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Egypt Exploration Society

An Indirect Reference to Sesostris III's Syrian Campaign in the Tomb-Chapel of "Ḏḥwty-ḥtp"

at El-Bersheh
Author(s): Aylward M. Blackman
Source: The Journal of Egyptian Archaeology, Vol. 2, No. 1 (Jan., 1915), pp. 13-14
Published by: Egypt Exploration Society
Stable URL:
Accessed: 08/02/2010 23:02

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IN the inner chamber of the tomb-chapel of Dhwty-htp at El-Bersheh (NEWBERRY,

El-Bersheh, I, Pis. XVII-XIX) there is a scene depicting that nomarch presiding over
the periodical enumeration of the herds of cattle kept in the various farms on his
domain'. Such cattle were of two classes,-as we gather from the inscriptions accom-
panying this scene2 and from other sources as well3,-viz. herds belonging to the king
and committed to the care of the nomarch (0q 2 ' ), and
herds that formed part of the nomarch's personal property Ltq = 0
] L4. There is much in this fine series of reliefs to attract our attention-the
fleet of boats in which the nomarch and his suite have arrived at the scene of
operations, the prize cattle gaily bedecked with ribbons, and the underlings being hustled
by officious ushers into the great man's presence. But what concerns this article is the
beginning of the inscription above the line of cattle in register 4 (see PI. V and
NEWBERRY,op. cit., PI. XVIII), which, owing no doubt to its mutilated condition,
has, so far as the writer is aware, escaped comment since its appearance in 1893 in
Mr NEWBERRY's admirable publication. The part of the text which we shall discuss

is as follows: M| ? k
^ ,
= z- ?@.AAA'~
n./V -
., G
Q .
The first intelligible

words after the introductory dd mdw in are... which must surely

mean "the cattle of Rtnw (Syria)."

1 "1111 S " The farms of the Hare-Nome " (NEWBERRY,op. cit., p. 28).

op. cit., P1. XVIII, register 1 and P1. XIX.
3 See BREASTED,History of Egypt, pp 162, 163, and ID., Records, I, ? 522 with footnote a.
4 For the
meaning of c~ X see GARDINER,Rec. Trav., xxxIii, p. 227, footnote 2.
TOMB No, 2.

>&;4 qcm uu
'w280.<0 csa

Part of a scene depicting Dhiwty-1itp, Nomarch of the Hare Nome, presiding over the counting of hi
(see NEWBERRY,El-Bersheh, i, pl. XVIII).
In 1900 Professor GARSTANGfound at Abydos the stele of a certain Sbk-hwl,
bearing an inscription of great historical importance, for in it Sbk-hw tells us that
he accompanied Sesostris III when that king, during an incursion into Syria (Rtnw),
captured the town of Skmm. Till this discovery was made by Professor GARSTANG
we did not know that any invasion of Syria had taken place during the XIIth
Now D.hwty-htp according to Mr Newberry's calculation2 flourished in the reigns
of Amenemes II, Sesostris II, and Sesostris III, and perhaps survived into the reign
of Amenemes III. Seeing that he was probably nomarch of the Hare-Nome when the
invasion of Syria occurred, may we not see in this fragmentary inscription in his
tomb-chapel an indirect allusion to that important event ? Cattle as we know regularly
formed part of the tribute imposed from time to time upon Rtnw by the victorious
Tuthmosis III3. But tribute of cattle was not confined to the period of the XVIIIth
Dynasty, for as early as the time of Snefru a raid into the "Land of the Negro"
produced in addition to 7,000 prisoners, 200,000 large and small cattle. It seems
highly probable, therefore, that cattle would have formed an important part of the
spoils brought back by Sesostris on his triumphant return to Egypt, some of which
may well have been included among the crown-herds pastured on Dhwty-htp'8 domain.
There is one more point of interest in the opening words of this fragmentary
song4 which I have already quoted, but, except for two words, not translated. The
translation seems to be: "Utterance of ...... the cattle of Rtnw during the counting(?)
(tnw t ?). 'Ye trod" the sand, ye walk (now) on herbage and browse on snw...."1
The verb hw-n-tn is past tense "ye trod," whereas the succeeding verbs hAnd-tn,wnm-tn
are in the form sdm-f. May it not be that the herdsmen desire to draw a comparison
between the-in their opinion-hard life of these cattle in Syria, and their present
luxurious existence in Egypt ?
We might perhaps paraphrase thus: "Ye (once) trod the (Syrian) sand, (now, here
in Egypt) ye walk on herbage, etc." That Syria was a sandy desert country in com-
parison with the fertile black land of Egypt, seems to have been the prevailing notion
of the Middle Kingdom Egyptians. This is well illustrated in the "Tale of Sinuhe"
(B. 294), where the exile informs us that after he had been received back into the
royal favour he cast aside his Asiatic clothes and assumed the garb of the civilized
Nile-Valley dweller, and "gave the sand to those who are in it." Those who are in
the sand were of course the tribe with whom Sinuhe resided during his long years of
enforced absence from Egypt, and who, on his own telling, lived in a fertile country
(Sinuhe B. 81-4)6. Thus in saying that the cattle used to tread the sand when they
were in their native Syria, these old-time fellahtn are merely expressing the current
popular idea about that-to them-far-off land.
1 GARSTANG, El-Arabah, P1. V, pp. 32, 33. 2 NEWBERRY,op. cit., p. 6.
3 See SETHE, Urkunden, Iv, 668-9, 691-2, 699, 705-6,
717-18, 721-2.
4 This inscription
seems, as Mr NEWBERRY suggests, to be the song of the herdsmen in charge
of the cattle.
5 For this meaning of hw see the song of the threshers in GRIFFITH, Paheri, P1. III, register 4.
6 The modern
felldh thinks Egypt the most fertile country in the world and his commonest
questions about England are "Does barsim (the favourite fodder for cattle) grow in England? Is
there fresh water there ?"

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