Sunday, September 18, 2016

Not exactly a beach book....

I am particularly strong on urging every single person to make a best effort every day to do what’s at the top of his or her TO DO list.

So when I found out that Dr. Toby Wilkinson, an Egyptologist at Clare College, Cambridge, has published a translation of Egyptian hieroglyphics intended for a mass audience, my first thought was “Go for it, Toby!”

Now I’m having second thoughts. Roughly a couple million books are published every year. The books in my personal collection are stacked higher than my head along a wall in the basement. I haven’t read all of them yet. I think I’m going to pass on Writings from Ancient Egypt.

Here are a few excerpts, courtesy of

Letters written by a farmer called Heqanakht date from 1930BC but reflect modern concerns, from land management to grain quality. He writes to his steward: “Be extra dutiful in cultivating. Watch out that my barley-seed is guarded.”

Turning to domestic matters, he sends greetings to his son Sneferu, his “pride and joy, a thousand times, a million times”, and urges the steward to stop the housemaid bullying his wife: “You are the one who lets her do bad things to my wife … Enough of it!”

Other texts include the Tempest Stela. While official inscriptions generally portray an ideal view of society, this records a cataclysmic thunderstorm: “It was dark in the west and the sky was filled with storm clouds without [end and thunder] more than the noise of a crowd … The irrigated land had been deluged, the buildings cast down, the chapels destroyed … total destruction.”


If you were thinking maybe it would be something like “Downton Abbey,” or maybe Fifty Shades of Grey, or maybe “The Simpsons” with cats and pyramids, think again….

Copyright © Richard Carl Subber 2016 All rights reserved.

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