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About Three Egyptian Hieroglyphs

Author(s): Alexander Badawy

Source: Journal of Near Eastern Studies, Vol. 15, No. 3 (Jul., 1956), pp. 175-179
Published by: The University of Chicago Press
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Accessed: 28-11-2017 16:05 UTC

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THE interpretation of some hiero- Middle Kingdom5 and in the New K

glyphic signs is still a matter of dom,6 without alteration. A similar
speculation. Of the architectural with the door not adjoining the e
signs I have already tried to describe a few,' occurs as determinative in the Pyra
to which these three may now be added, Texts (? 459) for the verb sdk, "to h
one being the representation of a struc- It seems that the sign 3, which app
ture and the two others, of building tools. later than the first one, is a simpli
form derived from the hieratic transc
THE SIGN l] tion. The latter very soon adopted
The sign represents the elevation of a drawing of the lower angle of the
hut, probably round in plan, as it is that part which shows the doorw
roofed over with a cupola, and shows in and roofed it over with a curved line in-
one corner a door-opening. It is closely dicating cursively the cupola.
One problem arises with the later
writing of the word ipt with the sign a
1 2 3 instead of a (Eighteenth Dynasty). It
has been explained as a faulty writing
originating from the similarity of both
XIII XXII 9 & ILC signs in hieratic.8 I fail however to recog-
nize such a similarity between the two
FIG. 1.-Sources of the three hieroglyphic
hieratic signs as would lead the scribe to
forms: 1, Junker, Giza VII, p. 124; 2, S. Hassan,
Excavations at Giza, III, 78; 3, G. such a confusion.
Maspero, Le The sign M is always
Muse'e Egyptien, Pl. XXVII. featured by a straight top line protruding
on both sides or one side. On the other
similar to the sign 3 of the hand the and
silo, sign a has always as its char-
is built of light materials.2 acteristic
It has feature
beena vertical stroke in the
identified on the ground of its and a rounded top. It is usually
ipt, ip3t, "secret chamber,quiteharim,"
distinctas from the hieratic for -.
That the word ipt in its earliest variant
the primitive hut inhabited individually
is determined
by the women of the royal harim.3 Thisby QL implies an idea of a
notion of the individuality of"private"
the dwell- or "concealed" edicule, quite
natural in thein
ings of harim women is conspicuous conception of a harim
the plans of royal palaces in the New is conspicuous from the
building, and it
Kingdom.4 The sign is still inuseuse
of ain closely
thesimilar, if not the same,
I Alexandre Badawy, Le dessin architectural chez determinative for db, sdk, "to hide, con-
les Anciens Egyptiens (Cairo, 1948), pp. 41-65; ceal" (Pyr. ? 459).
Alexandre Badawy, "A propos du signe h," Annales
4 In both residential and temple palaces.
du Service des Antiquitgs de l'Egypte, LII (1952),
134-44; A History of Egyptian Architecture, I (1954),5 p. Newberry, El Bersheh, II, P1. XXI.
pp. 29-31, 51-53, 36, 47, 63-64, 123. 6 G. Steindorff, Urk., IV, 897, 3.
2 H. Junker, Giza II, Abb. 20. 7JEA, XVI (1930), 149.
3 Ibid., VII, p. 124, who compares a similar cus- 8 A. I. Gardiner, "Inscriptions from the Tomb of
tom in Central Africa. Si-renpowet I," AZ, XLV (1908), 127.


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The next variant to appear is deter-

It seems that ipt was the private edi-
mined by 3, a derivative form cule,of the
originally "sealed" or locked, or,
at a later time, the house used indi-
sign through hieratic. The orthography
with m, which appears in the New by the inmates of the harim.
dom,9 is perhaps due to the great change
This seems to be implied by such a title as
7 4 - j, "overseer
which had taken place in the architectural of the royal
conception of a palace harim. According private houses of the harim."'4 The latter
to the actual remains of residential and
term conveys strongly enough the se-
even temple palaces, in the New Kingdom cluded character of the whole quarters,
the harim quarters were still considereditasbeing used also in such meanings as
a private and concealed section, but they
"prison, fortification."
were no longer built as independent huts.
I would propose accordingly to render
Contiguous uniformly planned housesipt areby "locked, private house," rather
set behind the palace, sometimes accessible
than "harim." In Mesopotamia the
through a hall and throne room, with an of seclusion or imprisonment is
adjoining bathroom (temple palacesclearly of expressed by the word for harim-
Ramesses III at Medinet Habu),1o or lady: sekertu, "the secluded one," from
having a hall with a throne-dais and an sekeru, "to lock in," and seker, "lock."
adjoining bathroom. An ambulatory sur- The interpretation of the Egyptian word
rounds the quarters, isolating them by would be similar.
means of a few guarded doors (residential The character of seclusion inherent in
palace of Amenhotep III)." It seems that the names of Luxor, DIpt-rsyt, and Karnak,
the throne has become the main feature in
DIpt-iswt, is not incompatible with that
both palace and harim. That the de- of the "hidden" DImn, the main god of
terminative M (throne) should occa- Thebes.
sionally replace the earlier ones QaL
(private hut) is then quite understand-
able. An early commentary of this sign
A unique writing with 9 as determina- which identifies it with a papyrus ma
tive appeared in Papyrus Westcar (9, 2),like that represented in numerous O
Si, and could well be translated by Kingdom scenes of shepherds, disregar
"the sealed chambers" or "locked cham- the standard shape of the sign.15
bers,"12 a meaning which conforms toIts main use is as determinative to skcr
"to hammer," sometimes with * or
the basic nature of the structure and well
agrees with the context. The same word arm. It occurs also to express the acti
is determined elsewhere in this text by of "beating" the cords of an instrume
the possible hieratic equivalent for =-,
which has been explained by a similarity which Arab.
has led to ' d), a fac
the presumption th
of %r= and n in hieratic.13 it could be some small accessory intend
9 A. H. Gardiner, "The Secret Chambers of the for such a use.'" 6 No such accessory
Sanctuary of Thoth," JEA, XI (1925), 4. Egyptian
Grammar (2d ed., 1950), p. 529. 13 A. H. Gardiner, "The Secret Chambers of the
Sanctuary of Thoth," JEA, XI, 4.
10 U. H6lscher, The Excavation of Medinet Habu, I,
P1. 8. 14 Wb., III, 297 (Nineteenth Dynasty).
'15W. Spiegelberg, Recueil de Travaux, XXVI
11 H. Ricke, Der Grundriss des Amarna-Wohn- (1904), 48-49.
hauses (1932), Abb. 56, S. 64.
16 P. Montet, Les scenes de la vie privde dans les
12 Wb., I, 67, 12. tombeaux gyptiens de l'Ancien Empire, p. 361.

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however represented in the tombs them- THE SIGN
The archaic form of this sign shows a
In the Pyramid Texts the verb skcr
vertical thin stroke provided on one side
and nearer the lower end with an irregu-
method., "to
of ram down," ramps
constructing describes the
or stair-lar flat loop.21 In the Hesire inscription
ways (?? 365, 1090, 1296, 1325, 1717,the hieroglyph still preserves these char-
1749) by ramming earth or even "light"
(? 1108). It occurs also with the meaning
"to strike" an offering (? 1561), or "to
strike" the arms as a sign of mourning
(? ? 1974).
In the Old Kingdom tombs the verb is
regularly used in connection with the
smelting to express the stage of "ham- 1 3 4 s
mering down" the golden ingots into
sheets or bars." The artisans use in this
process a rounded pebble or stone which
they hold in the palm of their hand.
VI n xx xvil XVl

1 2 3 4 z$.2 cm

5 6 7
FIG. 2.-Sources of th
1, 2, 4, Petrie, Royal T
Vol. II, P1. XXVII; 3,
5, Pyr. ? 1138; 6, Bor
des K6nigs FIG. 3.-Sources of the forms: 1, Petrie, op.
Grab des cit.,
Ti, I, P1. VI, Tafel
8; 2, Ibid., Vol. II, P1. XII,
60. 3; 3,
Quibell, The Tomb of Hesy, P1. XXXII; 4,
Nowhere in II,the
Lepsius, Denkmaler, sc
7 (tomb of Metjen);
5, Borchardt, op. cit., Bl.
collections does54; 6, Griffith, A Col- a

shape lection the

of of Hieroglyphs, Fig. 186; 7. H61scher,
The Excavation of Medinet Habu, Vol. II, Fig.
however suggest
77 b; 8, Quibell, op. cit., P1. XVII.
with chamfered ed
That the sign
acteristics, later
appearing as a ruler with the
kind ofright
paw"8 is
edge irregularly curved and de-
interpretations of
limited by an engraved line.22 The loop
by ignorant scribe
occurs once at mid-height,23 and its in-
17 Ibid., p. 284. IL
21 On a vase of Marbapa and a painted tablet of
18 A. H. Gardiner, Egyptian Grammar (2d ed.),
p. 540. Djer, cf. W. Fl. Petrie, RT, I, vi. 8; II, xii. 3.
19 Alexandre Badawy, ASAE, LII (1952), 134-44. 22 J. E. Quibell, "Excavations at Saqqara (1911-
12)," The Tomb of Hesy (1913), Pls. XXIX-XXXII.
20 Alexandre Badawy, Le dessin architectural chez
les Anciens Egyptiens, pp. 61-64. 23 Ibid., P1. XXX, 3.

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terior is usually hollowed so factas two

to sug- implements of this sha
gest the shape of a curved handle.
representedThat between two whole ser
hooped cylindrical
this is actually the right interpretation is vessels of wood
proved by the usual form ofcopper(?),
the sign on in
the walls of Hesire's
the Old Kingdom (Metjen,24 Sahure25).
tomb.28 I would mention a model imple-
The handle has definitely assumedment found the
with a brick-mold in the
shape of a regular flat curvefoundation-deposits
attached on of the temple of Ay
one side of a rectangular ruler, at Medinet
nearer Habu.29
to It is a cylinder of
the end or at mid-height. The woodmaterial
covered with stucco and gilt and
is wood, as is clearly indicated having a flat curved handle. The side-
in a colored
hieroglyph showing the grain and
view of the
the implement would correspond
loop or handle attached at mid-height."2
exactly to the sign as drawn on the Old

r ,-m r I
'. - DOUR

1e, -

-~- 00001
" i

I . II
I .
I ,' ,
II \'t J r
I I -'rt
- ' ,LI

FIG. 4.-Scene
p. 14, n. 4.

The handle will later be only indicated Kingdom monuments. I would describe
as a rounded projection on one edge (Ti). it as a striker to level off the top of a brick-
In the corresponding hieratic this pro- mold when striking mud-bricks. In the
jection is quite conspicuous, sometimes, only scene representing brick-striking
however, not easily differentiated from (Rekhmire) the foreign serfs in charge
the hieratic sign for is. are shown handling a brick-mold but
The implement represented by the sign no other implement."3 The philological
has been variously described, mostly evidence corroborates however this inter-
however as a plasterer's float and once as pretation of the sign as a striker, both for
a striker for leveling off the top of corn brick-molding or corn-measuring. The
measures (Griffith27). As a matter of 27 In Quibell, op. cit., p. 26.
28 Ibid., Pls. XVII, XIII.
24 R. Lepsius, Denkmdler, II, 7.
29 U. Hblscher, op. cit., Vol. II, Fig. 77.
25 L. Borchardt, Das Grabdenkmal des Klnigs
30N. de G. Davies, The Tomb of Rekh-Mi-R?C
Sadhu-rec, B1. 54. (New York, 1943), II, P1. LVIII; Paintings from the
28 F. Ll. Griffith, A Collection of Hieroglyphs, Fig. Tomb of Rekh-Mi-R~c at Thebes (New York, 1935), P1.
186. XVII.

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original meaning3' of the root seems

kd isto "to
delimit the contour of a circular
shape, to form (a pot)," determined with
pit , ,, which is to be opened in
the sign of a potter seated at his
the wheel
next stage of the operation and filled
(Pyr. ?? 1184, 1185). The operation was carpenter from the time of
in.34 A royal
carried out by "turning," whence the
meaning "to surround, encircle; perime-also bears the title -35
A comparison of the sign with the
ter." Very soon brick-molding was con-
only two plasterer's floats found (Twelfth
nected with shaping a vase out of mud and
Dynasty) shows that it could not have
it could be presumed that the main
represented the same implement.36
implement used to give a brick its final
An implement resembling this "strik-
shape, the striker, would be called er" is represented in another of Hesire's
kd after the operation itself. The nearest
tool-cases, with a series of standard
approximation to this use of the imple-
weights and measures. It is also of wood,
ment is give by Lefebvre, "instrument de
rectangular in shape, with a small, mas-
briquetier(?)"32 and Gardiner "an in-
sive handle in the middle of one long side.
strument used by bricklayers(?)."32 The
It has been recognized as a mason's
preparatory stage of the operation, knead-
ruler.37 It is interesting to notice that
ing the mud and filling in the mold would
to this day the mason's ruler is called in
have been expressed by the verb pip.33
From this basic meaning of the root Egyptian colloquial Arabic edda (~5?),
secondary meanings were derived, kdwt,
while "to measure" a building or to
"contour-drawing"; mi kd.f, "totality,"trace" on the ground is edd (LXM?).
totally"; hr kd, "KITG measure," all THE ORIENTAL INSTITUTE
pertaining to the primary idea of "en-
tirety, finished shape." 33 Wb., I, 502.

In a rather obscure scene in the tomb 34 N. de G. Davies, Five Theban Tombs (London,
1913), P1. VII, IX, XI.
of Mentu-her-khepeshef at Thebes a re-
35 Wb., V, 80, 13. H. Brugsch, Thesaurus, VI,
ligious performer bearing the title fi 1447, 63.
J' Wb., V, 80 ff. 36 W. F. Petrie, Tools and Weapons (London, 1917),
32 G. Lefebvre, Grammaire de l'Egyptien Classique P1. XLVII, 53. 54.
(Cairo, 1940), p. 420. A. H. Gardiner, op. cit., p. 543. 7 J. E. Quibell, op. cit., p. 23.

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