The scribes of ancient Egypt certainly had their hands full with even the most simple of letters. For instance:

It is the servant of the estate Sekhsekh’s son Inetsu who addresses the lord (may he live, be prosperous and healthy), Sekhsekh’s son Penhensu: It is in order to learn about every favourable circumstance of the lord (may he live, be prosperous and healthy), that the servant of the estate has sent this letter. In the favour of Montu, lord of the Theban nome, of Amon, lord of the Thrones of the Two Lands, of Sobek, of Horus, of Hathor and of all the gods! It is as the servant of the estate desires that they shall let the lord (may he live, be prosperous and healthy), spend millions of years in life, properity and health, starting from today.

The servant of the estate has said: this is a communication to the lord (may he live, be prosperous and healthy), about sending me a rudder post of pine wood, a steering-oar of juniper, and a rudder-rest of ebony for the poop of your humble servant’s sea-going galley. Moreover, it is your humble servant’s poop. It is good if the lord (may he live, be prosperous and healthy) takes note.

If only we wrote memos or emails like that today. The astute reader may have noticed the egalitarian thread running through this note. Another example this Egyptian virtue, along with a dash of altruism, may be found in the letter of a landlord writing home (from another location) to the servants and others concerning some food shortages that have come to his notice:

Lest you be angry about this, look here … I’m responsible for everything so that it should be said: ‘To be half alive is better than dying outright’. Now it is only real hunger that should be termed hunger since they have started eating people here. and none are given such generous rations as I give you. Until I come back home to you, you should comport yourselves with stout hearts.

‘The great river running backwards’.

Such cosmopolitanism …

Goelet (1999) writes of ancient Egypt:

By now it is a well-worn truism among Egyptologists that the Egyptians were intensely religious, yet had no word corresponding to our term ‘religion'; that they had a highly developed aesthetic sense, yet had no single word for ‘art'; that they ran a stable, complex, and highly bureaucratic society, yet had no equivalent to the term ‘the state’. The common theme behind all these observations is that we frequently fail to realize that the Egyptians might have viewed the world entirely differently from the way we do.

He goes on the discuss what a ‘town’ or ‘city’ might mean, suggesting that the settlement was really an afterthought to a temple and a quay on the Nile.

Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and now Yemen – increasingly the supposed experts are saying that facebook and twitter facilitated these revolutions. Apart from the obvious crap in such ‘opinions’ (the army is always key), Christina made a good point yesterday. Take a look at these pages from the protest leaflet from Egypt:

Sure, twitter and facebook get a mention – they are to be avoided at all costs, since they and other media (blogs etc.), are being monitored. Instead, the leaflet repeats the call to send by email, fax or print and hand them out. So much for the facebook/twitter revolutions.

And: the Interior Minister asks Hosni Mubarak to write a ‘Farewell Letter’ to the Egyptian people. Mubarak replies: ‘Why? Where are they going?’ (ht mr)

Update: the end of the world came a day earlier for Mubarak:

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One of the few internet links from Egypt, after Mubarak cut internet access, is found here.

With at least 1.5 billion in support from the US last year for Mubarak and his hated ‘security forces’ in Egypt, you’ve gotta love this revolution. Details, as usual, at the reliable Lenin’s Tomb.

More Egyptian material for a family blog:

In case your eyesight is not the best, some detail:

All from the Turin Papyrus (ht tp).

 

Following on an earlier post about those well-endowed Egyptians, it appears that the rudely-drawn image was actually cut-and-pasted from a much richer scenario:

Must have been something in the diet … (ht hs).

A little while back I posted a couple of comments (from ‘Too Many Dicks at the Writing Desk’) on divine auto-fellatio in Egyptian mythology, pondering the theological and liturgical outcomes should Egyptian religion have become a world religion instead of Christianity. To illustrate the point, this piece of sacred iconography sidled up to the argument:

Yesterday a certain medical doctor called Hanspeter Seiler wrote a comment on that post:

I also think autofellatio has a deep meaning in egyptian theology. I have written a paper (not published yet) about that in German. Now i am very interested in this picture of the british museum of horus or osiris doing it. Can you give me the exact source?

Now, before could raise the energy to find the reference, the goodly doctor wrote again:

just found the picture in british museum!
So I need no answer. Many thanks HP Seiler

All I can say is that more scholarship on this somewhat neglected theological topic is sorely needed.