,190-210). Thus it has often been assertedthat, contrary to expectations, Egyptiansocietywas subjectto changein both the short and long term (see Robins
in Egyptian culture' (Baines 1997,217). 1999,55): 'change was of the essence

The reign of Akhenaten (1353 - 1335) is the most obvious period in which change was imposed on Egypt (although it is also clear that there was resistanceto the reforms - see Bomann 1991,74), and as such has inspired a huge quantity of research. Detailed studies of the texts, art and architectural forms of other stages in the New Kingdom have also put Akhenaten's reign in a general context of development (see for example, Assmann 1995,67-8 on the religious aspect).

The 18th dynasty was itself a reactionary period in which the previous rulers, the Hyksos, were cast in a negativelight or even omitted entirely from the record (Redford 1995,158-9 in Hatshepsut's reign). - as Instead, the new rulers sought to set

themselvesin the same mould as the 12th dynasty rulers, and embarked on conquests Egypt's Egypt's 1995). (see GalAn territories empire extended expanding abroad, ever both to the north and to the south of the country, into Syria-Palestineand Nubia (see maps in Manley 1996,69,71,73; Figure 1), and throughout the New Kingdom these

borders would fluctuate and recede. In such territories visible witnesses to Egypt's kings. In Nubia dynasty 19th this 18th the and presencewere erectedunder many of Simbel, being Abu but in by Egyptian temples, the most renowned was characterised Syria-Palestine the Egyptian presence was far more low-key and on a much smaller imperialism in different Kemp (see 1978 for the of expressions of a comparison scale Nubia and Syria-Palestine; see Wimmer 1990 for an evaluation of the evidence for Egyptian temples in Canaan).

These conquests also affected Egypt internally, with an increase in the power of the imperialist fundamental both to ambitions the were temples and of which military, (Baines 1995,23,34; 1992,208 O'Connor see for a plan of the structure of


focus In king the this the of the political system,althoughthe was still government). the main powerrelationsweredelicate, with the military and the priesthoodsometimes for example,was a military general(Baines1995,29-30) power-brokers.Horemheb, but ruledEgyptbetween1319-1307, at thevery end of the 18thdynasty. Through the in size. By the 20th dynastyit courseof the 19th dynastythe templelands increased was thetempleof Amun at Karnakwhich exerted mostpower in Upper Egypt, undera hereditary (Lesko 1991,111). priesthood

The actuallegitimationof kingship developed in the New Kingdom as well (Hasel 1998,17-21; Robins 2001,286,288). This was an essentialelementto kingship:

'howevermonolithicand evenindispensable a majorinstitutionis and however much it it mustcontinuallyreaffirm its right to exist' (Baines 1995, displaysits self-assurance, 7). The king was more closelylinked with the sun-god(Redford 1995,171), and in it became theking who hadthesolerights of interactionwith the thereign of Akhenaten dynasty, Redford 'height' 1991,189; 1995,177). The (Baines the nineteenth of god 11,saw the king worshippedas a living ruler, something during thereignof Ramesses (seeMurnane1995,185). which was not without precedent

Any religious developmentsin the New Kingdom impacted both on the position of the king (Baines 1995,34) and on the beliefs of the Egyptians who seem to have been (Sadek interact 1988,293-5). divine to the able world more personally with At least,

there is much more evidence relating to personal belief practices than during earlier in Egypt (Baines 1991,180-6). periods Certainly during the late New Kingdom

(second part of the 20th dynasty) religious beliefs could operate more freely with much less recourse to the king (Baines 1991,198; 2001,3). Egypt itself has been termed a 'nationalisme force, basis in the the of main unifying entity, was moral which religion le Thus 'iI de 1957,377-9). voit, au on n'y avait pas racisme, pharaonique'(Drioton fond du nationalisme pharaonique, mais une philosophie religieuse universaliste,

51 intol6rantepour ceux qui ]a repoussaient' accUeillante pour ceux qui Facceptaient, (Drioton 1957,379).

The actual population of Egypt has been estimated at approximately 4,500,000 (O'Connor 1992,190). This included non-Egyptians who occupied as wide a range of roles as the Egyptians themselves. Thus some had to undertake forced labour, whilst others rose through the bureaucratic echelons (for example Roive 1940,46). For the

majority in Egypt, whose occupations are revealed by the Wilbour Papyrus (Gardiner 1948), life was one tied to the land with bouts of military service, but the ideal of correct treatmentwas nonethelessmaintainedby the elite (O'Connor 1992,194).

The literate


As this chapter is concerned with how the literate in New Kingdom Egypt defined themselves, the state, their relationship to it, and those who fell outside the state, it inevitably excludes those who were unable to enter the textual domain, or those whose texts the accidentsof history have not preserved. The gap between the written and the spoken word in ancient Egypt may have been vast (Roccatti 1980,77-9). For example, Coptic preserves in written form a large number of local dialects within Egypt, which are not reflected within the monolithic and linguistically centralised world of the ancient Egyptian text.

Written Egyptianwould havebeen'like a foreign language for many' (Baines 1983, 581). This differencewould have servedto emphasise the hierarchicalstructureof Egyptiansociety,inwhich the'coreeliteis identifiedwith literacy' (Baines1983,584). The mainwritten language during the New Kingdom was Late Egyptianwhich is first during Akhenaten'sreign (Junge 2001,18-23; Parkinson 1999a, 48-9). evidenced Egyptian,theclassiclanguage This was a development from NEddle which continuedto Kingdom Middle be usedduring theNew Kingdom, for example in thetransmission of


literature. Late Egyptian differs from Middle Egyptian in terms of grammatical (Parkinson1999a,50,55). structure,orthography andin vocabulary

Despite the gap between spoken and written Egyptian, the distinctions between literate and non-literate might have been more nuanced, with the apparently literate elite employing others to do their writing for them (although the king genuinely may have been literate), and with many levels of literacy possible (Baines and Eyre 1983,77; Baines 1983,580,584). At the same. time, it has been hypothesised that a maximum

1% of the entire population in ancient Egypt were literate, with local variability possible: thus in Deir el Medina there may have been 5% literate (Baines and Eyre 1983,90- 1). in Egypt would only have been able to It has also beenassertedthat most of the liter-ate for low literacy 1999a, (Parkinson 7 1). For hieratic estimate such a giving some, read in ancient Egypt has been taken as an insult to the civilization which they study. This is literacy (1990,657): by Lesko 'This misleading at best rate guessat a was expressed denigrate for to attempt as unnecessary an patronizing and at worst appears and uncalled the substantialachievementof one of history's greatestcivilizations and for that matter to impugn the importance that most civilized people attributed to literacy'. Clearly, such views are more concerned with trying to glorify ancient Egypt than in trying to understandhow li teracyoperatedin that context.

The issue of how far women should be included among the literate in ancient Egypt has also been addressed. While it has been noted that there was apparently no bar to been it has level, also argued that women women reading and writing, at whatever would have used it primarily for cultural and not functional reasons (Baines and Eyre 1983,84-5). This has been disputed (Bryan 1985,32), with literate women potentially having similar possibilities and motivations as literate men. For example, in the tombs is 'cultured the the palette, scribal of elite', of non-royal men and women, a signifier depicted with women as well as men (Bryan 1985,24-5).


The starkfigure of 1% of theEgyptianpopulationliterateprovidesa necessary reminder in written form) of thethoughtsandmotivations(as expressed of just how inaccessible that literate the vast majority of the ancientEgyptiansare today. Yet, while accepting society itself was a miniscule proportion of the population, it is also necessaryto thewider influenceof theliterate. A muchlargerproportionof the Egyptian understand of literacy. who hadsomedegree someone populationwould havebeenableto access

between literacyandilliteracyis further narrowedby thepossibility thatthe The contrast majority of Egyptianfictional works originatedfrom oral culture. In turn, the written by one literatepersonto many form of those'stories' could thenhavebeentransmitted identified been has Egypt illiterate Ancient less literate thus as a and people. other Such (see Janssen 1992). dominated by literacy a conclusionseems was which society Egypt, faced inescapable the upon which the of ancient with extantmaterialpast when For intruded every opportunity. example,templeswere coveredwith texts, at written different hieroglyphs were centralto art forms and papyri and ostracadocumented life. Nevertheless, Egyptian the apparentomnipresence of texts must not aspects of the majority for whom this was a closedworld. obscure

Here, however, the ways in which ideas about self and other found textual form is of focus Of texts the those the are of this written who produced necessity, concern. (made (1999,8) Assmann's Thus with particular reference to the statement chapter. Middle Kingdom) is very relevant: 'scribal culture was held representativeof culture in general. Unlike India, Egypt honor, its developed values and code of own system of caste where every did not develop a stmtified system of different cultural codes. The scribal class embodied in a representativeway all the culturally relevant values and moral Egyptian'. The the exemplary was codes. scribe Yet it should also be rememberedthat the scribe may only have been the 'exemplary Egyptian' amongst his own circle, the literate elite, outside of which there may have been far-removed cultural values.


The actual interpretation of Egyptian texts involves several different levels of understanding. Even when the philology of a text is relatively understood, there can still be a huge gap in accessing the intentions behind different statements. Quirke (1998, vii-viii) has emphasisedthe inevitably varied modem interpretations of ancient Egyptian texts: 'if the world of the ancient Egyptians is long past and their ancient language in its classical forms no longer spoken, the world and the languages of Egyptology remain subject to change. There can be no fixed viewpoint, no final lexicography'.

The difficulties faced when trying to understandthe intentions behind written statements are immense. This is not solely a result of the antiquity of the texts. Similar problems in faced by Abu-Lughod (1988) literature a Bedouin village in oral when studying were the Western desert in Egypt. In this she tried to understand why it was possible for in be to made one medium (poetry) which were entirely contrary to the moral statements ideals (honour and modesty) of the society as a whole. Reasonssuggestedinclude the in which these opposing statementswere made and the possibility that context social there were actually two concurrent dominant ideologies in Bedouin society (AbuLughod 1988,233-59).

for more modemtexts can be of use in the ancientEgyptian Literarytheorydeveloped raisedby the texts may be related. Issues such as contextas well, as the questions intertextuality andreceptionhavebeenlooked at in Egyptiantextualsources(Loprieno levelsof 1996,222-31). The identification within thetextshasenhanced of setpatterns further to themes the terminology applied such comparative understanding, and enables work. Loprieno's work has beencentralin the development of thesenew approaches (seeBaines1996b,374-5), andin theattempt to clarify the differentpurposes andtypes 'topos' In Egyptian (Assmann 1999,2). his text terms the particular, of of application (the ideology of societypassedon by its officials) and 'mimesis" (the individual's

55 to such ideology)has beencrucialin highlighting the gap betweentexts and response ,reality' (Loprieno 1988,10-3; 1996,217). The 'topos' of the foreigner in literary textscould then be compared with the 'mimesis' of the foreigner(Loprieno 1988,1540,97).

The layers of decorum and self-aggrandisementgeneratedby the different international powers during the New Kingdom have been compared and contrasted. In this work, carried out by Uverani (1990), the terms 'prestige' and 'interest' proved to be the key to understanding differences between texts. Thus the contrasts between the sources, whereby the Egyptians could condemn all non-Egyptians but could also make treaties with non-Egyptians, can be explained through the purposes of the sources. In the first situation, only Egyptians were addressed, therefore 'prestige' was to be enhanced, interaction in 'interest' Egypt through the the was served second situation of whereas with non-Egyptians (Liverani 1990,25).

Textual boundvies

Such insights are vital in approaching New Kingdom Egypt. In this period of imperial expansion, and eventually of imperial decline, there was a great textual output, as rulers individuals life. the their and as conduct reflected on power of proclaimed In these

texts, boundaries were drawn between the Egyptian and non-Egyptian domain, and the Egyptian world defined as a place in which just order was maintained by an allpowerful king. Certain texts were placed within temples. One of the most powerful expressions of an imperial zeal is the Poetical Stela of Thuthmose III (Lacau 1909,1721, pl. vii; Figure 5), found in the Karnak temple. In this, Amun-Re was the narrator, describing how he had enabled Thuthmose III to overwhelm all foreigners. Such a statement probably had more validity during Thutmose III's reign than at any other point in the New Kingdom, yet the hyperbole is still apparent as the Egyptian king is portrayed as a ruthless, conquering hero (which no doubt he was whenever he had the

chance) against any non-Egyptian for whom each victory was never in question. Throughout the New Kingdom, in texts celebrating victories over non-Egyptians, the king was continually hailed in such a light, even when the realifies of imperial power were far distant. Thus the king's power could be proclaimed when at the same time his power was relatively non-existent (see O'Connor 1992,204; Late Ramesside period texts in for example, Peden 1994, contrasted with Piankh's comments below). Only

one side of a situation was elucidated, as Liverani has demonstratedwith reference to the many representationsof tribute bearers approaching the king, seen in tombs and temples (1973,193). These representations,showing non-Egyptians in homage before the Egyptian king, were not counterbalancedby similar representationsof Egyptians kneeling before a non-Egyptian ruler with gifts. Furthermore, many of the non-

Egyptian tribute bearers may really have been traders who were only portrayed as tribute bearers so that the Egyptian world-view was not threatened (Kemp and Merrillees 1980,280).

Despite the monolithic certainities presentedin monumental inscriptions, there was also is This demonstrated by ideology. different Egyptian for to attitudes exploring room the fictional Tale of Wenamunand the Contendings of Horus andSeth. Both narratives date to the 'second phase' of New Kingdom Egyptian literature, thus to after the Amarna period (Baines 1996c, 157).

The Tale of Wenamun(Gardiner 1932,61-76), possibly written during the 21st just after the end of the New Kingdom), at a time of weak central dynasty(therefore is documentary lost in fictional the text, tale style of a end whose power, was a (Assmann 1999,1; Baines 1999b). Yet the extanttext, superficiallya first person from Byblos, be trip timber to can understood as underminingthe of a collect account Egyptianabroad(in particularthe Upper Egyptian),exposingthe demiseof Egyptian prestige. For an Egyptianaudience,the tale exploredmotifs and themesof central to them: concern

'an Egyptian puts forward in direct fashion what one may describe as the Egyptian colonialist ideology. An ironic response in the mouth of a foreigner, in a text addressedto an Egyptian audience, is a device that focuses on the gap between ideology and reality in Egyptian political claims. The foreigner has the privilege of directly denying a dogma, that an Egyptian must approach in a more roundabout way' (Eyre 1999b, 239). This text also served to reinforce to an Egyptian audiencewhat it actually meant to be an Egyptian by putting an Egyptian in a non-Egyptian context (see Assmann, A, 1999, 89).

The Contendings of Horus and Seth (Gardiner 1932,37-60) could be interpreted as challenging certain givens in Egyptian official ideologies. This was a literary fiction in which the petty rivalries of the divine world appear to be ridiculed (and in which, incidentally, the writing of letters plays a crucial role). To the modem readerit can be hard to equatethe intensely awe-inspiring images of the deities in Egyptian temples with the antics of the deities in this tale. This apparentcontradiction may not have been read as such by the ancient Egyptian, for whom the Contendings of Horus and Seth may have been a serious fiction, without all the humour which the text conveys today. If it was, however, humorous and satirical to the ancient Egyptian as well (which seems hard to deny), then the text could either have stemmed from less official culture, or could have been as central to official culture as the more 'expected' aspects of the Egyptian religious world. Kemp has put forward this latter interpretation: 'it is more Contendings the to accept as belonging to mainstream culture, the appropriate is of which only occasionally revealed' (2001,129). complexity

literature asa contextfor questioning, beliefs, was not the state,for exploringaccepted limited to theRamesside period,but hada long history. Middle Kingdom literaturehas beensimilarly approached, for debate but in Parkinson'sanalysisof it as a mechanism he alsonotedthatin theend, Egyptianvalueswereupheld:'this analysisof literatureas a discourse of resistance againstofficial norms is, however,partial, sinceliterary texts do not exclusivelyconcern what is problematic.They are, by their written nature,part

58 "subversive". For all that they concern of the official cultureandcannotbe considered they usually end up reaffirming the statusquo' (1999b, unparadiginatic phenomena, illustrate do 71). Nevertheless, texts a willingness on the part of the literateto such blind There debate their their condition. acceptance situation, was no and of explore their role andpurposein life.

The literatealso took it upon themselves to write instructiontexts outlining the correct According Egyptian life, ideals to to Kemp to the aspire. which an was conductof (1995,50), therewas not 'a distinctivelyreligiousway of conductingone's life', yet for a literateEgyptianseekingto identify thesetexts providedthe terms of reference instruction Closely linked life. to texts were the ways of approaching with acceptable individuals inscribed in in tombs, texts, soughtto confirm that which autobiographical they hadfulfilled therequirements of what it meantto be a loyal Egyptian,serving the state.

Both forms of text confirmed an Egyptian sense of identity enhanced through correct behaviour. In the 19th dynasty Instruction of Any (a partial copy of which was found follow, instructions difficult it to Medina) that Deir were was acknowledged such at el but necessaryand possible. This instruction (Suys 1935), argued by Uchtheim (1997, 30) to have been written by someoneof the 'middle class' in contrast to earlier texts, He to to treat to well, act mildly and with urged others was a son. provided advice have he For him. to towards those was marry, example, who challenged restraint even his his the towards make preparations'for and gods, mother a son, study, act properly burial, and make offerings to his parents after their death, but was also to respond calmly when reproved by a superior, even when unjustly reproved.

The low-key life envisagedin the instruction text above, in which an individual fulfilled

in ideals local/personal level the the stark contrastto the of centralised. state, stands on a
Abana (Sethe 1906,1-11). Ahmose son of autobiography of This individual was a


I and ThutmoseI, at a crucial period at soldierwho fought underAhmose,Amenhotep the beginningof theNew Kingdom. Thus he helpedto expelthe Hyksos and expand Egypt's borders. Ms descriptionof his life was composedsolely of his military actions,perceived asthemostpraiseworthyaspectof his life. All his military exploits how Ahmosehadworkedin the service were related,andthetext soughtto demonstrate (and moreimportantly,in thepresence) of the king and stateall his life, that he died in old agestill in thefavour of the king.

These idealised perceptions of life, with individuals firmly placing themselves within the Egyptian state, showing a collective sense of how life should be conducted, were mirrored by the realities of life, in which the perceived failures of individuals were cataloguedby those who restrained them. Despite the self-proclaimed omnipotence of the king, there were those who would not conform, acting against the state. For example, some of those who systematicallyrobbed the kings' tombs in Thebes (during IX), were themselvesstateofficials. the reign of Ramesses

The investigation into the robberies, and thejustice served on the culprits, was carefully recorded (see Peet 1930; Peden 1994,225-59). The robberies occurred at a time when the power of the statewas diminished, but there is also evidencethat tomb robbing was a problem during earlier phases of the New Kingdom (Kemp 1995,38). The

RamessesIII was similarly described punishment of those wh(? plotted to assassinate and recorded in great detail; presumably the punishments of those involved (from the king's innermost circle) were held up as a warning.

Thesetextsdemonstrate theattempts of the stateto containthosewithin its borders,to world. At the sametime, they bear witness to an maintainan orderedhierarchical inability to achieve inevitable it is clearthat the literate, these aims. From the evidence, the differentlevelsof theelite, wereamongst thosewho challenged thestate. TheTulin Strike Papyrus(seeEdgerton1951;Frandsen1990; McDowell 1999,235-8) records


thoseat Deir el Medinacarryingout a sustained seriesof protests at the king's failure to

(during the reign of RamessesIII). This set of protests was led them pay proper rations by those who were amongstthe elite workforce of the king, the literate.

Formal texts reveal, therefore, a desire to proclaim, uphold, question and undermine the Egyptian state and its ideologies. This was despite the fact that the authors of, and from from literate in, texts similar strata-in the society, stemmed such participants hierarchy. As statedby Kemp (2001,129): 'Is it perhapsnormal to exist on the cusp of belief and disbelief, to have only partial engagementwith the describable structure of beliefsT. and own society one's Some level of disagreement was, therefore, an

inevitable feature of the negotiation and interpretation of life amongst the literate, but in defined background the person of tightly the united world this was set against of a the king. How far this presentationof life was taken up in letters is examined below.


This body of evidence is not as unitary as it sounds, as letters were composed for a brief Some letters messageswhose were spontaneous, apparently variety of reasons. information, background impossible lack is it to the of access given almost meaning formal letters formalised The highly were more structured, works. whilst others were form As (such in later text type a of as an autobiography). of quoted another sometimes from king to the the government officials ranged participants communication, written in This the Medina Deir range of reflected the was community. el of and members king from formal letters the for letter, in Egyptian the more which covered a words used (which read as commands), as well as letters from non-royal individuals and much 2001,2). (Sweeney brief cornmunications more

A certainformality in structureencompasses most of the letters,with set phrasesand introductory been letter has divided into five The main parts: structureof a sections.


formula, containingthe namesof the senderand the recipient;greetingsand prayers made to various deities on behalf of the recipientof the letter, subject of the letter, (Pleyte1869,11,13-7; Bakir 1970,3 1; McDowell 1999, closingformula andaddress 28; Junge 2001 292-5). Each of these sectionscould be expandedor shortened be the to the sections could ornitted sender, and certain of motivations according formulaic in letter have The (Sweeney 2001,16-7). to a seem greetings altogether developedafter Akhenaten'sreign; before this period the writer only asked that the by deities, be favoured the after this period the writer actually performed recipient 2001,8-9). (see Baines behalf the of on recipient actions religious Those letters

behalf have been the the may recipient's greetingsand prayers made on without (see letter Sweeney by hand-delivered the the writer of were which communications 2001,16-7).

letterswhich were ostensiblyfrom women (twenty-eightin In a study of Ramesside formal in in identify differences the Sweeney use to of style, and some was able all), in letter, In (1998,1116). by letters from written one written men supposedly phrases, letter-writing Amun, by the Ramesside Late of several the a chantressof period [the 'Was Hennuttawy leading Sweeney ignored (1998,1117) to ask: were conventions Or deliberately letter] the was she of correspondence? of niceties unaware writer of the It to would seem the effectT. a narTative more produce manipulating conventions been have Egypt in to letters convey able would not that the ancient of writers unlikely formulae in intention through or expression. changes subtle and nuances of meaning

The conventionssurrounding the formulation of a letter were such that formulaic frustration has led This the to be modem amongst the message. sole could greetings instead 'historical' information, but for hoping seemingly texts, new editorsof such informationin thetext. Thus Gardiner(1951,115) stated: f inding moremundane letter a substantialportion is devotedto fulsome 'in the normal Ramesside in stereotyped phraseology,and the rest may consist of couched greetings lest health this that the anxiety of womanor of child, expressions after enquiries in been fed, for have money the cattleshould not properly requests grain or -

62 short domesticities such as occur the world over and shed no light on the peculiarcharacteristics of Pharaonic civilization. It is thesevery domesticities, however,which can revealwhat it actuallymeantto be a New Kingdom Egyptian. Furthermore,the lettersare not devoid of information. For example,Sweeney'sstudy of the structureof formulaic sectionsof Late Ramesside letters, and the manipulations haverevealed of grammar much aboutthe intricaciesof (seefor exampleSweeney 2001,75-6,99). Baines(2001,7,11-2, socialinteraction 27-8) has also argued that the formulaic elementsof a letter were not written unthinkingly, but did reflectreal religiouspractices as well as concernfor the recipient by thoseletterswritten during the physicalseparation of a letter. This is exemplified of detaileddue (as the writer andrecipientin which theformulaicgreetings wereespecially put forward by Baines)to the real anxietyinspiredby travel, a more risky undertaking in the distantpast(Baines2001,11-2,27-8).

A very broad division has been made between different types of letters, in an attempt to in Thus better. letters them written primarily order to be sent which were understand (real letters) have been distinguished from letters which were written as model letters, for instruction (Bakir 1970,31-2). Red ink was only used in model letters (Bakir

1970,23). Real letters cover short messagesas well as longer letters, and could cover be business, written to maintain a or could personal need, matters of administration, friendship, and could be addressedto one person, or to a group of people. They have been discovered in a variety of contexts, from tomb assemblages to rubbish dumps of in Egyptian hieratic Middle/Late Letters on ostraca or were written settlement sites. papyri (Bakir 1970,23). papyri (Sweeney 2001,23). In general, letters on ostraca were shorter than letters on Many of the letters surviving from ancient Egypt are These copies could be on ostraca,

preserved only in copies (see Gardiner 1937, IX).

for in hieroglyphs display. When letters becamepart of a stelae on written papyri, or delineating for text, on a stela a boundary, for example, then their use monumental purpose and meaning changed considerably. Noting and assessing the context of a letteris important in trying to reachits original meaning.


Ascertaining whether those identified as the sender and the recipient in a particular letter were actually involved at any stage in the letter is complex. Thus Baines (1999a, 25) has argued for the Old Kingdom that 'the notion that the king would write his own letters is typical of the position of writing among the elite in Egypt (and has later parallels in fiction), but need not necessarily be taken at face value'. Anonymous

letter in have been the a which great only ones who saw scribes or officials may in Egypt That friendship regularly scribes and officials were made. protestations of is likely, for letters their and not actually physically superiors composed or wrote out (see Cemy Wente 1939,71-4; be letter a source of reproach oneself could writing a 1967,83-5; P.Turin 2026). Baines (2001,6) has thus used the word 'protagonist' to describe the alleged writer of a letter. In this chapter, the actors involved in a letter are termed'writer' and 'recipient', even though the named individuals within a letter may, New The Kingdom in its involved have been and reception. composition or may not, fiction, or reality, is thus enteredinto.

Such was the importance of letter writing in the New Kingdom state that manuals were intention letters the that trainee into with were copied, a selection of which composed, IV for PAnastasi letter (see ideal forms learn the then example of a scribes could Gardiner 1937; Caminos 1954,124). The manuals were circulated across Egypt, as is in Deir IV) PAnastasi (for by texts the on ostraca the example same presenceof shown el Medina, where: 'the villagers were evidently united in their ideas of education and of the in Late idea This the to that manifested corresponds closely educated man. Egyptian miscellanies, most of which stem from the government offices of Memphis, more than 500 Idlometres to the north. It seems, therefore, that both teaching methods and curriculum were operative throughout Egypt' (McDowell 2000,230). It is frequently the casethat the letters in such manuals are now the only source for the ancient original document, if indeed an 'original' existed. Green (1986,681) argued

from in fact derived thatthesemanuals official archives. were


Letter writing itself was not a simple action, but could encompassa whole set of verbal communications as well. With reference to the Old Kingdom, it has been shown that letter writing was seen as a 'performative art', inherently linked to works of literature and fiction: 'a principle that does not exclude people sitting at opposite ends of a courtyard, writing and then presenting letters to one another' (Baines 1999a, 25). The in Old involved Kingdom letters the the word spoken and written conjunction close of Sweeney 2001,6). (see by New Kingdom disappeared have the either may not Thisis

lived individuals in frequency letters between by the and worked who of suggested New Kingdom Egypt function letterin Thus the a was of purpose and close proximity. not limited to uniting people divided by physical distance.

that of Deir The majority of lettersfrom theNew Kingdom derivefrom one settlement, 36). The (Plate in Thebes desert Medina, the residents western edge a village on el families living decoration their tombs, the the with and royal of construction worked on Their in in dependents was exceptional. environment ways an which many and in Egypt, foremost that the a centreof royal and cities of one of was physical setting Luxor, Karnak bank On Thebes display. temples the the of and of were east religious and on the west bank were mortuary temples,and the royal tombs on which they Thebes built New Kingdom, During 82). the (Figure the was of environment worked in different kings by destroyed as successsion, to, and re-shaped continually added his demonstrate to piety andpower. eachsought

A more direct link betweenthe monumental and thosefrom Deir el Medina structures X), Ramesses (probably during Late Ramesside the during the reign of period occured Habu, Medinet live the mortuary the to the within walls of moved community when III (McDowell 1999,23; Sweeney2001,11; Teeter 2002,1). templeof Ramesses Here, within the enclosurewalls, the residentswere safer from attack(from hostile nomads)than when exposedin Deir el Medina, and were also closer to sourcesof

65 water, and the cultivation. Many of the lettersdatefrom this period, written by those by imagesof hostilenon-Egyptians who lived aroundthetemple,surrounded and texts listing Ramesses III's victoriesagainstthe SeaPeoples,at a time when Thebesitself was beingsporadically raided(Plates1,3-4). Two of the main individualsin the Late lettersareButehamon Ramesside both 'scribesof the tomb', a andhis fatherDhutmose, house(the remainsof which can still be seen positionof responsibility. Butehamon's in Medinet Habu - Plate 2) appearsto have been a comparativelyspaciousliving Ute Ramesside Cemy letters (Cerny 1973,382) the thought and many of environment hadbeenoriginally found here(1936,249).

Inevitably, because the majority of extanttextsfrom New Kingdom Egypt stem from it providesa very rare example Deir el Medina,andbecause of a settlement site, much by Deir el h&dina material. Amongstsuch research, hasbeengenerated there research has beenan unsurprisingtendency to try and view the site as unexceptional. This is levelof literacyin the community,which aroseout of despite the clearlyaboveaverage dueto thehighly skilled andprivileged natureof their work. necessity

In the settlement,there may have been a much higher than 5% proportion of literate in the population, including semi-literate(Janssen 1992,89). This has been inferred from (Janssen 1992,89). These were apparently more likely the frequency of short messages to have been written by the letter writer her/himself rather than by ascribe. Duringthe Twentieth Dynasty as much as 40% of the community may have been literate (McDowell 1999,4). Whilst acknowledging the potentially high proportion of literate

in Deir el Medina, Lesko suggestedthat this was not exceptional, arguing for a much higher than previously thought proportion of literate in ancient Egypt as a whole (Lesko 1994,134 - comparehis comments above). Deir el Medina has been suggestedas the during literacy from to the estimate only valid source which amongst wider population the New Kingdom. The existence in Deir el Medina of a private library (Pestman

1982), owned by Kenhikhopeshef, in which many of the literary texts of the day were


in, and knowledgeof, thepotentialparticipation storedhasbeenthoughtto demonstrate

the literary tales current in ancient Egypt by a wider proportion of the population (Lesko


Similarly the tomb assemblagesof the Deir el Medina villagers have been central to a reconstruction of social life in ancient Egypt (Meskell 1999). Meskell has argued that the diversity of the villagers makes them an apt case study applicable to the rest of Egypt: 'the richness of the material presentsa vast social mosaic, which is comprised of the experiences of many individuals: elite men and women, servants and slaves, foreigners, the disabled, the elderly and outcast' (Meskell of various ages, children 1999,4). Inevitably, as with almost any living environment, Deir el Medina had a

variety of residents. Nonetheless, the balance of power, and the social relations themselveswere altered through the high proportion of highly skilled residents, whose for kings Egypt, land, but the tombs the the of of not construction primary work was inhabitants. (1995,105) Strudwick these the emphasised this prioritises and evidence imbalance in the evidencefrom Thebes, where 'it is the lower classeswho are the most inconspicuous; in Thebes not even their burial places are obvious'. Yet, asanexample is informative Medina Deir and state el working on projects, of a skilled community have New been during Kingdom the there would many other exceptional: not probably Abydos (see Kemp 2001,126). such as at sites communities, such

Yhedelineation of theworld

TheroyaI context

Centralto any impositionof power was the needto publicisethat power and delineate its boundaries. The king's achievements, and his piety, could be describedin texts for Such located little were stelae concern which werewritten on stelae. with apparent high be Thus they situated on a rockface,where, evenin the unlikely audience. could


beingableto readthem,their locationmadethis impossible. Instead, eventof someone (see Baines 1996b, 347), as their purposecannotbe viewed in terms of propaganda understoodin the modem senseof the term, but rather as symbolic witnessesto the Egyptianpresence (realor not). Border stelae(when outsideEgypt) were not simply placedto delineate an immoveable point, a line betweenEgypt and outside (as in the thattheEgyptiankings setup in foreign lands"extendingthe modemworld): 'the stelae borders, " are not regarded in the sources as fixing Egypt's borders, but as r [victory], placedas far as his "expedition commemorative monuments of theking's n, of nAthadreached"'(Galin 1995,9).

Supposed real documentary texts, letters, could be quoted in texts on stelae. This is seen in other types of texts as well, for example, in autobiographical tomb inscriptions. When used, often in the midst of a more florid text, they added a touch of immediacy, of authenticity, as well as a change of style. They also gave a permanency to a text which otherwise would only have been preserved on papyri or ostraca, and thus demonstrated its importance. When letters copied onto stelae discussed the nonEgyptian, their transformation into a monumental text, written in hieroglyphs, reinforced and sometimes altered the original messages contained within the letters. These stated in unequivocal terms the superiority of the Egyptian over the nonEgyptian, the world depicted as a simple polarisation of Egyptian/order against nonEgyptian/chaos. Furthermore, they also precisely and clearly assertedthe power of the Egyptian king, and the divine support maintaining him and his circle.

Three suchlettersinvolve the viceroy of Kush. He ruled, on behalf of the king, the (see areasouth of Elephantine, as far as (and for a while beyond) the fourth cataract Cemy 1959; Warburton 2001,181,189). This area as a whole, was seen as a

fundamentalpart of Egypt, with Egyptian temples and monumentsconstructedat regularintervalsthroughout(seeKemp 1978),yet at the sametime its inhabitants were

68 seenas a potentialthreatto the Egyptianstate. The ability of the king to extendthe

borders (t,', S) of Egypt meant that non-Egyptians could be included within the parametersof Egypt (GalAn 1995,127,134-5).

Thutmose I speedily sought to contain any disorder stemming from the transition to a informing had by his deputy in he king, Kush, him to that writing now ascended new the throne (Sethe 1906,79-81; Lacau 1909,11-3, plate V; Wente 1990,27, no 15; Cairo Stela 34006; Figure 6). This letter, an assertion by Thutmose I of his newly attained power, also commandedthe viceroy to make offerings on his behalf to the gods of Elephantine, as well as letting the viceroy know that his hold on power was firm (see in particular lines 1-2, lines 7- 8). The viceroy had to submit to the king. The text itself Oust in Wadi Halfa the then north of the second cataract), and onto a stela, copied was becamea permanentwitness to the authority of the king over Kush.

A wider assertion of authority was made by Amenhotep 11, in a letter written to his viceroy in Kush, User-Satet (Helck 1955,1343-4; Dunham and Janssen 1960,17, Stela 1997,203-22; Wente 16; BNTA 25.632; 1990,27-8, Morschauser 82; no. plate Figures 7-8). In this, Amenhotep 11described his victories over non-Egyptians, and gave advice to his viceroy about dealing with non-Egyptians. The 'casual cruelty'

(Baines 1999d, 12) of this letter, in that Amenhotep 11 treated his viceroy in a disparaging way, has been argued to illustrate the point that Egyptians were 'integrated into the basic subjection of people under authority' (Baines 1999d, 12).

11detailed in two mainparts. In thefirst section,Amenhotep, The letterwas constructed how he had overpowered thosein the north and the south (lines 3-5), and praisedthe by 'all foreign (line 5). for his in He this section countries' victories viceroy concluded with theviceroy(lines7-9). In theselines, women criticisingnon-Egyptians associated with cities were singled out as an apparentsource of ridicule, directly associated II: 'But as for the womanof Babylon, the servant-girlfrom by Amenhotep conquered

69 Byblos, theyoung girl from Alalakh, and the old womanfrom Arapkha,the peopleof Takhsi, theyare of no accountwhatsoever. Indeedwhat is their useT. Each woman mentioned was depicted asbeingfrom a different stageof life, so that the main phases in a woman'slife werelisted: childhood,adulthoodand old age. Thesewomen might be a directcaricature AmenhotepII (see of rulersof thosecountries which had opposed Morschauser 1997,207). Apparently,it was an insult for a man,a ruler, to be equated with a woman, and seemingly,women could be seenin the samenegativelight as conquered non-Egyptian men.

In the first section of the letter, therefore, Amenhotep 11 depicted those from outside Egypt in a derogatory way, at least those non-Egyptians who had opposed his rule. The second section of the letter, in which Amenhotep II warned the viceroy against trusting the Nubians, should, perhaps, be closely linked with the first section (Morschauser 1997,208). Amenhotep Il stated: 'Indeed, do not be lenient with the

Nubians; Beware of their people and of their sorcerers' (lines 10-11). Morschauser (1997,208) thought that this statementwas 'not merely an expression of xenophobia; there is also a warning for User-Satetto exhibit a healthy scepticismfor these pharaonic underlings'. The translation of MJW as 'sorcerers' could be taken literally, the

magicians from Nubia a fundamental aspect to the general threatening nature of Nubians. Morschauser, however, took the passage to mean that the Nubians were

clever with words, therefore the viceroy should be careful of being led astray by the cunning speechesof the Nubians (1997,208-209).

in many societies, The association of outsiderswith magicis somethingwell-attested to marginalpersons,who are feared, wherebymagicialabilities'are generally attributed despised (Thomassen 1999,57), but in ancientEgypt magic andfrequentlypersecuted' was not exclusively the realm of non-Egyptians, nor did it have only negative (seeRitner2001,322). Yet thereis evidence delineation the connotations of showing Nubians as magiciansby Egyptians. The execration texts, from the Old Kingdom

70 the Nubians, who, it was feared, would turn the onwards, specificallycondemned (Ritner 1995,125). This particularletterhas theEgyptians magicof thesetextsagainst beenusedas evidence for the Egyptianfear of Nubianmagic(Koenig 1987,105; Ritner 1995,140) during theNew Kingdom;this association is alsowitnessed in medicaltexts andin the Book of the Dead(seeKoenig 1987,106-109). The apparent continuity in the perceptionof Nubiansas magicians was such that this themeappearsin Dmnotic textsaswell (Koenig 1987,110), in particulartheSecondSetnaTale, which featuresa Nubian magician(Ritner 1995,108,140). It is also possible to incorporateboth

implications of bk3w into the passage; by choosing such a word to describe the Nubians, therewas a suggestion of the malevolent use of magicby non-Egyptians,as to be carefulwhen dealingwith them at any well as the warning that it was necessary level. The recipientwas thuswarnedto be on his guard.

While this letter established betweennon-Egyptians the boundaries and Egyptians, it an acceptance alsodemonstrates of thenecessity with non-Egyptians, of interacting and thereforeprovided adviceon how to deal with non-Egyptians. It was not a closed world. EncountersbetweenEgyptian and non-Egyptianwere expected,and were

from the king. The letter endedwith more advice for in statements stemming catered for User-Satet, criticising him for his choiceof an offical, then a proverbwas quoted and finally AmenhotepIl instructed:'do not listen to their words and do not pay 11was referring to to their report' (line 14). Exactlywho or what Amenhotep attention 1997,203-204), but he may havebeenurging Userremainsenigmatic(Morschauser Satetto exertas muchcareaspossiblein appointing his deputies in Kush (Morschauser 1997,219). This comprehensive andinstructiveletterwascopiedonto a stela.

Imperial self-assurance,so central to the above letters, also found its way into the third example of a letter transformed into a monumental text and displayed in the midst of imperial territory. This is recordedon a stela dedicatedby Ramesses11(Tresson 1922, 10, plate 111; Wente1990,29, no. 19; Kuban Stela, lines 31-6; Figures 9-10). It was

71 discoveredin the mid-nineteenth century at Kuban, the Egyptianfortress about 108 kilometressouthof Aswan (Tresson1922,vii), andat thetop of the round toppedstela Ramesses II is depictedmaking offerings to Horus and Min (Tresson 1922, plate 1). The purpose of the text as a whole was to proclaim the successof Ramesses 11's initiative to dig a well in the deserton the road to the gold mines(Breasted1906,11723).

To back up Ramesses II's allegations venture,a letterfrom his viceroy of a successful theconstruction of Kush describing of the well was quotedin full. The subjectof the letterwas introduced throughtheassertion thatthe 'viceroy of the vile [bs] Kush' (line 32) had dispatched a letter. hs is a word which was frequently associated with the
enemies of Egypt, through using this word the Kushites were shown to be potential

to theEgyptianstate. sourcesof disorderanddestruction

In the letter itself, Ramesses11was specifically identified as having personally ordered the well's construction, a probable fiction which served to boost the supposed influence and omnipotence of the Egyptian king. Ramesses11was also informed by his viceroy that his subject peoples had been filled with joy by the construction of the well ('the land of Akuyta'). Why it should have pleasedRamesses11to be told that he had done something which pleasednon-Egyptians is not clear. Such statementswere not out of place in the Egyptian context, however, with several texts referring either to the happiness of non-Egyptians (see 'praise for Memphis', Chapter 3) or to the kindness of the king towards non-Egyptians (see letter below). They served to emphasise the

justice of Egyptian rule, that it was of benefit to Egyptians and non-Egyptians, as well both Egyptian and non-Egyptian demonstrating king's that the extended over power as alike. They were all his subjects, and so could be treated in the same way (Baines 1999d, 12), whether with condescension,cruelty or humanity.

72 Thesethreelettersdisplay a clarity of thoughtand expression regardingthe power of the king, theadministration of Kush, and the division of the world into Egyptian/nonEgyptianacrossa time-span of at least200 years. As letterswhich were incorporated into monumental in Nubia, they were not vehicles witnesses of the Egyptianpresence for any discussion fixed viewpoint. It was accepted, or questioningof this apparently however, that non-Egyptiansnecessarilyhad to be incorporatedinto the Egyptian world.

Sources of instability

That non-Egyptians were an essential aspect to the maintenance of Egyptian power immediate his in letters derived from king the or circle, which received recognition differentiated between non-Egyptians. Even in times of supposedly strong central

in freely king the upkeep of the the non-Egyptians acknowledged use of government, Egyptian boundary zones, and this was a regular concern addressedin letters. Many of these letters were preserved as copies on papyri (especially in the manuals discussed him for his deputies Sed 11 For to reprimanding wrote of one example, above). job from Land' 'Tjukten-Ubyans Oasis their the the of patrolling the of withdrawing Wente Caminos 1954,176-81; 1990,35, Gardiner IV; 1937,46-7, Anastasi (P. area no. 32; lines 10,8 - 11,8).

During the Late Ramessideperiod, when Egypt was more and more frequently king by thankingthem the wrote to non-Egyptians non-Egyptians, successfully raided in repellingother groupsof non-Egyptians. This is seenin a letter for their assistance Bedouin Nubians Egypt the IX, Ramesses to against of protecting written a group of (Kitchen 1983,519-22;Wente1990,38-9 no. 38; P.Cairo C-D).

The initial address of theletterprovidesa link backto previouserasin Egyptianhistory, with well-known attributesof Nubians listed: out of the four groups of Nubians

73 threewere described addressed, as 'featherwearing' and the fourth as 'bow carrying' (lines 39-42). Thesegroups of peoplehad beencentralin the protectionof a mining expedition,specificallyof the 'gold washingteams'(lines42-4). Whilst congratulating IX was also concernedto bring that victory back into the the Nubians, Ramesses Egyptiandomain, to attributeit to himself and Amun Re. This is seenin lines 45-9, IX stated thatit hadbeenhis actionwhich had overthrownthe ShasuwhereRamesses Bedouin, andthatit hadbeenAmun-Re,the 'lord of everyland' who hadprovidedvital Thus thepretence thatthe king as well as his chief deity were all powerful assistance. was maintained.

Oncethis assertion hadbeenmade,Ramesses IX askedthat the gods look kindly upon the Nubiansin returnfor their victory, discussed of administration, and then rematters statedthe positionof theNubianswith relationto the Egyptianstate. He instructedthe Nubiansto continuedefending the 'gold washers'againstthe Bedouin,but at the same 'do not allow the Shasu-Bedouin to time to refrain from attackingEgypt themselves: attackthem [the gold washers],and do not come to attackwithin the land of Egypt' (lines 65-6). From oneperspective, were to be fearedand kept outside non-Egyptians Egypt 'proper' (line 66), but at thesametimetheir skills wereto be utilised and praised (lines 53-6). The purposesof the letter were three-fold;to congratulate the Nubians whilst informing themthattheir victory was dueto theking andAmun-Re,to command Egypt, and to make them to continuetheirjob whilst ordering them not to penetrate arrangements. administrative

in Egypt's border This dependence to zoneswas maintain security on non-Egyptians in format deny did it the supremacy that a which presented not so was carefullyargued in servingthe Egyptianstatewas due to the of Egypt: any success of non-Egyptians Egyptianstateitself. Thus this letterof Ramesses IX manages to confirm the supposed in its content. theobviousinconsistencies power of Egypt, despite


Lettersderivedfrom the king, and thosearound him, had consistentlyacknowledged

the utility of non-Egyptians, whilst at the same time associating them with negative

qualifies, adjectives such as hS (seeabove) describingnon-Egyptians. In a way, the

two conceptswere not incompatible, as they were set againsta background in which the content of the letters also continually reinforced the central values. A sliver of

uncertainty, of inconsistency could perfectly easily be incorporated into an otherwise dogmatic letter. Thus it was perfectly possible for the Egyptian king to be thanked for bringing potentially disruptive non-Egyptians within the Egyptian state. As pointed out by Redford (1997a, 57), the reaction to non-Egyptians was not inflexible. He

identified six variables upon which encounters with non-Egyptians could depend; for example, their 'social class' or the 'length of stay' in Egypt. It was not simply that all non-Egyptians were to be condemned.

For example,a letter to Seti 11was found at Gurob. It was written by a woman, the king directly. She thanked presumably of the coreeliteas she was ableto address him for sendingher non-Egyptians to receivetraining (Gardiner 1940,14-5; Wente 1990,36, no. 34; P.Gurob 111,1, that this rt.). Translatorsof the text havepresumed trainingwas to be in weaving,yet thetextjust notesthatit was in 'this greattask'(Iines 2,3-2,4; seeKemp and Vogelsang-Eastwood 2001,453). She notedhow Sed 11was 11,andstated thatsuchpeoplewereideal:'It is only continuingthe customof Ramesses to be thepeoplewho arelike thepeoplewhom my Lord, life, prosperity,health,caused brought,who are ableto be effectiveand who are ableto receivemy teachingas they areforeignersin themanner of thosewho were broughtto us in the time of UsermareII], the Great God, your good father' Setepenre, life, prosperity, health [Ramesses (lines 2,5-2,7).

Even in textual discourse such as the above letter, in which facts appearto be presented,

it is not possibleto simply takethemat facevalue,to draw conclusions aboutthe actual

situation in Egypt. The textile industry in Egypt has long been assessedas an area in

75 which the majority of jobs were held by non-Egyptians,and Gurob in particular has been seen as a centrefor non-Egyptian textile workers, doubtless leading to the interpretationof the above letter as referring to trainee weavers (see Kemp and Vogelsang-Eastwood 2001,453). Yet the re-interpretation of pits in Gurob (at one stageinterpreted asfuneralpyresfor non-Egyptians andthenasrubbishpits) shows the (seeMeskell2002,37), especially to be approached carewith which the evidence needs (Politi 2001,111) which has seenthe pits re-identif given thelatestre-interpretation led asfuneralpyres, specificallyfor lEttite women.

A parallel example is provided by Mddle Kingdom pyramid town of Lahun. It has been hypothesised that the wool industry in Crete was so important that specialists would have been brought to Egypt, thus introducing Aegean motifs into the Egyptian artistic repetoire. This logical argument, based upon archaeological finds, is

contradicted by textual evidencefrom Lahun, in which only Asiatics were mentioned as working in the textile industry. How to equate these contrasting pictures is complex: 'the problem of dislocation between the ancient reality and the texts becomes acute' (Fitton, Hughes and Quirke 1998,134).

Both royal letters preserved in a monumental context, and royal letters which were preserved in copies on papyri, delineateda world in which the power of the king and his deities was absolute. This seems to have been the central requirement of royal letters, reiterated in both the content of a letter and in the formal addressesused at its beginning and end. Distinctions were also drawn, between Egyptians and non-

Egyptians, between different categoriesof non-Egyptians, between different levels of officialdom, and between different locations which were defined in relation to those who lived there. Areas which were claimed as part of Egypt's territory, could nevertheless be occupied by undesirable non-Egyptians. The potential disorder

threatened by non-Egyptians served to reinforce the vital role of the king, and to emphasisehis power when he managedto keep such disorder at bay.


Outside theimmediate royal context

The apparent easewith which the world could be defined, with the Egyptian (deities and rulers) stateidentified as a sourceof power and of protectionagainstworrying found its way into letters derived from outsidethe kingly circle as outsideelements, well. The majority of letters mentionedabove would have been used in scribal

manuals,as ideal typesof lettersfrom which scribescould learnthe necessary styles, vocabularyandformatsof letters.

One of the necessary themes for scribal exercises was formed by letters/reports in which the writer complained about being outside his usual environment, frequently outside Egypt. These complaints derived directly from the kingly perception of all that was in Egypt as representing the proper, ordered functioning of life. Thus it was

reiterated to the scribe that being Egyptian involved enjoying a world in which all functioned properly, but at the sametime it was necessary,in the service of the state, to work in places in which nothing functioned properly.

This is epitomised by what was probably intended as part of a letter (without opening address) surviving in several copies, in which an official described an environment beset by insects, unripening fruit and intense heat (P. Anastasi IV; Gardiner 1937,489; Caminos 1954,188-98). The writer described himself as being in the 'the beating of the land', understood by Caminos not as a real topographical name but as a term 'coined by the writer, as it befits the accursed place suspiciously well' (1954,189). The verb wl as well as meaning 'beat' can also mean 'roam/wander, thus forming with Ba referenceto a nomadic location'the roaming of the land'. This understanding of the writer's location also shows it to be the reverse of normal, settled life in the Nile Valley. The major problems of living in this location were caused by the wildlife,


which included a large number of dogs and jackals (500). These made the writer thatit was only possibleto go out because nervousof leavinghis house;he stated of a him Oines13,2 - 13,3). royal scribe'sjackal which protected

Having to campaign outside Egypt was listed as one of the many reasons for which a texts be happy be to scribe should not a soldier. urging the scribe to be happy with his lot by comparing it to that of those in other occupations were much copied (see Caminos 1954,91). In one such copy, written as a letter, one scribe addressed

another, listing the trials of a soldier (P.Anastasi 111;Gardiner 1937,26-7; Caminos 1954,91-5). Foremost amongst these trials, was the requirement to fight outside

Egypt, specifically in the hills of Syria-Palestine(lines 5,9). No mention was made of the inhabitants of such places, instead the misery of the place was put down to the duties of the soldier there. The prime reason for discontent was the long march to battle through the hill-country, in which the soldier became like a pack-animal, exhausted even before the onset of battle (lines 5,10-6,1).

That such letters do not represent the whole picture is suggested by a model letter, Wente Sed 129; during 11 (Gardiner 1911; 1990, the reign no. composed of probably P. Anastasi 1). The survival of this text in ten ostraca as well as in papyri indicates its popularity (Gardiner 1911,4). The letter purported to have been written to a scribe,

'it by been have scribes: out potential posed challenges to copied and, as such, would improve the quality of the student's mind' (Wente 1995,2216), with as many difficult had learn how included text, that to to use the the so student within words as possible them. In great detail the writer listed the hardships encountered by a scribe

accompanying military expeditions abroad (the above text failed to acknowledge that fate leave Egypt had had thus to the to to of a some extent share scribes as well; and soldier). The writer posed as someone of experience, pulling the leg of a naive

youngster about to enter his profession.


Numerousreasonswere cited for the military scribe's life being one of unrelenting physical difficulties. In particularthe physical landscape of the non-Egyptianworld, specificallyits inhabitants, wereidentifiedasa sourceof potentialfear. The labelsand words usedto describenon-Egyptians mirriic thoseusedin royal texts, feeding upon the familiar, thus creating a morecrediblescenario.

Descriptions of non-Egyptians were madeas fearsome as possible. For example,the Shasu-Bedouin were caricatured, picturedas hiding behindbusheswaiting to ambush the unaware Egyptian: 'the narrow path is dangerousas the Shasu-Bedouin'are beneath thebushes,someof thembeing of four or five cubits, their noseto concealed foot, andhavefiercefaces' (lines 23,7 - 23,8; Figure 11). The exaggeration implicit in built upona known situation,wherebythe disenfranchised, this description or nomadic populations,lived in thehill countryon thefringesof thestate(Yurco 1997,30).

The implication of this text, was, that once the outsideworld, the world populated it became less threatening. It was only was encountered primarily by non-Egyptians, had actuallybeenthere,and returned,that fears of the unknown could when someone be facedand seennot to be so bad. The experienced person,having travelledto such theinexperienced areas,couldthentease andexploit his/herfears. Only the unworldly studentwould havebeenalarmedby this text. Thus in anotherletterthe action of the Egyptianking in allowing the Shasu-Bedouin to be temporary residents of Egypt (in the Delta area,to provide pasturefor their flocks) was describedas beneficient,not as a for fear (PAnastasiVI; Gardiner1937,76-7; Caminos1954,293-6; in particular cause line 57).

Indeed, the daily reality for many in Egypt of interacting with, or at least noticing, nonEgyptians living and working in their midst (see Baines 1996b, 367), meant that they were frequently referred to in letters without any negative attributes. At the same time a person's country of origin appearsto have bestowed the main form of reference for a

79 person. Such peoplewere often living in Egypt as a sourceof labour, and, by the
eighteenth dynasty were frequently termed bm in conjuction with their country of origin (Bakir 1952,3 1).

How to understandbm (and the other terms used for slave/servant),whether to translate it as 'servant' or 'slave' is unresolved, although it clearly could mean both, depending

on context. It could simply havehadthemoregeneral of 'employee' implying meaning a degree of autonomy. Thoseidentifiedasm would alsohaveincludedpeoplelacking the personalfreedomimplied today in the word 'employee' (see Meskell 2002,105106). The differences between forms of slavery,andbetween slaveryand serfdom, are now blurredanddifficult to distinguish(Bakir 1952,6; Meskell2002,105). Nuances in the use of the term m do appearhowever, for example,Bakir hypothesised 'to the foreign origin of the slave perhapsindicatesthat there was a certain emphasize
difference in the status, or treatment, of native and foreign slaves' (1952,72).

In a letter written during the nineteenth dynasty, at somepoint during the reigns of Merenptah (Wolf 1930,89-97; or Seti11,theissueof a missinglabourerwas addressed Wente1990,124-6;P.Bologna 1086;seealso Gardiner1948,115). He was referred to first merelyas a Syrian, then his full name, parentage and country of origin were given, andthenthewriter went backto referringto him solely as the Syrian. Earlyon in the letter it was made clear that he had been part of a cargo of non-Egyptian labourers. But at no point was a negative adjective associated with him.

The purpose of the letter was to relate certain administrative problems to a superior, a priest called Ramoseof the temple of Thoth 'satisfied of heart' in Memphis, paramount of which was the missing Syrian (Wolf 1930, section IV; Figure 12). The writer was a scribe called Bakenamon, who had been ordered by Ramose to find out what had happened to the slave: 'Furthermore, I have made enquiries into the Syrian of the


templeof Thoth, whom you wrote to meaboutandI havefound thathe was placedas a cultivatorof the templeof Thoth underyour authority in Year 3, month 2 of Imw, day 10, from amongthebmw of theships' cargoes which the overseer of the fortresseshad broughtback' (lines 9- 10). The Syrian's name,parentage and country of origin were
then given: 'To cause that you know his name; the Syrian Nekedy, son of Seretja, whose mother is Kedy of the land of Amdus, a hm of the ship's cargo of this temple in the ship captain KeFs boat' (lines I 1- 12).

When the country of origin of a non-Egyptian was not mentioned, that person could be referred to by more general designations of foreigner, such as '/ 3" (3"cis the Late Egyptian version of '- see Bell 1976,1-24). This word was sometimes written with Several

the throwstick determinative, typically associated with foreign countries.

" have been suggested, for example, 'foreign mercenary troops', translations of > 'interpreters', and 'Nubians' without necessarily being used as a general term for foreigners (Goedicke 1966; Bell 1976,90-2).

Referencesto3' were made in several of the Late RamessideLetters, written by those living within the enclosure wall of Medinet Habu, in contexts which were often not made explicit. For example, at the end of a letter probably addressedto Dhutmose, the writer warned the recipient to 'keep an eye on the matterof the foreigner' (Cerny 1939, 65, no. 44; Wente 1967,77-8, no. 44; Janssen 1991, plate 55; P.Bournemouth, line 12). In another letter, from Dhutmose to Butehamon, which covered many issues, Dhutmose complained that one of the letters sent to him had not reached him (Cemy 1939,17-21, no.9; Wente 1967,37-42, no. 9; Janssen 1991, plates 37-8; P.Brit. Mus. 10326, Figures 14-19). This was supposedto have been delivered by an 3% 'Now as for you having said about the matter of the letters, about which you said: "Have they


reachedyou?" They have reachedme exceptfor the letter which you gave to the foreigner Seti, the brother of the fishermanPanefermneb' (lines 8-10). Despitethe failure of Seti to deliver a letter, a negativeadjectivewas not linked to him, although by a desireto be concise. this may merelyhavebeendictated

Further blurring of the world of opposites, of Egyptian versus non-Egyptian, is revealed by the apparent possibility of a non-Egyptian becoming an Egyptian. Labelling someone after their country of origin, or simply as 3'. need not have had a permanency. This is suggestedin a further Late Ramessideletter, the remaining part of which was a list of men who had been appointed to cultivate new land (Cemy 1939, 53, no. 33; Wente 1967,69, no. 33; Janssen 1991, plate 86; P.Bibl. Nat. 199 11;Figure 13). Amongst them was a man who was called 'the son of '3-mr, of the new land of

to havebeen pr-d.3'd.?, who was [wn] a foreigner [31' (line 4). The word wn appears
used in its role as an indicator of past time (Cerny and Groll 1993,296-7; translated as such by Wente 1967,69). also

If this is so, then this letter shows it was possible to abandon the status of foreigner here the man's foreign-ness was assignedto the past. Indeed, the state itself may have played a central role in ensuring the assimilation of non-Egyptians, of their acceptance of Egyptian culture, as illustrated by the educationof the sons of non-Egyptian rulers in ., the Egyptian palace(see Leblanc 1999). A stela of RamessesIII from western Thebes records that he tried to force a group of non-Egyptians, the Meshwesh, to abandon their language and to speak Egyptian instead (Bruy6re 1930,34-7; Bakir 1952,112). In the

Instruction of Any, a text known to the Deir el Medina community (see above), the son was encouragedto stick to his father's instructions by being informed that even nonEgyptians can learn Egyptian.

82 Within Egypt, linguistic preferencesformed an important aspect to self-definition, and the ability of the written word to ignore linguistic variation may point to a concerted attempt on the part of the stateto maintain linguistic integrity (see above; Roccatti 1980, 80). The ancient Egyptian language may have played an important role in maintaining an Egyptian identity, and a recognisably Egyptian way of conducting life through the millennia (Roccatti 1980,84). This was despite not infrequent encounters with other

languages (and more frequent ones with other dialects of Egyptian) alongside an indepth knowledge of some non-Egyptian languages.

Such a knowledge was clearly necessarygiven Egypt's internationalsetting. A in found house 0.49.23 Amarna Gadd 1925,230-1), (Smith tablet at and cuneiform during Peet'sexcavations there, may havebeenan exercise written by a non-Egyptian trying to learn Egyptian(althoughit could also havebeenwritten by an Egyptianwho knew phoneticcuneiformbut was trying to learnhow to write cuneiformcorrectly). It left in Egyptian the with cuneiform numberson the on consistedof numeralswritten issue how Furthermore, Gadd 1925,231-8). the (Smith peopleendedup of and right Kingdom, New in to languages different the was attributed and was addressed speaking the actionsof the divine world (Sauneron1960,32-3). The first mention of the

Amarna Aten, from in Hymn the languages to the the period was separationof (Sauneron1960,32).

The associationof non-Egyptianswith foreign languageswas thus a well-known One the in addressed such exercise theme,which could also appear scribalexercises. frequent problem of a lazy scribe. In this letter, (P.Sallier I; Gardiner 1937,85; Caminos1954,319-21), an official informedhis scribethat he had not been exerting himself as he should, despitevariouspunishments. The scribe's ability to deflectand him to an assthathadbeenbeaten led his superiorto compare or ignore any punishment to a Nubian.

83 The Nubian was describedas spealdnga foreign languageunderstoodby Caminos

(1954,320) as 'gibbering': 'You are as a Nubian, speaking a foreign language [? ], who has been brought in with the tribute' (line 8,1). The use of 3' here appears to be

in its original meaning: 'the designation 3' is quitegeneral,meaning properly "speaking

in a foreign language"' (Gardiner 1941,25). This image of a non-Egyptian, being

brought to Egypt as an item of tribute, and speaking in a foreign language was thus as accessiblea motif as that of a beatenass, and to be compared to either could be equally insulting. The two aspects of the Nubian, as tribute and as someone who spoke a

foreign language, further emphasisedhis lowly status. The letter ended with a warning that the scribe would be brought under control in the end.

Severalgroups of non-Egyptians were regularly mentionedin letters, whose origins Egypt long-term but Egypt, cameto mean that their within roles whose were outside 60-2). People (Refford 1997a, for label their as well occupation stood non-Egyptian be by Egypt, the to had than still referred could country other a who neverexperienced location. These groups of their geographical original ancestors' supposed name of had been 1926,66), (Gauthier Medjay included associated the originally who people Kingdom, 'by New the term mV,yw but Nubia, the policemen: were now who with had developeda purely vocationalmeaningof "policeman, desert ranger", and the (McDowell 1990,51-2). dropped altogether' were remaining ethnic connotations Further groups included the Meshwesh,a group of peoplefrom the Westerndesert (Richardson1999,149), andtheSherden, who wereoneof the 'Sea Peoples'usedfor defending Egypt (Leahy 1995,228; Warburton 2001,82,91-8). Despite long

historicalinscriptionsdetailingconquests an over such groupsof people,they became integralpart of New Kingdom Egypt.

For the Late Ramessidecommunity at Medinet Habu, there was the dual position that time inhabitants identified the be to the threat same at whilst as a could such people

84 other allegedly non-Egyptianswere central to the functioning of the community. Warningswere given that the Meshweshwere approaching Thebes,and work on the because (seeHaring 1992, royal tombsceased of thehostilepresence of the Meshwesh 734; Sweeney2001,78-9). Peden(2000,288) has suggested that the decline of graffiti in westernThebesin late 20th/early21st dynasty may have been due to the Meshweshwho made'it dangerous to go for desertstrolls'. The fear and disorder by the Meshweshcould be discarded which was allegedlycaused oncethe Meshwesh accepted rations (Haring somedegreeof authority, thus enablingthem to be accorded 1992,78).

The Medjayand the Sherdenwere frequentlyreferredto in textsfrom Deir el Medina, wheretheremayhavebeenasmanyas sixty Medjayworking in westernThebes(Cemy 1973,262). The separateness of the Medjay from the communityof workmen as a by the fact that they did not receiverationswith the workmen, whole was emphasised and that they appearnot to have lived in the Deir el Medina settlement,but on the floodpIain nearMedinetHabu as indicatedby the town register,P.BM 10068 (Cemy 1973,280-1; McDowell 1990,54; Meskell2000,267).

Both the Medjay and the Sherden were used in the delivery of letters between people separatedby a distance. A negative attribute was not a necessary part of referring to letters between Hadnakht' delivered 'Medjay Someone the such people. called Butehamon, Dhutmose and Piankh, as did the 'Sherden Hori'. In Late Ramessideletter 37-8; Janssen 199 1, Wente 1967,37-42, 9; 1, 9; 9 (Cemy 1939,17-2 plates no. no. no. P.Brit. Mus. 10326; seeabove; Figures 14-19) Dhutmose gave Butehamon instructions 'Medjay' labelled two three as were also about people, all of whom were named, and Kas, Medjay do be 'Sherden': 'Moreover, the the third and not neglectful of and as a 6) it (line he bread fabrics' him to that the to the and vs. weaves give rations and see 'send the Medjay Hadnakht, seeto it that he is sent to me quickly, and do not allow him to delay. [1] have written to you for him already through the Sherden Hori' (lines vs.

85 7-8). Thesethreepeoplefrequentlyperformedtaskson behalf of Piankh, Dhutmose in LateRamesside letterno. 16 (Cerny 1939,31-3, no. andButehamon.For example, 16;Wente1967,49-51, no. 16;Janssen1991, plates92-3; P.Turin 1971;Figures 203; seebelow). Butehamon repliedto Dhutmose,telling him that the Medjay Kas had beengetting on with his work. He also statedthat the Medjay Hadnakhthad been letter entrusted with thedeliveryof theletter(line vs.11). Similarly in LateRamesside 1991,plates 103no. 50 (Cerny 1939,71-4, no.50; Wente1967,83-5, no.50; Janssen 104; P.Turin 2026; see below), Dhutmose wrote to Butehamon,mentioning the SherdenHori as the personwho had deliveredcopperspearsto Dhutmosein Nubia (lines 16-7), andDhutmose had not replied about 'the that Butehamon alsocomplained matterof theMedjayKasy' (lines21-2).

One letterin particularilluminatesthe processof the delivery of lettersin which these individualswereinvolved(Cemy 1939,44-8, no. 28; Wente supposedly non-Egyptian 1967,59-65, no. 28; Janssen1991, plates3940; P.Brit. Mus. 10375). This was to Piankh(in Nubia), who describedthe delivery of Piankh's written by Butehamon letter, andthe means by which its contents to weremadepublic: 'We havepaid attention all thematters which our lord wrote to us about. As for this letterhaving beensentto us through the hand of Hori, the Sherden,this messenger of our lord, the scribe Butehamon it from him in thefirst monthof fmw, [day] 18' ferried across andreceived (lines 10-12). Whentheletterreached Butehamon, he then readit out to the workmen of the Necropolis, and the letter was concludedby noting that it was being sent to PiankhthroughtheMedjayHadnakht(line vs 15).

Unlike the Kushites who were termedvile',

the Medjay and the Sherdenwere referred

to in much the same way as other Egyptians. In contrast to the Kushites, the nonEgyptian origin of the Medjay had long been superseded. Criticism of the Medjay was thus not applied unilaterally, instead was often inspired by their inability to fulfill their roles adequately. For example, when a chief of the Medjay had failed to carry out his


duties as a policeman,then he was addressed in a derogatorymanner(PAnastasi V, Gardiner1937,70-1; Caminos1954,269-73). He was reprovedsolely on the basisof his administrative failings, and was also remindedof his position, his relatively low status:'you area son of the subordinates; you arenot a nobleman'(line 26,6).

The king's proud delineation of the world, seenin his letters,was to a certain extent reflectedin other lettersof the literateacrossa wide timespan. The termsused in the king's lettersto refer to thoseregarded as from outsideEgypt were takenup by other literatepeoplein Egypt. Thus a non-Egyptian could be referredto within a letter about comments, as could a variety of issuesasa matterof course,without any condemnatory up by the king himself, subjectEgyptians. Thesewerethemselves possibilifiesopened in his letters of the utility of non-Egyptians,and their with the acknowledgement necessityto the functioning of the ordered,Egyptianworld. When a non-Egyptian failed in an allottedtask, then a more derogatorytone could enter a letter. The same motifs as seen in the king's letters could be taken up in a non-royal letter, but for lack basis the to of a negative view of the outsideworld. reinterpreted expose

77te apexof theorderedworld

Yheestablislunent ofhierarchy

his deitieswas The self-image of theking as the centreof the orderedworld alongside in lettersderivedfrom him. This self-assured claim to greatness proudly proclaimed in derived in letters from non-royalcontexts, which and omnipotence was alsoreflected letter-writerspaid homageto the Egyptiandeitiesand to the king. The dual homage is kingship 'the both a political system of pharaonic was appropfiateand necessary: kind of religion quite in the same way as Egyptian religion is a form of polifical (see Baines hierarchy The Egyptian (Assmann 1989,56). of society organization' 2001,233), 1990),in which 'statusis one of the most significantfeatures'(Sweeney

87 in theletterswhich seemto abideby intricate'rules' of was, for themostpart, reflected socialdecorum.

Formalised statementsconfirming the respect due to the king and/or the gods did not only frame letters addressedto the king or his immediate circle, but also appeared in letters written solely for a friend or an acquaintance. Merely listing the titulary of the king at the beginning of a letter to him, conveyed the writer's supposed acceptanceof the king's power (see for example, Daressy 1927,174-5; Wente 1990, no. 33; O.Cairo JE 72467). How meaningful the thought processes behind such statements were, is however uncertain. Letters actually addressedto the king could be particularly florid in their praising of him, and this could dominate the content of a letter as a whole. Two letters, which were written to inform the king that all was in order in his establishments, primarily focused on expressing admiration for the king and his omnipotence.

IV by an official in Memphis. The actualnews of The f irst was written to Amenhotep the letter, that Memphiswas thriving, was introducedby formal phrasesexalting the power of the king (Sandman1938,147-8, no. CXLIV; Wente 1990,28, no. 17; P.Gurob 1.1 and 1.2). Thesestatements theking's view of what his role was; reflected he hadto maintainpowerwithin his domain,with the help of the gods. Forexample, IV exertpower over the southemers, the writer askedthatPtahhelpAmenhotep and to makelandsfearful (Sandman1938,147, lines 6-7). Only at the end of the letter was the well-beingof Memphisconveyed.

An even more emphatic exultation of the king's power was made in a letter initially written to Merenptah (Gardiner 1937,15-6, no. 6; Caminos 1954,48-50, no. 6; Wente 1990,34-5, no. 3 1; P.Anastasi 115,6). The style of this letter was so admired that it no. 9;

was later adapted to form a letter praising Seti 11 (Caminos 1954,153,

P.Anastasi IV, 5,6; Figure 24), and the letterreads more like a hymn of pmise than an in letter, its letter. Yet the the text, as a was actual or merely origin of alleged origin,

88 the initial phrasereads'this is a letterto provide informationfor the king at the palace, life, prosperity, health,"Beloved of Ma'at", the horizon whereRe is' (fines 5,6-5,7). An almost dream-likeatmosphere was createdthrough the descriptionof the king's Merenptah to Re: 'your rays enter into the power. For example,the writer compared cave, and no placeis devoid of your beauty;you are told the condition of every land while you arerestingin your palace'(Iine6,1).

Theexpression of discontent

Suchwhole-hearted of theking did not excludethe possibility of writing to acceptance is Amarna letters, by him with complaints This the written well attested andcriticism. to AmenhotepIII and Akhenatenby rulers from outside Egypt (see Cohen and 300 Westbrook2000;Higginbotham2000,41-2). Thesewere a set of approximately letters (mostly in Akkadian, in in Amarna 1887, found the the tablets, which on clay 228) Baines 1999b, international language the time, of neareastern rulers were see of in demonstrate been kept had They the ability of together, archive, and an preserved. the literatein Egyptto work in otherlanguages andscripts(Giles 1997,39).

The king was continually appealedto for help, hence Liverani's (1973,184) topos of the 'righteous sufferer' in the Amarna letters. Those who wrote to Amenhotep III and Akhenaton emphasised and played upon their supposed wretched condition. For

example, Ribaddi of Gubla frequently wrote to the king; each time his condition, and that of his territories was alleged to be worse than before, with more and more devastating attacks from the 'Habira' and apparently no support from the king. He

lord, feet 'at king the the of my sun, seven times and of my greeted as a suppliant, fall Knapp to by 1997,387), but I fall (EA 68, down' translation able also was seven into bitter reproachesto the king for his lack of assistance. For example, in EA 126 (translation by Knapp 1997,405) he wrote that 'but see I wrote to my lord about troops, but garrison troops were not sent and nothing whatsoever was given [to] me'.


As in theAmarnaletters,wherethe writers complained that their letterswere not being their king, and his read,or their problemsaddressed, so too could Egyptiansreproach II, not circle. For one individual, Meryiotef, who lived during the reign of Ramesses havinghis lettersrepliedto was a particularproblem. The letterwas written in Lower Egypt, from the royal court (Janssen 1960,33). Meryiotef wrote to Prince RamessesMaatptah, beginningtheletterwith therequiredformal phrases, assuringthe prince that he was askingthe godsto granttheprincelong life andhealth(Bakir 1970,plates 15-6, XXI; Janssen1960;Wente 1990, no. 23; P.Leiden 1367). The actualsubject of the letter was limited to a few short remarks,Meryiotef curdy stating that not one of his previouslettershadbeenrepliedto.

Lettersappear to havebeenonemethodfor Egyptiansto attemptto access officials at a higherlevel thanthemselves, to voicedissatisfaction.As discussed above,the presence is by Turin dissatisfaction the testified the powers with ruling of potentialunrestand in for by internal divisions the struggles power seen the arerevealed strike papyrus,and in letters by In Hatshepsut. were surrounded phrases protestations contrast, reign of be In the made could such a context,protest ruling powers. of expressing acceptance without threatof retribution.

Perhaps this was becausewritten complaints representedno threat to the ruling powers; they could be contained and dealt with. Or merely ignored if necessary. In the context Edgerton 111), Ramesses (from Strike Turin the the of reign papyri of understanding despite the these that, with to of non-co-operation manifestations chose emphasise its Pharaoh Egypt 'Pharaonic the totalitarian was state, and was a ruling powers, dictator' (1951,145). Even if this was the case (and using such terms loaded with

twentieth century connotations is clearly problematic) that did not mean that every individual was robbed of their identity, pushed into an unquestioning acceptance of all that emanatedfrom the ruling powers (see Wilson 1960,163).


This is demonstrated by a studyof lettersof complaintwritten in StalinistRussia(with ii the abovestatement). which Edgerton was probablydrawingan indirect comparison Someof the Sovietofficials receiveda huge quantity of suchletters;for examplemore than 1.5 million letterswere written to one government official in a twelve year period (Fitzpatrick 1999,175). Despitethe fact that the majority of the letterswere dealing by theregime,it was nonetheless form of action. with theinjusticescaused an accepted Denouncing local officials to centralgovernment but it was was especially encouraged, (Fitzpatrick1999,177). That also possibleto complainaboutthe centralgovernment in termsof the desireof this apparently situationexistedhasbeenexplained paradoxical the regimeto appear as thelegitimate righter of wrongs, and for individual officials, as father' (Fitzpatrick1999,176). well as Stalin, to appear asthe 'benevolent

in New Kingdom The key to understanding discontent such comparable expressions of 0 Eg pt is in how far the state chose to meet the demandsmade upon them. The V. IY frequencywith which complaints thatit was not a totally pointless werewritten suggest 'complaintsarefrequentlyfollowed by explicit instructionsfor remedyingthe exercise: wrong or sorting out the problem. It seems,therefore,that people write letters of thattheir wrongs are redressed complaintin orderto ensure and their problemssolved, 2001,192). And, in fitting with ratherthanmerelyto vent their indignation'(Sweeney the highly structurednatureof Egyptiansociety, peoplephrasedtheir complaintsin accordance with who theywereapproaching.It was only towardsthoseof equivalent, or almost equivalent, status to themselvesthat complaints were phrased with exasperation(see Sweeney2001,227). Such was the acceptabilityof justified

complaints that the Mddle Kingdom Tale of the Eloquent Peasantwas composed aroundan individual's strugglefor justice againstan unjust official (Parkinson 1991; 1998,54). The king was the sourceof justice, providing a contrastto his officials: once more there was a distinction between a corrupt periphery and just centre (Parkinson1998,77).


A major causefor discontent was the imposition of what were felt to be unacceptably high taxes. The collectionof taxeswould often have beenone of the centralmeansby which the authorityof the statewas felt acrossthecountry as a whole, and could result in real hardship,much of which is unrecorded. The complaintsof the literate about high taxation,when they would presumablyhave been the very peoplemost able to meettaxationdemands, present only a very partialpictureof thesituation.

Onesuchletterwaswritten at the very end of the twentiethdynastyby the overseer of Elephantine to an individual thoughtto havebeenthe 'Chief Taxing master' (Gardiner 1951). The actualformal phrases of greetingwere limited to the first five lines of the text, in which expressions of goodwill towards the official and the king were made (Gardiner1951;P.Valengay thatthis letterwas no 1). Baines(2001,18-20) hasargued between two officials who would haveknown eachother, hencethe openingformulae neednot be understood as hypocritical,but as a necessary aspectto a personalletter (Baines 2001,20). After theseexpressions of goodwill towards the recipient, the

his concern. The restof theletterwas a succinctdescription writer immediately stated of by any further phrases (rectoline 6- verso line the complaint,unembellished of respect 11). The writer hadhadhis levelsof tax unfairly set by an individual collectingtax for the 'House of the Chantress of Amun'; he had beenallegedto have cultivatedland which he hadn't, andhadhadthelevel of tax settoo high on a pieceof land which had had a very low yield dueto thelevel of the Nile. As well as beingfree from any extra this section phrases of respect, of theletterwas alsofreefrom any expressions of anger 2001,229-30). or frustration(Sweeney

Letters complaining about the imposition of taxes were such a usual part of life for some in the New lCingdom, that they were one of the types of texts copied by scribes as exercises. Indeed, one of the letters copied onto P.Bologna 1094 (probably from Memphis - Gardiner 1937,6-7; Caminos;1954,17-20) followed the sameformat as the


that tax was being extortedupon items which aboveletter, with the sameprotestations thewriter (a priest)did not have. This letter,however,was not addressed to the official in chargeof tax, but insteadcommanded the recipientto collectthe evidenceto prove it to thevizier. thewriter's caseandthenpresent

The literate in Deir el Medina also voiced their complaints in carefully worded letters to their superiors, as well as resorting to other forms of more 'direct action'. This is seen in two letters, both of the nineteenth dynasty, the first from the scribe Neferhotep and the second from Kenhikhopeshef. Both the letters were addressedto the vizier. The first letter survives on an ostracon, found at Deir el Medina, and so would either have been a copy of the letter which was sent, or a draught version of it (Wente 1961,253). In this text, Neferhotep wrote to the vizierTo (0.16991, Wente 1961, plates VII-VIII, 255-7), commencing his letter with all necessaryintroductory phrases including a long list of deities (such as 'Amenophis who lives in the middle of the west side') to whom he has been praying everyday, asking that the king remain in power. Neferhotep

further depicted himself as an upstanding Egyptian through informing the vizier that he had been working properly and well. Then, after thesereassuring sections, Neferhotep wrote that the community was suffering intensely from poverty and urgently needed help. For example, in lines 10-2, Neferhotep asked that 'May our lord cause that we may live; indeed we are dying, we are not living.

during Deir Medina leading Kenhikhopeshef, the the community of el officials asoneof figure from the communityto complainto dynasty,was an appropriate the nineteenth the vizier in writing. The vizier, Panehsy,has been identified as a 'well-known favour Meneptah' Pharaoh have the the to special of enjoyed personage who appears (Gardiner 1935,24). As such, Kenhikhopeshefphrasedhis letter with great care (Gardiner 1935,24-6, C, plates11-2 a, Wente 1990,48-9, no. 52; P.Chester Beatty descriptionof how all was well III, vs 4-5). The first half of theletterwas an eloquent

93 in Thebes,full of assurances that the workmen of Deir el Medinawere working hard, Panehsy (lines4: 1-4:8). andthis sectionconcluded with a passage complimenting

Only after this highly complimentary and reassuring section, did Kenhikhopshef voice his discontent. He listed his complaints, which concerned the failure of the state to keep the workmen supplied with their tools with which to build the royal tombs. For example, the workmen neededspikes, gypsum and baskets (lines 4:9-4: 12). This lack of attention to the community's needs was attributed by Kenhikhopshef to the distance between Thebes and the central government, specifically the king (line 4: 14).

by his own subordinates Similar complaintscould be addressed to Kenhikhopeshef

(Mtchen 1980,534-5, A30; Wente 1990,149, no. 204; 0 DM 303; see also Sweeney 2001,220-1). Thus the 'draftsman Prehotep' wrote to Kenhikhopeshef, with a series

of complaints. He addressedKenhikhopeshef as his 'superior' (6ry - compare with

Piankh's complaints aboutthe king, seebelow), wishedhim life, prosperityand health, he complained but offeredno furtherphrases thatKenhikhopeshef of goodwill. Instead that he carriedout work, but overlookedhim when it cameto was always demanding rations of beer. To emphasise his unhappy situation, Prehotep accused

like 'I like him, donkey Kenhikhopeshef to treating an animal: a a subordinate, am of in letter The (line 8). the was summarised of a postscript, which you' purpose 'I amseeking throughwriting to you'. to fill my stomach concluded:

Despite being letters of complaints, Kenhikhopsef and Prehotep maintained the hierarchy of Egyptian society by expressing discontent within a framework of New by kings That the throughout claimed was so proudly acceptance. which in Kingdom, namelythecentralityof theking to life in Egypt, was also acknowledged letterswritten by his subjects. He was the apexof the Egyptian world, and a whole hierarchyof officials worked under him, to whom as much respectneededto be in their adoration shown. Statements almostoverwhelming of theking, his deities, and

94 his deputies,did not meanthatsuchindividualscould not be criticised:'the language of sycophantic subservience, which we find in most sourcesfrom ancientEgypt, was the priceto be paidfor the survival of a popularcultureof disrespect'(Kemp 2001,129). At the sametime, the king was identifiedas the ultimatesourceof justice, as someone by thoselower down in theechelons of government who couldrectify problemscaused (seeKenhikhopeshef's letterabove).

Differentiationwithin theEgyptianworld

Being a literate inhabitant of Egypt did not simply involve expressing loyalty to the king, the gods and his officials, focusing upon the state as a generator of identity and social cohesion, and uniting in a disdain for the outside world. Alongside such national familiar identities, locale locally based far the whereby set of more aspirations, ran a was all-important. The physical landscape of Egypt itself created a number of

boundaries: the opposition between the cultivation and the desert; between the green fertile flat land and the craggy, stony desert mountains; between the Delta and the Mile Valley; between the oasis areasand the surrounding desert; the shores of the Red Sea and the Mediterranean contrasting with the Nile (Figure 2). Such contrasts were

implicitly acknowledged in the titulary of the king, which commemoratedthe unification &rt floodplain) ('the red knit ('the black land', in Egypt, the the terms, and of and

land', the desert). The confusioninducedby being in an unfamiliarpart of Egypt was Sinuhe's Sinuhe: Tale Kingdom in Middle state of mind when the of recognised; leavingEgyptwas compared to thatof a Deltamanin Elephantine.The identificationof for by Egypt, the term from the different use of rbyt was matched people areaswithin 1999, (Pavlova disruptive both foreigners Egyptians were potentially non-elite and 103-104; contrast Baines 1996b, 367; seeabove).

95 Despitethe unity in the styles of monumental architecture up and down Egypt, there in the built environment,with sites uniquein the intensity of their were also contrasts such as the pyramidfields or Thebes. Theremay also have monumental architecture, beencontrasts in the lifestyles, of the inhabitants of the different areas,for example,in dressand in culinary tastes. A suggestionof this their choicesof personal adomment, in differentiationis given in the model letter, PAnastasi I, mentioned above, which a 1911,27). Likewise, Egyptian linen (Gardiner Upper to shirt an reference was made by thecentre. A hierarchyof local in Egyptwas not solelydictated thepower structure in in business have the very varying ways resulting of state out carried officials would for residentsin different locations of Egypt. This relationship different experiences local and centralpower has beenexplored(seeEyre 2000), with an emphasis between upon thedelegation of power(Eyre 2000,35).

Disdainfor thenon-familiar

Travel itself was not something carried out for pleasure, but occurred instead when the for labour, it, for or military purposes, or to escapethe state of reasons state required (Volokhine 1998,54). The reactions of those who had to leave their home environment literacy. Linguistically, level by those any regionalism of with some are only preserved (see letter did language by ignored the writers not above), yet written was staunchly from home, disquiet despair feelings even exposing when away of avoid mentioning when still within Egypt.

This was so entrenchedin the condition of being an Egyptian, that it found literary form in a Late Egyptian text, discovered at el Hiba in a pot which also contained the Tale of Wenamun and the best extant copy of the onomasticon of Amenernopet (P. Pushkin 127; Caminos 1977,1). This text in a copy of about 1000 BCE, known either as the

Tale of Woe or as the Letter of Wermal, should perhaps be dated to the 21st dynasty in have it Caminos had Wenaumun, Tale thought could although of origin as with the

96 originatedin the 19thdynasty(Caminos1977,1,78; Baines1999b). It was written in New the first person, in the form of a letter, and containswithin it all the necessary
Kingdom letter formulae (Caminos 1977,76).

The actual text was composed as a work of fiction, employing several devices to make it seem more realistic (for example, the text was alleged to be a copy of Wermai's original letter - Caminos 1977,78). Caminos chose to distinguish it from other New

Kingdom texts, in particular model letters (also never intended to be sent), becauseit was written as a 'narrative work of fiction'and was not an 'imaginary letter'(1977,789, ff. ). As a literary device, Caminos noted that it was, 'in so far as our evidence goes, without parallel in Egypt and even in the entire Near East' (1977,79).

Wermai listed his title at the beginning of the text (column 1, line 1): he was It-ntr

('god's father') in thetempleof 'Iwnw' (Heliopolis), andwas writing to theroyal scribe

Usima're'nakhte (column 1, line 2). Approximately the first quarter of the text is concerned with supplying all the formulaic expressions of goodwill towards the Caminos line line 4; 1977,79). (column 1, I2, column recipient Once the actual

purpose of the text was reached, Wermai lost no time in describing graphically his unhappy fate (which was through no fault of his own) but at the same time did not provide any specific details (see Caminos 1977,76).

As soonashe beganthis sectionof the text, Wermaistatedthe causeof his problems: he had beenremovedfrom his job, had lost his possessions and had been forced to leave his home ('I was cast out from my city', column 2, line 5). This personal it through of generalchaos catastrophe setting againstthe background was emphasised in Egypt 'when thelandwas immersed in theflamesof war, in thesouth,the north, the west andthe east'(column2, line 11).

97 Crucial to the text is Wermai's reaction,both on finding his home environmentfilled with enemies, andon havingto leavehis home. Forcedto wanderacrossEgypt (and on occasionoutsideits borders)as an exile (seeCaminos1977, plate 1 for a map of Wermai's journeys), looking for a new home, he found himself a stranger (see Caminos1977,77; compareChapter4). This was a condition he despised:'I was alwaysin a city which was not mineor I was in a town which I did not know as I was in the condition of being a stranger(bpp)' (column 3, line 7). It was irrevelant that Wermaiwas mainly wanderingwithin Egypt's borders:what mattered to him was being in the city he knew, andin which he was known. Thus beingoutsidehis home locality his the lonelinessthat accompanied was boundto be painful, and he vividly described exile (column3, fine 9- column3, line 13).

The actualplacein which he settled,presumed by Caminosto havebeena rural location within Egypt (1977,80), was onebesetby troubles,the 'commonhard lot of scoresof country places throughout Egypt' (Caminos,1977,80). Yet it was a contrast to Wermai's previouslife in his home; now he was besetby hunger, living amongsta starving populationwronged by the overlord/landowner. False corn-measures were used to rob the populaceof their wages, and taxation was so high that no-one, including Wermai, was able to pay it on time. The desperation of the situation was suchthat'the Nile has dried up (ceased) and their land is in darkness'(column4, line his hope that the recipientof the letter 4). Yet, throughoutit all, Wermaimaintained individual (thoughtby Caminosto be the king would be able to inform a nameless 1977,77,79-80) of his plight, enablinghim to receive assistance.

The whole text servesas an eloquentexpressionof the unhappiness and desperation which ensuedthe forced removalof an individual from the home surroundings,even when still within Egypt's borders. His experience underminedhis very senseof Egyptian-ness:'as the high-priest of a central cult-place, he is driven out to the t and with it the collective peripheryof an oasisto find out that the conceptsof m>'C.

98 identity have becomehollow and worthless and are substitutedby the law of the strongest' (Moers 1999,56). The Letter of Wer7wl, despite being a carefully

literary text, seemsnevertheless to have drawn upon themesnot distant constructed from actualEgyptianexperience in 'real' letters. asexpressed

The main non-literary source for such feelings are a series of letters written between Dhutmose and Butehamon, when Dhutrnose was forced to be away from Medinet Habu on official duty (Valbelle 1990,187). While he was away he kept in touch with

Butehamon, constantly checking that all was well in Thebes. The same geographical term, 113"r, was used by Dhutmose to describe areas within EgYpt, and in Nubia, but ,. distant from Thebes, demonstratinga monolithic view of the world beyond home. 113'r was not a real place, but instead was a term used for anywhere thought to be unpleasant 'Hellhole' has been suggested as an equivalent tenn in English 00 . (Wente 1967,19). Wente also suggested(1967,19) that the word was a compound of 'r ('out from') and the particle H3(indeefl: 'indeed to get out'. Alternatively, the term (Wente 1967,19).

may have been used to draw a contrast to the wondrous land of M in the Tale of Sinuhe (Blackman 1932,23, B 81; see in Parkinson 1998,16,51), as there may have been a

phonetic similarity between the two words. Dhutmose's 113'r was the direct opposite to the paradisical location of Sinuhe's tale.

Dhutmose travelledboth to Nubia andnorth of Thebes,anddid not seem to enjoy either destination. His lettersexpressed a continualanxiety over mattersin Thebes, how that Butehamon everyonewas in his absence, as well as frequentappeals pray to the Thebandeities on his behalf. Such letterswere constructed with elaborate phrases, their formality suggesting that expressions of homesickness part of were an expected being away from home. Yet in the sameletters Dhutmosewas able to discussnonEgyptiansresidingin Thebeswith equanimity.


Long lists of deitieswere invoked at the beginning of Dhutmose'sletters. In Late Ramesside letterno. 9 (Cemy 1939,17-21, no.9; Wente 1967,37-42, no. 9; Janssen 1991, plates 37-8; P.BriLMus. 10326; Figures 14-19; see above), Dhutmose first Butehamon, listing his titles, thengreeted the deitiesof Thebes(lines 1-3), and greeted finally appealed to the deitieslocal to him, asking that 'Horus of Kuban, Horus of Aniba, and Atum, lord of the earth' grant Butehamon a long life (fines3-4). Straight after this, Dhutmose madeclearhis wish to be back in Thebes,also asking his local deitiesthatthey 'causethat Amun of the thronesof the two lands, my good lord, may bring me [back] alive- so thatI mayfill my embrace with you - [from] 1B'r, whereI am [631in this distantland' (Nubia - lines4-5). abandoned

Having very explicitly expressed his distaste for his presentsituation, Dhutmosewas then able to discuss the actual businessof the letter. This included instructing a to makespears,and training a foal. Yet he was not able to concentrate coppersmith totally on such matters, and in the midst of this section, made another appeal to Butehamon (lines 15-8): 'Tell Amun, joined-with-eternity, Amenophis, Nofretari, Meretseger, my mistress,and Amun, holy-of-place,to bring me back alive. Placeme in thepresence of Amun,joined-with-eternity, and Amenophis,and say to them, "You will bring him backalive", andtell Amun, lord of the thronesof the two lands, to save me'. Thus centralto his anxiety was the thought that he might never see his home again,thathe might die awayfrom homewhilst on a military mission.

A further factor contributingto Dhutmose'sunease in being in II?'r (in this casealso referring to Nubia), was that he was worried abouthis family, the peoplehe had left behindin Thebes. He stated letterno. 2 (Cerny 1939, this explicitly in LateRamesside 2-5, no. 2; Wente 1967,20-1, no. 2; Janssen1991, plates95-6; P.Turin 1973). The familiar appealsthat he should return safely begin the letter (lines 2-3), after which


Dhutmose askedaftereveryone to make at home. Oncemore he remindedButehamon offeringsto Amun of thethronesof the two landson his behalf, to tell Amun 'to bring
me back from 113rthe place in which I am' and his physical well-being was affected by

his absence from home;suchwas his unease thathe was unableto sleep(lines vs 2-3).
By providing such details, Dhutmose was able to add pathos to his situation, and to increasea senseof urgency for his return.

The trials of travellingwithin Egypt couldbe as greatas thoseenduredwhen in Nubia. Physicalhardshipwas inducedby being in an unfamiliarlocalein Egypt as well as by being in Nubia. Thus when Dhutmosewrote to Butehamon from an areain Egypt further north thanThebes,his letterconveysthesame despairashis lettersfrom Nubia. The samelanguage and phrases were used(Cerny 1939, no. 1; Wente 1967,18-21; P.Leiden 1369). The possibility that Butehamon did not takeDhutmose'scomplaints intended is suggested by way in which Dhutrnose as seriouslyasDhutrnose was forced to commence this letter. First he enquiredafter the healthof the workmen in western Thebes, and then complained that his lettershad not beenanswered. Secondly,he in thef irst part of theletterentreat the local deities askedthatall thosehe hadmentioned on his behalf. 'Pleasemay you tell Amun lord of the thronesof the two lands, and (lines 9-10). Meretsegerto bring me backalivefrom 113r of N.? y' -m,

After this appeal,he managed to briefly address other matters,including looking after Butehamonand his family. He still thought it necessary, however, to reiteratehis informationabouthis parlousphysicalstate. 'Pleasetell this timewith added entreaties, Amun to bring meback. Indeed,I was ill whenI reached thenorth, and I am not at all in my [usual] state' (lines vs 3-4). 113'r was usedto describehis location, perhapsto
draw a contrast toN3-nz3y. This may have beena referenceto a locality near Memphis

(seeGauthier1926,17). The only otherhint asto his localitywas 6d (north).


Evenwhen 113was not usedby Dhutmose asa namefor his location, he still managed
to convey his unhappiness at his plight. His displeasure at being in Nubia was no

doubt due in part to being there on a military expedition, thus he was in a Potentially more dangerous environment than Thebes. He revealed his unease as soon as he reachedhis superior at the frontier post of Elephantine (Cemy 1939,7-8, no.4; Wente 1967,24-7, no. 4; Janssen 1991, plate 94; P.Turin 1972), writing back to Buteharnon. The intentions of this letterwere partly to check up on people in Thebes, for example he asked that the daughter of Khonsmose be looked after Oines II- 13), but also to request twice that Buteharnon enlist the help of the divine world to bring him back safe. Inhis second appeal, he asked that the gods of Medinet Habu. be enlisted on his behalf'Please tell Amun and the gods of the Temple [Medinet Habu] to bring me back alive from the enemy' (lines vs.3-vs. 4).

DespiteDhutmose'sproteststhat his letters were not being replied to, replies from Butehamon do exist, and they show Dhutmose'sinstructionsbeing carriedout in full, (Cerny 1939,3 1-3, thatDhutmose with Butehamon apparently accepting was in danger no. 16;Wente1967,49-51, no. 16; Janssen1991, plates92-3; P.Turin 1971; Figures 20-3; seeabove). Butehamon wantedhim to return back home safe, away from the dangerspresentedby being outside Thebes. Butehamonthus began his letter by reassuring Dhutmosethat he has been praying to the gods, as requested. He enumerated a long list of Thebangods, including Amun of Djeme[MedinetHabul, to favour him (lines 1-9). whom he hadprayedeveryday, general askingthatDhutmose's in the 'open court' of He specificallystated thathe madetheseentreaties whilst standing Amun of thebeautifulencounter.Butehamon this initial sectionof the letter concluded locality handhim over to the gods of Thebes by asking that the godsof Dhutmose's (lines9- 10).


Butehamon's prayersfulfilled word for word Dhutmose's to him. repeated requests This is particularlyrevealed by LateRamesside letterno.50 (Cerny1939,71-4,no.50; Janssen 1991,plates103-104; P. Turin 2026;seeabove),in whichDhutrnose thathe was far awayfrom home,and thathe oncemoreemphasised wishedto returnto Kmt. After statingthathe has appealed to the localgodsto bring
him back safely and to bestow long life on Butehamon. he then enumerated what Butchamonwas to say to the gods on his behalf: " "[Bring] him back healthy and cause that he reaches homedown to Egypt from the distant land which he is in, and [you win seehim] standingin the opencourt, after you have rescued[him]", thus you will say to them' (lines 10-11).

Egypt as a separate entity to Nubia, as somewheresafe to return to, and as somewhere below Nubia is suggested by the phrase'coming down to Egypt' (r Juy (r) Kmt) seen in the above letter. Nubia itself its (p? B hryw), land be 'the above' could called in termsof its geographical existence acknowledged relationto Egypt (see Cemy 1939. 64, no. 43; Wente 1967,76-7, no. 43; Janssent99l. plate 79; P.Bibl. Nat 197, VI). Ilese terms, were not, howeverof fixed but could also be used when going reference, from the oasis/desert areasof Egypt into the Nide Valley. Thus, just as Dhutrnose would have to return to Egypt from Nubia, so too, for example, did the eloquent (see above) go from the Wadi Natrun r Kmt, from the edge to the centre Peasant (Parkinson1991,1, R 1.7).

r bly (r) Kmt was used in other letters;for exampleButehamon wrote to Shedsuhor. the individual escortingDhuunoseto Nubia (Cemy 1939.48-9. no. 29; Wente 1967, 65, no. 29; Janssen1991, plates334; P.Brit. Mus- 10284). For Shedsuboras well. thejoumey out of Egypt was one of potentialdangers,thus Butehamon had also been asking the gods to bring Shedsuborback safe (lines 2-6). He repeatedthis desire,

103 askingin the letterthatAmun 'may bring you backalive, safeand healthydown [to] Egyptand I mayfill [my) embrace with you. the gods of the land in which you are havingrescued [you] andmaytheyhandyou over[to] the godsof your town andmay Thus 4-7). Nhw A7%, (lines to return you become t satisf with and with you' satisfied ied to Egypt, Shedsuhor therewas no would alsohavehadto 'comedown'. Moreover,
needto actuallynameThebesas the home destination:A7%, t (town) was used to refer to Thebesas no other word was necessary it was the town (Gauthier 1926,75). -

That Dhutmose might have been consideredsomewhat of a liability when traveffing beyond Thebes is suggestedby the second part of this letter which consists of instructions to Shedsuborto look after him. Butehamondescribedthe dangerswhich been have the inexperienced Dhutmose, traveller, exposedto. would or nervous such as His military inexperience Dhutmose 2000,64). (ThJJs for concern was also a source was referredto as the 'scribe of the necropolis,Tjaroy' (a standardnickname)in this letter, and Butehamon told Shedsuhorto take care of him as: 'You know that [he is] a man who does not have any experience whatsoever,for he has never before madethe journeys which he is on' (fines 7-9). The text continued with the reiteration that

Dhutmosewas inexperienced As face' 11). fearful (line he had 'never before seena as seenin the modelletterdiscussed of a non-Egyptianlocale added above,the inhabitants to its strangeness,and any fear when encountering them was due to a lack of experience.

This seriesof lettersreveala markedreluctance to travel outsidethe home locality, and if such a journey was unavoidable, then those at home were expectedto Provide those he wrote to extensivesupport. Dhutmose'slettershome were full of demands; had to pray to the gods for his safe return. and had to look after his afUrs and III around which they responsibilitiesin Thebes. The mortuary temple of Ramesses lived was wheretheseprayershad to be madefor Dbutmose. Thus it was appropriate


that such requests may havebeenmadein the first court of a templecoveredwith (seePlate1). Yet it is also significantthat equal condemnations of the non-Egyptian by Dhutmose's effort hadto beinvested to bring him backsafefrom areas community within Egypt.

The pull of the home locality was very strong. as was the fear of dying away from home. This reflected literary tradition, and drew upon themes seen in the Tak of Sinuhe. yet in Dhutmose's letters he did not specify that dying outside Egypt was the cause for concern, rather he simply stated that dying away from Thebes was to be avoideALHe wasjust as worried about dying within Egypt, but outsideThebes, as he was about dying in Nubia. Ironically, he may well have died outsideThebes. This is by a graffito written by Butchamonin westernThebes(Sweeney2001,119). suggested

The letters above thus illustrate the importance of locally based identities running alongsidea wider perceptionof Egyptian-ness. Both were a necessary aspect to the Egyptianstate. Stability was enhanced with through a dislike of movement(associated dangerous on behalf of nomadictribes, outcastsand only acceptable when undertaken in king the state)and through a wider acceptance Egyptian the the maintaining of of role Egypt's borders. Despiteorder being associated it Egypt, was within anything with also accepted that an individual would (and should) prefer to remain in her/his home environment, and that other regions in Egypt might be unsettling. Hence, the oft]repeated theme of the disorderedregion, or the corrupt local official (compare with Stalinist Russia see above and Fitzpatrick 1999.177) alongsidethe yearning for a home city (see Chapter3) and the that the king was the ultimate sourceof acceptance order, despitethe layersof disorderbelow him.

105 Abimenance ofthefamiliar

Thus the home, encompassing family, friends, servantsas well as local deities, could provide a central aspectto self-perceptionfor an individual, and anything outside that immediatenetwork could be threatening. Extant lenersdemonstrate a desire to maintain networks of friendship during all periods of the New Kingdom, not just the Late Ramessideperiod. These professions of friendship, protestations of missing an individual could also form part of careful approachto a requestfor assistance,and were madeby different levels of literate society, from those with nationally basedpower, as well as thosewith a more local power base, or none at all. They also exposea desire for the proper running of society. for the maintenance of values expressedin sources such as the instruction texts (seeabove)and in tomb autobiographies.

A whole seriesof letterssurvive which were written to and from an eighteenthdynasty official, Ahmose. Amongst these is a letter, the sole purpose of which was to ask Ahmoseif he was well (Glanville 1928,303-304, plate XXXII, fig. 1, plate XXXIII f 19-2.plate XXXV; Wente 1990,91. no. 114; P.Brit. Mus- 10103;Figure 25). This was written by an official namedHori; Glanville noted that 'whether the motive for the letter was politenesspure and simple, or a preliminary to a request, we cannot tell' (1928,303). The letter itself was only five lines long, the first threeand a half lines Hori taken UPwith the necessary letter. beginning asked that the a of greetingsat a line last in Only life. healthy the Ahmose long and a gods and goddesses a and grant half Of the letter, did Hori convey any information. asking- 'How are you, how are You? Are you well? Behold I am well. '

letter HOWS in his he letteris unusuallyminimal: frequently expressions made such as formed Partof a series of wider requests. For example, in an unprovenanced letter suggested to datefrom the late 18thlearly 19th dynasty (Bams 1948.35). the writer addressed severalproblemsas well as including an emotionalrequestfrom a chantress


1). of Amun (Bams 1948,plateIX-X,. 132;P.Northumberland Meh, theletterwriter, asked theyoungerYey thathe treatthechariotofficer Merymose properly,unlikethetimewhenYey hadnot givenMeh his full quotaof rations. 17hen Mehpassed on therequest of the'chantress of Amun, Isisnofre'that:'my heartdesires to seeyou very much,with my eyesas big as Memphis I am hungry to see because you' (1ine12 to seeYey was writtenin a styleseenalso in vs 1). Isisnofre'srequest love poetry. It created a contrast with the restof the letter,andwas put in as a quote from Isisnofre,made distinctfrom Meh's requests, with which werepurelyconcerned business (seeBaines 2001,20).

One way of phrasingbusinessrequestswas to include a sectionexpressinga desireon the Part of the petitioner to see the addressee. Maanakhtef, a carpenter during the twentieth dynasty at Deir el Medina. wrote a functional (and unfinished) letter to a superior, the vizier's scribeAmenmose(1(itchen1983,67Z no. 2; Wente 1990,168-9, no. 285; P-DM 9). Ile purpose of the letter was to ask for more supplies so that Maanakhtefcould preparevarnish for a coffin. Presumablyin an attemptto achievea beganthe letterby stating'it is my desireto hear about your positive reply. Maanakhtef condition a thousandtimes a day as you havenot comethis year' (line 2). Immediately after this statement.Maanakhteflaunched into much less exalted languagefor his demands.

The lettersbetweenDhutmoseand his son Butchamondemonstrate the importanceof .s letters, a microcosm of the maintaininga certainway of life. In one of Dhutmose ideal way of carrying out life in Egypt was presente&he desired that those values by the statewere carried out in the small scale of his home environment propagated (Cerny 1939,9-11, no 5; Wente 1967.27-32, no. 5; Janssen 1991. plate 66-7; P-Leiden1370). So his son was to look after the women and children, to encouraged ensure that the work in the fields was carried out, to guard the conscripts, further literacyandensurethat the menin Dbutmose'shousewere clothed. Tlose actionswere

107 the sort of actions which elite individuals had proclaimed they had done during their lives in their autobiographies from the Old Kingdom onwards, and were recommended in the instruction texts. In particular, the instruction to protect women, children and to fully Dhutmose preventanyonefrom having to go nakedwas repeated again. and again integratedhimself into this tradition of how one should act as an esteemed memberof Egyptian society. This list of instructionsformed the secondpart of the letter, the first part of which was concernedwith matterssuch as the transportof grain

The senseof belonging generated by both family and physical locality is suggestedby the frequencywith which Dhutmosereferredto -my people'. This term was apparently inclusive, comprising men and women of all ages, as shown by a letter written by Amenhotepto Dhutmosewhilst he was in Nubia (Cerny 1939,28-30, no. 15; Wente 1967.47-9. no. 15; Janssen 1991, plates 90-1; P.Phillipps). This letter asked that Dhutmoserefrain from exposing himself to danger his role was advisory rather than combative(lines 10-13). Therefore, Dhutmosewas 'not to abandon(b,`) any of us at all. Indeedyou know that you are the father of all of us' (lines 134). The verb used for 'abandon' was also used by Butehamonwhen expressinghis distasteat being in IB"i (seeabove).

When writing home, Dhutmoseinquired after his people, and when replied to he was dutifully informed about how they were (for exampleseeCerny 1939,22-3, no. 11; Wente 1967,43-4, no. 11; Janssen 1991. plate 75; P-Bibl.NaL197,11). In LAW

Ramesside letter no. 16 (Cerny 1939,31-3. no. 16; Wente 1967,49-51, no. 16; Janssen1991, plates92-3; P.Turin 1971; Figures 20-3; see above), Butehamontold Dhutmose that'the childrenarewell, Hemsheriand her children are well, and no harm hasbefallenthem. All your peoplearealive, prosperousand healthy. You are the one whom they tell Amun of the thronesof the two lands to bring back alive, prosperous andhealthy,andwe shall fill our embrace with you'(Iines vs 8-10).


Termsof =Iusivity

and &fference

A widersense for thosein Deir el Medina,abovethat of family of groupidentification

but below that of the state, was demonstrated and retinuctilependents, in the term msbr. This was translatedby Edwards (1960,10, note 7) as 'young (employee) of the royal tomb, whereasCerny (1973,28) preferred the more Uteralrendering of 'young boys of the tomb'. He arguedthat it only referredto male children (Cemy 1973,117), who would then becomeworkmen on the royal tombs when older. It has come to be understood as 'native of the necropolis community', incorporating the sense of ms Which Iiterally means'child', but allowing for a greaterflexibility in the actual age of the ms-br.

Being a ms-br served to differentiate people within Tlebes. and was itself a term conferred by, and recognised by. the state. 71us the state could confer special tir-atment upon those who were identified as ms-br. For example,in a letter about a crime supposedlycomn-dtted by a nu-br, the criminal was let off because of his special status(Birch 1868, plateXVIII; Erman 1905.100-106; Cerny and Gardiner 1957, plate 88; Wente1990, no. 196;O.BM 563 1. Figure 26). rt;

The letter writer had been accused of stealingtools- jEs twelve servantswere taken away, as weUas him, in placeof the tools. But due to his specialstatusas a native of the necropoliscommunity, his father was able to make representations to the pharaoh and havehim set him free: 'My fatherreportedto the pharaoh,life, prosperity, health, andhe causedthat I was set free. because I am a ms-br' (lines 13-4). This statement demonstrates the perceived the king and Deirel Medina.or at closerelationshipbetween


leastthat was how thosein Deir el Medinachoseto depictit. 71e importance of the writer was heightened through his statement that he was only saved through the intervention (1990,242-4), documents personal of theking. As notedby McDoweU from Deirel Medina illustrate in intervention king thefrequent the community,in the of (1990,244)argued trivial matters.McDowefl sometimes thatthis intervention maynot havebeen if there hadbeen exceptional; of elite(of which the Deir only a smaU number havebeenpossible to look el Medinacommunity wasa part) thenit would realistically level. afterthemat a morepersonal

ms-br was also used by the inhabitants of Deir el Medina as a simple term of description. Dhutmose,living in MedinetHabu, wrote to Hori in easternThebesabout the move of the community (Cemy 1939,23-4, no. 12; Wente 1967,44-5, no. 12; Janssen1991, plates53-4; P.Berlin 10494): 'Now we are living here in the Temple [Medinet Habul and you know the way in which we live both inside and outside. Now the rw-br havereturned. They are living in Nl%, t, and I am living alone here with the
scribe of the army Pentahunakht' (lines 6-9). The dispersal of the whole community,

not only the r=. br, is illustratedby Dhutmose'srequestthat the 'men of the necropolis' be sent by Hori from eastern Thebes(Nl%, t) back to western Thebes (fines 9-10, see also Cemy 1973,370). in the same letter, the Meshwesh (lines vs-4-5) were

(possibly in the contextof an attack- seeWente 1967.45). and it is against mentioned this backgroundthat the fragmentedDeir el Medina cOmmunitYincluding the nu-br. seemto be living on both the eastand west banksatThebes.

Further categorisation of groups of Egyptiansnot only of groups of allegedly nonEgyptians,could also featurein letters. For ex=ple, in a dynasty 19 letterfrom Deir cl
Medina the writer asked the recipient, a woman. about the bwrw (Cemy and Gardiner

1957,plate73, no. 2; Wente1990,165, no. 270; O.Petzie 62). The meaningof bw7w


could either be impoverished, on the context. The people,depending or despicable thatsheprovidedvariousitemsto the writer. suchas papyri. 7he recipient wasasked letterthenconcluded 'And write to me aboutyour condition, the with the statement: hurw' (fines Basa the conditionof the womanTadjeddjepiti, the and and conditionof 3-5).

The experienceof being an Egyptian was necessarilyconditioned by the immediate surroundings of an individual. Within a limited personal sphere, some of the prime identity markers were those of social statusor occupation, with the wider concept of being an Egyptianfar in the background.

Facing apparentkleologicalfailio-e

Despitethe expressed ideological in their system, the support of the of elite confidence king the religious world in the maintenance Egyptian the supreme with order, of amongst Egyptians, there was also the inevitable threat of the collapse of that ideologicalsystem. Thus wheneverdisorderflumtened, it was dealtwith speedily. As seenin the strike papyri, and in lettersfrom a royal context,an underlyingacceptance of the inability of the state to contain subversive elementswas fmely acknowledged. There was an understanding by the elite could not that ideologicalstatements generated be universally true, yet at the same time this did not undermine the statements themselves, but madethemall the more necessary.


As the king was ableto acknowledge that he neededhelp from non-Egyptiansin order to maintainthe state,so were other Egyptiansable to deal with disorder in their midsL This could cover failures to conduct life as recommended in the Instruction texts, as well as perceivedcriminal activities. The only way of accessingany subversive


the statearethroughthe recordsof thosewho weretrying to prevent activities against

and control thern.

In letters, such activities were discussed,as were the methodsof control. For example, in a letter (from Deir el Medina) from the first part of dynasty 19 (Bakir 1970, plates 26-78, XXXIII; Wente 1990,124, no. 146; McDowell 1999,186, no. 143 B; P.Turin 1977), the punishmentof a Medjay called Nakhtseti was enumerated. Hehadattacked someone,and this action led him to be comparedto an enemy of the sun god- 'Me Medjay Nakhetsetiis in the compulsorylabour because he struck with the stick and was like every enemyof Pre' (lines 2-3).

During the Late Ramesside in Medjay two was ordered the of period, secretpunishment a seriesof letters. Their crime seemsmerely to havebeenthat of saying somethingthey should not have done (see Sweeney2001,173), but the lettersdo not enlarge on the This be letters their to matter. Instead, the pre-occupation the punishmenL seems of had to be done without anyone finding out. The letters were written by Piankh (in Nubia) to Dhutmose(in westemThebes Cerny 1939,36-7. no. 2 1; Wente 1967,534, no. 21; Janssen 1991, plate 50; P.Berlin 10487; Figures 27-8), Payshuuben(in Thebes- Cerny 1939,53-4, no. 34; Wente 1967.69, no.34; Janssen 1991, western. plate 51; P.Berlin 10488) and Nuteme who was in easternThebes(Cerny 1939,54. no. 35; Wente 1967,69. no. 35; Janssen1991, plate 52; P.Berlin 10489). Nuteme was possibly either Piankh's wife or his daughter(Sweeney2001,173). The same

punishment(death)was orderedin all the letters. The two Medjaywere nevernamed.

In the letterto Dhutmose,Piankhorderedthat Dhutmose was to questionthe seeif there was any truth in the allegationsmadeagainstthem. If there was. then the Medjaywere to be killed. 'if they find out that rit is] true, you shall placethem in two basketsand they shall be castinto the waterat night do not let anyoneof the land find Out' (lines 6-8). This is the only letterin which Piankhfailed to mentionthatthe Medjay


beforebeingplaced in thebaskets; wereto bekil-led to execute thusit was not intended themby drowning, this was instead their bodies. In theory, the a way of concealing king had the exclusiveright of orderingthe deathpenalty(McDowell 1990,242-3), perhapsdictating the necessityfor the secrecysurroundingthis locally imposed 'justice'.

Yet, the secrecy surrounding this episode also contains within it an atmosphereof subterfuge, as it is in this same letter that Piankh appearsto have questioned the authority of the theoretical apexof his world, the king. Immediatelyafter ordering the disposal of the bodies, Piankh starteda new sectionof the letter by asldng- 'Another matteras for the Pharaoh,tife, prosperity, healthjust how will he reachthis land?And as for the Pharaoh, life. prosperity. health, whose superior (hry) is he still? ' (lines 8vs-1). Sweeney's (2001,145) translation of hr as 'boss' emphasises the power of .y Piankh's words. This series of apparently rhetorical questions reflects the general diminution in the king's power during this period, the very end of the New Kingdom (see Baines 1991,198 referring directly to this letter). Any ideological statements XI (see Peden 1994,112-4) could not obscure his failure to Producedby Ramesses carry out his dutiessufficiently, and Piankh seemsto have beenwilling to point to the king's inadequacies.As the generalof southernEgypt, he was in a position to deny the authority of the king, and assume responsibility for keeping order - hence the punishmentof thesetwo Medjay.

Prison was another punishment given to people who failed to abide by certain in a letter, betweenthe 'standard bearer standards. Sucha punishmentwas threatened Maiseti'and the'garrison captains 1. in (Bakir 1970, the plate who am northernregion! I-II; Wente 1990,114-5. no. 133;P.Cairo 580m; Figures29-31). This letter has been datedon to the late l8th/early 19thdynasty(Bakir 1970,2-3). Maisedcomplainedthat thoseaddressed in the letterhad not beenti-catingthe 'god's personnelwho are in Tell

113 letter 'when he letter this the threat el-Balamun' with reaches correctly,and ended a for the god therebe inactiveor you wflI be imprisoned' you, you will not let service (lines vs 1-2). Maisetidiscussed in another imprisonment letter,writtento an official 34, VNI; Wente1990,115-6,no. 135;P.Cairo 58055). calledHat(Bakir 1970,plate In this letter,theadministration Hat not of a prisonwasdiscussed, andMaisetiordered to movetheprisoners to, andto keepcontrolof them. If he until explicitlycommanded failed,Maisetithreatened to kill him -you will die undermy hand'(line7).
Failure to live asan Eg)ptian should

Non-criminal behaviour, but nevertheless behaviourwhich was not perceivedas fitting for the ideal conduct of life could be just as worrying. In Deir el Medina, a husband treated his wife harshly becausebe felt her family was not supporting them (with material goods) as they oughL In voicing his complaint, threateninghis wife with in divorce, the husbandhimself was not treatinghis wife with the respectrecommended instruction texts, and she thus outlined the situation to her sister, expressing her disquiet (Cemy and Gardiner 1957. plate 70 (2); Wente 1990,147-8, no. 200, McDowell 1999,42. no 16;O.Prague1826).The woman reportedthe threatwhich her husbandhad madeto her 'briefly if you say anything, you will go to KMI' (lines 1011). Kmt was used here specifically, the Black land, ie the cultivation as opposedto the desert edge where the couple were living in Deir el Medina (Wente 1990,170, McDowell 1999,42). Accessto letter writing allowed this woman to make an appeal for help againsther apparentlyunjust treatment.

A text which seems Egyptianis that known as to embodywhat it meantto be a T'heban 'Menna's letter'(0 12074;Cerny and Gardiner 1957. LXXVIII-LXM; Foster 1994;

McDowel] 1999,144-7). In this textwritten in the style of a letter but drawing on his son. Both other textual traditions to createa literary work. Menna reprimanded

114 Menna and his son, Pa-iry, were well-known individuals in the Deir el Medina community (seeMcDowell 1999,145). Menna noted his wasted efforts in bringing up his son correctly. Pa-iry had spurned all of his father's best attempts,and was not at home like he should be.


text as a whole thus incorporates many of the themes of this chapter.' It

demonstrates a knowledge of earlier Egyptian literature(the Middle Kingdom texts of the Tak of the ShipwTecked Sailor and the Tak of the Eloquent Peasant)by a New Kingdom residentof Deirel Medina. It also seemsto witness to a genuinemotivation on the part of that residentto composea literary text, in the style of a letter, in order to in Deirel Medina). It thus implies that publicise his son's behaviour(alreadyrenowmed there was a desire to use literacy skills outside the immediatecontext of work, and suggestsa willingness to use 'leisurr' time for such purposes(see McDowell 1999, 144). The ideal of leaming promotedin those texts incorporatedinto scribal manuals was apparentlytaken up by this individual, at least. He also seemsto have absorbed the recommended them, and have beenable to generate socialnorms, to have accepted his own text which entirely fitted into the Egyptian context. As a reactionto failure it was a proper responseof a literate Egyptian and further highlighted the contrast betweenthe right-thinking father and the son who had failed to live as an Egyptian that Pa-iry should. The text ended(line 15, verso, plate 79) with the recommendation look after'this letter'as it'will be an instruction'. Conclusion The letterslooked at in this chapterderived from acrossthe time-spandenotedas the New Kingdom, but especiallyfrom the 19th and the 20th dynasties. Despiteother locationsbeing represented, of what it meant the majority of letterscontainexpressions to be an Egyptian in Upper Egypt in Thebes, when it was no longer the centreof power for Egypt as a whole. Theselin-&afionsupon the evidence obviously meanthat Egypt, in for be any conclusions literate held firm to society the cannot whole of stand manyof whosepopulationsare unknown and unrecorded.


Nevertheless,severalconclusions about the world of those who wrote the letters do emerge. The strength of the ideological system in Egypt is suggestedby the forms of the letters, which, for the most partincluded formulaic expressionsof respecttowards the addressee and the religious (and sometimesthe royal) world. Likewise, the clarity of thought on what comprisedcorrect (Egyptian) behaviour, or on what the duties of the king were, implies a willingness to abide by the central definitions of Egyptianness. Not surprisingly, given their authorship, letters seemedto feed upon and reflect ideasseenin other typesof text current in Egypt. Tle blurring of boundariesbetween different types of texts was enhanced through the composition of literary texts in the style of letters, and through the inclusion of lettersin monumental contexts. P Yet what theselettersalso highlight is the inability of an ideologicalsystem, however strong, to exclude doubt. Dogmatic statementsof self/other made within textual settingsdid not automaticallyreflect the lived reality of New Kingdom Egypt. In this chapterit has emergedthat there was an understanding that such statements were not universally applicable, and that they depictedan idwl world. Even the apex of the Egyptianworld, the king, failed to eliminateinconsistencies from his presentation of the world; he was the king who quelled non-Egyptiansyet he also choseto depend upon non-Egyptians. This apparentlyopposedset of actionswas for the samepurpose; that Ile of maintainingthe Egyptian state, the referencepoint for the king's subjects. 0 definition of who should be eliminatedand who should be incorporatedinto the state was fluid. This was despitethe country of origin of an individual beinga prime identity marker in the letters. What seemedto have matteredmore about an individual was whetherhe/shewas a sourceof disorderwithin the state. Thus, in very broad terms, a non-Egyptiancould be welcomedinto the stateor excludedjustas an Egyptian could be to assigndisorderto theoutsider. - evenif in an idealworld it was morecomfortable


Any perception of theoutsideworld could bejust as fluidL The hostileenvironment Egypt'sedges encircling of couldbeginas soonas an individualleft home,regardless VaHey hadbeenleft behind. (as opposed whether to Nubian)N-de or not the Egyptian This stemmed that all that was outsideone's homewas not solelyfrom a perception inevitably butalsofrom a desireto be amongst to thosewho wereimportant negative, theindividual,who bestowed expressing such a sense of belonging andsafety. Letters in literarytexts. Thus, thoughts by (andreflected) werereflected similarexpressions for some,thedisordered but Egypt's Emits began the as soon power. of world not on knownto anindividualwasabandoned. astheworld personally
At the sametime, such a reactionto enforcedtravel could be assignedto inexperience. The experienced individual could encounterthe non-Egyptianworld, an area supposed to be threatening, and return to tease the inexperiencedindividual about the fears allegedly lurking there. The fear of a non-Egyptian could be removed once that individual was known. Tbus in his letters the homesick Dhutmose quite happily referredto a number of allegedly non-Egyptianswhom be knew and upon whom he depended.As in more modemcontexts,the acceptabilityofan individual could depend on his/her ability to conform to (and identify with) the predominantcultural system. And the presenceof those who failed to conform meant that the image of the ignorant/cunning non-Egyptian continued to ring true despite the many counterexamples.

Knowledge could undermine Egyptian ideological statementsand reveal a more individuals, literate At letters complicated whether closeto the time the of world. same the king or not, portrayeda distinct world which now seemsrecognisablyEgyptian. The letterwriter was not ableto (or did not wish to) bypassthe conventionsof his/her society. Within theseconventions,however.thereremainhints of variant world-views New in ideological by and of the inadequacies the system necessarilyencompassed Kingdom Egypt.




Textual sourcesrevealingthe motivations,interestsand loyalties of New Kingdom Egyptiansdemonstrated a rangeof opinions despitethe inevitably small sector of the thetexts. Evenwithin theroyal domain,for example,bold populationwhich generated statements of disdainfor the non-Egyptian were underminedby a dependence on the in Chapter2 was written by Theban non-Egyptian. Much of the material discussed Egyptians,and as such a frequentthemewas the importance of home, of the familiar locality, andwith it thelocal deities. In this chapter, thephysicaland built environment of the royal city of Memphisis analysed. The settlement areaof the city is the focus, comprisingits royal, ceremonial as weH as residentialand working areas. As one of the major citiesin New Kingdom Egypt, and as a gatewayto the non-Egyptian world, the city of Memphishasthepotentialto revealmuchabouttheidentitiesandloyalities of its citizens.

Studying the ancient urban environment

Contemporary and historical urban environments have been routinely investigated as sources for uncovering the lives and motivations of their inhabitants, and social order. Architectureis able both to limit and to enable certain human behaviours, for example, $architectural partitions usually are conscious manipulations by humans to create boundaries where they do not exist in nature' (Kent 1997,2). Yet any interpretation of a built form in the past is complicated by the different levels of understanding and meaning involved in its construction and use. Thus as many aspectsas possible of that environment need to be recovered.

118 In Rapoport'sextensive from contemporary California to studiesof built environments CatalHuyuk, he hasisolatedthedifferentelements oneof the first urbansettlements, of the urban setting:'fixed-featureelements','semi-fixedfeatureelements'to 'non-fixed featureelements'. Certaingeneral in expectations of how power can be communicated from his work: for example,the centralityof a building, an urbansettinghaveemerged its height, or its uniqueness denotingits importance (Rapoport1982,107-11,115-7).

A model elucidating the different stages in construction and meaning of the urban environment highlights these apparently cross-culturally applicable elements, some of which appear immediately relevant to the formal areas of an ancient Egyptian city (see Rapoport 1982,120, fig 17). Indeed, the ancient Egyptian palace was used as an example by Rapoport: 'Here a wide variety of architectural manipulation and ornament was used to produce a suitable feeling of awe in visitors. Note the implication that it was self-evident to all and that we can still so interpret it. The palace was a set of messagesto communicate awe and subservience:absolute size, scale, settings, approach, spatial sequence,color, doorways, panelling, and other decoration, courtiers, costumes, furnishings, and many other elementswere used to createa setting overwhelming in itself - and even more so in the context of the typical mud-brick villages and even larger houses' (1982,117). The features listed by Rapoport in his analysis of an ancient Egyptian palace well illustrate the necessity of, as far as is possible, examining the architecturein its setting with, wherever possible, its actors (Rapoport 1997,18).

The architectureandlayoutof an urbansetting,of the ceremonialand non-ceremoniaI areas, is also determinedby the way in which the living society of that place is organised(Bawden 1997,153). It can be difficult to accessthe motivations of individuals in the past through the architectural layout of their city as even domestic in ideology For dominant that the of areascould be dependent society. example, on elite housesin the town of Cuenca,Ecuador,during the period of Spanishrule, the colonial messagewas reinforced even within this domestic setting through the 2000,203). (Jamieson segregation space of


It is also possible to manipulatedomesticspacein situationswith apparentlylittle PuertoRicansliving in council housingin Boston managed potential. For example, to their identity within a monolithic housingblock through the retainandto communicate use of semi-fixedelements such as Puerto Rican decorativeobjects(Rapoport 1982, 94). In StalinistRussia,when living in ideologicallydefineddomestic spaces generated by central government,people were still able to adaptand personalise them (Buchli 2000).

It is not possible to use such studies as a direct model for ancient Egypt, a society clearly distant from Spanish Ecuador, the contemporary USA or Stalinist Russia. What these studies do demonstrate, however, is the point that individuals can exert some control and influence over their domestic space even when under an authoritarian state. Ancient Egypt has been viewed as one of the ultimate authoritarian regimes in which individual expression and action on the periphery of the state was limited, if not excluded. Through examining the urban layout and material finds of Memphis, it should be possible to provide some assessment of how far official ideological motivations were followed by a wider sample of the populace, and how far that population was able to move around areas in the city, including its religious and ceremonial areas.

Cities in ancient Egypt

Despite Wilson's (1960,135)

statement that Egypt lacked cities in comparison to

Mesopotamia, he also acknowledged that 'it is clearly not a matter of the presence or absenceof a phenomenonbut perhaps only a matter of degree' (1960,150). Thislatter

statement has been extended by later scholars who have emphasised the extent of urbanism in ancient Egypt (see O'Connor 1972,683; Kemp 1977a; 1977b; Bietak

1979). The lack of settlementsites left to modem onlookers has beenattributed both to

120 (the difficulifies of excavatingon the floodplain) and to the the physical environment (seeKemp 1984;Cannuyer1989,45; Giddy 1999a;Grimal. priorities of archaeologists 2000,54). Furthermore,the straightapplicationof modem geographical definitions of citiesto ancientEgyptcanbe irrelevant(Shaw 1998,1050).

A range of settlement types in ancient Egypt have been identified (see Adams, M, 1997), with the differences between cities and towns/villages seennot so much in terms of size, but rather in terms of the presence of a metropolitan as opposed to an agricultural population (Eyre 1999a, 35-9). Nevertheless, Redford (1997b, 212-3,

217) has emphasised the close links between the metropolitan population and rural areas, distinct from a contemporary western view of urbanism. The process of

urbanisation of Egypt has depicted the kings of Egypt as town planners, keenly involved in the developmentof towns in Egypt: 'the Egyptian rulers, whether pharaohs or nomarchs were the first to devise an urbanising policy in founding towns (pyramid towns, artisans' towns, and new towns) pre-planned to accommodate a fixed population unit averaging 10,000 inhabitants' (Badawy 1967,109).

Despite Badawy's dubious aims to depict the kings of Egypt as liberal, progressive and community-minded individuals, the city in ancient Egypt was nonethelessan important aspect to the state, somewherewhich was closely linked to the king (Uchtheim 1980a, 15). It has been argued to have been the very essenceof ancient Egypt, at the heart of its religious beliefs as the locality of deities (Cannuyer 1989,47-8), central to the identity of an ancient Egyptian: 'For the ancient Egyptians, the concept of the city was thus first and foremost determined by religion. To live in a city meant to be in the proximity of the deity who had dominion there. To belong to a city meant to be in the jurisdiction of that city's deity. In Egypt, everyone had "his" city and "his" deity, whom he "followed" and who caredfor him(Assmann 2001,19-20). The religious aspectto life in an ancientEgyptian city was therefore absolutely central to forming any sort of communal identity (see Baines 1997,235) Coptic Thebes is a later example of just such a living environment - and in Memphis there were a multitude of and therefore

121 deitiesto whom loyalty could be given. Assmann's argumentis basedupon textual sources,and he also statedthat 'we must acceptliterally the statement that it was preciselyin its aspectof divine dwelling that a city bound peopleto one anotherand madethemfeel at home' (2001,25). From an examination of wisdom literature,it has beenarguedthattheEgyptianwas distrustfulof thenon-Egyptian,but that living in the bonds(Cannuyer1989,51). Nevertheless, Cannuyer(1989,54) samecity could create 'une cit, 6plut6t x6nophobe thatthe wisdomtextsdescribe concluded ou 6gocentrique.

Memphisand Thebeswere two of the major political and populationcentresin New Kingdom Egypt, with each city in its turn the location for the administrationand governmentof Egypt and its territory (seeTraunecker1988). In the 18th Dynasty Thebeswas the capital;in the courseof the New Kingdom, Amama, Memphis and Piramesses (Herold 1998,129) were successively the royal strongholds.Throughout in centresof power, Memphisretainedits position as one of the central thesechanges cities in Egypt (Grimal 2000,58). Its location(Figure 32), at the southernend of the Delta, on the westernside of the River Nile, as well as its religiosity, ensuredits continuousoccupation until its demiseas a centrefor intensiveoccupationduring the f irst few centuries CE.

Each of the pre-eminent cifies had elements within it which were constructed with careful attention to the maintenanceand furtherance of the Egyptian world view. The

New Kingdom royal city hasbeencharacterised thus: intensely in 'the royal city was regarded sacred mundi, a specific area asan axis forces divine the the the was continually of universe re-enacted, which creation of supernaturalchaos successfully resisted, and the great cycle of the institutions Egyptian the of society of nature and of supernatural renewal 1982,19). in maintained perpetuity'(O'Connor The paradigm for much of the knowledgeof ancientEgyptiancities is Amarna, purely city in Egypt. as a resultof it being the best-preserved and most extensivelyexcavated in fifteen Its unique origins as the city of Akhenaten,built, lived in and abandoned do not needto disqualifyit as a site with wider implicationsfor the years,nevertheless

122 understanding of the articulationof power (seeKemp 1977a). For example,the city (Kemp 1986,92). by the king's palace plan was dominated

Alongside the planned approach to the development of sacred and royal areas, as exemplified in Thebes and Amama, there was also a much more organic element in the construction of space. With reference to Ainama, excavations have demonstratedthat there was little planning of the housing areas of the city, which instead grew up gradually and haphazardly (Shaw 1992,150). As in the modem world, roads Any development of housing

stimulated development (Kemp and Garfi 1993,47). areaswas in stagesas new people arrived in the new city.

Memphiswas in a different category to Amarna,having a long and continuoushistory Old Early Period in Dynastic The lie the the the and origins of city of occupation. Kingdom when it was the capitalof Egypt, and it grew and developed throughoutthe pharaonicperiod, evenwhen no longer the capitalof Egypt (Bainesand Malek 1992, 134;Martin 1992,21). Thus theNew Kingdom city haddeveloped out of a numberof 'grand for the non-royal/sacredareas; with no plan' settlement areas, adjoining Memphis has beentypified as 'an agglomeration of various villages, precincts, and defensivetowns, which graduallymerged together, like London, into a large city' (Smith 1938,215). This comparison to Londonwas alsomadeby Petrie(1909a, 1).

it has beenpossible to trace As suggested by studieson other urban environments, individual and communalassertions of statusand wealth in an ancientEgyptian city. 'ideal The largesthomesin Amarna(of over 250 square the of metres) mirrored pictures homes' provided in textual and pictorial sources, such as Papyrus Lansing (Shaw 1992,151,162). Such houseswere made distinct from other areasof housing,

the spacious throughtheuseof largescaleboundarywalls (Shaw 1992,161) alongside of copious surroundingareasof garden grounds(Shaw 1992,164): 'the possession and granariesallowed a few successful town-dwellers to recreatethe spacious

123 environment of rural life within a generally urbancontext,as well as gaininga cramped considerabledegree of economic self-sufficiency'. The apparentlyarchitecturally homogenous areas of housingin Amarna,in which the lower stratumof the population lived, were also areaswithin which differenceswere madeand asserted through the possession of objects(Shaw 1992,164).

The lack of detailedcontextualexcavations in Egypt meansthat such of settlements insights are rare. Even in the most completesite, Amarna, which enabledShaw's inferences behindthe organisation of spaceoften have observations, aboutthe reasons to remainasinferences:
'we know next to nothing about urban organisation and attitudes in ancient Egypt, but one can imagine that people travelling from the remoter parts of the city, particularly after sundown, would have found some of the city neighbourhoods unwelcoming (not least through the attacks of watch-dogs), or under the supervision of watchmen, or even closed altogether to outsiders' (Kemp and Garfi. 1993,47). Memphis

The most visible features of the ancient city of Memphis are its burial grounds which were developed from the early dynastic period onwards, initially as royal and elite Abu Giza, fields Rawash, They 1998). (Jeffreys the of pyramid comprise cemeteries Zawyet el Aryan, Abusir, Saqqaraand Dahshur, some of the most visited sites in Egypt (Figure 32). The extent of the cemeteries(30 kilometres) was not matched in size by the living New Kingdom city. Estimating the size of the New Kingdom city is

but Nile, due the to the of also to the necessarily shifting course complex, not only Memphis Amama's basis 440 hectares, Yet the of on partial nature of any excavations. in the New Kingdom is thought to have been a very sizeable settlement(Kemp 1977b, 195); the known areaof the city stretches1.5 kilometres west to east, and 4 kilometres its largest formed 10% have the point to of at city would only north south, which (Jeffreys 2001,373). (Jeffreys 2001,373), Its geographical location has been described as 'unrivalled' combining access to the Delta, as well as to the eastern and

124 westerndeserttraderoutes,and with its locationnear Helwan which was the 'national Upper andLower Egypt' (Jeffreys2001,373). and symbolicboundarybetween

In secondary literature about New Kingdom Memphis, the city is depicted as a thriving urban centre, a place in which Egyptians and non-Egyptians freely intermingled and lived and in which the business of empire was carried out (Kees 1977,179; Kitchen 1982,115), and has thus been termed'la m6tropole par excellence' (Grimal 2000,58). The series of excavations (the major ones by Petrie, Fisher, Anthes and Jeffreys) which have been carried out in the course of the twentieth century, (excavations at the site are still ongoing), provide information on the royal/religious complexes of the city as well as the non-ceremonial (for generalmaps of the excavatedareassee Kemp 1977a, figure 7; Zivie 1982,26; Jeffreys 1996,289). The archaeological reports as well as New

Kingdom texts, and any relevant comparative material, are central to the reclaiming of New Kingdom Memphis, and in gaining any understanding of levels of interaction possible between different groups of people and the widely differing areasof the city.

Maps of the ruin fields of Memphis reveal the tiny proportion of the city which has been excavated(seeJeffreys 1985,7). Much of the area has been incorporated into modem include features the ten the the ancient site of settlements, and existence of an visible (1985,17-45; 2001,374). by Jeffreys enumerated mounds Most of the excavations

have concentrated on the areas immediately adjoining, as well as within, the great temple complex of Ptah, in the hope of fmding statuary, in the south section of the site. Thus in the discussion below there is reference to certain mounds in particular; Kom el Rabi'a and Kom el Qala'a (Figure 33).

Memphis as described in textual sources

The products of the high elite culture leave no doubt as to the meanings and identity to

be gained from being a residentof Memphis. A well-recognisedtopos in New

125 Vingdom literaturewas that of desire to be in or near the city that was home (see Uchtheim 1980a, 16; Assmann2001,19-27). As such it could appearboth in more formalisedliterature(theBook of the Dead)and in the more informal love poetry from the Ramesside period. As mentioned above,the longing to be in the home city was heightened by thewish to be nearthe deitiesof thatlocation.

In Book of the Dead (chapter 183) Hennunefer described Memphis, the city he came from (Budge 1899,4-6, plates 2-3; Allen 1974,200-2). Certain characteristics of

Memphis were highlighted. The city served to unite the two areasof Egypt: it was the focus of both Upper and Lower Egypt, and importantly, it was a place where the god lived. It was not only as a place to be praised and longed for after death that Memphis featured in textual writings. The love poetry of the Ramesside period, often seen as giving accessto a rare expression of individual and highly personalizedemotions, when it may really have been the generalisedproduct of a scholarly elite, pictured Memphis as an object of beauty and desire.

Thus in a love poem, preserved on Papyrus Harris 500, Ptah of Memphis is appealedto in order to give assistancein the pursuit of a woman (MWIer 1899, plates 4 and 5; Liclitheim. 1984,189-90 seealso Lichtheirn 1980a, 22). Lines 6-9 (MUller 1899, plate 4; Lichtheim 1984,189, section 5; Figure 34) contain a description of Memphis: I am going to '4-t, '.wy (Memphis)

in orderto speakto Ptah,thelord of m.? t Give my sisterto me tonight! The river is aswine Ptahis its rushes Sakhmet is its foliaae ladetits buds its lotus flowers Nefertern ...... Rejoicing,theland grows light in its beauty Mn-nft (Memphis)is a bowl of fruit beautiful face in (epithetfor Ptah) the the of of presence placed Anotherpoemwas written not asa love poemto a person,but instead thecity addresses of Memphisusingthesameconventions andimages seenin thelove poetry. A stateof

126 from Memphis and with it Ptah, is vividly agitation, induced by being separated described(P. AnastasiIV; Gardiner 1937,39, no. 8; Caminos 1954,150-2, no. 8; Figure35): Behold, my hearthasgonefurtively, it hurriesto a placewhich it knows It hasjourneyeddownstream in orderto seebnl-k;'.. (Memphis) -pt However, if only I couldcontinueto sit quietly, waitingfor my heart so thatit may tell methe conditionof mn-nift No business hascometo completion as my hearthasleaptfrom its place Cometo mePtah,in orderto takeme to mn-nift May you cause thatI mayfreely seeyou My wish is to spendmuchtimeasleep but my heartis not in my body by evil all my limbs havebeenoverwhelmed my eyeis weakthroughlooking my eardoesnot hear my voiceis hoarse andall my words areupsidedown Be kind to me, may you cause thatI overcome them The physicaldistresscaused from thefamiliar locality and its deity are throughabsence in thepoemabove(compare with Guksch 1994).The actualphysical vividly described effects of being outsideMemphiswere very similar to the feelings induced in Sinuhe when he was fleeing from Egypt, from the known environment. As has beenseenin Chapter 2, an attachment to the immediatelocality in Egypt was an acceptedand expected aspectto being an Egyptian. The implication of the abovepoem was that Memphiswas almosta paradise,a placein which one could be happy, when outside Memphisthereverse was true. An identificationwith the city of Memphiswas made, implicitly Egypt been have to this as well. referring as understood nevertheless could

This is perhaps suggestedby the fluidity in the terms of referencefor Memphis, and by

to havebeenderivedfrom Iml-& the Greeknamefor Egypt('Aigyptos') which seems

pt (Baines and Malek 1992,134), one of the ancient namesfor Memphis. Therewere

for the city (for example,lnbw-bd; mn-nfr and "nb-t3Wy), further names which several could be used specificallyfor a certainareaof the city or for the city as a whole

127 (Jeffreys2001,373). The city as the country and vice-versa is implied in the ancient Egyptianword for Egypt, kmt (more specificallythe 'Black land', the floodplain - see
Chapter 2) which was written with the city determinative (Cannuyer 1989,45).

In another highly literary text, but which purported to be a letter between a chantress of Hathor to a chantress of Amun, the idea of Memphis as a paradise is reiterated (P. Sallier IV; Gardiner 1937,88-92, no 1; Caminos 1954,333-49, no. 1). The letter was a model letter, of the same type as those seen in Chapter 2, and would have been read and copied by scribes in scribal schools. Its oiigin may have beenin areal letter, and if so gives a rare ostensibly female perspectiveon the city.

The letterbegins with the required wishes of good health, and invokes the many deities of Memphis, including the Syrian gods Ba'al and Qadesh (linel, 6) and the deceased kings of Egypt (line 2,1). Then follows a very lengthy description of Memphis, in

which the city was pictured in glowing terms. This section was introduced by the correspondent saying: 'I have approachedmn-nift, and I have found nin-nrfr in a very excellent state' (line 2,3). The riches to be found in Memphis were also listed, which included food, grain, oil, cattle, and weapons (lines 2,4 4,7). The people of the city, Egyptian and non-Egyptian alike, were describedas happy, for example'the Asiatics of the city are sitting, confident, embraced' (line 2,8) as were the noble women of the city (line 4,3). Perhaps the description of confident Asiatics was included to emphasise

Memphis as a benevolent living environment - even non-Egyptians could live happily there. Furthermore, the term 'Asiatics' was also used to refer to slaves (see Baines 1996b, 375-6), if this was the case here, it also serves to reiterate the wonders of Memphis.

An emphatic picture is created of Memphis as a very relaxed environment, in which there were different groups of people, identified on the basis of country of origin,


genderor profession,enjoyinglife to the full. As much as Book of the Dead 183 and the love poem above, the model letter was seeking to idealise Memphis - not surprisinglythe imagegiven was one of a city without comparison. But also in more routine texts, such as a lettercomplainingthat the recipienthad beencausing trouble locality was emphasised.The deities with her father, the importance of the immediate into theformulaicgreetings of Memphiswereintegrated at the beginningof the phrases letter(P. Bologna;Gardiner 1937,9, no 13; Caminos1954.26-8, no. 13, lines 9,8 9,9 and 10,6-10,7). The importance to, and identificationwith, the local of reverence deities,as opposedto solely invoking deitiesfrom outsidethe local area,is shown by the way in which theseformulaic greetingswere freely adapted, as seenin Chapter2 whereThebanor Nubian deitiescouldbe inserted point. at the appropriate

These texts convey what it could mean to be from Memphis, to live in one of the

foremostcitiesof Egypt. The strongest is gainedof theutter centmlityof the city sense to thought,emotions andevenphysicalwell-being.

Thefoci of Memphis

from the New Kingdom, with few visual remnants The site todayis much changed of left in situ. Yet it is still possibleto look at a landscape the New Kingdom occupation have seen. On the west of the city lie the which the Memphiteswould themselves fields Saqqara, to the north the the and pyramid of necropoleis, stepped pyramid with for have the of reminder past Memphites. and south, which would provideda constant During the New Kingdom, if not attempting to view themfrom the midst of narrow, been have these much more visible than today would crowded streets, pyramids (Jeffreys 1998), and therewould also have beenpotential to gaze across the Nile, between highly Heliopolis these two significant to connection a providing northwards (Jeffreys1998;Figure32). urbancentres

129 The desertsandswith their monuments to the deadwere not the sole remindersof the large In Egyptian the the the areas were scale midst of settlement power of state. buildings,providing a ceremonial to thecity such as aspect religiousandadministrative that seenin ThebesandAmarna. Herewas an areain which the motivations,ideology in form. demonstrated The 'high belief the architectural elite' were and systemsof templewas both a 'repository of traditionalEgyptianculture and the focus of social solidarity' (Baines1991,180).

Greattemplecomplex ofPtah

As seen above, Memphis the city was bound up with the god Ptah: here was his locality, his dwelling on'earth, and as such therewere a numberof templesbuilt for him, but therewas alsoa wide rangeof devotionto other deitiesof Egyptianand nonEgyptian origin. Suitably for a city of its importanceand size, there were a large in Ramesside (Bakry 1972), the temples periodcarefulplanningensured and numberof Smith 1987, Malek (Jeffreys, foci Ptah became the the to and thatnew temples city of 12; Malek 1988,45; Figure 36). The movement of the Nile freed up new land which Malek 1988,28). (Jeffreys for temple and structures new was also used In this

it been has from shown that and was re-used, structures previous rebuilding material 11's rebuilding of the royal/religioussectionsof the city had been set in Ramesses Archaeological Smith 1988,65-6). I (Jeffreys Seti during the and reign of motion Instead in is, Memphis for non-existent. somecases, of evidence thetemplecomplexes inscriptionalevidence,such as devotionalstelae,is the sole sourceof evidencefor a location For 1948,27). Badawy the 1926,277; (Dussaud example, temple'sexistence is Akhenaten, during to thought in Memphis the built Aten, of reign the temple of of havebeenKom el-Qala'a(Malek1997,99) on the basisof textualand prosopographic (Malek 1997,95-7). evidence

130 The Egyptiantempledemonstrates boundaries, theimportance of architectural with each from its surrounding templeseparated throughthe useof an enclosure areas wall. This the sacredspaceand to excludethosewho were not meantto servedboth to delineate it. Merenptah described the building of a templewall for Ptah as an act of penetrate devotion in itself (Anthes 1959,2, plate 9a). This is recordedon a limestonestela, found in the surroundingwall of thegreattemplecomplexof Ptah. Part of it reads'he for his fatherPtah,makingfor him theGreatWall of nuy-nmade(this) as a monument pt-btp-6r-m3't who makeswide the spacefor Ptah' (Anthes 1959,5; Sourouzian 1989,47-8, fig. 14).

For a settlement to be urban, accordingto Assmann(2001,27) it had to contain a

temple, and this was one of the main features of the city:

'We should recall the castle-likenatureof the temples,whose high enclosure walls and pylon towers loomedvisibly over the flat land from quite a distance dominating theenormous, characterof away. In thetopography of a settlement, the temple stoodout clearlyvis-A-visall other manifestations of humanbuilding activity'(Assmann2001,27).
The enclosure wall provided the initial visual impact, an area of sancity but also of exclusivity. This exclusivity needsto be borne in mind: it was such that even the more for have been to the temples were unlikely used as main place religious accessible activities by 'the archaeologicallyalmost invisible generalpopulation' (Baines 2001,3).

This demarcation of spaceis seenmost clearly where templeremainsare still extant in Memphis Ptah but Thebes, temple the complex of was once great aboveground,as at by its imposing, temples smaller enclosure and was surrounded outside similarly as period enclosure wall, reinforcing thesanctityof thearea.The courseof the Ptolemaic within it approximately wall, which followed the line of earlierperiod walls, enclosed 24,000 squaremetresand severaltemples(Petrie 1910,39; Anthes 1959,7,66-7; Anthes 1965,3; Jeffreys and Smith 1988,57,61). Only one area of the temple

West has been Hall in detail, inside the the of excavated wall any complex enclosure

131 Ptah, built by Ramesses 11. This compriseda pylon, set into the west side of the hall (Petrie 5-6). hypostyle 1909a, enclosure wall, anda

As at Thebes, the impact of the temple area was emphasised through the careful it, into leading four to there the construction and were ways up main entrances of sacred 11. Evidencefor the enclosure,on the east,west, north and south, built by Ramesses in 1982: 'a stone-paved southernapproachwas discovered way, almost certainly the to thePtahtenemos. This approach was flanked by the two main axial southapproach installationsfor 11 and at leasttwo others, with attached small templesof Ramesses ... purification and libations' (Jeffreys, Malek and Smith 1984,25). The sacredway walI of the greattemplecomplexof Ptah, outside probablyled to a gatein theenclosure 11may havebeenplaced. which a colossusof Ramesses

Colossal statues were a vital element of the temples at Memphis (Jeffreys, Malek and Smith 1987,18), and, as elsewhere in Egypt, were placed outside the entrances to

temples, in particular in front of the pylons. Outside the pylon of temple A, one of the temples built outside the enclosure wall of the great temple area of Ptah, there were Malek 1983, Jeffreys 11 (Smith, Ramesses life twice and of granite statues size almost 30-3). The most well-known colossal statue of Ramesses11from Memphis, the Abu 6Plates 7) (Jeffreys in 1820 1985,24; discovered to the south of the el-Hol, was ft high. Along 44 Ptah, the temple was originally and near south gate, great complex of with another colossal statueof RamessesII it may have stood outside the main southern entranceto the great temple complex of Ptah.

demonstrate the The Ramesside temple to the environment served of re-working period 'such (1988,45) Malek 11, that Ramesses a sweeping commented and power of These outsideareasof the great temple to unusual'. was approach urban planning for been hence have the Ptah the colossal accessible, most need would complex of Simpson Egyptian for (see 1982 discussion of a statues and unequivocalstatements

132 1991). On the sculptureas propaganda; seealsoAmmoun 1991,87; Delacampagne bases thenamesof captivecountries,such as Syria (see of suchstatues wereengraved Petrie 1909a, 10). For thosewho were able to enter the templeproper, they would have moved through a wealth of such imagesas the Egyptian world-view was put forward in material form. Thusit was appropriate thatthosewho wereableto penetrate furthestinto a templecomplexwere the very peoplewho were behindthe formulation inescapable that the principalfocus of high of this world-view: 'the conclusionseems culturewas the very elitesthemselves, at whose behestit was created and for whom it was sustained, and the greatgods' (BainesandYoffee2000,16).

Religious festivals, an essential aspect to the functioning of a temple, provided an opportunity for more of the populace to accessthe religious world, to catch a glimpse of the shrines of the deities (but not of the gods themselves). On such occasions, a limited sector of the populace could proceed into the first court of the temple (Stadelmann 1991,141), whilst others could watch the procession of the barque as the hidden deity was brought out of the temple (Baines 1991,148; Stadelmann 1991). MiddleKingdom evidence, the Abydos stelae, demonstrate that 'even to attend some festivals was a in to which privilege people aspired perpetuity' (Baines 1991,149).

Numerous fragments of statuary (Plate 5), and complete statues,have beenexcavatedin the great temple complex of Ptah, and illustrate the high investment in the area throughout the New Kingdom, not only during the Ramessideperiod (Mariette 1872, The in 1915,32). Engelbach Petrie Daressy 1902,27; 27-98; alabaster sphinx plates (Plate 8), notable both for its size and its material, is thought to have been made during the 18th dynasty, but re-used during the Ramessideperiod (Jeffreys 1985,2 1).

A statue of the scribe Amenhotep, an administrator during the reign of Amenhotep 111, in in Petrie, investment image (Gardiner this the made city of provides a vivid 0

in the areaof the West Hall of Wainwright andGardiner191332-6). It was excavated

133 Ptah (not its primary context), and Amenhotepdescribesthe foundation of a temple III (fines 13-18). The dedicated to Ptahwhich he supervised on behalfof Amenhotep templeandits surroundings were picturedas somethingamazing(Gardinerin Petrieet 'thereis nothing to takingthis text at face-value: al.1913,34). Gardinerwarnedagainst leaves Egyptian large the one; no or a small grandiloquence show whether shrinewas a room for deductions on suchpoints' (in Petrieet al 1913,36).

Tracingthereligiousbeliefsof theMemphites

The votive statuesand stelae(see Borchardt 1934,90, no. 1174; Bourriau 1982; CWe 1968,146; Wild 1979; Schulman 1988) found in and around Memphis' temples

dedicatedby both royal and non-royal Memphites demonstratethe personal devoti on to deities. How far this was actually a genuine act of devotion or a necessary aspect to functioning in Egyptian society is not clear, although for the dedicator of the stela/statue there was probably no dichotomy between the two.

Votive stelaeform a central part to the argumentfor pilgrimage in Egypt (Yoyotte 1960, 22,45; seesection on pilgrimage below) as well as for the rise in the level of personal by for Any dynasty. 19th during seized upon was the personal piety evidence piety Egyptologists in the early twentieth century, as they were eager for any material which showed ancient Egyptian religion as a reflective, self-aware, widely accessedreligion, Judeo-Christian tradition. in the terms the of more easily understandable In Gunn's

(Syrians) the he that thought stimulated topic, this non-Egyptians seminal article on Semitic is 'the of religion and of character alike growth of personal religiosity, which our texts' (1916,93). By contrast, later interpreters have seen the personal religiosity

during the Ramessideperiod as an innovation of the Amama period (Assmann 1995, 190). Others have viewed piety (in variant forms) as something which was always in Egypt (see Baines 2001,1-2). lesser to ancient extent, present, a greater or Given


the random factors controlling the survival of evidence, this seems a reasonable assumption.

It is still necessary to emphasisethe narrow range of people who were able to present votive offerings. The state generated and controlled the presentation of offerings

(Baines 1991,179-86; Pinch 1993). For example, in New Kingdom Thebes there may have been workshops attachedto, and run by the temples, for the production of votive offerings to Hathor, and a considerable proportion of those donating votive offerings were themselves artisan-Priests, therefore still members of an elite (Pinch 1993,327333). The deposition of a votive offering involved a series of actions which may have been mediated through a member of the high elite on behalf of the devotee. For example, officials could act as intermediaries(Baines 1991,183) and statuesof officials placed inside the temples could also act as loci for the deposition of votive offerings: the statue owner would then guaranteeto pass on the prayers to the deity (Pinch 1993,3326).

This tight structure associatedwith the presentationof votive offerings further restricted the accessibility of such actions, reflecting the structure of Egyptian society. The ritual surrounding votive offerings was dependentupon the status of an individual in society, making the deposition of offerings an act which demonstrated personal status. Thus women were able to visit the temple becauseof their relationship to a male member of the elite, further underlining the centrality of status (Pinch 1993,348). Even these

visitors to temples would, in the vast majority of cases, have penetratedonly as far as the open forecourt, which was where they were able to leave their votive offerings, in a ritual which could be accompaniedby prayer and/or sacrifice (Pinch 1993,332-48). Hence the deposition of offerings as found in an excavation frequently does not represent the primary site of deposition as offerings were moved by the priests, taken on into the inner parts of the temple, and later buried within the sacred area of the temple (for example the Karnak cachette, Wilkinson 2060,64). It is therefore not

135 from thefind spotof a votive offering thatthepersonwho madethat possibleto deduce offering hadbeenableto depositit in thatlocation.

One of the major characteristics amongst votive offerings from Memphis is in the dedications to non-Egyptian deities. The introduction of non-Egyptian deities seems to have been the initiative of Amenophis 11,and thus had an official basis (Simpson 1960, 65), consistent with perceptions about how 'high culture' was generated in ancient Egypt (Baines and Yoffee 2000). A stelafound at Mit Rahineh relates the conquests of Amenophis 11, a similar version of which was found in the Karnak temple at Thebes (Drioton 1947,61). The stela is immediately linked with Memphis through the

identification of Amenophis with 'Amun Re who lives in Perunefer' (Badawy 1943,3). Perunefer was one of the port areasin Memphis (see below). The text vividly describes Amenophis' victories in Syria, in which he 'crossed the River Orontes, over the waters, with violence like Reshep'(Drioton 1947,61; Fulco 1976,34). A Canaanite god was

thus seen as a valid point of comparison for an Egyptian king, and Reshep was a god who was 'never assimilated, as the iconographic details of his dress and equipment and his constant associationwith otherAsiatic deities make clear'(Simpson 1960,72).

An identification with a Canaanitegod in the midst of a text discussing conquests in Syria-Palestine seemsan anomaly, but is also appropriate - when abroad the king could take on the qualities of the local gods, and conquer its people with the skills of their gods. At the same time, it makes a stark contrast to the description of Amenophis' return to Memphis which drew upon formulaic phrasesin order to illustrate the glory of his conquests: 'his person approachedthe town of Memphis, his heart avenged with every foreign land, all lands being under his sandals' (Badawy 1943; Drioton 1947, 57). This apparent distaste for all places non-Egyptian appears to be contradicted by Reshep being assumed as a personal god for a king, and has been explained as motivated by the military 'credentials' of this warlike god (Fulco 1976,3 1). Reshep

as a personal god for the king may, however, have also representeda form of conquest

136 in itself - eventhe gods of foreign lands were not free from being taken over by an Egyptianking.

The sphinx stela, from Giza, part of the sacred landscapeof the Memphite area, shows Reshep, and a Syrian goddess, Astarte, fully integrated into Amenophis 11's belief system (Helck 1962,489). Amenophis related how when he was regent he was told to look after the king's horses. When he did this, he noted how 'Reshep and Astarte rejoiced over him becausehe did everything that his heart desired" (Zivie 1976,64-9, line 23). The setting of the sphinx stela, on the northeastern side of the sphinx in the heart of Giza and the content of the text, a celebration of the physical prowess of Amenophis 11,demonstratethe integration of thesenon-Egyptian deities into one of the most historic landscapesfor the ancient Egyptian.

Despite this integration of non-Egyptian deities into the Egyptian pantheon, it has been argued that any temples to non-Egyptian deities were served by non-Egyptian priests (see Kamish 1985,20). This is on the basis of two pieces of inconclusive evidence.

The first is a grain record from the reign of Amenophis 11which mentions diplomatic messengersfrom cities in Syro-Palestine, as well as people from the temple of Ba'al (Kamish 1985,20). Secondly, the rank and names of an individual buried in Saqqara have been used to argue his non-Egyptian origins (HeIck 1962,482; Stadelmann 1967, 34). He was a priest of Amun of Perunefer (see below), and a priest of Ba'al and Astarte during the 18th dynasty. Kamish (1990,42) concluded that he may have been born in Egypt of non-Egyptian parents, and his priestly tides, which were Egyptian, Astarte Egyptian Ba'al demonstrate the that was conducted along and worship of may lines.

Following the reign of Amenophis 11, Reshep appears to have been afforded devotion

1980,144), been (Giveon have it the until well although outside royal circleas maynot have been Volksgott (Helck 1962,488). This the 19thdynastythat he became may a

137 by thereturnof Egyptianofficials from servicein Syria-Palestine stimulated where they had worshippednon-Egyptian deities(Ixclant 1960,4; Cornelius1994,2) as well as by non-Egyptian sailors and merchantstravelling to and from Memphis. Reshep appeared on non-royal votive stelae, one of which was discoveredduring Petrie's in thewest hall of Ptah(Petrie 1910,39, plateXXXIX; Leibovitch 1940, excavations 490; Stadelmann 1967,68; Fulco 1976,11; Stewart1976,44). On this small stela,an individual is shown kneelingbeforeReshep,who is holding a macein his right hand (Petrie 1910, plateXXIX; Fulco 1976,11). Few of the votive stelaehave a specific provenance: stelaCairo 2792 also shows an individual beforeReshep,who is greeted that as 'the greatgod, thelord of thesky' (Fulco 1976,8-9), but it is only a conjecture this stelais from Memphis.

Astarte, a Syrian goddess, was also a source of devotion for Memphites during the nineteenth dynasty and had a number of cult temples within the city (Badawy 1948,23; HeIck 1966,1-2; Martin 1992,29). She was directly linked with Perunefer on an

inscription of Amenophis 11at Tura (Daressy 1911,258), and came to be worshipped by non-royal individuals as well. A nineteenthdynasty votive stela shows a man and a woman with their son carrying an offering to Astarte (Koeffoed-Petersen 1948,35-6; plate 44). The text identifies Astarte specifically as a Syrian goddess, calling her

'mistress of the sky', and the 'queen of the two lands'. Astarte could also be linked with Egyptian goddesses,for example she was shown in a headress similar to those wom by Hathor on a fragment of a stela dating to the reign of Merenptah (Petrie 1909a, 8, pl XV; Leclant 1960,11-3).

It is not possible to typify a devotion to non-Egyptian deities as an activity of any nonEgyptian Memphite community. Nor is it possible to speculate about the number or location of any non-Egyptian Memphites on the basis of the location of temples devoted to non-Egyptian deities, when such deities were part of Egyptian life. An incorporation life Memphis into deities the of of non-Egyptian religious seems to have been achieved

138 without underminingthe ideologicalstatements of the elite concerningnon-Egyptians, this was a productof eliteaction. And, as with other non-Egyptians preciselybecause who became part of the Egyptianstate,the non-Egyptiandeitieswere benelitting elite Egyptian life and could thus be successfullyabsorbedinto the Egyptian religious system.

Alongside the multiplicity of other religious allegiances present in Memphis, was an ever-presentdevotion to Ptah. Under the floor of the West Hall of Ptah were found a number of stelae dedicated to Ptah, in a secondary context as they had been thrown away (Petrie 1909a, 7-8; Petrie in Engelbach 1915,33). A large number of such stelae were 'ear stelae', on which any number of ears could be inscribed without any further information (for example, see Petrie 1909a, plate XIII; Figure 37). Some of the ear

stelae also depicted the owner of the stela and could include inscriptions (see Koenig 1994,119-21). One of the stelaediscovered by Petrie depicted376 ears beneath which was the owner kneeling with his arms raised in supplication (Petrie 1909a, 7, plate IX, no. 49, plateXIII).

What the depostion of the ear stelaemeant to the ancient Egyptians, and what response from the deities was expected, is not certain. Yet it has been convincingly argued that the ear stelae did not represent the desire for a sick ear to be cured, rather the ears depicted were those of the deities, and the large number of ears was an attempt to increase the likelihood of a deity listening to the supplicant (Holden 1982,296; see Pinch 1993,247-264).

Both within thegreattemplecomplexof Ptah,andunderthefloor level of the palace of Merenptah,situatedoutsidethe greattemplecomplexof Ptah, on the south eastside, context. Theseincludedround were found a large numberof stelaein a secondary toppedstelae,depictingthemummiformPtahfacing another god, nffl, who was shown 1964,275-6). disk its (Schulman head bird, sun on serpentand a as a with a uraeus;

139 Alongside stelaedevotedto Ptah, was one which has beqi interpreted to as dedicated Ill. the cult of the living Ramesses This is an inscribed limestonestela (Schulman

1963, plate VII, 177-84), in a very damagedstate.

From his analysis of the stelae found during the University of Pennsylvania excavations, within the greattemplecomplexandin the palace of Merenptah,Schulman in the donationof was ableto build up a pictureof the type of peoplewho participated by the work of Pinch with reference to donationsto votive offerings. As suggested Hathor, in Memphisthedonors appearto havebeenfrom the 'middle or upper middle levels of society' (Schulman1967,154). The majority were membersof the temple adminstration'from the lesserpriesthoods',and the 'skilled artisanclass' (Schulman 1967,154).

in Gunn's articlein the attemptto access The excitement the religious beliefs generated interpretation initial is in Schulman's the of a large and actionsof non-elite reflected in fragmented deposited These votive a state, numberof apparently offerings. were having beencut out of wall reliefs of the templesand palaceof Merenptah (Schulman 1967,154-6). Due to the way in which theseofferings had beenobtained,Schulman thought that they must date to after the end of the 19th dynasty, when it would no longerhavebeenconsidered to actin this way, andhe also concluded,'it is sacrilegous and reuseof royal materialwas carriedout not by ratherironic thatheretheusurpation the highestof the high, the king, but ratherby the lowest of the lows, the pious but These have been (1967,156). Egyptian objects since very poor members society' of in Period, from built houses Intermediate from Third date the the to private understood area, and thus may haveformed part of a domesticcult, ratherthan the actionsof the 'lowest of thelow' within a formal, sacred context(Schulman1988,88). This change demonstrates of emphasis well thecautionmustbe takenwith such evidence,especially given the eagerness of someto uncoverthe beliefsof thosewho are leastlikely to be in thearchaeological record. recoverable


Similar expectations thatan insightinto thereligiousbeliefsof thenon-eliteof Memphis was possiblewereraisedby thediscoveryof a smalltempleof Ptah, built by Ramesses 11(Anthes 1957;1965). This was locatednearthe greattemplecomplexof Ptah, 250 metressouthof theWestHall of Ptah. It consisted of four elements: court, sanctuary, pylon andan enclosure wall. It mayinitiallyhave beenbuilt as a private chapelfor the king (Anthes 1965,6). With time, the use of the building seems to havechanged. It was still in useduring the reign of Seti 11when it may havebecome a more accessible location. This hasbeensurmised on the basisof thelocationof votive offerings, found inside as well as in front of the sanctuary(Anthes 1957,8; Anthes 1965,4). These Tawret(Anthes1965,4, catalogue offerings includedfigurinesof the goddess numbers it was objects such as these, according to Anthes, which 'proved the and -5-8), Sanctuary to be theplacein which the commonmanprayedto Ptah' (Anthes1965,4).

In the sanctuary both was also found a libation basin(Figure 38), which demonstrates how the templeareas for prayer, and how it was possiblefor the could be approached elite to identify with, and expressloyalty to, Memphisas a city (Anthes 1959; 1965, 72-8). The rectangular limestone basinwas dedicated to Ptahby Amenernhat, scribeof the dockyard (Jacquet1958,161; Wall-Gordon 1958,174). A kneeling statueof

Amenernhat to the basin(Wall-Gordon1958,168). would haveoriginally beenattached The whole basinwas highly decorated, with a depictionof the walls and towers which the greattemplecomplexof Ptah(Jacquet1958,163; Anthes would havesurrounded 1965,73-4, plates24-5; O'ConnorandSilverman1979,32). The towers resemble the 'Syrian' gateat MedinetHabu(Jacquet 1958,163;Wall-Gordon1958,173). Onto the raisedrelief of thewall andthetowers,werecarved,in sunkrelief, a seriesof earsand the carefulcompositionof the prayersto Ptah. Wall-Gordon(1958,168) emphasised decoration of the basin:thetextsfaceawayfrom the statueof Amenernhat, and the ears to look asif theyareableto catchthewords. areorientated

141 The text itself consistsof a seriesof statements praising Ptah. Two are particulady in this context. In one, Amenernhat relevant speaksabout Memphisas a place:'Praise
to you in jmI-k3.-pt4 (Memphis), the most noble of all cities' (Wall-Gordon 1958,170; Anthes 1965,73). This formulaic epithet reiterates the theme of Memphis as an

unsurpassablecity, seenin the texts discussedabove.

The second statement deals with the question of the accessibility of the temple complexes for the actual Memphite population. Amenembet says: 'Praise to you at the great wall, it is the place where prayers are heard' (Wall-Gordon 1958,170; Anthes 1965,73). The wall of the temple as a place to pray has inevitably led to comparisons with practices at the Western Wall in Jerusalem (see for example, Wall-Gordon 1958, 175). Anthes explained this practice by noting that the wall of the temple was more accessibleas a place to pray than any other part of the temple (1959,7). That this motif was not limited to the libation basin is shown by a number of other votive offerings found in the temple's locality which were themselves in the form of towers/gateways, with little or no inscription, except for ears in sunk relief (for example, see Anthes 1965,77-8, plate 25d).

The discovery of a chapel from the time of Seti 1, situated against the enclosure wall, further demonstratesthe use of the enclosurewall as a focus of devotion (Perkins 1949, 41, plate IXa). The chapel had within it three seated statues, which were initially This identification was

identified as Ptah, Isis and Nephthys (Perkins 1949,41).

shown by Berlandini (1984) to be false. Both the goddesseshad a crown of a highly unusual type, which Berlandini identified as the tower, seen, for example, in the votive offerings mentioned above (1984,32-3). One of the goddesses, with the complete

crown, is Ismt, the personification of the tower (Berlandini 1984,34-7). tsmt is rarely encountered in Memphis (Berlandini 1984,37). The other goddess, with the

incomplete crown, was identified as nin-nj'r (Memphis), on the basis of the traces of her

142 (Berlandini1984,38). Thus Memphiswas revered,not only as the nameon the statue locationfor its majordeity, Ptah,but alsoasa deity in its own right.

That narrow, locally based religious devotion could co-exist alongsiderespect for deitiesfrom outsideMemphisis epitomisedby the Ramesside templeof Hathor (13SayedMahmud 1978). In this temple, Hathor was represented in two different and distinctways. Shewas shownas theMemphiteHathor Hathor, andastheHeliopolitan. to haveoriginally beendedicated to theHeliopolitanHathor alone, andthetempleseems highlight the links with the Memphite Hathor added later. These two goddesses betweenthesetwo urbancentres. The epithetof the MemphiteHathor (nbt nht rsyt 'mistressof the southernsycamore) seemsto imply that she was associated with a distinct part of the city (EI-SayedMahmud 1978,15). This may have been a newly built area(EI-Sayed Mahmud1978,15).


The sacredareasof the city encapsulated an ideal world which seemsto have been open to the possibility of divine assistancefrom non-Egyptian deities. This was despite the concept of a temple as a divine cosmos, a place in which the Egyptians cast aside forces of disorder, such as non-Egyptians. Hence the endlessly repeated image of the king smiting non-Egyptians, twisting them by their hair, their faces, in some cases, shown in full-frontal view instead of the side aspect reserved for Egyptians seen in temples, most notably on the pylons.

The whole sacred areawas adapted andre-builtthroughouttheNew Kingdom, with the Memphites havingan informal impacton building use during the latterpart themselves in later, 11. Even for a Ramesside the templeof Ramesses the seen of as period and literatememberof Egyptiansociety,thescribeof the dockyardAmenernhat, the wall of the greattemplecomplexof Ptah seemsto have beena primary sourceof devotion,

143 demonstrating insidethe complex. For many to themoresacred thelimited access areas in the city, the temples been fixed in landscape, have dramatic but the a and Point would a point which few couldaccess on a regularbasis.


Adjoining the great temple complex of Ptah and those temples in close proximity to it, were the residences of the royal family, suitably situated so as to be part of the sacred/ceremonialcomplex of the city. During the Amarna period, this relationship was a direct link between the palace and the first crystallised in the window of appearances, court of the temple: 'the role of the palace in the new city became that of mediation between man and god and is symbolized in the image of the "window of appearances" As (Mallinson 1999,78). king his the atAmarna, where the courtiers' where rewarded Akhenaten themselves with ritual, places of symbolism and religious palaces were moving between them in a symbolic procession (Lacovara 1999,64-7), some of the in for lived have been in very short periods of time palaces other royal cities may only by the king, if at all - he may just have visited them. For example, Ramesses III's by linked first Habu Medinet the temple, the a window of of court adjoins palace at king. by in been lived have but the rarely may only appearances,

In Memphis, archaeologistshave speculatedabout possible sites for any royal palaces. For example, Anthes, having discovered the small temple of Ramesses11(see above), then wondered whether RamessesII had built a palace adjacent (1965,6). The only

is This located is Merenptah. in Memphis been that have of to excavated royal palace itself in Kom Qala'a, Ptah the only was the el and enclosure, on south east side of directly 39). It have been (Figure its may connected easternside partially excavated,on (Jeffreys Smith 1988,65-6), Ptah to the and enclosure via a royal road as the

leads 11 if Ramesses to the outside the a colossus of palace, extended, northward axis of idea been but have fully The an of the never published, easterngate. excavationreports

144 palace may be gainedfrom the initial descriptions and reconstructions publishedin the Pennsylvania MuseumJournal. Blocks from thepalace confinueto be found (Jeffreys,
Malek and Smith 1986,10-11).

Merenptah's palacewas just one of a number of building works carried out by the king in Memphis (see Sourouzian 1989,33-9). Merenptah's links with the city were

immortalised in the Israel stela, which also sets the political context: Get ceci montre en tout cas l'importance de la ville de Memphis sous le r6gne de Merenptah. La ville 6tait un point stratA6gique pendant les campagnes, c'est Merenptah qui lui "a ouvert les portes" et "fait que ses temples recoivent des offrandes" (stele d'Israel, ligne 3), aprs la m6nacede I'attaque ennemi. Et les inscriptions ajout6es par Merenptah sur les monuments memphites montrent assezle soin qu'a pris Merenptah de faire perp6tuer sa victoire et reinstaurer le pouvoir royal, illustr6 par les scanes de massacre des ennemis' (Sourouzian 1989,53).

It hasbeenemphasised thattheroyal palace was not only a placein which the king lived his domain,but that it was also a sacredlocale, much as a temple and administered (O'Connor 1995,268). Its architectural form, as with temples,provideda reflectionof the cosmos(O'Connor 1995,290-2).

The palace itself was a mud brick structure, of over 300 square metres, adjoining a temple of Merenptah (see Jeffreys 1985,19-21; Sourouzian 1989,39-41), and was probably intended only to house the king for short visits (O'Connor and Silverman 1979,25). The eastemwing of the palaceconsisted of a large open court, with rows of columns on all sides (Fisher 1917,213; see plans in O'Connor 1995,399, figs 7.6, 7.7), opening out into sets of official appartments. Wall decoration was an essential element to the impact of the palace. In this court, the reliefs showed Merenptah worshipping Ptah, showing the necessarydevotion to Memphis' god (his relationship with Ptah crystallised in his name- 'beloved of Ptah').

Rapoport's analysis of the different factors contributing to the ideological messagesof the Egyptian palaceis appropriatefor Merenptah's palace. Inevitably, it was constructed

(Jeffreys, Malek and Smith 1986, to providea potentreiteration of Egypt's supremacy

145 by the throne room (Fisher 1917; 1924), 10-11). This is particularly demonstrated itself an encapsulation of the official world-view during the New Kingdom. This was where Merenptahwould have receiveddiplomaticvisitors and courtiers, and it was decorated for such with theaim to impress,fulfilling the stylistic conventions expected by O'Connor (1995,292) the throne room was a space. Furthermore,as interpreted imbuedwith cosmological 'the king on his throne is the sun-god in his significance: horizon'.

At thecentreof theroom was a dais for the throne. On eachof the four sides, was a border formed Surrounding bound depiction the was a captive. panels of a panelwith a by the hieroglyphsreading'all peoples". To approach the throne any visitors had to in 'representing images bound further all the captives climb a ramp, on which were of ten raceswhich Merenptah claimedto have subduedduring his reign' (Fisher 1917, 218). This epitomisesthe attitude to non-Egyptians:some of those approaching Merenptahon his throne would have been from outside Egypt, and their subject in had be Non-Egyptians (real to thus walked over was made explicit. position or not) for have Egyptians king. But to the existed analagous would an situation order reach beyondEgypt. travellingto royal palaces 0

A more public place in which Merenptah could have been viewed by some of his subjects is suggestedby details in reliefs found in the palace. These show a balcony, (Fisher 1917,222), 'window functioned of appearances' as a which presumably a

he from be hailed could where as the well somewhere as place where pharaoh could gaze upon his loyal subjects. Fisher suggested that it was also from here that

Merenptah was able to look upon the booty from conquests abroad, which included prisoners (1917,222).

Merpphis, as a city at the very core of Egyptian self-perception, suitably conveyed a its devotion image through sacred and and religious of wealth, power, self-assured

146 ceremonial within Memphis give a hint of the great areas. The few sites excavated during theNew Kingdom, as do the materialfinds. Forthe extentof thesecomplexes in front of Merenptah in thepalace,aswell asfor the majority of prisonerbeingparaded Memphites gaininga rareglanceof royal/religiousritual, a feeling of awe, and fear (at leastin the caseof theprisoner)would havebeengenerated.

In the following sections, some non-royal/religious aspects of the city are investigated, to see how these essentially contrasting worlds existed and impacted on one another. These religious/royal complexes appearto epitomise the views of literate society where 'there is a bland elite presentationof one side of the truth' (Baines 1987,84).


No archaeological directly relatingto the harbourareasat Memphishas been evidence depended its it is discovered, Memphis that on which ports, as was a city yet accepted did other settlements in Egypt (Kemp and O'Connor 1974,102). The ports at

Memphis were a location for formal action directed by the state, for example,the military expeditions to Syro-Palestinewere launched from the harbours (see Stadelmann 1967,127) aswell asmoreinformalaction,such as the buying and selling of marketgoods.

Egypt, andthesecouldrelateto informal Therewerethreemaintermsfor port in ancient mryt, nznlwt and wbryt. as well as more formal arrangements: The harbour of

Amenhotep III at western Thebes representsone end of the scale. It was associated its harbour basin, his temple vast size a artificial with and palaceand was with mortuary not entirely dictated by functionality: 'the size of the Birket Habu, and the ambition development, in temple, the and urban palace shown must be seen a]so as an associated expression of this essentially ideological effort' (Kemp and O'Connor 1974,134). Yet

147 harboursassociated with royal cifiesdid not alwaysneedto be such statements, as seen by thejetties at Amarna(Kemp andO'Connor 1974,103).

in ancient Riverbankandharbourareas Egypt can also be assessed as potentialloci for actionoutsidethemainparameters of thestate. The riverbankwas a locationfor many differentlevelsof activity and interactionbetweenpopulations,and as a trading areais in ancient Egyptiansources(Janssen 1975,510). It has beenviewed not well attested lived and worked, but also as an areain only as an areawithin which non-Egyptians household (Eyre 1998, which womenwereallowedto function beyondtheir immediate by the tomb of Ipuy and the 173). Thus Eyre hasargued,from the evidence presented tomb of Kenamunat Deir el Medina, that women tradedin perishablegoods on the riverbank (1998,176-7). In a sense,therefore,the riverbank could be viewed as a location, an areain which the stateand templeeconomies were by-passed, subversive interact Egyptian could on a women and men as well and where non-Egyptians, as formed basis basis, but Eyre the transactions that of the stated such commercial Egyptian economy,not a mere side-line(1998,185). The river-bankcould be the settingfor informal andmoreformalisedtrade,and has beenseenas the naturalsetting for such activities,with the Nile the main meansof communication and travel within Egypt (Bickel 1998,167).

A whole set of identities and loyalties may have been generatedamongst those who 1998,157,164-9). (Bickel beyond Nile the the on sea worked on and The captains of

the ships which traded between Egypt and the Near East could be non-Egyptian, as Wenamun dynasty. Here, in Wenamun, in twenty-first Tale the was the set of seen taken to Byblos in an Egyptian boat run by Syrians - both the captain and the crew were labelled as Syrian (see Spens 1998,112), a fact which increased Wenamun's

Nile he Egyptian, Upper As to traffic, and not to sea used was only confusion. an travel beyond Egypt, which was dominated by non-Egyptians (Spens 1998,112).


This may have reflecteda known situation in Egypt, for example,there were boat captains with non-Egyptian names,althoughthereare many problemswith this type of (Kitchen 1979,207, no. 370; Spens1998,112). The actualmerchants evidence who benerittedfrom the sea trade betweenEgypt and other countriesformed a distinct group, a kind of middle class, accordingto Bickel (1998,169). Such peoplewere

amongthe few in Egypt who travelledbeyondits borders,experiencing a non-Egyptian world, andoneof the pointsof departure would havebeenthe ports at Memphis. This experience would also havebeenextendedto those who were working in the army, Egypt's empire. Bickel (1998,171) emphasised that travel to creatingandmaintaining localitieswas a purelyfunctionalactivity: 'Partir en voyagede son propre non-Egyptian gr6, par curiosit6,estconsid6r6 commeunedeviance sociale'.

With reference to Memphis, therefore, the harbour areas may have been a major potential site for interaction betweenwidely differing groups of people. These areas of the city have aroused much interest, and much of the research into them has been influenced by the desire to find a non-Egyptian areaof the New Kingdom city, such as is known from Graeco-Roman textual evidence. In this the driving expectation has been that the port districts would have been the most likely location for non-Egyptians to live and work in. Not only is this paralleled by Graeco-Roman Memphis, but it is also influenced by the acceptancethat, within the modem era, port cities such as Marseilles have formed an area for 'foreign populations' (see Hertmans 2001). Thus Memphis discussion the the of revolves around the areas port much of concerning is below. inhabitants, identity the the seen as question of of


Memphis during the New Kingdom was much more of a river based city than is Nile has (Smith, Over the the today. millennia eastwards past moved steadily apparent

Jeffreys and Malek 1983,40; Jeffreys 1985,48-55), so that in the New Kingdom it


for was a rivenne city'(Jeffreys andSmith 1988,59). When discussingthe evidence the port areasof Memphis below, I look primarily at the location Peruneferas an exampleof a port area(namesof other port areasin Memphis are well known from textual sources, for examplethe port of bry-nift operatedduring Sed I's reign). Peruneferis primarily known from votive stelae,such as thosementionedabove, but
(Cabrol 2000,234). unlocated archaeologicaUy

There are still those who dispute that Perunefer was located in Memphis.


disagreementis basedupon an assumption of which was the most probable location for a large number of non-Egyptians. Therefore, for Bietak, the excavatorof Tell el Dab'a, his site is the location for Perunefer. The extensive evidence found at Ten el Daba for allegedly non-Egyptian activity, in particular the non-Egyptian pottery, was felt to be indicative of wide-spread trading between Egypt and the easternMediterranean, based at Tell el Dab'a. Thus the Syro-Palestinian deities identified with Perunefer (see above) fameux le in fact Dab'a: ("bon located Tell 'Peru-nefer port et voyage"), were at el chantier naval de la XVIIIe dynastie, ne se trouvait pas A Memphis comme on le croyait, mais A Tell el Dab'a. Cette hypoth6se expliquerait la pr6sence A peru-nefer de cultes (Bietak dans 1'ancienne 1999,48). longtemps Avaris' canan6ens, en vigueur

There are flaws in Bietak's argument. The first he acknowledged himself, which is the utter lack of evidence, although he confidently wrote that such evidence may still be forthcoming (1999,48). Secondly, the potential for Syro-Palestinian cults to flourish

outside Tell el Dab'a seems to have been implicitly dismissed, despite evidence to the contrary.

The assessment that Peruneferwas in Memphis has a long history of careful in Bubastis, with investigationbehindit. An inscribedblock of stonewas excavated Amenophis11makingofferings to 'Amun who dwells in Perunefer', thus Perunefer with Bubastis(Naville 1891,30). was originally associated The Delta remaineda

150 locationfor Perunefer, which was initiallylinked with non-Egyptiandeities(the general crucial factor in Bietak's analysisof it as a port of TeH el Dab'a) through a stela of AmenophisII worshippingAstarte'in Perunefer'found at Tura (Daressy1911,258; Gauthier1929,141).

Gradually, through the analysis of further textual evidence, it was generally agreed that Perunefer was a part of Memphis (Save-S6derbergh 1946,38-9; Karnish 1986,3 1), but the actual location of the port within Memphis is still uncertain (Jeffreys 1985,48; Jeffreys and Smith 1988,61). Critical in this process was the publication, by Glanville (1931; 1932a), of a papyrus (P BM 10056) from the time of Tuthmosis Ill. The

subject matter of this papyrus was the daily business of Perunefer, described as a royal dockyard. It seems to have fallen out of use by the end of the 18th dynasty, as the name no longer appearsin texts after this period (Siive-Sdderbergh 1946,38; Jeffreys 1985,48). This apparent abandonment may have been due to the silting up of the

harbour (Jeffreys and Smith 1988,61; Jeffreys 1996,293).

An idea of what Perunefer looked like is provided by the suggestion, basedupon P.BM 10056, that the dockyard/harbour areas were located on an island in a lake (WallGordon 1958,174). Perunefer may be compared to Birket Habu (Kemp and O'Connor 1974,106), by huge directly sponsored royalty and concerned similarly port, a

primarily with state business. Certainly, at Memphis during this period there was a Perunefer, been from have business deal so operated trade which could great and of fleets for 'the it has been the that auxiliary centre provisioning major much so called backing up the ambitious Asiatic campaigns of this time' (Jeffreys 1985,48). Tomb Papyrus Anastasi been have in Saqqara the the used to as as well reliefs necropolis in industry Memphis based that there manufacturing weapon argue was a sizeable (Sauneron 1954,9-12), and such weapons were loaded onto the ships setting out for war in a port like Perunefer. A substantial proportion of the Memphite population in in been have and around the ports, providing the means to working would engaged

151 maintainthe Egyptianstateand empire. The 'dockyard papyrus' (P BM 10056) lists the namesof thoseworking in the shipyardsand this has beenusedto show that nonEgyptians do not need to be associatedwith this type of work (Karnish 1985,19-20).

The conviction that Peruneferwas predominately a non-Egyptianplaceof work and settlement, couldworship their own deities,has a long a placein which non-Egyptians history. When Petrie excavated for any evidencefor nonat Memphishe searched Egyptianactivity, arguingthat:'it is to be expected be along the thattheforeign quarters theriver, as commerce eastsidenearest was their purpose' (1909a,4). Any finds of a non-Egyptianorigin were interpretedas being indicative of a non-Egyptianowner. Petrie's deductions about the location of a non-Egyptian settlementarea within Memphiswerebased uponfinds of Greekpottery(from theeighthcenturyonwards)in Kom el Qala'a(on the eastern side of Memphis,nearthe river) which includedpottery headsof foreigners(1909a,3,4,15-7).

Inevitably, givenPetrie'sinterests, he was much excitedby thesefinds (1909a, 15-7). In the excavation report, the Greek pottery was at first only suggestiveof a foreign settlement at Kom el Qala'a(1909a,3) but in the rest of the report Kom el Qala'awas definitively referredto asthe 'foreign settlement'(see 1909a,4). The equationbetween for example,Petriesurmised the potteryheadsandliving populationwas crudelymade; that most of the non-Egyptians were men as the the majority of non-Egyptianfigures were male (1909a, 16). Yet these finds are still consideredsignificant in the finds New linked Kingdom Kingdom Memphis, to reconstruction with non-New of settlement patterns: 'the discovery over the years of non-Egyptian(Phoenician,Persian, Archaic Greek) artifactsin this area, and quantitiesof ceramicheadsof foreignersat Kom el-Qalato the south, may signify the whereabouts of the earlier (New Kingdom) port of Perunefer, which attractedthe city's ethnic mino6fies' (Jeffreys 1999,490).
It has already been seen that devotion to non-Egyptian deities in an Egyptian city does

foremost king Egyptian the the to population, with a not need signify non-Egyptian

152 in their devotionto non-Egyptian the devotees amongst andinfluencingotherEgyptians deities. Yet ceramic finds of a non-Egyptian haveregularly been origin or appearance associated with a non-Egyptian owner(seeBourriau 1981 a, 121), an approach which is hard to substantiate. In Memphis,moreover,muchof thearchaeological materialfound in the eastern from periodslaterthan the New Kingdom (Jeffreys areas of the sitedates 1988,3), and, that aside,it is not possibleto provide a direct linkage betweennonEgyptianceramic f inds andthepresence (Bouniau 198la, 72). of non-Egyptians

The importance the purposeand ownershipof a ceramic of contextin understanding vesselhasinsteadbeenemphasised, so that simplisticlinks are avoided. For example, largequantifies of Pan-grave warehavebeenfound in Egypt (seefor exampleBourriau Period and Quirke 1998,62,71-2), andat Memphis,datingto the SecondIntermediate and earlyNew Kingdom. It has beenshown that, when found in gravesof a Nubian character,the Pan grave pottery is indicativeof a Pan grave community, but when in found in town strata,itis not (Bourriau 1981b,28). Furthermore,due to advances the analysisof potteryfabrics (see Bourriau, Smith and Nicholson 2000; McGovern betweenpotterymadeoutsideMemphis, or 2000), it is possibleto try to differentiate beyond the Nile Valley, and pottery madein the Nile Valley to imitate non-Egyptian styles and forms. For example, the Mycenaeanpottery found at Memphis and

(Nordstr6mand Bourriau in Egypt mayactuallyhavebeenmadein Palestine elsewhere 1993,183). Similar conclusionshave been reachedabout ivories with Egyptian

iconography 1998,29). found outsideEgypt(111yquist

In Memphis, much of the non-EgyptianNew Kingdom pottery found can be linked directly to trade,hencethe centmlityof a harbourlike Perunefer to the movement and below), (see For Kom Rabi'a distributionof non-Egyptian at many example, el goods. (BourTiau1990;Nordstr6mand Bourriau havebeenexcavated sherdsof Canaanitejars 1993,185-6); thejars wereusedto conveyimportantcommodities suchas oil (Serpico

153 1999,271), and werere-used. This processof (re-)distributionvia palaceofficials, as by Bourriau(1981a, 121). well as directly in harbourareas,was described

Hence, what these non-Egyptian ceramic finds do seem to indicate is the thriving trade networks operating from and within Memphis. Trade has been identified as one of the major motivating factors behind the expansion of Egypt in the New Kingdom, with certain items from outside Egypt of central importance for the Egyptian state. Incense has been singled out as one such item, used within temple ritual and in non-state contexts as well (Serpico and White 2000,889-90). One of the sources for incense

resin was Syro-Palestine. With referenceto Amama, over 100 fragments of Canaanite jars were found with traces of incense resin on them (Serpico and White 2000) - that trade routes were open and active during the Amama period, allegedly an epoch of imperial decline, draws into question either the notion of imperial decline or of the necessity of an empire to keep trade routes open. Further items from Syro-Palestine in regular use in Memphis included olive oil, wood and wine (Nordstr6m. and Bourriau 1993,185), and there was also a human trade, often as trophies of war (Smyth 1998, 14). Likewise, from ports such as Perunefer, Egyptian products were dispatchedto the Mediterranean world (Padr6 1998,41-2).

It is not hard to seethat Perunefer, as an example of a port area in Memphis, played an essential role in Memphite life, and in the workings of the state. The purpose of the its in it, through well as worked that as port required a wide variety of people passed deities in devotion for the It with of city, a number religious midst. was also a site directly associatedwith the area, especially non-Egyptian (although not exclusively). The areadoes not need to be designatedas a non-Egyptian district. As has been seen, non-Egyptian finds relate to trade and consumption, not only to a supposed desire The the consumption goods, of non-Egyptian concentration of non-Egyptians. to worship non-Egyptian deities and the reality of working with and alongside nonEgyptians in Memphis, appears to preclude the rigid definition and separation of

154 Egyptian/non-Egypfian in port areasof Memphis. As seenabove, both Amun and Astartecould dwell in Perunefer.

The river bank areas at Memphis were not just places in which official business, trade and the general needsof war were attendedto. These areashave also been identified as suitable locations for farming, with opportunities createdthrough the new land made by the movement of the river, as well as for housing in areas where the land was too new for agriculture (Jeffreys 1996,293-4). Jeffreys summarizedhis argument thus:

Gas a means of housingethnicminoritiesthe potentialof islands,possibly with locally uncontested farming rights and property boundaries,would also have beenimportant, and in a sensethe gradualphysical merging of island suburb with west bankmetropolismayhavehelpedtheintegration of a foreign minority to the indigenous population'(1996,294). Dictatingthe descriptionof the river bank areasin Memphisis the presumptionthat from Egyptians,which implies that non-Egyptians would havebeenhousedseparately a cohesiveness and assimilation possiblein the templeswas not possiblein the rest of Memphis. Doubtless 'type' thesituationdepended the on of non-Egyptians very much (seeChapter2): if theywereprisoners,slavesor mercenaries then they may havebeen housedGen masse',perceived as different to the rest of the population. Whereas,for wealthy non-Egyptian merchantsor priests it may have been possible to reside their Egyptiancounterparts, alongside with any non-Egyptian origin of littlerelevance.

Kom elRabia

The only settlement techniques modemexcavation area in Memphisto haveundergone is a sectionof a small residentialand working district, the site of RAT in Kom el Rabi'a. This is located wall of Ptah(Figure40), and is '500 outsidethe greatenclosure squaremetresin size (Jeffreys, Malek and Smith 1986,4; Jeffreys, Malek and Smith 1987, figure 1). The motivationfor excavatingin this areawas to 'investigatethe feature,and therebyto extension of theassociated ancientslopeandpossiblesouthward test the theory that the New Kingdom and earlierlevelsslopeddown hereto the east,

155 perhapsto an ancientriver front' (Giddyl999b, 1). The site also illustrates links betweentempleand residential areas,the working lives and beliefs of the occupants, and the ways in which residentialand working spacewas negotiated and defined. Its physical proximity to the greattemplecomplexof Ptah underlinesthe probability that the residents'lives were definedwith reference to this official space. As Kemp has (1972,657,659,661,675) templesin Egypt were not only significant in emphasised but also as centresof termsof their immense physicalimpacton the built environment economiclife and government administration.

RAT was essentially from which no contextslater a New Kingdom areaof settlement, Period were recovered. The eight stratigraphiclevels than the Third Intermediate showeda continuityin the settlement of plan betweenthe different periodsand phases the area,as well as the proximity of the settlement to the river. The Middle Kingdom by a series of residential period of the site, Levels VII-VI, was characterised installations (houses/room within a wall on their eastside, units) which were enclosed which may 'have beenan ancientriversidewall' (Giddy 1999b,2-3), and outsidethe wall was a silo.

During the New Kingdom (Levels IV-11) there were three distinct architectural pattems. Once these pattems were establishedduring the mid-18th dynasty (Level IV), they were maintained, despite an increasein the number of installations. These three areas within RAT ran from west to east; on the west were a series of narrow rooms, resembling magazines, in the central areawere small scale housesand on the eastem side were two larger houses with courtyards (see Jeffreys, Malek and Smith 1986,5; Jeffreys and Malek 1988,17; Jeffreys 1996,287; Giddy 1999b, 2-3).

Even the small area under investigation demonstrated a careful delineation of living space as the larger houses on the easternside were made distinct from the rest of the

in houses in thecentralzone, throughthe maintenance the of the site, particular smaller

156 in the Middle Kingdom (see Jeffreys 1996,287). The north-southwall established zones were distinct not only in the clear definition of spacebut also through the in the archaeological activitieswitnessed record. On the eastside of the site therewas more frequentrubbish removal,while on the west side therewas much more frequent for domestic activities(Jeffreys1996,287). rebuildingaswell asmoreevidence

The whole area of RAT, however, consisted of mudbrick structures, with earth floors (typical for the lived environment in ancient Egypt), and RAT was not, apparently, an it 3). The (Giddy 1999b, that the suggests was of area continuity area of any wealth (Giddy 1999b, 3). by institution, temple complex or administrative run such as a an Jeffreys thought that the easternside of the site may have been a 'priestly quarter': 'the incidence of a New Kingdom priestly quarter on the east may connect with the new temple precincts in that direction, providing a hierarchical "buffer" between the temple ) (of dwelling temple through the workmen? on the areas ancillary zones and secular west' (1996,290). As with the examples cited at the beginning of this chapter, this

its 'employees'. for by been have the powerful created was an area which may Nevertheless, independentadaptationof this environment may have been possible.

including non-Egyptian finds from this sitewereextensive, The ceramic pottery: 'while CyprioteBaseRing, Red Lustrousware, Black Lustrousware and Mycenaean pottery largest by far being (Mycenean the in the group common), most occur smallquantities Ile (Bourriau 1990,19). by jars, Canaanite imports sherds' the represented of are involved finds (Egyptian those with were and non-Egyptian) majority of the ceramic In 1999b, 10). (Giddy 'food storage,preparation connectionwith and consumption' this, the archaeobotanical at thesitewererecovered. remains

The objectsfrom this areawere numerous,over 2000 (many in a very fragmentary

initially led large tools, the excavators them of which number were a state), and among to identify the area as'an. 'artisans quarter' (Jeffreys, Malek and Smith 1986,4).

157 Instead,the evidence is now thoughtto point to 'domestichousehold practices'(Giddy 1999b, 3). These domestic household practices are brought to life through the

meticulousrecovery and analysisof the objectsfrom RAT. The diversity of objects suggests a situationin which 'eachmemberof the communitywas involved in many different social and economicroles' (Shaw 1998,1059 see fig. 3 for a graph comparingdiversityof activitiesat Memphis,MalkataandAmarna).

Domestic identities

The individual houses/installations may have been multi-functional spacesin which peoplelived, worshippedandcarriedout forms of manualwork. The cleardelineation to have beenless seenin the streetpatternsand in the division of public space,seems clearonceinsidethehome. A seriesof objects(the majority madefrom Nile silt) from RAT have been classified as free-standing figurines and statuettes, always a controversialdesignation. This is becauseit immediatelyendows an object with that religiousmeaning whentheremay well havebeennone (seePicasso'sspeculation oneof his artistic creations might be wrongly interpreted as religiousin future, just as have been, in Gilot and Lake 1990,298). ancient Eg, objects gyptian Comparative

evidenceand contextas well as distinctiveiconographycan be crucial in assigninga figurine as male/female, deity/toy, deceased 'individual' or as an ancestor/anonymous in magicalandfertility rites(seeUcko on predynastic Egyptianfigurines 1968, element 427-34;Finley 1975,88-90). These'categories' havebeenexclusive. need not 0 This fluidity is necessarily in literature is wherere-interpretation reflected archaeological For example,Meskell (2002,84) would prefer to interpretthe bed models ongoing. 0 andfemalef igurinesfrom Deir el Medinaas from the 'sphereof sexualityand fertility' when others have assignedthem as toys. In Giddy's presentation of figurines from RAT, which were found at all levelsof the site, this uncertainty is ever-present. For example,some figurines were classifiedas 4male'purely on the basis of a 'lack of

feminineattributes'(Giddy 1999b,43 - compare Ucko 1968,174). As acknowledged by Giddy (1999b,3 10) her category of 'models, games andmiscellaneous objects' may well include thoseobjects(in particularclay animals)which were primarily religious, the 'male'figurines theremay be thoseitemswhich wereprimarily andclassed amongst 46-9). Furthermore,none of the items were used as toys (1999b, 43-9, catalogue found in their primary siteof deposition,so that any meaningfulcontextual analysisis impossible(Giddy 1999b,13).

it canbe informative. Patterns Despitetheseinevitable difficulties with theevidence, of of living space),similar to those in other practice(whetherritual/play/embeHishment as female(Giddy 1999b, partsof Egypt and further afield, emerge. Figurinesclassed be 28-42, catalogue32-49) to the compared can on evidence of positive characteristics lesser degree) in items found (though to a much at similar also a settlement context Amarna andDeir el Medina. The 'heavywigs' havebeeninterpreted as reminiscent of Hathor (seeGiddy 1999b,32; Figure 41), althoughit is only on a pottery figurative plaquethat a definite identificationof Hathor can be made(Giddy 1999b, 51; Figure for similarfigurinesat Deir el Medina and 42). The domestic context(albeitsecondary) Amarna has led to the inferencethat they were usedwithin the 'sphereof family life' (Pinch 1983,414), and the associationwith domesticfertility rites remains (Pinch function, the presence 1983,412; Meskell2002,84). Whatever their precise of female figurines in RAT illustratesa participation in cultural patterns of activity in the in Upper Egypt in the colonial domain as well as which arealsoseen personal/domestic outpostof Beth She'an(seeGiddy 1999b,32).

Primarily surviving from the site of Deir el Medina,a class of stelae(the 3b Ir n R' in Egypt New (Demar6e Kingdom indicate the worship of ancestor stelae) existence 1983,4,279-87). Thesestelae within their weremadeby the villagers,could be placed 1983,280-1, houses,and were points to which offerings were brought(seeDemar6e 286). A stelawas dedicated to a closerelativeto whom prayerscould be addressed

159 (Demar6e1983,282). Linked to thesestelae,are the anthropoid'busts' from Deir el Medina,to which a gender (Demar6e 1983,289; Friedman canonly rarely be assigned 1994,114-7) but which are regularlyinterpretedas being part of an ancestorcult as well.

Both these types of items point to a personal interaction with the past and with the religious world outside the immediate structure of temple worship. Thismayalsohave found bust (Giddy 1999b, 43,49; in RAT, limestone was occurred anthropoid where a Figure 42), and where two limestone stelae (one only surviving as a fragment Giddy 1999b, 299-301) were also excavated. These date to the Ramessideperiod, and one of the stelaedepicts a deity, probably Ptah, standing on the left, with what may be a falcon or a vulture (Giddy 1999b, 300). These have been connectedto the 3b Ir n R" stelae (Giddy 1999b, 301). Once more, however, the problem of original deposition severely

limits their interpretation as part of a householdshrine. They may havebeenbrought 300). into RAT asa secondary for (Giddy 1999b, stone use,

Fragments of forty-six cobra statuettes were found, made from pottery (with the Giddy 13(see from 1999b, limestone the of site all periods statuette), exception of one 28; catalogue19-28;Figure 43), and thesemay also point to household beliefs. Unlike free-standing (apart from in Egypt, found two thus these and were other cobra statuettes Medina) bear from Deir in Amarna, the closest el and a wooden parallel parallels from She'an (Giddy in Beth Egypt, found to particular outside resemblance statuettes 1999b, 17-8).

from Beth She'anhad beeninterpreted Until thesefinds in RAT, cobrastatuettes as a Instead (Giddy 18). Egyptian 1999b, fusion of non-Egyptian of practices religious and Egyptian deity, (a Lower Renenutet however, influence, cobra goddess), a external As for inspiration the have the objects. such manufacture of major could provided for local devotion to Renenutet, discussed by Giddy (1999b, 18-9), thereis evidence

160 in the Giza area. to her as well as a cult centre, with a shrinein Memphis dedicated Furthermore, the one exampleof a limestone statuettemay be a representation of Meretseger, (seeChapter 2; Giddy 1999b,19). the cobragoddess of Thebes

Interpretingthe existence in a Lower Egyptiancontexthas of a statuette of Meretseger raisedquestionssimilar to thoseposedby the presence of non-Egyptian pottery types (seeabove). Thus Giddy (1999b, 19) concluded 'for the momentit would be precipitate to postulate a fully-fledged Meretseger cult at Memphis. One can certainly speculate,however, about the possible presence of Upper Egyptian 'immigrants', be they a single family or a small at Memphisand communityor workforce, residingtemporarilyor permanently levelat least,the local cult practices of their placeof continuing,at a household (and their materialmanifestations) origin, or indeedassimilating such practices with the domestic cultsof theMemphitecommunity'. Material rinds inspired by non-localbelief systemsfrequently lead the interpreterto suggesta non-localowner and generator of such items. As seenabove,this is not a have been long-standing just the well necessary as actualowners could approach,and Memphites.

The above'classes'of objectscan, with somejustification, be interpreted as indicative which were influencedby the official domain, in that of localised,domesticpractices 'Egyptian'. This is not surprising, given that RAT may theirforms wererecognisably actuallyhavebeena locality ownedby a temple,theobjectsmadeby thosewho worked in the official domainon a regular basis (compareDeir el Medina in Demarie 1983, 280-1). They may have beenused in a variety of religious, magical and domestic (entertainment) practices.

These interactionsare further illustrated by a class of objects: 'items of personal into familiar from Motifs as well as religious worked royal settingswere adomment'. itemsof adomment wom by both womenand men living and working in RAT (Giddy 1999b,53 - 131). Faience was the dominantmaterialused, for items which ranged for more from earringsto anklets. The useof faienceseems to havebeenasa substitute

161 to wealth. Despitethis, preciousmaterials,thus the ownersmay not havehad access from their omnipresence, itemsof personal adomment wereconsidered essential:
'the quantity and variety of personal adornment, albeit most commonly in faience, highlights the "everyday" character of these artefacts in the lives of the inhabitants of this sector of Memphis and, moreover, in a sector of the settlementwhich the architectural and other archaeologicalfinds would suggest was of a relatively humble character' (Giddy 1999b, 54). The shared motifs across boundaries in New Kingdom Egypt meant that self-definition as an Egyptian, could result in similar referencepoints, in similar modes of appearance (see Robins 1999,67 for -discussion of hairstyles as status indicators amongst

Egyptians). Thus someoneliving in RAT wore pendants which were formed out of hieroglyphic/religious symbols central to the Egyptian state (Figure 44). For example, a faience 'nb sign and a copper alloy fly were amongst the finds (see Giddy 1999b, 7688).

Scarabssimilarly formed a decorativeelementfor those in RAT, as a selectionof scarabs werediscovered, or steatite.They would have mostlymadefrom eitherfaience formed part of largeritems of personaladornment,such as a ring or a bracelet(see Giddy 1999b,54-72). On theseobjectsa devotionto the monarchcould be recorded, his/herloyaltiesthroughthewearingof an item on which with the owner thusdeclaring the king was depictedreceivingofferings (seefor exampleGiddy 1999b,59-60). All that separated suchitemsfrom thosewhich theking andhis circlewore was the material themessage and workmanship. The essential conveyedby the motif, was the element, of such motifs and the reasonsfor same. Nevertheless,the actual interpretations utilising andwearingthem,couldhavedifferedvastly.

formedjust one aspectof the outward presentation Items of personaladornment of a specificallyEgyptianidentity. Amongstthe finds at RAT were cosmeticinstruments, theNew Mngdom (and later) levels of amongst not in any greatquantity,but dispersed instruments havethus beenseenas part of the site (Giddy 1999b, 167-76). Cosmetic

162 the 'everyday' (Giddy 1999b, 170), itemsinto which energy,careand expensecould be invested and which would find long-term use amongstthe residents of RAT,
resulting in the small number of discardeditems left in the archaeologicalrecord.

Copper alloy was the most luxurious material; other materials used included faience and bone. Such objects are well-known from other contexts in Egypt, especially the funerary, and testify to an apparently shared desire to maintain certain norms of appearance. Thus amongst the finds there were copper alloy hair curlerstmanicure sets (EES 87a-b) as well as kohl sticks (in faience and haematiteEES 1401,2270,1410), and copper alloy tweezers (for example EES 1018). A series of non-ceramic vessels, the fragments of thirty-one vessels in all, may include items which were meant to be used in the preparation of cosmetics (Giddy 1999b, 256). These were made from stones such as calcite, diorite-gneiss and granite, and included two kohl-pots.


Alongside the impression given by material finds such as those discussed above, whereby theresidents of RAT appearto have followed as similar a lifestyle and patterns of belief to their rulers as their circum tan es allowed, is that of a self-sufficiency. Rigorous excavation techniques ensured that an unprecedentednumber of tools and instruments were discovered and recorded (Giddy 1999b, 161-253). It is, as yet,

impossible to assesswhether such finds are atypical for a Nile Valley settlement site (see Shaw 1998, with inconclusive 'conclusions' on this point; Giddy 1999b, 161-2). As noted above, the scale of the finds initially led the excavators to define RAT as a distinct area, an artisan's quarter, but instead, the tools and instruments are now understood to have been used within the domestic setting.

The individuals living in RAT seem to have performed a multitude of tasks, and with such skills generatelayers of social and economic interaction outside those dictated by

163 for riverbank areasas placesof informal economic the state. The picture envisaged exchange(see above) can thus be extendedto actual setflement areasas well. Ile

variety of tools and instrumentsindicate the variety of occupations, presumably individual. sometimes carriedout by thesame

For example, weaving and fishing (Giddy 1999b, 162-6,193-201) are testified by the bone netting tools as well as by stone weights (one of which was an anchor). As summarised by Giddy (1999b, 195), the stone weights were not only used within fishing contexts but also 'bear witness to a variety of quasi-industrial and domestic activities often poorly represented in the archaeological record - weaving, fishing, systems of exchangeand regulation - activities which undoubtedly took place at seveml levels of formality within the community'. The blurring of boundaries between

domestic and industrial activities, between activities carried out for immediate domestic purpose or those which were for wider gain, mean that the same tools could have been put to use in both spheres of activity. Thus the largest pounders (see Giddy 1999b, 210-4) would have been used in the construction of buildings, on an industrial and domestic scale, and in the manufacture of stone furniture for domestic or temple use (Giddy 1999b, 212).

As in Deir el Medina, where the tomb workmen were able to carry out considerable economic activities on their own behalf (see Lesko 1994,12), so too in RAT do there seem to have been similar openings for work outside the immediate domain of the state or home. The power representedby the official buildings in Memphis did not mean that individuals were always left unable to exert any choice in the conduct of their lives. A in be the maintenanceof an acceptablelifestyle. utilised variety of personal skills could

164 Domestic adornments

Yet, even when thereis no direct impositionof power by the stateover the ways in which individuals chooseto live or how they chooseto organisetheir own domestic space,thereis still often a high degreeof conformity with the dominantculture (see Baines 1996b, 361). In the Memphite context, this conformity, whether from a consciouseffort to identify visibly as an Egyptianor whetherfrom an anxiety not to stand out, has been seen in the construction of personal appearance. It is also theinternalandexternaldomestic witnessedby thoseitemswhich wereusedto enhance space(Rapoport'ssemi-fixedelements - seeabove).

These are included amongst those objects which have been classedby Giddy as 'household items' (1999b, 133-59), 'non-ceramicvessels' (1999b, 255-89 the ceramic vessels have yet to be catalogued),and 'architectural, inscriptional and sculptural pieces' (1999b, 291-306), but, as seen above, may have included figurines/statuettes. With the householditems, Giddy mentioned the proviso that they for usewithin a state-building, in RAT could havebeenintended and merelydiscarded (1999b, 133), althoughtheymayalsohavebeenre-used in RAT.

This question is particularly raised by the glazed faience tiles in the south-west and west-central areas of the site (Giddy 1999b, 138-42). These had not previously been found outside a palatial context (or in an areaclosely associatedwith a state building) in Egypt, itself a problematic statementdue to the lack of settlementsites excavated. Thus Giddy used several hypotheses to explain their appearance,amongst which was the suggestion that they were in a domestic context, having been re-used, or that this area of RAT was an abandonedstate building (Giddy 1999b, 140). If the tiles were reused, or even generatedfor a domestic context, then a close link, in terms of material culture choices, between the different spheresof Egyptian life could be suggested. That

165 their use within a domestic,non-state,context should not be excludedis arguedby Giddy (1999b, 140):
'But rather than dismissing as "residual" every tile fragment that has only otherwise been found in a palatial context, or a context associated with large state residences,perhaps here we should begin to acceptthat at least elements of more grandiose schemeswere used at an everyday, domestic level, even if that use was only secondary(i. e. the tiles may well have originated from a palatialtype structure). ' The range of other household items seems to support the idea that an interest and an investment in material culture, in enhancing the living environment, were not confined to official areas in Memphis, although their presenceraises the same questions as the tiles (Giddy 1999b, 144,151). Thus one item of furniture for example, could have

decorative features, made separately, added onto it (see Giddy 1999b, 142-50). Such features, classedas fittings, drew upon a range of motifs including one in the shapeof a papyrus flower (faience - EES 610/EAO 30). The mere presenceof furniture, itself not an essential Part of the domestic environment, also testifies to this interest in material culture at a localised level (Giddy 1999b, 133,153-9). As with the items of personal

adornment, those making the furniture out of stone (stools, tables, and supports) were probably seeking to imitate furniture made out of more expensive materials such as wood (Giddy 1999b, 153,155). The stone supports a]so suggest that furniture in other more precious (but perishable) materials did exist (Giddy 1999b, 155).

Further indications that function was not the overwhelming concern in equipping a house, are provided by the ways in which utilitarian and non-utilitarian vessels were made out of hard-to-work materials. These add to the 'impression that there existed in the settlement a fair degree of interest in material assets, and assets not always of a The (Giddy 1999b, 255). vesselsincluded large stone bowls, strictly utilitarian nature' basalt, hard and as well as calcite cups. Thesemay as granite carved out of stones such have been used for domestic purposes, such as the preparation of food, and for the (Giddy 1999b, household 255). cults maintenanceof any

166 It is not surprising, however, that despitethe apparentlyquite crampedarchitectural layout of RAT, the residentsdesiredto own a selectionof householditems which would not have been out of place in more spaciousdomesticsettings. Given the obvious investment into different kinds of 'quasi-industrial' activities by the community, and the localised means of exchange and production of surplus, embellishedhouseholditems need not have been a luxury difficult to access. The influenceof thedominantcultureon theresidents by the rangeand of RAT aswitnessed style of possessions was significant. The domesticenvironmentcould be a potent purveyor of status,as alsoattested at Amama(Crocker 1985).

Oneof the ways in which an individual's housecould be embellished and madedistinct was through the use of a carvedstone lintel, under which every visitor to the house by thestateto certainofficials, would pass. Thesemayactuallyonly havebeengranted ratherthanbeingtheproductof an individualchoice(Giddy 1999b,302). An inscribed has been dated in RAT, lintel found in New Kingdom to the and stone was a context inevitably discarded, leaving Ramesside had been (Giddy 1999b, 302-303). It period (Giddy 1999b, 302). The symmetricalscene uncertaintyas to its original placement heads. Accompanying shows two priests,oneon eitherside, with characteristic shaven this werethepriest's nameandtitles.

Life in RAT

Despitethe many finds at RAT, much about the arearemainselusive, with no clear its in-depth lifestyles its the to understanding of of conclusionsas purposeand no inhabitantspossible. For example,there are a large number of objects which the in itself by Giddy: this to was seen and as significant excavators unable classify, were
'these objects serve as a reminder that our own vision is limited, indeed very by finite our own cultural experience. That material and conditioned clearly but 'other' this exist cannot be defined in terms of our own culture of remains culture perhapsrenders them the most significant remains of all those recovered from the Kom Rabi'a excavations'(1 999b, 307).

Furthermore, the almost total lack of written material (for example ostraca)from the site is initially surprising, given the wealth of other sorts of material remains. Literacy, as seen in Chapter 2, was by no means a universally accessible skill. Within this

excavation area, literacy may not have been necessary, with other means of recording interactions (especially business) possible (see the recut potsherds Giddy 1999b, 2912). Although it is also clearly impossible to argue that all those in RAT were illiterate with the problem of 'negative' evidencehighlighted by Giddy (1999b, 291).

What is clear,however,is theextentto which the idealsand beliefsseenin templeand of the inhabitants palace settingsin Memphisweremirroredin the materialpossessions for form from found RAT. Thus deities use within the pendants as of official settings from thepossession home. Pleasure (andprestige) of itemswhich had couldbe gained ascetic as well asutilitarianpurpose. A visibly Egyptianlifestyle could be maintained, (O'Connor 2001,131) that the elite worldview was ableto reinforcing the suggestion in RAT At it incorporated beliefs. because those time, the could same endure non-elite from the state,in localisedproductionactivities. act independently

Memphis as a settingfor pilgritwge

That opportunities for personal devotion to the range of deities worshipped in Memphis is to those with clear. power were not only accorded The placement of votive

desire discussed the to of some of the populace to seek above, attests offerings, as assistancefrom the sacredworld. Within the city, it was possible, to a limited extent, to visit religious sites such as the wall of the great temple complex of Ptah. There may also have beenpossibilities for Memphites;to travel outside the conf ines,of the city as an integral fields. These the devotion, an the pyramid were to cemetery areasand act of part of the city (seeThompson 1988,3).

168 is The ideaof pilgrimage,of ajoumey specificallyin orderto visit a sacredsite/person, well-known from manyreligiouscontexts,and is more and more frequentlyappliedto the ancientworld. Merely to go on a pilgrimageimplies a high degreeof devotionto a deity, as well as a willingness (and freedom) to use any 'leisure' time, however In Egyptian in the context, where, as was ancient of personal piety. minimal, an act discussed in Chapter 2, travel was somethingrarely undertaken, a religious visit could insteadof being the into a military or a mining expedition,for example, be incorporated Volokhine 1998,54). journey 1960,24; for (Yoyotte see also reason a

In a volume of Sources Ofiergales,published in 1960, a study of pilgrimage in ancient Egypt was included alongside studies of pilgrimages in other parts of the world such as India. In this, the existence of pilgrimage in ancient Egypt was taken as a given

(Yoyotte 1960,20). The key piecesof evidenceused by Yoyotte (1960,22-4) to argue for the existenceof pilgrims in ancientEgypt included votive statues/stelae and graff"Iti. Similarly, the incorporation of the oracle into religious festivals at Thebes during the for been the wider dynasty has experience a religious seen as creating eighteenth Assmann (2001,194): by as argued populace, 'from far and near, people flocked to Thebes to be present at the Opet festival festival The divine in the presence. to take new experienceof a new part and becamean occasion of pilgriimge and thus the locus of a great public gathering that united the land and served as an ideal stagefor royal propaganda'. Travelling to some of the more visible foci of the Memphite landscape, such as the from Memphis, inconsiderablejourney been have Giza, and as a not would pyramids at for been have many undertaken, pilgrimage easily a widely accessible, such would not in Memphis. Yet sites to which devotional visits by Memphites were made at the Memphite cemeteriesand the Giza plateau have been identified (see Yoyotte 1960,4952,57-60; Zivie 1976,282; Zivie-Coche 1988,119-211; Volokhine 1998,81). Such

deity, desire to to particular a a of pay respect visits apparently stemmed not only out but also to pay respectto the iflustrious monuments of those from the ancient Egyptian Giza Redford for (see 1986,190, individuals the deified and effect past, themselves

169 Saqqarahad on the royal circle; Vernus 1995,165-8 for importanceof the past in
official ideology).

Khaemwese,one of the sons of Ramesses 11who became the high priest of Ptah at Memphis, is the most renowned Egyptian individual to whom an interest in the Egyptianpast can be securelylinked (seeRedford 1986,196-7; Aufrre 1998,16-22; Ray 2001,82-90). He appears to have spentmuch of his time in Memphis, and set aboutrestoringthemonuments of long-lost individuals(Redford 1986,196), although for stone. His reputationfor as notedby Refford he alsoplunderedsomemonuments scholarly, and pious, interestin the past was such that he featuredin later Dernotic literature,theSetna'cycle' (Aufr&e 1998,17-8; Ray 2001,94-6).

At both Giza and Saqqarahe restored monuments, recording his actions in inscriptions, kings as far back as the Old Kingdom (Aufrare 1998, and thus paid respectto deceased 18-22). In this process, he uncovered lost features of the landscape,including a statue of a son of Kheops in his funerary temple at Giza (Aufr6re 1998,20; Ray 2001,87-8). At Saqqara, the monuments renovated by him included the step pyramid of Djoser (Aufrare 1998,20). This landscape could be as important to the Memphite (at least to the royal Memphite) as the religious areas in the city, most notably the great temple complex of Ptah.

It is alsoimportantnot to romanticise theNew Kingdom eliteattitudeto the monuments aroundMemphis. Whilst someareasat Giza were restored,otherswere used as easy sources of building stonein Memphisand in Giza itself. As just noted, even a figure known for his interestin the past, such as Khaemwese, destroyed as well as restored monuments.Alongsidea perception of Gizaasa sitein which theideologyof kingship could be re-affirmed(see Lehner 1991,405), was an accompanying willingness to For dismantle themonuments thegreattemple example, past rulers. of complexof Ptah

170 in Memphis was constructed with blocks from the valley templeof Khephren(Lehner 1991,394-5).

Unfortunately, it is also impossible to access how those actually working on the reconstruction of these ancient monuments viewed their task, whether the landscape (with the tombs of deified ancestors)had any impact on them or whether it was merely part of the everyday toil. Similarly, McDowell's (1992) assessmentof the engagement with the past by those in Deir el Medina concluded: 'with respect to our own impression about the averageworkman's awarenessof the past - that in generalhe did not know and did not care - it is more than likely that we are doing him an injustice. The sources simply do not ask the right questions. Therefore, it would still be interesting to get ahold of one workman for one day and find out what he really knew about the past' (1992,108). Votive offerings and graffiti are the main sources for ascertaining the New Kingdom use of the pyramid fields. Neither source really gives any indication of the religious pattems or thought processesof the wider populace. This is despite the best hopes of later interpreters (see above with reference to Schulman). Graffiti as a source material appear to have more potential for demonstratingthe spontaneousthoughts of the ancient Egyptians. The investigation of graffiti has thus been characterisedas 'the study of human beings using a form of written communication that is invariably free of social restraints' (Peden 2001, xxi). This statement, at the beginning of Peden's study of

by be discounted from Egypt, the actual content of the gruffiti to graff iti appears enumemted. The vast majority of the graffiti merely record the owner's name, titles and any pious hopes (see also Franke 2001,38). The standardised phrases stemmed

directly from elite culture, and, far from being 'free of social restraints' seem instead to be infused with social restraints. Graffiti in ancient Egypt are not motivated by the desire to record subversion, as in more modem societies. Rather, the information to be location, is from their showing patterns of movement and gained graffiti primarilyfrom the interpretation of different points in the landscape.

171 At the site of Abusir, the pyramid fields of the 5th Dynasty kings, the mortuary complex of Sahurebecamethe focus of a cult dedicatedto Sekhmetin the New Kingdom (Borchardt1910,101-106,120-35;Yoyotte 1960,49-50;Zivie-Coche1988, 114). A chapel of Sekhmetwas built there, and she was invoked as 'Sekhmet of Sahure'. Votive stelae wereplacedin the environsof the temple(seeBorchardt 1910, 101; 121-9), amongstwhich were ear stelaeof the type seenin Memphis. The New Kingdom rulers playedthe key role in the generation and stimulationof this religious site (Borchardt1910,101,103-104).

Non-royal visitors to the mortuary complex of Sahurerecordedtheir desire to visit Sahure'sgrave(seeBorchardt1910,121-9). As a deceased, and now deified, king from ancient Egypt's past,it was seen fit to give him offeringsandoffer up prayers. At one time it was possibleto note at leasttwenty graffiti, now mostly faded, in Sahure's funerary temple. Amongst thosewhich havebeenrecorded(seePeden2001,59-60, 95-6), is onefrom thereign of Tuthmosis111, andanotherfrom eitherAmenophis11or TuthmosisIVs reign.

The writers of both texts (scribes)specificallystatedthat their intention had beento king of Egypt (seeMegally 1981,21940; Peden2001, worship Sahure,a deceased is raisedby 59-60). The continualthemeof Memphisas a locality for non-Egyptians by an the analysisof the secondgraffito (Megally 1981,231-2). This was dedicated individual whose father's namewas Anat-Montu, combiningthe non-Egyptiandeity Anat with the Egyptian deity Montu. Megally (1981,232) thus suggestedthat the because his 'foreign by origin' who, of supposed of someone graffito was written foreign origin, may thenhavelived in the 'colony' at Memphis. Needless to say, this is anotherexampleof the circularity of the argumentconcerningthe presenceof nonEgyptiansin Memphis.

172 Visits were also madeto the templeof Userkaf during the reign of Tuthmosis III, as by (Peden 2001,58-9), by one a high official (the written witnessed severalgraffiti by a Ramesside overseer of the granaryof UpperandLower Egypt). As demonstrated a visit to Abusir graffito placedin the tomb of the fifth dynasty vizier Ptahshepses, devotion desire interest in to to the the with express seeing pyramids could combinean Sekhmet 2001,95-6). (Peden of Sahure

from Abusir shows the two-fold aspect The evidence to devotionalvisits in the New Kingdom. A desireto visit a particularsite could stem both from an interestin the deity. These from desire two to the a particular worship as a monuments of pastaswell were themselves as the ownersof the monuments aspectscannotreally be separated, New Kingdom kings The be from help deities sought. whom could perceivedas of suchreligiouspractices. andstimulation playedan importantrole in theestablishment to have beenthe literate, From the graffiti (and the votive stelae)at Abusir it appears thosewith somedegreeof power who were most able to make such visits, or who Dahshur Meidum leave least, their to visit. and the somerecordof were, at most able (Peden 2001,63-7,101-102). were visitedwith similarmotivations

by delineated this term, see the A similar patternis seenat Giza(for a discussion area of Zivie-Coche 1988,113- 6), a site which had beenin declineuntil the New Kingdom (Zivie-Coche 1988,116) when it becamea focus of religious visits. These were Harmakhis; Amenophis identified became the with god centredaroundthesphinx, who by Sed 1) just north-eastof the sphinx 11built a templeto Harmakhis(later enlarged (Yoyotte 1960,50-1). The constructionof this temple, and the sphinx stela of

Amenophis11(seeabove),did not mark theonsetof the worship of the sphinx, whose for hunting trips in out of used often area royal an the was of what midst placement in theroyal mind (Yoyotte 1960,50; Zivie 1976, its prominence Memphishad ensured from the time of AmenophisI that the 321; Sourouzian1989,50). It is in a document development (Zivie-Coche The first 1988,119). is Harmakhis of a recorded nameof

173 in this Old Y[ingdomsettingmayhavebeenin order to situatethe religiouscentrebased New Kingdom kings firmly in the tradition of the successfulOld Kingdom rulers
(Zivie-Coche 1988,120).

Zivie-Coche(1988,119) viewedthe creation of a cult centrebased uponthe sphinx as a different phenomenon to that seenin Abusir with the cult of Sekhmetof Sahure. At Giza, in contrast,an entirely new cult had been developedaround an old monument (Zive-Coche1988,119). The success of this initiative may be seenin the royal and dedicated to Harmakhisby theelite(Zivie 1976,327), andin the non-royalvotive stelae identificationof Harmakhiswith the Canaanite god Houroun (Zivie-Coche1988,120; 1997,64).

But it is inevitably Saqqarawhich can be most closely linked to Memphis, and which, from the quantity of the graff-iti, appearedto have been visited the most (Peden 2001, 61; Baines and Riggs 2001,111, who called the patterns of use at this site 'antiquarian visits'). In the New Kingdom it was still used extensively as a burial site for important Egyptian off icials (Martin 2000,115-9) as well as Memphite citizens, and as a centre for renewed mortuary cults. Excavations at Saqqara continue to reveal wealthy and elaboratetomb complexes(Martin 1992,35-98; Zivie 2001). Martin (1992,41-2) has emphasisedthe intense activity which would have been focused at the site, with people working on the construction sites, as well as priests at the mortuary templesand visitors to the tombs of their relations and ancestors.

From the graffiti at Saqqara,four key motivations in visiting the site have been identified: 'to inspectout of a senseof curiosity and piety, the greatmonumentsof a distant past; to offer up prayers to the gods of Western Memphis on behalf of themselves and their families; to honour the memoriesof famed rulers of the Old Kingdom; and to ask the latter to intercedewith the gods for the benefit of the Those 2001,61). (Peden writing the graffiti were not only from the royal petitioner'

174 in included less elevated have but those to circle, seem positionsas well, scribesfrom Memphis(Peden 2001,61). Not surprisingly, the step pyramidand associated temple complexeswere the main focus for visits, with cult of the deified king Djoser active (Peden2001,62-3,96-9). Yet a multitudeof other monuments, both from the distant and more recentpast, and under construction,would have been passedby anyone visiting Djoser's pyramid.

It was not by no meansa site devoid of peopleor facilities, but insteadwas a built-up for Giza). It description Zivie (more Giza, 1976,324 than of activity at a see area so at is hard to imaginethat thesesites (including Djoser's pyramid complex)would have Questions beenfreely and generallyaccessible. may well have beenjust as of access complexas within the city of Memphis,and may evenhave beenmore complex. In have Thebes, devised the which might measures, western government a series of includedcheckpoints,to limit accessto the necropolisareas(Ventura 1986,171-9). Any regulationwas not to preventthe Deir el Medinacommunityfrom interactingwith the rest of the Thebanpopulation(McDowell 1994,41-2,58 in contrastto Ventura), but to regulate thosewho tried to entertheValleyof the Kings.

Using the term 'pilgrimage' for the patterns of use in the sacred sites in the vicinity of Memphis implies a freedom of movement and expression of personal devotion which New Kingdom Both been have the royalty, and their amongst present. may not immediate circle, it seems to have been necessary to display an interest in, and a devotion towards, those who had built the monumental structures which fmmed the Memphite horizon. Throughout the New Kingdom, there was an incredible investment into the maintenanceof earlier structures (although this was not universally true, with in Egypt) for and into the establishmentof as elsewhere stone, some structures mined desire The to to testify and a graffiti votive stelae sites. new religious and mortuary from deities help located desert the to the edge. seek on and visits, record pious

175 Despitethe tone of the sphinx stelaof Amenophis11,in which Giza was depictedas from Memphiswith the aid of good horses,for the majority of somewhere accessible MemphitesGiza would just havebeensomewhere visible on the horizon (on a clear day). Or elseit would havebeenthe settingfor hardphysicallabour. EveninSaqqara, beyondwhich only the a siteintimatelylinked to Memphis,therewould havebeenareas most privileged could go. The rangeof sacredlocalitiesin the pyramid fields and in Memphis would have had similar limitations of access,which nevertheless may not haveextinguished devotionto thedeitiesresident there,as far aswas a desireto express possible. For theNew Kingdom rulers (and to an uncertaindegreetheir subjects),the pyramidfields aroundMemphiswerea fundamental part of thecity.


The New Kingdom city of Memphisappears, to themodemobserver,to have beenthe by what today seemthe essential aspects of epitomeof an Egyptiancity. Surrounded the Egyptiancivilisation, it may have beenhard not to identify as an Egyptian, as a Memphite. The foci of the city were the royal/religiouscomplexes,which eachNew Kingdom ruler re-workedandaddedto. As the locality for one of the major deitiesin Ptah,thescaleof greattemplecomplexof Ptahwas equivalentto that of ancientEa pt, Cly Karnak. The city was built to function effectively as a royal capital, with port areas from which military expeditions to Syria-Palestine could set out, and to which goods from the rest of Egypt and abroadcould be transported. As was seenin other royal into by investment due Thebes, the the cemetery areas, rulers made was cities, suchas built. kings wererenewed, andnew temples wheremortuarycultsto long deceased

did not operatein total isolation is clear from the That the royal/religiouscomplexes found been has In RAT. this excavation area, ampleevidence very minimal evidence of Eg ptian high elite theuptakeof religiousideasas well as recognisably to demonstrate Cly 0 space within domestic/industrial materialculture(albeitin muchlesspreciousmaterials)

176 (the boundariesof which were fluid). The two worlds may have been closely

RAT was lived in by thosewho worked in the connected.If, as has beensuggested, administration of the temples,then any closelinks are unsurprising,and indicative of in theevidence. thelimited sectorof thepopulationrevealed

A Memphite could operate on several different levels within the city, and might even have been able to circumvent the official areasof the city. An individual could work in an official settina but at the same time benefit from transactions on a more localised basis, or could approach the wall of the great temple of Ptah as an act of devotion as well as maintaining a domestic cult, and could combine a belief in Memphite deities with a belief in non-Egyptian deities. Similarly a perspectiveon the city of Memphis as the most important locality did not need to preclude an understanding of the wider environment, with visits to the pyramid fields and their monuments to the kings of a united Egypt.

Due to an understanding(and a bias in the evidence) of 'high-elite' culture as typically Egyptian, other forms of belief and practice can be construed as un-Egyptian, or as surprising, when for a Memphite they might have been as essential a part to Egyptian self-definition as more recognisably Egyptian traits in material culture. Thus the

interpretation of objects apparently of non-Egyptian origin, of the widespread worship of non-Egyptian deities, or of the ownership of luxurious items of material culture in a basic domestic architectural setting needs to be placed firmly within the experience of being an Egyptian. The non-Egyptian could be incorporated into the Egyptian, or not, as the situation required.

This almost ambiguoussituation reflects that depictedin the textual world. Strong in textsdirectlyrelateto the layout of monumental seen as expressions of self-definition the monumental environmentinwhich thesetextswere located. Yet the more localised sourcesof identity as seen in the previous chapter can also be discernedin the

177 (:, _. Memphiteenvironment, in areas such as RAT and implicitly by the very exclusivity of theroyallreligiousareas,which the majority of the populace were unableto approach. Thus, despitethe existence of statements of identity which conform to the Althusserian picture of ideologicalmanipulationand to Rapoport's understanding of the Eggyp6an palace,therewerealsomoreflexible reference points for self-definition. Thatthiswas demonstrabl. y possible is significant. Being a New Kingdom Eg, ptian certainly Cly involved a lot more than can be inferredfrom the limited written and materialrecord, ideological Egypt. for in the and thanwas perhaps ancient system of allowed



From the New Kingdom

to the Coptic

Thereasons Over onethousand between theculmination yearshadpassed of theNew Kingdom and in the third century CE (Bosson the use of Coptic as a fully-formed written language 1999,69). In that period, Egypt had inevitablychanged as non-Egyptian rulers once became more controlledtheland andbeinga non-Egyptian a mark of prestige. Pockets of non-Egyptian culture were createdthrough the developmentof cities such as AlexandriaandAntinoe, andit became theEgyptianwho couldbeperceived asa source of disorder, of chaos. Thus Egyptians were expelledfrom Alexandria in 215 CE (MacMaHen 1964,183-4), and it was the life-stylesof the non-Egyptian,in particular in by those the GreekandRomanwhich werepreserved upheld power. and

Despite these huge changes in the political orientation of Egypt, there was not a total rejection of the pharaonic civilization. For example, there were developments in the

Egyptian language and in artistic conventions. The non-Egyptian rulers sponsored the construction of Egyptian temples in which they were depicted as truly Egyptian kings, in hieroglyphic Egyptian the the extended with repertoire survived, and priesthood Greek, between MediterTanean, intemction The function. the the and the nuance and pharaonic worlds resulted in new styles of depiction, as well as in the development of far beyond Serapis deities, ideas whose such as popularity spread and new religious Egypt - even to northem Britain, an unimagined world for the New ICingdom Egyptian.


in terms of the survival of the pharaonic, the Coptic period is of huge relevance

The be discarded, during to the was revitalised. this civilization pharaonic not as era

178 landscape immediately pre-CopticEgypt would not have beenthat startling to the of New Kingdom Egyptian,and, for the modemscholarmuch of what is known about, for example,pharaonic templeritual is derivedfrom texts inscribedin the Temple of Horus at Edfu, built between 237 and 57 BCE (Wilkinson 2000,205). There had also always been development and changeat sites central to the religious world of the ancient Egyptians, such as Thebes, as each king sought to leave evidenceof his presence andpiety.

Nevertheless,with the gradualonset of a new religion, which demandedexclusive devotion, and with the demise of strong centralisedgovernment,knowledge and interestin the pharaonic civilizationand religion recededand was ultimately rejected. The decline in the knowledge of hieroglyphs and hieratic can be traced through documents.Thesedemonstrate thatthe rise of Christianitycannotbe directly linked to texts. The last their demise:dernotichad insteadbeenusedas the language of sacred hieroglyphicinscriptiondatesto August 394, in the form of a votive graffito on the templeof Isis at Philae(Frankfurter1998,248-9). At the sametime, however, the rise of Christianity as a religion which apparentlybore no relation to the pharaonic inevitablyresulted in a complete in religiousideologyin Egypt, for the first time change in threethousandyears. Thus as a point in Egyptianhistory at which to examinethe potency of a switch in ideologicalsystemsfor the Egyptian people, the Coptic em presents an aptparadigm.

Background andapproach

The tight self-definition of the Egyptian state is undermined by some of the surviving New base, height highly the Even the power of centralised at with a evidence. Kingdom, inadequaciesand inconsistencies in statementsemanatingfrom the king and his circle could not be eliminated. Nor does there seem to have been a desire to in Both It by kingly inconsistency. the tolerated the and generated circle. was eliminate

179 textual world, limited thoughthe extantevidenceis, and in the lived environmentof Memphis,it was possibleto explore,questionand ignoreEgyptian ideology, but at the to it. This was despitethe overall stability and sametime to defineoneselfin response strengthof theEgyptianworld-view which allowedit, for the most part, to survive for threethousand years.

With the Coptic era, there was an equivalent energy put into the generation and maintenance of a Christian world-view, which, according to those such as Frend (1982), became a specifically Egyptian Christian world-view after the Council of Chalcedon in 451. It was a turbulent period of change for those in Egypt, as the Egyptian past was cast in an utterly negative light. This was not the first time that the past had been rejected in Egypt. As mentioned in Chapter 2, certain Egyptian kings disassociatedthemselvesfrom previous rulers, destroying evidence of their rule. Each intermediateperiod had also been depicted by ensuing rulers as a time of disorder to be spurned. For the first time, however, an entirely new ideological system was

promulgated in Egypt, in which there was no period in the Egyptian past which could be looked back to with nostalgia or admiration.

Despite this, the past could not be entirely forgotten. The Coptic language became the last stage of ancient Egyptian, preserving a few demotic signs, a whole grammatical system and a vocabulary which can be traced back to Old Egyptian. Likewise, the built environment of Egypt provided a constant witness to the pharaonic civilization which was gradually being transformed into a Christian environment. Amongst the rural inhabitants of Egypt, customs derived from pharaonic Egypt persisted. Thus, for [1927]), be (2000 Blackman the still could as pharaonic modem scholars, such discerned in the lifestyles of twentieth century Upper Egyptians.

It is not, however, the purpose of this second section of the thesis to trace a simple

Coptic Kingdom New Egypt (see the comments and between and progression


approaches of Zandee1971,219). Tlds hasbeentheremit of severalmodem scholars, thosewho wereconcerned the link between especially with emphasising modem Copts Egyptians (seeButcher1897). In particular,the role of the patriarrh of and the ancient Alexandria has beendirectly comparedto that of the ancientEgyptian king, despite (Cannuyer1992). Thus scholarshave drawn upon a very few references reservations in Christiantexts in which the patriarchwas called a pharaoh,and seena conscious Egypt (seeHauben 1998,1350). This is now seen nationalistconnection with ancient (Reymondand Barns 1973,5; Hauben 1998, to have beena modem re-interpretation 1351-2). Instead the term stemmedfrom a biblical context: 'carrying exclusively to give to vilify personsdeemed the biblicalimagewas intended negativeconnotations, behaviour,or of excessive greed. It had nothing evidence of tyrannicalandoppressive whatsoeverto do with the Egyptianheritage'(Hauben1998,1351). Drawing on the same biblical associations a modem anti-capitalist handbookhas beenentitled Two HundredPharaohs, Five Billion Slaves(Peacock 2002).

Christianity has also been rooted in ancient Egypt by Afrocentrist scholars (Finch 1986, 179-200). A further example is presentedby the work of Coptic scholars seeking to motivate and empower emigrant Copts (Ayad 1989). In this, certain attributes of the Egyptian identified Copts directly to the traced then ancient world. and modem were For example, the Coptic concern with 'moral conduct' was connected to the ancient Egyptian who 'was very concerned with his moral conduct, his reputation and behaviour' (1989,100). Even the wearing of perfume by Coptic women was viewed

(1989,100). Egyptian inspired by directly practices as ancient

New Kingdom and Coptic Egypt is vast, and any In contrast,the timespan separating in The terms between them use of of geographical space. primarily were connections is in impact ideological the their two the and contrasts studying alongsideone another (or not) on self-definition. Christianity was able to supersede one of the longest in decline) (admittedly which had even been shown a token surviving civilizations

181 respect during the Roman domination. Yet it was not to survive as the major religious/politicalideology in Egypt, with the Muslim conquestof 641 eventually ensuring the demise of Coptic as a living language,and the demotion of Coptic Christianityto a minority religion. The CopticChristianbecame theoutsider.

In this section of the thesis, the questions asked mirror those examined with reference to the New Kingdom, in order to assessbetter the impact of ideology on self-definition under apparently very differing situations. During the Coptic period the ideas

propagated during the New Kingdom were discarded, and replaced. This process is investigated through utilising the sametypes of sourcesas for the New Kingdom.

found functioning First, expressions the the world of correct of self-definitionand of in textualsources,specificallyletters,arelookedinto. As with the New Kingdom, the is ideas in between different types written communications of expressed relationship influenced ideologies far different how Secondly, the the explored. question of constructionof the built environmentis investigatedthrough a study of the urban settlements at Thebes. In New Kingdom Memphis, it was possible to trace the delineationof residential/working areasas well as the very limited opportunitiesfor interaction betweenpublic and private space. likewise, with Coptic Thebes, the is between analysed. and areas religious residential relationship

The intervening years

from New last letters Ramesside Late the Documents the stem very stages of such as Kingdom Egypt. Gradualdisintegration sites and change,witnessedon archaeological in by the extensive temple within areas resulted of settlement enclosures, establishment betweenthe break-upof Egyptasa unified politicalentity. Powerrelations the eventual different structuresof the state,the military, priesthoodand king had already been undergoing re-negotiation,with the priesthoodassumingequivalentand eventually

182 greater power than the king (see O'Connor 1992,229-32; Mysliwiec 2000,26). The

deathof Ramesses XI in 1070is takenas thefinal endpointof the New Kingdom, after
which power was openly divided betweenTanis and Thebes (Assmann 1996,31945).

Despite this political division of Egypt during the Third Intermediate Period (1070712), the memory of a united Egypt was maintained, with re-unification attempted on several occasions. Dynastic marriages reinforced links between the rulers of Tanis and Thebes, and excavations at the city of Tanis have shown the extensive re-use of pharaonic structures and objects as well as the existenceof highly skilled workmanship. For example, in the royal tomb of Psusennes1 (1040-992) a collection of gold vessels was discovered which 'testify to the continuation of the finest traditions of the New Kingdom; in the perfection of the technique, they rival the masterpiecesfound in the tomb of Tutankhamun' (Mysliwiec 2000,29).

It was during this period that peopleof allegednon-Egyptian origin exertedpower in the style of New Kingdom kings (seeBaines1996b,378-80). For example,Shoshenq 1 (945-924) was from a Libyan family basedin Bubastis(Assmann1996,346-50). king. Despitebrief Shoshenq to unite Egypt, ruling as a fully Egyptianised attempted by kings Period Intermediate Third the characterised was attemptsat centralisation, ruling simultaneouslyin places such as Herakleopolisand Leontopolis (22 - 25 dynasties).

Of thesedynasties,the 25th became the most importantin the long term, as another Memphis. As from Napata, far Nubian, Piye as a as north conquered non-Egyptian, 0 in Egypt (see Stelaof Piye saw himself as an Egyptianseekingto re-establish order 0 Piye Lichtheim 1980b, 66-84). The Late Period (712-332) saw Piye's successor Shabaka(712-698) unite Egypt, effectively establishingthis Nubian dynasty as the most powerful in Egypt(Assmann1996,371-5).

183 The origin of the rulersof Egypt appeared to makelittle difference to the Egyptianstate. Insteadthe new rulersfirmly positionedthemselves in Egyptianhistory, looking to the pastin the generation of new art forms (Assmann1996,375-493),tenned'der Kult der Vergangenheit' (Assmann1996,400). This was particularlymarkedduring the 26th dynasty.Egypt alsoalternated beinga provinceof otherterritoriesand carrying between out invasionsin Asia and Nubia. For example,Psammetichusl(664-610)functioned as a vassalking of theAssyrians(IJoyd 1992,338).

As in the New Kingdom, non-Egyptians formed a vital part of Egypt's armed forces. Greeks and Carians were used by PsammetichusI, and became important in trade as well. This is demonstratedby the founding of Naukratis in the seventh century, which, during the reign of Amasis (570-526), was declared to be a town solely for Greeks. Egypt also becamea haven for Jewish exiles from Babylon (see Ray 1992), and much of what is known about this period derives from non-Egyptian accounts, such as the histories of Herodotus.

The Persian rule (525-4(9; 343-332) resulted in Egypt being depicted as subservient, just one amongst the many provinces of the Persian empire. Despite the bad reputation of the Persian rule in Egypt, propagated in Egyptian as well as non-Egyptian sources, archaeological evidence has revealed that it was not an entirely negative period for Egyptian culture (Mysliwiec 2000,135-7). Even the statueof Darius from Susa, which proclaimed the subjugation of Egypt, drew upon Egyptian art forms and texts to situate Darius as thejust heir of the Egyptian throne (Mysliwiec 2000,146-55).

The impact of the non-Egyptianupon Egypt was further strengthenedwith the (304-30). This followed Ptolemaic Dynasty Alexanderthe Great's the establishment of by Greeks. the as an independent victory in 332, and Egypt was administered country Greek culture, education was promotedfor the Greek populationwhich and language in for Egypt, the Faiyum. Continualinvestmentinto the throughout example settled

184 Egyptian temples was made (although the priests of the Egyptian temples were from the Egyptianpopulation: themselves part of the Greekpower structuredistanced seeBianchi 1992), while at the sametime Alexandriawas developedas a centreof Greek culture. Official identities could be bestowed by the state (although see Goudriaan2000,58 who emphasised the lack of official designations) and result in differential treatment: 'being a Greekor an Egyptianwas not just a matterof personal and communityfeeling ("ethnicity"), but also official policy; being Greek involved someprivilegesthatan Egyptiancouldnot claim'(Clarysse1992,52).

For the Ptolemaicperiod, leadinginto the Romanperiod, historianshaveanalysedthe lives of thosein Egypt using termsusually associated with the modempast. Thus the literature of the Ptolemaicperiod (for example,the Oracleof the Potter) has been Greek Egyptian 'nationalist in the the condemned understoodas propaganda', which (LJoyd 1982; Sorensen1992; Frankfurter 1993,253-7). Furthermore,the Roman

period in Egypt has beenanalysed as a time of unrelentinghardshipfor the Egyptian: 'Egypt thus became a land exploitedon behalfof foreigners,a role she had not been least in Ptolemies, days the the the the to when at worst and subjected even of pharaohs product of her labour had remainedin the country' (Watterson1988,16). This

Octavian Egypt inspired by the the of personal property as status of commentwas (Augustus)following theBattleof Actium (30 BCE), and then as a provinceof Rome (from 14 CE) underwhich heavytaxeswere levied on the Egyptianpopulation(Ritner 1998,1-2).

Greeks by in Egypt, the the The presence different with country ruled populations of and then the Romanshas led to varied opinions on the extentof interaction. Whilst different peoplesas hostility, as seenin the OracleofthePotter,andopenriots between 1988,107-108), been desire Goudriaan has (see to there a also well asrevoltsoccured feature (see Ritner life interaction Egyptian the pre-dominant as of presentcultural that'the Egyptianelitewas sharplydistinct 1992).Ritner(1998,5) hasforcefully stated

185 from the rural fallahin, andhardly a second-class citizenrycowedby theperceptionof a Greek"masterrace".'

Yet in the Roman period, new regulations consigned the Egyptians to the lowest status, allowing the impostion of certain taxes and punishments on the basis of identity (Reinhold 1980,100-101,103) and no official legitimacy was given to the Egyptian although following 212 CE it was possible for Support and development of

language (see Ritner 1998,6-9),

Egyptians to become Roman citizens (Lewis 1984,19).

Egyptian religious traditions did, however, flourish under certain emperors, for example Trajan (98-117 CE), who pictured themselvesin the guise of Egyptian rulers (Ritner 1998). Furthermore, material witnesses to the pharaonic past were highly valued as shown by the number of tourists to sites such as the Colossi of Memnon (see Foertmeyer 1989), and by the removal of pharaonic antiquities to the imperial capital, amongst other locations.

The Coptic Period

The Coptic period, as understood in this thesis, covers the fourth to the ninth centuries, a time in which Coptic becamethe most widely used language in Egypt. As a term, it has no political reference. Nevertheless, it allows the focus of investigation to be demonstrably the Coptic speakers, the majority of the population, and for whom cultural patterns persisted in spite of political changes.

Use of the term 'Coptic period' is not universal,with many scholarspreferring to divide these centuries into their political phases: Roman, Byzantine, Islamic. Furthermore,a broaderterm of 'Late Antiquity' is also applied, reinforcing Egypt's in (Giardina Antique in Late 1989,103). The assignation the general position world of historical periods is a much debatedtopic, and one which imposesalmost arbitary differencesand barriers(as well as broadgeneralisations) onto the Egyptian evidence

186 (seeBagnaII2001,227). Lewis (1970)arguedthattheterm 'Graeco-Roman Egypt' for a period which coversPtolemaic,Romanand ByzantineEgypt was not useful. This was on the basisof thelack of precisionprovidedby the term. The 'Coptic period' can be similarly historicallyimprecise,but, as definedabove,servesthe purposesof this thesis.

During the fourth century, Egypt still fell under the Roman Empire, until 323.

At this

point it became incorporated into the Byzantine world under whose auspices it by and large remained (once succumbing to a Persian occupation between 619 and 629) unfit the Byzantine Treaty of 641 in which Egypt was surrendedto the Muslims. Alexandria itself did not surrender until 642 (Cannuyer 1996,36).

This political change was combined with the growth of Christianity, the decline of paganism alongside the introduction of Islam after 641. During the growth of

Christianity in Egypt, the Christian world as a whole was in a stateof flux as it debated what should be the canonical form of Christianity. It was after the Council of It maintained the

Chalcedon in 451 that Egyptian Christianity became sidelined.

Monophysite position, in opposition to what becamethe official Diphysite view (Atiya 1968,58). Thus in Egypt at this time there was not a single viewpoint on what the

Christian lifestyle should be either, with heretics a continual source of worry to those who considered themselves orthodox. The DiPhysite Byzantine rulers ruled a

population, the Christian part of which was consideredheretical.

Coptic Egypt was composed (Figures3-4). which differed greatlyin character of areas There were highly urbanized areas,for examplethe Mediterranean city of Alexandria, basedaround a monastic or the oasis town of Karanisas well as smaller settlements foundation,suchasexistedat Wadi Sarga. Furthermore,therewere thosewho chose to live in borderzones,on the edgeof the cultivationor further into the desert,either lead desire dueto asceticism to the life of a hermit, devotedto God, or due to the and

187 the needto avoid the penalties of the state(althoughthesetwo reasons need not have beendistinct).

The country itself was divided into huge estates, the ownersof which, had, from the fourth centuryuntil 641 beengraduallytaking over the dudesof the state(Bachrach 1967,165). Agriculture was the main source of work (Kaegi 1998,34-5). Ile

initially appears Muslim conquest to represent a turningpoint for Egypt, yet it has been arguedthat therewas a high degreeof continuity for those who lived in towns and villages (Kennedy 1998,67; Wilfong 1998b, 181-2). As had beenthe situation in Byzantine Egypt, centml authority was felt in the realms of taxation and military areasand service. Islamicinfluencewas still largely limited to the main administrative in have been taxation,with non-Muslims the major effectof thechange in power would classified as dhimmi, and thus having an extra poll tax to pay (Ye'or 1996,121-4; Wilfong 1998b, 179).

In spite of certain aspects of continuity in the administration of Egypt through these religious and political upheavals, inevitably some repercussions were felt, especially between banned Christianity the was a religion, sectors of amongst certain population. 110and210. Nonethelessit was followed and propagatedin Egypt, amidst a variety of deny beliefs Persecutions to account of a refusal on and practices. other religious Christian beliefs occured at intervals. For example, the beginning of Diocletian's reign (284) was taken as a starting point for the Coptic calendar, preserving a memory of the initiated in I'liese Egypt by Diocletian. Christians of particularly violent persecutions links between the persecutionsand the use of the Coptic calendar were, however, only Coptic The in the calendar was only declared as the ensuing centuries. crystallised in Coptic the eighth century, and it was not until the the church official calendar of Martyrs'was the term'Era thatthe of used (O'Leary 1937,34). eleventh century


Constantine'sdeclaration of Christianity in 312 meant that Christianity becamethe the fate of official religion of the Roman empire, and persecution and exile became hereticalChristiansor non-Christians. Thus Athanasius,patriarchof Alexandriawas repeatedlyexiled, first by Constantinein 325. In 392 paganismwas banned by imperial edict, and the Serapeum destroyedby Christians(for a discussionof these periods seeFrankfurter 1998;Cannuyer1996). During the sixth centurythe majority had ceased to function, exceptfor those which were of non-Christiancommunities 1988,157-8). Some of those more isolated,such as by Lake Mareotis(Viripszycka who convertedto Islam may have done so straightfrom paganism,without having become Christiansfirst (R6mondon 1952,72).

in part, to the eagemess The success hasbeenattributed, of the of theMuslim conquest Monophysitepopulationto rid themselves of their Diphysiterulers, a point seemingly reinforcedthroughthe re-instatement of the Monophysitepatriarchby the conquerors (seeDen Henijer 2000,239 aboutthe Coptic historiographical to conquest). response Otherfactors were also important,including the incompetence of the Byzantinerulers in Egypt did not Islamic (Kaegi 1998,49-50). The first few centuries the period of to any greatextentthe freedomof the Copts. The rulers supportedthe circumscribe Monophysitechurch,Coptsmaintained of the country a largerole in the administration to be built (AbdelTawab1986,324-5; Wipszycka1988,160). continued and churches As expressed by Lapidus(1972,249): 'for Arab leadersthe world had beenconquered it to Islam. in thenameof Islam, not for the sakeof converting

That life did not solely follow a simple continuum, even for those in towns and by a seriesof rebellionsin the eighth century sparkedthrough villages, is suggested in Upper Egypt, Copts In Delta the taxation. as as well rebelledagainsttheir excessive 1998,67). Kennedy 1972,256; (Lapidus rulers These rebellions were eventually

crushed(in 832), an event linked to the onset of widespreadconversionto Islam. Coptic between initiated intervals Certainregulations the the population were against at

189 eighth and the ninth centuries,such as the public wearing of yellow turbans (see Lapidus 1972,253,258; Alcock 1999,24). At the sametime, however, Copts

of the country and in the development continuedto play a role in the administration of of Ibn Tulun (built in 876-9). public buildings, suchasthemosque
The literate world

The written evidencefrom Egypt at this period reveals the main languagesto have been Greek and Coptic. At some point during the second to third centuries Coptic was developed (Cribiore 1996,3), and written documents testify to its increasing utilisation in all spheres of Egyptian life, urban and rural. Documents could be written in both

Greek and Coptic, and certain renowned individuals (such as Dioscorus of Aphrodito) Coptic (Rubenson in Greek knowledge texts their the of composition of world revealed 1992,16; Rousseau 1999,18-9). Communities such as those at Wadi Sarga often

(see Coptic depending in Greek the to themselves on context either or chose express Clackson 2001,43). As stated by Parkinson (1999a, 102): 'contrary to what is often dwellers between languages divided the two speaking country poor were not assumed, Coptic and sophisticatedtown dwellers writing in Greek'.

The embeddednessof Coptic in Egypt is demonstratedby the multiplicity of dialects. Each had a geographic locale: the broadest division came to be made between Sahidic Coptic in the south of the country up to Memphis, and Boharic in the north, the Delta region (Cannuyer 1996,76-7,218-9). For the majority of the population, at least those

living outside the main administrative cities, Coptic was the first language (Wilfong 1998b, 184), with Sahidic the most widely known dialect (Kasser 1966,109). Latin

languages linked directly the Arabic of with ruling as powers, were more and Yet documentation. (at this point) saw use outside official administration which rarely for those living in Fustat, administering the new province of the Islamic caliphate, Arabic was the languageof daily life, as well as officialdom for its 200,000 residents (Kubiak 1982,128; Kennedy 1998). Coptic survived as one of the languages of

190 that Arabic was to be the sole official administration until 705 when a decree asserted
languageof administration (Wilfong 1998b, 184-5).

Thesefour languages to be used in Egypt at this time. were not the only languages Coptic speakersconsistentlytranslatedother works from the Christian world. In

Thebes(seeChapter5), therewereSyriactexts, and the translationof texts essential to the Christian life required an intimate knowledge of such languages. The Jewish community in Egypt, specificallyin urban settingssuch as Alexandriaand Babylon their knowledgeof Hebrew, generating maintained sacredtexts as well as translating them into Arabic (Stillmann 1998,198-201). Furthermore,the impact of nomadic peoples,raiding Egyptianvillagesand towns, meantthat other languages were heard. When Samuel of Kalamun was attackedin the western desert during the seventh century, those who attackedhim were noted as speakinga different language(see Alcock 1983,13,87-8 'their language').

An instinctive reaction when approaching the Coptic period after New Kingdom Egypt is to be overwhelmed by the apparentwealth of textual evidence.Ile context of literacy in the Coptic period was far removed from that of the New Kingdom. No longer does accessto the written appearto have been regulated and limited. It was such a spirit of (without led (1986a, MacCoull 41) to citing any specific state enthusiasm which evidence): 'the amount of letterwriting that was practised at all levels of Coptic society little bears This relation to the evidence. statement and at all periods was prodigious.

has been extensively The problem of literacy in the ancientworld (Greek/Roman) looked at, but without much reference to Coptic. The power that the written word been has (seefor example widely acknowledged could exertwithin an ancientsociety 1998,268-9). Frankfurter Egypt to with reference The Vindolanda texts from

Hadrian'sWall, datingto 90-120CE illustratethe dualrole of literacy:uniting disparate by large thosewith power, being a methodof used when and, area, populations over a

191 ensuringtight andefficient control. The lettersfrom Vindolandademonstrated the use (Bowman 1996a,I 10-1), but at of Latin outsidethe immediate contextof government in thereadingand writing the sametime thepercentage of peoplefully ableto participate of suchmaterialwas minimal (Bowman 1996a, 111). Little individuality was shown in the letterswhich werea 'form of gift exchange anddialogue'(I 996a, 123).

Following the establishment of Christianityastheofficial religion of theRomanworld, textual works were vital in putting forward view-points. Thus bishops such as Dionysius, patriarchof Alexandriain the third century, were able to makeknown their throughtextssuchasthe festalletter (Bowman 1996b, 134views on religiousmatters 5). WhencertainChristiancommunities became thedominantway of life in the seventh to ninth centuriestexts played a vital role. They maintainedthe importanceof a faults of others(Cameron1996,198communityandservedto point out theperceived 200,204-205).

It has been argued (Johnson 1986) that Coptic texts played a large role in the antiChalcedonian polemics of the period. In particular Shenoute's works have been

identified as central in the theological struggles in Egypt, and it was these struggles which have been identified as central to establishing self-definition amongst the Copts (Bams 1964; Wesselzky 1992,617; Behlmer 1998,358). Thus texts were one of the

ways in which identity (especially of marginalised groups) could be established and maintained (Lane Fox 1996,129).

form Coptic The actualestablishment of the Egyptianlanguagehas been as a new of the relationshipbetweenorality and literacy, illustrating the seen as demonstrating Egypt (Orlandi Bowman 1, demand 1986,52; 199 for another within writing of means been has Coptic just as the extentof literacy 125). The development romanticised of has. For example,Hopkins (1991,146) claimed 'Coptic originatedas a script of directed he This was againstthegovernment argued, andthe Greeksprotest'. protest,

192 although the very fact that the Greek alphabetand a considerable quantity of Greek vocabularywere usedin Coptic seemsto minimise the idea of Coptic as a 'script of implicitly acknowledged by Hopkins as he went on to state protest'. This was perhaps that Coptic represented a 'cultural fusion' betweenthe Greek and Egyptian worlds (1991,146).

The inadequacies in Hopkins' argument concerning the purposes of Coptic were highlighted by Bagnall (1993,253). Ina footnote he claimed that 'the whole situation

is badly misdescribed by Hopkins', and instead emphasisedthe bilingual world out of which Coptic arose (Bagnall 1993,253; see also Rubenson 1992,16). Thus 'the

invention and use of Coptic itself is in no sense anti-hellenic' (Bagnall 1993,253). This more logical argument has beenput forward by others as well: Parkinson (I 999a, 102) stating 'Coptic was developed in a thoroughly bilingual and educated setting'. The initial stages of Coptic may have been in a non-Christian environment, to record vowels in religious incantations(Ritner 1998,9; Aufr&e 1999).

A further purpose of Coptic was suggestedby Hopkins (1991,146) who argued that it was used 'to help in the conversion and education of the lower class faithful'. For

Hopkins, therefore, there was 'pervasive sub-elite literacy'which enabledand furthered Christianity as a successful religious ideology (1991,158). A significant level of

literacy was essential for Christianity (according to Hopkins), although he also acknowledged that literacy, at any level, was not a pre-requisite for participation in that religious life. This is an important proviso, given the limited impact of literacy within Coptic EgypL

Two studies,in particular,havetried to assess the impactof literacyon Coptic society in more detail. Steinemann (1974) carriedout a detailedquantitiveassessment of the (western Thebes) in Djeme based upon the legal documents literate number of discovered there. qeme itself is unusual,because of the largenumberof texts found

193 there, and the detailedrecord which they provide of one town. To discover the percentage of literatein Djeme, Steinemann examinedthe proportion of people who were able to sign their own documents(1974,103-104). From this evidence, it

that during the eighthcentury40-50% of people were able to witness their appeared own documents,and that between50-60% of people were unableto, using scribes instead (1974,110).

Steinemann's havebeenquestioned (Wipszycka1984,287), in particular conclusions his assumption thatthe groupof peoplestudiedin theserandomlysurviving documents could be considered representative of the populationof Djemeas a whole. Likewise, Wipszyckadid not want to extendthe percentage of literate (40-50%) to the whole of Egypt. Bagnall(1993,257-8) had the samemisgivingsas Wipszycka,feeling that the witnessesrecordedin the qeme texts were unrepresentative as they belongedto a minority sectorof society,andwere 'peopleof standingand property' (1993,258). It is also significantthat amongstthis privilegedsectorof societyup to 60% could not write their own signature.

A broader approach to assessing the extent of Coptic literacy was attempted by W`ipszycka. (1984). Instead of focusing on the texts of one town, texts relating to a variety of locations were utilised. For example, the range of contacts revealed by the letters of Bishop Abraham of Armant revealed a world in which reading and writing were 'une habitude quotidienne'. This was only true amongst the priests of the villages to whom the letters were addressed. The letters of the Monastery of Epiphanius (near Djeme in western Thebes), which are used extensively in this chapter, reveal an apparently high concentrationof literacy amongst a monastic population. Theevidence from here, and from other monasteries, reveal that 'la plupart des moines savaient lire' (Wipszycka 1984,294). The evidence used by Wipszycka was exclusively produced by those working within the church, which itself enabled and furthered literacy (see also W`ipszycka 1972). The conclusion drawn was that literacy need not have

194 decreased between thefourth andthe seventhcentury, and may actuallyhave increased (1984,295). From Wipszycka'sstudies,it is only possibleto draw conclusionsabout the extentof literacyamongstmonks/nuns and priests. In this limited context, literacy from this to the to havebeenan accessible, skill, but to generalise andnecessary, seems rest of societycouldbe misleading.

As with New Kingdom Egypt, it is also necessaryto emphasisethe different levels of literacy which would have allowed a greaterextent of the population some access to the written (Lane Fox 1996,128-9). Boundaries of literacy and illiteracy could be just as

blurred as in the New Kingdom. With reference to Greek documents, 'slow writers' have been identified (Youtie 1971). This description was used in Greek documents to describe 'an entire class of writers' (Youtie 1971,247) who were not able to write easily and who 'are grown men, sometimes women, who are using their meagre livelihood' business their to the transactions provide which attainments carry out (Youtie 1971,25 1). Such people did not fit easily into the category of either literate or illiterate, and could switch between the two.

The functions of literacy dictated who were literate.

For example, those in

(and Greek Coptic 705 have knowledge had to or after of some governmental positions Arabic) (Lefort 1955,1), andthosewho choseto become monks, nuns or priestscould high did literacy The degree of status and wealth as well. possession of alsoattainsome in 'those literacy, lead the propertiedclass who could afford to as not necessarily for (BagnaIII993, do them' to the to writing educationcould also afford get people 258). Yet literacy, at whateverlevel, obviously could extend out of its immediate functionalcontexts,for example via familiesof thosewho wereliterate. And, as in the New Kingdom, the textual was one of the prime mediumsfor the discussionand transmissionof ideologicalbeliefs. The oral transmissionof texts was a centrally Egypt. in spreading importanttechnique a knowledgeof Christianbeliefsacross

195 Textualboundaries

Within Egypt, the boundaries between those of differtnt beliefs were often laid down and negotiated in texts. For the Christian, many of the central texts were translations and copies of the psalms and gospels. The methods by which such texts were made public or communicatedto their communities included oral recitation (Frankfurter 1993, 33), circulation of books and manuscripts (see Winlock and Crum 1926,196-208), and public display. For example, a sermon condemning heretics was written up on the

into been had Daga, transformed the church of the tomb whitewashed walls of which of the Monastery of Epiphanius (Crum and White 1926, plate XV).

Furthermore,texts were incorporated into art forms, into textiles, wall paintings and woodwork (B6nazeth, Durand and Rutschowscaya1999). This is particulady

demonstrated by the interior of the churches of Old Cairo (Babylon). For example,a lintel of carvedsycamore wood (of thefifth/sixth century)onceinsidetheChurchof AlMo'allaqadepicted theEntry into Jerusalem which a hymri alongside andtheAscension in praiseof Christ had beencarvedin Greek(Gabra 1999,96-7). Texts also entered into the domestic to housesincorporating context,with stonelintelsabovetheentrances 5). A text endowedan objectwith a designoftenincludingChrist's name(seeChapter feature. Even objectssuch as a key usedin meaning,andwas not merelya decorative the White Monastery(during the fifth/sixth century)includeda text set into its design (Gabra1999,88).

By suchmeans,a body of beliefscouldbe established andmaintained, and certaintexts Egyptian. being The importance became the an of of the text as a experience of part life is seenin the burial of individualswith texts. Ina definingfeaturefor someone's fourth/fifth centurycemetryof Al-Mudil, 40 kilometresnorth-eastof Oxyrhynchus,a Coptic psalter was found placedunderneath a young girl's headin a shallow grave

196 (Gabra 1999,110-1). T11rough texts,reference points werecreated which an individual

could chose to abide by, or not.

The lives of certainindividualswereheldup, andproclaimed, asexamples which could be followed and admired. In hagiographical texts, an individual was praised and her/his life described,including her/his avoidanceof temptation. As a genre of literature, Coptichagiography was very closelylinked to Greekhagiography,with the presumptionthat many Coptic lives of saints and martyrs were translationsof Greek originals (Orlandi1991,1191-6).

The Life of Shenoute was written by one of his disciples,Besa, in about460, with all for the probability in Coptic, rather than Greek. Shenoute'sfame was established westernworld by thework of Leipoldt(1903). In this his life and work were analysed his from Leipoldt's work reputationas a crude, as establishing a nationalreligion, and life demonstrate harshleaderarose. The narrativethemesin Shenoute's the important his (Leipoldt Coptic life, by the contemporaries of aspects monastic as assessed one of and Crum 1906;Bell 1983).

Shenoute was desciibed as showing self-discipline, denying himself sleep (see chapter 12), and was firmly placed in the Old Testament tradition, compared to Elijah (see chapter 18). Besa emphasised Shenoute's humility (chapter 21), and underlined his status as a holy individual; for example, Shenoute was able to travel on a cloud (chapters 54-67; Leyerle 2000,452; compare Kuhn and Tait 1996,1-2,7,142-5, for (chapter harsh Non-Christians treatment 19-21). singled out were routinely stanza 81) and were described as pagan ('Helenos'). Shenoute led missions to destroy idols

(chapter 83), and other hostile groups included the Blemmyes (see chapters 89-90; see below), and the barbarians (chapters 106-108; see below). Furthermore, Shenoute

if importance (see local being the than not more powers of equivalent, was shown as chapters 106-108).


A similarly strong assertionof self alongsidea disdain for those who could not be includedin thatbelief systemwas expressed in theLife of Samuelof Kalamun, written by Isaacin aboutthe eighthcentury(Alcock 1983). In contrastto Shenoute,Samuel spentmuch of his life in the westerndesert,in the Faiyum, then in the Siwa Oasis (Kuhlmann 1998,174) during the seventhcentury. His life was one of privitations imposedby others. Yet his beliefsdid not waver. A vivid descriptionof the impactof being forced to live with thoseof different belief systemsis provided. A group of hostile, nomadicpeoples,describedas barbarians (understoodas 'Berbers' by Alcock), captured Samuel(chapter14). He was kept in in convertingsome captivity undergoingharshtreatment until eventuallyhe succeeded of the Berbers(chapters17-23). In the descriptionsof this period in Samuel'slife, emphasis was placedon thestrange of theBerbers(chapter18). Life religiouscustoms becamebetter once the Berber village had acknowledged the validity of Samuel's religiousbeliefs.

The Life of St John the LittLe (c. 339-c. 409) by Zacharias of Sakha (see NEkhail and Vivian 1997; Amelineau 1894,316-410) was written in the eighth century with no personal knowledge of the saint and with the hindsight of the post-Chalcedonian years. The themes are similar to those in the two texts above: like Samuel, John went to Scetis to become a monk (chapters 3-5) and, like Shenoute, he enjoyed the miraculous intervention of a cloud provided this time to transport him to Babylon (chapter 75). Barbarians also causedJohn to leave Scetis, as they were described as preventing the life having destroyed the churches from their and as normal out monks carrying (chapter76). When living in the desert, away from the barbarians, John continued to convert those who were still pagans, performing miracles. When describing the burial of John, Zacharias took the opportunity to condemn the Council of Chalcedon along with all heretics (chapter 8 1).


for those following monastic as well as nonHagiographicaltexts held meaning, monasticlifestyles. The lessonswhich could be learnt were wound into a narrative which was lively and entertaining. By contrast,polemicaltexts, often in the form of sermons,formeda seriesof instructionsbackedup with biblical quotations. Many of Shenoute'ssermons,as well as sermonswritten in his style, survive from the White Monastery(seeLeipoldtandCrum 1906;Young 1993),in which adviceon how to live correctly was frequentlygiven. Closeanalysisof religioustextswas usedto justify a particular point of view; for example,Shenoutearguedthat it was possible to be a devoutChristianand be married(Penn 1995). Thesetexts were sometimes addressed to largenumbersof people,displaced as a result of political unrestand seekingrefuge in the environsof theWhiteMonastery (seeEmmel1998,86-9).

In such texts certain groups of people could be identified for condemnation, including pagans, heretics, lapsed Christians and Jews. The necessity of christianising temples was highlighted in several polemical texts, in which the alleged hideous misdeeds of be described (see Christian also could children, such as sacrificing non-Christians, Am6lineau 1888,112-3). A less emotive, but nonethelessforceful, text from the White Monastery, probably the work of Shenoute, draws a contrast between the present state it been had there the christianised once on which would go actions of a shrine and (Young 1981, seefor examplepage349, lines 1-7).

in which the hieroglyphic Most significantly,this particular text alsoincludesa passage and contrastedto the texts written on the walls of a pagan site were condemned lines 25(Young in 1981,349-50, be their place texts up put which would righteous 14). A long list of animalswas incited in order to describethe hieroglyphs, and Shenoute'signoranceof the workings of ancient Egyptian were highlighted by his descriptions:'his uninitiatedeye was caughtby picturesand reliefs of animals and heavenlybodies, the very hieroglyphswhich are easiestto identify' (Young 198.1,

199 356). The concernwith paganshrines occupiedalmost half of the text, which also covers the problemsof lapsed Christians, the kingdom of heaven, wealth and the behaviourof women. For example,the struggleto preventChristiansturning away from Christianitywas as urgentas the needto convertothers,and this was illustrated by a quotationfrom the gospels (Young 1981,350, lines26-34). The extantsectionof by drawinga contrast between text concluded pious womenandwomenwho chooseto keeptheir wealth(Young 1981,352, lines 29-39).

A response to the apparentpresenceof heretical texts within the White Monastery was Orlandi (see 1982). by Shenoute in form text the made of a catechical probably read out in public (Orlandi 1982,88). This was

Shenoute appealedto the memory of

Athanasius and his suppression of the Meletians to demonstrate that heretical texts should not be tolerated (Orlandi 1982,88-9). He also worked his way through the

beliefs of the heretics, demonstrating that each belief had a false basis. This included the belief that there were many worlds in the universe, and Orlandi surmised that Shenoute was responding to the Nag Hammadi texts (1982,85-6), attacking both

Origenist and Evagrian Gnosticism. The mere existence of Shenoute's response seems to indicate 'that some part of the Evagrian movement could reach Upper Egypt by infiltrating the Pachomianand Shenuteanmonasteries' (Orlandi 1982,95).

Heresy could thus be at the heart of Coptic monasticism, and as much of a concern as the actual rejection of Christianity. In the eighth century, a text was produced in which 'why I for Jews. In the this, author asked should say these condemnation was reserved things to the ignorant Jew' (Elanskaya 1994,387). Any condemnation was apparently identified by has been beliefs basis the although racial. prejudice alone, on of religious Mayerson (1979) in texts such as the Vitae Patrum, where, for example, demons appearedas black men (1979,311). Yet in the articulation of polemical literature, the

beliefs rather than the nationality of someone took central place. This is seen in the Islam: 'what Islam Byzantine to be defeated the to as a was was church reactions of

200 superstition,false teachingand heresy;not as a communityof people, or a nation' literaturecondemnations (Sahas. 1990,57). Similarly, in the martyrological. were not
made on the basis of country of origin:

'the crudestmanifestations of nationalandracialprejudice arenot to be found in the nativeliteratureaboutEgyptianmartyrs, provincial as it is. There we shall find only one superior race of men, "the race of Christians", and the is the "heavenlyJerusalem". Indeed, "fatherland"which claimstheir allegiance to go out of their way to glorify saintsof foreign the Copticmartyrologies seem origin who fulfil their martyrdomin exile in Egypt, thus settingan exampleto thefaithful there'(ReymondandBarns 1973,5). Furthertexts which receivedwide circulationand which delineated the world included apocalypses, such as the Apocalypseof EjOh (Steindorff 1899). This was probably into severalCoptic dialectsaround the end of the composedin Greek, but translated third century. The earliestextant manuscriptdates to the beginning of the fourth with the centuryand is in Akhmimic (Frankfurter1993,17-8). The text is concerned
end of the world, how good will be pitched against evil, with the righteous Christians surviving judgement day to enjoy paradise. It has been argued that as well as owing in Egyptian is firmly Jewish Biblical the tradition, the text to rooted also much and ideology, kingship be Egyptian Thus as well as can with experience. parallels made with Demoticliterature (see Frankfurter 1993,159 - 238).

In the Apocalypse of Elqah, the survival of Egypt in the face of disorder inflicted by her traditional enemiesis a key theme. Thus the Assyrian kings and the Persians cause chaos in Egypt, with the Nile flowing blood, until a king rises to save Egypt. In order to banish chaos, places of pagan worship had to be destroyed as well. This text

fate is linked to the banishment of idea Egypt whose as a unif ied entity, maintains an of hostile outsiders and the elimination of those who do not follow the true Christian path. Similarly emphasisingthe nationhood of Egypt (see Cruz-Uribe 1986,55; Lloyd 1994, 198), the Coptic story of Cambyses's invasion of Egypt involved the efforts of Cambyses to invade Egypt. Cambysestried several techniquesto outwit the Egyptians, including writing a letter in the name of the king of Egypt, but none succeeded(see Jansen 1950 for the text).


The circulation of such texts, predominantlysurviving from the White Monastery, could spreadsomeknowledgeof ideologicalbeliefs. The anxietyseenin many of the texts showsthatit was not possibleto eliminatehereticalor non-Christianbeliefs, with both of thehappiness continualreminders which may resultfrom conversionand of the for thosewho resist. Uncertainty did not seem to manifestitself, or eternalpunishment at least,if it did, it was speedilybanished with thehelp of God. Underlyingthis textual traditionwere the numerousmagicaltexts in which help was soughtfrom a variety of sourcesby those at the heart of Coptic Christianity (see section on Sed I temple, Chapter5). It is important,therefore,not to view the Coptic Christiantextual tradition the whole spectrumof beliefsin Egypt. The rigidity with which the as representing world was presented may only havebeenupheldby a minority of thosewho-were able to access the texts. It is with this in mind that a distinct body of texts (letters), written by thosewith poweraswell asthosewithout, is approached.


felt interest Greeklettersfrom Egypthavegenerated they as scholars research and much were at last able to accessthe thoughtsof whole communities(especiallythe early Christians)in Egypt. In the first half of the nineteethcentury, a book was compiled 'the from far known, list letters the termed so what author earliesttimes' until with a of the fifth centuryCE (Roberts1843). Different typesof letterswere included, and the body of the book consisted of a studyof thelettersof thechurchfathers.

Two later authors included their own prejudices and pre-conceptions in their studies of Greek letters from Egypt. Arinter gave an overview of the different types of letters, and attempted to explain the absenceor presenceof certain letter types. In explaining the lack of love letters (1933,129), he resorted to a generalisation not unusual for its time (compare Bell 1922), saying that 'the emotion was doubtless present, but the


is idealized the the purpose of creating emotion a more or with expressionof emotion lessliterary devicewhich lay beyondthecompetence of the Egyptianracemixture'. In Oxyrhynchus letters first four CE, devoted to the the of centuries a similar study, Meecharn(1923) celebrated the the way in which he felt the letters demonstrated universalityof humannaturethroughtime(1923,70).

The broad definitions of what type of text should be labelled as a 'letter' made by these New Kingdom from definitions little inevitably differ to applied authors still stand and letters. At the essential level, letters were a means of communication between those who because of distance were unable to, or who chose not to, carry out that 1923,37). in (Meecharn spoken conversation communication only a

Christian vs non-Christian letters

from letters into be insights the Centralto authorssuch as Vtrinter to gained were any beliefs of early Christians. Thus for Winter it was important to point out any distinguishing featuresbetweenChristian and non-Christian letters (1933,190-1). letter included biblical Factors used by Arinter in an assessment of a origin an of life. Christian to (1933,167-70) the approach platitudes about and references For

iffs bear 'unlike Christians their he their the that contemporaries, pagan example, stated in hope its fortitude finds a and new, pervading which source patiently and with a (1933,155). assurance'

This approach of Winter to lettersis now of dubious validity. The pre-conceptions lettersfrom this period, whether by a unity of expression havebeenundermined across Christianor not. It is not possibleto attributeto a Christianorigin letterswhich reveal it is Christian For today, be sentiments. scholars exclusively what usedto considered frequentlyimpossible to discernthe religious background of a letteron its style alone. It is only possiblewhen clearstatements of Christian belief and/or biblical references

203 are present. Ilus organising letter types into Christian as opposedto non-Christian on the basis of 'Christian' sentimentscan lead to false attributions.

This is reflectedby developments in the techniquesused to analyseletters: no longer is the most important division seen to be between Christian and non-Christian letters. Exler (1976,16,18) arguedthat the main division in lettertypes should be betweenthe 4real'and the'unreal'. 711us a'reA'Ietterwas one which was only meantto be read by the person/people in it (1976,15), and which may or may not show what he addressed termed'literary merit' (1976,17). The categoryof 'real' lettersmay also include those letters which were written with the possibility of becoming public, but the primary intention behind an 'unreal' letter was for it to be madepublic (Exler 1976,18). But, on the most basic level, Exler (1976,16) noted, a letter is merely a form of written conversation,with no long term relevance.

A more involved approachto the centralproblemof how to categorise thosetexts which purported to be letters but which had no origin as a 'real' letter was suggestedby Stirrwalt (1993). For him, the context in which a letter was written was crucial. Assessingthat contextshould then allow a more appropriateunderstanding of a letter's content. 'fictitious'. 'normative', 'extended' and Three types of settings were suggestedL-

A letterderived from a 'normative' setting was written by the sender'in his own name to addressees known directly or indirectly to him in a contemporary context' (Stirewalt 1993,2). This categorycan include official letters as well as personalletters between family and friends (Stirewalt 1993,6-15). Even though a recipientmay be addressed specifically by a writer, that letter could then be passed on to other individuals in'espective of the writer's wishes (Stirewalt 1993,2).

204 Letters from 'extended' settings (Stirewalt 1993,15-20) were intended for a wider audience. Such an audienceneed not have been known at all to the sender, and this type of letter'makes availableto whomever it may concernsomeknowledgeor position which the writer feels need to publicize' (Stirewalt 1993,15). These types of letters could be rhetorical in content, or could be a form of essay(Stirewalt 1993,18-20) in which the letterformed a preliminary version of somethingwhich was to be published. Related to this setting was the 'fictitious setting' (Stirewalt 1993,20-5), where those in a letter need not necessarilyhave existed. This comprisesletters such as addressed school exercisesas well as model letters and those written for entertainment. Spoken messages the delivery, or recitation, of all the above types of would haveaccompanied letters (Karisson 1962,17).

In this chaptera contrast is drawn between those letters of an 'extended' setting and those of a 'normative' setting (Exler's 'real' letter type). Tle letters of an 'extended' setting may mirror many of the self-consciousdepictions of self seen in those texts discussed above, with some of the 'normative' letters allowing a less careful presentation of self to be conveyed.


'In private letters especially the varied life of the common people stands self-portrayed' (Meecham 1923,21). This statementis questionable for two reasons: first on the basis

of the limited extent of literacy, and secondly because of the social restraints which seem to have govemed the composition of a letter. Formulaic expressions were as central to letters from this period as they were in the New Kingdom.

This is seenin many of the lettersdiscussedbelow, in which certainconventionsand

formulae persisted across time as well as across those with different beliefs. These

conventionshavebeenstudiedin detail. Greek lettershave beenthe focus of ana]Ysis

205 (Exler 1976). In these, three or four main sections (White 1981,91) have been identified, eachof which could be expandedand embellishedaccordingto the purpose of the letter. Any embellishmentswere also dependentupon the conventions of a particular period (Karlsson 1962,112). and by the tenth century Greek letters included far more protestationsof friendship than previously (Karlsson 1962,15). To aid this cohesivestyle, therewould have beenletterwriting manualsin Egypt (loannidou 1986, 6).

Coptic letters were just as carefully formulated, with the same divisions and similarly formulaic expressions. For example, a study of formulae in Coptic letters allowed a comparison between Greek and Coptic letters to be made (Biedenkopf-Ziehner 1983). Furthermore, the formulae and the topoi (for example, homesickness) in the Ude Ramesside letters and in Coptic (more specifically, Christian) letters have been

compared, showing some similarities in thought but at the same time, there are, not surprisingly, a number of differences (Biedenkopf-Ziehner 1996,22-9). Coptic letters

have been defined as 'a subdivision in Late Antique epistolography general' of (MacCoull 1986a 41). This is appropriate, Greek Coptic letters fact that the and given frequently arose from the same context, with the same authors.


The majority of Coptic letters are monastic in origin, either discovered during excavationsof monasticsites (such as the Monastery of Epiphanius) or bought from dealers. Such letterswere composed not only by monks or nuns, but were also written by those who lived in the vicinity of a monastery, conducting business with it or from it. needingassistance A wealth of apparentlytrivial matterswere committed to

writing as well. Thesehad only short term relevance,with the barestof explanations given by the letter writer. Likewise, most Coptic letters are undated(Worrell and Hussclman 1942,171). Any suggestionsof date made by modem editors usually

206 (onecenturyor more), and are basedon handwriting styles or covera broadtime-span pmvenance.

Monastic archives and sites also preserved quantities of Greek letters alongside the Coptic. Further sites which have generatedboth Greek and Coptic letters include towns such as Aphrodito. There are several main areas which the letters below come from, for example, Oxyrhynchus, Hermopolis and western Thebes. The Oxyrhynchus papyri were accidentally discovered in Oxyrhynchus, a town in Middle Egypt between Herakleopolis and Hermopolis (Figure 3). It became an important town in Egypt

during the Graeco-Romanperiod (MacLennan 1968,12). Papyri also survive from the Faiyum area, from towns such as Dionysias and Karanis (Davoli 1998,73-116,30124; Figure 3) as well as from Upper Egypt, for exampleAphrodito. This site has never been excavated scientifically, but the quantity of documents found there may suggest that the settlementhad been sizeable(MacCoull 1988,2-9).

Materialfrom threemonastic sitesfeatures stronglybelow. Kahle published370 of the 3000 texts found at the site of Deir el Bala'izah,which was a monastery twelve miles south of Asyut (1954, volume 1). The materialwas found in the course of an it has beenpossibleto date by Petrie,andbecause excavation of its secure provenance the texts to 675-775. Any texts from the Monasteryof Epiphaniushave a similarly secureprovenance as the site was excavated and published(Vinlock and Crum 1926; Crum and White 1926). The monastery was situatedon the west bank at Thebesand was occupieduntil aboutthe ninth century(Figure 81). At Wadi Sarga,a settlement wereunableto determine whether siteaboutfifteen milessouthof Asyut, theexcavators or not the sitehad beenexclusivelyoccupiedby members of the monasticcommunity. The areacontained many houses,as well as a seriesof caveswhich had beenturned into a churchandpaintedwith frescoes. This site was probablyoccupied betweenthe (Crum andBell 1922). sixth and seventh centuries


The authors of letters included figures such as Athanasius,Besa or a government official as well as much more peripheralfigures whose lives are otherwiselost. How far opinions expressed by such differing authorsconcurredis examinedbelow, as is any relationshipbetweenlettersand other forms of text from Egypt. The letters am thematically, throughtimenoted. analysed with, wherepossible,any changes

Delineation of the world In direct contrast to New Kingdom Egypt, therewerea numberof ever shifting official identifiesto which a resident of Egypt could subscribe. Clearguidance and instruction could be given by thosein Egypt with influence. Thus therewere different groupsof people, dispersedacross the country, all with their different foci. When political control was tight, thentherewas the addedfocus of a centralpower, whetherRoman, Byzantineor Islamic, demanding taxes,or corv6eduty anddelineating theremit of their power.

7he powerfid

Throughout the Coptic period, official letters were written and sent within Egypt as certain duties were exactedfrom the population. In the intial section of these letters the writers would list their titles, situating themselves in their political context. Clear

instructions were given to ensure the compliance of the population, who may or may not have stemmedfrom the sameideological background as their rulers.

In order to ensure the exaction of military service from an individual a careful letter was written in Latin, on behalf of 'Count of the Thebaid Frontier' by an underling (P.Ryl. IV 609). This datesto 505, and the writer commencedby listing the titles of his superior (lines 1-2), and then emphasised the power of the Byzantine empire. This order camestraight from the emperor himself, who was described in set terms derived from the Roman empire. Thus he was entitled 'Augustus' and at the same time his

208 'the sacred themost pious, the orderof our lord Anastasius, religiosity was guaranteed: individual, (line3/4). The directed Augustus' to the order one was conqueror, eternal identified first by name(Heracleon),then by paternity and finally by city of origin ([ortum e] civitati Hermupolitana).The rest of the letter was concerned with ensuring for a soldier. Thus despitethe loose fulfilled theminimumrequirements thatHeracleon by the Roman political control in Egypt, theidealsof tight centralpower, as epitomised by thoseseekingto retain Egypt as an imperial empireat its height, were maintained province.

Following the Muslim conquest of Egypt, the writers of official letters, frequently identity through their clear religious population, made administering a non-Muslim formulae at the beginning and end of letters. From the town of Aphrodito, which was the capital of an administrative area, some of the official letters written whilst Kurrah ibn-Sharik was governor (709-14) survive. These were written in Greek, Coptic or Arabic, with some of the taxation letters bilingual (Greek/Arabic) whilst others were non-literal translations (see Abbott 1938,7; Ragib 1981,173). The governor

commencedhis letters (these were frequently written on his behalf) with the phrase 'in the name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate', included the address, in which the is God, 'I be there then no other stated praise asserted, and governor's authority would God' (see Abbott 1938,42-4; Oriental Institute no. 13757 - an Arabic letter, Figure 45). After this statementof religious belief, the business of the letter could be dealt with, in this case the collection of taxes from bishops (Abbott 1938,43, lines 6-14), and the letter ended with the Islamic wish that 'peace be on those who follow the guidance' (lines 14-5). This final wish was one specifically phrased for non-Muslims; when God' blessing 'the this Muslims the of ended grace to of with part second writing (Abbott 1965,24). In another letter of the governor, demanding taxes from farmers

(Abbott 1938,47-9, Oriental Institute no. 13756 - in Arabic, with a Greek translation of the address;Figure 46), the actual writer of the letter stated his name and religion (lines 17-8) he was the 'Muslim ibn Laban'; this individual may have beena Coptic convert to

209 Islam (seeAbbott 1938,49). The stateasserted its authority over those of different beliefs,whilst makingits own beliefsclear.

For the residents of monasteries in Thebes, their Muslim rulers guaranteed them the right to live in safety and under their protection as long as they continued to Pay their poll-tax (which they had not paid during a rebellion). This was ordered in a late

seventh/early eighth century Greek letter (Bell 1926,266-75; P.Metr. Mus.Accession No. 24.24; Figure 47). It survives in Greek, but with the opening formula in Arabic as well, in which both the Islamic message ('in the name of God the Merciful, the Compassionate. There is no God but God, he alone and Mahommed is God's messenger': lines 1-6) and the name of the govemor of Upper Egypt were stated.

Alongside such assertionsof political control, in whichreligious beliefs were also made clear, were letters in which religious leaders sought to maintain religious authority. One of the methods used by Christian leadersto assertauthority, to provide guidance, and to delineate the boundaries neededto maintain a Christian life was through the festal letters (Brakke 2000,1114). These were addressedto the Christian population as a whole,

not to a particular person (therefore they fit Stirewalt's 'expanded' setting), and as such were read out in churches, monasteriesand in the open air, to an audience which often would have consistedprimarily of those committed to the religious life (see Lefort 1955 for Athanasius' I etters).

Oneof Athanasius'letterswas written in Greekon thewall of the vestibuleof the tomb of Thebes(see Chapter5), the church of the Monastery of Epiphanius. Athanasiuswrote the letter (which survives in severalversions) specifically to the monastic communitiesof Egypt, to ensurethat they did not descendinto heresy immediately his authorityover the monks, (P.Mon.Epiph. 585). Athanasius asserted Alexandria Archbishop (lines 1-2), and then addressedhis himself the of caffing

210 audience who were the 'orthodox monks in all places'. He went on to order them to remainorthodox, andto ignoreany heretics.

Arising out of a similar genre to the letter above, were letters written by renowned religious figures, ostensibly addressedto one person but which were copied and read out in public as well. Besa, the biographer of Shenoute, wrote to a lapsed nun, Herai. This letter was probably read out as a public denunciation and is preserved in a seventh/eighth century copy. The sins committed by Herai had led her to abandon her status as a Christian, and be liable to condemnationas part of the pagan world. Herai's

present situation meant that she was now descended from the pagan enemies of the Hebrews: 'Your father, he is an Amorite, and your mother is a Hittite' (Kuhn 1956, 109, V, 4, volume 2,105). Herai had entereda world which was in total opposition to the Christian.

Potentialdestabillsing influences

As in New Kingdom Egypt, threats to an accepted, ordered way of life could come from inside Egypt's borders as well as from outside. Both the non-Christian and the Christian were forced to flee from barbarian attacks (as shown in Shenoute's condemnation of a pagan landowner, seeBarns 1964,158). One of the most frequent

non-Christian groups of people to attack those in the Nile Valley were the Blemmyes (see Revillout 1874; R6mondon 1952,73-8), who at intervals exerted control over areas inside Egypt (R6mondon 1952,73). In Shenoute's writings in particular, the

term'barbarian' often referred to the Blemmyes (Revillout 1874, R6mondon 1952,745).

Such designations, however, did not need to refer to non-Egyptians nor did they need to be applied solely to those who physically attacked the Nile Valley. They could

did definition be to to the who not conform of anyone writer's simPly used signify

211 correctliving. In thebiographyof Samuel of Kalamun(seeabove),the potentialfor an individual to shakeoff the statusof a barbarianonce Christianity had been embraced The useof theterm 'barbarian'to expressanyonewho might cause was demonstrated. disorderhad a long history. In origin, the word was usedby the Greeksfor anyone non-Greek, which did not necessarilyneed to include negative connotations,but usually did (Finley 1975,122). The early Christiansthemselves were designated as barbarians by the Romanworld. Having achieved integrationinto the Roman world, however, Christiansceased seeing themselves as barbarians,but instead saw nonChristiansasbarbarians, usingthe word in the sameway as the Hellenisticand Greek (Stroumsa1996,343-7,351). For example,Strournsa (1996,358) notedthat sources 'theArabs areconsistently in lateAnd queliterature,includingmany Christian presented deserttribesdevoidof any respectable texts, as"real" barbarians, culturaltradition.' It having fled from barbarian to exhort his congregation, was evenpossiblefor Shenoute attacks,to treattheir children'barbarically'(Emmel1998,82,91).

Letter'writers situatedthemselves against the backgroundof the non-Egyptian,of barbarian/Persianaggression,whether writing in Greek or Coptic. They defined in oppositionto such categories themselves of people. For example,a woman, who described herselfasthe 'motherof Moses' wrote to a Romanofficial, Abbinaeus, living in Dionysias (in the Faiyum). Her letter, an appealwritten in Greek in about 346, from military servicefour days early. He askedthatsomeone calledHeronbe released had beenenlistedin 'the pursuitof thebarbarian'(P.Lond.11410).

in the face of attackby the non-Egyptianwere madeby Direct appeals for assistance different sectors of Egyptiansociety,to thosewithin and outsideEgypt. For example, the bishop of Syeneand Sephantinewrote in Greekin the fourth/fifth century to the (P.Uid. 11Z; Winter 1933,181). The disquiet Theodosius and Valentinus emperors felt as a result of the barbarianincursions was recorded, with the impact of those by the labelledas 'barbarians'described.The severityof the situationwas emphasised


writer with the phrase'we are in the midst of the neighbouringbarbarians',who were also allegedto havebeendestroyingchurches. Such lettersoriginating from all over theByzantineworld would havebeenall too familiar.

When appealsto governmentalofficials becamepointless, then monasteriesbecameone for Egyptians turn the to could assistance against non-Egyptian of which places aggression. Thus an individual, called Papas, wrote in Coptic to Apa Elisaius, maldng Figure family CrumVC 67; 48). behalf himself his (O. of and an emphatic appeal on His family had become refugees, escaping from what was described as the 'south' to the 'north' becauseof the 'Persian'. The urgency of the situation was made clear. For example, Papas described the hunger of his children, how he had to bring them north 'that they may live', and expressedhis fear that the 'Persian' would come north to find him.

did not provideany detailson his aggressor, Despite his eloquence on his plight, Papas further did 'Persian'. The him describing the any not need as recipient merely label sufficed. informationin orderto understand thenatureof the threat,a generalised For themodemreader,it leaves open:whethertheterm 'Persian' was several questions Crum (1939a, 32) just for for person. of or one particular used a group people, that it referredto a group of people,entitling the letter 'from a man fleeing presumed beforethe Persians'. The issueof what the 'Persian' had actuallydonewas not dealt with at all in this letter.

for help at the Monasteryof Epiphanius,two When writing in Coptic to Panachora 'barbarians' Susanna the the Maria about misdeeds of were explicit and women, (P.Mon.Epiph.170). This letter is in a fragmentarystate, and was written in two In by Susanna, handwriting. in by Maria first the their second the and own sections, the extantparts of the letter, both Maria and Susannashowed greatrespecttowards Actual describing Panachora, their plight. physical violencewas enumerated. whilst

213 The barbarianshad taken the 'father and the son', and were also alleged to have (herethetext is missing). murdered someone

One woman living in Thebes, wrote to a priest (possibly Bishop Pisenthius see Drescher 1945,94) and attributedmuch of her difficult situation to the Persians (Drescher1945,91-2). She was alone,as her husbandhad died and her son had left Thebes,and was unableto pay the tax sheowed. The Persians hadplayeda significant role in her crisis: they had stolenher cattle(line 18), and were also accused of having beaten her son (this is uncertaingiven the lacunain the text - linesIS-6). One of the for which therecipientwas urgedto help her was that she would otherwisebe reasons evictedfrom her house,andforcedto be an exile(lines23-4).

For the Egyptian, a resignation about the inevitability of Persian attacks enabled to be madein order to minimisetheir effect. In this, monasteries preparations could play a centralpart. An ostracon,found at the Monasteryof EpiphaniUS, recordedthe takenby a widow calledTheclaand her husbandin an attemptto avoid the measures disruption caused by the Persians. On this ostracon Thecla had written to the for corn which her husband had givento a priestto sow monastery, askingfor payment (P.Mon.Epiph300; Figure 49). This corn had been sown in order to provide

necessary extra food suppliesshould the Persianshave come south, causingchaos. This letter, and two others from the Monasteryof Epiphanius(P.Mon.Epiph.433; P.Mon.Epiph.324), may have been specifically referring to the Persianoccupation: 'thesePersians who held Egypt from 619 to 629' (Winlock and Crum aretheinvaders 1926,99).

The use of generic terms ('barbarianTPersian' for Coptic Egypt - with 'Persian' sometimes actuallyreferring to Persians)to denotefear-inducinggroups of people, distinguishingthem from those who were no threat to orderedliving, allowed letter writers to expresstheir situationconcisely. Yet the interchangeability of theseterms,

214 incursionsand raids against and their use both for those who conductedaggressive follow belief for in Egypt living those to the who same chose well as not as people systemas theletterwriter leadto a lack of precisionas soonas a letter is read out of its original context.

This is seenin particularin a late sixth/early seventhcentury Coptic ostraconfrom Luxor (Smith 1974,61-6). This referredto problemscausedby the barbarians: the writers AgathonandMarthaaskingthattherecipient'be so kind asto prayfor meas the barbarians havedisturbedus very much. Alongsidetheuncertainty asto the identity of (disturbed),which was used the 'barbarians, the writers haveuseda verb, UJTOPTP , (Smith 1974,65). This both for ideologicaldissentas well as for actsof aggression in two different ways: the writers were victims of letter can, therefore,be understood had Egyptians); (or they the or part of rebellious on non-Egyptians physicalaggression Luxor. inhabitants had ideological disagreements of with certain In both cases,

barbarians difference: however,therewas a cleardelineation the wereoutsiders. of

It was not always necessary, however, for letter writers to resort to the terms 'barbarianTPersian' when describing unrest in Egypt. One sixth/seventh century

Greek papyrus referred to disorder and plunder within Egypt, but did not label the Epiph. 624). barbarian Mon. (P. Persian or as plunderers as Nevertheless, these two

terms were central in establishing difference - with negative connotations.

The unknownperson,the 'stranger, alsoformed an essential point for those reference living in Egypt. People could be termed strangerswhether they came from a in Egypt, designation from the of a situation town reflected outside or neighbouring did discussing When however, discussed there Persian/barbarian not strangers, above. being the be a stranger to although condition connotations, of actually negative any need designation, by It be the term to an official used was a as as envied. well was not one wider population(MacMullen1964,184).


This was reflectedinthe GreekandCopticterminology. As had long beenestablished, the GreekCVOq could referto a strangcror to a foreigner, and bound up with the term
were Greek perceptions of the hospitality owed to a stranger. In the Coptic, likewise held both meanings, with o9

the term for 'hospitable' (see for example,

P.Neph. 15). vy&g was used in both Greek and Coptic to mean stranger as well as


The designation'stranger' was often an official one used especiallywith reference to tax collection. In the fourth centuryGreekarchiveof a landlord called Isidorus who lived in Karanis, there is an official letter, written in 308/309, dealing with the for strangers.It statedthat all strangers living in the villages government requirements for which the official was responsible,had to be handed over for tax purposes (P.Cair.Isid. 126).

Strangers were just one section of the population which needed to be kept track of. Thus in the eighth century a high official (possibly the governor of Aphrodito) wrote in Coptic to a subordinate demanding that he monitor the strangers of that district (P. Ryl. Copt. 277). For the bishop of Shmoun trying to catch and punish those who had stolen corn, flax and hens, strangersformed just one potential guilty segmentof the population (P.Ryl. Copt. 267; Figure 50). He wrote to a town, threatening the

population, taking care to specify all its different sectors('now whether it is a man or a woman or a stranger or a man of the town'), each of which 'will be under the curse of the law and the prophets' (lines 5-7). Figures from biblical texts were thus invoked to threatenthe population, and the bishop ended his letter with further threats towards the culprits (unidentified as yet) basedupon biblical curses.

216 Those labelledas strangers regularlyfeaturedin non-official lettersas well as official, in what arenow very elusivecontexts often mentioned with no further explanation as to their identification(O.Brit. Mus.Copt.I 50,1). for us by the use of the label confusion caused An extremeexampleof the potential is shown by a letter from the

Monasteryof Epiphanius(P.Mon.Epiph.413). This letter asked that somethingbe given to the 'camelherds of Djeme and the strangers'. The unexplained referenceto strangerswas understoodby Crum (Crum and White 1926,260) to refer either to from another refugees nomeor to extracamels. That it was possibleto label animalsas is demonstrated by letter from Monastery the well as humansas j- A--, another of --c; Epiphanius in which an ass was described using the same terminology (P.Mon.Epiph.487), aswell asby a seventh/eighth centuryletterin which a transaction involving a foreign camelwas discussed (O.Vind.Copt.254).

More straightforward to strangers references existin both GreekandCopticnon-official Besodorus (seebelow) saw it contexts. For example, writing in Greekto Theophanes as a sourceof disquiet that he had to find out from strangershow his friend was (P.Herm.6). He complained (who was away on a trip) aboutthis, and to Theophanes was clearly annoyed. In a Coptic seventh/eighth century letter a contrastwas drawn between homeand the houseof a stranger(O.Vind.Copt-286;Figure 53). The writer him as 'your brotherliness',and asking was keento pleasethe recipient,addressing him to makeknown his requirements. The writer allegedhe would fulfill his needs 'whetheryou are in the houseof the strangeror in your own household,you will not lack for anything'(lines 14-7).

An awarenessthat assignation as a stranger immediately consigned someone to a status lower than that of most other sectors in the population, a potential destabilising force, meant that strangers expressed gratitude for kind treatment, and were apparently surprised to receive it. For those who were beneficient towards strangers, it was an

extra source of praise, and indeed, such action could be understood as Christian. A


the situation:they were phrasein a letter written by a group of strangers summarises strangers,yet their hostswere kind to them, and this was repaidthroughthe strangers ie theycaused not fulfilling their stereotype; no harmto their hosts or to their churches. They wrote (P.Mon.Epiph.171): 'we arestrangers andyou accepted us because of God havenot doneevil to you or to your churches'. An individual called and we ourselves Andreas, who identified himself as a stranger, asked the recipient, a deacon, to remember him simply becausehe was a stranger 'you know I am a stranger' (P.Mon.Epiph.192). This statusderivedfrom thefact that Andreashad only arrivedat the monastery recently.

When in the homelocality, the statusof stranger was discarded.Thus complaintswere voicedby thoseforcedto be awayfrom home. This is seenin two Greekletters. Ile first, a fourth centuryletterfrom Oxyrhynchusappears to mirror closelyButehamon's (seeChapter3),despitearising from an obviously complaintswhenawayfrom Thebes Figure Judas far-removed 5 1), his letter Oxy. XLVI 3314; In (P. to this wrote context. father andto his wife, and expressed for being in Babylon. He had had a his distaste riding accident whilst away from home, and askedthat his father and wife come and help him home(lines 16-9). EventhoughJudaswas only in theEgyptianBabylon (see Rea 1978,103), he wrote asif he was far further afield. It was far enough.

The second letter, written in Greek during the fifth century by a woman, Tare, demonstratedthat it was the presenceof farriily, of friends, which made a non-familiar locality habitable (P.Bour. 53; )Winter 1933,159). Tare wrote to her aunt expressing

her unhappiness at being in a place called Apamia, possibly the well-known town in Syria (Collart 1926,103). Her mother had just died, and Tare wrote about her ensuing loneliness. Her troubles were two-fold; she was now alone and in a 'foreign place'.

No such eloquent complaints were made by someoneforced to be away from home on govermment service (P.Bal-187). This Coptic letter from Bala'izah describes the

218 from service. In thefirst five lines of the letter, the attempts of the writer to be released writer addressed a whole selection of individualsalongwith their children, asking them to pray for him. He also requestedthat prayers were made on his behalf in the monasteries and churchesof his home village (lines 4-5, also Kahle 1954,601, footnote 6). It was only after this introductionthat he beganto describewhat had happened to him whilst awayfrom home:'God desiredandI went to Babylon, through God's will being safe. I broughtthe letter in to the governorand God desiredand I ' (lines 5-8, see also Kahle 1954,-600). God's role in his fate was was released... continuallyemphasised of the writer to andtherestof the letterrelatedfurther attempts be released.Therewas no explicit statement by the writer of any unhappiness at being from service away from home. Nevertheless, his concerted attemptsto be released indicate for family his desire friends his their to prayers ask alongside reassure and and that he would havepreferred to be at home.

The conditionof beingawayfrom home,of being amongstthosewho were unknown, inside felt 'stranger' feared. It being be thus to whether or was and of a was one in such a conditionwas to be praised. Ways in someone outsideEgypt, andassisting letter from be included home writing as well as the could which absence eased forced to travel (seeLeyerle2000,458provision of lettersof introductionto someone imposed 63 for theperils of travel). The conditionof 'being a stranger'was sometimes by the stateas a punishment, as seenin the variousexiles(within Egypt) enduredby Athanasius. Siwa Oasiswas one of the destinations to which peoplecould be exiled (Kuhlmann 1998,173).

Others imposed on themselvesa state of exile in order to fulfill a religious need. In Samuel of Kalamun's life (see above), Samuel expressed great joy that God was to Scetis (Alcock 1983,3,39,77,119). him to accompany No longer would he be a

from his home by himself away surroundings. Two martyrologies stranger, wandering from ninth century manuscripts, depict the condition of being a stranger as so hard that


to have undergoneit was a sourceof extra praise. In the martyrdomof Paeseand Thecla, Paese was told by an angelthat therewere three achievements which merited sainthood:havingbeena stranger,martyrdomandchastity(Reymondand Bams 1973, 70,177,81 Ri). All three Paesehad either achievedor was about to. The same

to SheDoufe criteria, with the exceptionof chastity, were presented and his brethren (ReymondandBarns 1973,88,190,107 Ri 10). Their martyrdoms were to be carried The out in a strange city. The hardshipsof being a strangerwere thus acknowledged. letterwriters discussed in suchfeelings. to haveshared aboveseem

The delineation of the world was utterly dependent upon the perspective of the writer. Egypt was now just one of many states undergoing a chaotic and increasingly decentralised found Egyptians different foci in the situation, political midst of which following the Muslim conquest. Thus a even when centralisation was re-established due to dichotomyonly had a very limited relevance, superficialEgyptian/non-Egyptian but also the divisionsin theEgyptianworld, not only on the basisof status/occupation on the basisof religiousidentities.

A unifying feature amongst letter-writers was the willingness to perceive the world in (the interpretation of terms of order and disorder, with barbarians/Persians/strangers these labels flexible) a source of disorder, and with the desire to maintain order paramount. It was not necessaryto subscribe to pharaonic ideologies of chaos vs order to perceive the world in similar terms: the differences (both between pharaonic and Coptic Egypt and betweenthose living in Coptic Egypt) were the solutions to chaos. In Coptic Egypt these could be assessedas subscribing to the correct belief system, be it Christian or non-Christian, or to ensuring the imposition of power, Roman, Byzantine or Muslim. world. It was such solutions which created outsiders, and which defined the

220 Theapexof theorderedworld

The apparently single focus provided by the king for New Kingdom Egyptians was not reflected in the Coptic period. Religious and political power were not united in one figure. The religious world was one of openly competing and fundamentally opposed beliefs, in which different leaderstried to assertinfluence and authority. Authority on a political level was similarly assertedby the different echelonsof bureaucracy, which did not need to share the same belief system as those under their control. In many of the letters which survive, the writers show a sense of hierarchy and social position. The is likewise Egyptians had New Kingdom to those with any power which address care demonstratedin Coptic period letters, in which formulaic phrases of respect were also central.

Establishment ofhlerarchy

The relationshipbetweenthe writer and the addressee through set was established far This in hailed to the the writer. superior was as one which addressee often phrases, was commonto lettersderivedfrom Christianas well as non-Christiancontexts,and has beenseenasa centralaspect to CopticEgyptin which patronage was the main form in fourth Greek For (MacCoull 1989,502). a century example, of socialorganisation letter (possibly from Hermopolis- Rees 1964,5) Anatolius, a follower of Hermes Trismegistuswrote to Ambrosius (P.Herm3; Figure 55). VVhilstclearly statinghis Ambrosius Anatolius ('chief to with greatrespect, wrote prophet'), own socialposition terming him the 'foremostof the wisdom of the Greeksand one who is pleasingand beneficialfor us' (lines 4-6). He endedthe letterby askingthat HermesTrismegistus for This letterforins happiness 'bestow of ever'. the you oneof several on gods andall the same archive. Despitethe writers showing great respectfor those they were theaddressee. theynevertermedthemselves asunworthyto approach addressing,


In many of the Christian letters, often derived from monasticarchives, the writers individuals. humble This the themselves as unworthy presented emphasis on a view of through the self, in contrastto theelevated statusof therecipientis inevitablyreinforced monasticcontextof theletters. Their contentwas dictatedthroughtheir purpose:often for assistance the writer was approaching a monastery or with a business proposition. The necessityfor humility may not have been so greatwhen writing to individuals outside the religious hierarchy: humility as an aspectof self seemsto have been particularly markedfor a Christian seekingto live correctly. In the context of the Monasteryof Epiphaniusmaterial,it was thought 'sufficiently clearthat this epithetof humility belongs,with hardly an exception,to the clergy and the religious' (Winlock and Crum 1926,129).

A sixth/seventh century Coptic letter from Wadi Sarga (O. Sarga 109) is representative of this type of letter. The writer apologised for asking for assistancewhilst at the same time elevating the status of the recipient. For example, the writer stated that: 'I know that I have been daring in that I have written to your most holy and honoured fatherhood, in excessof my worthiness'.

Language such as this could also be used between people of apparently similar status, who neverthelessassertedtheir humility: for example, a letter from Djeme was written to a bishop by a bishop (O. Crum VC 39; Figure 56). In this the ordination of a priest he favour, Isaac, because discussed, the was seeking a writer, was and, presumably Mchaias Isaac Mchaias, that the was asking respect. with extreme addressed recipient, Isaac NEchaias him. Thus having to as the referred refused previously accept priest, 'your angelhood', 'your goodness', 'your sanctity'and he signed the letter'froin Isaac, this humblest bishop'.

Referencesto worshipping or kissing the feet of the recipient were a central technique in

letters, Greek Such both Coptic his/her to are common and phrases status. elevating


and werenot exclusivelyusedfor addressing members of the churchhierarchy. When during the sixth/seventh writing to a memberof the military bureaucracy century, an individual (Christopher) wrote that 'in writing this I very greatlyworship and kiss the footstepsof my masteruntil we meet' (P.Oxy.LIX 4006). This letter was written in Greekto a comesnamedTheodorus,and was solely concerned with military uniform, yet such emphaticexpressions of loyalty and respectwere not out of place in such a context.

Similarly, in a Copticbusiness letter,addressed to a monk (Apa Georgios),the writer, Kosma, expressed his respect for Apa Georgiosin equivalent terms(P.Fay.Copt.25). This letter was among manuscriptsfound by Petrie during his excavationsin the Faiyum, which were datedby Crum to betweenthe beginningof the eighth and the early ninth century(Cruin 1893,vi). Kosmawrote to Apa Georgiosabouta cloak and his respectfor Apa Georgios: 'Before a solidus, and beganthe letterby emphasising everything,I greetand kiss the dust of the feet of my patron, lord, father, and all the peoplewho areorthodox'. 11isrespect was offeredto thosewho fitted within his own world view, which was at variance with the world-view of those in power in Egypt. The two were able to co-exist. A reiteration of Kosma's apparentlyself-aware subservient relationshipwith Apa Georgioswas providedlater on in the letter, where KosmaaskedApa Georgiosto 'command your son andyour slave' if he had any other requests.

letterswhich recordthe The archiveof theMonastery numerous contains of Epiphanius in humility to theelevationof the recipient,with the writer contrast subservience of and the writer desiringto kiss thefeetof the recipient(seeP.Mon.Epiph.113; 239; 411). A by letterno. 431 (P.Mon.Epiph.43 1). This was written is represented typical example by Apa Victor to Apa Psan,andwas apparently abouta boy who was to be sentto Apa I do obeisance I kiss Psan. In this Apa Victor wrote that'Before everything, to you and 0


the dust of the feet of your fatherhoodwhich is holy until the good God makesme worthy to seeyour angel[sic] faceto face' (lines 1-3).

A more exaggeratedexample is seenin letter no. 164 (P.Mon. Epiph. 164) in which the writer stated that 11lick the dust of the feet of your goodness'. Alongside addressing members of the Monastery of Epiphanius as 'your angelhood', there were also references to the 'perfume' brought about by the actions of such people (for example see P.Mon. Epiph. 163; 247; 354). A townsperson wrote to a monk in the monastery expressing gratitude: 'our whole town is filled with perfume after your lordship spoke about the temptations which the hater of mankind has carried out' (P.Mon. Epiph. 216).

A further technique for reinforcingthe seniorityof the recipientwas for the writer to denotehim/berselfas a 'slave', as seenin Kosma's letterabove. In both Greek and it is Coptic, however,thewords for 'slave' canalsobe translated as 'servant', therefore (see Crum 1939b, hard to interpretthe exactimplicationsbehind such protestations 665awhereP), is translated as both servantandslave). 'Mere would not have beenthe sameclear-cutdistinctionbetween'servant' and 'slave' as is in modem terminology. The blurring of categories was similar to that seenin the New Kingdom (see Chapter 2).

Use of such language occured in letters from the fourth century as well as later. Sirivianou (1989,133) fourth/fifth out a singled century Christian Greek letter

(P.Oxy. LVI 3862) as being 'remarkable for the exuberanceof its pious language'. In it, Philoxenus wrote to his parents and his uncle, calling himself 'your slave and worshipper'. He was writing in order to thank the recipients for their letter, for

his He let health. know honey included to them and about and olives, presents which list Theletter be including his to that a conveyed of a nun. people, greetings also asked ended with a requestfor prayers, listing the namesof five saints. Philoxenus sought to his father his to referred status, and as other writers referred to their pious reinforce


patrons, or ecclesiastical superiors. This is seenin the addressof the letter, where Philoxenuswrote 'To my most honourable father Zoilus [from] your slavePhiloxenus in the lord God'.

As stated by Sirivianou, Philoxenus' letter appears to have been exceptional, but this language was also seen in other types of letters. Theophilus, writing in Greek to his employer John, in the sixth century, called himself a 'slave of your magnificence' (P. Oxy. 1 140). A further letterfrom. Oxyrhynchus, dating to the sixth/seventh century, leaves questions as to whether the letter writers were slaves in reality, or not (P.Oxy. LIX 4008; Figure 52). This was written on behalf of some estate workers, who used the term xaLbaptov to refer to themselves. This is a word on which their, is

literally it means no general agreementa young child, but could also be used to mean (Handley et at 1992,184-6, note 2). It was written by this group of slave/servant people to their landowner, and they showed the samehumility as those writing in feet kiss Coptic to monksfrom the Monastery 'First Epiphanius: the of our good we of lord. We ask you, lord, give orders to receivethe little fish to the esteemof your "slavee'. For we know, lord, thatwe cannotfind anythingworthy of your status'. A date),written in Coptic by Pisraelto a bishop showed much shorterletter(of uncertain is in father, honoured 'I do lord to who every and a similar subservience: obeisance my way, your slavePisrael'(O.Brit. Mus.Copt.l. 52,6).

Sinful self as opposed to virtuousother

Alongside the expressions of humility when dealingwith anyoneperceivedto be of importance,ran declarations of sinfulnesson the part of the letterwriter. In this, the in his/her the letter to the writer aid sins - yet requested removing was of recipient from inevitably God forgiveness to the come only apexof was acknowledged ultimate theworld for Christianwriters in Egypt.


Amongst the archive of Meletianletters, recordedin copies, was a letter written in Greek to Apa Paeiousrecordingan urgentneedto havehis sins forgiven (P.Lond.Vl 1917; Figure 57). The letter, as with others from this archive, dates to the fourth century,and providesan eloquentexampleof the denigrationof self in contrastto the thathe was 'lowly andafflictedandunworthy to elevationof another. The writer stated look upon thelight of thesun, so thatGod may [cancel]the decree of my sins by your most secure andmost holy prayers' (lines 6-8). He went on to relatethat he had also written to monksin Lower andUpperEgypt to secure moreprayersfor the forgiveness of his sins. Thus the writer could call on thosemore worthy than himself to ask for forgiveness for his sins from God.

Such themes appear again and again in Coptic letters as well.

Letter writers directly

identified themselves as sinners in contrast to the much more perfect state of being achieved by the recipient (O. Brit. Mus. Copt. I 57,2 pottery ostracon (O. Brit-Mus. Copt. 1 23,4) 14081; P.Mon. Epiph. 208). On a

someone asked that the recipient 'be so

kind and remember to pray for me, so that God forgives me my sins as they are hindering me... '. The text breaks off at this point; Hall (1905,31) restored and

translatedthe last section of the letteras 'dragging me down to Hell'.

In an attempt to emphasisehis sinful state, Teras in a letter from Djeme (thus dating to some point before the end of the ninth century) identified himself as a dog. The letter was written to Apa Frange (see Chapter 5- Frange lived in Sheikh Abd el-Quma), and in it Teras repeatedly asked for prayers. He concluded his letter

(O. Medin. HabuCopt. 137; Figure 54) by thanking Apa Frange for his letters: 'I rejoiced because is dog heart dead indeed you remembered a which whole with my very much Farewell' lines 4-11). (verso rejected sinner. and a worthless stenches, and which


in the A similarly dejected was put acrossby an individualwriting to someone message Monastery of Epiphanius, who claimed not even to be worthy to approach the footprintsof therecipient. This letter(P.Mon.Epiph.140; Figure 58) was sent in order to organisethewriting of a book for a novice,nevertheless thewriter's inferior position was clearlyconveyed: person,and I am not - 'Oh brother,forgive methatI ama careless to theprints of thefeetof your holiness. Forgiveme for I am a worthy to do obeisance (lines27-3 1). gossipandI havewritten manywords which arenot my measure'

Despitesuch expressions of utter submissionto thoseperceivedto be superior, there in return. thatsuchallegedlysuperiorindividualsdo something was alsotheexpectation individual It was a two-way process, in New Kingdom the would be where an muchas hailed at the sametime as being criticisedor askedfor help, without hypocrisy (see Baines2001,18-20). Theseforms of address of self were not merely and denigration to carefully phrased naive, unthinking 'respect'. This was seenabovewith reference businessletters,but was also seenin other contexts. For example,one Coptic letter from Karnak (O.Brit. Mus.Copt.1 54,1; Figure 69) was superficiallysolely written to felt Yet hierarchy. the to the writer still church accompany gifts presented members of to lift up ableto askfor prayersandholy water in return: 'Be so good as to remember little holy hands us, send a water of over and shadow and placeyour your which are blessingso thatl canthrow it on the animals which areill'(Iines 6-12).

Even during this period of changeand political uncertainties, those actually living in Egypt seemto havehad a clear idea of how their world was structured.Those who demandedrespectand reverence were, as in the New Kingdom, those who held lives the to were or who in a position of those affect control political religiousauthority, local for family, for it father Thus the them. a was possible of a who approached for a monk or for a bishop to be addressed landowner,for a military overseer, with individual, focus For be different to there each adoration. a of could similar phrases his/herworld, rangingfrom an employerto an ascete. Moreover,the majority of these

227 letters contain no mention of a political power: that was distant and of no apparent relevanceto the functioning of life, especially given the overwhelming monastic context of the letters.

Differentiation within the Egyptian world

The variety of life patterns followed within Ea, pt at this period meant that merely living Ely within Egypt's geographical borders need not have provided a primary sense of identity. This was similar to the position in New Kingdom Egypt, where, even though there was a central government and a distinctly Egyptian ideology, Egyptians could look more to the local environment and to their own networks of family, friends and business contacts for a sense of belonging, of self. The contrast of physical

environments was just as strong in Coptic Egypt, and the living conditions differed in Greek in from Urban life Alexandria, the to of originally one or greatly place place. towns, was distinct in many ways from life in Upper Egypt (Krause 1981,53). Yet

different geographical settings did not prevent apparently disparate groups of people sharing in belief systems and a world-view.

Theformation and maintenance ofcommunities

The liberal use of kinship terms in letters created communities of people with shared beliefs, and helped to maintain them. At times these kinship terms did reflect an actual family relationship, at others, not (for example, see P.Brookl. 19; P.Oxy. LXIII 4365). A fourth century Greek letter (potentially between Christians, as divine providence was Oxy. LVI by list kinship (P. long included to terms all referred of people a addressed) 3859). Horigenes, the author of the letter, wrote in order to inform the recipient,

Sarapammon, that he could not meet up with him as had been arranged, but half the letteris a list of people whom Horigenes greeted. Sirivianou (1989,120) commented that 'altogether he salutes fourteen "brothers", five "sisters", two "mothers", and one


is hardly likely to be his real "father", who at this inconspicuous placein the catalogue father. This illustrates very well the widespread use of the terms of family


in kinship Protestations abound clearly non-Christianletters as well (Sirivianou of 1989,116; Rees 1964,7), for example,amongstthe fourth century Greek lettersof from Hermopolis(seeabove). Two individuals,JohnandLeon, wrote to Theophanes, him as 'our belovedbrother', and the sole purpose of their Theophanes, addressing letter was to greetTheophanes and wish him good health(P.Herm.4; Figure 59). In from a numberof people,presumably the raiddleof this letter,theypassed on greetings those who sharedin their religious beliefs: 'all the brothers who are with us and Dionysiusfrom Attinu, who met you at Athribis, greetyou' (lines8-11).

Despite the differences in belief between communities in Coptic Egypt, the same modes letters fourth Meletian Greek be Thus the the of of expression could used. amongst in similar terms to the noncentury, a strong sense of community was provided, Christian letter above. For example, Pennes wrote to Apa Paieous describing their physical distance but also their proximity provided by their shared religious beliefs (P.Lond. VI 1919). He noted how they 'shall be called Christians in Christ', and sent greetings to Apa Paeiousand his brothers.

Suchexpressions could be madein eitherGreekor Coptic, by the samecommunities, in (for Coptic Apa Paeious letter further Melitian to by or eitherfrom written as shown a discussionof this seeBell 1924,94). In this the writer identified the recipientas a 'soldier of Christ', as 'my fatherand my beloved', and went on to greetthe different Greek late fourth/early fifth letter both In VI 1921). Lond. (P. and one century monks Coptic were used, the majority of the letter in Greek, with five lines in Coptic to 'my (P.Amh.II 145). This letter was written by Apa Johannesand addressed in God, Paulos'. belovedbrotherandblessed


This sense like-mindedpeoplepersisted throughthis period. Inthe of kinship between sixth century archiveof Dioscorus,his father, also a monk, was greetedin a Coptic letteras 'my belovedhonoured brother' (P.YaleCopt.1; MacCoull 1988,9). Afurther letterfrom. this archive(P.YaleCopt.19; Figure 61) suggested a unity provided with Christians outside Egypt: 'Be so good as to rememberme, and rememberall the brothersandfathersandthewhole peopleof God' (lines5-6).

A genreof lettersidentifiedamongst the Greek sourcesis the lettersof introduction,in to another,on the basis of religious belief. which someone would be recommended Suchletterstendedto follow a setformat (Naldini 1968,127; Sirivianou 1989,111-4), and provided a guarantee of a welcome for a stranger. A fourth century letter (P.Oxy.XXXVI 2785), written to a priest of Heracleopolis askedthat he received'in peace our sisterTaion' (seelines 4-7). A further fourth centuryletter(P.Oxy. XXXI from onecommunityto another,referringto eachother 2603; Figure70) sentgreetings as 'brothers', but at the same time asking that a group of people be treatedwell: 'therefore,receive (lines 25-6). themin love as friends, for they are not catechumens' The request they they were to be treated well because went on to statetheir credentials; (perhapsin a monasticcontext - see Harrop 1962,135) with two were associated namedindividuals, and the requestconcludedwith a quote from the New Testament (lines 27-9). Harrop (1962,139) understoodthe care with which theseindividuals as arising from the disputesbetweendifferent Christian groups, were recommended might be his relationshipto certainpersons when 'the ground of a man's acceptability order'. ratherthanhis placein a widely settled

Such lettersenabledindividuals to travel acrossdifferent parts of Egypt, from one communityto another,makinga journey both saferfor the individual and reinforcing One letterwas between by Sirivianou(1989, groups. religious understood connections to the local clergy at eachstop on thejourney'. 114)asa 'generalletterto be presented

230 In this letter,from thefourth century,a woman was recommended, refeffed to as $our daughter'(P.Oxy.LVI 3857). Sirivianou's interpretation of the purposeof the letter
arose from its address 'my beloved brothers and fellow ministers in every place'.

Just as the lettersof introductionrequiredfair treatment for an individualon the basisof a sharedbelief, so too did other letters on a variety of issues demand action by Christianity. A monk calledSasnos to a shared appealing to helpout a was encouraged 68). group of peoplein debt, by someonecalled Harpocration(P.NagHamm. Tlis

Greek letter of the fourth century,reusedin the bindingsof the Nag Hammadi texts, for Sasnos to refuse:'be diligent, belovedone, and help the madeit almostimpossible brother,for thus it is fitting for your love of Christ'. A similar impossibility to refuse in a letter written in Latin and Greekto Pascentius, during the fifth/sixth was created century. Pascentius was urgedby the writer, Theon (who may havebeena priest), to treatan old womanandher sonwith duerespect to andfairness. Theontold Pascentius look into her casecarefully,assess thesituationandhelpthewomanout 'as a Christian should' (P.Oxy.XVIII 2193).

The construction of places. of worship for Christian communities was inevitably encouraged as a devout action, as communities laid down visible witnesses of their presence on the physical landscape of Egypt. Didymus, writing in Greek in the

fourth/fifth century (P.Oxy. LIX 4003; Figure 62) wrote to Athanasius, encouraging him to act with no delay in the building of a church: 'By your god in heaven, as you shall find wives for your male children, above all, as I am your debtor for this great gift, dedicate yourself to the church! ' (lines 3-11). Further encouragement for

Athansius was provided by the statementthat this work was for the sake of both their souls.


Language asa deviceof exclusion

As has been seen, there was a broad unity of expression across different groups of people, and across this period. For these individuals, their sense of belonging was reinforced through written statementsof shared beliefs. One further set of documents may suggest the actual manipulation of the written form of the language in order to provide a distinct identity. Those who were unable to read this written form of the language, despite being literate, would have been excluded. At the same time, it is important to bear in mind Bagnall's warning that 'a text, or even a whole library of texts, does not make a sect or a community' (Bagnall 1993,304).

Yet it is hardto understand in Coptic documents, this selection written and published of by Crum, asanythingotherthanrepresenting a specificgroupof people,with a distinct dateto somepoint in the eighth century setof beliefs(Crum 1940). Thesedocuments (1940,3), and despitebeing composed in Coptic were actuallywritten out with the Greekscript. Two of the documents were letters,coveringthe usualrangeof subject matter. For example,letter no. Il (Crum 1940,10-12, plate II; Figures 63-4) was to David, andincludedvery warm greetings written by Macarius aswell asa discussion of business matters.

Such a total avoidance of the Coptic script when writing a number of documents in Coptic is unusual. Even those sounds which are exclusive to Coptic were instead rendered by a combination of Greek signs. Crum understood this as signifying that the texts were written by Egyptians whose first languagewas Greek but whose knowledge of Coptic was not very great. The logical conclusion of Crum's argumentwas thus that the texts arose from a Greek speaking sectarian community, for example the Melkites (Crum 1940,5).

232 It appears surprising, however,that the format of thesedocuments should have been put down to an inability in the Coptic language. The more complicated stageof the language,ie its grammarand structure,had beenmastered by thosewho wrote the texts. Surely the script represented the least problematicalaspect of the Coptic language, Coptic letterswith combinations andworking out how to represent of Greek lettersmusthavebeenchallenging.Ratherthanstemming from a group of peoplewith little knowledgeof Coptic, thesedocuments appearinsteadto have resultedfrom an intimateknowledgeof both languages, purposefullymanipulated. What that purpose was, however,remains unclear.

An alternative viewpoint was put forward in an analysis of the many Coptic dialects (Kasser 1966). In this, it was argued that these texts were actually written in a dialect, named'dialect G' (Kasser 1966,106). The only evidence for this 'dialect' stems from the above texts. Kasser concluded: Te dialect G, malheureusement fort mal. attest6, ne saurait 6tre consid6r6 bohairique d'orthographie un anormale, produit par comme simplement I'61imination des lettres non grecques de I'alphabet copte, pour des motifs id6ologiques; ses particularit6s graphiques, trs nombreuses, d6passentle cadre de cette explication, et suffissent A faire de lui un dialecte authentique' (Kasser 1966,112). Could not the formulation of a dialect arise primarily out of ideological considerations? In a contemporary context, the disenfranchised living in Parisian suburbs have manipulated the French language, creating a dialect with which they can provide a vivid witness to their senseof exclusion from mainstreamsociety (Goudallier 1998).


The same respect with which those in Egypt addressed their political and religious letters Thus by be towards their to children parents. shown superiors was expected had been in they that neglectedby their children as well exist which parentscomplained as letters in which parentswere referred to very much as superiors.


Amongst lettersof complaintwritten by parentsto apparently neglectfuloffspring is a fourth century Greek letter written by two individuals, Psais and Syra, to their son (P.Oxy.X 1299). They complained that he had not visited themfor a long time, and mentionedthat they had both beenill but had now recovered. To reinforce the point that their son's visit was long overdue,Psais and Syra informed him that they were waiting until his arrivalto kill thepigs. Maria, writing in the fourth century, similarly accusedher son Papnuthisof neglectingher and ignoring her instructions (P.Oxy. XLVIII 3403; seealso P.Oxy.XLVIII 3396 for anotherletter from Papnuthisto his parents).

In another letter,alsoin Greek,a son responded that he had to his mother'scomplaints not written to her enough (P.Oxy.LVIII 3932). Paul had been away from

Oxyrhynchus,but had only receivedone letterfrom his mother. This was despitethe fact that shehad written to him more often. He explainedthis, and showed a very respectfulattitudeto his mother,calling her 'maternalkindness'and 'most reveredand most well-bornlady mother'.

The respectshown by Paul to his mother was mirrored in a letter written by two sons to their father whilst they were staying in Alexandria (P.Ryl. IV 624). The letter stems from the pagan archive of Theophanesfrom Hermopolis (see above). Hephaiston and Horigenes wrote to Theophanes, their father, in order to thank him for taking them to Alexandria with him. They had been left by themselves in Alexandria after their father had gone, and they told Theophanesabout how good his reputation in the city was, and how they had benefitted from it. The editors (Roberts and Turner 1952,114)

commented that the secondary purpose of the letter may have been 'to prove that the tutor whose guiding hand can be discernedthroughout was earning his salary'.

234 7hevulnerable

In certain situations, parents were inevitably unable to fulfill

their responsibilities It was

towards their children, despite the importance in which the family was held.

sometimes necessaryfor parents to sell their children, as slaves/servants,or to donate them to a monastery when other means of support becameimpossible. The protection of orphans, denotedas such when a child's father had died, and of widows, was seen as a necessaryand worthwhile activity.

For a memberof the Melitian communityin difficulty, those sharing his beliefs were in Greek 330/340, but is in dating help. This letter to to written shown a encouraged by Herieous This in Coptic (P. Lond. VI 1915). the written who was with address describedthe financialproblemsof Pamonthius. He also askedfor assistance to be into debt because had fallen dealer, Pamonthius, to of overand who was a wine given and taxation. The debtshad grown so muchthathis creditorshad sold his possessions takenhis childrento sell as slaves. The aim of the letterwas to help Pamonthius pay his debts,enablinghim to buy his childrenback. This casewas reinforcedin a second letter(P.Lond.VI 1916)in which MosesandHerieouswrote again. The lack of details in this secondletter perhapsindicatethat it was written to be circulatedround the (Bell 1924,76). as a whole community

When parentscould no longer afford to supporttheir children, then actually donating their survivalandsafety. Legaldocuments themto a religiouscommunitycouldensure for in be do letters donation, thanked could which a monastery as of recordtheprocess taking in a child. Apa Victor wrote in Coptic on behalfof parentswho had donated their daughterto a monastery. In the letter they expressedtheir gratitude to the 1 66,1). Copt. Mus. Brit. (O. monastery

235 The vulnerabilityof thosewhosefather/husband haddiedwas acknowledged.In letters thesepeoplewerefrequentlydiscussed, asis shownby a seriesof Coptic letters, some letter(O.Brit. Mus.Copt.1 45,1) orphans of which werevery brief. In onefragmentary wereassociated with otherweakmembers of societysuchas poor womenand children, andin another a nun, Maria, wrote to Kyriakos the Hermit abouta maleorphan. She askedfor Kyriakos' prayersfor the orphan, describingthe orphanas 'little' and wrote him into her care(O.Brit. Mus.Copt.1 81,23). thatthe boy's fatherhaddied, entrusting

An ostraconfrom Djemerecordedthe wish of the letter writer that the recipienttreat 141). In this letter,Victor (who identifiedhimself as orphanswell (O.Medin.HabuCopt. a priest)wrote to Darnianus, askingthathe be kind to the childrenof the now deceased Stephen. Theirfatherless statewas identifiedasa primereasonfor being kind to them: 'you know that they are orphans'. A similar letter, written by Apa John to Apa Isaac asked that he take pity on a widow and her children, referred to as orphans is shown (O.Theb.28). The respectthat could be gainedfrom obeyingsuch requests by the way in which a superiorwas addressed in a sixth/seventh centuryCoptic letter. The individual addressed was referredto as the 'father of orphansand the judge of widows' (P.Ryl.Copt. 297).

One of the most visible forms of self-identification seenin extant Coptic letters was as a pauper, and poverty-stricken people formed a distinct sector in society, often listed in in Assisting be those need could an widows. act of piety alongside orphans and itself, as in the case of orphans. Letters written by paupers, or on their behalf, were often addressedto monasteries, and they appealedfor help, explicitly delineating their position with no glamorisation of poverty.

in which a sizeable In the Thebancontext,lettersrevealan environment proportionof

the writers neededassistanceto survive, or claimed to. One monk was complimented

on theway in which he hadlookedafterthepoor, asa preludeto a requestfor help for

236 Phantup, 'for indeed he is a very poor man and is very much in need. ' (O.Brit. Mus.Copt.1 62,5). On another (O.Theb32; Figure66), a pictureof a ostracon manbeggingwas drawnbelow a letterin which therecipientwas asked'be good to the poor man Atri' (lines 4-5). In the Monasteryof Epiphanius were found a numberof lettersin which help was askedfor thosein need(for exampleseeP.Mon.Epiph.165; 173; 188). To havefallen into poverty from having once beena wealthy individual could be viewedasworsethanhavingalwaysbeenpovertystricken. This is suggested by one of the Monasteryof Epiphaniuslettersin which an individual's former status was perceived as makinghim a more worthwhile casethan others: 'for he is a great man's son who hascomedown to poverty' (P.Mon.Epiph.185).

As the boundaries betweenthe poverty strickenand the wealthycould change,so too could thoseof anothervulnerablegroup, the ill. Thosesuffering from ill healthwrote letters, describingtheir situation, asking for help. Just as a group of people were help ill (see for tried to the they motivatedinto caringfor the fatherless example, so O.CrumVC 78; O.Brit. Mus.Copt.I 19,3).

Two letters (of the fourth century) from the Nag Hammadi bindings, written in Coptic, dealt with the sickness of an individual, Aphrodisios (P.NagHamm. C4; C5; Figures 67-8). In the first, Daniel wrote to Aphrodisios expressing his sympathy: 'For I heard that you were ill with a great sickness and my heart was in great pain' (lines 5-6). In the second, Aphrodisios discussed his illness. His letter may have been addressedto Sasnos, and it addressedbusiness matters, yet the end of the letter ended emotively: 'for I do not know what will happen to me, whether I will come out of the body or whether I will live' (lines 9- 10).

The kind of sympathy that such letters evoked, was also hoped for in a sixth century Coptic letter explaining the reasons for a non-payment of taxes (MacCoull 1992,106109,11). This letter, from Dioscorus of Aphrodito's archive, was written by Moses to

237 Phoibammon thatit hadnot beenpossiblefor taxesto andDioscorus. Mosesexplained be paid in full as the people in question were ill. The context of the letter was

by MacCoull(1992,109) as 'a famine and consequent understood wave of sicknessin theAphrodito areain theaftermath of a raid by nomadicBlemmyes.

Certain responsesto ill health revealedthe religious priorities of the sufferer and his/her helpers. Sometimes ill health itself, and any recovery, could be attributed to the Ambrosius, part of the circle of the pagan Theophanes of

workings of a divinity.

Hermopolis, was unable to see Anatolius, as he had hoped (P.Herm.2 - Greek fourth because his Anatolius, him He informing this to that was one of wrote partly century). daughters was ill. The cause of her illness was assigned to the divine world: 'for one of the gods in wickedness brought these to me.

Two further letters attributed successful recoveries to benevolent divine intervention. The first, a fourth century Greek letter, was written by a servant to his superior (P.Oxy. VI 939). His mistress had been ill, and the servant wrote that they neededto thank God becausehe had listened to their prayers and saved her. A Coptic letter, of the eighth century from the monastery at Bala'izah, was written by a couple to their son (P.Bal. 245). They informed him that his mother had been seriously ill but 'God raised her up'.

death, the The particularperspective the and the of perceptions affected writer also of in Coptic death Images bereaved. had been to those abounded of who advicegiven its found difficulties death literature,and the metaphor way a symbol of current as of into lettersaswell. For example,an individual, Constantine wrote toApa Epiphanius 'the Epiph. 1) 13 (P. Mon. letter festal that afflictions which and commented the about is have death the which over us the almostmademe a corpse' surround world now and (lines3-4).

238 The bereavedcould be seenas a further vulnerablesectorin society, and could be to put their suffering into a religious context. Thus amongGreek texts, a encouraged beenmade. Only twelve or thirteensuch letters groupingof 'lettersof condolence'has in this chapter (Chapa1998,15), and they all survive, four from thetime-span covered the recipientto put sorrow in the past. For example,in a fourth century encouraged letter,Alexandercommiserated with his brotheron the loss of his son (P.Princ.11 102; Chapa1998,130-7, no. 9). Whilst expressing sympathy,Alexanderwas also keento from the 'blessedPaul' (the rest of assertthatlife mustcontinue,andbegana quotation the letter is lost). In the fifth century, the inevitability of death was reinforced by Theodorus,who wrote to Canopuson the deathof his wife, asking 'what can we do '(Iines 6-7, P.Oxy.LIX 4004; Chapa1998,139-47, [no.111;Figure againsthumanity? 60). Similar feelings were expressed in a sixth/seventhcentury fragmentaryletter, which was written in biblical termsthroughout(P.Oxy. XVI 1874;Chapa1998,14959). Thus therecipientwas encouraged throughthe reminderthat thosewho had died of thedeadwith Abraham, were now with Abraham,IsaacandJacob. This association in Coptictexts(seeCramer1941,43). IsaacandJacobalsoappears

Condolence letters exist in Coptic as well, in which there was a similar desire to locate the dead with the patriarchs, and to comfort the bereaved with the aid of biblical quotations (see for example BKU 111398). At the same time, expressions of grief could be eloquently expressedas shown by a letter written to someone whose daughter had died (BKU 111397). This loss was perceived to be all the more terrible becauseshe his flowing he that tears the were wrote. said eyes with as was an only child, and writer

As demonstrated by the above letters, whole communities were maintained and supported with little reference to the state, or to the wider environment of Egypt. Religious beliefs as propagatedin texts were used by letter writers to encouragecorrect behaviour towards different categoriesof people identified as needingassistance.


Facingapparent ideologicalfailure

Any pockets of ordered life in Coptic Egypt were constantly under threat. During the New Kingdom, the state took responsibility for maintaining and putting forward a structured, ordered society, in which political and religious authority were broadly united. Despite the apparentclarity of pharaonic ideology, deviations and failures were expectedand dealt with. In Coptic Egypt, with life patternswhich were at times in total contrast to those with political authority, there were variant views of what constituted deviant behaviour. Yet, as in the New Kingdom, such behaviour was expected and did not appearto threatenor undermine the ideologies themselves.

77ze struggleto maintaina Christianidentity

For Christians in Egypt, there was an ever-presentvigilance for that which threatenedto diminish their Christianity (see Bell 1986). These threats were personified as Satan, and in letters throughout this period individuals requested assistancein combating Satan. When an individual failed in that struggle, then a community could deal with him/her in various ways, the most serious of which was demotion to an outsider,

excommunication. Such struggles, following the Muslim conquest, were of little concern to the political powers, and were often conductedon a very localised basis.

for misdeeds,the cause of them was Thus when an individual was reprimanded Satan to Satan. Strugglingagainst aspectof the Christian, was a fundamental assigned life. This is particularlyshownin a Copticletterprobablywritten theascetic, especially by a bishopto a clericwho had beenfailing to live up to the idealsof a Christianlife. In this the writer understoodthat everyone was subject to the wiles of Satan (O.CrumVC 45; Figure 71). The writer emphasised the omnipresence and the threat help is 'for Lord his letter. Satan, beginning by this the times that our posed prayerat all which Satan,the plotter againstus from the first, us to get rid of every disagreement


scatters around, wanting to put up a stumblingblock for eachone of us through his neighbour'(lines 1-7).


Seriousfailures were met by excommunication, and there are many letters recording both theimpositionof demotionto outsiderstatus,and pleasto be reinstated, accepted Shenoute letters involving individual A called record this whole series of an again. dating Bala'izah, late derive from These to the the community at process. religious sixth/seventhcentury to eighth century. The letters were written by Shenoute,and in themonastery's archive(P.Bal. 188-91). preserved

highlight the boundaries Shenoute's which could be imposedby a pleasfor acceptance letters In his he the member. unhappiness of an excluded monasticcommunity,and fully acknowledged his wrongdoings,andtook carewith thecomposition of eachletter. For example,he wrote (P.Bal. 188; Figure 72): '1, this sinner and disobedientone, I for laid down know thatI havetransgressed the me and I am all commands which you guilty in everysin' (lines 2-5). Then, in the sameletter, he went on to ask that he be in Perhaps before. live the to to realisingthat this same as allowed return monk's cell askedthat his former fellow-monksat leastpray for would not be possible,Shenoute him: 'I implore you by God that you do not throw me out from you in your prayers' (lines 14-5). A promisethathe would not be disobedient againroundedoff the letter.

by two further letters,in which theeconomicas The futility of his pleasis demonstrated letter from In the a monstery were clear. no. made well as spiritualpitfalls of exclusion in the monastery'sprayers, and 189 (P.Bal. 189) Shenoute askedto be remembered then in letter no. 190 complainedabout his financial situation. Shenoute left he had 'great did his difficulties, but that tribulations', them specify calling unspecified no money(P.B al. 190).


The apparentresolution with which his monastery dealt with him suggest that Shenoute'stransgressions had beenserious. In that case,the response to ideological failure was expulsion, bringing with it not only spiritual uneasebut also financial context uncertainty. Shenoute's situationwas by no meansunusual:in the immediate Pishote is letter Basile Bala'izah, the to be there and a recording attempts of of readmitted to the monastery (P.Bal.202), which followed a similar pattern to Shenoute's letters.

The desperation felt by an individual upon exclusion from a religious monastery is matched by the clarity of expression in the letters of excommunication themselves, leaving little or no room for manoeuvre (see for example O.BriLMus. Copt. 1 25,4; O.CrumVC 77). Bishops were often responsible, as a point of last resort, for

reprimanding, and if necessary,excommunicating a member of a religious community. Thus Bishop Abraham wrote in Coptic to expel a monk from (O. Brit. Mus. Copt. 1 46,4), the church

bishop wrote to an a or and either an archimandrite

individual (in Bala'izah) informing him 'behold you are excluded from the holy mysteries' (P. Bal. 234).

Such demotions to outsider status did not, however, need to be permanent. This is in Epiph. Mon. 158) from Monastery Epiphanius (P. by letter the which of a suggested the writer statedthat he had expelled a deacon. This expulsion was temporary, pending the outcome of an investigation into his behaviour. It was also possible for monks to leave a community against their superior's will, to choose to become outsiders, an Serapammon, head inspire the of the community of recriminations. could which action in in Coptic 'rock Apa Thomas' to the the archimandrite of another monastery wrote of the seventh/eighth century about some monks who had absconded (P.Ryl. Copt. 289; Figure 74). The letter is in a fragmentary state (see Crum 1909,137). One of the

in is is is the that the any restrained request still clear recipient statementswhich


becauseyour mostpious fatherhood knows the stormsof youth.' (lines 7punishment 8).

The fear of excommunication was such that the threat of expulsion was used by those in authority to impose their will. A priest, Senetom, was commanded to celebrate a

service by his bishop who wrote: 'if you do not go, you are excluded from the clergy' (P.Mon. Epiph. 154). It also meant that letters contained endlessblessings against being led astray. A Coptic Theban letter concerning a requestfor wood and camels also asked that'the Lord blessesyou and protects you from the tricks of men and the snares of the Coptic Copt. Figure 75), 13-15, O. Brit. Mus. 1 71,1; sixth century and a enemy'(Iines letter written to Dioscorus of Aphrodito by a monk asked that many blessings be bestowed on Dioscorus including that he be kept from all evil by the Lord (MacCoull 1991,23-6). Similarly, the condemnation of those who had failed was harsh. For

example, Helias wrote to his mother (in a Coptic letter from Naqada) and mentioned 55,1). Copt. 1 'curse God' Mus. bore (O. Brit. the someonewho of Another individual,

in a letter found at the Monastery of Epiphanius was warned that he was (or perhaps will be) seenas pagan and godless (P.Mon. Epiph. 485).

Ideological dissent was a familiar feature of Christian life in Egypt, from its origins onwards. Alexandria during the time of Athanasius is renowned for the violence which could ensue between opposing Christian factions, as each struggled to assert their beliefs, and as Athanasius tried to asserthis authority over the whole of Egypt (Brakke 2000,1104). A letter, from the Meletianarchive, reveals what it was like to be part of a 76-7). VI Figures Lond. 1914; by (P. another condemned religious group

This letter probably dating to May-June335, was written by Callistus describedthe inflictions imposed upon himself and his fellow Meletiansby Athanasiusand his image followers. It was addressed to Apa Paieous vivid of andPatabeit, a andprovides the impact of conflicting beliefs. Callistus told how Athanasius'followers, with a


group of soldiershad txiedto arrestIsaac,Bishop of Letopolis, along with Heraiscus. Having failed to arTest Isaacand Heraiscus,the soldiersbeatup four Meletianmonks. Heraiscus,an individualwho is not mentioned in any othersources, has beenidentified as the Meletianbishopof Alexandriaandthuswas a direct rival to Athanasius(Hauben 1981,453). Further restrictionsimposedby Athanasiuson the Meletianswere also by Callistus,which includedthe imprisonment enumerated of a bishop, priest, deacon himself. and Heraiscus

The inevitableanxietycaused by opposingbeliefswas such that writers were keen to establish their orthodoxy. Thus one writer (in Coptic) mentionedthe Diphysites, Sabellians, but instead andtheSimeonites, choseto identify himself with the words of 'Athanasius,Cyril, Basil, Gregory,all our holy fathers'(O.Crum.VC 44).

Public disorder

Religious dissent was not the only aspect of Egyptian life in which ideological failures threatened. Often the most visible way in which political authority of any sort asserted itself over the Egyptian population was in the collection of taxes. Resisting attempts to collect tax was a frequent form of dissent across Roman, Byzantine and Islamic Egypt. It is not surprising, therefore, that many Egyptian letters deal with attempts to collect tax, and punishments for those who resisted, as different authorities tried to maintain an ordered state. This is illustrated in the two Greek letters below.

A lettercouldbe a forum for a discussionof appropriate punishment. For example,in the fourth century an Oxyrhynchiteletter records the misdeeds of some government, inform him that somecomarchs had been Chaeremon Dorotheus to to officials. wrote had protestedso much at thesearrests,that they arrested. Someof their colleagues themselves andothershad gonemissing. A possiblesolution to the werealsoarrested,


crisis was that the wives of the imprisoned comarchsbe arrestedinstead, and the (P.Oxy.XLVIII 3409). comarchs released

An actualvictim of attempts to divert thecorrectcollectionof taxesrecordeda seriesof incidentscarriedout againsthim (P.Leid.Inst.69; Figure 65). This late fifth/early sixth in Oxyrhynchite Hermopolite letter (from the exists only or nome) a century either fragmentarycondition, but it appears to indicatea plot to commit fraud. The dispute had Partof between they the tax received. which amount of grain was collectors about the letter reads'the landownerwas druggedso that he would acceptmore' (line 5). This translation of Ecpap[tcLicEU0q as 'drugged' wasjustified by the editorson account of the context(Hoogendijkandvan Minnen 1991,248).

Tax collection still remaineda problem following the Muslim conquest. Theremaining local from Bali'azah Coptic letter tax to the a corrupt given warnings part of a records Figure 73). 256; (P. Bal. in by his the treasury government official superior Only the

last f ive lines of the letter remain, in which the off icial was told that he had to return that 'shame by levied. letter the will had The he the words: unfairly concluded with which of God and peace be unto you'. This last phrase, 'peace be unto you', formed an

is in but here Kahle 1954,684) (see Muslim letters used a above and essentialpart of Christian context, as signified by the cross at the end of the letter. In a further letter from Bali'azah, a Muslim writer made clear his non-Christian beliefs through omitting instead diagonal letters beginnings two the using the statuary cross at and ends of strokes (P. Bal. 185).

Other more visible ways of subvertingthe state, of expressingdiscontent,included Greek fifth late One century and people property. actualriots, physicalviolenceagainst led Oxy. XVI literary (P. 1873). the Its florid, Lycopolis letterdescribed style a riot at far how is doubtful Bell 1924,64) the 'it Hunt to (Grenfell, that speculate and editors dismay is letter however, What does the the be record, writer can takenseriously'.


with which such riots could be met. The writer, Martyrius wrote to someonehe his letter by stating how the 'riots and the addressed as his father. He commenced madness'were still on his mind. The actualdescription of theriots was very vivid, and he related how his wife anddaughterjustmanaged to survive.

Political disturbancesoutside Egypt could reverberatewithin its borders, as is perhaps indicated by a letter (P.Oxy. LVI 3872) which may refer to a military rebellion against the emperor Maurice in 602 (Sirivianou 1989,167). This letter was written to

Theodorus, in Oxyrhynchus, from an individual temporarily in Alexandria. The writer informed Theodorus that he had arrived safely in Alexandria, and also noted that he had written in a previous letter about the 'disturbances': 'we have already written to you about all the disturbances which were set in motion in the great army and at Constantinople'.

The fear of localisedviolenceduring the Coptic period was very real. Letter writers frequently lamentedthat they had beenattacked. In one such example, the victim describedhis attackeras a 'lawless transgressor'(O.Mich.Copt. 4; Figure 78). This letterwas written in the seventh century,in Coptic,andtheattackwascarriedout by an individual calledAmmonius who was allegedto have beendrunk when beating the victim. Sometimes suchletterswerewritten in orderto gainsomekind of retribution, a recompense, monetaryor otherwise,for having beenattacked. This may be why. in this example,as much was madeof the attackas possible. Fearof an attackled one individual to write to someone to go out from calledJohn,statingthatit was impossible home:'I cannotfind a way to go out andleavemy houseas I may be robbed' (lines 24; P.Mon.Epiph.222; Figure80).

Despitethe desireto minimiseviolent activities,threatening individualsseemsto have

been a routine way of attempting to force them to do what was wanted. A late sixth/seventh century Greek letter addressed certain business issues, including how


(PAmh. 11153).Theletterendedwith much barleyshouldbe givenout to thelabourers thesender'concerningthis a threat,thatGod destroytherecipient'ssoul if he destroyed register'. A more directly physical threat was made by someonewho was owed money. This eighthcenturyCoptic letter endedwith the threatthat if the money was not repaid'I shallsendthe one who will bring it out of your bones' (P.Mich. Copt.15; Figure79).

Various methodswere utilised in trying to suppresscriminal activities,dependingon of the criminal who had beenthe victim, and at the sametime ardentlettersin defence could be written. Thosein thechurchhierarchycouldbe both a sourceof help for the frequently but The committed criminal aswell asthebestower serious, of punishments. crime of desertionfrom the army was the subjectof a letter written in Greek by the Bishop of Hermopolisin about346 (P.Lond.11417). He appealed to Abbineaus,the Romanofficial in Dionysias(in theFaiyum)to show leniencyto Paulus,a soldier who had deserted.He askedthatPaulusbe forgiven for his crime.

A series of Coptic letters from the Monastery of Epiphanius record eloquent appeals been itself have by (which by those adminstered may written undergoing punishment the monastery). One writer asked to have his stocks removed - he had had them on for three days (P.Mon. Epiph. 181), while another askedhow long he would have to remain in irons (P.Mon. Epiph. 219). Another letter, written by two people, one of whom was named Thecla, records their complaint that they had not been visited

(P. Mon. Epiph. 177). They described their situation, claiming 'for we gave our life for food. As for 8-10), forgotten (lines behold have with all of and asked us' you, you these letters apparently written by prisoners in dire situations, this letter appears food in its If 1), White 1926,20 (see Crum was conclusion. especially unrealistic and 'as Lord lives, brought the then the to we will take six soldiers and come prisoners, not north and hand you over together with all your affairs' (lines 22-6). Thus prisoners letters for (or those to would write materials writing who able access were apparently


thedeliveryof the letters, when they allegedlywere, for example,in - them)andensure stocks.

The monastery of Epiphanius letters are mirrored by a Greek letter, of about the sixth/seventh century, in which an individual, Justus, wrote to his superior, George, asking for some of his salary (P.Oxy. LVI 3870). Justus was imprisoned in He

Heracleopolis (his crime was not specified) along with some of his friends.

described their hunger, and complained that they had had to sell all their possessions, including their cloaks. George was urged on to action through the statementthat Justus and his companions would otherwise die of hunger.

Despitethe threatthatcriminalactivityposedto orderedlife, therewas a willingness to defendthealleged or convicted criminalaswell, to shelterhim/hereitherfrom the state or from church authorities. For example, in a fifth century Greek letter from Hermopolis (P.Herm. 48) which survives only in a fragmentarystate, the writer defended theactionsof someone charged with attempted robbery. In anotherfifth/sixth century Greek letter (P.Oxy.XVI 1832) a village headmanwas reportedas having sheltereda femalerobber. She had stolen property from the church, and had later both her and sought,andfound, sanctuary with thevillageheadman who had protected her booty. This letteris an official one, it reportedthe situationand demanded that the beretrieved if necessary. churchtreasures andthatthewomanbe arrested

In somecases, however,no defence would havebeen possible. For thosewho tried to elude political authorities,evading military service, tax duties, or arrest for crimes in series was severe.This is demonstrated committed,thepunishment of letters(dating to around710) from theAphroditoarchiveconcerning a groupof fugitives(P.Lond. IV 1384). In oneof theletters,the governorof Aphroditowrote to the pagarchdescribing the punishment to be given to the fugitives. Upon capturethey were to be whipped

248 forty times, restrained in a kind of wooden apparatus whilst marching, fined and aU

fined aswell. their accomplices

Bishop Abraham wrote (in Coptic) in very severe terms to a culprit who had possibly stolen from a church (O.CrumVC 40). Bishop Abraham had heard that the recipient had gone into the church of Apa George and had causeddisruption within it. The letter concluded with the threat that all those who had committed the crime would be excluded 'from communion with his whole house. Once more, the threat of exclusion,

temporary or otherwise, could be* as great, if not greater than the threat of imprisonment. Both types of punishment, however, resulted in an individual being designatedas an outsider, a threat to society.


The Coptic textual world is far-removed from that of the New Kingdom.


expressions of disdain could be made by an individual for those sectors of Egyptian society which did not fit in with that individual's view of the world. Covert means no longer neededto be used to vocalise, in literary form, discontent and disagreementwith other ideologies, including the official beliefs of the state. It is also possible to trace the ideas of individuals, such as Besa, in different types of sources. The writers of tales and of less literary texts did not need, or want, to be anonymous. Furthermore, the struggle for self-expression in a world which was fragmented meant that self-assured statementsabound.

The uncompromising picture of the world presented in haviographical, polemical or 0 CP0 apocalyptic sources seemsto have extended into the actual experiencesof the Christian life in Egypt. Thus individuals vocalised their inability to live up to Christian ideals as laid out in hagiographical texts, and those in the church hierarchy attemptedto provide ., authority, guidance and inspiration in the Christian world. Serious failure by a


monk/nun/priestto abide by certain requirements could result in excommunication, which was aspainful asphysicalpunishment.

So influential was Christianity, that it affected individuals' self-perception, and selfpresentation, whether in a religious community, or outside. Statementsabout the sinful state of the writer, and requests for prayers to be put to God on the writer's behalf, becamesometimesthe centml and even the only messageof a letter. The predominant context of survival, in monastic archives (especially those of Thebes), no doubt overemphasisesthe role of the religious, and the effect of Christian beliefs, on the lifestyles of the wider population.

in this chapter. These Yet lettersfrom non-Christian havealsobeendiscussed contexts differed little from Christianlettersof the sameperiod, containingsimilar expressions and aspirations.Likewise, it was possible for Christian letters to include phrases formed have in Letters Muslim to an essential systemof context. seem normally used a interaction amongst and between communities, whatever the ideological context. it was not possibleto Despitetheclaimsof difference madeby certainChristianleaders, exclude contact and interaction between those with different beliefs. Indeed,

by the Shenoute'svehemence againsthereticaltexts, was, on one occasionstimulated very presence of suchtextswithin the WhiteMonastery.

A certain fluidity of beliefs is demonstratedby the terms used for the despicable 'other' in Egypt. Persian, barbarian, stranger, pagan were terms used in a variety of contexts throughout the Coptic period. They could be used generically, to signify sources of disorder, or with more specific meanings covering ideological dissent as well as an actual physical stateof being. Frequently, their use was utterly subjective on the part of the writer, and would have had an entirely different interpretation if those signified by one of the above terms had read the text.


Yet, as in New Kingdom Egypt, self-definitionwas not solely dependent upon a preeminentideolog . That this was the casein two such different political contextsis significant,althoughit is clearthatin theCopticperiodit was more 'normal' to express difference(eventhoughthis could be met with arrest, exile or worse) than in the New Kingdom, where there was a much less diverse political and religious context. Whatever the polifical/religiousenvironmentof an individual it was nevertheless possibleto prioritise more localisedreference points as an aspectto self-definition evenwhenliving during a period, such as the New Kingdom, in which an apparently blinkered,one-sided to dominate. perception of theworld seemed

Thus, throughout the centuries of the Coptic period and across its belief systems, the home environment and family could be as central to the perception of an individual as his/her religious beliefs. Furthermore, an individual's status in society, whether

vulnerable or wealthy, fundamentally influenced any perception of the world, and could remain little affected by whichever religious/political ideology held sway.

Nevertheless, the decision whether to endure, to enjoy or to escape from such a situation could depend upon an individual's interpretation of any of the ideologies as expressedin the textual world of Coptic Egypt.




From the textual evidence, a religious identity was a central aspect of life in Coptic Egypt, the focus of those with power and those without. The protection and promotion of the Christian life against those who refused to conform to it was seenas vital. In this chapter, one area in Upper Egypt, Thebes, is investigated with the aim of tracing the in for delineation living of space a predominantly archaeologicalevidence patterns and Christian context. I argue that the built environment of Thebes, as one of the foremost pharaonic cities in Egypt, provides an ideal test casefor the impact of the past on Coptic self-def inition. It also allows an evaluation of the influence of Christianity on the lives of Coptic Thebans, who included townspeople as well as those whose whole lives were determined by the desire to follow an exclusively Christian, ascetic life. The sharply

in the light of defined world seenin Coptic period textual evidencecan then be assessed the archaeologicalsites in Thebes.

Cities in Coptic Egypt

This period has been assessedas witnessing the decline of urbanism in Egypt, at least of a specifically Roman-inspired urbanism, with the seventh century a crucial turningpoint (Alston 2002,366-7). In this process both Islam and Christianity had a role to

Fustat 1982, became (Kubiak development focus The urban of state sponsored play. 221) instead of Alexandria. Here, a new political and religious world could be Other urban sites, such as

developed for the conquerors (see Kennedy 1998,64-5).

Babylon Oust near Fustat) relied upon the permission of the non-Christian rulers (Abdel Tawab 1986,324-5) for the continued development of religious structures vital to the Coptic functioning the church (see Gabra 1999,113-4). of administration and


The different belief systemsof thosein Egypt have beenviewed as having an effect upon the built environment of Egypt (seeHaas 1997,206-14; Bowersock 1996,266 for the christianisation religious ideology of Alexandria). But the relationshipbetween in Alston's is complex. This is demonstrated by statements and thelived environment On Byzantine Egypt. Roman the one hand the and work on urban environmentof influenceon cities: Christianitycannotbe viewedas havingexerted an exclusive ideology, thoughone in which there 'Christianitywas an extremelysuccessful fascination but doctrinal disputes, the that with assume one cannot were major Christiandoctrineand history at the centreof the literary tradition underplays Christianity Gramscian forces In terms, the was the within other social cities. ideology,but it did not supplantall otherideologicalforces' (Alston hegemonic 2002,125), for the decline but on theotherhand, Christianitywas also cited as one of the reasons of the city in Egypt:
'The citizens were reintegratedwith the villagers, now all Christians together, have between boundary to the much meaning' and urban and rural ceased (Alston 2002,366) and 'The decline of the ancient city is, therefore, intimately in to culture, one which undermined the carefully constructed a change related The Byzantine Roman had integral been difference to the that city. and senseof If be identity individuals to the a member of an was eroded. of city's claim on identity lay Christian, be Byzantine then to with primary community was early the Church, and possibly the Byzantine state, but not local cities' (Alston 2002, 367). Evidence for the built environment of Coptic Egypt stretches across the country (Figures 3-4), but often gives only a very partial picture of a settlement. It includes in in their though use today, state, are still original not preserved structures, which, it is Babylon. Frequently, Wadi Natrun, the the of churches or such as monasteriesof for the the only evidence the ruins of monastic/monumentalstructures which provide (Thomas Apa Jeremais Saqqara Monastery the at of existence of a settlement, such as 2000,44), and this has helped to createan image of Coptic Egypt as an environment Djeme, impetus. Thus dispersed with urban no real clusters of settlement, consisting of (2002,85) by 'town' Alston Thebes, in to as a referred was either a settlement western orasa'viBage'(2002,304). These two terms create a very different image of qeme


for themodemreader,accustomed to a hierarchyof settlements, andleaveconfusion as Djernewas. to what type of living enviromment,

Certainly, settlement areas in Coptic Egypt differed greatly from their Roman or pharaonic counterparts. It is harder to slot them into the modem terms for settlements. The degreeof urban planning alongside more spontaneousdevelopmentas seen at New Kingdom Memphis is less easily visible in Coptic Egypt, where houses and monumental buildings closely adjoin, often piling up within older structures. This does not mean, however, that careful planning did not go into the settlements, or that there were not areasof high-density living in Coptic Egypt.

The caution which must be exertedwhen approachingthis period is underlined by Thomas' insights regardingLateAntique Egyptianfunerary sculpture. This body of the Muslim conquest,and has shown materialprimarily datesto the period preceeding boundaries betweenChristian and non-Christian,and betweentypes of that accepted in Egyptneedto be re-examined: settlement
'Relations among city, cemetery, and monastery become, throughout the period, inextricably interwoven, and the tombs of urbans, both polytheists and Christians, are found in the samecemeteriessharing generic styles and formats. In other words, religiously defimed communities were not entirely isolated topographically, nor did they createor maintain separatestyles' (Thomas 2000, 34). Thebes

The settlements at Thebeshave increasinglybeenused as source material for those interested in Coptic Egypt (seeWilfong 1999;Alston 2002). This is primarily due to the wealth of textualevidence which survivesfrom this area,alongsidearchaeological is muchmorelimited. Thus in Wilfong's study evidence which, thoughnot negligable, in the Early Islamic period, Thebesprovidesthe central of Coptic agriculturalpatterns Theban areaprovidesa largeanddiversebody of evidence point: 'the western reference for a Christianpopulation for the centuryand a half after the Muslim conquest'(1999.


218). In the fifth century,however,Thebeshad still beena locationfor a numberof (seeR6mondon 1952,67,73). prominentpagans

This areawas chosenas a suitable site for further investigation in this chapter as it saw a high level of occupation (which, in the case of the west bank, suddenly terminated): monks, hermits, nuns as well as those following a variety of non-religious occupations lived alongside each other in close proximity. It was also a location which attracted

visitors and residents from beyond its immediate environs, both from Egypt and further afield. Thebes became, not for the first time in its occupational history, an active and thriving pilgrimage centre, an areafor heightenedreligious awareness.

Thebesin theCopticperiodraisessimilarissuesto New Kingdom Memphis:questions of religious access, motivation,with a multiplicity of devotionallocationsas well as influencesfrom outsideEgypt. Thebes,however, was not a political centre of any importanceby this period with Armant, a town 10 kilometresto the south of Thebes, being the political centreof the area. Direct links with Lower Egypt, the centre of political power for the whole of Egypt, were limited to rare visits to Alexandria (for religious reasons) by individuals from Thebes and to infrequent written (Winlock andCrum 1926,99). communications

Thebes' apparentisolation did not mean that it remainedutterly ignorant of religious and political developments. This is seenby the way in which the Bishop of Armant used to spend much of his time living in western Thebes, amongst those leading the religious life (see Vvrinlockand Crum 1926,105; Timm 1984,159). Furthermore, the seventh

century bishop of Coptos, John of Pisentius chose to live in Djeme (part of western Thebes) when contemplating whether to accept the post of bishop (Budge 1913,28 14). The impact of political developmentscould be felt as well (see Chapter 4). For

example, a document survives from Djeme, dating to the period after the Muslim people from Djeme signed (Schiller 1932,56-63, no. 6). In conquest, which seventeen


this, they sought to reassurethe governmentthat money would be received in for a manwho hadrefusedto carry out his coMe duty. recompense

There are Coptic period remains, including monumental as well as residential structures, on both banks of the Nile at Thebes (Figures 81-2). The majority are

located within and around pharaonic structures, in various states of preservation (see Doressel. 960,30-1). Occupation of the west and eastbanks of the Nile had been more

or less continuous since the pharaonic period. The east bank of the Nile at Thebes had been a centre for the Roman military, with a Roman castrum located within the Luxor temple during the 4th to 6th centuries CE. Tourists visited Thebesas well, in particular to see the pharaonic sites of the west bank, for example the Colossi of Memnon (see Chapter 4). During the seventh century CE, the residential areas of the west bank

increasedin size, and the district was to flourish until the ninth century CE, when the area was apparently abandoned. On the east bank, however, a bishopric was establishedby the eleventh century CE (Stewart 1991,1484).

Western visitors to Thebes from the seventeenthcentury CE onwards depict the area as an empty and wild place, its role as a religious/political centre during both the pharaonic and Coptic periods apparently lost. For example, Pococke, visiting Egypt in the first is bank Nile] [Karnak the the that'Camac the east of on eighteenthcentury noted part of a very poor village, in which the people have mostly built their cottagesamong the ruins to the south of the temple' (1743,91). The apparent abandonmentof the area as a

into by is drawn however, for Coptic question another traveller to the centre religiosity look for East Middle he Curzon. In to to travelled the the century area, nineteenth Christian antiquities and manuscripts. When visiting Thebes, he reported that: 0

sona rocky hill, perforated of the ancient on all sidesby the violatedsepulchres Egyptians,in the great Necropolisof Thebes,not far from the ruins of the Coptic MedinetHabou, the templeof old stand walls of an crumbling palaceand inhabited, had been I told was almostwithin the memoryof which monastery, Christian by of monks' (1955 [1849], 129). man, a smallcommunity

256 Frustratinglyhe providesno further informationon this, nor is therecorroborationon this point from otherauthors.

The startingpoint

The most recognisable and well-known aspectof Egyptian Christianity is still its contribution to the asceticChristian life. Whilst still part of the Byzantine world,

Egypt's monasticmovementprovided inspiration and guidanceto Christians from Egypt and beyond: 'there was almost a kind of tourist trade to the Egyptian desert, for foreign visitors at this time' (Hardy to havebeenthe chief attraction which seems 1952,87). This is epitomisedby the Historia Monachorumin Aegypto, which is a Greektext written asa travel narrativedescribingthejourneys of non-Egyptian monks to the monksandhermitsof Egypt. Thejourneys took placein the late fourth century, 394 CE (Chitty 1999,51), andthetext creates an imageof an Egypt peopledby monks and hermits, as a placeinfusedwith religious experience.In the prologueto the text, the authorstates:
'I saw another vast company of monks of all agesliving in the desert and in the countryside. Their number is past counting. There are so many of them that an earthly emperor could not assembleso large an army. For there is no town or village in Egypt and the Thebaid which is not surrounded by hermitagesas if by walls. And the people depend on the prayers of these monks as if on God himself. Some of them live in desert caves, others in more remote places. All of them everywhere by trying to outdo each other demonstratetheir wonderful asceticdiscipline. Those in the remotest places make strenuous efforts for fear anyone else should surpassthem in aseticpractices. Those living near towns or villages make equal efforts, though evil troubles them on every side. in case they should be considered inferior to their remoter brethren' (translation by Russell, 1981,50, para. 10).

The HistoriaMonachonon was a widely circulatedand influentialwork, which sought to show the 'monasticworld as a charmedbiblical land' (Frank 2000,29), and to demonstrate tortuous therewardswhich couldbe received upon makingthe sometimes in journeys to visit hermitsin Egypt. An imagewas created by theauthor,andenlarged theaimsof thetext andFrankemphasised this in her discussionof the order to achieve text. For example,she statedthat 'Late Antique Christianswere remindedof the


distance betweenthemselves and the Egyptian monks wheneverthe author of the History of theMonks alludedto his identity as an outsiderwriting for other outsiders'

Despitetheobviouslyliterarytoneof theexcerptfrom theHistoria Monachorumquoted above, severalpoints are significant and of relevancewhen looking at the Coptic occupationof Thebes. First, the landscape of Egypt is picturedas one dominatedby monasticcommunities andherrriits,evenin urbansettings. Secondly,thepopulationof Egypt is shownas being dependent upon such communities and individuals. Thirdly, Egypt's religiouslife is shownasbeingimpressive to thenon-Egyptian pilgrim. Itwas in the a worthy locationin which to makepilgrimages. All thesepoints are considered Coptic f6flowing assessment in Thebes. lives those the of of motivationsand


Winlock andCrum, in their publicationof the work at the Monastery of Epiphaniusin the 1920s,providedan overview of westernThebes, with a short descriptionof the different Coptic sites they encountered (1926,3-24). This work was of central importancein establishingand recording Coptic sites, and still provides the only contextual studyof westernThebesin the Coptic period. They also mappedthe sites, and despitelisting more than thirty sites note that: 'the communitywas much more populousthan the map would lead one to believe.....and the readermust regardit as in thedaysof Epiphanius'(1926,3). They showing but a fractionof thesitesoccupied attributedtheloss of so manysitesto variousfactors,suchas the medievaland modem occupafion of ancient sites.

in One of the most significantfactors, however, was the lack of interest generated
Coptic remains amongst archaeologistsrevealing the pharaonic sites of the west bank during the nineteenthand early twentieth centuries. Coptic sites in Thebes are still not a


priority for excavation, but small-scaleexcavationshave been carried out and focusedon earlierremainsdo now report Coptic period remainsas well. excavations Therehasalsobeencarefulrecordingof Copticgraffiti. In this reconstruction of Coptic periodThebes,I draw upon excavation reportsas well as first-handstudy in the field, to provide an insight into what appearto have been the most significant areasof in Coptic Thebes.The loss of Coptic sitesmeansthat the picture gainedof settlement Coptic Thebes is only a partial one, with the issueof how far thesesurviving sitesare representative opento question.

The west andeastbanksat Thebes differ in their physicalsetting. Thefloodplain on the Thebes eastbank is muchwider thanon thewest bank, and the ancientsitesof eastern are locatedwithin the flood-plain. Deserthills are set backfrom the river on the east bank, about 10-15 kilometres away, whereason the west bank the floodplain is being only 3-4 narrow, the deserthills an integral part of the floodplain landscape, kilometresfrom theNile (Strudwickand Strudwick, 1999,9; Figure 82). Thusonthe west bank, the Copticsitesof Thebesare to be found within the flood-plain as well as on the desertedge,andbeyond.

One of the centml themesin any discussion of the Coptic occupation of pharaonic areas is the automatic attribution of any destructive patternswithin pharaonic structures to the Copts. Thus in the text below, the asssessments of different archaeologists that a site of destruction was evidence of Coptic activity are noted (see section on Luxor). Frequently, however, that link is made without any actual foundation, and is just a presumption. The re-working of pharaonic structures includes many actions which are impossible to attribute with certainty to any particular period. These include pilgrim grooves, the partial destruction of statues,and erasuresof figures in temple reliefs.

Throughout the pharaonic period, Egyptians adapted and changed their monumental

the extentto which of Karnak has continuallyrevealed surroundings. The excavation


the New Kingdom rulers obscuredor destroyedthe work of their predecessors (see Redford 1986),andtheofficial areas in New Kingdom Memphis(seeChapter3) were sirrdlarlyre-worked. As seenin Chapter3, even Khaemwese superviseddestructive activities, despitebeing an individual specifically associated with the restorationof Thus what today seemsto be an actionmotivatedby a lack of pharaonicmonuments. idealscould havebeencarriedout at any point in the past, respecttowardspharaonic including thepharaonic past.

Indeed, destruction and subsequentrebuilding was a central part to the ancient experience of the built environment.The dominantmaterialusedin Egypt for building was mud-brick, a materialwhich lendsitself to frequentrebuilding(Kemp 2000,78). The mistakenpolitical input which can be given to the interpretation of a destruction level in an archaeological is demonstrated excavation well by biblical archaeology. In the Israelicontext,links haveoften beenmadeto biblical eventsupon the discoveryof in the Bible (Yadin an ashlayer. This hasthenbeenthoughtto 'prove' certainepisodes 1967,258), an approach which hasreceived muchcriticism(seeGlock 1999,330-6).

To a much lesser degree, archaeologistscan be similarly affected by the vehemenceof Shenoute's writings againstpagans, and then automatically interpret the construction of a Christian building on top of a destroyed earlier structure as having resulted from an ideological clash (see section on Deirel Rourni). It has also been assertedthat temples were systematically destroyed by Christians during the fourth and fifth centuries (O'Leary 1938,55-6). Such interpretations are possible, but by no means certain (see Habachi 1972). 1 leavethis possibility open through noting them in this chapter.

Graffiti written in Coptic/Greek/Syriac, often listing the namesof monks, or the name of Christ, as well as Christiansymbols,written on templereliefs, or in tombs, can be linked to Copticactivity. The motivationbehind such activitiesis nevertheless hard to to the presence access, andin somecases merelywitnesses of Copts. For example,it


has beenstatedthat the crosseson the houselintels at Djeme(see section on qeme below) could haveservedan apotropaic purposeas well as testifying to the beliefs of thoseinsidethehouse(Alston2002,119). Eachof what now appearto have beenthe primary sites of Coptic activity on the east and west banks arr, examinedin turn, accordingto location.

Eastbank Luxor temple

Diocletian, oneof theRomanemperors for persecuting the Christians,and responsible from whosereign the Copts commence in memoryof the era their calendar apparently to theimperialcult built within Luxor of Martyrs (seeChapter4),had a shrinededicated temple(BainesandMalek 1992,86-7). He alsoconverted the complexinto a castrum, as a way of imposinghis authorityand control following the Upper Egyptianrevolt in 297 CE (Grossmann 1991,1485). It was Diocletian'sshrinewhich earlytravellersand by the wall paintingsdepicting the scholarsmistook for a Christianchurch, deceived (seeDaressy1920,162-3;Meinardus1977,430-1). emperor andhis co-regents

Yet it was within and around this Roman castrumthat the first material tracesof Christianityin Luxor canbe located,datingto theperiodafterthe Persianconquest(see El-Saghiret al 1986,33). The totalchristianisation of this complexcanbe realisedfrom visiting the eastside (one of the sites of Coptic period habitationseeHabachi 1951, 449, plan 1) of thetemple. Here, engraved blocks, derivedfrom excavations and from the successive clearings of thetemple,arepiled on top of eachother, ancientEgyptian, RomanandCopticall intermingled.Lintels, shellniches,capitals aswell asmuchmore fragmentarypiecespmvide evidenceof Coptic monumentalarchitecture within and around the Luxor temple. The imageson these piecesfrequently include a cross by a circle, in worked into a motif, suchas a vine, and the crossis often surrounded raisedor sunk relief (Plates11-2). In the Coptic Museumin Cairo, as well as in the


Luxor Museum, there are many objectswhose provenance is the Luxor temple, for example,a bronzeeighthcenturylamp(Plate14).

Churches were built in and around the Luxor temple, in close proximity, around which both monks and lay people seemto have lived and worked (see Grossmann 1973, plan 1). The earliest church to have survived and to have been excavatedwithin the temple complex dates to the late sixth/early seventh century (Abdul-Qader 1968,244-53, plates XXVII, XXVIII, XXIX, CV, CVI; Riad 1968,294-5; Grossmann 1986,79;

Grossmann and Whitcomb 1993,30). Part of it is stiff visible today, and is locatedjust outside the temple pylon, on the eastside, where the sanctuaryis all that has been left in is This (Grossmann Whitcomb Grossmann 1993; 2002,448-50). composed of situ and engraved blocks, left haphazardly but following the basic plan of the sanctuary. Like the other churches found in Luxor temple, it was built along the basic basilica plan (Grossmann and Whitcomb 1993,27-9), Abdul-Qader identified a baptistry (1968, 251). Thelocationof thechurch, just outside the main entranceof the camp, signifies its importance (Grossmann 1986,80), as it was built when the camp was still in active use. According to Grossmann and Whitcomb (1993,30), the church also notable for the quality of its architectural decoration (the 'richest' in the Luxor region), and for containing within itnewly for Egypt. manufactureddecorative stones', something highly unusual

The whole of this area,to thesouthof theeastpylon seems to havebeena locationfor intense Coptic period activity, with the continual enlargement and re-building of building 'supplied' by the pharaonic the material use of existing churches,making temple (Abdul-Qader1968,253). When the mosqueguesthouse was pulled down discovered'many ancientmonasteries-the (built againstthe eastpylon), Abdul-Qader first floor (1968,242). high house' the the as of as guest relicsof which reached


The areato the north of the templepylons, stretching into the avenueof the sphinxes, was a locationfor both residential as well as religious structures. Abduloccupation Qaderprovidedno more information on the 'monasteries',but extensiveremainsof mudbrick housesdating to the Coptic period were found in this area (Abdul-Qader 1968,230-1,265) and the potentialfor more Coptic period discoveries was noted(as for no further excavation):'there could be nothing more than the one of the reasons relics of a Roman or Christian village as the excavations of nearby sites on similar levelsdid show' (1968,23 1).

This seems to havebeenan urbanenvironment,in which a careful re-working of the involving both the destruction of pharaonic andRomansurroundings was undertaken, Thusintheavenue buildings. into Coptic incorporation their ancient remains aswell as the headsof the of the sphinxes,an integralpart of the pharaoniceastbank landscape, sphinxeswere sliced off, an act attributedby Abdul-Qaderto the 'early Christians' (1968,232). Justto the eastof the avenueof the sphinxes,anotherchurchwas built, datingto the seventh 1986;Plate15). century(Grossmann

No more than five minutes' walk separates the churches from one another today, although in Coptic times the density of occupation would have meant a longer walk; Just had be to south of these round. narrow streets negotiated, monasteries walked churches, but within the temple proper lies the best preserved church, directly is Plate 1968,260-1; 16). This (Abdul-Qader Abou Haggag the underneath mosque also on the eastside of the temple, within the northeastsection of the court of Ramesses II (Grossmann 2002,452-3). The walls on the south and west sides survive to a

debris), 1 height (4.80 top almost to the top of the of metre considerable of metres on Ramessidecolumns, with a row of small rectangularwindows near the top of the walls (seeAbdul-Qader 1968, plates LXVIII, LXIX). Columns, which may have been used inside the church, were discovered in the debris (Abdul-Qader 1968,261, LXXVI). plate


The dateof this church is uncertain,Grossmannassigningit to the end of the sixth century(1986,79), but in a later articlenotedthat the earliestpossibledatewas to the period after the Muslim conquest(1991,1485), and this confusion is reflected in Wilkinson's recentwork on the templesof Egypt in which he noted that this church was built in the sixth century (2000,167). That this exampleof an early Christian church has survived at all is due to the fact that it was convertedinto a mosquepreventingit from beingcleared away(seeAbdul-Qader1968,260).

The threechurches mentioned simultaneously abovewould have beenin existence at somepoint in their history, althoughwhethertheywould all have seenthe samedegree of usage as eachotheris questionable.Eachof thechurches was on theeastside of the temple,andapparently alignedwith one another. They may have servedlay peopleas 'districts'. well asmonkslocated andmonastic astheywerein themidstof residential

The remaining two churches which have been excavatedwere on the west side of the temple, situated close to one another (Plates 17-18). They were both built along the basilical plan, and were sizeable structures, as they were wide, with three naves. Daressy (1920,172-3) excavated and cleared away the first, located just outside the court of Ramesses11.He recorded the well, which he thought was to provide water for religious ceremonies,and the baptistry, tracesof which can be seen today. The design of the baptistry was unusual, different to that found in the church in the second court at Djeme as the basin was cylindrical, not octagonal (Daressy 1920,173; Grossmann

1986,80). The other church is situated to the south west of the first, just outside the colonnade of Amenophis 111,and would have extendedunder the corniche (Grossmann 1986,80). Three standing columns remain, as do some wall sections. The size of

these two churches implies a dedicated and wealthy community served by them: this perception is heightenedby Daressy's (1920,172-3) discovery in the first church of some silver church equipment, for examplea silver binding to hold the gospels with the


nameof BishopAbrahamof Armantinscribedon it (Plate 13; Strzygowski 1904,340-

Kamak temple

Karnak and Luxor temples were linked by an avenue of rams and the avenue of sphinxes in pharaonic times and later. As seen above, a Coptic residential and Tle

monumental area was built over the Luxor end of the avenue of sphinxes.

churches built along the east side of the avenueof sphinxes may have beenparalleled by other churches on the route to Karnak. Within Karnak temple itself there is evidence of Coptic habitation, Munier and Pillet summarising the situation thus: 'le t6moignage qu'une population chr6tienne assez dense se groupait dans Fenciente abandonn6edu grand dieu th6bain'(1929,58).

The continualuse and incorporationinto different belief systemsseenat Luxor, also happened at Karnak. Neithersitewas at any point sterileor devoid of religious belief. The Ptolemiesand the Romansmadeadditionsto the site, building for example, a templededicated to Opet. This was initiatedby PtolemyVIII and completedby later (Wilkinson 2000,162). During theCopticperiod, various rulers includingtheRomans sectionsof the huge complex of templesat Karnak were convertedinto Christian (Munier and Pillet 1929,61). Texts discoveredin Djeme, churchesand monasteries in Karnak temple, to the churchesand monasteries westernThebes,makereferences between the eighthand the thirteenthcenturies to havebeenin existence and they seem (Munier andPillet 1929,6 1).

Karnak Coptic has Much of thearchaeological been lost, for the occupation of evidence dueto theexcavation (Coquin 1972, periodmonuments of thepharaonic andrestoration 170). Munier and Pillet documented what evidencethere was, including evidenceno longer in situ today (1929). For example,they noted the three residential areas

265 (possibly monasteries or'simply 'lieux d'habitationchr6tiens');on the eastside of the first pylon, betweenthe seventhand eighth pylons, and betweenthe ninth and tenth the seventhand pylons (1929,61, figure2,74-82, figs 6,7,8 15). The courtbetween holes in for a Coptic monastery the the eighthpylons providedthemostevidence cut eighth pylon to support the monasticstructure(Munier and Pillet 1929, figure 7). Some of the Coptic period blocks, for examplelintels such as those seen at Luxor temple,arestoredin the storageareato the north eastof the Templeof Khonsu (Plate 10). One areawhich recentexcavation (Lauffray 1971) has revealedto have beena locusfor Copticperiodoccupation is just in front of the first pylon, nearthe sphinxes. Here, the excavatorspeculatedthat the population was not christianised to any meaningfulextent:
'La strata suivante pamlit etre encore romano-byzantine; on y rencontre des monnaies de 1'epoque de Constantin et des groupes d'amulettes pharaoniques qui donnent A penser que la Christianisation 6tait alors superficielle' (Lauffray 1971,124).

is built Karnak The mostvisible example temple the the the church of of christianisation in theFestalTempleof Tuthmosis111, at thefar eastendof the main templecomplexof Amun. Whatis viewedastheChristianvandalism of this templeoften forms part of a bizarre Karnak, talesof tour the temple sometimes with present-day echoing guided of its Coptic occupation. Through time, much of this churchhas beenlost; but with the it has been scholars traveller's combined of early possible work evidence of reportsand to getan ideaof its extent. Coquin (1972,170-77) has provideda detailedaccount of to a monastery(1972, the church. He statedthat the churchmust havebeenattached 171,174-6), dueto an inscription(only partiallyvisible today) on one of the columns of thetemple(column18 - seeplan, Coquin 1972;Munier and Pillet 1929,87). This Coquin Shenoute, lists thenames beginning and with statedthat the of archimandrites, function of thelist was to act as an 'aide-m6moire' to the deacon who had to recitethe during theliturgy of theeuchari names st.


The columns of Tuthmosis' Festal Temple were an integral part of the church, transformedand removedfrom their ancientEgyptian past through paintings. Ile surfaces of the columnswere coveredwith brightly colouredpictures,depictingsaints from theNile Valley(Plate9). Thesepaintingswerelarge,about 1.5 metrcshigh, with decorative bordersas well, and eachsaint had a particularresonance to an Egyptian Christian,for example SaintColluthuswho was executed at Antinoe underthe emperor Maximian(MunierandPillet 1929,64-74;Coquin 1972,173).

More minimaltracesof the Coptic presence in Karnak may be found in the Templeof Opetandin theTempleof Khonsu. Coquinidentifiedwhat may have beena hermitage or a chapelin theTempleof Opet, in which a shell nichewas locatedand where a few Coptic graffiti were written - namesand a cross (1972,178), and in the Temple of Khonsu therewerea coupleof longergraffiti (seeCoquin 1972,177; Munier andPillet 1929,62-4).

As at Luxor Temple, Coptic domestic and religious space was created within the pharaonic and later structures. The monasteries were located in the midst of the temples, and were served by sizeable churches, but non-monastic Copts also lived for Valley, in Nile the example at Akhmim (see alongside, a pattern seen elsewhere McNally and Schrunk 1993). These settlementscontinued through the Islamic period, with the Coptic characterof the area maintained to such an extent that a bishopric was createdthere in the eleventh century.


by settlements In ancienttimes,Thebeswas constituted on both the eastand the west banks. The links betweenthe two banks were heightenedby the way in which monuments on thetwo bankswerealignedwith one another(Figure 82). Karnak was built on two axes, east-westand north-south, the east-west axis providing a direct

267 connectionwith Hatshepsut'svalley and funerary templeson the west bank (see Strudwick and Strudwick 1999,54). Thus, during the Valley Festival, the image of Amun of Karnak couldbe conveyed from eastto west, leavingthe port at the templeof Karnak hiddenin his barque,takenacrossthe Nile and then on to Hatshepsut'stemple (Strudwick and Strudwick 1999,78-9). Luxor templewas similarly built upon two linked to MedinetHabu, themortuarytempleof axes,with theeast-west axis apparently Ramesses III on the west bank (Strudwick and Strudwick 1999,67). Luxor temple's north-southaxis was reinforcedduring theOpetfestival in which the godsAmun, Mut from Karnak to Luxor and back again. By reand Khonsu weretakenin their barques occupyingthese carefullyalignedsites,andbuilding within themtheir own monumental their environment. Such a processwould have structuresthe Copts re-orientated naturallyarisenas Christianitybecame the dominantculture in Thebes,and neednot haveresulted from conflict.

Both the Karnak and Luxor templeswere extensivelyused by the Copts, the high concentrationof religious structures, monastic communitiesand residential areas mirrored on the west bank, but to a greaterextent. The high density of pharaonic in theirre-useby the Copts. The buildingson thewestbankwasreflected monumental different but in landscape endowed the same reference were with points persisted, Hatshepsut, Deir temple the of el meaning. For example, monksre-occupied mortuary Bahri, and could gazedirectly acrossthe Nile to the templeof Karnak and know that that alsowas inhabited by monks.

The visual links between the different Coptic settlementsas well as the significance of their locations, on sites of historical/religious meaning, are particularly relevant when looking at the west bank. Here, monks, hermits and lay-people lived side by side amongst the dense monuments of the past, with only short walks separating the different locations.


Desertedgelfloodplain settlements

Separating the types of settlement in western Thebes on the basis of their physical location: valley floor as opposed to desert imposes a perhaps unnecessary distinction between these two areas given their proximity. Yet Wipszycka (1994,2) has pointed out that establishing the distanceof a monk's cell or monasteryfrom the cultivated areas is of central importance in understandingthesesettlements: 'il faut essayerd'6tablir A quelle distance ce monaWre ou cette laure se trouvait de la zone cultivee. Cette distance pouvait varier de fagon consid6rable, et situation des moines vivant en bordure du desert differait nettementde celle des moines installes A quelques kilometres de la zone cultiv6e ou m8me beaucoup plus loin'. Physical distance alone does not suffice to explain the different settlements. Some hermitages in western Thebes were close to the floodplain but located in remote rock cut tombs high in the cliffs. Western Thebes provides a particularly clear illustration of the interaction between the two areas, with a continuum between the floodplain and the deserL The desert monasteries and hem-fitages fulfill the stereotype of early

monasticism, in which the desertwas favoured as a residential location by those leading a religious life purely becauseof the physical difficulties inherent in living in the desert. Other reasonsfor the location of desertmonsteriesand hermitageshave been cited. For example, Lane (1993,294-8) has demonstratedthe importance of the desert as a place of refuge, and also emphasisedthe impact of a physical outlook from a location - the vista was all important.

WesternThebesis rich in suchphysicallocations,but it also provided a more urban in 2000,78 (see Wipszycka settingfor monastic on urban monasticism), as endeavour Thebes. Goehring(1993) has shown, following a study of literary sources, eastern that the urbanas opposedto the desertsettingfor 'asceticpractices may have beenthe theearlyChristianandearlierbelief that the moreoriginal' (1993,286). This is despite desertwas thelocationof truth, thecity of evil (althoughthe desertwas also associated the with death). As he noted, monasticsettlements at westernThebesdemonstrate

continuing location of monasteriesnear to an urban centre (1993,29 1). Examining the types of settlementat western Thebes and their locations addressesseveral issues - that of physical landscape, the interaction between urban and non-urban environments and the effect of a belief system on the built environment.

As far as it is possible to tell, all of the Coptic residential and religious areas were built in and around earlier structures, most of them pharaonic. Whether this was guided by a desire to overturn and destroy the memory of a non-Christian past, or whether it evolved out of a practicality (easily available building material) and a shared awareness of the sacred potential of the physical landscape(for example governing the desire to build on a hilltop which just happenedto have been built on previously by the ancient Egyptians) is hard to assess. Furthermore, the extensiveoccupation of western Tlebes during the pharaonic period and latermade it hard to avoid re-occupying an earliersite.

In contrast,severalauthorshavechosento emphasise the self-conscious aspectto the Doresse 1960,30- 1; Alston to Christian(for example change of usefrom non-Christian 2002,293-4). This is epitomised by Wipszycka(1994,3), who wrote with reference to built on pagansanctuaries in towns: monasteries
Thoisir un tel. terrain Pour dtablir un monast6re n'6tait pas scuIement une commodit6, mais une actereligieux: la nouvelle religion chassait Fancienne, on suscitait aux d6mons des adversairescapablesde leur r6sister'.


This site, built as the mortuary temple of RamessesIII, had seen successive following the endof thepharaonic era. By thetimeof the Coptic period, a occupations town hadbeenbuilt within the outer walls of the temple,and within the actualtemple, Before Luxor in Karnak temples. the that and the settlement and patternreflects seen the clearingof the templein the nineteenth century,much of Coptic Djeme remained4 having beenabandoned in theninth century(seeWilkinson 1835,45-6; Daressy1897, large iv; H61scher 1934,1). H61scher the a proportionof the of undertook excavation

270 remainingareas of Djeme,to the south eastand to the north and west of the mortuary

As at Karnak and Luxor, churches were built within the mortuary temple, and in its immediate vicinity. The largestof thesewas built in the secondcourt of the mortuary temple,andfollowed thebasilicaplan, with columnsof reusedAswan graniterunning down either side of the nave (H61scher1934, plate 32; 1954,54, plate 45; Wilber 1940,93; Badawy 1978,66; Grossmann2002,455-7). As in the churchesat the Luxor temple,this churchhad a baptistryand a well (Daressy1920,173). Today, a few graffiti and the destroyed III are all that remain after Osiridestatues of Ramesses the removalof the church(Plates19-20). Ile building of this church in the second court of the templeresultedin a high level of preservation of the templereliefs, their colourspreserved undera layerof whitewash,on top of which werewall-paintings.

Threeother smallerchurches (1954,51-7). One by H61scher identified of these were was built within the small temple, and its interior was decorated on two walls with paintingsof the life of SaintMenas(Wilber 1940,88,90-1.94, figure 11). The two linked themortuarytempleareawith its immediate other churches environs;one church (a much smallerversionof the secondcourt church) was locatedoutside the eastern fortified gate,andtheotherwas in thetempleprecinctof Eye and Haremhab (H61scher 1954,55-6. plate46,231); 1934,plates9- 10).

Residential By the time of H61scher's these temples. areas clustered aroundandwithin for left housing to the souththerewereonly two mainareas excavation, excavations of eastand to the north and west sidesof the mortuarytemple(Hdlscher 1934, plates910,32; 1954,45). For the extensive housingwhich clearlyhad onceexistedinside the (for mortuary templeitself, Hblscher had to rely on nineteenth century photographs from theminimaltraces left after the 1858,plate34) andon deduction exampleTeynard (Hblscher1934,plate32). exposure of thepharaonic remains


Both the first and the third courts of the mortuary templewere extensivelybuilt in, therebyalmost surroundingthe churchin the secondcourt. The houseswere muldstoried. On the basisof the doorwayscut in the north wall of the mortuarytemple,it hasbeensuggested thateachfloor was lived in by a different set of residents(Hdlscher 1954,49). This suggestion links in well with the patternsof houseownershipknown from Romanpapyri from towns suchas Oxyrhynchus(Alston 2002,67-75), and with from Djemeitself. actualarchaeological andtextualevidence

This is partially demonstmted by House 42 (outside the mortuary temple) which H61scher thoughthadbeenbuilt in two stages.It mayhaveoriginally beentwo houses, later amalgamated 19.54,50). Similarly, into oneasthehousehold (H61scher increased into more and more living units as happened the reverse aswell, with houses separated family members.This process they werere-dividedamongst was known in the Roman period, as at Oxyrhynchus,but is also documented vividly in a family archive from Djeme(Schiller 1953). This covered four generations of onefamily, who had kept the samehouseover this period. The re-divisionsof the househad constantlychangedits intemalorganisation, diedandspace was re-allotted. asdifferentfamily members

Unusually for Theban Coptic period residential (non-monastic) remains, street plans for about one hundred houses (located outside the mortuary temple) exist. Here, narrow streets wound amongst tightly packed multi-storied houses (H61scher 1934, plate 32; 19.54,45; Badawy 1978,28-9; Alston 2002,176), some of which led into dead ends. The density of occupation of these areasis shown by the width of the streets (1.10 1.80 m), the houses having at least two floors (of about two rooms/floor) without an (Alston 'tiny 2002, designation Hence structures' their as open courtyard. modem 121). The flat roofs of the mudbrick houses would also have been utilised for living space(H61scher 1931,53; 1954,454-6). On the enclosure wall of the temple it is still possible to seesome of thesehousesin situ (Plate 21), the houses on the wall only had

272 entrances openinginwards to Djerne,doubtless providing an extra degreeof security (Badawy 1978,105).

The impressiongivenby thestreetplansof thetown is oneof dense settlement,dictated by function with the townspeoplewanting to live in a securelocation within the enclosurewalls. Despitethe apparentlimitations on space, which resulted in dark living quarterscrammed 1954,53), therewas also a aroundnarrow streets(H61scher willingness to embellishthe houses,to createexternalfeaturesaroundtheir entrances. This is demonstrated by the stonelintels which now lie in a storage areaon the eastside of the mortuarytemple. On thesecrosses,doves and rosetteswere carved in raised in graffiti acrossthe west bank (Plate22), and which relief, motifs which arerepeated are familiar from the eastbank of Thebes. The lintels would havebeenplacedabove from doorsof houses,settingout the religiousidentity of the residents (Alston 2002, 119). Such a customwas attested in the contextof New Kingdom Memphis, where housesmay have been embellishedwith stone lintels on similarly unprepossessing Chapter3). which theresident'snameandtitleswereproclaimed(see

likewise, it appearshighly significant that such a large areaof the town within the safety of the enclosurewalls was given over to religious space- to at least four churches. As previouslynoted,oneof thesechurches was a considerable construction, the very reverseof the living quarters; spacious,with windows set high in the walls and stone,wood and granitethebuilding materials. In the contextof such a crowded thechurchwould havecreated settlement an impressionupon the visitor who was able to accessit, reachingit from a multitudeof dark streets. Indeed, it was a location which peoplefrom acrossthewest bank travelledto (Winlock and Crum 1926,128-9; Boud'hors andHeurtel2002,9 on thechurches for a of Djemeasa possibledestination monk), anda letterfoundin theMonastery of Phoibammon recordstherequestfrom an official of Djemethattherecipientof the lettercometo the churchin Djeme(Crum and White 1926,210-1). The enclosed,almost exclusiveworld in Alston's (2002,176)

273 depictionof the residentialareasof Djeme 'if the orderedcolonnaded thoroughfares of the Classicalcities bespokepowerful urban administrations,so the intricaciesof Kom el-Dikke, of the templeof Chnumand of Jemerepresent knowable communities by the columnedreligious buildings at the only to the insider' - needsto be countered heartof Djemewhich wereopento thosefrom outsidethetown's immediate confines.

Within Djeme, however, there may have been clusterings of different types of by the residential areas,serving those of differing social status. This is suggested the settlement, variationin housesize(but not in general althoughas noted plan) across above,the actualhouseplansmay conceal a wide varietyof internalorganisation. Thus larger housesmay have had a greaterdensity of occupationthan smaller housesof lower status. A specificstatusindicatormay have beenlocation. Proximity apparently to themain churchin the second courtmay havedenotedstatusupon the resident,who could benefitboth from the sanctityof the areaand the extra security, being further thought that the away from the vulnerableoutsideedgesof the town. Thus H61scher officials of Djememay have dwelt in this location(1954,47,49). Itis not possible,

however, to make any more definite conclusionsabout the possible existenceof residentialareasin Djeme. As a systemof organisationwithin Egyptian cities, it is from in earlierperiods. For example, fourth the city well-attested city register century a of Akhmim recordedthe occupationof an inhabitant as determining a residential location(seeMcNally andShrunk 1993,8-9).

emeformed an urbanisedarea, the focus of whic was a arge c urch, ut the lifestylesof thecommunityarealsoattested found both by the detailedtextualevidence at the siteandin otherlocationson thewestbank, andby thematerialfinds. Both types in forms inhabitants testify to theparticipation the of cultural expression, of evidence of found acrossEgypt, aswell asto theimportantrole of literacyin thetown.

274 The textualevidence, the structureof written on ostraca as well aspapyri, demonstrates the town, and the frequentrecourse to law as well as the importance of letter writing. The textsalsoillustratethe closelinks with the restof Thebes,especially with the other by the peopleof Djeme. They were found settlements on the west bank maintained both in the town, and across the west bank, especiallyfrom the Monastery of Phoibammon(see Stefanskiand Lichtheim 1952; Crum and Steindorff 1912). The legal documents are extensive, with monks in western Thebes functioning as administratorsand scribes for the townspeopleof Djeme, who recorded financial transactions on matters suchastaxation(Crum andSteindorff 1912;Bucking 1997,156,20; Biedenkopf-Ziehner2001).

The textualdocuments the involvementof the religious in the lives naturallyemphasise of thosein Djeme,given their literacyskills. Yet this relationshipmay also havebeen by thepossibilitythatthetown formedpartof thelandsof the Monasteryof crystallised Phoibammon (Schiller 1932,4). Furthermore,as notedby Wilfong (1999,219-20), the townspeople to haveformed the primary agriculturalwork-force for of Djemeseem the monasteries Thebes: of western
'by the time of the Muslim conquest, there is considerable evidence for west Theban monastic institutions interacting with Rme residents in matters of land in farming; in general the pattern seems to have been for outside farmers to cultivate the monastic land, itself often donated to the monastery by town inhabitants'.

Given the integration in thelife of Djeme,as administrators, employers of themonastic to the and sourcesof spiritualhelp, the frequencywith which letters were addressed membersof the monasticcommunitiesis hardly surprising (see Chapter4). Ile

inevitablebias of the monasticarchiveswas balanced by the ostracafound actually within Djeme (Kahle 1955,146). Here 'the ostracadeal with the affairs of the

townspeople, thedesertmonksandmonasteries.Ecclestiastical andonly a few concern matters arealsorare;thereis not a singleletterfrom a bishop' (Stefanskiand 11chtheim. 1952,1).


Ile primary contextof the finds at Djemehas beenlost, but a variety of objectswere listed by Hdlscher,includingpotteryandmetalobjects(1954,63-4; 74-8). Within the excavated area, however, no industrial area was discovered,although much of the pottery must have been locally manufactured. Much of the ceramicevidencewas for use within the domesticcontext,and was only minimally embellished (for created example waterjugs andcookingpots). Whenembellishment then it drew was Present, upon motifs which were current all over Egypt, and which could be associated with Christian beliefs. For example, on the mud jar stoppers were seal impressions incorporating emblemssuch as a dove and a cross(Hdlscher 1954,61-2). Amongst the metalitems, therewas a similar focus upon function (for exampleknife blades). Silver bracelets (1-161scher 1954,64-7) attestto an interestin personalembellishment, althoughthey may also haveserveda functionalpurposeas well. Items identified as female figurines, made from baked clay, were also found in Djeme during this in draw comparisons excavation, of material culture andimmediately seen with patterns RAT (see Chapter3). Teeter (2002,2-3) saw a continuum in the use of female

figurines betweenthe New Kingdom and the Coptic period. This was because figurines had beenfound dating from the reign of Ramesses III up until the ninth in ri female 'the employment centuryCE, demonstrating gurines pious devotion for of nearly 2,000 years' (Teeter2002,2). is not without problems (see This statement

Chapter3), yet it can reasonably be asserted that the Coptic figures showing women for thosein Djeme(Teeter2002,3). prayingdid havesomekind of religiousmeaning

Assessing is complex,given the haphazard the materialevidence way in which qeme hasbeendestroyed H61scher's wereunsatisfactory, excavations with no andexcavated. found. Furthermore, contextfor any of theobjects muchmayhavebeenremovedfrom the site over the centuriesand dispersedin museum and private collections as unprovenanced material(or with the generaldesignationas 'Theban'). Thus it is unwise to concludeon the basis of the abovefinds that the investmentin moveable

276 objects was minimal, and that the town was one with little social stratificadon. Amongst the occupationsof those in Djeme, there would probably have been an emphasis this therewould havebeenthefull rangeof on theagricultural. But alongside activitiesassociated with a denselyoccupied settlement.For example,a wide skill-base was drawn upon for the construction of the churches,which involved stonemasonry, carpentryandartistryaswell as carefulplanning.

The numberof residents at 18,860 making it almost of the town has beenestimated twice the size of Edfu (Badawy 1978,29). The use of such estimates,which are worked out on the basisof likely (but not known) multiples,is in allowing somekind for this population of comparison with otherurbanenvironments.The extantevidence to such an extentthat creates an imageof a town in which the Christianworld impacted the greatestinvestmentwas in the placesof worship. Unlike Egypt's non-Christian past, thesewere all dedicated to the samedeity, and any influence of the religious beliefs of the rulers of Egypt did not find materialform at this stage. Thus Djeme survives for the modemobserveras a Christiantown, in which Coptic was the predominantlanguage, located in an Islamicworld.

The town of Djemewould havebeena well-protected andvisually imposing settlement. The residents dwelt in a variety of locationsin and aroundthe pharaonictemple,some thanothers,with thelargechurchin the second of which weremoresecure court in one by a mazeof streets,and within the walls of of the mostsecurelocations,surrounded the greattemple. The town was locatedin the shadowof the Qum, and much of the movement on the west bank would havebeento and from Djeme. From the roofs of the houseson the outer parts of the town, especiallyfrom the houses built on the look for it have been to the enclosure out over the west residents wall, would possible bank, at solitaryhertnitages in theslopesandcliffs of the Qum, at Deir el Roumi, Deir Kumet Murrai and beyond (Plates 23-4). These were placeswhich townspeople visited, taking supplies, pilgrims, receivingspiritual help, visiting family as well as

277 being places in from wherethe monks/hermits down Djeme, to attending services came in legal mattersand overseeing the secondcourt church,assisting the administration of the monasticlands.


One of the paths leading from Djeme went along the valley floor, skirting the cultivated area, passing the Ramesseumafter about ten minutes' walk (Plate 25). This site was 11,and as such would seemto have provided a setting the mortuary temple of Ramesses for habitation and worship comparable with that of Medinet Habu. Yet the site as a whole had gradually lost importance, although between the 22nd and 27th dynasty it was used as a priestly necropolis. By the Ptolemaic period, the site was used as a source of stone to embellish Medinet Habu.(Wilkinson 2000,183; Lecuyot 2000,12 1). This had a long history as the centreof urban activity on the west bank, and as such had been able to maintain the majority of its structures intact, unlike the Ramesseum.

Despite its diminished importance, the Ramesseurn was nevertheless altered and adapted by the Copts (Lecuyot 2000,122), although Lecuyot stated that the evidence does not point to'l'implantationd'une communaut6urbaine ou religieuse'(2000,128).

This is becauseany evidenceis quite minimal, for example, only a comparatively small quantity of pottery was found (Lecuyot 2000,128). However, a church does seem to Ile

have been built in the barque shrine (Leblanc 1994,26; Lecuyot 2000,124-7). traces of this church include graffiti.

Objects relatedto its use are still retrieved during

the ongoing work of excavationand restoration at the site. Two of them were described by Leblanc.

The first was found on the north wall of the vestibule, in a ditch. It was a large limestone cross, almost half a metre high which had been 'assez grossiarement fagonn6e'(Leblanc1994, plateA, 26,3 1). Its size can be contrasted with another

278 (seeLeblanc 1994, much smaflercross, of sandstone also found in the Ramesseurn item described by Leblanc,a font, was also madefrom stoneand plateA). The second in thefoundationsof the southwall of the secondcourt (Leblanc 1994, was discovered 26,311, platesA and B). It had beenmadeout of a capitalof a column, and was unadornedexceptfor a small cross cut into its rim. Theseitems indicate that 'des sculpteurs oeuvraient sur place'(Lecuyot2000,122).

Further indications of the Coptic occupationof the site remain within the great hypostyle hall, and the second court, where there are identifiably Coptic graffid (Lecuyot 2000,122-4). On the columns of the second court, the cartouchesof

Ramesses 11were altered.a crossinsertedinto the sun disk abovewhich the nameof Christ was written. In the greathypostylehall, a monk has left his nameon a column, whilst on othersa whole seriesof crosses as well as magicalsymbols were engraved (Plate26). The graffiti aresimilarin styleand contentto otherson the west bank. For into a column, one of example,figures of a monk with upraisedhandswere scratched first the figures was seated On the the to the of entrance side on an animal. northern hypostylehall, crosses in a line, andnow minglewith thegraffiti of later wereengraved travellers,such as Belzoni, and within the first hypostylehall, thereare a few further graffiti, possibly of Coptic origin. A further indication of the patternsof use in the Ramesseum includean eighthcenturyostracon,a Sahidicletter, found in the ruins of the Third Intermediate Period necropolison the west of the temple (Lecuyot 2000, 127).

Templeof SedI

The path which leadsfrom Djemealong the valley floor towardsDra' Abu el-Nagais landscapes, situatedbetweentwo contrasting and hermitages on with the monasteries the west side, and the floodplain on the east side. The walk from Djcme to the bank, the the sites on mortuary templeof Seti I passes most west of significant some

279 and takes about 40 minutes (along the modem road). Seti I's temple can also be from thequarry settlement in a 25 minutes' walk. The sites of Deirel Bakhit, reached Seti I's templeaswell asthe quarrysettlement link themainareas of thewest bank with more distantsitesaroundandon Thoth hill. SedI's templeis surroundedby cultivated land today, and in the Coptic period houseswere built within and around the temple buildings, anda churchwas built in its northerncourtyard(seeWilkinson 2000,174). The evidence is today limited to graffiti on left on the groundof this Coptic occupation the walls of thetemple.

The erasureof the faces of deities and the king in the hypostyle hall is possibly (one of to theCopts. On the west of the hypostylehall, in the sanctuaries attributable 1), therearemoregraffiti, manyof which seemto be which was thechapelof Ramesses is 1, Ramesses frame there door the the a line of magical. For example, of on chapel of graffiti comprisedof a cross, a personwith upraisedhands, a twelve pronged 'star' (with circleson the end of eachprong) and other more damaged marks(Plates27-8). The twelve pronged 'star' appearsin various permutations on other parts of these in Coptic to thewest of thehypostylehall. As a motif, it regularly appears sanctuaries in Cairo Museum (see the Plate 61). For now magicalcontexts a papyrus example, (no. 45060;Plate60) was found in Thebes,rolled up in ajar andburiedunder the floor of a monk's cell (Meyer and Smith 1999,270-3). This text consistsof a numberof (such in to as cure eye disease, spells which recipes certainresults were given achieve or to impoverisha ruler), and at the end of the list of recipeswere drawings, two of in SetiI's temple. to thoseseen which were similarin composition

by the Magical beliefs were at the heart of the Coptic experience, as demonstrated locationof theabovepapyrus.Thebesitself may have inspireda particularintensityof period,therewas an apparentlyunusually magicalbeliefsas, during theGmeco-Roman high concentration of Thebanmagicaltexts (Tait 1995,181-2). Magicaltexts form an importantbody of Coptictextualmaterial,and were written upon ostmcaand papyri as

280 well as on objectssuchasbowls. They covered a varietyof subjects,includingmedical matters(see Meyer and Smith 1999). Often they form the most daunting texts to translate to the modem reader, and understand, many remainingbasicallymeaningless has beenachieved. Thus with the magicalsymbols which am evenwhena translation seenin this temple,as well as in many other contextsacrossEgypt, it is possibleonly to assertthat they were magical. Nevertheless, they provide a reminderof that other aspectto religiousbeliefsin Coptic Egypt (Viaud 1978,22-3), as had beenthe casein New Kingdom Egypt. Similarly, thesixth/seventh centuryCopticpapyri giving heavily magicalagricultural adviceled Wilfong to state: is 'the ultimatenon-Christian the and on almanacs reliance magic not of origins the barrier to use in a monasticcontextthat a modem readermight assume, especially of priestsandmonksin the facilitation giventhefrequentparticipation andeventheperformance of magicalrituals' (1999,226).
These three areas of settlement and religious activity are typical of Coptic activity in Upper Egypt, in which temples which had been the pagan focus of pre-Coptic towns/settlements were christianised through graffiti as well as through more labourintensive processessuch as monumental church building. There was also a continuity with the pre-Coptic past in the use of the temples as more than religious areas - the defensive capabilities of Djeme had been utilised during the Late Ramesside Period and a close interplay between religious and residential areasestablished, as on the east bank.


The hills of the westernThebeswere crossedby a network of long established paths, linking a greatnumberof sites,from centres activity to solitary hermitages. of monastic Assessing the population of the west bank is complex as there would have been have between the monasteries considerable and hermitages monk may movement -a his fellow monks, andthenspentpart of the year spentsomeof theyearliving amongst in more solitary surroundings, for example,in one of the rock cut tombs high in the

281 Thebancliffs. Transitory,temporary occupation of certainsiteswas a fundamental part of living patternsin Coptic Egypt. This was seenaboveby the way in which the bishopsof Armant spentpart of theyearin westernThebes. A particularsite may also during thelifetime of theanchoriteinhabitingit, but may have only havebeenoccupied continuedto attract pilgrims to the site following the anchorite'sdeath,leading to an accumulation of graffiti.


This hill rises on the south western side of westernThebes, its pyramidal shape forming a backdropto the west bank (Plate58), and in height and shapeits only rival was Thoth Ifill, at the other end of the west bank. During the pharaonicperiod, the Qum was seento be the home of Meretseger, the'cobra goddessto whom those in westernThebesaddressed their prayers- she was a sourceof fear to those in Deir el Medina,but could also be appealed for to by a repentent person help (Bruyare 1930). The sanctityof theareacontinued into the Romanperiod,referredto by travellersas the 'holy mountain'(Montserrat andMeskell 1997,183).

The Qum seems by the Copts as a sacredlocality as well, to havebeenconceptualised and was fully integratedinto the lived environmentof the west bank - with paths running up its slopes. Oneof thesepathsleadsup the mountainfrom Djeme,passing Deir el Medina, and in many of the ostracadiscoveredon the west bank there are to the 'hill of Djeme' (Winlock and Crum 1926,218, seealso Kahle 1954, references 27-9 for thedifferent meanings Cadell R6mondon 1967,344, and To compare of o'r bpog). 347-8 for a similarflexibility in meanings Greek This could refer to the -r6 of the Qum, asit lies behindDjeme,but this phrase was also usedmore generallyto refer to the west bank as a whole, as well as more specific locationssuch as a particular (Winlock andCrum 1926,108). Indeed,this phrasehad beenusedfor the monastery Periodonwards(seeVandorpe1995,222). west bankfrom theThird Intermediate


The sanctityof theareaaroundDjeme,including the Qum, and the hermitsand monks living on its slopes,was reiterated through the use of phrases such as the 'Holy Hal' is not known, but it may written in Thebanostraca.The precise of this phrase meaning have beenused in a specific, limited way to refer to the Qum, as well as having a broadermeaning for all the religioussiteson thewestbank. Winlock and Crum (1926, 127) saw its use as perhapsinspiredby the psalter,and biblical locationssuch as the Mount of Olivesor Mount Sinai.

As an aspectto the sanctityof the west bank the Qum may have played an important it a centralfeatureof thewestbank, and its sacredpast role. Its very visibility rendered may not have beenforgotten. As such, it would have madean ideal setting for a religious structure. The majority of the religious siteson the west bank were sited in highly visible locations(seefor exampleDeir el Bakhit), and the actualarchitecture of feature Thus the monasteries desire the towers to which were a of seemed visibility. monastic cells in westernThebeshavebeeninterpreted as not only functional but also in symbolic, they 'gave the monasteries a prominent place a religiously powerful landscape marked by millennia of traditional worship' (Alston 2002,303). Furthermore, for the Coptic occupation thereis archaeological of Thoth Hill, evidence the highestsummiton thewestbank(seesectionon Thoth Hill below).

That the summitof the Qum may havebeena locationfor a church, is suggested by (Alinlock andCrum 1926,15). The to the 'churchof the summit' in ostraca references mereactof climbingtheQum may also havebeena religiousexperience, an act of the devoutpilgrim, a centralaspect to ajoumey to Thebes. Eachstage of the walk provides integrating both banks banks, the the sites on a new perspective as west and on east well as linking up with other paths leading north west to Deir el Bahri and beyond (Plates29-36). A few pottery sherds,of the ribbed ware seenelsewhere on the west bank, lie on the slopesof theQum, testifyingto Copticactivity.


Deir ei Roun

This is a monasticsite locatedin the Valley of the Queens. A pagansanctuarywas built herein the secondcenturyCE, which was still active in the fourth century CE. Lecuyot (1993,263-4) saw the destruction and the foundationof the of the sanctuary is, no doubt, that:'the destruction monastery aslinked, andconcluded of the sanctuary an fflustrationof the strugglebetweenthe last pagansand the first Christians,and the in thenecropolisof this monasticcommunitywas perhapsalso a manner establishment of exorcising the demons' (1993,272). Lecuyot's excavationof Deir el Roun-d for the destructionof the pagansanctuary,the provided the archaeological evidence location of the monasterydirectly above the sanctuaryruins and the reuse of the in the use of the site sanctuary asbuilding material(1993,265). Thesedevelopments may havearisenquitenaturally,andmay evenhaveinvolved the sameindividuals who changedthe site as their beliefs changed. At the site of Ashmunein,for example,a fifth centurychurchwas built in a templewhich had only a short time previously been usedas an activepaganshrine(Grossmann andBailey 1994,68).

Deir el Rourni,andits associated lauraewithin the Valleyof theQueens,is only a short feels greateras the floodplain twenty minutes'walk from Djeme,althoughthe distance is left behindand the inhospitable cragsand cliffs of the deserthills are approached. The Valley of theQueens to the valley is reached, is hiddenfrom view until the entrance in a highly visible locationon the west side althoughDeir el Rourni itself was situated of the valley, on the southernslope of the hills right at the opening of the valley (Leblanc1989,fig 9; Lecuyot1993,265-6).

Alongsidethelong-established sanctityof thevalley, theremay also have beena desire

to settle in the valley purely from the point of view of its physical attributes. For the

hermits who settledin and around the valley, the ancienttombs provided an ideal

284 location:a physicalchallenge by the secluded,craggyheatof the valley, was presented despiteits proximity to othersettlements floodplain (Plate 37). lushness the the of and

The centreof settlementat DeirelRoumi, was built aroundan the Valleyof theQueens, its buildings that the tomb. It was constructed and unfinishedpharaonic monastery so were visible from the valley as well as from Djeme. The buildings were situated betweenthe hillside and a crag (Lecuyot 1993, plan 11;Plate38). The actual area 300 metres,but the impressiongiven coveredby Deir el Roumiis small, approximately is one of densesettlement.

by a 'long vestibule'. To Lecuyot divided the monastery into two sections,separated the southsideof this vestibulethereare four rooms, of unidentifiedfunction, although in largest in the found the the possibleremains and room rooms of one of an ovenwere lxcuyot found evidence for an upperfloor (1993,266). It is from this side of the site that a direct view of Djemecan be seen,with the floodplain behind. Whethersuch a is have been during the the unlikely, with monastery of view would occupation possible its thick mudbrick walls and orientationtowardsthe church, not the floodplain. If,

however, as was usualin the pattemsof use of domesticspace,the flat roof of the been have by there a panommicview of the then would monastery was utilised monks, its location importantly, the floodplain andthe eastbank. Perhaps careful within more by the valley, provideda visible witness to the Valley of the Queens yet not enclosed being Djeme undertaken the townspeople aroundthem, of of the religious endeavours frequentlyby thoseknown to them.

To the otherside of the vestibule,on the north, are rooms associated with the church, 1993,267), (Lecuyot domed itself. This with the the construction and church was a incorporated The 39). hill (Plate the centre facing into the church theeastside of apse had have It tomb, may also a the the an as annexe. of pagansanctuary, pharaonic baptistry,indicated by a room to thesoutheastof the churchwhich contained a largejar

285 with a cross in raisedrelief (Lecuyot 1993,266; Plate40). How many people were is hard to estimate: the servedby this church,and how many residedin the monastery churchitself is small, but themonastery would havehadan upper floor (Lecuyot 1993, 266). Furthermore,the monastery seemsto have been built in two stages,with the southernsectionbuilt second,at aboutthe end of the sixth centuryCE at the earliest. This expansion into transformed thatthis formerly pagansitewas successfully suggests to attract residents a sacredChristianareawhich continued afterits initial foundation.

The activity of the monastery in the rubbish of the discovered is witnessedby ostraca monastery;these were written in Demotic, Greek and Coptic and document daily concerns(Lecuyot 1993,268 seealso Wagneret at 1990,368-9, pI XXVIII). The

in the valleyalsoundertookto transform othertombsin the monks andhermitsresident valley; painting over the non-Christiantomb paintings, and occupyingsome of the tombs. Tomb numbers58 and 60 saw occupation until the eighth century. A chapel and hermitagewere built in and around tomb 60, from where textual as well as domesticobjectswere recovered, and Coptic imageswere paintedon the tomb walls for example,a crossin room C (Leblanc1983,41,49-52, fig 7, pi V; 1985,68, pl 11; 1989,PI CXLVIII). A clusteringof hermitages aroundtombs98werealsodiscovered 9, in thevalley of PrinceAhmose(Leblanc1989,9-11, fig 7,9, pls XXXV-VII).

The material record indicates that monks were able to occupy successfully what had been an active centre of paganism, an area of pagan worship as well as one in which pagans were buried (Lecuyot 1993,264). In its place, the monks and hermits created

but ideal Christian distinctive landscape, yet connected to the other sites on an ascetic the west bank, including the Valley of the Kings and Djeme (see Leblanc 1989, fig 9). The religious beliefs of the monks and hermits who lived in the valley were reflected by the built environment which they createdaround themselves. The lifestyles followed by these individuals are typical of the west bank, as well as of Christian communides across Egypt. Certain features re-appearin all the west bank monasticthermitagesites;

iq-0-1 mud-brick buildings, of varying size, basedaroundan ancienttomb/temple,evidence for literateactivity and large quantitiesof ceramicevidence. Depending on the size of the site, theremay alsobe a churchandoutlying cellsin further tombs.

Deir el Medina andDeir Kurnet Murrai

The differentareas by a seriesof paths, of settlement on thewestbank were connected established and wom over the centuriesright back into pharaonictimes (Figure 8 1). One such path links Djeme with Deir el Medina, the site of the New Kingdom by Montserratand Meskell(1997). this workmen's village (Plate36). As established Coptic during the Graeco-Roman through to the site was occupied period, right period and the sacredpossibilitiesof the areahad beenretained. It was an areafor burial as life. well asworship anddomestic

PtolemyIV Philopatorand his successors built a templededicated to Hathor (of the West), Ma'at, Imhotepand Amenhetep, the templeof son of Hapu, having destroyed Ramesses 11which had previously stoodon this site. The Coptic occupationof this areainvolvedconvertingthetempleinto a church, building a monastery and converting the tombsinto hermit cells (Bruy&e 1947,423). The templewas initially clearedand restoredin the early twentiethcenturyby Baraize(1914), who listed the items found, including a ball of red cottonfrom theCopticperiod(1914,41). The templestill bears Crum (1926,8) Winlock many tracesof its Coptic occupation, and noted that the and templewasan ideallocationfor a churchandmonastery, giventhe high enclosure walls and the fact that 'few alterationswere neededwithin to changethe temple and the buildingsof thepaganprieststo theneeds of a Christianmonastery'.

inscriptions/graffid Someof theseadaptations the today, notably most are still visible
on the outside walls of the temple (Plate 41). These were memorials to deceased

thatthenames of themonks monks:in thecaseof thenorth wall of thetempleit appears

287 were written directly above their graves (Winlock and Crum 1926,8). Bruy&e

first by the area, and uncoveredthesegraves, which had been excavated excavated Baraize(Bruyare 1952,3). The graffiti on the walls of the templewas not limited to (onein raisedrelief), aswell as a figure names therearecrosses of monks,for example (monk) with raisedarms and an animal. The Ptolemaic reliefs inside the templewere by theCopts. For example,inside the templeon the left hand side of the also adapted therearethreelargecrosses, entrance paintedin red.

The total shift of religiosityin thetemplefrom paganto Christianis emphasised on the temple'sroof, wheretwo monksdrew their feet(Plate42). One set of 'footprints' has the name Abraham written inside both the left and the right foot, with a cross underneath, whilst theothersetis simpler,lackingtoes. The practiceof inscribing feet from both pharaonic on a templeroof is well-attested, andlaterperiodEgypt (seeTeeter 2002,3), for example at Karnak(Chevrier1939,556) and at Abydos (Caulfield 1902, 11).

The monastery was located within the surrounding walls of the temple, on the north side (Bruy6re 1948,36-8; 1952,19-20), Winlock and Crum (1926,9-10) mention that part of the archive of the community was discovered in the nineteenth century but was then dispersed and partially lost. In Bruyre's excavations, a number of artefacts were discovered, such as Coptic ostracaand lamps (1952,19-20). Just near the temple, with its monastery and church, outside the wall on the south east side, was another church, this one built inside a Ramessidevotive chapel (Bruy6re 1948,111-2. rig. 59). 711e close proximity of thesetwo churchesreflects the situation seenin the Luxor temple.

The numberplacesof worship built in Christiansites, closeto eachother, is striking. At a conference in Kellia, desert, delegates the the the western of about monasticsite addressed precisely this issue: 'pourquoi y a-t-il plusieurs iglises dans la meme ' (Bridel 1986,288-90). From this discussion,it emergedthat the agglorn6ration?

288 actualunderstanding of what a church was used for in the Coptic period should be includingthepossibilitythat theywere usedfor communalmeals(Devosin addressed, Bridel 1986,288). The west bank communitieswere on a much smaller scale than Kellia, and thechurches in which any may haveprovidedoneof thefew internalspaces largescalegathering couldtakeplace.

The placing of relics of holy individualswithin a church was also noted as a further in In 1986,288). (Bridel the the reasonfor a church'scontinued monasteries existence Judeandesert, churcheswere built to commemorate an event or a person; memorial churches as opposedto parochialchurches,which were built to servea communityof pilgrimagecentresin people(Hirschfeld 1992,16). Memorialchurches could become their own right, and stimulatethe later development of a monastery. This may have beenthe casein Thebes of worship should not be aswell, andthe multiplicity of places from New Kingdom seenas surprising. It is a featureof many built environments, Memphisto contemporary Rome.

It is at Deir el Medina that the proximity of the different settlements and religious buildings on the west bank can be most appreciated. To one side, on the south east on the brow of a hill is Deir Kumet Murrai, and on the other side, on the north cast is a VII, linking Coptic Deir Medina as site such a hermitage. settlements path el with other Deir Kurnet Murrai is only a ten minute's walk from Deir el Medina (Plate 446),up the (Plate Djeme 44), lines to hill from north west south there side of a where are clear sight to the monastery and church in the temple of Hathor, north to site VII and west to the Qum. Djeme itself is only 30 minutes' walk at the most from Dcir Kumet Murrai.

Monks sitting on the roof of the temple of Hathor could be reassured by the Kurnet Dcir fellow-monks landscape their at work at them, chrisdaniscd seeing around Murrai. The location of Deir Kurnet Murrai was highly visible to those on the

floodplain and to those in the desert behind (Plates 43 and 45). When Bonomi visited

289 Ilebes in 1830,he madea noteof Deir Kurnet Murrai, describingit as 'the conventon thehill with the templewith brick wall'(1914,82, no 64).

The churchlocatedhere was dedicated to St Mark (Sauneron1972; 1973), and was built arounda pharaonic tomb(Sauneron1972,207). The church seems to havebeen built in stages;Sauneronstatedthat some anchoritesbuilt a chapelfirst and then it into a churchbuilt along the usualapsidalplan, as well as increasingthe expanded living space (1972,207).

The rinds madeduring the excavations at Deir Kumet Murrai were considerable. A very largequantityof potterywas uncovered anda largenumberof sherds remainin the immediate 1973,230). Ostraca vicinity (Sauneron were numerousas well, with more discovered thantwo thousand (Sauneron1972,207); Coquin has beenable to identify the handwriting of Apa Markos in about fifteen texts (see Sauneron 1973,23 1). Monks were also buried in the vicinity (Sauneron1973,231), and the impression gainedof this site is of an area of intenseactivity, centredupon one monk (Apa Markos), with the apparently by the extentof the small areaof the site overshadowed materialremains. The locationof this religious areawas once again focused upon a tomb, andthe siteseems to combineboth a commanding pharaonic physicallocationas well as the reuse of a pharaonicstructure. Even today, the remainsof Deir Kumet Murrai canbe seenright acrossthewestbank.

Site VII

This siteis on thesideof a steep hill andthemudbrickremains of a tower canbeenseen from a distance. From Deir el Medina, the path descends steeplyand cuts acrossthe valley floor, and then climbs againup to this small hermitage(Plates47-8). Pottery sherdslitter the climb up to the hermitage,once the site is reachedthere is a clear (also occupiedby the Copts), acrossto the eastbank outlook down to theRamesseurn

290 of theNfle (Plate49), andtowardsDeir Kurnet Murrai (Plate50). WinlockandCrum (1926,10-11) stated thatthebrick tower would oncehavebeenat leastten metreshigh. Such brick towers were a featureof the Coptic settlements on the west bank built to providesecurityin timesof unrestand also provided storageand living space(Walters 1974,79,86). As noted above, however, they may also have been an attemptat

creatinga visually striking point in the landscape.

The effect in this locationwould havebeenvery imposing, standingas it does on the foothills of theQum, with steepslopeson threesides. The settlementwas built directly in front of a Middle Kingdom pharaonic tomb, in its forecourt, all that remainsapart from the baseof the tower, are piles of rubbleand potterysherds. The inside of the into the site- inscriptionswere left on its walls, and the pharaonic tomb was integrated wall paintingswere 'defaced'(Winlock and Crum 1926,11). This site seemsto have beena living space for a necessarily of the smallnumberof monksgiventheconstraints locationandthereis no evidence for a church,althoughthetomb mayhavebeenutilised for it ideal location have The this an as a chapel. made exposednatureof site would monastic reflectionanddenial.

SheikhAbd el-Quma

This hill lies to the north of Site VII, reachedby a path leading along the valley floor from Djeme and Deir el Medina, past Site VII and the bottom of Sheikh Abd el-Qurna, before ending in Deir el Bahri. Another possible route was through skirting the edge of the floodplain, past the Ramesseurnand then turning north west. The second route takes only twenty minutes from Djeme, although those travelling both paths in Coptic times would doubtless have stopped off at the different habitations and devotional locations en route for social, economic and religious purposes.

291 The hill of SheikhAbd el-Qurnais filled with private tombs, most originating in the New Kingdom. During the Coptic period, thesewere occupiedin both the short and long term. For example,the forecourtsof the tombs were usedas workshops, where loom-pitswere locatedon which the monks/hermits could producetextiles(seeTefnin 2002,6), and the tombsthemselves could be lived in. The forecourtof one of these tombs, no. 29, was occupiedby Frange, whose links with the rest of Thebes are testifiedby his letters (see Chapter4) and by his economicactivities:book-binding. rope-making, weavingandleather-work(Boud'hors and Heurtel2002). The northern and easternslopes of Sheikh Abd el-Qurna, becamethe nuclei of two monastic in Cyriacus, establishments, which theactivitieswerevery similar of Epiphanius andof by therecentexcavations to thoserevealed at tombno. 29.

Excavations in which was at thesemonasteries of material published a wealth revealed detail (Winlock and Crum 1926; Crum and White 1926). The vitality of the

living there and on the west bank as a whole is brought to life by the communities textualfinds as well as the non-textual. The Monasteryof Cyriacuswas clusteredin and aroundtombnos. 65-7 (Figure83; Plate51). Mudbrick structures can still be seen in the forecourts of some of these tombs, which commanda view down to the Ramesseurn and beyond. It formed an outlying cell to the Monasteryof Epiphanius, andcontained within it similarpatterns of use,just on a smallerscale.

from The centre of settlement Monastery Abd Sheikh the radiated of el-Qurna of Epiphanius,a short five minute's walk north from the Monasteryof Cyriacus(Figure 83). The Monasteryof Epiphaniuswas locatedboth within, and in the forecourt of, tomb 103, the tomb of Daga(Plate54) Deir el Bahri is situatedto the north west of Epiphanius' monasterywith a clear visual link betweenthe two (Plate 53). The

its Deir Roumi: development Monastery in Epiphanius developed the way as el same of other anchoritesto settle was in stages,initiated by Epiphanius,who then attracted nearby(Winlock andCrum 1926,32; Walters1974,10).


The monastery by two towers, oneof threestorieshigh, the other much was dominated smaller. The largetower was built over at leasttwo generations, and containedwithin its mudbrickwalls (re-used from thetomb of Mentuernhat) storageareas,grain bins as well as living space(Winlock and Crum 1926,32-3, pI VI, fig 3; Plate 52). The defensivepurposeof the towers was emphasised by Winlock and Crum; when the political situationwas stableonly theseniormembers of the communitylived within the towers, at unstable thereas well (1926,39). timesthe rest of the communitysheltered A boundarywall also servedas both a markerof the monastery landsand as a further defensive (1926,36-7). precaution

The tomb of Dagawas converted into a church, the walls plasteredover and suitable texts written upon them. In 1883Syriac inscriptionswere found on the walls of the tomb, one of which was the Lord's prayer (Crum and White 1926,152-3), and in 'native' hand) been have (as was this the to a text written evidence such as seemed lived in the midst of thesecommunifies usedto show that non-Egyptians on the west bank (Winlock and Crum, 1926,140). One of the ostracahad the Syriac alphabet use written out on it, andmay havebeenusedto teachSyriacto Copts: 'the presumable be for Syriac; the teaching thus of of an alphabet roughly copiedupon a sherd, would the teacher amonghis at Rme, thepupil someone would be someSyrianmonk resident Copticneighbours'(Winlock andCrum 1926,140). Oneof theothertexts on the walls ink in inscribed in Daga Coptic, the tomb on plaster,which was a sermon of red of was XV). Thus, heretics the (Crum White 1926,148-52,331-7, plate within against and tomb of Daga there was a microcosmof the ideal Coptic world, in which nonEgyptian Christiansor heretics (whether or not). werecondemned

The scholarly effort which was carried out within the Monasteryof Epiphaniusis
indicated both by the high concentration of written material and by texts such as the

Syriac ostraconabovewhich testify to activelearning. Similarly, amongstthe Greek

293 texts discovered,were tablesin which Greekverbs were coniugated alon9side Coptic verbs. In contrastto the Syriacmaterial,Winlock and Crum did not identify the Greek texts as having beenwritten by non-Egyptians(1926,143). This statementseems

Copticin Egypt (see Chapter appropriate, given thelong integration of Greekalongside 4). Yet Winlock andCrum went on to characterise Greekas a language used and leamt out of necessity, with greatreluctance: 'Greek had remainednothing but a foreign tongue, obligatory still in the conductof the churchservicesand no doubt unavoidablein dealingswith the but needing to be learnt by such clerics as found government's representatives, (1926,143). someacquaintance with it indispensable' Chapter4). This negative (see interpretation is Greek the unnecessary useof of

As at theothermonastic hermits bank, the occupiedtombs nearthe west settlements on its lived boundary Monasteryof Epiphanius, the the outside community of and majority walls. For example, a site identified as Cell B, was a short distance west of Epiphanius'monastery. It was a dwelling for an anchorite(cave or tomb), and was (see Frank to thus a locationfor pilgrimageto a sacred a sacred place as opposed person 2000). Forty pilgrims wrote their namesand prayerson the walls of this cell, and Winlock andCrum (1926,43) notedthatthis site 'was heldin thehighestregardby the betweenCell B and the monastery of Epiphaniuswas peopleof Rme'. The distance Crum its (Winlock in but it right own and neglible was nonetheless a pilgrimagesite 1926,43-4).

A visibly monasticlifestyle was followed by those in the Monasteryof Epiphanius, Egypt. Thebes in the of and across the rest where occupations were thoseof monks For example, textilesaswell asshoesweremadeon thesite (Winlock and Crum 1926, from further afield. For example, 67-78), but moreluxuriousitemscould be obtained the lack of carpentry of items such as the tools found at the site (despitethe presence by latticework woodenscreens) indicate that out was carried carpentry no skilled may is attested by the monks(Winlock and Crum 1926,54). An interestin embellishment Figure Crum 1926,91-2; (Winlock fragments found and on the site of paintedpottery

294 86). Their religiousworld canbe witnessed in finds such as the designsof mud seals to those found in Djeme (see on ribbed amphorae,used for wine, and comparable aboveandWinlock andCrum 1926,80; Figures84-5). On theseseals,were stamped imagesof individualsprayingwith upraised hands,as well as crossesand the nameof Christ, for example. The monks' environmentwas thus one in which constant reiterationandaffirmationof their self-definitioncould be found.

On the basisof a lack of evidence (ratherthan positive evidence)Winlock and Crum (1926,103) statedthat the monasterywas not occupiedafter the secondhalf of the jolony for the continuedexistence seventhcentury:'thereis in fact no evidence of this of hermits beyond the first half of the seventhcentury', at around the time of the Muslim conquest. The problemsassociated with dating the occupationalphasesof Thebesaresuchthatexcavators haverevisedandreassessed any dates,asin the caseof in initially occupation tomb 60 in the Valleyof theQueens, was thoughtto have ceased the seventh century,thenit was revisedto the eighthcentury(Leblanc 1983,52; 1985, 68). Any declineof the monasticsettlements on the west bank must haveaffectedthe lives of thoseliving in moreurbanareas,suchasDjeme,which continuedto exist until the ninth century.

Dcir el Bahri

Hatshepsut's cliffs, forms one mortuarytemple,set againstthe backdropof sandstone 55). It (Plate bank the commands of the mostimposingstructures an outlook west on over thewestbankanddown to theeastbank,thetempleof Karnakdirectly in its sight lines andlinked during the Valley Festivalin the New Vingdom (seeabove). It is not by theCopts, who surprising,therefore,thatthis sitewas comprehensively re-occupied built a monastery in thetempleat the endof the sixth century. The siteis setin a natural amphitheatre, creatinga sun-trapand thus combinedthe rigours of desertlife with the transformationof a paganstructure. The foundation of the monastery(Godlewski

295 1986,63) may representa continuationof the Monastery of Phoibammonin the functioningin the late westernvalley, tenkilometresfrom Deir el Bahri, which ceased sixth century. The land for the monastery may have beendonatedby the residentsof Djeme(seeGodlewski 1986,49,63-4). Abraham(see Chapter4), later Bishop of

Armant, was theheadof themonastery (Godlewski 1986,64). Deirel Bahri had been used as a burial site prior to this, with fourth and fifth century CE gravesdiscovered (Godlewski 1986,48).

The Coptic reclamationof Hatshepsut'stemple was so successfulthat it took a concerted effort on the part of Egyptologiststo removethe Coptic monasticbuildings. Visible traces templearenow limited to graffliti on the of theCopticlife of Hatshepsut's walls of the temple,andperhapsthe erasure of deitieson the temple of representations reliefs (Godlewski 1986,142-52;Wilkinson 2000,178). Before the excavation of the pharaonictemple,someof the monasticbuildings, situatedon the upper and middle including 1890,1), terraces (Mariette a mudbrick of the templeremained aboveground tower as seenat Site VII. This survived to eight metreshigh in the late nineteenth thedestruction centuryCE. Naville was thefirst to undertake of the Coptic layers- the frontispieceof his publicationof the excavation featureda photograph of the monastic buildings including the tower (1894). Winlock (1942,14) completedthe clearingof lateradditionsto thepharaonic temple.

The work of Godlewski (1986) resultedin a comprehensive reconstructionof the Monasteryof Phoibarnmon the different finds at the (1986, plan 1), and he catalogued throughtime, site as well astheCopticwall paintingsandgraffiti. The site developed and a changein the locationof the chapel(to the Chapelof the Royal cult) may have been due to a needfor greatersecurity (Godlewski 1986,33,44). Coptic crosses

coveredthewalls of this chapel,andits focusasa pilgrimagesite is shown by someof from the prayerswritten up on its walls (Godlewski 1986,36-8). For example, a priest the town of Coptoswrote a prayeraskingGod to havemercyon him - this text dates

296 from the tenthto theeleventh CE - theongoingChristiansanctityof the site is centuries alsowitnessedby other graffiti from the twelfth centuryCE (Godlewski 1986,33-36, 143, no. 8). The energyput into the creationof this monasticcentreis demonstrated by theremovalof thedrumsof sandstone (Barwik 1991, columnsfrom theRamesseum. 19). Thesewereusedasbasinsin themonastery.

On the lower terrace of the temple were a series of rooms, which Godlewski thought housed those who were connectedto the monastery, but not actually part of it (1986, 46). These were people who had been donated to a monastery when children (see

Chapter 4), but who did not enter the monastic order, instead carrying out a variety of tasks for the monks (such as agriculture). Within the broad monastic area of Deir el Bahri, therefore, a variety of lifestyles could be followed, stretching from the nonmonastic to the hermit. Yet the material finds from the site show a unity of expression and style similar to the rest of Thebes. For example, drawings on ostraca(Godiewski 1986,108-14) include motifs recognisable from graffid and engraved stones, the

wooden furniture is similar to that in the Monastery of Epiphanius (Godlewski 1986, 119-22), as are the pottery, amphorae as well as painted fragments (Godlewski 1986, 124-33). Much of the Coptic textual material discussedin Chapter 4, of generalTheban provenance, was probably recovered illicitly from this site, as was the archive of documents about Djeme (Crum and Steindorff 1912); ostraca, with letters on, continue to be found there (see Godlewski 1986,134-40).

A monastic Much Coptic in landscape in this amphitheatre. graffiti. natural was created which individualscut their namesinto the rocks, or crossesand drawings, survives from therocks immediately 2000,230- 1). Atombinthese aboveDeir el Bahri (Rzepka by monks from Deir el Bahri, who are also rocks may havebeenusedas a hermitage for the graffiti (Rzepka2000,230-1). Such patternsof use probably responsible extendfrom Deir el Bahri to the Monasteryof Epiphanius,on its southernside, and to dynastyon its northenside, which were occupiedby the rock cut tombsof eleventh

297 hermits.From Deir el Bahri a path climbedalong this hillside, passingby thesetombs Deir el Medinato thesouthandthe Valley of the Kings to the north west. and reaching This pathis still usedtoday, and providesa spectacular overview of the west and east banks. Tracesof the monasticoccupation of thesetombsincludedostracaand leather sandals(Carter 1912,22). For example,from Site XX ostraca were recovered,

including letters addressedto Epiphanius (of the Monastery of Epiphanius) (see W`inlock andCrum 1926,20).

The VaHeyof the Kings

The walk betweenDeir el Bahri and the Valley of the Kings is short (20 minutes)but steep,and, asat Deir el Rourni, the tombsin the Valley of the Kings were lived in by burials (see stela BM monks, anchorites and hermitsand also usedfor contemporary 409, Lefebvre 1907,71). This site, althoughreached relatively easily from Deir Cl Bahri, feelsmuchmoreisolatedthanDeir el Roumi. Oncemore the physicallandscape ideal to thosewishing to follow a religious life in its of thevalleymust haveappeared midst.

The tombof Ramses IV, was identifiedby Winlock and Crum (1926,18-9) as having for Copticoccupation, the mostimportantevidence andthetombitself hadbeena much visited site beforethe Coptic period. In the forecourt. of the tomb were found Coptic domestic building. There beside including a two structures, granaries, an oven and inside beside for honey these which therewas structures, were also amphorae storing for visitors to evidence still somehoneycomb.Insidethe tomb therewas considerable dwelling there. They left their names the anchorites on thewalls of thetomb, andwrote prayers(DavisandAyrton 1908,6-8; Winlock andCrum 1926,19).

The tombs themselves could becomeplacesof worship and the sanctity which the Coptswishedto imposeon thesetombsis shownby the fact that few accessible tombs

298 were left without some sort of Christian graffiti (Vinlock and Crum 1926,19-20; Weeks 1998,53). Any archaeologist in working the tombsof westernThebesfaced (andfaces)theCopticperiodoccupation/alterations doneto thesetombs. Weeks'recent discoveryof tomb KV 5 encountered Coptic pottery sherdsthroughoutthe labyrinthine impenetrable in tomb, in everychamber the sectionsof the tomb even most apparently (2000,119). Thesesherdsincludedparts of a cooking pot and an amphora(2000, 125). The deposition reflectwhat now seemto havebeenunusual patterns of ceramics thevery depthsof a activity. It is hardto understand why an individualwould penetrate tomb, using andleavinglargequantities which would have of pottery,in an atmosphere beendark, closeandfull of potentialdanger.

Carter's account of his survey in the mountains to the west of the Valley of the Kings described the location of a number of tombs: 'at the head of the numerous valleys that bere abound tombs are hidden, generally in the innermost recesses,clefts and crevices, some however being cut high up in the rock-faces of the perpendicular cliffs' (1917, 107). In these apparently inacccessible locations, anchorites settled and Coptic plan

visitors/pilgrims left their graffiti (Quibell 1906,9; Carter 1917,108-109,112-4, XIX; Plate 57).

Deir el Bakhit

its As seenabove,Deir el Bahri was surroundedby monasticlanchorite settlements from thevalley floor meantwalking past such settlements on either side. At approach hill Dra' Naga Abu the the southernend of this approach, the named of el summit on (Plate56), was locatedwhat Winlock and Crum (1926,21) termed 'one of the most This has Thebes'. been Western Christianmonasteries not excavated considerable of (Strudwick and Strudwick 1999,206), and much of the remainswere cleared'away (Winlock and Crum 1926,21). Yet Winlock and Crum (1926,21) describedthe

evidenceleftonthe site;a cemeteryof50-100 graves,pottery, ostraca(120 were taken


to the Berlin Museum) and somemudbrick walls. The boundariesof the monastic landsweremarkedby stonecairns, in the shapeof crosses(Winlock and Crum 1926, 21).

From the summitof Dra'Abu el.Naga,themonastery commanded an extensiveoutlook

over both west and east banks, mirroring the position of Deir Kumet Murrai, and connecting the valley floor settlementswith those in the desert.

QuarTy settlement
A short distance north eastof Dra' Abu el Naga, is the opening to the valley which forms the Valleyof theKings. Crossingthe flat floor of this valley, and turning east, north of 'E[wat ed Dibban,thereis a smallvalleyin which stonewas quarriedfrom the 26th Dynastyto theRomanperiod. From Dra'Abu el Nagathe walk takesabout thirty minutes, and during the Coptic period the quarry was extensivelyoccupied (Petrie 1909c,plateIV; Plate59).

The quarry workings, and the undergound chambers were reused by the Copts who built mudbrick walls and created small rooms. Crosses were painted on the walls, and there was also a prayer to the Twelve Apostles (Winlock and Crum 1926,22). Small

finds were also made, for example, Gauthier discovered ostraca and pottery, and Arinlock and Crum noted that the 'surface is littered with evidences of Coptic occupation' (1926,22). In Petrie's publication of his work in Qurna, he published a

picture of a painted fragment of a Copticjar, found in the quarry (1909c, LVI).

Connnected. houses built to theabovesettlementwere of on thesideof the valley, row a Copticpotteryproviding evidence These their occupation. siteswere not discussed of by Petrie, but he did publish photographs of a Coptic hermitage and 'pillar dwelling', without clearcontexts given(1909c,pl L111).


Tle two pre-Copticwatchtowers located slopeseitherside north of the quarry, on steep by Coptic anchorites,and provided a vantage of the Farshut road, were reoccupied point over thewestbank. The anchorites who lived in thesewatchtowers were ableto but Deir Bakhit, seemoredenselyoccupied were also able to follow a as el areas,such moreisolatedlife (seePetrie1909c,aswell asWinlock andCrum 1926,23).

Thoth HiH

The quarry settlement hermitages, formed above,along with its associated mentioned to thepath to Thoth Hill (Plates57 and 59). This hill is the highestpeak an approach by a seriesof 'labyrinthinewadis' (V6r6s and Pudleiner on thewest bank, surrounded 1997a,283), and can be reached by a steepwalk of abouttwo hours from the quarry settlement.The pathis suchthat pack animalscannotwalk along it (Vbrbs 1998,17). hear from Petrieemphasised 'all I theaccessibility the residentswas that could site: of inaccessible(1909c,5). thereweresomeCopticwalls on it. Yet it is by no means

On the summit of the hill, the excavators have discoveredthe remainsof an Eady Dynasticstonetemplededicated to Horus, on top of which was built a NEddleKingdom (Petrie 1909c,pl V; V6r6s and Pudleiner1997a; Mentuhotep templebuiltby Sankhare 1997b;V6r6s 1998). In additiona Sed festival palaceof SankhareMentuhotepwas for devotion Hathor Hill locatedthere. The further development Thoth to site a as of from have been location, the hill's to expeditionary the route close may a result of Thebesto Farshut. For those going on such expeditions,it would have been an for Hathor, deposit to to responsible a goddess roads and appropriate place offerings (Pudleiner 2001,245). expeditions

The site was not used again until the Coptic period (V6r6s 1998,6 1). Petrie noted the

5), Ifill (1909c, Coptic occupation Thoth the and the recentexcavations of surnrrtof

found further evidence of the Copts (V6rds and Pudleiner 1997a, 284,287; 1998,35,61). V6r6s

This evidenceincluded large quantities of Coptic amphorae, as well as

defaced statuesof Thoth and limestone crosses, similar to those found in the temple of Seti 1. V6r6s (1998,61) dated the reoccupationof Thoth Hill by the Copts to the fourth and fifth centuries CE, and attributed it to a group of anchorites.

Thoth Hill, alongwith theQum, dominated Thebesthelandscape of west and eastern the two hills providingfocus points and the most visible witness to the christianisation Mentuhotep bat that Sankhare of the area(Plate57). V6rds (1998,64) hypothesised his Sed festival palaceon this vantagepoint precisely becauseof its commanding physical location:'the peopleof the capitalcould seethe heights to which their virile ruler had to climb'. As at the Qum, the pyramidalshapeof the summit was also an inspirationfor the ancientEgyptians:Wr6s (1998,65) statedthat the templewas the equivalentof the pyramidion,the tip of a pyramid. For the Copts, this site with its impact location this the mudbrick pylons may havepresented of physical a challenge; into an activeChristiansite - its to be transformed was suchthatits pagan pastneeded living those to visibility such that it provideda constant and working on the reminder eastandwest banksof theanchorites' struggleon their behalf.

The lengths to which the Coptic anchorites were prepared to go to transform the rock cut pharaonic tombs of the west bank were highlighted by Wrds' (1998,65-74) discovery of a tomb situatedon the north side of Thoth Hill. This tomb may have been built for Sankhare Mentuhotep, and its location reflects that of the entrance to a pyramid. The tomb is located halfway up a cliff of 35 metres, and could only be

accessedby the excavatorsthrough the use of ropes and ladders (see photograph pages 70-1). The Copts had converted the tomb into a chapel (perhaps during the fourth

century), with a brightly coloured.fife-size painting of Christ Pantocrator, crosses and symbols of the four evangelistsas well as numerous Coptic graffiti - 'hundreds of lines of Coptic text had beenscratchedinto the rock walls' (Wrbs 1998,74).


ThepilgrintageLuidscape of Thebes

During the pharaonic period, Thebes had been one of the most populous and vibrant cities in the near east, yet, even during its heyday in the New Kingdom it was a city whose 'economic well-being' was dependent, in part, on its 'religious and funerary functions' (Strudwick and Strudwick 1999,8). In the Coptic period, Thebes seems

once more to have becomean areain which intense religious activity was the main-stay of the communities resident there, despite the fact that this was an area which had no links with the biblical past. On both sides of the Nile, monastic communities were juxtaposed with non-monastic settlements,and, as in the pharaonic period, there was a wealth of sacred sites, with churches almost adjoining one another in some locations. The literary image presentedby the Historia Monachorum seems to have been created in the midst of one of the most famous and visible pharaonic districts -a place once visited for its non-Christian sites.

The paganism of the inhabitants seems also to have been successfully quelled, as the population becameChristian, and sought to leave their sacredsymbols all over Thebes on ancient buildings, in caves, as well as on the door fintels of their houses. Duringan em of political change, those in Thebes expressedtheir identity and put great investment into the development and maintenanceof areasof worship, and also supported those who chose to become monks or hermits. It was from the non-monastic communities that people came from in order to become monks, with some monks leaving behind families, wives and children in the more urbanised areas.

immediate Thebesalso attracted its from vicinity. outside residents

Pilgrims from

in Thebes. The motivation for beyond Thebesleft graffiti recordingtheir presence from have Thebes to arisen pilgrimagesand settlement seems a desireto see within well-known monks and hermits,to benefitfrom their sanctity,as well as to be in the

303 midst of what had becomea religious landscape. Pilgrimageas a religious act was by religiousleadersand the Coptic church (see Walters 1974,36; Viaud encouraged 1979,1; Basilios 1991,1324), which allowedpilgrimageto churches as an alternative itself (which had a Coptic community). For EgyptianMuslims, to visiting Jerusalem Aswan became for visiting Mecca(seeBudge 1920, a placeof pilgrimage,a substitute 98).

Thebesmirroredmonastic in landscapes other partsof the Middle East, andpilgrimage as well as within Egypt (compareMount of Temptation,Jericho - Plate 63). In the Sinai desert, at the site in which Moses receivedthe ten commandments, a whole pilgrimage landscapewas created (Coleman and Eisner 1994). St Catherine's

bush' both 'burning foot the the the the the monastery was at site of of mountain,on startandendpoint of a climb to the summitof Mount Sinai, a climb which was turned into a religiousact. As at Thebes,themountain by hermits who could be was occupied visited on the way to the summit and at the top was a church(compare with the Qum by hermits desertin Palestine andThoth Hill). TheJudean monks settled and was also betweenthe fourth and seventhcenturiesCE, and becamea 'cosmopolitancentre' (Patrich 1995,7), with monasteries in Jerusalem hermitages close proximity, and a and day's walk away. Here, Patrichidentifiedthephysicallandscape asbeingcentralto the locationof themonasteries (Plate62), aswell asthe importance of individual monks in inspiring othersto locatenearby(1995,7- 10).

Judean is desert The apparent the the of seen monasteries andproximity of accessibility at Thebesas well, althoughthe actualimpressiongiven by the Coptic buildings at Thebesmay havebeenthe reverse. Boundarywalls surroundedthe monasteries and in delineating hermitages, theory having towers very clearlythe them as well, someof boundaries have beenmore in but the must monastic practice andnon-monastic space, fluid. At theMonasteryof Epiphanius,for example,over half the communityactually lived outsidethewalls, in outlying cells(Winlock andCrum 1926,39).


How far the non-monasticof Thebes were allowed accessto the monasteries and hermitages is questionable. Accessto the 'holy men' of Thebes may have been a to a supportiverole, privilege. Thenon-monastic of Thebes may havebeenconsigned bringing food and water to the deserthermits, but otherwisenot participatingin the the non-monastic religious endeavours residentiallocations. of thosewho surrounded The graffiti seenin thehermitcellsmay only havethrived after the deathof a particular hermit, and therewould havebeena continualebb and flow in the hermitages of the west bank, as cells feU into disuseand decline- at no time would the sites discussed have all seena simultaneous level of use. The frequentrecourse to letterwriting (see Chapter4), in which peopleof Djemeappealed for help from monks may partly have arisenout of just suchan inaccessibility.

Trackingany patternsof access in Coptic Thebesis as complexas for New Kingdom Memphis. The graffiti, bothpictoralandwritten, left acrossthe Thebansites, certainly individuals desire to visit religious to the attestto patternsof movement of some and Christianity. Yet the contentof to with sites/people or endow a previouslypagansite the graffiti follows certain set themes, apparentlyalways with a religious basis, implying thata certainperception of graffiti endured. of thepurpose

Within the domestic context, in the houses of Djeme, individuals wrote their names and (Edgerton 1934,127; marked their similarly a prayer, and some of possessions were H61scher 1954,47). Even though this was in a private domestic setting, the content

in further Similarly, in limited written graff id outlook. was religiously motivated and the temple buildings in Medinet Habu primarily recorded the name of the individual is Thebes, This (Edgerton 1937). east across and west reflected and/or a prayer pattern frequent Christ's the were name most with where a person's name, a prayer or a cross form of graff iti (seefor exampleDeir el Bahri - Godlewski 1986,28). The vigour with in Thebes, bank Egyptians the the traversed placing graffid at west which ancient

305 difficult to accesslocations was matched in the Coptic period, where Coptic graffiti were written alongsideancient Egyptian graffid (Sadek 1972, plate CLXXXIII). This

may have resulted from a desire to cancel out the power of the ancient writings by PlacingCoptic texts alongside, but has also beenanalysedas the continuation, and not the rejection, of ancientpractices. Tley form 't6moins importants de la persistancedes dans I'Egypte chr6tienne'(Coque, Debonoet al 1972,11). rites pharaoniqucs

In theory, it should have been possible for anyonewith any degreeof literacy to leave graffiti freely, covering any rangeof issuesand including a whole range of images (for which literacy was not a pre-requisite),but insteadthe placementof graffiti seemsto have involved a similar degree in New (self-imposed the as or not) of restriction Vingdom. Considering Badawy's in living 20,000 of almost estimateof a population Djemeat any one time, even base leaves huge half by the a population reducing estimate with the potentialto leavegraffiti of any sort. Yet the number of graffiti covering five base, centuriesof occupationdoesnot seemto be representative that even population of given the proviso that any extant graffiti are but a small proportion of the original number. Perhapsmerely to write graffiti, or to draw an image, formed part of a Privilegedactivity in Thebes, and was a purely religious experience. Thus it was the fortunatePilgrim who fortunate holy the to and even more site, was permitted visit a

Pilgrim who could write a prayer requesting assistance. Participation in the 1hristianisation of Thebesmay have beenreservedfor those committedto the religious life- It may have been fields, laboured in the others somethingcarried out whilst unconcerned about the christianisationof the deserthills, tombs and templesaround them.

The most visible

Thebes in western are men, with the communties amongst religious

the graffiti recording endlesslythe narnesof monks and with the ostraca similarly dominated by monks. priestsor bishops. Yet, as seenin Chapter4, a not insignificant
Proportion of letters involved the female voice. Women were just as able as men to

306 write to members of the religious communities, and could themselveslive out the religious life as nuns (seeWilfong 199U 125-6 - who also noted the complaints made by monasticcomrnunitiesaboutnuns). Ilus someof the letters were actually written to women Muflock and Crum 1926,13 1). On the basis of this evidenceWinlock and Crum 0 926,132) argued that there were interactionsbetween monks/hermits on the west bank and women. This was further enabledthrough the practiceof some ascetes in abandoningtheir family in order to live as a hermittmonk (see Chapter 4). Some form of contact could be retained, however. Access for women to the religious communitiesin Thebesneednot have beenany harder than it was for men; although a letter requestinga monk go to the Monasteryof Phoibammonin order to reprimand a both the accessibility monk who had brought women into the monasterydemonstrates for women, and the disapprovalwith which this could be met (Winlock Of monasteries and Crum 1926,134, Bucking 1997,4).

The close interconnectionbetweenthe is, Thebes lay of communities religious and however. demonstrated by the decline and eventualabandonment of western Thebes. The town of Djeme was desertedin the been have various reasons ninth century, and Put forward for this, Lefebvre statedthat the inhabitantsof Djeme fled to Esna in the seventhcentury, presumably in the face of the Muslim conquest (1907,69). As

documents reveal(seeSchiller 1932,56-63), however, the town continuedto exist after the Muslim conquestso the two events cannot be directly linked. Instead it seems Preferableto look at the resulting economic hardships as well as the gradual incorporationof of western a new religious ideology as being behind the abandonment Thebes(seeYe'or 1996).

In contrastto the

the behind the monastic movement, ascetic principlesand motivations

existence of the monasteries upon the motivations and priorities was partly dependent of the lay communitiesin Thebes. The investment, in terms of labour, land and
monetary endowments, necessary for the foundation of a monastery or church was

307 considerable, andwould only havebeenforthcomingwhenthereligiousmotivationof a communitywas at its height. Indeed, the beneficialtaxation system under which from poll tax cameto an end in 868 (seeCannuyer1996,3 9-40), monkswereexempt cruciallyaffectingthesizeand importance of the monasticmovement.Oncethe role of monasteries asmajor employers, as the arbitersand controllersof rural and urbanlife, could no longerbe fulfilled, theninevitablytheir influencebeganto decline. Religious ideologywas not enoughto sustainthem. Financialand political reasons were seenas (see Kellia Bridel 1986,327), the root causeof the decline and abandonment of probablyin themiddleof the eighthcentury(seeBonnet1986,298).

The economicbenefitsbroughtby pilgrims were also such as to sustainthe monastic hermitsliving beyondthe floodplain relied on gifts (Winlock population;for example in the and Crum 1926,145). The lack of pilgrims to the Judeandesertmonasteries income important these later deprived them source of seventhcentury and of an century,when the pride of the monasteries were not to be revived until the nineteenth demanded Greek Orthodox church and the biblical location of the monasteries their in have Thebes, (Patrich A 1995,9). come about restoration similar situationmay invested 4) (see Chapter despite in beliefs the the and energy where, certainties religious Thus for be into the christianisation it to landscape, all abandoned. the was possible of Coptic (see Vbros it remained, in Arabic the overlaying eventually with religiousgraffiti 1998,74), andwith no religiousor politicalmotivationto revivethemonastic of centres bank Yet Natrun. Wadi in Thebes,aswas thecasein theJudean the desert on east and for bishopric be to Thebes life Christian created to a the enough at religious was prosper in theeleventh century.


The religious sanctity grantedto the Theban landscapeduring the pharaonic em created

landscape. Ile this to religious generations was maintain of occupants whosepurpose

308 Copts tappedinto this religiosity, which despitespurning the past also provided a in continuumwith it. In its placethe new self-def"inition of the Thebanswas expressed the built environment, aspaganism was slowly rejected.The intervisibility betweenthe during the pharaonic religioussiteson thetwo banksof Thebesestablished period was in highly visible loca6ons. maintained, with Christianbuildingsconstructed

The picture createdin the Historia Monachononof a landscape dominatedby the featuresof the monasticcouldbe said to be relevantto Thebes,wherethe outstanding physicaland thebuilt environment, suchasThoth Hill and the templeof Karnak, were incorporated into anew world-view. Furthermore, for theresidents of Thebesthe main point of reference wasfrequentlythemonastic world. Someof this, however, was due but alsoto therole of monasteries not only to a needfor spiritualguidance, as the major landowners.

It was alsoa locationwhich attracted wherethemain visitors andresidents non-Theban concernswere hereticalratherthan nationaldifferences. The multiplicity of religious locationsacrossboth west and eastbanksis reminiscent of New Kingdom Memphis. Both settlements in historical the were basedin landscapes visual significance, and of found meaning- either the inspirationto revere and midst of which certainresidents renovateor to adaptand reinterpret. Likewise, therewas a patternof cultural forms and domestic patterns with little variation.

Despitetheundeniable investment in the religiouslife by the Thebans,the participation in this processdoesnot seemto havebeenuniversal. Individualsmay have remained for example boundaries; the residentsof Djeme may only within certainself-imposed rarely haveventuredinto the deserthills, takinglittle interestin the christianisation of from the lack of evidencefrom the nontheir landscape. This is only conjectured religiousof Thebes,andfrom thelack of concern with religiousissuesas demonstrated in ostracafrom Djeme. Other boundaries were imposedthrough the delineationof

309 monasticandnon-monastic with the building of monasticwalls. The crossingof space

individual. boundaries have been dependent the an such may status/occupationof upon

Certainly, the gradual rejection of the area as a site for urban and monastic settlement and pilgrimage seems to indicate the inability of an ideological system to withstand political and economic pressures, despite the assertivenesswith which it had been promulgated across Egypt. The confident expressions of self-definition seen in a

variety of textual sources and in the christianisation of Thebes became instead the beliefs of a not insignificant minority.

Entering the worlds of New Kingdom and Coptic Egypt should not result in a contrast between an 'over-obedient society' (Braudel 2001,86) and a dynamic, Christian

environment. Instead, a far more nuanced understanding of the formulation of self in these two periods is necessary. The imposition of self-definition was of central

relevance to both periods, and inevitably involved compromise, inconsistency and variability.

It is alsocrucialto questionaccepted to the study of ancientself-definidon, approaches life attractiveto to mould Egypt's pastinto a modelof multi-ethnic and to resistattempts itself fundino, Instead the evidence needs research primary andmodempreoccupations. to be prioritised in order to question the generalizations which can remain in Egyptologicalliterature. These generalizations have been all too easily promoted outside the Egyptologicaldomain, and used to 'prove' sociologicallanthropological Egypt's be A, 1993). Smith (see past should not models of ancientcivilizations manipulated or removedfrom its context to suit theoreticalargumentsand political in the preceeding an unexpected world chapters, agendas. As has beendemonstrated lived alongside in discovering this, the evidence was the central. expected, and 0
As far as possible, this evidence has been examined on its own terms. For example, the categories of race/ethnicity have been discarded in this thesis. This has enabled a has It idea to loaded less also emerge. of self/other more rounded, reflective and exposed the ways in which presumptions have been repeatedly made about ethnicities despite the utter lack of evidence (as in New Kingdom Memphis). For Coptic Ecy pt, Ily the necessity of studying source material stemming from a variety of settings, not only the Christian, has beenhighlighted. This has demonstratedthe subjectivity with which Christian as opposed to non-Christian 'behaviourial patterns' have been identified by later interpreters.


At the sametime, some of the New Kingdom and Coptic evidencecan seem very modem, apparentlycoinciding with some of the materialdiscussedin ChapterOne. The importance of 'home' in creatingas vital an aspectto Egyptianidentity as broader entitiessuchas thestateor religious beliefsseems to relatevery closelyto presentday ideas. This is alsothe casewith thetensioncaused by movement from homeor by the threat posedby outsiders(however defined). Such perceivedintersectionsbetween past and presentmay not be meaningfulin themselves.It is thus vital to reiteratethe point that we can never really know what it meant to be an Egyptian of the New Kingdom or of theCopticperiod,eventhoughtheoretical insightsmight seemto widen our horizonsandto fill the gapsin theevidence plausibly.

It is not only the gaps in the ancient evidence which have long troubled Egyptologists, but also the lack of cohesion between different types of sources. This has been highlighted in this thesis, where archaeologicaland written evidence do not necessarily coincide and where apparently contradictory statementscan be discerned within source types. Despite the difficulty which this situation presents, in that it makes it more problematic to comprehendthe Egyptian past, it also reinforces the complexity of these distant worlds.

This complexity requires that emphasis is placed upon the inconsistencies which result from any formalised attempts at self-definition by a powerful group, whether in what Egypt) in Kingdom (New fightlydefined or a world of now appearsas a unitary world fundamentally opposed identities (Coptic Egypt). Studying these two contrasting

political contexts alongside eachother has brought this issue to the fore. Itleadstothe question of why ideologies of self/other are consistently generatedby those with power when their efficacy can only ever be limited. In New Kingdom Egypt, an environment in which continuity was promoted, the deceptive clarity of official ideologies of Likewise, in Coptic had impact limited in times self/other power. weak political of

312 Egypt, an era of apparently intensepersonalreligious experience, suchexpressions of self-definition ultimately could not endureas majority beliefs when in unfavourable contexts. Doubtless,stability and purposewere enhanced throughthe acceptance of a rigid self-defuiition,yet this was not (andcouldnot be) enough.

This failure at the heart of the self-definition of a society or a state is reflected in the textual sources examinedin this thesis. These were generatedand written by a minority sector of the population, including those who promoted the acceptanceof a certain socialorder. Despite this, any referencepoints for self-definition were flexible. In New Kingdom Egypt the kincycould delineateborders between order and disorder, asserting his power, but at the same time acknowledge his dependence upon those from the allegedly disordered world. The contrast between order and disorder could be felt

within the borders of New Kingdom Egypt, and formed part of an accepted literary topos. The New Kingdom stateas one defined in terms of a rigid hierarchy of deities, king and officials was nonetheless one in which discontent could be expressed. In Coptic Egypt, the concernsof rival religious groups which createdopposing sensesof self-definition, could then be by-passed in some of the letters discussed above, where individuals defined themselvesmore in terms of their social situation, whether it was life ill-health. Dogmatic the correct conduct of of poverty, widowhood or assertions could also be met by reluctanceand failure, and definition of who should be identified as a source of disorder was subjective and fluid. In both New Kingdom and Coptic Egypt, these hints of failure are revealed despite the fact that the sources are, for the most part, derived from those to whom the success of a coherent self-definition mattered most.

high degree include Nevertheless,any interpretation the of must of self-definition New Kingdom Thus, Egypt. the in Coptic New Kingdom when conformity and Egyptianwrote a letter, she/he drew upon themescurrent in otherforms of text. An individual defined her/himself in a hierarchicalframework, with referencepoints

313 formed by the deitiesand/or the king. The resulting unity of expressionand belief createsa striking image of conformity which is matchedin Coptic period letters, althoughherethe unity of expression could crossthoseof different belief systems. At the same time, however, the self-definitionof an individual in the Coptic period could reinforcea senseof group identity which drew from other textual sourcescurrent in Egypt.

The overwhelming impact which a society's self-dcrinition can have on a more individual level is further suggested by the lived 'environment of Egypt. In the monumental areasof the New Kingdom urban environment,a vivid witness to the official Egyptianperception of the world was created.Likewise, the Coptic Christian urbanenvironment affirmedandreiterated a Christianidentity, evenduting a period of non-Christianpolitical control. The level of conformity in the materialrecordwith the dominantculturalforms in New Kingdom Egyptis so high thatuncoveringother forms is a rare event,and thus all too often linked with the actionof a of culturalexpression non-Egyptian. This silence in the materialrecord need not be reflective of a real Egyptian/nonsituation. Thus an openmind should be retained aboutwhat constitutes Egyptianbehaviour. The inconsistencies revealsdespitethe striking which theevidence conformityin thematerial andwrittenrecordshouldnot be overlooked.

Ultimately, therefore, it cannot be presumed that there was a widespread level of en900 acrement with ideologies of self-definition current during the New Kingdom or the Coptic Period. This is a question which needs instead to be left open. In a strongly centralisedsociety, such as New Kingdom Egypt, much of the evidencereferring to the articulation of self relatesonly to a privileged minority. It is thus only to this minority that many of the activities affirniing an Egyptian sense of identity can be securely attributed. Such activities include the dedication of votive offerings or the deposition of gr-affiti on more ancient monuments. Even in the relatively de-centralisedenvironment of Coptic Egypt, in a christianised environment, it seems to have been those leading a

religious life who were most able (or the most motivated) to participate in certain aspectsof the christianisation of their landscape. Issues of accesswere not limited to the more centralisedworld of New Kingdom Egypt.

It was in these limited sectors of New Kingdom and Coptic Egypt that a public selfjustification seemedto have mattered the most. In this, the Egyptian past could be a defining feature, whether as something to be admired or as something to be condemned. The contrast resulting from studying these two periods alongside one

another can reveal a similarity; not of events but of issues. Both periods serve to illustrate the many contingencies (for example, someone's status, occupation or political/religious setting) on which self-definition can depend, and the caution with which any source material should be approached. Just as New Kingdom Egypt was not solely populated by unthinking individuals who viewed themselvesand the world in terms of bland oppositions, neither was Coptic Egypt an environment in which religious dogmatism was all-encompassing.

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