|49||THE HIERATIC PAPYRI.|
Professor Erman, to whom I communicated this discovery informs me that he has since put together some small fragments of middle-kingdom writing from Thebes, likewise making up a calculation which exists in the Rhind Papyrus. The great Mathematical Papyrus, hitherto quite unique, was copied under a Hyksos king from writings of the time of Amenemhat III, the very period to which the Kahun papyri belong. It is noteworthy that all the known mathematical documents of ancient Egypt date from or can be traced to about the end of the XIIth dynasty.
82. Religious works: I have observed a few fragments from Kahun in linear hieratic. No other early papyri of this class are known, though linear hieroglyphic and hieratic texts have been found painted on coffins and on the sides of stone cists and grave-chambers of the XIth and XIIth dynasties. From Gurob there are fragments of a copy of the Book of the Dead written for Bakenamen. It evidently had good vignettes, but the text is atrocious beyond belief.
Literary works. Several pages of a papyrus containing a remarkable hymn to Usertesen III written on both sides of it. The beginning and end remain, but the intervening portion is of uncertain extent.
Small sheet recording apparently a bricklayer's bon mot; but mutilated.
Parts of two pages with a few lines of writing - portion of a strange episode in the mythical contest between Horus and Set, written in the popular dialect.
There are already lodged in museums nearly 1500 lines of literary texts written during the middle kingdom, besides a number of later copies of works produced in that period. The following is a list of the middle-kingdom literary papyri.
Five at Berlin, viz.: the story of Sanehat; the story of the Sekhti; a dialogue between a man and his soul together with a fragment of a fairy tale; portion of a second copy of the story of the Sekhti; the Westcar papyrus relating a series of wonderful stories that were told to amuse Khufu, and some marvels that happened hereafter.
At St. Petersburg is a fairy tale about a shipwrecked sailor (unpublished); at Paris the Prisse papyrus of proverbs. Lastly, at the British Museum are two series of fragments. 1. of the story of the Sekhti, with an unidentified text on the reverse. 2. of the proverbs of Ptahhotep in a different version from that contained in the Prisse papyrus. The latter I had the pleasure of noting for the first time on the day on which I write this list. On the back of it are some remains of accounts.
The general nature of the stones can be gathered from Maspero's deeply interesting volume entitled Contes populaires de l'Egypte Ancienne (Maissonneuve 1889). The Prisse papyrus was discussed by myself in the Proceedings of the Society of Biblical Archaeology vol. xiii p. 65. And I shall probably write a further account for the same society à propos of the new text Next summer I hope to publish in a separate work the British Museum text of the story of the Sekhti (Histoire d'un paysan) together with a résumé of the other texts.
It is very curious that at the moment when Mr. Petrie was discovering ancient papyri at Kahun Professor Erman of Berlin had in the press his " Language of the Westcar Papyrus " (Sprache des Papyrus Westcar), a grammatical work of the highest importance, as revealing in a really scientific manner one stage in the development of Egyptian speech, and that an entirely new one, being almost, if not quite, the very stage represented so largely at Kahun. From a philological point of view the Westcar Papyrus, which will soon appear in facsimile, has the advantage of being a long clear narrative interspersed with conversations, and thus, as far as its twelve imperfect pages can, it exhibits fully the character of the language ; the corresponding Kahun papyri are with a few exceptions terse business documents or letters full of obscure references, and by themselves would give a very scanty idea of its capabilities.
There is still one class of documents to mention and that is school-literature: unfortunately Kahun has added nothing to our knowledge of the methods by which children were trained to be scribes. There is no trace of spelling-books, nor lists of signs. The Roman Sign papyrus of Tanis, discovered by Mr. Petrie and published by the Egypt Exploration Fund ("Two Papyri from Tanis") remains absolutely unique.
The only school book or exercise from Kahun is a collection of model letters of the simplest kind, containing little more than repetitions of formulae.
83. Royal names in the papyri. Neferkara, probably the king of the Vlth dynasty, favourably mentioned in the "praises of Usertesen III" which forms a section of the hymn above mentioned.
XIIth dynasty. Amenemhat I. He appears as the presiding deity of some locality in the "model letters." Oxen given by him to the temple of
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