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Ancient Egypt: Inscriptions at the goldmines of Rhedesieh and Kuban
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Inscriptions at the goldmines of Rhedesieh and Kuban

Rhedesieh inscriptions- Relief from the first chamber of the desert temple at Rhedesieh.
Source: Lepsius [1]

Inscription of Seti I at Rhedesieh

1The 9th year the 28th day of the month Tybi, of the reign of the living Ra, Haremkhu, the Strong Bull, crowned in Uas, giving life to the Upper and Lower country. Lord of the vulture and uraeus diadem, the Born again, the prevailing scimitar, pursuer of the Nine bows, the Golden Hawk, repeater of diadems, strong over the bows of all countries, the King of Upper and Lower Egypt, Ra-ma-men, Son of the Sun, Seti, Beloved of Amen, Ever living.
That day the King was engaged about the countries situated on the side of the mountains, his heart wished 2 to see the mines whence the gold is brought. When the King went up there with those acquainted with the water courses ////// he made a halt on the road to meditate quietly in his heart, he said (there is) no road, without water it is a place 3 where travellers succumb to the parchings of their throats. Where is the place that they can quench their thirst? the country is distant, the region is vast. The man overtaken by thirst cries out "Land of perdition."
They come 4 to acquit towards me their obligations, I will make for them the action of allowing them to live. They will offer a worship to my name in the course of years: they will come and their generations to come will be as charmed as I am on account of my power, for I am regarding the ////// 5 of those around me.
When the King had said these words in his heart, he elevated himself in the country seeking a place to make there an august sanctuary containing a god, to render worship, and address prayers to him. He was pleased to assemble the workmen 6 working the stone to establish there a cistern on the mountains in the desire of sustaining the fainting, in supplying him fresh water at the time of heat, in summer. Then he founded this place in the great name of Ra-ma-men. 7 The water came there in great abundance like the abime of Kerti of Abu.
- Lepsius, Denkmäler aus Aegypten und Aethiopien, Abth. III Bl.140, depiction b
- The 9th year the 28th day of the month Tybi: approximate Julian date: 12th December 1282 BCE
- Haremkhu: Harmakhis
- Uas: Thebes
- vulture and uraeus: the goddesses of Upper and Lower Egypt
- Nine Bows: the traditional enemies of Egypt
- Ra-ma-men: Menmaatre, Seti I (c.1318-c.1304)
- mines: most gold mines were located in the eastern mountains
- water courses: Rainfall is very rare in the north of Egypt, and even rarer further south. The occasional downpours run off down the wadis into the Nile, and little water is absorbed by the hard-baked soil. Such flashfloods have caused great damage in many of the tombs in the Valley of the Kings for instance.
His Majesty said: "The god has heard my prayers, the water has come to me out of the mountains by the gods, the road which wanted water is made excellent during my reign, 8 (it) does good to the pasturages of the shepherds. The king doubled the length of the land every time he extended his arms ////// It suits my heart by order of god to establish a town and an august 9 sanctuary in the midst of it, a town containing a temple, and I will construct the sanctuary in this place in the great name of my fathers the gods, who have made my words firm, and my name prosperous going round the nations."
Then His Majesty ordered 10 that orders should be given to the superintendent of the royal masons who were with him and the sacred sculptors: it was made in an excavation in the mountain, a temple thus ////// The god Ra was placed in his sanctuary, Ptah and Osiris in the great hall, Horus, Isis and Ra-ma-men as parhedral gods 11 in this temple. When the monument was finished the King came to adore his fathers, the gods.

Second inscription at Rhedesieh

- Kerti: Locks, caverns, holes, perhaps a well or wells, where the Hapi, or source of the Nile, was thought to be. (Birch)
- Abu: Elephantine
1 The King of Upper and Lower Egypt Ra-men-wa, Son of the Sun, Seti, Beloved of Ptah says to his fathers, Kings of Upper Egypt, Kings of Lower Egypt, Rulers, mortals: "Oh listen to me, Superintendents of troops of Tameri! I call on you to hear 2 the joyous things I call you ////// I have loved each of your turns has been recompensed as if you were gods, all has been reckoned by me as the company of the gods. Lepsius, Denkmäler aus Aegypten und Aethiopien, Abth. III Bl.140, depiction c
- troops: Bowmen, mercenaries
- Tameri: Beloved land, i.e. Egypt
I have said this at the return of my convoyers, of the washers of gold to my temple, that it should be brought 3 to the temple of (Amen) ////// my temple. Gold are the limbs of the gods not after yours. Ye are ////// ye say the words of the Sun at his beginning to say: My tint is of pure gold like Amen, the Lord of my temple 4 the name ////// his two eyes were upon his things. They do not wish to take possession of them. Ye keep guard against men invading them, because it is to him like a place a taste of which gives 5 joy ////// should he take the turn if another he is placed behind to do the same injured in return for injury. There is no sure turn of fraud, (says) 6 the King, (I wish) to let you know I have set this road in order to keep you well. I have made the transport of the gold washings ////// 7 in my name /// in /// I make the convoy anew of the peasants certain under me. I did not bring new convoyers 8 ////// (the account) of the work of my principal temple by the gangs of my temple. Let every King who will be hereafter augment my work 9 make firm /// his /// bringing his work to the temple of Ra-ma-men to gild all their divine types, making Amen. Harmachis, Ptah, 10 Tanen. Are /// strengthening their hand, they rule the lands with mildness, they overthrow Tesher and Kenus. Their worship is firm their supplies increased. He satiates 11 those on earth. Hear me, I made ////// a well. - washers: the gold was washed out of the crushed rock, possibly collected in sheep fleeces (cf. the story of Jason and the Argonauts).
- Gold: Gold was often called the "flesh of the gods".
- types: The as'em or "hawk type" (Birch)
- Tanen: Ptah
- Tesher: Desert
- Kenus: Nubia
When I say in grief should any King, who is to be, destroy my plans, let him tell the lands under my jurisdiction. I am their King, as are they 12 to him: a bad turn (after) the gods protected what has been ////// in Annu in ////// to them to answer for their things and their words as the heat of the flame of a lamp their limbs (should be) annihilated. 13 Should I have found them to (be)vexing and afflicting my plans, let him be placed at the block of punishment of the gate ////// your things. May he be saved void of offence /// to one and another ////// 14 the heart of the gods comes and rests with him, for should there be any Chief who is, he will approach the King with him, he gives his good order to set up all that is done in my name. I, the god, give him to be blessed on earth, he reaches in peace 15 bringing for his worship, for every Chief who is approaching, the heart of his Lord to save persons given or others executed for evil intentions; its spark burns his limbs, the firelight 16 devours his members, because His Majesty made the whole of these for their worship the gods of my temple. Abominates the god he who takes away his men. He has not turned back an afflicting hand except the convoyers 17 of the washings of gold. I made the temple of Ra-men-ma to be protected, safe. It has not been weakened by any of the men who are in this land, by any Commander of the troops of the gold, by any officer of the country. Should there be anyone who will take men from them 18, placed at the seat shall make him the gods and goddesses, Lords of my temple, guarding me in battle every hour in the as furniture under their feet for an age and ever. Except those who are the convoyers of the gold washings of the temple 19 of Ra-men-ma in his hand to offer a portion of the gold working to the temple of Ra-men-ma. Let every one be dumb at the tablet of Osiris placed behind it. His wife Isis is behind him, his mother is behind him, his children of the Chiefs of Taser judge with him.

Third inscription at Rhedesieh

- Annu: On, Heliopolis
- punishment: cf. Law and Order
- furniture: Ami-pa (Birch)
- behind it: or behind him (Birch)
1 The living Ra the Haremakhu, the Strong Bull crowned in Uas, giving life to the Upper and Lower country (Ra-ma-men) has made his memorial to his Father Amen-Ra and the circle of his gods, he has made to them a temple anew. The gods are delighted in its shrine, he has constructed a well before it. Never was made 2 like by any King except the King, performer of meritorious actions, Son of the Sun, Seti, Beloved of Ptah, the good Leader, giving life to his soldiers, father and mother of all persons.
They have said by mouth to the mouth of Amen: "Give us the ////// he has augmented for ever! Oh gods of the well, 3 give ye to him your time of life as he has opened to us the road to go, laid for us we pass along it, we are well, we are reaching ////// our life. This bye road is in our hearts. 4 It is a good road. He lets it be the tie of the gold as thy Chiefs see the Horus of all the generations which are to be in what he has vowed for ages. He makes festive like Tum, he grows young like Hat.
5 So he has made a monument in the lands of all the gods. He has produced the water out of the hills, it goes along to men (an assistance to all trading) ////// in the lands, with life established and strong to the King of Upper and Lower Egypt Ra-ma-men, Beloved of Amen-Ra, King of the gods.

Tablet of Ramses II at Kuban

Lepsius, Denkmäler aus Aegypten und Aethiopien, Abth. III Bl.140, depiction d
- Tum: Atem
1 The 3rd year 4th of the month Tybi under the reign of Ra, Haremakhu, the strong Bull, Beloved of truth, Lord of diadems, Protector of Egypt, Chastiser of foreign countries; the Hawk of Gold, abounding in years, the greatest of conquerors, the King of Upper and Lower Egypt, Ra-user-ma-sotep-en-Ra, Son of the Sun, Rames-su beloved of Amen, Living for ever, Beloved of Amen-Ra, Lord of the thrones of the two countries, who resides in Ap, 2 crowned on the throne of the god of the living, like his Father, the Sun, daily, Good God, Lord of the land of the South, Har-hat, ray of light, the good Hawk of gold, who covers Kami with his wing and illumines intelligencies, a Bull of courage and victory.
3 When issuing from the womb he was ready to seize his valour, to enlarge his frontiers, to his limbs was given a tinge like the forces of Mentu. He is Horus and Set. There was joy in heaven at his birth. The gods said our germ is in him.
- The 3rd year 4th of the month Tybi: approximate Julian date: 8th November 1276 BCE
- Ra-user-ma-sotep-en-Ra: Usermaatre, Ramses II (ca. 1279-1212)
- Mentu: Montu, Theban war god.
- Horus and Set: Originally, Horus and Seth ruled over Upper and Lower Egypt respectively. According to The contendings of Horus and Seth Egypt was finally united under the exclusive rule of Horus as the legitimate heir of his father Osiris. For most of the time Seth was not the most popular of Egyptian divinities, the Ramessides were exceptional in this respect.
4 The goddesses said, he has proceeded from us to accomplish the reign of the Sun. Amen said, I have formed him to set truth in his throne, the earth was made strong the heaven at rest, the company of the gods enjoyed peace at his hour. He is a strong Bull against Kush the vile, a gryphon 5 tearing against the country of the Negroes, his claws crush the Annu, his horn strikes against them, his wishes lay hold of Khent-han-nefer, the terrors of him reach to Sakaru, his name goes round 6 all the countries, on account of the victories he has gained by his two arms, gold comes forth at his name as (at that of) his father Horus, Lord of Baka, his rule is loved by the nations like that of Horus of Mamaa, Lord of Buhen, the King of Upper and Lower Egypt Ra-user-ma-sotep-en-Ra, 7 Son of the Sun of his body, Lord of diadems, Ramessu, beloved of Amen, Everliving like his Father the Sun daily.
His Majesty was then at Ha-Ptah-ka offering homage to his fathers, the gods of Upper and Lower Egypt, because they had given to him strength and victory and a long life 8 of millions of years.
- Kush: By the time of the New Kingdom most of Nubia and Kush were relatively firmly in Egyptian hands and being Egyptianized.
- vile: Enemies were often given unflattering epithets.
- Annu: bowmen of Kush.
- Khent-han-nefer: Region in Nubia.
- Sakaru: The Sakole of Ptolemy, further south than Napata (Birch)
- Baka: A place between Primis and the second cataract (Birch)
- Mamaa: Modern Anibe, ancient Mama, between Tachompso and Primis. (Birch)
- Buhen: Important fortress and garrison town. Birch: Boôn of Ptolemy, on the east bank of the Nile, south of Pselcis.
- Ha-Ptah-ka: H.t-kA-ptH, Memphis
One of these same days, the King was seated on his great throne of gold, wearing the diadem of two feathers giving orders to the countries whence gold is brought and thinking of 9 establishing cisterns upon the roads wanting water. It was then said that there was much gold in the country of Akita but that the road was entirely destitute of water. Complaints came 10 from the transporters of the gold about their condition. Those who reached there died of thirst on the road as well as the asses which were with them. They did not find what they required to drink either in mounting or descending for the water-skins, no more gold was brought from that arid country. The King said to the royal Inspector who was with him: "Call and let the Chiefs who are present give 12 their advice to the King about this country. I will do that which shall be proposed." - countries whence gold is brought: mostly Nubia and Kush
- asses: The Egyptians did not use camels in desert areas until the latter half of the first millennium BCE. Cf. Means of Transportation
- water-skins: sewn-up goat and sheep skins, much lighter than pottery.
- their advice: ordinary Egyptians must have found it difficult to advise their king, as is reflected in the ensuing encomium.
They were made to pass before the good god, the arms raised in adoration to his person, uttering exclamations and prostrating themselves before his handsome face. They were given a plan of the country so that they should give 13 their advice about making a tank on its road.
They said before His Majesty: "Thou art like the Sun in all that thou doest. Thy heart realises all it wishes. Should you wish to make it day during the night, it is so forthwith. (We have taken 14 a great part) in your marvels after you have been crowned King of the two worlds, we have understood nothing, our eyes have seen nothing like them. Every thing which comes out of your mouth is like the words of Haremakhu, the equilibrium of your tongue, the adjustment of your two lips 15 is the exact weight of Thoth. What place of road do you not know, who then is so finished as thou art. Does the world contain a place that you do not see. Is there any country that you do not penetrate as you wish. By your ears passes 16 every thing which can be heard in this country. It is you who execute all that which is planned. You were in the egg in the condition of a noble child wearing the lock of hair, and there was no offering but it was by your hand, 17 no message without you. You were made General of the army, and you were a child completing ten years. All the works which, were done were founded by thy hand. If you say to the water: 'Come from the rock!', it will come a torrent 18 on a sudden after thy mouth. The god Ra is like thee in his limbs, the god Khepera in creative force. Truly thou art the living image of thy father Tum of Heliopolis. The god Hu is in thy mouth, the god Sa is in thy heart, the place of thy tongue is the sanctuary of truth, a god is seated on thy two lips. All thy words are accomplished daily.
- good god: Pharaoh
- plan of the country: Ramesside map of a gold mining region
Map of gold mining region
- the lock of hair: Young Ramesside princes wore a plaited lock of hair on the right side of their head.
Ramses II
- General of the army, and you were a child completing ten years: Egyptian children were given adult responsibilities at an early age, though the appointment to general at ten was probably rather honorific than executive.
- Khepera: The dung beetle creator god.
- Hu ... Sa: According to the myth Hu and Sia sprang into existence from the blood Re lost during his circumcision. They represent the forces through which Re rules the world. Birch thought of them as personification of "Taste" and "Touch".
19 Thy heart has been formed like that of Ptah, the creator of worlds. Thou art for ever. Thou art for ever. It is done according to thy plan, heard are thy words, oh supreme Chief, our Master. It was spoken thus concerning the land of Akita and the Prince of the vile Kush said 20 of it before His Majesty: 'It is in the condition of wanting water since the time of the god, and persons die of thirst there.' All the former Kings wished to make a well there but could not succeed.
21 The King Ra-men-ma did the same thing: he made a well 120 cubits deep, in his time it was left in progress; the water did not come in it. If thou thyself sayest to thy father Hapi, 22 Father of the gods, that the water should come forth from the rock it will be done according to all thou shalt have said, and according to all thy plans. Those who were before us, if their requests have not been heard, it is because thy fathers, all the gods, love thee more than any King 23 since the time of the god Ra."
- since the time of the god: Birch: "Since divine times such as Osiris," that is, anterior to the rule of mortals, or since the commencement of the world.
- Ra-men-ma: Men-maat-re, Seti I
- 120 cubits: about 60 metres.
- Hapi: The Nile.
His Majesty said to these Chiefs: "True, true are all your words and prayers. Water has not been obtained in this country as you have said. I will make a well to give water daily as to the ////// 24 by order of my Father Amen-Ra, Lord of the thrones of the world and of the gods, Horus, Lords of Kenus, for they have accorded to my wishes, and I will make in this country ////// 25 ////// to the height of heaven," said His Majesty ...... to the royal scribes ////// 26 ////// the ////// of the road to Akatar thy gift.
It happened a month of a day was sent ////// 27 ////// as was done in his face. Then he was ordering men. to make ////// 28 ////// a their ////// as the Prince did it. The water was ///// 29 ////// the road towards Akatar, never was done the like while there were Kings in ////// 30 ////// great fish in the extended pools of Khatenatah making sound its face, creating ////// 31 ////// like a rudder in the wind, he came having a letter from the Prince of the vile Kush, 32 he said to Thy Majesty with his own mouth: "The water has come in it to 12 cubits, 4 cubits of them are in the depth ////// 33 it beyond as the god did in fulfilling thy heart of thy wishes. Never was done ////// 34 Akita rejoicing in the great names of Horus. Went along ////// 35 the ruler of the water which is in the empyreal gate, he listened making the water out of the (rock) ////// 36 ////// he has as the Prince sending. They were good in ////// 37 gracious were the plans, excellent the examinations, said ////// 38 that well to be the tank of Amen-meri Ramses victorious in //////.

S. Birch, Records of the Past

- Kenus: Nubia.
- Khatenatah: Birch: The name of this place occurs in the tablet of Haremhebi. It is the town of "the valley of the marshes," it was the most Northern point of Egypt, the lake Menzaleh.
- 12 cubits: about six metres.


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-[1] Lepsius Denkmäler aus Aegypten und Aethiopien, Abth. III Bl.140

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