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Pisentios lived was rectangular in shape, and was fifty-two feet wide; it had six pillars and contained a large number of mummies. The coffins were very large and profusely decorated, and one of the mummies was clothed in silk, and his fingers and toes were mummified separately; the names of those buried there were written on a small parchment roll (it or roos & plott it x0xxx xx xxess.6p3.rtort). Pisentios conversed with one of the mummies, who begged the saint to pray for his forgiveness; when Pisentios had promised him that Christ would have mercy upon him, the mummy lay down in his coffin again.
EGYPTIAN WRITING MATERIALS.
The writing materials chiefly used by the ancient Egyptians consisted of papyrus, palette, reeds, and colours.
hieraticus, or Cyperus papyrus, which grew in the marshes and pools near the Nile. The height of the plant was from twelve to fifteen feet, and the largest diameter of its triangular stalk was about four or six inches. The roots were used for firewood, parts of the plant were eaten, and other and coarser parts were made into paper, boats, ropes, mats, etc., etc. It will be remembered that the boat in which Isis set out to seek for Osiris was made of papyrus," and the “ark of bulrushes” in which Moses was laid was probably made of the same material. When it was intended to make paper from the Preparaplant, the outer rind was removed, and the stalk was divided #. with a flat needle into layers. These layers, the length of for writing which depended upon the width of the roll to be made, and ** the width upon the thickness of the stalk of the plant from which they were taken, were then laid upon a table, side by side, and upon these another series of layers was laid in a horizontal direction, and a thin solution of gum was then run between them ; the two series of layers thus united were
* Plutarch, De Iside et Osiride, Squire's translation, p. 22.
pressed and afterwards dried. It is clear that by joining a number of such sheets of papyrus together, a roll of almost any length could be made. The quality of the papyrus depended entirely upon the class of plant used in its manufacture. The colour of the papyri that have come down to us varies greatly, from a rich brown to a whitish-grey; the texture of some is exceedingly coarse, and of others fine and silky. The width of papyri varies from six to seventeen inches, and the longest papyrus known (Harris, No. 1, B.M. 9999) measures 135 feet in length. The finest hieroglyphic papyri of the Book of the Dead are about fifteen inches in width, and when they contain a tolerably full number of chapters, are from eighty to ninety feet long. The papyri upon which contracts in Greek and Demotic are written are of a coarse fibre, and vary from ten to fourteen inches in width; their lengths vary from one to ten feet. The usual width of papyri employed for literary compositions is about eight inches. The common name for a roll of
papyrus was | o, ess t'amé, Copt. x0xxx, “a book.”
The British Museum possesses among its seals impressions in clay of the seal of Shabaka, found at Kouyunjik (see p. 249); a seal (No. 5585) ascribed to Shashanq by Dr. Birch (in Layard, Babylon and Nineveh, London, 1853, p. 1857), which
otjö | and an oval seal (No. 5583), bearing the name of
Naifaarut, the first king of the XXIXth dynasty.
end were circular, or oval, hollows to hold ink, the former being in the shape of 9, and the latter of a cartouche c->. About a third of the length of the palette from this end a sloping groove was cut, which from about the middle of the palette to the other end had an equal depth, for holding the reeds for writing. These were kept in their place either by a piece of wood gummed into the palette about a third of the way above the groove, or by a piece of wood, forming a bridge, under which the reeds could pass freely, and which was left uncut when the groove was made. A sliding cover over the longer part of the groove protected the ends of the reeds from damage. The hollows in the palette for holding the ink are usually two in number, one for red ink and one for black; these being the colours most commonly used for writing upon papyri. Some palettes have as many as a dozen hollows, and these probably belonged to scribes whose business it was to ornament papyri with scenes painted in many colours. The dates of palettes can often be determined with accuracy because, in addition to the name of the owner, the name of the king in whose reign he lived is given. Thus B.M. No. 12,784 was made in the reign of Amāsis I., B.M. 551.3 in that of Amenophis III., and B.M. 5514 in that of Rameses II. ; from these three examples we see that the form of the palette changed very little in a whole dynasty. The inscriptions upon palettes were usually in hieroglyphics, but B.M. No. 5524, made of ivory, is inscribed in hieratic, and B.M. No. 55.17, made of wood, also has upon it an inscription in hieratic. The palette of a scribe was sometimes placed in the tomb with its owner (see in the Papyrus of Ami, pl. 7, where it lies under the bier), and votive palettes are known, as for example B.M. No. 12,778. This object is made of green basalt, and at the end where the coloured inks were placed is a scene in outline in which the deceased is represented making an offering to Osiris, behind whom stand a goddess and Thoth. The places for the ink are outlined, but not hollowed out, and the groove is only cut a part of the length; the reeds which still remain are fastened in with plaster, and it is perfectly clear that this
Royal palettes. The Egyptian pen.
palette was never used by a scribe. On each side is an inscription in hieroglyphics, which records the name and titles of the deceased, and which prays that appropriate sepulchral meals may be given to the deceased, and that he may enter in, and come out from the underworld, without repulse, whenever he pleases. Inscriptions on palettes are often dedications to the god Thoth, “lord of divine words.” Stone and fasence palettes with eight, ten, or twelve small vases for ink were also used.
- - Z The reed, in Egyptian <o Qesh, Copt. KAgg, with
which the Egyptian wrote, was about ten inches long, Path or oth of an inch in diameter; the end used for writing was bruised to make the fibres flexible, and not cut. After the XXVIth dynasty an ordinary reed, similar to that which the Arabs and other Oriental nations use for writing at the present day, was employed, and the end was cut like a quill, or steel pen. The average sized palette will hold about ten writing reeds easily.
The ink which the Egyptian used was made of mineral and vegetable substances, mixed with a little gum and water. The substance which coloured the ink, black, red, blue, green, white, or yellow, was carefully rubbed down on a rectangular slab of granite, basalt, or marble, with a hard stone muller, and then thrown into a vessel, where the necessary quantity of water and gum was added to make it the consistency of moderately thin cream. The professional scribe probably carried about with him pieces of colour similar to the specimens in blue, green, and red which are preserved in European museums, and rubbed down a little at a time according to his need. The green and blue colours are preparations from copper, which can, I understand, be successfully imitated at the present time; fine examples are B.M. 5565, 5571 c, and small prepared lumps of colour exhibited in bronze bowl, B.M. 5556. The red and bronze colours were preparations from red ochre mixed with chalk ; an interesting example of the former is B.M. No. 18,337, and of the latter B.M. No. 5572.
The system of writing employed by the people called Egyptians was probably entirely pictorial either at the time when they first arrived in Egypt, or during the time that they still lived in their original home. We, however, know of no inscription in which pictorial characters álone are used, for the earliest specimens of their writing known to us contain alphabetical characters. The Egyptians had three kinds of writing—Hieroglyphic, Hieratic, and Demotic; soon after the preaching of Saint Mark at Alexandria, the Christian population made use of the Greek alphabet, with the addition of certain characters which they borrowed from the demotic; this method of writing was called Coptic. Hieroglyphics, from the Greek ispoyAvôticós, were commonly employed for inscriptions upon temples, tombs, coffins, statues, and stelae, and many copies of the Book of the Dead were written in them. The earliest hieroglyphic inscription at present known is found on the monument of Sherä, parts of which are preserved in the Ashmolean Museum at Oxford and in the Gizeh Museum; it dates from the IInd dynasty. Hieroglyphics were used in Egypt for writing the names of Roman Emperors and for religious purposes until the third century after Christ, at least. Hieratic, from the Greek teparukós, was a style of cursive writing much used by the priests in copying literary compositions on papyrus ; during the XIth or XIIth dynasty wooden coffins were inscribed in hieratic with religious texts. The oldest document in hieratic is the famous Prisse papyrus, which records the counsels of Ptah-hetep to his son ; the composition itself is about a thousand years older than this papyrus, which was probably inscribed about the XIth dynasty. Drafts of inscriptions were written upon flakes of calcareous stone in hieratic, and at a comparatively early date hieratic was used in writing copies of the Book of the Dead. Hieratic was used until about the fourth century after Christ. Demotic, from the Greek 8muorukós, is a purely conventional modification of hieratic characters, which preserve little of their original form, and was used for social and business B. M. 2 A
Great antiquity of hieroglyphic writing.
Oldest hieroglyphic inscription.
Oldest hieratic inscription.