Ancient Egypt: History and culture
Ancient Egyptian tales: A Ghost Story
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A Ghost Story

    ///// [according to] his habit ///// following the advice which ///// had given [to him] ///// [And he ferried across and reached his home. He caused [there to be] made/////[and] all sorts of good things.
    Now, while I was (looking) toward the west, he went up onto the ro[of] /////, [and he invoked] the gods of the sky and the gods of the earth, southern, northern, western and eastern, and (the) gods of the underworld, saying to them: "Send me that august spirit."
    And so he came and said to him: "I am your ///// [who has come to sleep] during the night next to his tomb."
    Then the High Priest of Amun Khonsemhab [said to him: "Please tell me your name], (your) father's [name], and your mother's name that (I) may offer to them and do for them all that has to be done [for one intheir position]."
    Said [that] august [spirit] to him: "Nebusemekh is my name, Ankhmen is my father's [name], and Tamshas is my mother's name."
-   ferried across: Bridges were rare in ancient Egypt
  he went up onto the ro[of]: Houses had flat roofs, often used as additional living space.
  Khonsemhab: A high priest of Amon-Ra with the name of Khonsemhab is known from the reign of Pharaoh Mentuhotep IV of the 11th Dynasty.
  tell me your name: The name was an essential part of a person. No being would be extinct while its name was still spoken.
    Then the High Priest of Amun-Re, King of the Gods, Khons[emhab] [said to] him: "Tell me what you want that I may have it done for you. And I shall have a sepulcher prepared [anew] for you and have a coffin of gold and zizyphus-wood made for you, and you shall /////, and I shall have done for you all that is done for you all that is done for one who is in [your position."
    Said the spirit] to him: "There is none overheated (or passionate) who is exposed (to) winds in winter, hungry without food ///// It is not my desire to flow on like the inundation, no ///// I would not occupy myself with that (simple) to say /////."
    Now after (he) had finished speaking, the High Prient of Amun-Re, King of the Gods, Khonsemhab, sat down and wept beside him with a face (full) of tears ///// the spirit /////, [and he (i.e., Khonsemhab) said to him: "I will remain here] without eating or drinking, without g[rowing old or becoming] young. [I] will not see sunlight nor will I inhale northerly breezes, (but) darkness shall be in [my] sight every day. I will not get up early to depart."
  zizyphus: spina-christi , 5 to 9 metres tall, hard and heavy wood. Its fruit, the jujube or Chinese Date resembles the fruit of the date palm.
  hungry without food: Food offerings, real or virtual, were crucial for the continued well-being of the ka and other parts of a person.
Offerings, tomb of Ti, 5th dynasty
Source: Jon Bodsworth
    Then the spirit said to him: "When I was alive upon earth, I was overseer of the treasury of King Rahotpe, l.p.h., and I was lieutenant of the army, for I used to be at the head of men and (just) to the rear of the gods. I went to rest in year 14, during the summer months, of the King of Upper and Lower Egypt, Men[tu]hotpe, l.p.h. He gave me my four canopic jars and my sarcophagus of alabaster, and he had done for me all that is done for one in my position. he laid me to rest in my tomb (within) its shaft of ten cubits. See the ground beneath has collapsed and dropped away so that the wind blows (there) and seizes a tongue. Now as for your having said to me, 'I shall have a sepulcher prepared anew,' I have it four times (already) that one will act in accordance with them. But what am I to make of such things as you have said to me (once) again in order that all these promises may finally come to pass?"
    Then the High Priest of Amun-Re, King of the Gods, Khonsemhab, said to him: "Please express to me a nice commission such as is fit to be done for you in order that I may have it done for you. Otherwise, I shall (simply) have five men (servants) and five maidservants, totaling ten, devoted to you in order to pour libation water for you and (have) a sack of emmer delivered daily to be offered to you. Moreover, the overseer of offerings shall pour libation water for you."
  King Rahotpe: Unidentified
  l.p.h.: Life, prosperity, health
  my four canopic jars and my sarcophagus: A burial was often the reward for faithful service to the pharaoh: he had done for me all that is done for one in my position. The canopic jars served for the preservation of the inner organs.
Canopic jars, tomb of Tutankhamen, courtesy Jon Bodsworth
Canopic jars from the tomb of Tutankhamen
Source: Jon Bodsworth
  totaling ten: the Egyptians had an obsession for totting up numbers in lists.
    Then the Spirit of Nebusemekh said to him: "Of what use are the things you do? Doesn't a tree grow through sunlight? Doesn't it sprout foliage? (But) stone will never proceed to age; it perishes (only) through /////, /////. [King] [Neb]hepetre, [Son of Re, Mentuhotpe], l.p.h."
    And they [entered] /////. in it. And they explored twenty-five cubits along the king's causeway at Deir el Bahri. Then they went back down [to] the riverbank and they [returned to] the High [Prient] of Amun-Re, King of the Gods, Khonsemhab, and found him offering in the temple of Amun-[Re, King of the Gods]. And he said to them: "Hopefully you have returned having discovered the excellent place for making the name [of that spirit] called [Nebusemekh] endure unto eternity."
    Then the three of them said to (him) all together: "We have discovered the excellent place to [make the name of the spirit endure]."
    And so they sat down before him and made holiday. His heart began to rejoice when they said: ///// [when] the sun came up from the horizon.
    Then he called the deputy of the estate of Amun Menkau, [and he informed him] about his project.
    He returned at evening to spend the night in Ne, and he /////ed /////

Source: Alan H. Gardiner Late-Egyptian Stories

  Nebhepetre:Mentuhotep II (c. 2040-2010 BCE)
  Deir el Bahri: Site of Mentuhotep II's temple called Akh Sut Nebhepetre in Thebes
  Amun-Re, King of the Gods: Amun-Re became the chief deity during the New Kingdom


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November 2003