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Lesson 9
The Old master scribe
What scripts did the Egyptians use?    Hieroglyphs Hieratic Demotic

Who called the script sacred and why? The ancient Egyptians believed that writing was invented by the god Thoth and called their hieroglyphic script "mdwt ntr" (god's words) http://www.omniglot.com/writing/egyptian.htm Egyptian Sacred Texts like : 1. Pyramid Texts - used in the Old Kingdom, and written in hieroglyphics, these texts were carved inside pyramid walls from the 5th and 6th Dynasties. 2. Coffin Texts - used in the Middle Kingdom and written in hieratic, more Spells were added with time, and the texts were carved in wooden coffins 3. Book Of The Dead - New Kingdom spells, written on sheets of papyrus covered with magical texts, and accompanying illustrations called vignettes Which city was associated with Thot ad how was he depicted? and Images Thoth was one of the earlier Egyptian gods. He was popular throughout Egypt, but was particularly venerated in Khnum (Hermopolis Magna) where he was worshipped as part of the Ogdoad. He was most often depicted as a man with the head of an ibis. He often holds a scribe's palette and stylus but could also be depicted with an ankh (representing life) and a sceptre (representing power). Thoth sometimes wore a crescent moon on his head, but was also depicted wearing the Atef crown, and the double crown of Upper and Lower Egypt. When he was acting as the "voice of Ra", he carried the "Eye of Ra" (a symbol of the power of the sun). Occasionally he was depicted as an ibis, or a baboon. It is thought that the bird was associated with the moon because of its crescent shaped beak, and the baboon is nocturnal animal which has the peculiar habit of chattering at the sun every day before going to sleep.

Lesson 9 Exercises in Egyptology

Pagina 1

ac. NECHO II c.uk/writing/hieratic.ancientegyptonline. was a member of the 26th dynasty.digitalegypt.html What script is the scribe referring to? Hieratic When do we have the earliest records of this script The Abusir Papyri http://www.co. Necho was successful in Syria and Palestine until 605 BC when the Babylonian Nebuchadnessar defeated the Egyptian forces. Lesson 9 Exercises in Egyptology Pagina 2 .ucl.595 BC Pharaoh of Egypt Necho II.html What script is the scribe referring to? Demotic Nekhau (for Necho) which dynast did he belong to? And date. Necho repelled the enemy from invading Egypt and concentrated on commercial interests.2 http://www.658 . son of Psamtik.uk/thoth.

many scribal positions were to some degree hereditary. Most students would start their studies in a temple school at the age of five. would be the wives of educated men. The restrictions on scribal training appear to have lessened as time passed. but their formal scribal education would begin when they were around nine years old. The sons of commoners did not reach the temple schools in general.html Very few women were seen with a scribe's writing kit.uk/scribe. Neferura.htm Much has been written about the ancient Egyptian scribe and his status and function in society. female fashion advice and other female concerns found! These women. who taught them reading and writing.net/featurestories/women. Lesson 9 Exercises in Egyptology Pagina 3 . http://www. who were they and how did they become a scribe.co. The word seshet should then denote a female scribe. Surprisingly. But some scholars mean that this is a short version of a female title probably meaning 'painter of her mouth' or 'cosmetician' as it is found listed together with the word for hairdresser. some ostraca suggest that some ordinary housewives were able to read and write. Scribes. The majority of scribal students were boys from middle or upper class families. the feminine form of the male 'sesh' which means 'scribe'. Necho built fleets manned with Phoenician sailors and sent them to circumnavigate Africa. but there is also significant evidence that boys from lower class families and girls also learned to write. There were laundry lists. but an oracle persuaded him to discontinue the project.ancientegyptonline. though. tax collector and treasurer. hieratic. When the son of a scribe had completed his training he would often inherit his father’s job. there appears during the Middle Kingdom the word seshet.touregypt. But what about women in this respect? Was it that only men could read and write and that women were analphabets? Or did there exist female scribes as well? Well. let alone actually seen writing! These high ranking or royal women were often given a private tutor. http://www. demotic and mathematics as well as writing as this was required for many high level jobs such as architect. so this was not common through the land of Egypt. However. Scribal training could take up to a decade to complete. We also know that to be eligible for a scribal career. had a private tutor. Senmut (one of Hatshepsut's favorite courtiers). We have heard of scribes being in vital positions on almost every imaginable positions up and down the administrative hierarchy and we know that to make a career.3 He started to build a canal from the Red Sea to the Nile. a scribal education was mandatory. you had most likely to be well born. Students would study hieroglyphics. The female pharaoh Hatshepsut's daughter.

but as yet lack the ability to say for certain. It might also be that we do have writings penned by women. these are few examples among the whole.4 If they in fact existed. one seshet Idwy. These things considered. and it´s not possible to prove that they were employed in the state administration. Despite the presence of the word seshet. There are some New Kingdom depictions of women with a scribal kit under their chairs.this points at a much higher status than that of a cosmetician. but it could be that these tools were put there for lack of space elsewhere in the picture and that they belonged to the husband. Anyhow they might have learnt it in other ways. A seal . But there existed a woman in the Middle Kingdom. who was the owner of a scarab seal. and perhaps this knowledge was even passed on from mothers to daughters. Also. at least from the Middle Kingdom and onwards. Existing depicitons of seshets are on the whole very few. 'female scribe' to the God´s wife of Amun at Thebes. since he is also depicted there. the difference between the female 'seshet' and the male 'sesh' was a big one. In the Late Period there was a sesh-sehemet. none exist of actually working female ones. While there are countless depictions of working male scribes. it seems likely that women were mostly analphabets but that in the upper echelons of society some did know how to read and write. Since we don´t hear about them being educated or holding official posts. Girls from literate families could very well have been taught to read and write in a non-official context. there is no safe evidence for women being able to read and write in ancient Egypt. it might not have been considered worthwhile to put them through a formal scribal education. and we just lack documents which are safely proved written by a woman. It could just as well be that they held positions in a royal or private household. and there are two 'seshet' depicted among household officials on a private stelae. However. letters between women could very well have been written and read out loud by male scribes. the main Lesson 9 Exercises in Egyptology Pagina 4 . There are a couple of other examples too. There is also one 'seshet' depichted in the burial chamber of the royal woman Aashit at Deir-el-Bahri which shows that female scribes cannot be totally excluded. As they were not working within the bureaucracy.

org/EternalEgyptWebsiteWeb/HomeServlet?ee_website_action_key=actio n.nu/akhet/Seshet.org/EternalEgyptWebsiteWeb/HomeServlet?ee_website_action_key=actio Lesson 9 Exercises in Egyptology Pagina 5 .eternalegypt.text    A palette: Rectangular case of pigment and reeds A pot of water for wetting the pigment Reeds The colours were carbon black and red (or ochre) How was papyrus made? http://www.flashrequired .uk/writing/hieratic.html UC 32245: letter on an ostracon in fine mid-Eighteenth Dynasty hand 'said by the scribe Baki to his colleague the scribe Meh: bring me one strong bird !!! What tools /colours did a scribe use http://www.ucl. http://www. except perhaps in the case of the God´s Wife of Amun.module&story_id=37&language_id=1&module_id=242&ee_messages=0001.html Pottery/Limstone= Ostracon http://www. while men.ac.display.5 difference between men and women in this context seems to be that women were active within the home and in un-official situations.digitalegypt.philae.eternalegypt. worked in official positions on various levels in society as administrators or bureaucrats”. as in most cases in the ancient world.

to keep the records Palette. could be joined together to create long rolls. The oldest roll was found in the tomb of the First Dynasty Hemke at Saqqara. The two layers were beaten together and the natural juices in the plant provided enough adhesive material to bind the fibers together.6 n.module&story_id=37&language_id=1&module_id=242&ee_messages=0001. or had to work for their parents.display. Linen clothing.Under the scroll there is a document box or briefcase The geese are pilled up in basket between the two men. In scribe school The students off course wanted to play. clothes Papyrus scrolls. tax collector and treasurer .flashrequired . for meat and eggs and feathers Lesson 9 Exercises in Egyptology Pagina 6 . about 48 centimeters by 43 centimeters at full size. in his hand he has a papyrus scroll and in his arm pit a palette . a set of individual sheets bound together in the manner of a modern book. It was desirable to become a scribe because you had a well-payed jobs such as architect. Individual sheets. In the fields The man in the front has a skirt (linen clothing). used to hold a scribe's reed brushes and ink Geese. The roll remained the natural form for books until the Roman period when it was replaced by the codex.text Ancient Egyptian papyrus was cut from the stem of the plant Cyperus papyrus into strips that were never more than 50 centimeters long. Strips were laid out side by side and a second layer was placed over them. The resulting sheet had a smooth lightcolored writing surface.

the journey of this transformation was dangerous. In the Old Kingdom. he was the connection between the divine and the mortal. The earliest surviving Pyramid Texts are found on the Fifth Dynasty pyramid of King Unas (image at left is of his burial chamber) at Saqqara. The utterances evidently were not written in any particular order. descriptions and instructions designed to allow the king a safe journey to the Afterlife. The Pyramid Texts were a collection of spells. only the pharaoh could live after his dead. They consist of approximately eight hundred spells or "utterances" which were carved on the walls and burial chambers of nine pyramids of the late Old Kingdom. the Pyramid Texts stated that the pharaoh was to become the sun or the new Osiris. The first Pyramid Texts to be discovered were found in the pyramid of King Pepy II. prayers. It is believed that the texts are contempory to the pyramids. As a living god on earth. Lesson 9 Exercises in Egyptology Pagina 7 . None of the pyramids contains all of the utterances. When he died. However.7 Pyramid age and Old Kingdom The Pyramid Texts are the earliest Egyptian funerary texts.

At the end of his journey he is reborn each morning as the rising sun. but also on grave goods. The Amduat is most commonly found written on the walls of royal tombs in the Valley of the Kings. It appears first in the tomb of Thutmose III Lesson 9 Exercises in Egyptology Pagina 8 . but occasionally appears on papyrus in tombs of wealthy people. It was a collection of spells. It was usually written on papyrus. however many individual chapters of the book have been found on tomb walls. as opposed to coffins or tomb walls. but these books have descriptions and images of the underworld. passwords and images to be used by the deceased in the underworld. The spells were normally written on papyrus rolls. scarabs. The fact they were written on papyrus. This implies that they were originally written by the priests of Heliopolis. The first of the underworld books is Amduat ( ‘that which is in the underworld') is one of a number of funerary texts that belong to a separate literary tradition from the Book of the Dead. Book of the Celestial Cow. This indicates that at least some of the Pyramid Texts can be dated to Pre-Dynastic times. Several of the spells are written in an archaic dialect or refer to features of the funerary cult that were no longer current at the time the pyramids were built. This suggests that not all the spells were required in the next life and that the number of spells purchased depended on the needs and wealth of the buyer. symbolising the hope that the deceased held for rebirth. New Kingdom The book of the Dead is a New Kingdom collection of texts composed primarily from earlier funerary works such as the Pyramid and Coffin Texts. 1. Book of Night. The book was made affordable for almost all Egyptians when abbreviated versions became available the Late Period. The complete collection contains about 200 spells.8 The texts repeatedly refer to the cult of the sun-god. No really passwords or spells. Manuscripts of the Book of the Dead were personalized (name of the deceased =Osiris also included the deceased person's job title and family relations). Each region corresponds to an ‘hour’ of the night. walls and mummy bandages. statuettes and on at least one royal mortuary temple (Rameses III). These texts include the    Book of Heavens. although no papyrus contains all of them. The Amduat focuses on the journey of the sun god through the twelve regions of the underworld. The chapters of the Book of the dead combine the two main strands of funerary ideas which is to be found in other texts. Passing through the obstacles of the underworld to judgement by Osiris and rebirth. The idea of joining the cosmic cycle of the solar journey 2. made them affordable to most people. coffins.

the number of gates is altered to conform to the 12 hours of the night!. the text culminates the judgment by Osiris and the rebirth of the sun from the primordial ocean). as the sun passes. the lowest is for the damned ones and those who torture them.    Stephen Quirke Ancient Egyptian religion http://www. emphasis the role of the earth gods (Geb and Tatjenen). what I do want to know and find rather interesting is why a person/king chooses a specific text. Here re travels through six regions that cannot be matched with the hours of the night.9 Book of Gates ( added by Horemheb in his tomb. each cavern has three levels. maybe origin Middle Kingdom where the deceased has to pass through seven gates. First introduced by Merenptah Book of the Earth. the texts are obscure and serve as glosses on the pictures. each with three keepers.egyptianmyths. the occupants of the underworld come briefly to life before the darkness again comes. Book of Caverns.net.htm http://australianmuseum.au/Funerary-texts-in-ancient-Egypt In the army Ramses II en Thutmosis III (=Ancient Egypt’s Napoleon) In government Lesson 9 Exercises in Egyptology Pagina 9 . I do understand the different funerary texts there were and when they were used.net/funerarytexts. First introduced by Merenptah and Tawosret.

il/ad/egypt/economy/index. by cutting away the background it gave a more dramatic effect and was better weather resistant. salt-gatherers etc. The agricultural sector of such an economy is easiest to tax. merchandise. fowlers. Low relief and sunk relief. Priests and their temple estates were exempt from paying dues. as were those who worked for them. because the state needed their services or their position was too powerful for the state to enforce collection.reshafim. the fishermen.html In a barter economy like ancient Egypt the simplest way to exact taxes is by seizing part of the produce. natron-gatherers. Sunk relief was used on the walls. He build his tombs in Thebes and Memphis In temples The lector priest and/or the high priest were skilled in reading Two kinds of relief. The field can be measured. A farmer cannot deny possession of a field without losing his rights.org.10 http://www. and the produce is difficult to hide because of its large bulk. the yield assessed. Horemheb. last king of the 18th dynasty. Sometimes groups of people were exempted from paying taxes or had them reduced. Yvonne Lesson 9 Exercises in Egyptology Pagina 10 . or property. It is no wonder that peasants were the highest and most consistently taxed part of the population until modern times.

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