Abstracts of papers presented at the workshop.
In Möller’s footsteps: Textual discoveries of the 2017 season at Hatnub
In the September 2017 season at Hatnub, a trench was opened against the south wall of Quarry P, establishing that Anthes’ graffiti 1 and 2 were the lowest texts inscribed on this section of the quarry wall. Numerous fragments were found of detritus from Georg Möller’s 1907 expedition to the site, including fragments of his epigraphic tracing paper with pencilled-in hieratic signs. Five small rough stelae were recovered from the fill of the trench, three with text/image in red, and one carved and painted in red. Although badly damaged, they are clearly of the same type as the stelae that Möller found in this part of the quarry in 1907, some of which he states he reburied on site. Notwithstanding this, none of the newly discovered stelae are illustrated in Anthes’ 1928 publication of Möller’s work.
Further clearance was also undertaken in the descending entryway to quarry P, revealing one more previoulsy unknown, but very badly damaged, red paint/ink image and text (DS20). Reflectance Transformation Imaging (RTI) work was undertaken by Hannah Pethen in order to improve the reading of four badly preserved incised inscriptions. Despite the difficulties of undertaking RTI under field conditions, the process yielded good results.
Minmose in Oxford and Berlin
This paper presents preliminary work on two unpublished objects belonging to the high priest of Onuris Minmose, one of the most well-attested officials during the reign of Ramesses II. The first is an enigmatic stone object (Ashmolean 1881.561), incorrectly characterised as a statue in museum records, bearing an address to Isis. The second is a red granite statue showing him grinding grain (Berlin ÄM 24179), the only example of this statue type as yet known to me from the Ramessid period. These objects complement and extend the analysis of Minmose’s strategies of self-presentation by Ute and Andreas Effland (e.g. ‘Minmose in Abydos’, GM 2004). The Berlin statue in particular opens up questions relating to role-play and distinctions between tomb and temple statues.
Pyramid Texts, Sign Substitution and the man striking with stick
This paper presents a study of the occurrence and avoidance/substitution of the hieroglyph GSL A24, the ‘man striking with stick’, in the Old Kingdom Pyramid Texts. The use of sign A24 in this specific context is explored through analysis of the lexicon it determines, orthographic patterns within the corpus and comparative contemporary material, the substitution of alternative signs for A24 and both spell context and physical location. This paper is part of a wider research project on the orthography and use of GSL A24 in both hieratic and hieroglyphic texts of the Old Kingdom.
Cultic manuscripts from the mortuary temple of Thutmose III
The presentation will focus on papyri with religious texts from the mortuary temple of Thutmose III at Thebes, discovered, along with a number of administrative documents, in rubbish dumps outside the enclosure wall in 2016. Work on the hundreds of hieratic papyrus fragments and ostraca has only just begun, but some preliminary observations on the contents of the temple library can be made, and some of the ritual practices in the temple can be reconstructed based on the material culture of the manuscripts.
Thutmose III and Senwosret III in graffiti at Dahshur – historical texts in a historical place
The pyramid complex of Senwosret III at Dahshur (12th dynasty) was visited by literate Egyptians during the New Kingdom. A corpus of approximately 200 secondary texts and text fragments contains texts that may be dated to the 18th dynasty, with a selection dated to the reign of Thutmose III. The graffiti writers thematised the royal name and person both of the present and the past king, i.e. both of Thutmose and Senwosret. Several fragments wereinscribed with texts referring to achievements of Thutmose III, the largest being a doorway fragment with excavation number 94.1413. Inscriptions were executed in hieratic script, corresponding to other visitors’ graffiti; the contents, however, resembled excerpts from monumental royal historical inscriptions. The paper examines a preliminary reading of texts in context of the role of commemorative royal inscriptions in the legitimation of Thutmoside kings, and its potential reception by non-royal Egyptians, who integrated a relationship to the past as well as to the contemporary sovereign into their self-presentation. A non-royal reflection of a coeval royal legitimation was materialised within boundaries of a recognised royal monument of the past.
Daniela Colomo & Luigi Prada
Read Homer Like an Egyptian: A Sahidic Coptic Translation of the Iliad
Only a minority of Late Antique Egypt’s literature in Sahidic Coptic consists of original compositions—first and foremost the works of Shenoute of Atripe. In fact, the vast majority of its corpus comprises literature in translation. Starting from the very founding texts of Coptic Christianity—the Old and New Testament—Sahidic Coptic literary texts are translations from originals in other ancient Mediterranean languages, primarily Greek. Virtually all these translated texts, which constitute so much of Sahidic Coptic literature, are Christian in origin and nature. Exceptions—that is, non-Christian texts translated into Coptic—are known, yet they are exceedingly rare. They include, amongst others, the so-called Alexander Romance or even excerpts from the Athenian philosopher Plato. To this small corpus we can now add a new witness: a section from the second book of the Iliad, the first known Coptic version of this classical epic poem, recently identified in the Oxyrhynchus Papyri collection in Oxford. This paper will discuss the problem of Coptic translations of non-Christian texts in Late Antique Egypt and will offer an overview of this unpublished Oxyrhynchus papyrus.
The British Museum papyrus and ostraca collection: an update
The short communication will present an update on recent work done on the BM papyrus and ostraca collection by staff and external scholars. The presentation will focus on projects encompassing a larger group of papyri or ostraca as well as on recently finished or submitted publications. Some gaps and ideas for future research can be discussed.
Polite like an Egyptian? The problem of ‘politeness’ in Late Egyptian
Politeness is a fluid and subjective term, which means different things to different people and cultural groups. Since Erving Goffman’s ground breaking work, a cornucopia of different frameworks and approaches have been theorised to enable the research of politeness to progress. The challenge now is to see if frameworks design for the modern world are applicable to cultures and languages of the remote past. There is already enough contention within the politeness research community about the suitability of current frameworks for modern languages and cultures, yet ancient languages bring their own set of complications to this turbulent discussion, such as fragmented data sets and limited cultural understanding. This paper will discuss the issues of compatibility of these frameworks using specific examples from The Late Ramesside Letters (c. 1069BCE), asking 1) can a concept of politeness be defined and 2) can ancient languages highlight shortcomings in current approaches to politeness research. Particular focus will be placed on how we define and rank social variables within ancient languages and how diachronic perceptions of these variables can affect suitability of politeness frameworks.
Mothers, nurses, and beds
In Egypt, beds do not only occur since Predynastic times and have thus a very long history of attestation, but they are also nearly omnipresent throughout the whole country whether as hieroglyphs, in paintings, reliefs, or as archaeological objects. Since the Old Kingdom at the latest, texts identify these beds as female deities, especially mother-goddesses like Mehetweret, Nut, and Isis, who do not only protect the sleeper-deceased lying on top of them, but also guarantee his/her waking up again in the morning, his/her rebirth. The best-known evidence in this context probably stems from the so-called ritual couches found in the tomb of Tutankhamun.
In this paper, I would like to have a look at some of the many terms designating ‘bed’ in order to see whether and how they convey the identification of this piece of furniture as a female entity. As case studies, I would like to especially discuss AT.t and mnmw.t, which are both already attested since the Pyramid Texts, as their proposed etymologies clearly link these two words to female entities, namely the nurse and the mother.
Emotion and Character in Demotic Stories
This presentation follows on from previous short studies of the literary use made of the emotions in Egyptian literature, especially in Demotic stories. Perhaps all narrative traditions in all cultures use the emotions of their characters as an essential means of engaging the interest of the audience. Quite how this is done may vary very greatly. The aim here is to explore for Demotic narratives the extent to which emotions are deployed explicitly: are the emotions that are felt by characters spelled out — named, described, commented upon — or merely implied? A closely related issue concerns the ways in which characterisation is dealt with in Egyptian story telling. Differentiating various modes of characterisation is a commonplace of modern narrative-analysis, and the topic has received some recent attention within Egyptology. It will be suggested that Demotic (and earlier Egyptian) stories display a degree of coherence in these aspects of narrative practice, and that even a few comments may be offered on how ancient audiences were meant to react to them.
Huw Twiston Davies
Reconsidering Date-Marks on Literary Manuscripts
Around 150 literary ostraca, as well as 6 writing-boards and 11 papyri, are marked with dates in hieratic. On ostraca, the dates are almost exclusively found with verse-pointed extracts from a small number of literary works, chiefly the Instruction of Amenemhat, the Instruction of a Man for His Son, the Satire on the Trades, and the Satirical Letter. The practice appears to be a minority one: more than 800 literary ostraca have been published from Deir el-Medina alone, but only around 150 ostraca from across Egypt preserve date-marks. These appear to come exclusively from non-funerary contexts. These dates are generally written in red ink, and appear to be written after the main text was copied. Contra MacDowell (1996), the dates on which ostraca appear to have been copied on almost every day of the month, although more ostraca survive dating to some days than others. No literary copying appears to have taken place on the last day of the month. The copying of texts appears to be relatively evenly spread across the seasons, with slightly more copying done during Akhet, and slightly less done during Shemu. Only ten ostraca and two writing-boards preserve more than one date.
A Tale of Two Towns?
It is not unusual to encounter in the written sources from Egypt settlements whose exact whereabouts are unknown. That a straightforward location of these cannot easily be found depends on several factors, such as onomastic changes, sparse written information, and lack of provenanced archaeological materials. One town that represents this problem is Muchis in the Fayum. Although the settlement is known to have been a significant regional centre in the Meris of Polemon in the Graeco-Roman period and is attested in Arabic sources until the 15th century, its exact position is still undetermined. The paper revisits the location of Muchis by examining various written sources from both ancient and medieval times. In this connection, the toponym’s development from Demotic and Greek to Coptic and Arabic is reconsidered. Furthermore, by examining the theonyms connected with the town, which in one instance – so it is argued – contains an older place name, I hope to be able to show that the settlement possibly can be dated back to the Middle Kingdom.