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Wenamen's Journey
The Sea Peoples' defeats by Merneptah and Ramses III prevented them from conquering Egypt itself, but the Egyptians were incapable of defending their possessions in the East, territories which were colonized by the Philistines, Sidonites and others. The effects of the eclipse of Egyptian power are described in the Wenamen papyrus: Local kings, such as the king of Dor, showed almost open contempt for the ambassador of the Pharaoh. According to the probably fictitious account set at the beginning of the 11th century BCE Wenamen, a priest of the Amen temple at Karnak, sailed in a Phoenician ship to Gebal (Byblos) in order to buy timber for the construction of a solar ship. He carried with him a letter of introduction to Zekharbaal, king of Gebal, a statue of the god Amen and some valuables: One golden vessel weighing five deben (about 450 grams, the deben was about 91 grammes), four silver jugs weighing twenty deben and a purse containing eleven deben of silver, a total of five deben of gold and 31 deben of silver. Silver, which in earliest times had been rarer than gold in Egypt, was worth half the same amount of gold by this time and, at a ratio of 1 to 60, quite a bit more valuable than copper. Thirty-one deben of silver and five deben of gold were worth 2,460 copper deben [1]. According to Ronald Leprohon [3] of the University of Toronto the amount of precious metal carried by Wenamen should have been enough to buy thousands of cubic metres of wood, at least during the times of Egyptian power. A worker during late Ramesside times was paid in kind the equivalent of about 11 deben of copper a month, and a scribe about 15 deben of copper [1]. The valuables Wenamen had been entrusted with represented a fortune which the priest would not have been able to replace. Year five, third month of the third season
Year five: The reigning king is

(eleventh month), day 16, day of the departure of the not mentioned anywhere. Breasted 1

thought that there was a powerless Ramses XII, most think the story is set in the reign of Ramses XI (year 5 of the Renaissance Era=year 19 of his

"eldest of the hall," of the house of Amon, [the lord of reign), but the reigns of Smendes or the] lands, Wenamon, to bring the timber for the great Herihor have also been proposed, and august barge of Amon-Re, king of gods, which is on [the river (?)] /// /// /// (called): "Userhet" of Amon. place of abode of Nesubenebded(ns-sw-bA-nb-dd) and of gods, which they caused to be read in their presence, and they said: "I will do (it), I will do (it) lord, saith." I abode until the fourth month of the third season, being in Tanis.
although neither is referred to as king in the document. This tale most probably being historical fiction it third month of the third

On the day of my arrival at Tanis (Dan), at the doesn't really matter very much. Tentamon, I gave to them the writings of Amon-Re, king season: M. Lichtheim [5]: fourth month
second month of summer. "Userhet" dimensions [4]. Nesubenebded: Smendes I (c.1070-1043). Ruled Lower Egypt from Tanis after the demise of Ramses Tentamon: had also daughter been of called of Amon: This

of summer,but thinks it should read:

according to that which Amon-Re, king of gods, our barge of Amen was of considerable

Nesubenebded and Tentamon sent me with the XI. ship-captain, Mengebet (m-n-g-b-tj), and I descended

into the great Syrian (xArw) sea, in the fourth month of Ramses XI and wife of Smendes. Her the third season, on the first day. I arrived at Dor, a city mother of Thekel (TAkArA), and Bedel (bAdjrA), its king,
Tentamen. M. Lichtheim is not certain about that, referring to her asperhaps

caused to be brought for me much bread, a jar of wine, a Ramesside princess. and a joint of beef. ship-captain, Mengebet: a Then a man of my ship fled, having stolen: /// [vessels] of gold, [amounting to] 5 deben 4 vessels of silver, amounting to 20 deben
Syrian commanding a Syrian crew on an Egyptian ship. fourth month of the third season: Lichtheim: Emend to "first

A sack of silver, 11 deben [Total of what] he month of the inundation" [stole]: 5 deben of gold, 31 deben of silver Thekel: Djeker, one of the
Sea Peoples settled along the Canaanite coast to the north of the Philistines. much bread: Lichtheim: fifty loaves I have been robbed in thy

In the morning then I rose and went to the abode

of the prince, and I said to him: "I have been robbed in harbor: Rulers were generally held 2

thy harbor. Since thou art the king of this land, thou art responsible for the welfare of foreign therefore its investigator, who should search for my merchants in their territories.(Cf. Might money. For the money belongs to Amon-Re, king of gods, the lord of the lands; it belongs
and Right in International Relations) the lord of the lands: The

to Egyptians saw the whole civilized Nesubenebded, and it belongs to Hrihor, my lord, and world as being subject to their own the other magnates of Egypt; it belongs also to Weret gods. Beyond that chaos reigned. (wArtj), and to Mekmel {mkAmrw), and to Zakar-Baal (TAkArw barA), the prince of Byblos."
Hrihor: Herihor


1074), general and High Priest of Amen, ruler of Upper Egypt since the

He said to me: "To thy honor and thy excellence! latter part of the reign of Ramses XI But, behold, I know nothing of this complaint which thou Mekmel: Lichtheim: Mekmer. hast lodged with me. If the thief belonged to my land, Ancient Egyptian did not distinguish he who went on board thy ship, that he might steal thy between "l" and "r" sounds. treasure, I would repay it to thee from my treasury till
To excellence: thy honor and Are thy you

they find thy thief by name; but the thief who robbed serious? [Are you joking (?) ?] thee belongs to thy ship. Tarry a few days here with I know nothing of this me, and I will seek him." harbor, I went to him, and said to him: " Behold, thou
complaint which thou hast lodged with demand you make to me by name:


When I had spent nine days, moored in his me: Lichtheim:I do not understand the hast not found my money [therefore let me depart (?)] Whatever his name with [the]ship-captain, and with those who ship-captain, and with those go /// /// /// /// ///. ///////////////// the sea. He said to me, silent. /////////////// ////////// the harbor ////////// /// /// /// [I arrived at (?)] [Ty]r[e]. I went forth from Tyre at dawn ///////// /// /// /// /// Zakar-Baal (TAkArA Bar), the prince of Byblos. ////////
gave a Lichtheim:

who go ///: Lichtheim: captains, with

"Be those who go to sea

Lichtheim did not attempt to synopsis: Apparently the

early translate this broken passage but

prince advises Wenamun to wait some more, but Wenamun departs.

////////// the /// /// /// I found 30 deben of silver He passes Tyre and approaches therein. I seized [it, [saying to them: "I will take(?)]] your Byblos. Then he seizes thirty deben of money, and it shall remain with me until ye find [my silver from a ship he has encountered money. [Was it not a man of Thekel (?)]] who stole it, and no thief [of ours (?)]? I will take it /////////."
which belongs to the Tjeker. He tells the owners that he will keep the money until his money has been found. Through this action he incurs the enmity of the Tjeker.

They went away, while I /// /// /// ///. [I] arrived /// /// /// /// the harbor:Lichtheim: They departed and I celebrated [in] a tent on the shore of

They went away, while I /// /// /// ///. [I] the sea in the harbor arrived /// /// /// /// the harbor of Byblos. [I made a place of concealment, I hid (?)] "Amon-of-the-Way," and I placed his things in it. The prince of Byblos sent to me, saying: "Be[take thyself] (from) my harbor." take [me (?)] to Egypt." /// /// I spent nineteen days in his [harbor), and he
"Amon-of-the-Way": portable statuette of Amen protector of travellers. ///////////// if they sail: Lichtheim: Where shall [I go]? ------ If [you have a nineteen: Lichtheim: twentynine the god seized one of his noble a as

I sent to him, saying: "///////////// if they sail, let them ship to carry me]

continually sent to me daily, saying: "Betake thyself youths: divine rapture is rarely away from my harbor." mentioned in Egyptians writings. Now, when he sacrificed to his gods ///, the god seized Lichtheim: , the god took hold of a one of his noble youths(aDd), making him frenzied, so young man [of] his young men and put that he said: "Bring [the god] hither! Bring the
him in a trance

messenger of Amon who hath him. Send him, and let Statues of gods were identified with him go." the gods themselves. Breasted: In
ecstasy the youth demands the summoning of Wenamon and his image of Amon, and that they be honorably treated and dismissed. by the king: Lichtheim: says when the divine offering

"Bring [the god] hither!....:

Now, while the frenzied (youth) continued in and I loaded in all my belongings into it. I waited for the

frenzy during this night, I found a ship bound for Egypt, the prince. darkness, saying: "When it descends I will embark the was: Lichtheim:while the god rested in god also, in order that no other eye may see him." the tent where he was The harbor-master came to me, saying: "Remain until morning by the prince." I said to him: "Art not thou he who continually came to me daily, saying: 'Betake thyself away from my harbor'? Doest thou not say, 'Remain in the [land (?)], in order to let depart the ship that I have found? that thou mayest come and say again, 'Away I'"? 4
[Kindness Blessings (?)]: occurred in the fortress wherein he


He went and told it to the prince, and the prince sent to the captain of the ship, saying: "Remain until morning by the king." When morning came he sent and had me brought up, when the divine offering occurred in the fortress wherein he was, on the shore of the sea. I found him sitting in his upper chamber, leaning his back against a window, while the waves of the great Syrian sea beat against the /// behind him. I said to him: "[Kindness (?)] of Amon!" He said to me: "How long is it until this day since thou camest (away) from the abode of Amon ?" I said: "Five months and one day until now." He said to me: "Behold, if thou art true, where is letter of the High Priest of Amon, which is in thy hand?" I said to him: "I gave them to Nesubenebded and Tentamon." behold, the writing and the letter are not in thy hand! Where is the ship of cedar, which Nesubenebded gave
Where is the ship of cedar: pinewood. She suggests: Or, "for (the transport of) the pinewood." There are indeed Egyptian ships: Lichtheim: Is it not an Egyptian 10,000: Lichtheim: another fifty ships Berket-el: Lichtheim:

the writing of Amon, which, is in thy hand? Where is the Lichtheim: Where is the ship of

Then he was very wroth, and he said to me: "Now, ship?

to thee? Where is its Syrian crew? He would not deliver Werketer thy business to this ship-captain [/// ///] to have thee sail: Lichtheim: haul killed, that they might cast thee into the sea. From whom would they have sought the god then? And thee, from whom would they have sought thee then?" So spake he to me. I said to him: "There are indeed Egyptian ships and Egyptian crews who sail under Nesubenebded, (but) he hath no Syrian crews." He said to me: "There are surely twenty ships here in my harbor, which are in connection with Nesubenebded, and at this Sidon, whither thou also [wouldst go (?)] there are indeed 10,000 ships also which are in connection with Berket-el(wArAkA tjrA) 5

and sail to his house." Then I was silent in this great hour. He answered hither?" I said to him: "I have come after the timber for the great and august barge of Amon-Re, king of gods. Thy it." So spake I to him. He said to me: "They did it, truly. If thou give me (something) for doing it, I will do it. Indeed, my agents transacted the business; the Pharaoh, L. P. H., sent six ships, laden with the products of Egypt, and they were unloaded into their storehouses. And thou also shall bring something for me." He had the journal of his fathers brought in, and he had them read it before me. They found 1,000 deben of every (kind of) silver, which was in his book. He said to me: "If the ruler of Egypt were the would not send silver and gold, saying: 'Do the command of Amon.' It was not the payment of [tribute






and said to me: "On what business hast thou come grandfather did it: Byblos had been
supplying timber to Egypt since the Old Kingdom. agents: Lichtheim: relations 1,000 deben of every (kind deben of silver and all sorts of things

father did it, thy grandfather did it, and thou wilt also do of) silver: Lichtheim: a thousand

It was not the payment of father:Lichtheim: ' It was not a royal gift that they gave to my father! , and puts Sutekh in his time:

owner of my property, and I were also his servant, he [tribute (?)] which they exacted of my

(?)] which they exacted of my father. As for me, I am Lichtheim: sky ever since he placed myself neither thy servant nor am I the servant of him Seth beside him. Sutekh (Seth) was that sent thee. If I cry out to the Lebanon, the heavens the Egyptian equivalent of Baal, the open, and the logs lie here on the shore of the sea.
god of thunder. equips: Lichtheim: founded.

Give me the sails which thou hast brought to propel thy Byblos, or at least its ruling class, was ships which bear thy logs to [Egypt). Give me the heavily influenced by Egyptian culture. cordage [which thou hast brought to bind (?)] the trees Tjekerbaal accepts Egypt having been which I fell, in order to make them [fast (?)] for created first and the indebtedness of thee //////////// I make them for thee [into (?)] the sails of thy ships, and the tops are (too) heavy and they break, and thou die in the midst of the sea when Amon thunders in heaven, and puts Sutekh in his time. For 6
all other countries to Egypt for having brought forth all arts and crafts. miserable: Lichtheim: foolish

Amon equips all lands; he equips them, having first equipped the land of Egypt, whence thou comest. For artisanship came forth from it, to reach my place of abode; and teaching came forth from it, to reach my place of abode. What (then) are these miserable journeys which they have had thee make?" I said to him: "O guilty one! They are no miserable journeys on which I am. There is no ship upon the river, Wrong! which Amon does not own. For his is the sea, and his is
miserable: Lichtheim: foolish although thou didst certainly O guilty one: Lichtheim:

Lebanon of which thou sayest, 'It is mine.' It grows for know he was here: Lichtheim: Did you 'Userhet' (the barge) of Amon, the lord of every ship. not know that he was here? Yea, so spake Amon-Re, king of gods, saying to Hrihor, my lord: 'Send me,' and he made me go, bearing this great god. But, behold, thou hast let this great god wait twenty-nine days, when he had landed [in] thy harbor, although thou didst certainly know he was here. He is indeed (still) what he (once) was, while thou standest and bargainest for the Lebanon with Amon, its lord. As for what thou sayest, that the former kings sent silver and gold, if they had given life and health, they would not have sent the valuables; (but) they sent the valuables [to] thy fathers instead of life and health. Now, as for Amon-Re, king of gods, he is the lord who spent their lifetime offering to Amon. And thou also, thou art the servant of Amon. If thou sayest to Amon, 'I will do (it), I will do (it),' and thou executest his command, thou shalt live, and thou shalt be prosperous, and thou shalt be healthy, and thou shalt be pleasant to thy whole land and thy people. Wish not for thyself a thing belonging to Amon-Re, (king of) gods. Yea, the lion loves his own. Let my scribe be brought to me, that I may send him to Nesubenebded and Tentamon, the rulers whom Amon hath given to the 7
pleasant: Lichtheim: given: Lichtheim: owned

of life and health, and he was the lord of thy fathers, beneficent
own: Lichtheim: possessions my: Lichtheim: your rulers: Lichtheim: pillars

North of his land, and they will send all that of which I shall write to them, saying: 'Let it be brought;' until I return to the South and send thee all, all thy trifles again." So spake I to him. He gave my letter into the hand of his messenger. He loaded in the [keel (?)], the head of the bow and the
papyrus: from this (and the

head of the stern, with four other hewn timbers, use of journals) Breasted concluded together seven; and he had them taken to Egypt. His that by this time the people of Byblos messenger went to Egypt, and returned to me, to Syria, in the first month of the second season. Nesubenebded and Tentamon sent:
were using alphabetical script possibly based on the signs Egyptian rather basic than hieroglyphic

cuneiform which is better adapted to

Gold: 4 Tb-vessels, 1 kAk-mn-vessel, Silver: 5 Tb- being impressed into clay. Lichtheim vessels; Royal linen: 10 garments, 10 [Hm=xrd (?)]; translates ox-hides which could be Papyrus: 500 rolls; Ox-hides: 500; Rope: 500 (coils); Lentils: 20 measures; Fish: 30 measures (mstA); She
used for other purposes as well. She renders the measures of lentils as sacks of lentilsand the measures of

sent me: Linen: 5 [///], 5 [Hm-xrd (?)]; Lentils: 1 fish as baskets of fish. measure; Fish: 5 measures (mstA). She: Tentamen They spent the The prince rejoiced, and detailed 300 men and trees felled. They spent the second season there with [///]. In the third month of the second season (seventh The prince came forth and stood by them. He sent to me, saying:


300 oxen, placing overseers over them, to have the season therewith [///]: Lichtheim: They
were felled and they lay there during the winter third month of the second summer

month) they dragged them [to] the shore of the sea. season: Lichtheim: third month of "Come."
sunshade: a mark of high me: Lichtheim: mine they will indeed give it to

Now, when I had presented myself before him, the rank shadow of his sunshade fell upon me. Penamon, a butler, he stepped between me, saying: "The shadow of thee: Lichtheim: has it not been given Pharaoh, L. P. H., thy lord, falls upon thee." to you? He was angry with him, saying; "Let him alone!" I presented myself before him, and he answered and said to me: "Behold, the command which my fathers formerly executed, I have executed, although thou for thy part hast not done for me that which thy fathers did for me. Behold, there has arrived the last of 8

thy timber, and there it lies. Do according to my desire and come to load it, for they will indeed give it to thee." Come not to contemplate the terror of the sea, (but) if thou dost contemplate the terror of the sea, thou shalt (also) contemplate my own. Indeed, I have not
10,000: Lichtheim: fifty and it came to pass.': according to Lichtheim this belongs to the next sentence: ' And if it comes to

done to thee that which they did to the messengers of pass that in another day an envoy Khamwese, when they spent seventeen years in this receive water in the West: as land. They died in their place." He said to his butler: "Take him, and let him see their tomb, wherein they sleep."
a mortuary offering. great testimony: Lichtheim: speech of admonition. In a footnote she adds:This reply of the prince

I said to him: "Let me not see it! As for seems to be ironic. Khamwese, (mere) people were the messengers whom he sent to thee, but people /// /// there was no [god among] his messengers. And yet thou sayest, 'Go and see thy companions.' Lo, art thou not glad? and dost thou not have made for thee a tablet, whereon thou sayest: 'Amon-Re, king of gods, sent to me "Amon-ofthe-Way," his [divine] messenger, and Wenamon, his human messenger, after the timber for the great and august barge of Amon-Re, king of gods? I felled it, I loaded it, I supplied him (with) my ships and my crews, I brought them to Egypt, to beseech for me 10,000 years of life from Amon, more than my ordained (life), and it came to pass.' Then in future days when a messenger comes from the land of Egypt, who is able to write, and reads thy name upon the stela, thou shalt receive water in the West, like the gods who are there." He said to me: "It is a great testimony which thou tellest me." I said to him: "As for the many things which thou hast said to me, when I reach the place of abode of the thy High Priest of Amon, and he shall see thy command in

he shall see thy command in command, he [he] will to sees have thee: your something Lichtheim: delivered

thy command, [he] will have something delivered to accomplishment, it is your thee." accomplishment that will draw profit to 9

I went to the shore of the sea, to the place where you the timbers lay; I spied eleven ships coming from the sea, belonging to the Thekel, saying: "Arrest him! Let not a ship of his (pass) to Egypt!" I sat down and began, to weep. The letter-scribe of the prince came out to me, and said to me: "What is the matter with thee?" I said to him: "Surely thou seest these birds which twice descend upon Egypt. Behold them! They come to the pool, and how long shall I be here, forsaken? For thou seest surely those who come to arrest me again." He went and told it to the prince. The prince began to weep at the evil words which they spoke to him. He sent out his letter-scribe to me, he brought me two jars of wine and a ram. He sent to me Tentno (tjntsaying; "Sing for him; let not his heart
[///]: evil: Lichtheim: painful (the Thekel) called into his Lichtheim: his assembly summoned stove-up: Lichtheim: blasted They the cool water! come to the pool: Lichtheim: Look at them traveling to

nw.t), an Egyptian singer (feminine), who was with him, explaining that the verb qnqn, to beat, feel appears to be used idiomatically as a
curse word.

apprehension." He sent to me, saying: "Eat, drink, and let not thy heart feel apprehension. Thou shalt hear all that I have to say in the morning." Morning came, he had (the Thekel) called into his [///], he stood in their midst and said to the Thekel: "Why have ye come?" They said to him: "We have come after the stoveup ships which thou sendest to Egypt with our [///] comrades." He said to them: "I cannot arrest the messenger of Amon in my land. Let me send him away, and ye shall pursue him, to arrest him." He loaded me on board, he sent me away /// to Alasa (ArAsA), those of the city came forth to me to




the harbor of the sea. The wind drove me to the land of thought to be Cyprus.
Heteb: Lichtheim: Hatiba and stationed (before her):

slay me. I was brought among them to the abode of Lichtheim: and they were reprimanded 10

Heteb (HAtjbA), the queen of the city. I found her as she was going forth from one of her houses and entering into her other. I saluted her, I asked the people who stood about her: "There is surely one among you who understands Egyptian?" One among them said: "I understand (it)." I said to him: "Say to my mistress: 'I have heard as far as Thebes, the abode of Amon, that in every city injustice is done, but that justice is done in the land of Alasa; (but), lo, injustice is done every day here." She said: "Indeed! What is this that thou sayest?" I said to her: "If the sea raged and the wind drove me to the land where I am, thou wilt not let them take [advantage (?)] of me to slay me; I being a messenger of Amon. I am one for whom they will seek unceasingly. As for the crew of the prince of Byblos whom they sought to kill, their lord will surely find ten crews of thine, and he will slay them, on his part." She had the people called and stationed (before her); she said to me; "Pass the night //////////." J. H. Breasted, Ancient Records of Egypt, Part Four, 557 ff.
[4] The Harris papyrus describes how Ramses III had the "Userhet" barge built. A cubit is about half a metre: I hewed for thee (i.e. Amen) thy august ship "Userhet" of 130 cubits (length) upon the river of great cedars of the (royal) domain, of remarkable size, overlaid with fine gold to the water line, like the barge of the Sun, when he comes from the east, and everyone lives at the sight of him. A great shrine was in the midst of it, of fine gold, with inlay of every costly stone like a palace; rams' heads of fine gold from front to rear, [fitted] with uraeus-serpents wearing etefcrowns.
J. H. Breasted, Ancient Records of Egypt Part Four, 209)

[5] M. Lichtheim, Ancient Egyptian Literature, Vol.2, pp.224 ff.


Offsite links [3] Ronald J. Leprohon: What Wenamun Could Have Bought: The Value of his Stolen Goods, Donald B. Redford Festschrift, 2001 Twenty-first Dynasty Wenamon, Wenamun, Wen-Amun, Wen-Amon, Amun-Re Lucifer at Tyre Wenamun loves a Woman