Spaull_review of James Hekanakht

December 10, 2017 | Author: Imhotep72 | Category: Ancient Egypt, Egyptology, Archaeology
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Egypt Exploration Society

The Ḥeḳanakhte Papers and Other Early Middle Kingdom Documents by T. G. H. James Review by: C. H. S. Spaull The Journal of Egyptian Archaeology, Vol. 49 (Dec., 1963), pp. 184-186 Published by: Egypt Exploration Society Stable URL: . Accessed: 20/10/2013 07:21 Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of the Terms & Conditions of Use, available at .

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ten years, modifyingthe conclusionsof the last edition where necessary.Perhapswe may look forwardnow to a fifth edition which again will be a rewritingof the whole. From the discussionsincludedin the Supplement,the studentcan easilyfind what have been the important historical discoverieseither by researchor by fieldworkin the past ten years, and also the problemsmost exercisingthe historiansof ancientEgypt. The two outstandingdiscoveriesof the periodwere the unfinished pyramidof Sekhemkhetat Saqqaraand the stela of Kamose at Karnak,both of which have added notably to historicalknowledge,and in severalrespectsled historiansto modify the acceptedaccountsfor the periods concerned. Of subjects which have been much debated in the past decade, mention may be made of the problemof the Followersof Horus, the Hyksos, the 'Amarnaperiod, dynasticsuccessionsin severalperiods (especiallythe Second IntermediatePeriod, the end of the Nineteenth Dynasty and the Twenty-first and Twenty-second Dynasties),and the characterof the Kingship(importantstudies by Goedickeand Posener). In summarizingthe debates on these problemsVandieris scrupulouslyfair and lucid, even when his own opinions differ radically from those he reports. His exposition of the tangle of debate aroused by the problems of the 'AmarnaPeriod is particularlygood. What especiallystrikes a readerwhose interests may be specializedratherthan wide, is the extent to which the history of the Late Period is now studied. Since the war many scholars have devoted themselves to the problems of the time from the end of the New Kingdom to the PtolemaicPeriod. The documentaryevidence for this period is vast and to a great extent unexploited.Alreadymanychangeshavebeen wroughtin the old, standardaccountwhich offereda generally dismal picture of steady decline, briefly lightened by the revival in the Twenty-sixth Dynasty. The substantialpart of Vandier'sSupplemnentdevoted to this period reveals clearlywhat good results have already been achieved by the close examinationof the evidence, much of which was freely availableformerly,but unexploited. The great value of Vandier'swork here, as for earlierperiods, is to draw attentionto studies not easily available,e.g. Yoyotte's essay on Necho II in the Dictionnairede la Bible. Suppl. VI-clearly a model of carefulresearch-and to make their matterknown. In keeping his History well revised and up to date, Vandierperformsa signal service to Egyptology. May he preparemany more editions! T. G. H. JAMES

The Hekanakhte Papers and Other Early Middle Kingdom Documents. By T. G. H. JAMES.Publications of the Metropolitan Museum of Art Egyptian Expedition, vol. xix. Folio. Pp. xiv+I46, pls. 30 collotype (texts) + 30 lithographic(transcriptions)+ 17 lithographic(palaeography).New York, I962. Price $30.

The texts published in this finely produced book are divided into four groups: the Hekanakhtepapers, the Harhotpe documents, the Meketrel documents, and other early Middle Kingdom documents.All date from the Eleventh Dynasty or thereaboutsand comprise, almost without exception, letters and accounts. No efforthas been sparedto make the publicationas comprehensiveas possible, and the materialprovided forms a notable additionto our knowledgeof the language,palaeography,and life in generalof the period. Each text appearsin a collotype facsimile, accompaniedby an hieroglyphictranscriptionin a clear bold hand. In addition there is a printed translation,discussion of contents, and detailed commentary,which form the main body of the book. Every difficultyis dealt with in detail, every interestingpoint is gone over in full. It would not be possible to wish for a more painstakingand thoroughpublicationof a set of new texts. A series of appendixesdeal exhaustivelywith a number of matterstaken collectively. These cover special points of grammarand syntax, certain individual words, a most importantessay on epistolary formulas, geographicaland personalnames, and finallypalaeography,includinga set of plates on which are set out the forms of the hieratic signs that are found. Hekanakhtewas a ka-servantto Ipi, vizier of Menthotpe I,1 and the collectionof documentsbelongingto him found by H. E. Winlock at Deir el-Bahri in I921-2 probably dates from the period between May and October in the 8th year of Menthotpe II' (c. 2002 B.C.). These documents, four letters and three accounts, I Here and elsewhere in this review I have used Menthotpe I and Menthotpe II where James has used

Menthotpe II and III. In this I follow the numerationof the Menthotpesgiven by Gardiner,Egypt of the

Pharaohs, 438. The numeration used by James is that followed by Hayes in the new CambridgeAncient History who regards the Menthotpe who founded the Eleventh Dynasty as the first of that name, cf. his chapter, 'The Middle Kingdom in Egypt', 15.

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have long been eagerly awaited. They are the highlight of this book: especially the first three letters, two from Heklanakhteto his household at Nebeseyet and one to the Overseerof the Delta, Hrunufe. Hekanakhte'sletters serve to lift, momentarily,a curtain allowing us a glimpse of day-to-day life in the Theban vicinity in 2000 B.C.Hekanakhtehimself appearsto be writing from somewheresouth of Thebes to his home. A messenger, called Sihathor, is evidently travellingback and forth carryingnot only letters but also food-grain and bread. Hekanakhteis directing the affairsof his household in Nebeseyet. There the various members, men, women, even families, are busily engaged in the work of running the estate, cultivating the land, quarrelling,and having difficulties.It is quite clear that times are bad, food is short, and Hekanakhteprotests that whateverthey may say his family is eating better than most. He even utters the final threat, saying that anyonewho does not like the rationshad better come to live where he is staying to see how he likes it. Indulgenceis shown to a certainSnofru, who seems a spoilt young man who, although obviously being troublesome,is yet to be allowedto do what he likes. Anupu is anotherfavourite.There is trouble over the various women; a handmaid called Senen is to be thrown out; there is to be no more interference with Hetepet's companions. Hekanakhte delivers an obscure lecture with regard to his concubine and how she should be treated. The business of renting land, buying and selling, making and calling-in of loans is also going forward. The two letters to the household at Nebeseyet are very hard indeed to translate.The result is worthy of the highest praise. Even where one feels doubt one soon finds that to offer any better suggestion is almost if not quite impossible. Both these letters are very familiar,even curt, in tone, and to the point in a way which is not common in Ancient Egypt. Hekanakhte,on occasion, makes use of remarkablytelling phrases in his letters, as for instance: 'See! this is a year for a man to work for his master.' 'See! you are that one who ate until he was sated and hungereduntil his eyes were sunken.' 'Half life is better than death outright.' The second of the above examples reminds one of the fable of the grasshopperand the ant. The notation used in the Hekanakhtepapers for the area of land is a cause of difficulty. Some of this notation is unique and has to depend for its elucidation on internal evidence. The basic element of the land-notation is the sign +. This is known also from the Book of the Dead and from the Coffin Texts. Unfortunately, neither of these sources is of any assistancein explaining it. James has deduced that this area of 22 arouras.This solution works very well and is probablycorrect. + is equivalentto A type of land mentioned is called .ht kbt, lit. 'cold land'. James suggests a translation'unworkedland', but I cannot help wondering if this idea cannot be carrieda little farther, and from the fact that kbt can mean 'refreshed',translate 'fallow land'. If this idea should be correct then it follows that the Egyptians of this time followed the practiceof allowing land to be 'fallow'. Mlinm'here, hither' is a startling word to find in an early M. K. document. It is, in fact, only one of a number of unexpectedlyearly examples of words otherwise only known from much later times, which are found not only in the Hekanakhtepapers but in other sets of documents published in this book. I, 13: 'io arourasof land equal(?)(-.j= ) Ioo khar of barley.' vs. 'in order to I, 3: keeptogether(-a ,t2n ) that new barley.' I would suggest that one has here a word, the literal meaning of which is 'to heap up with a pitchfork', the determinativein the second example being a pitchfork. Faulknergives icb(Dict., p. i) 'heap up corn with a pitchfork'. This is Wb. I, 40 (8) where reference is made to Wb. i, 176 (I6), which is rbwt'two(later three-) pronged fork'. Further, the verb occurs in CT i, 393c with spellings that include I I

^. This word, translated'domesticservant(?)',is surelythe same as the S 'people(or sim.) of a god' quoted by TWb. I, 531 (5) from examplesof the Greek period at Edfu. The meaning would seem, therefore,to be something like 'attendants'. The fact that in Hekanakhte'sthird letter Nakhte and Sinebnut, coming to collect outstandingdebts of barley and emmer, are bringingtheir own corn-measureis interesting.It probablyindicatesthe variability This translationvariesslightly from that given by James (p. 32).


C 1399



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of the units of measurein differentdistricts ratherthan a precautionagainstfraud. Incidentally,I do not think that the translationof _hras 'sack', on which some doubt is thrown, can be bettered in view of the labelled picture in the tomb of Rekhmirc.'1 It is noteworthythat those who did not wish to pay in grain were to be allowed to pay in oil at the rate: i hebnet-jarof oil = 2 sacks of barley = 3 sacks of emmer. It is thus seen that barley was more valuable than emmer. This may have been due to a shortageof that grain (cf. p. 47, top), especiallyas the existence of the phrase'barley-as-barley'to indicatereal barleyas opposed to barleyused as a mere measureof value, would seem to indicate that barleywas normallythe commonestgrain. The svsrt-,bhsw-,and tr-sst-loavesof v, 30-33 must have been of the natureof hard-tackfor them to have been able to be sent by Merisu to Heklanakhteat some distance. Three documents found in a small tomb in the vicinity of that of Harhotpehave been named after that individualbut that is probablytheir only connexionwith him. They comprisean account of rationsissued to soldiers; an account concerning the 'serfs of the aroura(?)'with a religious text, probably a hymn to Seth, on the back; and a potsherd on which is written a short model letter. Even these fragmentscontain points of special interest. The ration-documenthas the earliest mention yet found of the names of the epagomenaldays. The items issued call for remarkin that swt 'wheat' appears,and in that 'beer' is absent but bs'-grainoccurs. This latter fact tends to strengthen the possibility that bsv is 'brewing-grain'if not actually'malt'. The account concerningthe 'serfs of the aroura(?)'is strangebecausethis designationitself is otherwiseunknownand becausepairs of personsare linked by means of an unknownand undecipherable hieraticsign. Two papyri and an ostracon make up the Meketre
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