Ancient Egypt: Inscription of the royal scribe Amenhotep
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Statue of the royal scribe Amenhotep
Source: W.M.F. Petrie Tarkhan I and Memphis V 
Inscription of the royal scribe AmenhotepThe first ten lines of the inscription of the royal scribe Amenhotep who served under Amenhotep III (c. 1402-1364), taken as paper squeezes from his statue.
Source: W.M.F. Petrie Tarkhan I and Memphis V 
|(1) (This statue was) given as a favour [from the King] (and placed) in the House of Nib-mu-re (named) "United-with-Ptah" which his Majesty newly made (of (?) his father [Ptah South-of-his-Wall in his] cultivated land west of Het-ke-Ptah; on behalf of the hereditary prince and toparch, treasurer of the King of Lower Egypt, loved of the Lord of the Two Lands, (3) great [in his rank and exalted in his office], a magistrate at the head of the King's notables, the eyes of the King of Upper Egypt and the ears (4) [of] the King of Lower Egypt, //////// [well-acquainted] with the way to the Palace, the mouth that gives satisfaction in the Royal dwelling place, excellent of (5) speech (?) //////// the veritable scribe of [the King] beloved of him, Amenhotep.||
King: Amenhotep III (Nebmaatre) (1402-1364)
South-of-his-Wall: The earliest temple of Ptah, city god of Memphis, was south of the city often called Anbu, (jnbu: walls), itself.
cultivated land: lit. ground liable to be inundated (Gardiner)
Het-ke-Ptah: H.t-kA-ptH, Funerary temple of Ptah, i.e. Memphis, (whence Aigyptos - Egypt)
toparch: The ruler of a place (or country)
I speak to your worships, (6) ye who are yet to come into being, [men] of the future [who shall live] upon earth. I served the Good God, the I joyful (?)] prince, (7) the King of Upper and Lower Egypt Nib-mu-re, when I was young and without kindred (?).
When I was grown old and /////(8) //////, I entered into the Palace when he was in private, so as to behold Horus in this his house: and the nobles walked behind (?). (9) He gave me marks of favour on account of my excellent demeanour, and promoted me [to be] Chief Steward, and my stick was on the heads of the people. I became wealthy (10) in serfs, cattle and possessions of all kinds without a limit, and [there was nought] to be desired, by (11) the favours of the Lord of the Two Lands Horus Kha-m-maet I performed Right [for /////// ] Re, for I knew that (12) he lives thereon; my abhorrence was [false]-speaking.
The Good God, Horus: Epithets of the Pharaoh.
He gave me marks of favour on account of my excellent demeanour....: The Egyptian "civil service" was to some extent meritocratic.
stick: Staff of office, quite possibly more than a mere symbol.
serfs: peasants, apparently passed on with the land, but it is unclear whether they were really bound to the soil they worked. (cf. Slavery)
Kha-m-maet: Appearing in truth
Right .... he lives thereon: The prime purpose of the king was upholding Maat.
|He promoted me (13) to direct the constructions in his House of Millions of Years, which he newly made in his cultivated land west of Het-ke-Ptah (14) in the district (?) of Enkh-toue - it was his father Ptah who /////// and waited (??) - (15) as a monument for his father Ptah in excellent eternal work in white stone of Ain. Its beauty was as the horizon of heaven; all its doors were of cedar of the Terraces, of the choicest of Gau, (16) wrought with gold from the desert, refined gold, and all kinds of precious stones. (Its) halls and (its) gateways were of ///////; a great /// of everlasting work as a rampart (17) of fortifications. Its lake was dug, and planted with trees, and made radiant with every kind of precious wood of the choicest of the Divine Land. Its vessel-stands [were of] silver and gold ///// and all manner of hard stones.||
House of Millions of Years: Gardiner: Funerary temple, such as the Ramesseum - The House of Millions of Years of Ramesse-miamun in the estate of Amun... The epithet implies that the temple belongs to those known as funerary temples, a Memphite counterpart of the great edifice which Amenophis III built at Thebes...
Enkh-toue: Ankh-tawy, Memphis
white stone of Ain: Limestone of Ayan. Under Senusret I the vizier Mentuhotep conducted the work in the temple, built of stone of Ayan
cedar of the Terraces Cedars from the mountain slopes in Lebanon. Frequently used expression: a barge ..... of new cedar of the best of the terraces (Ahmose I, Karnak Stela)
|(18) Now when these constructions had been completed in beauteous fashion, his Majesty instituted new divine offerings consisting of daily oblations to his father Ptah South-of-his-Wall and to the gods of [his] House; (19) they being supplied with food for ever. And he appointed web priests and prophets of the children of the magnates of Inbu, and appointed fields and cattle, field-labourers and herdsmen [from the] (20) spoils of his Majesty which he had brought back from every land. All the offices of this temple his Majesty filled right well, and it was his Majesty who performed it (thus) worthily and lovingly (??).||
web-priest: wab-priest, from wab pure, purify, the "pure" ones
Inbu: jnbw (Walls) or jnbw-HD (White Walls), Memphis
(21) ///// And his Majesty caused this House to contribute provisions (?) to the House of Ptah in all its statutes even as the Houses of the Kings of Upper and Lower Egypt which are beside his father Amon in the Southern City; it being controlled by every steward of the King (23) ////// its bread for ever.
Now behold, I appointed property by written deed out of my fields, my serfs and my cattle on behalf of the statue of Nib-mu-re whose name is //// (23) which his Majesty [had made] for his father Ptah in this sanctuary. Specification of the same: -
Fields, 210½ acres.
In the Northern Province fields 220 acres, of what had been given to me by the favours of the King.
Total, fields, [430½] acres.
[in addition to ////// ] (24) ////// 10 ////// 1000 egg-laying geese, 1000 pigs, 1000 young (?) pigs.
Southern City: Thebes
I appointed property ....: Amenhotep received lands from the king to institute offerings for him.
pigs: Pigs seemingly were not part of funerary offerings but served to enable their continued performance.
Total, fields: The ancient Egyptians had an obsession with summing up items in lists. (see also below total, various kinds of offering-bread)
His Majesty praised me on account of it; inasmuch as I appeared excellent in his heart. I attained a venerable age in the favour of the King, and I delivered up (my) bodily frame (?) to the sarcophagus after a lengthy old age; I became united with my tomb [in the Necropolis //////]. (25) My [respect] was with the courtiers, my love with all men, and my favour was established in the Palace.
His Majesty gave to me divine offerings of that which had gone up before his processional statue in his House "United with Ptah" [which he made in (26) his cultivated land west of Het-ke-Ptah. When moreover the god has sated himself with his possessions and this statue (also) has received its meals then provisions shall be caused to go up before this humble servant by the hand of the lector who is in his house, and the web-priest of the hour shall make offering //// (if) ///// [according to the] ritual in the course of every day.
bit-cakes (amount used in cooking 30), 20 cakes;
bit-cakes (amount used in cooking 40), 30 cakes;
bit-cakes (amount used in cooking 100), 100 cakes;
persen-cakes (amount used in cooking 30), 20 cakes;
persen-cakes (amount used in cooking 40), 30 cakes;
total, various kinds of offering-bread, 200.
Beer (28), (amount used in brewing 30), 10 Jars;
lard (?) 2 jars (?);
one fore-leg of every bull that is delivered in (29) this House;
wine, 1 hin ;
milk, one pail;
cakes (30) of white bread, 2;
ordinary geese, 1;
vegetables, 6 bundles;
provisions shall be caused to go up before this humble servant: The offerings were passed on to Amenhotep's ka after the king's ka had had its fill. Ultimately they fell to the lector priest and the wab-priest performing the ceremonies.
hin: about half a litre
(31) (Thus) say I:
Listen, ye web-priests, lectors and prophets of "United with Ptah" and every steward of the King (32) who shall exist hereafter in Inbu. His Majesty has given to you (33) bread and beer, meat and cakes, and all manner of goodly things to nourish you in (34) his House "United with Amon" in the course of every day. Do not covet (35) my provisions which my own (?) god decreed for me so as to do me (36) honour at my tomb. I have not made mention of more than my own belongings I have not demanded aught (37) over and above; for as much as I appointed property by written deed for this statue of the King which is in (38) this House in exchange for his giving to me divine offerings of the offerings that come in and go up (39) before his processional statue after the ritual sacrifice has been made, so as to establish my provisions (40) for future generations yet to come.
Do not covet my provisions: Apparently the priesthood had a tendency to appropriate offerings.
god: the king
honour: Lit. to pour water for me (Gardiner)
|For I was a man (41) just upon earth, of whom his god knew that he would increase his beauty, one who acted well to the servants (42) of his house. I drove no man from his rank. I cheated (43) none other of his possessions. I took not away the possessions of others by fraud. My abhorrence (44) was cheating.||
one who acted well to the servants: cf. The Negative Confessions
|This I say too further. Every steward of the King whom there shall be in Memphis, every scribe, every lector, and every web-priest of this House, the lay-priests of the entire temple, (45) and whomsoever there shall be in this House who shall hinder my provisions which Ptah South-of-his-Wall decreed, (even) my noble god who lives upon truth and who fashioned his own form, of that which the King Nib-mu-re gives to me so as to make offering to me at my tomb by reason of the greatness of my favour with him; (such a one) shall this (46) noble god visit with his displeasure; his office shall be taken away before his face, and given to a man who is his enemy; his ka shall be absent from him, his house shall fall to the ground.||
his office shall be taken away before his face...: Not only shall he lose his office and the favour of the king, but his heir shall not inherit it either
his ka shall be absent from him: This unusual phrase seems to mean: his needs and appetites shall not be satisfied (Gardiner)
But every steward of the King whom there shall be in Inbu, every scribe, every lector and every web-priest of this (47) House, the lay-priests of the entire temple, and whomsoever there shall be in this House who shall grant my provisions to the lector who is in my home in the course of every day; him shall this
noble god praise; he shall pass his life in peace and without strife; he shall [attain] (48) a venerable age and hand on his office to his children after a prolonged old age; all his years shall be happy and without sorrow, his name shall be good among men, and no evil shall come upon him.
For I was (49) a man just and equitable upon earth. I gave bread to the hungry, water to the thirsty. I did that which men are pleased (withal) and that which the gods praise.
Translated by Alan H. Gardiner
hand on his office to his children: Offices were treated very much like property. They could even be split up among a number of heirs.
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