« PreviousContinue »
Pepi II, B.C. 3200 (No. 12,782); the palette of Nāhmes I, the first king of the XVIIIth dynasty, about B.C. 1600 (No. 12,784); the palette of the scribe Pa-mer-åhau, who lived in the reign of Amen-hetep III, about B.C. 1450 (No. 5513); and the palettes of Amen-ines (No. 12,778) and a scribe (No. 5514), who lived in the reign of Seti I and Rameses II respectively. The hollows for the ink, or paint, generally black and red, are usually two in number, but some palettes have a dozen. The inscriptions on palettes usually contain prayers to the great gods of the Other World for sepulchral offerings; but sometimes they are dedications to the god Tehuti, or Thoth , to whom the invention of the art of writing is attributed. The writing reed, in Egyptian gesh S o, which served as a pen, was about 10 inches long, and from oth to sth of an inch in diameter ; the end used for writing was bruised and not cut. After the XXVIth dynasty, an ordinary reed, similar to that used in the East at the present day, was employed, and the end was cut like a quill, or steel pen. The ordinary palette will hold about ten writing reeds easily. The ink was made of mineral or vegetable substances mixed with gum and water. The earths, or ochres, or preparations of copper, were rubbed down on slabs with little mullers, several of which may be seen in the Third Egyptian Room, Table-case C. The ink-pot was called pes , and was usually made of faïence or porcelain. The hieroglyph 18 represents the palette, an ink pot, and a reed, united by a cord; the whole stands for “scribe” and “writing."
Besides papyrus, scribes frequently used slices of white limestone of a fine texture, or boards plastered with lime, for writing purposes. On these they wrote drafts of literary compositions, hymns, school exercises, and sketches in outline of the figures of kings, gods, etc., made to scale. As examples may be mentioned No. 22, inscribed with the draft of a legal document which was drawn up in connection with a robbery of weapons from the Royal Arsenal by the Chief of the Treasury, about B.C. 1100, and No. 41, inscribed in the hieratic character with a draft of a part of a famous work called the “ Instructions of Amen-em-ḥāt I,” king of Egypt, about B.C. 2500 (Third Egyptian Room, Table-case C). In the Ptolemaïc Period pieces of broken earthenware vessels, or potsherds, commonly known as ostraka, were much used for writing purposes. The inscriptions on these are chiefly of a business character, receipts or acquittances, etc.; but certain of them contain extracts from literary works, e.g., a school exercise consisting of lines 105-117 and 128-139 of the Phoenissae of Euripides (No. 88, Third Egyptian Room, Table-case C). After the introduction of Christianity into Egypt, the Copts, or Christian Egyptians, imitated their pagan ancestors, and wrote letters, lists of objects, prayers, extracts from the Scriptures, etc., on slices of white limestone. A fine collection of such Coptic inscriptions is exhibited in the Fourth Egyptian
w Biebet_fozcu labnika 225 gas Slatinitez [133 initiate
Slab of limestone inscribed with a draft of a deed. Dated in the reign of
Heru-em-heb, about B.C. 1400. [No. 22, Table-case C, Third Egyptian Room.]
Room, Table-case M; and of special interest are: No. 3. Liturgical fragment. No. 5. An undertaking by Abraham to take charge of a camel. No. 8. Religious exercise, Coptic and Greek hymns. No. 17. Extract from Psalm xcviii, “Sing uinto the Lord a new Song,” etc. No. 19. Part of the Alexandrian Canon of the Mass, written in corrupt Greek by Apa Eihannes. No. 20. Fragment containing part of a Greek hymn and a letter in Coptic, conveying the salutations of Dioskoros to his brother Ounaref and his mother Tnouba. No. 26. Letter from the priest Victor and Matthaios, to Germanos and Isak (Isaac), authorizing them to sow their share of a field, and specifying the rent. No. 28. Document referring to the sale of a camel. It is dated on the second of the month Pashans, and witnessed by three persons ;— Dioskle and
Ouanafrel of Pallas, and Gergorios of Remmosh. No. 41. Part of a letter requesting some monks to bless the writers, and to send holy water to them that they might sprinkle their sick beasts with it. No. 53. List of measurements of land, in which Greek arithmetical signs, etc., are employed. No. 57. Receipt for a holokotinos (solidus) paid as tax or rent by Zaêl for the “camels' field” for the ninth year. No. 60. School exercise in Greek and Coptic grammar; on the obverse is a portion of a letter addressed to the authorities of a monastery. No. 61. Reading exercise. No. 62. Fragment of a school exercise, with rough drawings of animals. No. 65. Acquittance of Mizael Konstantinos for the first instalment of taxes for the year, signed by Severus. No. 66. Writing exercise for the formation of letters. The Copts sometimes covered the outside of an unbroken jar with lists, etc., e.g., the amphora, No. 166F, Fourth Egyptian Room, Wall-case No. 163. On this are written six lists of names of men, with those of their fathers and mothers, and it is probable that the inscriptions were written not later than the eighth century.
1 A form of the old Egyptian name UN NEFER Tao Ta
Egyptian Literature.—The literature of Ancient Egypt, written in the hieroglyphic, hieratic, and demotic characters, is large, and the contents of the principal divisions of it may be thus summarized :
Religious literature: first and foremost is the great compilation of texts, partly magical and partly religious, to which was given the name “Per-em-hru," i.e., the “ Book of Coming Forth by Day," or, as it is now generally called, the Book of the Dead. This work is extant in three great Recensions, viz., the Heliopolitan, Theban, and Saïte. The Heliopolitan Recension consists of a series of formulas of a semi-magical character, written in hieroglyphics, which were collected by the priests of An, or Heliopolis, about B.C. 3300. A large number of these formulas were in existence long before this period. The oldest copies of texts of this Recension are found in the Pyramids of kings Unås, Tetá, Pepi I, Mehtiem-sa-f, and Pepi II at Şakkârah, but series of the formulas from it were copied on coffins and sarcophagi down to about B.C. 200. Among such is the coffin of Amamu in the British Museum (First Egyptian Room, No. 6654). On this magnificent coffin are written some hundreds of lines of text in black ink, and a list of canonical offerings, according to the Liturgy of Funerary Offerings, is appended. The coffin itselt was intended to represent the chamber of a mastaba tonib, and on the inside are painted pictures of doors and panels, similar to those which are found in the tombs about B.C. 3500. It is one of the finest of its class, and it was probably made before the XIth dynasty (B.C. 2600). In connection with this must be mentioned the portion of a wooden coffin of Menthuhetep, a king of the XIth dynasty, on which is inscribed a version of a part of the XVIIth Chapter of the Book of the Dead (Second Egyptian Room, Wall-cases 86-88).
The Theban Recension was generally written upon papyri in hieroglyphics, and was divided into sections, or chapters, each of which had its distinct title, but no definite place in the series. It was much used during the XVIIIth, XIXth, and XXth dynasties. In the first half of the XVIIIth dynasty the custom grew up of adding vignettes to certain chapters of this Recension, and before another century had passed so
many coloured illustrations were added to the papyri that frequently chapters had to be abbreviated, and the scribes were obliged to omit some of them altogether. This Recension contained about 180 chapters, but no extant papyrus contains them all. The chapters represent the theological opinions of the colleges of On (Memphis), Herakleopolis, Abydos, and Thebes, and are of the first importance for the study of the Egyptian Religion. In the Rubric to the LXIVth Chapter are mentioned two traditions which are very valuable for the history of the Recension. In the one it is stated that the chapter was “found” in the reign of Semti, a king of the Ist dynasty, and in the other that it was “found” in the reign of Menkaurā (Mycerinus), a king of the IVth dynasty, by Heru-tāțā-f, a prince, the son of King Khufu, or Cheops. Thus it is certain that in the XVIIIth dynasty it was believed that the chapter was in existence in the earliest dynasties. Now we find from the Papyrus of Nu that there were two sorms of this chapter extant, and that one of these was twice as long as the other. The longer one is entitled " Chapter of Coming Forth by Day," and the shorter, “ Chapter of Knowing the 'Chapters of Coming Forth by Day' in a Single Chapter.” The rubric to the latter attributes the chapter to the Ist dynasty, and thus it seems that even at this remote period the “Chapters of Coming Forth by Day” were widely known, and that the priests found it necessary to produce for general use a chapter which contained the essence of them all.
The British Museum possesses the finest collection in the world of papyri containing the Theban Recension, and of these may be specially mentioned : The Papyrus of Nebseni,' with vignettes in black outline (No. 9900); the Papyrus of Ani, a magnificently coloured papyrus containing texts and vignettes not found elsewhere? (No. 10,470); the Papyrus of Nu, with coloured vignettes, rubrics, etc., containing a good text throughout, and a large number of chapters not found elsewhere 3 (No. 10,477); the Papyrus of Hu-nefer, a scribe who flourished in the reign of Seti I, with a fine series of brilliantly painted vignettes» (No. 9901); and the Papyrus
Photographs of this Papyrus have been published by the Trustees of the British Museum, £2 25. per set.
? A full coloured facsimile has been published by the Trustees of the British Museum, in 37 plates, portfolio, &u s. 6d., half bound to 16s. The Egyptian Text is also issued with an English translation, etc., 4to.,
3 Also published by the Trustees of the British Museum ; "Facsimiles of the Papyri of Hunefer, Anhai, Kerasher and Netchemet, with supplementary text from the Papyrus of Nu," fol., £2 10s.