Ancient Egypt Pyramids Texts

The Pyramid Texts were funerary inscriptions that were written on the walls of the early Ancient Egyptian pyramids at Sakkara. These date back to the fifth and sixth dynasties, approximately the years 2350-2175 B.C.E. However, because of extensive internal evidence, it is believed that they were composed much earlier, circa 3000 B.C.E. The Pyramid Texts are, therefore, essentially the oldest sacred texts known.

Samuel Mercer was the first to produce a complete English translation of this mysterious text, in 1952. This was also the first complete translation in any language. The Mercer translation was followed by the R.O. Faulkner translation in 1969, which is considered the standard today. However, this does not diminish the usefulness of Mercer’s version, particularly because it has fallen into the public domain and is now available freely online here at sacred-texts, the first complete version of the Pyramid Texts on the Interent. PRODUCTION NOTES: The four volume edition from which this was scanned is today very rare and sells for upwards of $800 on the used market. This etext is the complete text of volume one of this set, and includes the complete Mercer translation of the Pyramid Texts. Volumes 2-4 are commentary by Mercer and others. I do not currently plan to scan the remaining volumes.

I believe that this work is in the public domain in the United States. It will not be in the public domain in the UK or EU until 2022. Here are the facts. Mercer, a Canadian by birth, published this work in 1952. It was published simultaneously in the United States and Canada. Samuel Mercer died on January 12, 1969 at the age of 89. By US copyright law at the time, the copyright should have been registered at the US copyright office in 1952 and renewed in 1980. However there is no evidence that this is the case, based on an extensive search of the online US Copyright Office database. The GATT restoral of 1/1/1996 restored copyrights on foreign works which were not registered properly in the US; however, this does not apply to works simultaneously published in the US and abroad.

–John Bruno Hare, June 2, 2004

Ancient Egypt Civilization & Map

Geography
Where is Egypt located? How did the ancient Egyptians adapt to their environment?
  • Egypt is located on the continent of Africa.
  • The climate in ancient Egypt is very hot and dry.
  • The ancient Egyptians farmed and irrigated the land near the Nile River.
  • The Nile River flows north into the Mediterranean Sea.
  • The Nile River was used by the ancient Egyptians for many things. They fished for food, washed themselves and their clothes, and collected water for irrigation, drinking and cooking. They also traveled by boat around Egypt and into the Mediterranean Sea to trade with other cultures.
  • The land in Egypt is about 90 percent desert. There are grasses along the Nile River. The Nile River floods every year. This flooding brings in rich soil for planting.
Government
Who ruled in ancient Egypt?
  • The ancient Egyptians were ruled by Pharaohs.
  • Pharaohs. were the highest level in ancient Egyptian society.
  • When a pharaoh died, he would be buried in a tomb or pyramid with all of his valuables. It was believed that they would need these things in the after-life.
  • Cats were considered regal and good luck.
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Economics
What did the ancient Egyptian people use to buy and sell goods and services?
  • The ancient Egyptians traded with other cultures like ancient Rome and Greece.
Contributions
A contribution is the act of giving or doing something.
Many of the ancient Egyptians inventions are used today.
  • The ancient Egyptians used hieroglyphics as their written language. Hieroglyphics is writing using pictures to represent different sounds.
  • The Egyptians created the clock and the 365-day calendar we use today.
  • One of the most remarkable architectural structures from ancient Egypt are the Pyramids.

Imhotep, Joseph of Egypt?

About a decade ago, when I was sitting in one of my early art history courses, my professor offhandedly mentioned some speculations that Imhotep, the architect of the Stepped Pyramid at Djoser (ca. 2530-2611 BC, shown right), may have been the biblical figure Joseph of Egypt. I have been quite skeptical of this theory for years, largely because none of my art history textbooks allude to any connection between the two historical figures. For years I have meant to research this topic and see what speculations exist, and I decided that today was the day.

After doing an initial search, I discovered that a lot of people speculate that Joseph and Imhotep are the same person. If you’re curious, you can see two less-scholarly sites here and here. I was surprised to see that someone thinks that the stepped pyramid was actually created to store grain (for the biblical famine associated with Joseph). Seriously? I find that incredibly unlikely.

As I suspected, I couldn’t find any reputable scholars discussing such a topic. It also seems unlikely that Imhotep and Joseph are the same person, since the Djoser pyramid predates Joseph’s arrival into Egypt by about 1,000 years. (You can follow some of the theories regarding Joseph’s historical timeline here).

I also learned a few new things about Imhotep during my research. He seemed like a very interesting and intelligent man. In addition to creating the stepped pyramid at Djoser (the shape of which is seen as the precursor to the sleek angles of the Pyramids at Giza), Imhotep was probably the architect for the step-pyramid complex Horus Sekhemkhet at Saqqara.1 By the Late Period (c. 750-332 BC, which is about two thousand years after Imhotep lived), the architect had achieved the status of a god. As a deified being, Imhotep was associated with medical learning and healing. There are many Late (and Greco-Roman) period statues of Imhotep seated and holding a papyrus scroll (you can see an example here).

If anyone can provide some solid, scholarly evidence to support a connection between the Joseph and Imhotep, I’d be interested in reading it. For now, though, I’ve decided that the apparent lack of connection is for the best. It’s quite awkward to sing, “Go, go, go, Imhotep!” anyway.

1 Nabil Swelim, “Imhotep,” in Grove Art Online. Oxford Art Online, http://www.oxfordartonline.com.erl.lib.byu.edu/subscriber/article/grove/art/T039994. Accessed

King tut’s Gold Throne

I came across this stunning image of from the back of King Tut’s gold throne (left, c. 1332-1322 BC) tonight.  Isn’t it gorgeous? (Click on the image to enlarge it, if you don’t believe me.)  I love the striking, bold colors.  And I especially love that Tutankhamun is depicted with the lil’ Amarna-style belly that his dad popularized in Egyptian art (see the relief Ahkenaten and His Family, c. 1353-1336 BC, for one another example of the Amarna style).

This throne shows Tutakhamun being anointed with perfume by his wife, Ankhesenamun.  I love the fine details in Ankhesanumun’s robe, and I especially love that you can see the outline of her legs beneath the flowing material.  It gives the impression that the material is very lightweight.  (There is a little more information about this throne here.)

Speaking of King Tut, have you seen the reconstruction of his face?  In 2005, National Geographic reported that scientists used 3-D CT scans to reconstruct the first mummy of the ancient pharaoh.  Kinda cool, but also kinda creepy.  Check out this image of the bust on display at the Field Museum in Chicago – it totally reminds me of the heads that the witch Mombi stored in the “Return to Oz” movie. Yikes!

Queen Hatshepsut’s Temple Deir El Bahri

The    Hathor-head capital of a columnBy the banks of the Nile, across the river from Thebes, a three-tiered temple was found beneath hundreds of tons of sand tens of centuries after its construction. The temple is a reflection of the mortuary temple of Mentuhotep II, and was constructed alongside that eleventh-dynasty structure. However, the temple of Hatshepsut is far larger than that of Mentuhotep. The architect was Senmut, Hatshepsut’s lover and a member of her court with more than 20 titles. Senmut designed the temple Continue reading Queen Hatshepsut’s Temple Deir El Bahri

Hatshepsut Poetry : Speak to Me

Poetry
These poems are taken from Hatshepsut, Speak to Me by Ruth Whitman [Wayne SU Press, Detroit: 1992]

Hatshepsut, seated, as female

HATSHEPSUT:

When I was six

my father Thutmose the First

lifted me up to sit beside him

on his throne of Amen. Continue reading Hatshepsut Poetry : Speak to Me