The Kamose inscriptions
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Map of Egypt

Kamose Inscriptions

First Kamose stela

"Regnal year 3 of Horus, he who has appeared on his throne; The-Two-Ladies, repeating monuments; Horus-of-Gold, who pacifies the Two Lands, King of Upper and Lower Egypt [Wadj]-Kheper-[re, son of Re] Kamose, given life, beloved of Amenre lord of the Thrones of the Two Lands, like Re forever and ever! A mighty king native of Wese, Wadj-[kheper]-re, given life forever, even a good king! It is Re [that made] him king himself, and that authorized victory for him in very Truth!
D. Redford, Textual Sources for the Hyksos Period, Oren, pp.1ff.
  The stelae are purported to have been erected by Kamose himself (cf. the end of the second stela).
The inscription of the first stela begins with the full pharaonic titulary: Horus name, Two Ladies name, Golden Horus, the king's name and the given name.
-Two Ladies: Nekhbet and Wadjet, the Crown Goddesses of Upper and Lower Egypt
-Wese: Waset, Thebes
-Wadjkheperre: Kamose
His majesty spoke in his palace to the council of nobles who were in his retinue: 'Let me understand what this strength of mine is for! (One) prince is in Avaris, another is in Ethiopia, and (here) I sit associated with an Asiatic and a Negro! Each man has his slice of this Egypt, dividing up the land with me.
None can pass through it as far as Memphis (although it is) Egyptian water! See he (even) has Hermopolis!
No man can settle down, when despoiled by the taxes of the Asiatics. I will grapple with him, that I may rip open his belly! My wish is to save Egypt and to smite the Asiatic!
-nobles: Redford: magistrates, Gardiner: grandees
-Avaris: capital of the Hyksos in the eastern Delta, today's Tell ed-Dab'a
-Ethiopia: Kush. The Hyksos and Kushites attempted to form an alliance against the Thebans, see below.
-rip open: Redford: crush
-and to smite the Asiatic: Redford: which the Asiatics have destroyed
Then spake the magistrates of his council: 'See, as far as Kos it is Asiatic water, and they have drawn out their tongues of one accord. We are doing all right with our (part of) Egypt: Elephantine is strong, and the interior is with us as far as Kos. Their free land is cultivated for us, and our cattle graze in the Delta fens, while corn is sent for our pigs. Our cattle have not been seized, and /// have not been tasted. He has the land of the Asiatics, we have Egypt. Only when comes one who [acts against us] should we act against him.'
But they troubled His Majesty's heart. 'As for your counsel /// [op]posite me. He who partitions the land with me will never respect me /// the Asiatics who /// with him. I will sail north to engage the Asiatics and success will come! If he intends to be at ease in /// his eyes weeping and the entire land!'
-as far as Kos it is Asiatic: Lower Egypt and much of Middle Egypt was in the hands of the Hyksos. Kos: Cusae
-Elephantine: the southernmost city of Egypt.
The Mighty Ruler in Thebes, Kamose the Strong, protector of Egypt:
I went north because I was strong (enough) to attack the Asiatics through the command of Ammon, the just of counsels. My valiant army was in front of me like a blast of fire. The troops of the Madjoi were on the upper part of our cabins, to seek out the Asiatics and to push back their positions. East and west had their fat, and the army foraged for things everywhere. I set out a strong troop of the Madjoi, while I was on the day's patrol /// to him in /// Teti, the son of Pepi, within Nefrusi. I would not let him escape while I held back the Asiatics who had withstood Egypt. He made Nefrusi the nest of the Asiatics. I spent the night in my boat, with my heart happy.
When day broke, I was on him as if it were a falcon. When the time of breakfast had come, I attacked him. I broke down his walls, I killed his people, and I made his wife come down to the riverbank. My soldiers were as lions are with their spoil, having serfs, cattle, milk, fat and honey, dividing up their property, their hearts gay.
Pritchard, pp.232-233. Carnarvon Tablet I.
The district of Nefrusi came down (in submission): it did not take us long until its /// was hemmed in [?] [unknown location] was deserted when I approached it. Their horses had fled inside, and the border patrol /// those who had spent the night in the valley, their property ////.
-Ammon: Amun, Amen, god of Thebes, his priesthood rose to power during the New Kingdom
-Madjoi: Medjay, mercenaries of Nubian origin, constituted much of the Egyptian constabulary
-push back their positions: Redford: destroy their places
-had their fat: Redford: proferred their abundance
-I was on the day's patrol /// to him in /// Teti: Redford: I passed the day in [?] in order to invest [?] Tety
-Nefrusi: town north of Khmunu (Hermopolis magna) in the 15th nome of Upper Egypt
-while I held back: Redford: once I had repelled
-having serfs: Redford: chattels
-time of breakfast: Gardiner:time of perfuming the mouth (i.e. midday meal)

Second Kamose stela

'Bad news is in your town: you are driven back in the presence of your army, and your authority is restricted - inasmuch as you, in your capacity as suzerain, have made me a chief - so that (now) you must (even) beg for the block where you shall fall. Look behind you! My troops are a threat behind you. The mistresses of Avaris shall not conceive, their hearts shall not budge in the midst of their bodies, when the war-whoop of my troops is heard!'
I put in at Per-djedken, my heart happy, so that I might let Apopy experience a bad time, that Syrian prince with weak arms, who conceives brave things which never come about for him! I arrived at Yenyet-of-the-southward-journey, and I crossed over to them to greet them. I put the fleet (already) equipped in order, one behind the other, in order that I might take the lead, setting the course, with my braves, flying over the river as does a falcon, my flag-ship of gold at their head, something like a divine being at their front. I made the might transport boat beach at the edge of the cultivation, with the fleet behind it, as the sparrow-hawk uproots (plants) upon the flats of Avaris! -Per-djedken: unknown locality
-Apopy: the last Hyksos king to rule considerable parts of Egypt, generally referred to as Apophis I.
-Yenyet-of-the-southward-journey: unknown locality, according to Ryholt (pp. 172ff.) in the Upper Egyptian nome of Cynopolis, nowhere near Avaris.
-flats of Avaris: Da.wt Hw.t war.t, often supposed to be in the eastern Delta, but according to Ryholt (p.173) in the Upper Egyptian nome of Cynopolis, which means that Kamose never even threatened the Lower Egyptian power base of the Hyksos.
I espied his women upon his roof, peering out of their windows towards the harbor. Their bellies stirred not as they saw me, peeping from their loop-holes upon their walls like the young of jnH-animals in their holes, saying: 'He is swift!' -jnH: possibly a small rodent.
Behold! I am come, a successful man! What remains is in my possession, and my venture prospers! As mighty Amun endures, I shall not leave you, I shall not allow you to tread the fields even when I am not (here) with you! Does your heart fail, O you vile Asiatic? Look! I drink of the wine of your vineyards which the Asiatics whom I captured pressed out for me. I have smashed up your resthouse, I have cut down your trees, I have forced your women into ships' holds, I have seized [your] horses; I haven't left a plank to the hundreds of ships of fresh cedar which were filled with gold, lapis, silver, turquoise, bronze axes without number, over and above the moringa-oil, incense, fat, honey, willow, box-wood, sticks and all their fine woods - all the fine products of Retenu - I have confiscated all of it! I haven't left a thing to Avaris to her (own) destitution: the Asiatic has perished! Does your heart fail, O you vile Asiatic, you who used to say: 'I am lord without equal from Hermopolis to Pi-Hathor upon the Rekhty water. (As for) Avaris on the Two Rivers, I laid it waste without inhabitants; I destroyed their towns and burned their homes to reddened ruin-heaps forever, because of the destruction they had wrought in the midst of Egypt: they who had allowed themselves to hearken to the call of the Asiatics, had forsaken Egypt, their mistress! -Retenu: the southern Levant, Canaan
-Rekhty water: according to Mendes and Environs in the Middle Kingdom by D. Redford (Der Manuelian, p.682) the pHw (i.e. marshlands) of the nome of Mendes
-because of the destruction they had wrought: apparently a case of the victor rewriting history in order to justify his actions. Until the attacks of the Thebans on their northern neighbours Egypt was mostly at peace.
I captured his messenger in the oasis upland, as he was going south to Kush with a written dispatch, and I found on it the following, in writing by the hand of the Ruler of Avaris: '[?] son of Re, Apophis greets my son the ruler of Kush. Why have you arisen as ruler without letting me know? Do you see what Egypt has done to me? The Ruler which is in her midst - Kamose-the-Mighty, given life! - is pushing me off my (own) land! I have not attacked him in any way comparable to all that he has done to you; he has chopped up the Two Lands to their grief, my land and yours, and he has hacked them up. Come north! Do not hold back! See, he is here with me: There is none who will stand up to you in Egypt. See, I will not give him a way out until you arrive! Then we shall divide the towns of Egypt, and [Khent]-hen-nofer shall be in joy.'
Wadj-kheper-Re, the-mighty-Punisher-of-Misdeeds.
-[?] son of Re: Gardiner: I, Awoserre, the son of Re,
-Kamose-the-Mighty, given life!: wording unlikely to have been used by Kamose's enemy, Apophis.
-I have not attacked him in any way comparable to all that he has done to you; he has chopped up the Two Lands to their grief: Gardiner: I have not reached him - after the manner of all that he has done against you, he choosing the two lands to devastate them
-Khent-hen-nofer: Nubia. Only a few years later Ahmose I invaded Nubia and, in the words of Ahmose, son of Abana, made a great slaughter among them.
'I took possession of both deserts and the southland, and the rivers likewise, and no way was found for the ?(?). I am never lax concerning my army - the concerned man has not diverted attention - He feared me even when I was sailing north, before we had fought, before I reached him! When he saw my flame he beat a path as far as Kush to seek his deliverer. (But) I seized it en route and did not let it arrive. Then I had it taken back that it might be returned to him again, and released on the east side at Atfih. My victory astounded him and his limbs were wracked, when his messenger related to him what I had done to the district of Cynopolis which had been his possession. I despatched my strong battalion which was on the march to destroy Djesdjes (while I was in Sako), to prevent (any) enemy forces being behind me. So I fared south confident and happy, destroying all the enemy who were in my way!' -Atfih: in the northernmost (twenty second) Upper Egyptian nome
-Cynopolis: Hardai, in the 17th Upper Egyptian nome, centre of Anubis worship
-Djesdjes: oasis famed for its wine: Wine is trodden from the vines of this city (Memphis), it being more abundant than (that of) Djesdjes. (Torok, p.82)
-Sako: or Saka, important town in the 17th Upper Egyptian nome, possibly harbouring a temple of Bata.
What a happy home-trip for the Ruler, life! prosperity! happiness!, with his army ahead of him! They had no casualties, nor did anyone blame his fellow, nor did their hearts weep! I moored on home soil during the season of Inundation; everyone was bright-eyed, the land had abundant food, the river-bank was resplendent! Thebes was festive, women and men had come out to see me; every woman hugged her neighbor, no one was tearful. [Amun's] incense (burned) in the sanctuary, at the place where it is said: 'Receive good things!' as he grants the scimitar to the son of Amun, life! prosperity! happiness!, the enduring king Wadj-kheper-re, son of Re, Kamose-the-mighty, given life, who subdued the south and drove back the north, who seized the land by main force - given life, stability, dominion and happiness with his ka like Re forever and ever!
His Majesty commanded the hereditary prince and count, master of privy matters of the king's-house, chief of the entire land, the seal-bearer of the king of Lower Egypt of (?) 'Star-of-the-Two-Lands', the dux, overseer of courtiers, overseer of the seal, User-neshi: 'Have everything that My Majesty has done in war be put upon a stela, and have it set in Karnak in Thebes forever and ever.'
Then he replied to His Majesty: 'I will perform every assignment to the satisfaction of the king.'
D. Redford, "Textual Sources for the Hyksos Period," in Oren, pp.1ff
-count: often used in translations to refer to a nomarch.
-dux: Latin for military leader.
-User-neshi: also Neshi, admiral, who received land near Meidum for his services under Ahmose I, cf. Inscription of Mes: A land dispute
Nicholas Grimal, A History of Ancient Egypt 1992
E.D. Oren, (ed), The Hyksos: New Historical and Archaeological Perspectives, Philadelphia: 1997
James B. Pritchard, ed., Ancient Near Eastern Texts. Princeton, 1969
K. S. B. Ryholt, Adam Bülow-Jacobsen, Political Situation in Egypt During the Second Intermediate Period C1800-1550 BC, Museum Tusculanum Press 1997
Laszlo Torok, The Image of the Ordered World in Nubian Art, Brill Academic Publishers 2001
Peter Der Manuelian, ed., Studies in Honor of William Kelly Simpson, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston 1996

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