Baines, John: Oxford

Title: Purity of deed and mind within an Old Kingdom tomb?


The tomb of Hezy at Saqqara was published by Kanawati and Abder-Raziq in 1999, and its inscriptions were discussed independently by Silverman in 2000. It has very unusual decoration, as well as unconventional biographical texts that make bold claims and include more explicit curse-like statements than are found elsewhere. This paper focuses on what the inscriptions say about the purity of those who enter the tomb, asking in particular whether the owner made an equivalence between observing rules of abstinence, other aspects of cleanliness, and moral qualities, among which possible evil thoughts might be connected with inner states rather than actions. If such an interpretation is correct, how would it relate to conceptions of the person and their standing before the gods?

Collier, Mark: Liverpool

Title: Alternatives and negation with n-is in Earlier Egyptian


At AELT 5 I presented an analysis of n … is negation in Earlier Egyptian (work which is now included in a paper in press). I intend to follow this up at AELT 6 with an analysis of n-is negation within the same framework of considering constructionally evoked alternatives (inferences), building also on work by Loprieno (1991) and Oréal (2011). I think this provides a straightforward, but explicit, account of the regular exceptive meaning of n-is negation as noted long ago by Gunn in Studies in Egyptian Syntax and why clause negation with n-is often translates well with ‘unless’ when used after a clause which is itself negated.

 Collier, M. In press. ‘Alternatives and the grammar of Earlier Egyptian: negation with low-end indefinites and negation with n … is’. To appear in the proceedings of the Brown University 2013 workshop on Earlier Egyptian.

Gunn, B. 2002/1924. Studies in Egyptian Syntax. Second edition, with full reproduction of original 1924 edition and inclusion of previously unpublished chapters, ed. by R. S. Simpson. Oxford: Griffith Institute.

Loprieno, A. 1991. ‘Topics in Egyptian negations’. In Ägypten im AfroOrientalischen Kontext: Aufsätze zur Archäologie, Geschichte und Sprache eines unbegrenzten Raumes: Gedenkschrift Peter Behrens, ed. by D. Mendel and U. Claudi (Afrikanistische Arbeitspapiere; Cologne: Institut für Afrikanistik, Universität Köln), 213–235.

Oréal, E. 2011. Les particules en égyptien ancien: de l’ancien égyptien à l’égyptien classique. BdE 152. Cairo: IFAO

Cromwell, Jennifer: Sydney, Manchester

Title: “Before everything else …”: Coptic school texts from Thebes in the collection of Columbia University


In the 1920s, the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s excavations in western Thebes discovered a wealth of Coptic textual material, primarily from the monasteries at Deir el-Bahri and TT103. Over 600 of these, from the second site—the so-called monastery of Epiphanius—were published in 1926. The rest of the material, which amounts to over 3,000 ostraca, was sold to Columbia University in the 1950s. Only a small number of these texts have since been published. One category of unpublished texts—school texts—comprises over 150 ostraca in which several exercise types are found: alphabets and alphabetic exercises, epistolary exercises and letters, word and name lists, etc. This reflects the pragmatic nature of Coptic education, which focussed on letter formation and letter writing.

Prof. Raffaella Cribiore (NYU) and myself are preparing this group of texts for publication. I will present here an introduction to this project, concentrating on three main points: (1) the problems involved in identifying the material; (2) their provenance and who produced these texts, and why; (3) a case study of texts produced by the only named writer in the corpus, a Coptic “Pliny the Younger”.

Gaber, Amr: Swansea

Title: Texts Accompanying the Ten Dead Deities of Hathor at Dendera


Unlike the nine dead deities of the temple of Horus at Edfu that appeared in the temple of Edfu and the temple of Dendera, the ten dead deities of the temple of Hathor at Dendera were confined only to the Dendera temple. The texts accompanying the dead deities of Dendera comprise mainly of collective epithets referring to them as a group. However, the names of only two members of these ten deities are revealed. These epithets show their divinity, father, origin, nature, and burial place. Additionally, the religious festivals of the temple of Dendera reflect how their cult was celebrated during four religious festivals and how they are connected to the dead deities of Edfu. Investigating these texts presents the similarities and dissimilarities with other dead deities in ancient Egypt.

Minas-Nerpel, Martina: Swansea

Title: A grain account in the Swansea Wellcome Collection


The collection of the Egypt Centre of Swansea University contains a wooden tablet (13.5 cm long and 5 cm wide), which is inscribed in demotic with a grain account, probably dating to the late Ptolemaic or early Roman Period. It details the seed-grain that has been distributed to the arable land in a specific month. Two categories of grain are mentioned, sw and SbnnA. The latter, probably related to Sbn, ‘grain’, is not attested in any demotic text so far. It is unclear where the object originally came from; the text itself, although providing very specific numbers, does not give any indication for the provenance. The paper will present the text (twelve lines on the recto, one remaining line on the verso), touch upon the orthography and palaeography, and discuss, as far as possible, the Sitz im Leben of this small object.

Navratilova, Hana: New York, London

Title: The curious incident of the women and related graffiti stories


The world of literate ancient Egyptians seems to have been a male world, at least at a first glance. The first impression is obviously not entirely correct and yet also challenging to disprove. Among the more challenging categories of textual sources there are New Kingdom visitors’ graffiti. Women were largely absent from those graffiti, which showcase a historical awareness (mainly knowledge of long deceased owners of visited buildings), as well as professional abilities of the writers.

The women were absent but not entirely. As they did appear in the visitors’ graffiti, it was either in passing remarks, as sexual partners, or in an even more curious statement: a graffito that had been deemed badly written was compared to writing of “an inefficient (or confused) woman”.

The devotional or pilgrim graffiti of the dynasty 19 and 20, however, seem to show presence of women. This happens more frequently in Thebes (Deir el-Bahri), and sporadically (as far as it is possible to say) in Memphis. Women shared the graffiti space expressly in a devotional context of the shrines of Deir el-Bahri, closely related to Hathor. The one example from Memphis might have been related to the local cult of Sakhmet.

Why are there apparently almost no women participating in Dynasty 18 graffiti outings (at least in Memphis)? Why do women share the devotional space of graffiti in the Ramesside era and not earlier—did the reason relate to perceptions of the visited space? Or, alternatively, was it the motive for the visit, which changed (in time or locally), and enabled presence of women? Do the graffiti betray some supposedly simple gender stereotyping (woman as sexual object, as an illiterate), or is the picture more complex?

Papazian, Hratch: Cambridge

Title: Notes on Old Kingdom Epistolary Forms and Practices

Abstract: This paper will analyse features of Old Kingdom non-royal epistolography on the basis of private missives, administrative memos, as well as Letters to the Dead. The geographical distribution of extant Old Kingdom letters within the Nile Valley is quite wide, and it also encompasses localities beyond, such as the Western Desert oases. Although letters written on papyrus make up a sizeable percentage of the overall corpus, other writing media, such as unfired clay, linen, and pottery (non-ostraca) represent the remaining segments of the available evidence for this category of ancient Egyptian texts.

Letters will be evaluated in terms of layout and the standard formulae in use, in addition to grammatical and textual components that might be idiosyncratic to epistolography as a whole or specific to the type of letter being composed. Several elements relating to scribal practice are apparent on the original version of some letters (though seldom noted in published transcriptions or translations), which could be of relevance when trying to highlight regional variations in letter-writing. The choice of different media and the marked absence of letters on ostraca will also be addressed.

Piquette, Kathryn: Cologne, London

Title: New advances in the recovery of writing from papyri: implications for Egyptian Papyrology


Among the various ways in which inscribed papyri may be preserved, carbonisation presents one of the more challenging for papyrologists (Leach and Tait 2000). The lack of contrast between the carbonised surface and darkened inks makes legibility difficult. With the advent of near infrared photography it is possible to produce differences in light reflectivity and make carbon-based ink clearly readable. However, fixed-light infrared images produce in a flattened appearance which reduces the ability to understand the relationship between the writing and the physical structure of the papyrus. Self-shadowing caused by undulating or crumpled surfaces can obscure writing and other important features, such as edges indicating the presence of multiple layers adhering together. Likewise, holes can be mistaken for ink.

Recent developments in digital imaging enable these shortcomings to be addressed. In previous AELT meetings I presented research involving Reflectance Transformation Imaging (RTI) – a computational photographic method that enables the researcher to virtually relight and artificially enhance scribal marks on material surfaces (e.g. Piquette 2013). As part of an imaging project at the University of Cologne, further RTI was undertaken this year on carbonised papyri. Building on recent successes on ancient manuscripts (Caine and Magen 2011; Kotoula 2014), infrared illumination was incorporated into the RTI capture process and tests conducted on carbonised papyri from the Villa dei Papyri in Herculaneum, now held in Naples. Tests were also conducted on Oxyrhynchus papyri in the University of Oxford, Sackler Library collections. For this talk, I will present selected imaging results, discuss visualisation and annotation tools, and consider their potential for augmenting Egyptian papyrology.

Caine, M. and Megan, M. 2011. Pixels and Parchment: The Application of RTI and Infrared Imaging to the Dead Sea Scrolls. In Dunn, S., Bowen, J. P. and Ng, K. C. (eds), Electronic Visualisation and the Arts (EVA 2011). PDF:

Koutoula, E. 2014. Papyrus RTI Case Study.

Leach, B. and Tait, J. 2000. Papyrus. In Shaw, I. and Nicholson, P. T. (eds), Ancient Egyptian Materials and Technology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 227–253.

Piquette, K. E. 2013. Scribal Practice and an Early Dynastic Stone Vessel Inscription: Material and aesthetic implications. In Dodson, A. Johnston, J. J. and Monkhouse, W. (eds), A Good Scribe and an Exceedingly Wise Man: Studies in honour of W. J. Tait. London: Golden House Publications, 241–250. PDF:

Prada, Luigi: Oxford, Heidelberg

Title: A newly discovered fragment of P. Schulübung: foundations of a project for the study of demotic school texts and schooling in Ptolemaic and Roman Egypt.


P. Berlin P. 13639, also known as P. Schulübung after its publication by Wolja Erichsen in Eine ägyptische Schulübung in demotischer Schrift (København 1948), is a fundamental text for the study of schooling in early Ptolemaic Egypt. It preserves a column of text from what appears to be a schoolmaster’s handbook. For the most part, the extant lines bear sentences for the exercise of students in the use of the optative form my sdm=f. Even more interestingly, the verso of the papyrus, edited only in 2002 by Karl-Theodor Zauzich, contains part of a collection of model letters, to be used in the training of scribes. In this talk, I will present a new substantial fragment of this school manual, which I identified in the collection of the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, and which perfectly joins the Berlin fragment. This preserves additional text from both the exercises on the optative and from the model letters, and also offers interesting data about the provenance of the text: the Fayum (most likely Tebtunis), rather than Thebes (as previously claimed). The presentation of this new papyrus also provides the opportunity to offer a preliminary report on a project for the systematic study of published and unpublished school texts in demotic and of Egyptian schooling practices in the Ptolemaic and Roman periods.

Rashwan, Hany: London

Title: Thinking in equivocal circles: Arabic Jinas (paronomasia?) as an Ancient Egyptian literary rhetorical device


Studying the Ancient Egyptian language is archaeology of a “dead” language, in which cross-linguistic comparisons provide the only support available for hypotheses on rhetorical–semantic pragmatics and literary and textual practices. The recent analytical literary scholarship seems inescapably trapped in the European linguistic tradition, imposed unwittingly on the ancient written sources, and tends to lose sight of the special character of the Ancient Egyptian language and its literature as a part of Afro-Asiatic languages phylum. A new approach is necessary, I argue, in order to employ the main principle of the linguistic comparative system: “Languages should never be compared in isolation if closer relatives are at hand” (Greenberg, 1971, 22).

Jinas generally is understood as two phonetically similar words that differ semantically. This phonetic similarity plays a great role in alerting and amusing the audience by stimulating both the eye and ear to compare the similarities and differences between the two words. Jinas thus is appealing to the ear and the eye and is mainly based on the creative ability of the audience to rediscover the implied message made by the resourceful author. There are many different forms of Jinas in the Arabic tradition, which offers a good opportunity to explore various forms of this literary device in the Ancient Egyptian Texts. This paper investigates the possibility of offering new, closer, analytical readings of Ancient Egyptian literary rhetorical devices, based on Arabic Balagha methodology.

Regulski, Ilona: London

Title: Middle Kingdom ritual reflected in writing. A case study from Asyut


In 1914, the German Egyptologist Ludwig Borchardt acquired a small group of papyrus fragments, which purportedly came from Asyut and most likely date to the early Middle Kingdom (Pap. Berlin P. 10480-82). The papyri are significant for the study of ancient Egyptian religion and funerary culture because they contain extracts from funerary spells (known as the Coffin Texts), an offering list, and a letter to the Dead, all dedicated to the same individual. Contemporary versions of Coffin Texts on papyri are rare and raise interesting questions regarding the function of these manuscripts and transmission history. The AELT contribution will mainly focus on the relationship between the papyrus fragments in order to retrieve a chronological sequence in provincial mortuary practices. Rather than focusing on the texts alone (i.e. its content and grammar) the papyri are regarded as material objects from an archaeological point of view as well as a philological one. The materiality of the texts – its physical appearance in terms of handwriting, layout, and shades of ink – helps contextualize the meaning and purpose of the texts alongside the act of writing them.