Records of the Past, 2nd Series, Volume II
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Pages (PDF): 188
Publication Date: 1888
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This volume of Records of the Past has more Egyptian material than the first, including the Inscription of Uni, the Adventures of Sinuhit, and the Legend of the Expulsion of the Hyksos. Also of interest on the Egyptian side are some of the Tel El-Amarna letters, Babylonian cuneiform tablets found in Upper Egypt, copies of correspondence between Amenophis III and rulers throughout the ancient Near East. From Mesopotamia comes the brutal Inscription of Assur-natsir-pal, the Moabite Stone and an Akkadian Hymn to the Setting Sun, plus detailed king lists and chronologies. With extensive footnotes.
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The Berlin Papyrus No. 1, purchased by Lepsius in Egypt and published by him in the Denkmäler aus Aegypten and Ethiopien, vi. pl. 104–107, is injured at the beginning. In its present condition it contains 312 lines of text. The first 179 lines are vertical; then come 96 lines (180–276) which are horizontal; but from line 277 to the end the scribe has returned to the system of vertical columns. The first 40 lines that are preserved have suffered more or less from wear and tear; five of them (I, 13–15, 38) present lacunæ which I could never have succeeded in filling up, had I not had the good fortune to discover at Thebes a new manuscript. The end is intact and concludes with the well-known formula: "It is completed from its commencement to its termination as has been found in the book." The writing, very clear and bold in the vertical portions, becomes clumsy and confused in the horizontal portions; it is full of ligatures and rapidly-written forms which at times render its decipherment difficult.
The Berlin Papyrus has been analysed and translated by Chabas: Le Papyrus de Berlin, récits d’il y a quatre mille ans and Panthéon littéraire, vol. i., in part only; by Goodwin in full in Frazer's Magazine, 1865, pp. 185–202, and in a separate form under the title of The Story of Saneha (Williams and Norgate, 1865); this translation was corrected by the author in Lepsius’s Zeitschrift (1872, pp. 10–24), and reproduced in the former series of Records of the Past, vol. vi. pp. 131–150. Maspero transcribed it in hieroglyphics and translated it in French: Le Papyrus de Berlin No. 1 (1874–76), in the Mélanges d’Archéologie égyptienne et assyrienne, vol. iii. pp. 68–82, 140 sqq.; partly reproduced with corrections in the Histoire ancienne des peuples de l’Orient, 4th edit., pp. 97, 98, 101–104, and in full in the Contes Egyptiens, 2d edit., pp. 87–130. Dr. H. D. Haigh has examined the historical and geographical data contained in the story in an article in Lepsius’s Zeitschrift, 1875, pp. 78–107, and Prof. Erman has inserted a short analysis of it in his book: Aegypten und aegyptisches Leben im Altertum (1885–88), pp. 494–497.
We possess on an ostrakon in the British Museum (No. 5629) the duplicate of a part of the text. This ostrakon, first mentioned by Dr. Birch in his memoir on the Abbott Papyrus, has been published by him, in facsimile, in his Inscriptions in the Hieratic and Demotic character, front the Collections of the British Museum (1868), pl. xxiii. p. 8. The identity of the text on the ostrakon with that of the last lines of the Berlin Papyrus was pointed out for the first time by Goodwin: On a Hieratic Inscription upon a stone in the British Museum (Lepsius’s Zeitschrift, 1872, pp. 20–24), where the transcription and translation of the text are given at full length. The script belongs to the age of the twentieth dynasty, and this fact is important, as it proves that the story, composed at the latest in the epoch of the sixteenth or seventeenth dynasty, remained a classic for long afterwards.
As the version given on the ostrakon differs in certain details from that of the Papyrus, it will be useful to insert here a complete translation of it:—
"[I was allowed] to construct [a pyramid] of stone, in the circle of the pyramids.
The stone-cutters cut the tomb, and divided its walls; the architects designed them; the superintendent of the sculptors sculptured them; the superintendent of the works in the necropolis traversed the country (for) all the furniture with which I furnished this tomb. I allotted peasants to it, and there were lakes, fields (and) gardens in its domain, as in the case of Friends of the highest rank. [There was] a statue of gold with a silver-gilt hilt, which the sons of the king made for me, rejoicing to do so for me; for I was in favour with the king until the day arrived when one attains the other bank. It is ended prosperously in peace."
The portion wanting at the commencement has been found at Thebes on an ostrakon, picked up on the 6th of February 1886 in the tomb of Sonnozmu. It is a fragment of limestone, broken in half, more than three feet in length and about seven inches in breadth, covered with hieratic characters of somewhat large size, punctuated with red ink and divided into paragraphs like most of the MSS. of the epoch of the Ramessids. On the back, two lines, unfortunately almost illegible, give us the name of a scribe which I cannot decipher, probably the name of the person who wrote the text. The fracture is not recent. The limestone has been broken at the very moment of its introduction into the tomb, and the act has not been accomplished without injury to the inscription; some splinters of the stone have disappeared and have carried portions of words away with them. Most of these lacunæ can be filled up without difficulty. The text is very incorrect, like that of all works intended for the use of the dead. Many of the variants presented by it result from faulty readings of the original manuscript; the scribe could not read with accuracy the archaic style of writing. The ostrakon has been published by Maspero: Les premières lignes des Mémoires de Sinouhit, restituées d’après l’Ostracon 27,419 du musée de Boulaq, with two plates in facsimile in the Mémoires de l’Institut égyptien, ii. pp. I-23.
The discovery of this new document allows us to reconstruct the route followed by Sinuhit in his flight. He left the camp on the Libyan frontier in the land of the Timihu, thus starting from the west and turning his back on the "Canton of the Sycomore." According to Brugsch (Dictionnaire géographique, p. 53), Nuhit, "the Canton of the Sycomore," is the Panaho of the Copts, the Athribis of the Greeks, the modern Benha el-Assal.
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