Ancient Egypt: History and culture
Ancient Egypt: The inscription of Khnumhotep II, nomarch at Menet Khufu.
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Familytree of Khnumhotep
Middle Egyptian nomes

Inscription of Khnumhotep II

    The hereditary prince, count, king's confidant, whom his god loves, governor of the eastern highlands, Nehri's son, Khnumhotep, triumphant; born of the count's daughter, the matron, Beket, triumphant.
    He made (the tomb) as his monument; his first virtue was in adorning his city, that he might perpetuate his name forever, and that he might establish it for eternity in his tomb of the necropolis; that he might perpetuate the name of his official staff, establishing (them) according to their offices; the excellent ones, who were in his household, whom he raised over his peasant slaves; every office that he sustained; all artificers according to their kind.
- -count : nomarch
-Nehri: possibly identical with the nomarch of the Hare nome, grandfather of the nomarch Thuthotep.
-triumphant : lit. true of voice - deceased
-perpetuate his name: thus ensuring immortality, cf. Body and Soul
-perpetuate the name of his official staff: employees often did not have the means to ensure their own afterlife. This was the duty of their master. The peasants were not cared for in this manner.
-peasant slaves : mr.t, perhaps rather similar to serfs or even just tenants, cf. Slavery in Ancient Egypt
    His mouth saith: "The majesty of {the full titulary of} Amenemhet (II), who is given life, stability, satisfaction, like Re, forever, appointed me to be hereditary prince, count, governor of the eastern highlands, priest of Horus, and [priest] of Pakht; to the inheritance of my mother's father in Menet-Khufu. He established for me the southern landmark; he perpetuated the northern, like the heavens. He divided the great river along its middle, as was done for the father of my mother, by command which came forth from the mouth of the majesty of {the full titulary of} Amenemhet I, who is given life, stability, satisfaction, like Re, forever." Amenemhet I ca. 1991-1962
Amenemhet II ca. 1917-1882
-of my mother's father : matrilineal inheritance
-landmark : lit. tablet
-inheritance : possibly rather the inheritance of the claim than the position of nomarch itself. The office was granted by the king himself.
-Menet-Khufu : lit. the Nurse of Khufu, capital of the Horizon of Horus, a principality in the region of Benihasan
-the father of my mother : Khnumhotep I, nomarch of Menet-Khufu and later of the Oryx nome
    He appointed him to be hereditary prince, count, governor of the eastern highlands in Menet-Khufu. He established the southern landmark, perpetuating the northern, like the heavens; he divided the great river along its middle; its eastern side of the "Horizon of Horus," was as far as the eastern highland; at the coming of his majesty, when he cast out evil, shining like Atum himself, when he restored that which he found ruined; that which a city had taken from its neighbor; while he caused city to know its boundary with city, establishing their landmarks like the heavens, distinguishing their waters according to that which was in the writings, investigating according to that which was of old, because he so greatly loved justice. The appointment of Khnumhotep I
-divided the great river along its middle: Most Upper Egyptian nomes comprised both banks of the river.
-city to know its boundary with city : city limits were marked by stelae or the like - a ring of such border stones surrounded Akhetaten, and monitored by officials.
-justice : justice was conservative - that which was of old. It was also blatantly self-serving. The nobility seem to have had little compunction accepting benefices from kings whose royal credentials were less than impeccable.
    Lo, he appointed him to be hereditary prince, count, [....], great lord of the Oryx nome. He established the landmarks: the southern on his boundary as far as the Hare nome; his northern as far as the Jackal nome. He divided the great river along its middle: its water, its fields, its trees, its sand as far as the western highlands. -Hare nome : nome XV of Upper Egypt
-Oryx nome : nome XVI of Upper Egypt
-Jackal nome : nome XVII of Upper Egypt
see Map of Egypt
    He (the king) appointed his (Khnumhotep I's) eldest son, Nakht (I) triumphant, revered, to the rule of his inheritance in Menet-Khufu as a great favor of the king, by the command which issued [from] the mouth of his majesty the king [full titulary of} Sesostris I, who is given life, stability, satisfaction, like Re, forever. The appointment of Khnumhotep's uncle, Nakht
-Sesostris I: Senusret I ca. 1962-1917
It is not mentioned here that Amenemhet, Nakht's brother, became nomarch of the Oryx nome
    This my chief nobility is my birth, my mother having gone to be hereditary princess and countess, as the daughter of the ruler of the Oryx nome, to Hat-Sehetepibre ......... to be the wife of the hereditary prince, count, ruler of the "New Town," the [....] of the king of Upper Egypt, the [....] of the king of Lower Egypt, [in] his rank of governor of the residence city, Nehri, triumphant, revered. The birth of Khnumhotep
-Hat-Sehetepibre : meaning House of Amenemhet I, residence of Nehri
    The King of Upper and Lower Egypt, Nubkure, who is given life, stability, satisfaction, like Re, forever, brought me, being the son of a count, into the inheritance of the rule if my mother's father, because he so greatly loved justice. He is Atum himself, Nubkure (Amenemhet II), who is given life, stability, satisfaction, gladness of his heart, like Re forever. He appointed me to be count in the year 19, in Menet-Khufu. Khnumhotep inherits through his mother
-Nubkure: (Nubkaure) Amenemhet II, ca. 1917-1882 BCE
    Then I adorned it, and its treasures grew in all things. I perpetuated the name of my father; I adorned the houses of the ka's and the dwelling thereof; I followed my statues to the temple; I devoted for them their offerings: the bread, beer, water, wine, incense, and joints of beef credited to the mortuary priest. I endowed him with fields and peasants; I commanded the mortuary offering of the bread, beer, oxen, and geese, at every feast of the necropolis: at the feast of the first of the year, of the New Year's Day, of the great year, of the little year, of the last of the year, the great feast, at the great Rekeh, at the little Rekeh, at the feast of the 5 intercalary days, at [... ....], at the monthly feasts, at the twelve mid-monthly feasts; every feast of the happy living, and of the dead. Now, as for the mortuary priest, or any person, who shall disturb them, he shall not survive, his son shall not survive in his place. Khnumhotep's piety
-my statues : the statues of his ancestors
-fields and peasants : the fields and the peasants were seemingly inseparable
-Rekeh : meaning heat
-5 intercalary days : the Egyptian year had 360 ordinary days and 5 intercalary days not belonging to any month.
-feast of the happy living, and of the dead : lit. every feast of the happy one in the (valley)-plain and of the one on the mountain - those who are on the plain still live, but those on the mountain are the dead in the cliff-tombs.
    Greater was the praise at the court than (that of) any sole companion. He (the king) exalted me above his nobles, I was placed before those who had been before me. [....] the official body of the palace, giving praise according to my appointment, according to (my) favor which came to pass in the (royal) presence, the command of the king himself. Never happened the like to servants [..........] . He knew the manner of my tongue, the moderation of my character. I was an honored one with the king; my praise was with his court, my popularity was before his "companions." The hereditary prince, count, Nehri's son, Khnumhotep, revered. Khnumhotep's position at court
    Another honor accorded me (was): my eldest son, Nakht, born of Kheti was appointed to the rule of the Jackal nome, to the inheritance of his mother's father; made sole companion; appointed to the forefront of Middle Egypt. There were given to him all ranks of nobility by the majesty of {fivefold titulary of} Sesostris II, who is given life, stability, satisfaction, like Re, forever. He made his monuments in the Jackal nome, restoring that which he found obliterated, that which a city had taken from its neighbor; causing him to know his boundary according to the [record], investigating according to that which was of old, putting a landmark at his southern boundary, perpetuating the northern like the heavens, establishing on the fields of the low ground, a total amounting to 15 landmarks; establishing upon its northern fields its boundary as far as Oxyrrhyncus. He divided the great river along its middle, its western side (going) to the Jackal nome as far as the western highlands; when the hereditary prince, count, Khnumhotep's son, Nakht, triumphant, revered, petitioned, saying: "My waters know not the great favor of the king's presence." Khnumhotep's son, Nakht, appointed nomarch of the Jackal nome
-Kheti : one of Khnumhotep's two wives
-Sesostris II: Senusret II, ca. 1882-1878 BCE
-He : the king
-Oxyrrhyncus : Per-medjed, capital of the 19th nome
-waters know not the great favor of the king's presence : the boundaries hadn't been settled yet.
    Another prince is counselor, sole companion, great [among] the sole companions, of numerous gifts to the palace, sole companion. There is not one possessed of his virtues; to whom the officers hearken, the unique mouth, closing (other) mouths, bringing advantage to its possessor, keeper of the door of the highlands, Khnumhotep, son of Khnumhotep, son of Nehri, who was born of the matron, Kheti. Khnumhotep III's position at court
-mouth : counsellor, speaker
    I kept alive the name of my fathers, which I found obliterated upon doorways, (making them) legible in [form]; accurate in reading, not putting one in the place of another. Behold, it is an excellent son, who restores the name of the ancestors; Nehri's son, Khnumhotep, triumphant, revered. Khnumhotep honours his forefathers
    My chief nobility was: I executed a cliff-tomb, (for) a man should imitate that which his father does. My father made for himself a house of the ka in the town of Mernofret, of good stone of Ayan, in order to perpetuate his name forever and establish it eternally; that his name might live in the mouth of the people and abide in the mouth of the living, upon his tomb of the necropolis, in his excellent house of eternity, his seat of everlastingness; according to the favor of the king's presence, his love in the court. About the importance of the tomb
    He ruled the city as a babe, before he was loosed from swaddling-clothes; he executed a royal commission, and his two plumes danced, as a child not yet circumcised; [for] the king knew the manner of his tongue, the [moderation] of his character, Sebekenekh's son, Nehri, triumphant, revered, whom he exalted before his nobles to be ruler of his city. About the career of Nehri
-plumes : plumes of office
-a child not yet circumcised : boys were not circumcised as babies as was to be the custom of the Hebrews, but possibly during adolescence as part of a rite of passage or as preparation for the priesthood.
    The achievements of the count, Khnumhotep: I made a monument in the midst of my city; I built a colonnaded hall which I found in [ruin]; I erected it with the columns anew, inscribed with my own name. I perpetuated the name of my father upon them. I [recorded] my deeds upon every monument.
    I made a door of 7 cubits, of cedar wood without [...] for the first doorway of the tomb; double doors for an opening of 5 cubits, 2 palms, for the shrine of the august chamber, which is in this tomb. A prayer for offerings, the mortuary oblations of bread, beer, oxen, geese, was upon every monument, which I made. I ........... greater in monuments [in] this city than the fathers; a child of this city, more excellent in monuments of its burial place than the ancestors, [in the buildings] made before me.
Khnumhotep's building activities
-cubit : about 52 cm
    I was munificent in monuments; I taught every craft which had been [neglected] in this city, in order that my name might be excellent upon every monument which I [made]..............
    The hereditary prince, count, Nehri's son, Khnumhotep, born of Beket, triumphant, revered.
    Foreman of the tomb, the chief treasurer, Beket.
-Foreman ..... : Signature of the builder of the tomb.
James Henry Breasted Ancient Records of Egypt, Part One §§ 622ff


- -The inscription of Ameni (Amenemhet, son of Khnumhotep I)
-The inscription of Khnumhotep I
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-Beni Hassan al-Shurrug
-Beni Hassan. Boasting tombs

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December 2002