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  1. 1. WATANI English Section 6 July 2003 Writer: Erian / copy editor: Jenny/Samia Word count: 837 + 224 = 1061 History of the Egyptian People Something missing At first glance, the history of Egypt appears to be a very well known and thoroughly researched topic. Yet on closer look, something seems missing. What is mostly accessible and widely covered is the history of the rulers of Egypt. The Egyptian people themselves get very little coverage. With this in mind, +Mr Erian Labib Hanna+, writer and avid scholar of Egyptology, proposed writing to ++Watani++ a series of articles that would focus on the history of the Egyptian people—as opposed to the ‘official’ history of the rulers. This ‘people’s history’ will be recorded by tracing the ancient inscriptions on the walls of the temples and tombs. These inscriptions offer a wealth of information on the everyday life of the ancient Egyptians, wise sayings and proverbs, mythology—the science of the pre-science period, parents’ advice to their children, and so on. The following is hence the first of a series which ++Watani++ will start printing the first Sunday of every month. Mr Hanna begins by tracing the origin of the people—he will show, through the slate stela of Narmer that Egyptians are of both Hamite and Shemite origin—then, in following articles, will trace the beginnings and consequent development of these people’s thought, religion, values, and traditions. In short, how they finally came to be what they are today: the modern-day Egyptians. Tracing the roots Erian Labib Hanna 1
  2. 2. Like all nations that trace back their roots to ancient times, Egyptians can study the chain linking them back to their glorious past and learn about one of the world’s first great civilisations. In order to present a clear picture of this past, I propose to start the first with Egyptology, then go on to Coptology, which covers the Christian era, and finally the Arabic period when the inhabitants of the Nile Valley adopted Arabic as their language. Readers are welcome to contribute any information or opinion on this topic. In this way, we will write our history together, to give the upcoming generation a clearer picture of our fathers and forefathers. +Pictorial record+ The slate stela of Narmer refers to the unification of the two parts of the country—the south and the north. It also refers to our race, which is a mixture of Hamite, from the south, and Shemite, which spread from ancient Syria to the Delta. The stela is usually regarded as commemorating the victory of the southern king over the north, and the unification of the two lands under one ruler. Since Narmer appears here as king of both Upper and Lower Egypt, he has been recognised as the semi-legendary Menes, the first Pharaoh (3200 BC). +Red and Black lands+ The illustrations on the stela refer to some known facts. Narmer—depicted clubbing a submissive enemy—came from the south sice he is wearing the white crown, the ++hedjet++, which was to become the emblematic headgear of the Pharaoh as king of Upper Egypt or the ‘Red Land’. After his victory he is shown wearing the ++deshret++, the red crown of the Delta or ‘Black Land’. He is preceded by his priest and four standard-bearers carrying fetishes; his sandal bearer and the foot washer bring up the rear of the procession which is inspecting rows of corpses whose bound arms and severed heads proclaim them to be native rebels. The central register of this highly organised design shows a circular depression around which are disposed two serpo-padres and their attendants. At the bottom of the stela the Pharaoh, depicted as a strong bull, breaks down a township with a larger palace or temple and smaller houses within, and tramples upon a foreign rebel, probably a Libyan. The Pharaoh’s name is flanked by heads of Hathor, or possibly Bat, a primaeval cow and mother goddess, at whose shrine this stela was probably dedicated. 2
  3. 3. +Mixed race+ We know more about the race of the dwellers in the south from studying the face of Narmer. His features prove he was a Hamite, similar in countenance to the people of East Africa; whereas the appearance of the submissive king—the king of the North (the Delta)—shows that he is Shemite, most probably originally from the country adjacent to the East of Egypt, ancient Syria. So we can reasonably conclude that the ancient Egyptians were a mixture of both races. + Sources of ancient Egyptian history+ In the fifth century BC, the Greek historians Herodotus and Diodorus began writing their histories of Egypt. Their works were revised and completed by the Egyptian priest Manetho (323 - 245BC), who lived under the first two Ptolomies. This great man wrote a chronicle of the Egyptian Pharaohs, dividing their history into 31 dynasties or royal families from the time of Menes (c. 3200BC) until the reign of Alexander the Great (332BC). His works were partly preserved in the writings of some later historians, such as Josephus (70AD), Africanus (third century AD), Eusebus (fourth century AD), and much later by George the monk, known as Synecellus (eighth-ninth century AD). Temple records, king lists and annals, tomb biographies of high officials, and letters from all periods provided very valuable information for the understanding of ancient Egyptian history. +The Chronicles+ In the earlier periods, important events were recorded each year; later on, royal annals or chronicles were fully registered. Some of the more famous king lists were as follows: • The so-called Palermo stone, the main piece of which is preserved in Palermo Museum, with another piece in Cairo, dates back to the time of the fifth dynasty. It contains royal annals of rulers from the predynastic era (before the union of Upper and Lower Egypt) to the middle of the fifth dynasty. Each year of a Pharaoh’s reign was given a title for identification, such as ‘the year of the smiting of the Northerners’, or references to the height of the inundation, religious feasts, victories over foreign powers, quarrying expeditions, building projects or other important events. • The Turin canon, a papyrus written in hieratic script in the reign of Ramses II. • The Abydos king list, registered on the wall of the Ancestors' Hall of the temple of Seti I and Ramses II at Abydos. • The Saqqara king list, featuring about 50 names of ancestors honoured by Ramses II, and now in the Egyptian Museum. 3
  4. 4. • The Karnak king list, dating from the time of Tuthmosis III (1490 – 1436BC). 4
  5. 5. WATANI English Section 3 August 2003 Writer: Erian Hanna / copy editor: Samia/Jenny Word count: 146 + 772 Tracing the people’s history +++In an attempt to trace how modern-day Egyptians finally came to be what they are today, and to refute the controversy that occasionally arises over their origins and the origin of their traditions, ++Watani++ is printing a monthly series on the history of the Egyptian people—as opposed to the widely known ‘official’ history of the rulers of Egypt. The first episode of the series—compiled by +Mr Erian Labib Hanna+—was printed four weeks ago, and demonstrated—through the slate stela of Narmer—that ancient Egyptians were a mixture of both Hamite and Shemite races. Once the first ‘Egyptians’ established themselves on the Nile banks and settled down to an agricultural life, it was natural that they should look around and try to understand their universe. In the present episode, Mr Hanna today looks at how the faith and beliefs of these people was formed.+++ Understanding the universe The spirit and the intellect Erian Labib Hanna In order to trace the roots of the ancient Egyptian religion to see if it emanated from the immediate environment or from peoples beyond the borders of Egypt, the story of creation as presented by the theological schools of Memphis, Heliopolis and other religious centres must be investigated. +Settled life+ 1
  6. 6. Before discussing the religion in detail, I would like to mention some place names that reflect the way of life at the time. After the change from hunting to farming, people settled down in certain locations which later lent their names to prehistoric civilisations such as Deir Tasa, Fayoum al-Merimada, al-Badari al-Amra, al-Gerza and Naqada. From the material remains of this first phase of prehistoric culture we are able to build up a picture of the early Egyptians. We can see how they gradually adapted to a settled agricultural way of life which, at the end of the period towards 3600 BC, can have differed little from the culture of the pagan tribes of the Upper Nile today. +The hereafter+ We will never know much about the intellectual and spiritual life of these early dwellers on the Nile. That they believed in a kind of hereafter for at least some members of the community is evident from the many burials that have been found on hut sites and in later cemeteries. The body is usually crouched on its side as through in sleep—waiting to wake up. +The sun and the river+ The sun and the river, which together were—for Egyptians—the dominating cause of all existence, made a profound impression. They were two natural forces with both creative and destruction powers. The life-giving rays of the sun that caused the crops to grow also caused them to shrivel and die. The river which invigorated the soil with its life-giving silt could destroy whatever lay in its path or, if it failed to rise sufficiently, bring famine. The sun and the river, moreover, shared in the pattern of death and rebirth. The sun died when it sank on the western horizon, only to be reborn in the eastern sky on the following morning. And the death of the land followed by the germination or rebirth of the crops each year was directly connected with the river’s annual flood. Rebirth was therefore a central feature of Egyptian science. It was a natural sequence of death, and undoubtedly lay at the root of the ancient Egyptian conviction of life after death. +Creating himself+ Some of the earliest myths tell of a time when Nun, the eternal ocean, filled the universe. When the water subsided, much as the Nile flood subsided each year, it left pools and streams swarming with life. A primaeval hill appeared, and it was on this hill—according to the Heliopolis doctrine—that Atum-Ra created himself out of himself. Atum was the creator who had existed at all time; Ra was the sun god. Atum-Ra was therefore both the sun 2
  7. 7. and the creator, who was believed to sail across the heavens each day in a barge not unlike the papyrus boats that travelled up and down the Nile. +Heaven and earth+ Atum-Ra had four children, all of whom he drew from himself. They were Shu and Tefnut, the gods of air and moisture, and Geb and Nut, the god of the earth and the goddess of the sky. Geb and Nut were at first baked together as one, but on the sun god’s orders Shu, the atmosphere, came between them. He lifted the sky goddess to the heavens, leaving the Earth god prone on the ground. Thus was described the watery void and the primaeval hill, the separation of heaven and earth. When the sun god crossed the heavens and cast his rays upon the earth, there was light. And when he entered the underworld at night there was darkness, and so he delegated his power to Thoth, the moon good. +Good and evil+ Nut the sky goddess and Geb the earth god had four children. These were the four gods of the nature cult: Osiris, Isis, Set and Nepthys. The Heliopolitan Doctrine, also called the Ennead (Nine Gods) therefore comprised the +Solar cult+—Atum-Ra, Shu (air), Tefnut (moisture), Geb (Earth) and Nut (sky), and the +Nature cult+—Geb(earth) and Nut(sky), Osiris, Isis, Set, and Nepthys. Osiris and Isis had a son, Horus. The myths has it that the struggle between good and evil is demonstrated by the assassination of Osiris by his jealous brother Set, and how Horus avenged the death of his father. The name Horus was later bestowed as one of the titles of the ruling Pharaoh. 3
  8. 8. WATANI English Section 7 September 2003 Writer: Erian Hanna / copy editor: Samia/Jenny Word count: 856 + 215 Tracing the people’s history +++In an attempt to trace how modern-day Egyptians finally came to be what they are today, and to refute the controversy that occasionally arises over their origins and the origin of their traditions, ++Watani++ is printing a monthly series on the history of the Egyptian people—as opposed to the widely known ‘official’ history of the rulers of Egypt. The first episode of the series—compiled by +Mr Erian Labib Hanna+ demonstrated, through the slate stela of Narmer, that ancient Egyptians were a mixture of both Hamite and Shemite races. Once the first ‘Egyptians’ established themselves on the banks of the Nile and settled down to an agricultural life, it was natural that they should look around and try to understand their universe. The life-giving sun and the River Nile, both of which dominated their environment and their very existence, and both of which in essence embodied cycles of ‘death’ and ‘rebirth’, were hence the sources upon which the inhabitants’ spiritual and intellectual life was built. Thus the ancient Egyptian religion—based in principle upon the conflict between good and evil and the concept of an afterlife—emerged. In this episode, Mr Hanna looks at how the Egyptians prepared for the afterlife, and how commoners claimed their right to immortality just as their rulers did.+++ The builders of the pyramids Erian labib Hanna The guide to the Egyptian museum gives a brief outline of the ancient Dynasties as follows: 1
  9. 9. The Early Dynastic Period: c. 3200 BC Old Kingdom: Third Dynasty: c. 2780 BC Fourth Dynasty: c. 2720 BC Sixth Dynasty: c. 2420 BC First Intermediate Period c. 2250 BC Middle Kingdom (11th–13th dynasties: c. 2140-1785 BC) Second intermediate period: c.1785-1580 BC New Kingdom: c.1580-1084 BC 26th Dynasty: 596 BC Persian conquest: 525 BC Alexander the Great: 332 BC +The Old Kingdom+ The achievement of the civilisation of the Old Kingdom has to be assesed from the funerary monuments around the great sites near Memphis—the architecture and sculpture that have survived in a ruinous condition at the cemeteries near Giza, Saqqara, Abu-Sir and Dahshur. The Step Pyramid at Saqqara is the first pyramid whose genius architect is Imhotep. At Dahshur and at Maidum, unusual shapes appeared amongst the pyramid erected. The Pyramid of Maidum, c.2630 BC, apparently stands upon a conical hill. The Bent Pyramid of Dahshur, c. 2000 BC, stands on the eastern edge of the desert plateau. The Northern Pyramid at Dahshur is the first true pyramid, with its slope rising at a great angle of 43˚36'. Both pyramids were built by Seneferu, founder of the Fourth Dynasty. His son Cheops, or Khufu, built one of the seven wonders of the ancient world—the Great Pyramid at Giza. +Mighty monument+ The climax of this development came early, with the building of that pyramid. The vizier Hemon, a cousin of Cheops, was the Pharaoh’s Master of Works and evidently responsible for this mighty monument, which was built to an astonishing degree of accuracy by the simplest of means. The impressive statue of Hemon from his tomb at Giza gives a brilliant portrait of this resourceful architect and engineer. Well over two million large blocks of limestone (about 2,300,00 blocks) were used in the construction of the pyramid, some of them weighing as much as 15 tons. The stone for the core was hewn on the spot, but the facing blocks were of finer limestone and were quarried at Tura on the other side of the river. The three great pyramids at Giza belonged to Kufu, Khafra and Menkara; their names given by the Greeks were Kheops (Cheops), Khephren (Chefren) and Mykernius. At Abusir there are three pyramids built by the Pharaohs of the Fifth Dynasty: Nefer- in- Ka-re, Weser-re and Sahu-re. 2
  10. 10. +The pyramid texts+ In the pyramid of Wenis at Saqqara we find Pyramid texts which were increased in number and were known in the Middle Kingdom as the sarcophagus texts (or coffin texts). They increased further in number in the New Kingdom, and were then known as the Book of the Dead. The walls of the burial chamber and the vestibule of the pyramid of Wenis are covered with hieroglyphs in the vertical columns filled in with blue paint. +The civilisation of the Old Kingdom+ In the earliest dynasties it would appear that the king ruled the whole of Egypt as his private estate as late as the Fourth Dynasty. The palace with its adjoining official buildings was the Great House (the Per-as) whence the Hebrew 'Pharaoh', a circumlocution later used for the king himself. The government of the country was conducted by chosen officials to whom the royal authority had been delegated. Many of them were sons or near relatives of the Pharaoh, who sponsored their upbringing and education, granted them property during their lifetime and saw to the provision of their tombs or funerary endowments after death. This highly centralised state began gradually to split up from the later years of the Fourth Dynasty, when the provinicial governorships and other offices came to be regarded as hereditary appointments. The resources of the state treasury were eroded by gifts of land, exemptions from taxation, often in perpetuity, and alienation of income or property, mostly for the benefit of the occupants of vast cities of the dead around the silent pyramids of their former rules. On the other hand, the provincial governors, now fast becoming feudal potentates, no longer sought burial near the tomb of their overlord but made their own cemeteries in the district capital, and clearly regarded themselves as little inferior to so many minor Pharaohs. +The first revolution+ Under the divine authority of the Pharaoh, Egypt during the Old Kingdom achieved a vigorous characteristic and self-assured culture, untroubled by doubts and unfaltering in its belief that material success depended upon completing a practical education, doing right by the Pharaoh, respecting superiors, and exercising moderation in all things. By the end of the Sixth Dynasty people could no longer bear the tyranny of the feudal vassals—the rulers of the provinces who acted as if they were Pharaohs. That was the social side of the revolution. The religious part was against the Pharaoh’s claimed right of immortality. The people asked for their right in the afterlife. 3
  11. 11. The difference between the pyramids texts and the coffin texts is remarkable, and the victory of the popular religion (tjat of Osiris) over the official religion (of Ra), and that will be the topic of the next article. 4
  12. 12. WATANI English Section 5 October 2003 Writer: Hanna / copy editor: Jenny/Samia Word count: 885 + 235 Tracing the people’s history +++In an attempt to trace how modern-day Egyptians finally came to be what they are today, and to refute the controversy that occasionally arises over their origins and the origin of their traditions, ++Watani++ is printing a monthly series on the history of the Egyptian people—as opposed to the widely known ‘official’ history of the rulers of Egypt. The first episode of the series—compiled by +Mr Erian Labib Hanna+ demonstrated, through the slate stela of Narmer, that ancient Egyptians were a mixture of both Hamite and Shemite races. Once the first ‘Egyptians’ established themselves on the banks of the Nile and settled down to an agricultural life, it was natural that they should look around and try to understand their universe. The life-giving sun and the River Nile, both of which dominated their environment and their very existence, and both of which in essence embodied cycles of ‘death’ and ‘rebirth’, were hence the sources upon which the inhabitants’ spiritual and intellectual life was built. Thus the ancient Egyptian religion—based in principle upon the conflict between good and evil and the concept of an afterlife—emerged. Commoners claimed their right to immortality just as their rulers did. The pyramid texts—pertaining to the kings—gave way to the sarcophagus texts—pertaining to the commoners—and later mutated into the Book of the Dead. In this episode, Mr Hanna describes the first popular revolution.+++ The First Revolution Erian Labib Hanna Photo courtesy of Thomas Foley When pressure builds up inside a boiler, there is an eruption. That is 1
  13. 13. precisely what happened in Egypt at the close of the Old Kingdom. The common people, suffering under a feudal system, found themselves deprived of their right to resurrection in the afterlife, a privilege, or so it was ordained in the pyramid texts, reserved only for the Pharaoh. The pyramid texts are mostly a collection of spells or magical incantations and chants, many of which, although translated, are still somewhat obscure in meaning. The purpose of the texts was to secure the apotheosis of the Pharaoh and his well being in the after life It was believed that the magical potency of the inscribed word was sufficient to guarantee this afterlife. Many of the words used contained hieroglyphic signs depicting humans or animals, and it was thought that a danger might exist in having these potentially destructive elements so close to the deceased in his tomb. Hence the scribe drew deliberately mutilated signs with, for example, amputated legs or arms in the case of humans, or else he substituted less harmful and inanimate signs for the dangerous ones. More than 700 spells are known, but in the pyramid of Wenis only 128 are recorded. +Blocked from view+ In the poem entitled “The Admonitions of a Prophet” we are given more details about what happened in that popular revolution. The time at which this break-up of ordered government in Egypt is to be thought of as taking place, is at the end of the Old Kingdom. At the conclusion of the Sixth Dynasty (circa 2500 BC) Egypt was abruptly blotted out of our sight, the sudden obscurity indicating that a great catastrophe overwhelmed the country. Furthermore, the few records passed down to us through the following centuries show that civilisation, formerly at such a high level, declined—exactly what one would expect from some of the contemporary descriptions. The ruler whom the sage in the poem addresses is apparently an aged man, which is also perfectly in agreement with known facts. For the monarch with whom the Old Kingdom disappears from the pages of history is none other than the second Phiops, who came to the throne at the age of six and who, according to Egyptian tradition, reigned for 93 years. +Upheaval+ The following extracts clarify what happened during the revolution. The first poem is concerned mainly with the general distress which signifies social disorder—robbery, murder, vandalism and famine. Officials are 2
  14. 14. expelled, the administration destroyed, foreign trade is at a standstill. Foreigners invade the country, and the rabble occupy the positions formerly held by the upper classes. “A man goes to plough with his shield… Nay, but the Nile is in flood, yet none ploughs for him… “Nay, but poor men now possess fine things. He who once could not make sandals for himself now possesses riches… “Nay, but gold and lapis lazuli, silver and turquoise, carnelian, bronze and marble… are hung about the necks of slave-girls. “But noble ladies walk through the land, and mistresses of houses say, ‘Would that we had something we might eat’… “Nay, but great and small say, ‘I wish I were dead.’ Little children say, ‘He ought never to have caused me to live.’ “Nay, but men feed on herbs and drink water. No fruit nor herbs any longer are found for the birds.” The disasters described in the second poem far surpass those hitherto complained of. Even the monarchy is now destroyed, and the masses are completely triumphant. It is pointed out over and over again how rich they have become, while the upper classes are sunk in misery. “Behold, the rich man sleeps thirty. He that once begged him for his dregs Now possesses strong beer. “Behold, the poor of the land have become rich; He that possessed something is now one that hath nothing. “Behold, noble ladies, great ladies, Who possessed goodly things; Their children are given to the beds. “Behold, he that had a lady to wife, her father protects him… Their cattle belong to plunderers” “Behold, a man is slain beside his brother. He leaves him in the lurch in order to rescue himself.” 3
  15. 15. From the third and fourth poems: “The Delta weeps, the storehouse of the Pharaoh is for every one.” In the fifth poem the sage blames the Pharaoh, and laments over the fact that men desire to give birth. Strange to say, we find in the sixth poem a description of the happy times the future holds in store. This shows the Egyptian’s optimistic side, the one who still expects his or her misery to come to an end and who hopes for better days to come. From the sixth poem: Here the poet Ipuwer repeats the words, “It is good.” “But it is good when ships sail upstream…” “But it is good when the net is drawn in and the birds are made fast.” “But it is good when rejoicing is in men’s mouths, and the magnates of the district stand and look on at the jubilation in their houses, clad in fine raiment” The next article will be on “The One God”, and how Egypt was ripe for later accepting Christianity. There will be more on the differences between the official religion and the popular religion. 4
  16. 16. WATANI English Section 2 November 2003 Writer: Hanna / copy editor: Jenny/Samia Word count: 972 + 256 Caption: From left: Anubis escorts the deceased person from the tomb. The heart is placed on one side of the scales and the feather of Ma’at is placed on the other. If the dead person proves to be innocent, the god of wisdom writes down his name, then Horus introduces him or her to Osiris to be rewarded with a place in paradise and eternity. On top of the picture we find the dead person standing before the local gods and goddesses to ascertain whether he has committed any crimes. Tracing the people’s history +In an attempt to trace how modern-day Egyptians finally came to be what they are today, and to refute the controversy that occasionally arises over their origins and the origin of their traditions, ++Watani++ is printing a monthly series on the history of the Egyptian people—as opposed to the widely known ‘official’ history of the rulers of Egypt. The first episode of the series—compiled by +Mr Erian Labib Hanna+ demonstrated, through the slate stela of Narmer, that ancient Egyptians were a mixture of both Hamite and Shemite races. Once the first ‘Egyptians’ established themselves on the banks of the Nile and settled down to an agricultural life, it was natural that they should look around and try to understand their universe. The life-giving sun and the River Nile, both of which dominated their environment and their very existence, and both of which in essence embodied cycles of ‘death’ and ‘rebirth’, were hence the sources upon which the inhabitants’ spiritual and intellectual life was built. Thus the ancient Egyptian religion—based in principle upon the conflict between good and evil and the concept of an afterlife—emerged. In the first popular revolution, commoners claimed their right to immortality just as their rulers did. The pyramid texts—pertaining to the kings—gave way to the sarcophagus texts—pertaining to the commoners—and later mutated into the Book of the Dead. In this episode, Mr Hanna shows that, despite the seemingly polytheistic nature of the Egyptians’ religion, it was in fact a religion of one god.+ 1
  17. 17. The One God Erian Labib Hanna From the attributes of God set forth in Egyptian texts of all periods, Dr Brugsch, de Rouge and other eminent Egyptologists have come to the opinion that, from the earliest times, the dwellers in the Nile Valley actually worshipped One God; albeit that he was nameless, incomprehensible, and eternal. In 1860 de Rouge wrote of “the unity of a supreme and self-existent being, his eternity, his ‘almightiness’,” and the “external reproduction thereby as God; the attributing of the creation of the world and of all living beings to the supreme God; the immortality of the soul completed by the dogma of punishments and rewards: such is the sublime and persistent base which, notwithstanding all deviations and all mythological embellishments, must secure for the beliefs of the ancient Egyptians a most honourable place among the religious of antiquity.” +Infinite and eternal+ Nine years later de Rouge refined this view, addressing the difficulty of reconciling the belief in the unity of God with the polytheism which had existed in Egypt from earliest times. He repeated his conviction that the Egyptians believed in a self-existent God who was one Being, who had created man, and who had endowed him with an immortal soul. In fact, de Rouge amplified what Champollion-Figeac (relying upon information supplied by his brother) wrote in 1839: “The Egyptian religion was a pure monotheism which manifested itself externally by a symbolic polytheism.” Pierret adopts the view that the texts show us that the Egyptians believed in one infinite and eternal God who was without a second, and he repeats Champollion’s dictum. +The One and only+ But the most recent supporter of the monotheistic theory is Brugsch, who has collected a number of striking passages. From these passages we can select the following: “God is one and alone, and none other existeth with Him. God is the One, the One who has made all things. 2
  18. 18. God is a spirit, a hidden spirit, the spirit of spirits, The great spirit of the Egyptians, the divine spirit. God is from the beginning. He hath existed from old, and was when nothing else had being. He existed when nothing else existed. He created after He had come into being. He is the Father of beginnings. God is the eternal One. He is eternal and infinite and endureth for ever and an age. God is hidden and no man knoweth His form. No man has been able to seek out His likeness; He is hidden to gods and men, and He is a mystery unto His creatures. No man knoweth how to know Him: His name remaineth hidden, His name is mystery unto his children. His names are innumerable, They are manifold and none knoweth their number. God is truth and he liveth by truth, and He feedeth thereon. He is the King of truth, and He hath established the earth; Thereupon-God is life and through Him only man liveth. He giveth life to man, He breatheth the breath of life into his nostrils. God is father and mother, The father of fathers, and the mother of mothers. He begetteth, and was never begotten; He produceth, but was never produced; He begot himself and produced himself. He createth, but was never created; He is the maker of his own origin, and the fashioner of His own body— God Himself is existence, He endureth without increase or diminution, He multiplieth Himself millions of times, and He is manifold in forms and numbers. God hath made the universe, and He hath created all that therein is, He is the Creator of what is in this world, and of what was, of what is, and of what shall be. He is the creator of the heavens, and of the earth, and of the deep, and of the water, and of the mountains. God hath stretched out the heavens and founded the earth; what His heart conceived straightway came to pass, and when he hath spoken, it cometh to pass and endureth forever. 3
  19. 19. God is the father of the gods; He fashioned men and formed the gods. God is merciful unto those who revere Him, and he heareth him that calleth upon Him. God knoweth him that acknowledgeth Him, He rewardeth him that serveth Him, and He protecteth him that followeth Him.” +The official religion+ The pyramid texts repeat the doctrine of the official religion, with Ra (the creator) being predominant. Concerning the pharaoh, we find such a text as this: “Soul to heaven, body to earth; the essence is in heaven, thy body to earth.” This text is found during the fifth and sixth dynasties, in the Old Kingdom. +The popular religion+ In the coffin texts and ++The Book of the Dead++ we find this popular religion is predominant, with Osiris taking the place of Ra: In the chapter of “Not dying a second time”, saith Osiris: “Homage to you, O ye lords of right and truth, and ye holy ones who stand behind Osiris.” In order to avoid any misunderstanding concerning the One God, ancient theologians confirmed that: “Ra is Osiris, and Osiris is Ra.” Ra is the creator and Osiris is the Judge. Here, the ordinary man as well as the pharaoh stands before Osiris, with his heart placed in one pan of the scales so that Ma’at, goddess of justice and truth, can weigh it against the feather (representing her virtues) in the other pan. The scholar of Egyptian religion E.A. Wallis Budge, keeper of Assyrian and Egyptian Antiquities at the British Museum, expressed his admiration of our ancestors when he said: “An attempt has been made to illustrate from native Egyptian sources the religious views of the wonderful people who more 5,000 years ago proclaimed the resurrection of the spiritual body and the immortality of the soul." The next article deals with the powers of darkness-Evil 4
  20. 20. WATANI English Section 7 December 2003 Translator: Erian Hanna / copy editor: Jenny/Samia Word count: 1,092 + 269 Tracing the people’s history +In an attempt to trace how modern-day Egyptians finally came to be what they are today, and to refute the controversy that occasionally arises over their origins and the origin of their traditions, ++Watani++ is printing a monthly series on the history of the Egyptian people—as opposed to the widely known ‘official’ history of the rulers of Egypt. The first episode of the series—compiled by +Mr Erian Labib Hanna+—demonstrated, through the slate stela of Narmer, that ancient Egyptians were a mixture of both Hamite and Shemite races. Once the first ‘Egyptians’ established themselves on the banks of the Nile and settled down to an agricultural life, it was natural that they should look around and try to understand their universe. The life-giving sun and the River Nile, both of which dominated their environment and their very existence, and both of which in essence embodied cycles of ‘death’ and ‘rebirth’, were hence the sources upon which the inhabitants’ spiritual and intellectual life was built. Thus the ancient Egyptian religion—based in principle upon the conflict between good and evil and the concept of an afterlife—emerged. And in the first popular revolution, commoners claimed their right to immortality just as their rulers. The pyramid texts—pertaining to the kings—gave way to the sarcophagus texts—pertaining to the commoners—and later mutated into the Book of the Dead. Despite the seemingly polytheistic nature of the Egyptians’ religion, it was in fact a religion of one god, and as, Mr Hanna shows in this episode, its afterlife ‘hell’ is very similar to that of the later Christian religion.+ 1
  21. 21. The power of darkness Erian Labib Hanna In the Dover edition of the Book of the Dead (1976) we read the following: The Egyptians imagined the existence of other powers who presented opposition to the dead, and might be called his enemies. Like so many of the ancient gods, these powers were originally certain forces of nature which were believed to be opposed: darkness to light, and night to day. With darkness and night were also associated the powers that played any part at all in obscuring the light of the sun or preventing it from shining. When the Egyptians personified the powers of nature—that is to say, their gods—they usually gave them human forms and conceived them in their own image, but when they personified opposing powers they gave them the shapes of noxious animals and reptiles, such as snakes and scorpions. As time went on, the moral ideas of good and right were attributed to the former, and evil and wickedness to the latter. +Enemies of the dead+ Although the deceased was identified with Horus or Ra, the victory which the god gained over Set only benefited the spiritual body which dwelt in heaven, and did not preserve the natural body. The enemy of this was the worm, and from earliest times it seems that a huge worm or serpent was chosen by the Egyptians as the epitome of the powers which were hostile to the dead and also of the foe against whom the Sun god fought. Already, in the pyramid of Unas, a long piece of the text contains nothing but formulae to be recited to invoke protection of the deceased from various types of snake and worm. These are exceedingly ancient; indeed, they may safely be said to form one of the oldest parts of the funeral literature of the Egyptians. In later editions of the Book of the Dead and certain Coptic works the dread of the serpent and its being symbolic of physical and moral evil exists among all generations, and their belief in a limbo filled with snakes affected their imagination long after their conversion to Christianity. +Pyramid texts+ 2
  22. 22. The charms against serpents in the pyramid texts of the fifth and sixth dynasties (the Old Kingdom) have their equivalents in the 31st and 33rd chapters of the Book of the Dead, which are found on coffins of the 11th and 12th dynasties (the Middle Kingdom), and in the 18th dynasty (the New Kingdom). We find vignettes in which the deceased is depicted in the act of spearing a crocodile or killing serpents. In the Theban and the Saite versions are several small chapters, the recital of which drove away reptiles. Of these the most important is the 39th chapter which preserved the deceased from the attack of the great serpent Apef or Apep, who is depicted with knives stuck in his folds. During the later dynasties a service was performed daily in the temple of Amen-Ra at Thebes to deliver the Sun god from the assault of this fiend. On each occasion it was accompanied by a ceremony in which a wax figure of Apep was burnt in the fire and the wax melted so the power of Apep was destroyed. +Heart-eater+ The judgment in the Theban edition of the Book of the Dead reveals the belief in the existence of a tri-formed monster, part crocodile, part lion, and part hippopotamus, whom the Egyptians called Am-met, i.e. the eater of the dead, and who lived in Amenta. Her place is beside the scales where the heart is weighed, and it is clear that she was waiting to devour such hearts as failed to balance the feather of Ma-at. In one papyrus she is depicted crouching by the side of a lake. Other examples of evil were the insect Apshai, confounded in other times with the tortoise which dies as Ra lives; the crocodile Sobek, who afterwards became identified with Ra, the hippopotamus, the ass, etc. +Devils of the underworld+ The pyramid texts afford scant information about the fiends and devils with which the later Egyptians peopled certain parts of Tuat (the underworld). The underworld was divided into 12 parts, corresponding to the 12 hours of the night, and this Book professed to afford to the deceased the means whereby he or she might pass through them successfully. In one of these divisions, which was under the rule of the god Seker, the entrance was guarded by a serpent on four legs with a human head, and within were a serpent with serpentine heads, scorpions, vipers and winged monsters of terrifying aspect. Their abode was a vast desert place, and seemingly the darkness was so thick there that it could be felt. In other divisions we find serpents spitting fire, lions, crocodile-headed gods, a serpent that devours the dead, a huge crocodile, and many other reptiles of diverse shapes and forms. 3
  23. 23. From the descriptions which accompany the scenes, it is evident that the underworld was regarded by the Egyptians of the 18th dynasty from a moral as well as from the physical point of view. Apep, the emblem of evil, was here punished and overcome, and here dwelt the souls of the wicked and the righteous, who received the punishment or rewards meted out to them by the decree of Ra and his company of gods. +Hellfire+ The chief instruments of punishment employed by the gods were beatings and fire, which devoured the souls and bodies of the enemies of Ra. The literature of the Copts shows how long the belief in a hell of fire and torturing fiends survived. In the life of Abba Shenuti a man is told that the “executions of Amenti (Am-met) will not show compassion upon the wretched soul.” In the history of Pisentios, a Coptic Bishop of the seventh century, a series of details which reflect the Tuat of the ancient Egyptians in a remarkable manner are depicted. The bishop having taken up his abode in a tomb filled with mummies, they told him stories of being delivered to merciless tormentors who tortured them in a place where there were multitudes of savage beasts; and, when they had been cast into the place of outer darkness, they saw a ditch more than 200 feet deep filled with reptiles, each of which had seven heads, and all their bodies were covered as it were with scorpions. It may appear that the old heathen ideas of the Egyptian Tuat were applied to the construction of the Coptic Hell. The next article will present the Negative Confession. 4
  24. 24. WATANI English Section 4 January 2004 Written by Erian Hanna / copy editor: Jenny/Samia Word count: 278 + 716 Tracing the people’s history In an attempt to trace how modern-day Egyptians finally came to be what they are today, and to refute the controversy that occasionally arises over their origins and the origin of their traditions, ++Watani++ is printing a monthly series on the history of the Egyptian people—as opposed to the widely known ‘official’ history of the rulers of Egypt. The first episode of the series—compiled by +Mr Erian Labib Hanna+—demonstrated, through the slate stela of Narmer, that ancient Egyptians were a mixture of both Hamite and Shemite races. Once the first ‘Egyptians’ established themselves on the banks of the Nile and settled down to an agricultural life, it was natural that they should look around and try to understand their universe. The life-giving sun and the River Nile, both of which dominated their environment and their very existence, and both of which in essence embodied cycles of ‘death’ and ‘rebirth’, were hence the sources upon which the inhabitants’ spiritual and intellectual life was built. Thus the ancient Egyptian religion—based in principle upon the conflict between good and evil and the concept of an afterlife—emerged. And in the first popular revolution, commoners claimed their right to immortality just as their rulers. The pyramid texts—pertaining to the kings—gave way to the sarcophagus texts—pertaining to the commoners—and later mutated into the Book of the Dead. Despite the seemingly polytheistic nature of the Egyptians’ religion, it was in fact a religion of one god, its afterlife ‘hell’ was very similar to that of the later Christian religion, and as, Mr Hanna shows in this episode, a very high value was placed on its morals. The Negative confession Erian Labib Hanna 1
  25. 25. The Egyptians believed that man consisted of a body, soul, intelligence, a double a sekhem (power), a shadow, a spiritual body and a heart. The word ++ka++ means “image”. The ++ka++ seems to have been the “ghost” of a person, as we should say today, and it has been defined on his abstract personality, to which after death, the Egyptians gave a material form. It was a subordinate part of the human being during life, but after death it become active; and to it the offerings brought to the tomb by the relatives of the dead were dedicated—it was believed that it returned to the body and had a share in its re-vivification. The ++khat++ indicated a body which has obtained a degree of knowledge and glory whereby it henceforth became lasting and incorruptible. The body became a ++sahu++ (pronounced sakhu)—or spiritual body—which has the power of associating with the soul and of holding converse with it. In this form it can ascend into heaven and dwell with the gods. +Judgement Day+ The ‘Papyrus of Ani’ depicts the Trial on Judgement Day, when Ani has to address severally the forty-two who are seated in a row in the middle of The Hall of Double Right and Truth. On the right, at the end of the hall, are four small vignettes in which are depicted two seated figures of the goddess of justice Maat, with a feather, emblematic of Right and Truth, on the head, and sceptres and emblems of life in the right and left hands. Also depicted is Osiris seated, wearing the ++atef++ crown and holding in his hands the crook and flail. Before him, by the side of an altar of offerings stands Ani, with both hands raised in adoration. In one scale of a balance, Ani’s heart—symbolising his conscience—is placed, and a feather—emblematic of Right and Truth—is placed in the other. Beside the balance is the tri-formed monster Amemit, ready to eat Ani’s heart if he is found guilty. Thoth, ibis-headed is shown seated on a pylon- shaped pedestal pointing a large feather of Maat. The deceased should utter certain words to separate himself from his sin, and to be able to see god, the lord of mankind. It is to be noted that God with capital ‘g’ denotes the Creator, and the great gods—with small ‘g’—were created by the Creator who was always referred to as “NTR- AA” i.e. the great god.) +The Negative confession+ 2
  26. 26. The confession presented in 42 sentences. They explain the Egyptian morality and they exceed the ten commandments. Ani says: “Hail, those whose strides are long, who comest forth from Annu, I have not done iniquity”. “Hail, thou who art embraced by flame, who comest forth from Rheraba, I have not sobbed with violence. “Hail, Fentin, who comest from Rhemennu, I have not stolen” “Hail, Devourer of the shade, who comest forth from Qernet, I have done no murder; I have done no harm. Ani continues to deny that he had defrauded offerings, minished oblations, plundered the god, spoken any lies, snatched away food, caused pain, or committed fornication. He had not transgressed, caused any shedding of tears, dealt deceitfully, acted guilefully, been an eavesdropper, set his lips in motion [against any man], burned with rage, nor been angry and wrathful except for a just cause. Ani confirms—twice—that he had never defiled the wife of any man, the repetition denoting that the crime was doublefold against the woman and her husband. He denies he ever polluted himself, caused terror, worked grief, acted with insolence, stirred up strife, judged hastily, multiplied words exceedingly, spoke scornfully, stole, filched the food of the infant, or did any harm or ill. He vows he never cursed the king, cursed God, defrauded the offerings of the gods, plundered the offerings to the blessed dead, slaughtered with evil intent the cattle of the god, nor sinned against the gods of his native town. Ani asserts his commitment to a clean environment when he declares that he never fouled the water nor laid waste the ploughed land. He stresses that he had not stopped his ears against the words of Right and Truth. In the next article, the morality behind the negative confession will be tackled. 3
  27. 27. WATANI English Section 1 February 2004 Written by Erian Hanna / copy editor: Jenny/Samia Word count: 280 + 590 Egyptology 8 Tracing the people’s history In an attempt to trace how modern-day Egyptians finally came to be what they are today, and to refute the controversy that occasionally arises over their origins and the origin of their traditions, ++Watani++ is printing a monthly series on the history of the Egyptian people—as opposed to the widely known ‘official’ history of the rulers of Egypt. The first episode of the series which is compiled by +Mr Erian Labib Hanna+ demonstrated, through the slate stela of Narmer, that ancient Egyptians were a mixture of both Hamite and Shemite races. Once the first ‘Egyptians’ established themselves on the banks of the Nile and settled down to an agricultural life, it was natural that they should look around and try to understand their universe. The life-giving sun and the River Nile, both of which dominated their environment and their very existence, and both of which in essence embodied cycles of ‘death’ and ‘rebirth’, were hence the sources upon which the inhabitants’ spiritual and intellectual life was built. Thus the ancient Egyptian religion—based in principle upon the conflict between good and evil and the concept of an afterlife—emerged. And in the first popular revolution, commoners claimed their right to immortality just as their rulers did. The pyramid texts—pertaining to the kings—gave way to the sarcophagus texts—pertaining to the commoners—and later evolved into the Book of the Dead. Despite the seemingly polytheistic nature of the Egyptians’ religion, it was in fact a religion of one god, a very high value was placed on its morals and as, Mr Hanna shows in this episode, it had a lot in common with the Christian faith which followed. The morality behind the Negative Confessions 1
  28. 28. Erian Labib Hanna Ms Jill Kamel who has lived in Egypt and studied its history thoroughly said: “The ethics of the instruction literature appeared in religious texts in the Middle Kingdom in the form of the ‘Negative Confession’.” In fact, nothing can better illustrate the ancient Egyptian morality than this set of negations. +Right and Truth+ The ancient Egyptian enjoyed social justice during the periods of the Great Pharaohs before being defeated and consequently subjugated by foreigners. In the afterlife, there was “Right and Truth” symbolised by the balance in the Hall of Double Right and Truth. Osiris stands with the crook and flail implementing Fair Judgement. The heart—symbolising conscience—is weighed in the balance against the feather of Maat, the goddess of justice. Justice is immediately implemented by the tri-formed monster Amemit who stands by ready to devour the wrongdoer’s heart. +Honouring good+ The Negative Confession revealed the values and manners of the people at that time. They showed respect to their gods as in the confession “I have never cursed God”, their Pharaoh and their fellowmen and women as in “I have done no harm” and “I have not snatched any food”. They honoured love, justice, good manners and family bonds. They hated evil, deceitful behaviour, violence, robbery, and harm to others. The confessions include “I have not caused the shedding of tears”; “I have not dealt deceitfully”; “I have not transgressed”; “I have not acted guilefully”; “I have not set my lips in motion [against any man]”; and “I have not been angry and wrathful except for a just cause”. They did not allow destruction of ploughed land. They abhorred lies, defiling the wives of others, or committing fornication. On the personal level, the ancient Egyptians declared their refusal of any bad conduct in such sentences as “I have not polluted myself”, “I have not burned with rage”, “I have not judged hastily”, “I have not worked grief”, or “I have not stopped my ears against the words of Right and Truth”. +Equal before God+ On Judgement Day, equality was applied to all. There were only the deeds and the balance. There was no difference between the king and the poorest man. All stood before The Judge, the heart on the pan of the 2
  29. 29. scales and the “Maat” feather on the other pan. Even the famous code of laws of Hammurabi, who lived in about 1880 BC, did not regard that equality; the nobles were given special privileges. The ancient Egyptians knew the ++sahu++—prorounced sakhu—or spiritual body, and believed that the soul—the Ba—if good, went to heaven. +Parallel beliefs+ Again, the resemblance to subsequent Christian values is very obvious. Christians believe in the One Creator, and so did the ancient Egyptians, even if each theological school gave him a different name: Ptah, Ra, Khunum, Amun, or any other; he was still the Great God ++Neter- Aha++. The Egyptians believed in Judgement Day and in reward and punishment, and so do the Christians. The Egyptian ++sahu++ is all too similar to the spiritual body mentioned by St Paul. Christianity though added the concept of the Redemption of souls. With this in mind, it may be easy to understand why Egyptians embraced Christianity so readily, and why so many of them willingly died as martyrs of their faith. Just as man possesses a ‘biological clock’ that adjusts the body functions, it appears very plausible that man also possesses some sort of ‘spiritual compass’ that directs the soul towards the Heavens. The next article will review ancient Egyptian culture. 3
  30. 30. WATANI English Section 7 March 2004 Writer: Erian Hanna / copy editor: Samia/Jenny Word count: 671 + 284 Pictures: Handbook to the Bible. PP 291 (A worshipper from Egypt; 153 (Fowling scene); 161 (cattle). Egyptology 9 Tracing the people’s history In an attempt to trace how modern-day Egyptians finally came to be what they are today, and to refute the controversy that occasionally arises over their origins and the origin of their traditions, ++Watani++ is printing a monthly series on the history of the Egyptian people—as opposed to the widely known ‘official’ history of the rulers of Egypt. The first episode of the series which is compiled by +Mr Erian Labib Hanna+ demonstrated, through the slate stela of Narmer, that ancient Egyptians were a mixture of both Hamite and Shemite races. Once the first ‘Egyptians’ established themselves on the banks of the Nile and settled down to an agricultural life, it was natural that they should look around and try to understand their universe. The life-giving sun and the River Nile, both of which dominated their environment and their very existence, and both of which in essence embodied cycles of ‘death’ and ‘rebirth’, were hence the sources upon which the inhabitants’ spiritual and intellectual life was built. Thus the ancient Egyptian religion—based in principle upon the conflict between good and evil and the concept of an afterlife—emerged. And in the first popular revolution, commoners claimed their right to immortality just as their rulers did. The pyramid texts—pertaining to the kings—gave way to the sarcophagus texts—pertaining to the commoners—and later evolved into the Book of the Dead. Despite the seemingly polytheistic nature of the Egyptians’ religion, it was in fact a religion of one god, a very high value was placed on its morals and it had a lot in common with the Christian faith which followed. In this episode, Mr Hanna casts light on the people’s culture. 1
  31. 31. The people’s culture Erian Labib Hanna For a better understanding of the ancient Egyptians, their culture needs to be explored. This includes their literature, wisdom and wise sayings, their customs and way of living, their prayers—which mirror their belief in the Great Creator and Eternity, their philosophy—part of which pertains to religion and the soul, and part of which pertains to social relations including family bonds, legislation and jurisprudence. The intellectual literati included physicians, architects, landed noblemen, craftsmen such as artists and sculptors, and peasant farmers and labourers. +No passive people+ As the history of the people, their beliefs and thoughts are traced, it becomes evident that this was no passive people, in the sense that they were not driven like cattle by their rulers—even their national rulers, the pharaohs. Rather, they took an active role in shaping their thought, their social behaviour, the way of they brought up their children, their popular religion which compelled their pharaohs to stand before Osiris as the Judge on Judgement Day. It is fit to be reminded of the phrase that ‘Ra is Osiris and Osiris is Ra’, which means that the One Creator was also the Judge. +Doubt+ Following is an interesting example of their poetry. In “Songs of the Banquets” there runs a note of doubt about the ‘afterlife’. The lines run: “None comes from thence that he may tell us how they fare, that he may tell us what they need, that he may set our heart at rest? Until we also go to the place whither they are gone.” Is that not similar to what Shakespeare expressed in Hamlet’s monologue: “To be or not to be, That is the question”? Shakespeare’s poem was written about 3,600 years after that song. Hamlet bore the ‘life of suffering’ and did not commit suicide to put an end to his torture. Perhaps this was because he was not sure what kind of life there was after death. No one had returned to tell about it. 2
  32. 32. +Wisdom+ ++Ancient Egyptian Poetry and Prose++ by Adolf Erman quotes a papyrus of the 22nd Dynasty (now in Cairo) written by the scribe Ani. This book is a late imitation of the old books of wisdom, and resembles them in the respect that in it, as in them, a father is propounding his teaching to his son: • Follow my words. • Be prudent in speech. • Be reticent. • Boast not of thy strength. • Found a family. • Be pious. • Be discreet on visits. • Beware of the harlot. • Be reserved in thy conduct. • The true piety is piety towards parents. • Be not a drunk, and • Lead an honest life. • Be mindful of death. • Cautious in social intercourse. • Possessions do not make for happiness. • Be respectful. • Be cautious in speech. • Relations with God. • Be grateful to thy mother. • Eat not bread if another is suffering want. • [On paying visits] Go not freely to a man in his house, but enter in only when thou art bidden. • Keep thyself far from tumults. • Treat thy wife well. • Be careful of women. Go not after a woman, in order that she may not steal thy heart away. • [Behaviour towards superiors] Answer not a superior who is enraged; get out of his way. • Say what is sweet. When he saith what is bitter to anyone, and make calm his heart. • Stand well with the authorities. +Heritage+ 3
  33. 33. Inherited values and morals constitute a people’s heritage. Heritage means Morality, Religion, Family Ties, Beliefs, Philosophy, Hopes, Spiritual Life, National Dignity, and common warm emotions that keep the link throughout the ages strong, consistent, and cohesive. The Family has given Egyptians cohesion and has preserved their culture. Social ties are the great factor behind their strength before the rulers who always tried to annihilate their character or at least deface it. The Egyptian Character stands behind Egyptian Nationalism. The next article will examine prayers and their meanings. 4
  34. 34. WATANI English Section 4 April 2004 Written by Erian Hanna / copy editor: Jenny/Samia Word count: 843 + 282 Egyptology 10 Tracing the people’s history In an attempt to trace how modern-day Egyptians finally came to be what they are today, and to refute the controversy that occasionally arises over their origins and the origin of their traditions, ++Watani++ is printing a monthly series on the history of the Egyptian people—as opposed to the widely known ‘official’ history of the rulers of Egypt. The first episode of the series which is compiled by +Mr Erian Labib Hanna+ demonstrated, through the slate stela of Narmer, that ancient Egyptians were a mixture of both Hamite and Shemite races. Once the first ‘Egyptians’ established themselves on the banks of the Nile and settled down to an agricultural life, it was natural that they should look around and try to understand their universe. The life-giving sun and the River Nile, both of which dominated their environment and their very existence, and both of which in essence embodied cycles of ‘death’ and ‘rebirth’, were hence the sources upon which the inhabitants’ spiritual and intellectual life was built. Thus the ancient Egyptian religion—based in principle upon the conflict between good and evil and the concept of an afterlife—emerged. And in the first popular revolution, commoners claimed their right to immortality just as their rulers did. The pyramid texts—pertaining to the kings—gave way to the sarcophagus texts—pertaining to the commoners—and later evolved into the Book of the Dead. Despite the seemingly polytheistic nature of the Egyptians’ religion, it was in fact a religion of one god, a very high value was placed on its morals and as, Mr Hanna shows in this episode, it had a lot in common with the Christian faith and prayers which followed. 1
  35. 35. Prayers and their meanings The oldest prayer to have survived is a prayer to the sun god in the Pyramids Texts. It addresses the Great God Neter-aha. “May you wake in peace, O purified, in peace May you wake in peace, O Horus of the East, in peace May you wake in peace, O soul of the East, in peace May you sleep in the Night-bark, May you wake in the Day-bark, For you are he who oversees the gods There is no god who oversees you.” (U.573) +One as many+ The effort to unify the sun-worshipping cults by creating a composite deity, alongside evidence of the development of local cults, evinces a movement towards both unity and plurality in the Old Kingdom. There was One God, ++The Great One++, but there were also many other gods. This should not be regarded as contradictory. To establish a politico-religious system the ruling power encouraged local religious identity, and, by promoting a god- king who commanded and possessed divine authority, limited the jurisdiction of the local priests and justified central dominance. “Unity is the purpose, plurality the method,” as Jill Kamil writes in ++The Ancient Egyptians++, p. 46. +Prayers of the oppressed+ Part of the philosophy of these down-to-earth ancient people pertained to religion—the soul, the afterlife, and the Great Creator, while part pertained to social relations such as the family—man, wife and children. Their prayers illustrated their spiritual life and relationship to the Great God, and affirmed their belonging to God. The ++Prayers of One Unjustly Persecuted++ include long laudations of the god, and end by entreating his assistance against a powerful personal enemy who has maliciously deprived the subject of his post. The god was believed to resist this enemy. He was the “Righteous judge that taketh no bribe. Thou helpest the needy but extendest not thine hand to the powerful.” The prayers 2
  36. 36. plead: “Comfort the wretched, O vizier, let him be in favour with Horus of the Palace.” It might be supposed that this man, whose verses schoolboys were set to copy alongside poems dating from the time of Rameses II, was a well known man of letters who had fallen into disfavour. +Writing exercises+ As Adolf Erman wrote in ++Ancient Egyptian Poetry and Prose++, these short poems are preserved for the most part in the form of school writing exercises, and many of the cares and aspirations which they lay before the gods are in accord with their origin. In the first place are those addressed to the celestial colleague and patron of the scribes, Thoth. P305. The ++Prayer to Thoth++ says: “Come to me Thoth, thou lordly ibis, thou god, for whom yearneth Hermopolis. Letter-writer of the nine gods, great one in Unu … come to me that thou mayest lead me, that thou mayest make me cunning in the calling. Fairer is thy calling than all callings; it maketh men great. “Come to me and care for me. I am a servant of thine house. So the multitude of men say: ‘Great things are they that Thoth hath done.’ So will they come with their children in order to brand them for thy office. “A goodly calling, O strong deliverer, and happy is he that followeth it.” +Helpful, kind gods+ Similar prayers were directed to Osiris, Ra the sun-god, and to Amun. People prayed to seek help from the gods and from the Creator, who had different names in the different theological schools. A few sentences from such prayers demonstrate the deep respect of the people to the One God and his company. It is clear that the kings in general were ‘fair and just’, so the people enjoyed social justice during their lifetime, and expected justice on Judgement Day in the afterlife. They prayed to helpful, kind and just gods who were created by the One Creator and to the Creator himself. The people prayed to Osiris: “Thou art the father and mother of mankind, They live in thy breath and they eat of the flesh of thy body. Primordial god is thy name.” And to Ra: “Thou sole and only one, Harakhti, like whom there is no other. Who protecteth millions and delivereth hundreds of thousands. The saviour of him that crieth unto him, the lord of Heliopolis … Punish me not for my many sins. I am one that knoweth not himself.” +The poor overcomes+ 3
  37. 37. And to Amun they prayed: “Amun changeth himself into the vizier—that is, he is also the chief justice—in order to cause the poor man to overcome. It is found that the poor man is justified, and that the poor passeth by the rich … my lord is my protector. Thou Amun, art the lord of him that is silent, one who cometh at the voice of the poor. If I call upon thee when I am in distress, thou comest that thou may deliver me. Thou givest breath to him that is wretched and thou deliverest me that am in bondage.” The next article will deal with the ancient centres of learning. 4
  38. 38. WATANI English Section 2 May 2004 Written by Erian Hanna / copy editor: Jenny/Samia Word count: 281 + 749 Egyptology 11 Tracing the people’s history In an attempt to trace how modern-day Egyptians finally came to be what they are today, and to counteract the controversy that occasionally arises over their origins and the origin of their traditions, ++Watani++ is printing a monthly series on the history of the Egyptian people—as opposed to the widely known ‘official’ history of the rulers of Egypt. The first episode of the series compiled by +Mr Erian Labib Hanna+ demonstrated, through the slate stela of Narmer, that ancient Egyptians were a mixture of both Hamite and Shemite races. Once the first ‘Egyptians’ established themselves on the banks of the Nile and settled down to an agricultural life, it was natural that they should look around and try to understand their universe. The life-giving sun and the River Nile, both of which dominated their environment and their very existence, and both of which in essence embodied cycles of ‘death’ and ‘rebirth’, were hence the sources upon which the inhabitants’ spiritual and intellectual life was built. Thus the ancient Egyptian religion—based in principle upon the conflict between good and evil and the concept of an afterlife—emerged. In the first popular revolution, commoners claimed their right to immortality just as their rulers did. The pyramid texts—pertaining to the kings—gave way to the sarcophagus texts—pertaining to the commoners—and later evolved into the Book of the Dead. Despite the seemingly polytheistic nature of the Egyptians’ religion, it was in fact a religion of one god, a very high value was placed on its morals and, it had a lot in common with the Christian faith which followed. In this episode Mr Hanna reviews the ancient centres of learning. 1
  39. 39. Centres of Learning Erian Labib Hanna The temples of Heliopolis, Sais and Memphis were centres of learning from earliest times, with medicine among the subjects taught. Titles such as Chief of Dental Physicians (Hesi-Ra), Palace Eye Expert, Physician of the Belly, One Comprehending Fluids and Guardian of the Anus (Iri), or Chief Occulist of the Royal Court (Wah-Dwa), support Herodotus’s observation that there were specialists in ancient Egypt in the various branches of medicine. The Ministry of Health, if one can call it that, comprised the Chiefs of Physicians and their assistants. These were not specialists and held the title Inspector of Physicians. The titles “Chief Physician of Upper Egypt” (Ibi) or “Greater Physician of Upper and Lower Egypt” indicate that there was within the medical profession a liaison between the various provinces and the central court. +Third or fourth hand+ Medical papyri, of which there are more than a score, are clear indication of the advancement in medical knowledge from very early times. Through texts dating from the Middle and New Kingdoms it has been established that these copies—sometimes third or fourth hand—of very early texts existed. Archaic grammar and obsolete words point to their antiquity, as do certain references to the Old Kingdom. The Berlin Medical Papyrus, for example, which is known as the Mother and Child Papyrus, bears a statement to say that it had been found underneath a statue near Giza in the time of the Pharaoh Den of the First Dynasty, and that it had been brought to the Pharaoh Sened, who was of the Second Dynasty, “because of its excellence”. The text was signed by “The Scribe of the Sacred Writings, the Chief of the Excellent Physicians, Neterhotep, who prepared the book”, that is, he copied it from the original manuscript. +No witch doctors+ The London medical payrus bears a statement that it was “brought as a marvel to the Majesty of Pharaoh Khufu”. The Edwin Smith Surgical Papyrus, believed to be the earliest of all, might have been a copy of the 2
  40. 40. original manuscript of Djer, the second pharaoh of the First Dynasty, whose book on anatomy survived, according to Manetho, until Graeco-Roman times. This dealt with 48 carefully arranged surgical cases of wounds and fractures, detailing a dispassionate examination of the patient and prescribing cures. No ailment was ascribed to the activity of a demoniac power, and there was very little magic; the ancient Egyptians were not witch doctors who gave incantations but physicians who prescribed healing remedies and operations. Although some of the cures might be considered rather fanciful—such as the extract of the hair of a black calf to prevent greying—others became famous for their virtue in later times. +The doctor’s tomb+ This was a society where educated men sought methods to prolong life. Beliefs in the potency of spells or exorcism undoubtedly existed, especially among the lower classes, along with a belief in magical charms and talismans, but magico-religious medicine as such only flourished in later times. Medical and surgical papyri were undoubtedly compiled at different periods, each adding to the limited knowledge of predecessors. By the Sixth Dynasty there appears to have been a firmly established medical tradition. Mural reliefs provide further evidence of medical practice. Sesa’s tomb at Saqqara, dating from the Fifth Dynasty, is known as the Doctor’s Tomb. +Mummification+ The highly specialised profession of mummification was not perfected until the New Kingdom. Mummification of bodies was performed by priests, as against medicine which was practised by scholars. In the early dynastic period, bodies of the dead placed in the tombs were found to perish more quickly than those protected by warm sand. Since a lifelike appearance was deemed essential for continued existence in the after life, artificial means of preservation had to be sought. Early efforts in the Second Dynasty to accomplish this included modelling the features of the face, the genitals and the breasts in clay. This gave an uncannily lifelike appearance. Subsequently, linen strips dipped in resinous material were moulded on to the shrunken body, the individual fingers carefully wrapped, the body cavities stuffed with linen. Later, the intestines and vital organs were removed, wrapped in linen strips and immersed in a natron solution. This development led to the preservation of the viscera in four canopic jars placed in a box. The earliest found of these belonged to the mother of the Pharaoh Khufu, builder of the Great Pyramid. 3
  41. 41. In the next article, the art and sculpture of the ancient Egyptians will be reviewed. 4
  42. 42. WATANI English Section 6 June 2004 Written by Erian Hanna / copy editor: Jenny/Samia Word count: 858 + 269 Egyptology 12/173 Tracing the people’s history In an attempt to trace how modern-day Egyptians finally came to be what they are today, and to refute the controversy that occasionally arises over their origins and the origin of their traditions, ++Watani++ is printing a monthly series on the history of the Egyptian people—as opposed to the widely known ‘official’ history of the rulers of Egypt. The first episode of the series which is compiled by +Mr Erian Labib Hanna+ demonstrated, through the slate stela of Narmer, that ancient Egyptians were a mixture of both Hamite and Shemite races. Once the first ‘Egyptians’ established themselves on the banks of the Nile and settled down to an agricultural life, it was natural that they should look around and try to understand their universe. The life-giving sun and the River Nile, both of which dominated their environment and their very existence, and both of which in essence embodied cycles of ‘death’ and ‘rebirth’, were hence the sources upon which the inhabitants’ spiritual and intellectual life was built. Thus the ancient Egyptian religion—based in principle upon the conflict between good and evil and the concept of an afterlife—emerged. And in the first popular revolution, commoners claimed their right to immortality just as their rulers did. The pyramid texts—pertaining to the kings—gave way to the sarcophagus texts—pertaining to the commoners—and later evolved into the Book of the Dead. Despite the seemingly polytheistic nature of the Egyptians’ religion, it was in fact a religion of one god, and had a lot in common with the Christian faith which followed. A very high value was placed on its morals, and it supported a high culture of literature and arts. 1
  43. 43. Art and sculpture of the Egyptians Ancient Egypt has handed down to us a heritage of monuments and antiquities which, because of their artistic merits, have been regarded with esteem and appreciation by art connoisseurs the world over. They also reveal the religious beliefs and thoughts of their originators, reflect their nature and feelings, and give an idea about their manners and morals as well as their political and economic activities. Egyptian art was destined to survive for thousands of years, during which it was subject to various impulses and social changes. +Early on+ Remains of a Neolithic culture in Egypt have been discovered at Merimda Beni-Salama, Wadi Hof, Fayoum and Deir Tasa. Although these have common features, they differ in many aspects and details. In Upper Egypt, the Badarians inherited the culture of Deir Tasa. They used copper to make beads and pins. The Badarian culture was followed by those of Naqaada I and Naqaada II, each of which had its own character and peculiarities. The industrial arts made a great advance. Flint working attained an apex never reached elsewhere. In their variety of form and material, the stone vases show a great efficiency of technical dexterity and artistic ability of considerable merit. Metalworking was much improved, and copper tools and weapons increased in number, type, and size. In early times, painting was very much confined to the inner and outer surfaces of certain types of pottery of Naqaada I and Naqaada II, and was carried out in a concise style and on a small scale. The decoration on the pottery of Naqaada is of an ornamental character with straight or almost straight lines in white, together forming, for the most part, geometrical designs of different forms, and sometimes showing representations of animals, or of men hunting or performing rites. +Part of a team+ Mural decoration and sculpture, largely required to fulfil funerary purposes, developed into a highly active industry. Although the sharp, clear outlines of the murals were chiselled with extraordinary delicacy and many of the statues are clearly the work of skilled hands, those that fashioned them were artisans rather than artists and were part of a team. Unfinished tombs provide evidence of the method of mural decoration. A chief artist prepared each surface by separating the different registers with the aid of cords dipped in red paint and subdividing these further 2
  44. 44. into rows or squares. The sections were then filled with figures of men, animals and hieroglyphic characters, each now representing a single activity. It seems probable that there was a common stock of themes from which a nobleman took his choice, for similar scenes are represented in different tombs with a reduction or increase in the number of individuals and the addition of such details as might please the artist. At first the Egyptian sculptors began to fashion figures made of Nile mud or clay. The sculptors kept on modelling the clay until they reached a high degree of excellence, as is evidenced by a pottery figure of the Badarian period. A statue of ivory has also come down to us, but the craftsmanship does not rank with the artistic standard apparent in the pottery figure owing to lack of experience on the part of sculptor in the new material. It is worthy of praise that, in using ivory for its beauty and compactness, he introduced an innovation in figure making that was compatible with the progress and wealth attained by the community at that time and that satisfied the desires of the wealthy and the proud. +The portrait sculptor+ Portrait sculptors were the greatest of the artists in the age of the Old Kingdom. The powerful and lifelike portraits of Khafre and Menkaure, the earliest in the history of art, show fidelity in portraiture and mastery of materials. Khafre had 23 cult statues in his valley temple, only five of which have been found. One of these, carved of diorite, is quite unique. The sculptors frequently gave a striking effect to the faces, especially those made of wood, by inserting pieces of quartz in the eye sockets with a copper stud, which served also as the pupil. All statues show a stress on the faithful reproduction of characteristics. For example, the statue of Khnum-hotep, a dwarf, modelled in refined detail with sturdy legs and corpulent body, is without doubt a masterpiece of realism. There were certain conventional poses: hands to sides, striding forward or seated, and a strict canon of proportions. Standing figures were 19 units high, while the seated figures were 15 units; the feet were the same length as the height of the head and neck, and the distance between the knees and the soles of the feet was twice as long as the feet. Drawing to scale, the artist could accurately enlarge a statue, or a scene. Although the statues in the tombs were fashioned to house the ++Ka++ (spiritual double) of the deceased, it should be mentioned that statuary was not yet a mechanical art, nor was portrait sculpture subjected to the mass production of funerary workshops apparent in later periods. The next article will tackle ancient Egyptian society and Egypt in the Bible. 3
  45. 45. WATANI English Section 4 July 2004 Written by Erian Hanna / copy editor: Jenny/Samia Word count: 565 + 282 Egyptology 13/177 Tracing the people’s history In an attempt to trace how modern-day Egyptians finally came to be what they are today, and to refute the controversy that occasionally arises over their origins and the origin of their traditions, ++Watani++ is printing a monthly series on the history of the Egyptian people—as opposed to the widely known ‘official’ history of the rulers of Egypt. The first episode of the series which is compiled by +Mr Erian Labib Hanna+ demonstrated, through the slate stela of Narmer, that ancient Egyptians were a mixture of both Hamite and Shemite races. Once the first ‘Egyptians’ established themselves on the banks of the Nile and settled down to an agricultural life, it was natural that they should look around and try to understand their universe. The life-giving sun and the River Nile, both of which dominated their environment and their very existence, and both of which in essence embodied cycles of ‘death’ and ‘rebirth’, were hence the sources upon which the inhabitants’ spiritual and intellectual life was built. Thus the ancient Egyptian religion—based in principle upon the conflict between good and evil and the concept of an afterlife—emerged. And in the first popular revolution, commoners claimed their right to immortality just as their rulers did. The pyramid texts—pertaining to the kings—gave way to the sarcophagus texts—pertaining to the commoners—and later evolved into the Book of the Dead. Despite the seemingly polytheistic nature of the Egyptians’ religion, it was in fact a religion of one god, and had a lot in common with the Christian faith which followed. A very high value was placed on its morals, and it supported a high culture of literature and arts. 1
  46. 46. Society in Ancient Egypt Erian Habib Hanna The apex of the social pyramid was the pharaoh. The main function of the pharaoh was to preserve +maat+, the proper order of things. In order to fulfil this function, the pharaoh was also the priest who presented the prescribed offerings to the gods, one of whom was usually the Chief of the Gods. The pharaoh’s power was maintained by constantly increasing number of government bureaucrats. Admission to this elite group was obtained through +education+, which, for the Ancient Egyptian, meant being trained as a scribe. Despite the autocratic nature of Egyptian government, scribal training seems to have been accessible to young boys from every class of society, thus providing a measure of democracy and freedom of opportunity. +The landed gentry+ There was also a class of landed gentry. The bureaucrats, the army and the landowners together formed the middle section of this pyramidal Egyptian society. The base of the pyramid – the largest segment of Egyptian society – was composed of the working class: servants, farmers and craftsmen. They were subject, as well, to being called upon to do forced labour in conjunction with royal projects, although we should probably not imagine that they were the oppressed builders of the pyramids and temples lamented in the in the propagandistic stories of the Biblical Exodus or History of Herodotus. Most Agricultural land belonged to the domains of the crown, the wealthy landowners or the temples, and was cultivated by tenant farmers and serfs. Grants of land were, however, given to individuals for loyal service and to promote economic development. Agricultural taxes were assessed in pharaoh on the basis of the harvest. +The family+ The Egyptians valued the stability of their pyramidal social system, and there are literary protests against the social upheaval that resulted from famine or invasion. It was horrifying to find maidservants wearing the jewellery of their noblewomen and the noblewomen reduced to wearing rags. In pharaonic times as now, Egyptians placed great value on establishing a family. Although no special legal act or ritual ceremony seems to have been 2
  47. 47. associated with marriage, the man was urged to take a woman to be his companion and the mistress of his house, and the mother of his children. Most marriages seem to have been monogamous, although a man might have several wives in succession. +Women+ Both men and women could own property, which they might purchase or inherit, and could leave it to the heirs of their choice. Then, at least from later periods of Egyptian history, we have evidence of legal documents which were drawn up detailing the wife’s property, which was to be returned to her in case of divorce, and requiring the husband to provide sustenance for the children and the determination of the marriage. Women, although they seem not to have been among the literate five to ten per cent of society, had independent legal status, and could enter into contracts. They could not, however, occupy positions in the governmental bureaucracy, which required scribal training. But women did participate in the religious life of the temples as sacred singers and dancers, and even, in later periods, rose to be powerful priestesses at the head of the religious hierarchy. At least in certain historical periods, a man’s right to occupy an office was inherited through his mother’s family. Matrilineal inheritance established legitimacy. The next article will tackle family ties in the Egyptian society 3
  48. 48. WATANI English Section 1 August 2004 Written by Erian Hanna / copy editor: Samia Word count: 295 + 539 Egyptology 14/181 Tracing the people’s history In an attempt to trace how modern-day Egyptians finally came to be what they are today, and to refute the controversy that occasionally arises over their origins and the origin of their traditions, ++Watani++ is printing a monthly series on the history of the Egyptian people—as opposed to the widely known ‘official’ history of the rulers of Egypt. The first episode of the series which is compiled by +Mr Erian Labib Hanna+ demonstrated, through the slate stela of Narmer, that ancient Egyptians were a mixture of both Hamite and Shemite races. Once the first ‘Egyptians’ established themselves on the banks of the Nile and settled down to an agricultural life, it was natural that they should look around and try to understand their universe. The life-giving sun and the River Nile, both of which dominated their environment and their very existence, and both of which in essence embodied cycles of ‘death’ and ‘rebirth’, were hence the sources upon which the inhabitants’ spiritual and intellectual life was built. Thus the ancient Egyptian religion—based in principle upon the conflict between good and evil and the concept of an afterlife—emerged. And in the first popular revolution, commoners claimed their right to immortality just as their rulers did. The pyramid texts—pertaining to the kings—gave way to the sarcophagus texts—pertaining to the commoners—and later evolved into the Book of the Dead. Despite the seemingly polytheistic nature of the Egyptians’ religion, it was in fact a religion of one god, and had a lot in common with the Christian faith which followed. A very high value was placed on its morals, and it supported a high culture of literature and arts. The society was close-knit and enjoyed harmonious relations, especially within the family unit. 1
  49. 49. Family Ties The Egyptian was in all periods of his history a lover of his home and family, and the relations between parents and their children were usually of the most affectionate character. His world was the village where his home was, and his kinsfolk were the only inhabitants of it that counted in his sight. +Lord and lady+ The Egyptian loved his home more than his country. The master of the house—the father and bread-winner—was the most important person in it, but his wife, who bore him children and brought them up was almost more important. She provided for the continuance of his family and preserved his name among the living and safeguarded his property. The wise and prudent mother in Ancient Egypt ruled from inside her house, and her influence was very great, and the more attention she gave to the well-being of her husband and the management of his property and his children, the greater was his power. There is no reason to doubt that women in Egypt held property in their own names and held money invested in business. +Marry, young man+ To found a family and establish a house was held to be the duty of every right-minded man, and the first step towards its fulfillment was +marriage+. The scribe Ani wrote: “Marry a wife whilst thou art a young man, and she will give thee thy son. If thou begetest a son whilst thou art young, thou wilt be able to train him to become a proper man.” How a marriage was “arranged” or brought about in the early period is not known, but we are justified in assuming that the method employed was the same then as it is now. After negotiations, an evening was fixed for the wedding, and the bride was brought to the bridegroom’s house and handed over to the bridegroom. The marriage festival followed the marriage-night, and rejoicing went on for days. Friends and kinsfolk of the bride and the bridegroom were entertained on a scale commensurate with the social position of the parents; animals were slaughtered and the poor were fed, and acrobatic performances and singing and dancing amused the guests. Whether 2
  50. 50. any religious ceremony was performed to consecrate the marriage is not known, but it is likely; nothing has yet been found that can be regarded as a Marriage Office. +Child’s play+ The children of rich and poor alike went about naked during the earliest years of their existence. The children of the rich and well-to-do folk played with balls made of rags, dolls made of wood and rags, and figures of animals, birds, etc., with movable legs and heads; peasants children played with each other, and made friends with cows, goats and pigeons. Even when quite young they helped their elders to tend the cattle and drive them to the canals or water channels to drink, and to keep the goats from straying. Boys were sent to school when they were about four years of age, and the period of their education lasted for ten or twelve years; there is no evidence that schools for girls existed, and it is not probable that they did. The next article will tackle childhood in the Egyptian civilisation. 3
  51. 51. 4
  52. 52. WATANI English Section 5 September 2004 Written by Erian Hanna / copy editor: Jenny/Samia Word count: 293 + 704 Egyptology 15/186 Tracing the people’s history In an attempt to trace how modern-day Egyptians finally came to be what they are today, and to refute the controversy that occasionally arises over their origins and the origin of their traditions, ++Watani++ is printing a monthly series on the history of the Egyptian people—as opposed to the widely known ‘official’ history of the rulers of Egypt. The first episode of the series which is compiled by +Erian Labib Hanna+ demonstrated, through the slate stela of Narmer, that ancient Egyptians were a mixture of both Hamite and Shemite races. Once the first ‘Egyptians’ established themselves on the banks of the Nile and settled down to an agricultural life, it was natural that they should look around and try to understand their universe. The life-giving sun and the River Nile, both of which dominated their environment and their very existence, and both of which in essence embodied cycles of ‘death’ and ‘rebirth’, were hence the sources upon which the inhabitants’ spiritual and intellectual life was built. Thus the ancient Egyptian religion—based in principle upon the conflict between good and evil and the concept of an afterlife—emerged. And in the first popular revolution, commoners claimed their right to immortality just as their rulers did. The pyramid texts—pertaining to the pharaohs—gave way to the sarcophagus texts—pertaining to the commoners—and later evolved into the Book of the Dead. Despite the seemingly polytheistic nature of the Egyptians’ religion, it was in fact a religion of one god, and had much in common with the Christian faith which followed. A very high value was placed on its morals, and it supported a high culture of literature and arts. The society was close-knit and enjoyed harmonious relations, especially within the family unit. 1
  53. 53. Childhood in Ancient Egypt Erian Labib Hanna The circumstances of their natural environment enabled the Egyptians to live in stability and look forward to a secure future, and children were therefore accorded great care and sympathy. They were the delight of the eyes of their parents, who would do their best to bring them up properly. The home was the cradle and first field of education. There the children learnt their first lessons about life and the stability and cohesion of the family unit, which deeply affected the formation of the child’s mentality in the right manner. +Good parenting+ Statues and drawings show us how much parents loved their children and took care of them. We see the father seating his child on his lap or sympathetically taking him by hand, or else kissing him. As for the mother, she is represented tenderly suckling her baby or combing her child’s hair with love and care. It gave the parents great happiness to see their children playing. Indeed it filled them with joy, especially when they accompanied them while hunting and fishing. However much the parents pampered their children and however enamoured of them they were; the children, for their part, loved them very much and respected them as well. Their books are filled with advice given by the philosophers in this respect. The philosopher Ptah-Hotep says: “How marvellous is the obedience of the son who comes and listens. Obedience is the best thing in the world. It is marvellous that the child obeys his father and thus makes him very happy.” The Egyptians also called for loving the mother, having compassion for her and holding her in great reverence, and furthermore they always reminded the children of her favour and the importance of her being pleased with them. The philosopher Ani advised his son: “Double the bread you give your mother and carry her as she carried you. She had a heavy load in you. When you were born after nine months, she carried you yet again about her neck, and for three years her breast was in your mouth; she was not disgusted and she put you to school when you had been taught how to write.” +Work and play+ 2
  54. 54. Housekeeping and taking care of children were the main task of the mother, since she laid the basis for bringing up her child physically and morally. She concerned herself with his health, playing with him lovingly, teaching him the first words and looking after him until he went to school. Parents in Ancient Egypt cared for the health of their children by keeping them clean and protecting them from disease. The father had a role in bringing up his child, teaching him moral principles and good behaviour and sending him to school. Yet entertainment was not neglected. The child enjoyed plenty of time to play, which obviously affected the development of his understanding. We have found many kinds of dolls and toys which the parents gave to their children. Some were moved by threads, like the ‘dancing dwarf’ statuettes, others were small ivory frogs or small wooden crocodiles with moving jaws, while others were in the form of dolls and small dummies made of terra-cotta pottery or wood and usually provided with moving arms and legs. The growing child shared with his friends collective games which had certain rules and were of great educational value in developing both body and mind. As the child grew up and became a boy, he had games suitable to his age, like the 'senet game' and 'snakes and ladders' which is still a popular game today. +Education starts at home+ As the child’s body was given care, his spirit and mind received similar attention. He usually learnt reading and writing at the hands of his parents before going to school, which proves that education started at home and among the family. Parents were very careful to encourage their children to learn and read, and, according to the following quotation, advised them that one of the best occupations was that of a clerk: “The clerk is the only one who manages the business of all people, and [the one] who hates knowledge becomes unfortunate.” The next article will deal with social justice in ancient Egypt. 3
  55. 55. WATANI English Section 3 October 2004 Written by Erian Hanna / copy editor: Jenny/Samia Word count: 298 + 636 Egyptology 16/190 Tracing the people’s history In an attempt to trace how modern-day Egyptians finally came to be what they are today, and to refute the controversy that occasionally arises over their origins and the origin of their traditions, ++Watani++ is printing a monthly series on the history of the Egyptian people—as opposed to the widely known ‘official’ history of the rulers of Egypt. The first episode of the series which is compiled by +Mr Erian Labib Hanna+ demonstrated, through the slate stela of Narmer, that ancient Egyptians were a mixture of both Hamite and Shemite races. Once the first ‘Egyptians’ established themselves on the banks of the Nile and settled down to an agricultural life, it was natural that they should look around and try to understand their universe. The life-giving sun and the River Nile, both of which dominated their environment and their very existence, and both of which in essence embodied cycles of ‘death’ and ‘rebirth’, were hence the sources upon which the inhabitants’ spiritual and intellectual life was built. Thus the ancient Egyptian religion—based in principle upon the conflict between good and evil and the concept of an afterlife—emerged. And in the first popular revolution, commoners claimed their right to immortality just as their rulers did. The pyramid texts—pertaining to the kings—gave way to the sarcophagus texts—pertaining to the commoners—and later evolved into the Book of the Dead. Despite the seemingly polytheistic nature of the Egyptians’ religion, it was in fact a religion of one god, and had a lot in common with the Christian faith which followed. A very high value was placed on its morals, and it supported a high culture of literature and arts. The society was close-knit and enjoyed harmonious relations, especially within the family unit. Social justice reigned. 1

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