Upon an Inscription of the reign of Shabaka

By Ch. Wycliffe Goodwin

[Extracted from Chabas' Melanges Égyptologiques, 3rd series, 1, (1873): 246-85.]

In Sharpe's first series of Egyptian Inscriptions,1 there is a copy of a very fragmentary and mutilated inscription, from a stone now preserved in the British Museum, which has not, as far as I know, been thoroughly studied, but which, imperfect as it is, presents several points of much interest to the Egyptologist. M. Sharpe styles it: An unfinished and mutilated slab of the reign of Sevechus (Sabacon); but a careful inspection shows that only the two upper horizontal lines properly belong to the time of this king, while the perpendicular columns beneath, of which there must originally have been about sixty, were only restored by him, and are of a far earlier date.

The top line contains (or contained) the name and [p.248] titles of king Shabaka Neferkara, the Sabacon of Manetho, the first monarch of the Ethiopian (XXVth) dynasty, whose reign, according to Dr Lepsius, began B.C. 716. The family name [glyphs], Sabaka, has been erased, but the throne name [glyphs], Ra-neferka has been suffered to remain, and, from this and the minor titles which are perfect, we find to whom the inscription belongs.

The second horizontal line begins thus:

Scripsit rex scripturam hanc de novo in domo patris Ptah memphitici, cum invenisset eam rex factam a veteribus, exesam a vermibus.

From this we learn that the inscription beneath was of great antiquity and that it had become more or less defaced by [glyphs] tamu. This is doubtless identical with the word [glyphs] which occurs, in the title of Ch. 163 of the Ritual. That Chapter is said to have the effect of defending the flesh and bones of the deceased against [glyphs] tanmu, and all the maleficent demons of the underworld.


The determinative ma points to the original and proper meaning of the word, namely worms or destructive animals, just as we find in Coptic loflef, tineœ, moths (Egypt. [glyphs]), used also to express corruption, putrefaction or corrosion. But supposing that worms and not corrosion be intended in the inscription before us , we are led to infer that the original inscription was written upon wood, and that what we have now engraved upon stone is merely a copy of as much of it as could be made out in the time of Sabako, and which was by him caused to be engraved upon the harder material. The gaps which have apparently been left in some of the columns, and which have led M. Sharpe to define the inscription as "unfinished" favour this conclusion.

The latter part of the second horizontal line is as follows:

gratia firmandi nomen suum, stabiliendi constitutiones suas in dorno patris Ptah Memphitici in longam œternitatem Factum a filio Solis Shabaka ad patrem Ptah Tota (nen), qui dat vitam œternam.

It appears from this that the slab stood in the temple of Ptah at Memphis. The restoration of the inscription by Sabaco shows that it was considered to contain matter [p.250] of uncommon interest, and one may conjecture that there was something in it favourable to the titles and claims of the Ethiopian usurper, who here assumes the character of a genuine Pharao, a son of the Sun and a descendant of Ptah.

But alas! the inscription, after having been renovated, has suffered more woeful mutilation than it did in its primitive state. The whole central part of it, comprising more than five and twenty columns, has been wholly obliterated, apparently in modem times. It is also clear that we do not possess the commencement of the text, which may possibly have been written on another slab. We cannot therefore determine what particular interest Sabaco had in repairing this venerable monument, and perhaps he may have had no further view than to gain favour with the priests by shewing himself a zealous conservator of historical antiquities.

Let us now examine the inscription itself. The first part of it is contained in Plate 38 of M. Sharpe's work. There is space in the page for twenty columns, but only the first eleven remain in a tolerably perfect state.

The twenty columns which should have filled Plate 37 are obliterated with the exception of a word or two. In Plate 36 we have the remains of twenty columns, of which the first seven are more or less obliterated, and of the remainder several appear to have been left in an unperfect state when the restoration was made.

Some necessary rectifications being made, the text begins as follows:


Pl. 38 (col. 3) (lines 1-8) [glyphs]
Accedit ad palatium, consociatur deis Tatanen, Ptah domino annorum; ille (est). Erat Osiris in terra de Castello Ant in parte boreali terrœ hujus. Accessit ad eum quidem filius ejus Horus, ornatus australi diademati, ornatus boreali diademati, in domo patris Osiridis cum deis qui ante eum et qui circum eum.

(col.4) (lines 9-13) [glyphs]
Curant..... continuo eum, ducunt eum ad terram; accedit ad porticus stabiles, quœ sunt in adytis [p.252] dominorum œternitatis adversus? ortum, in viis solis in occidentc,

(Col. 5) (lines 14-16) [glyphs]
loco quo fuit ut Osiris mergeretur in aquis, conspicientibus Iside (et) Nephthye. Videntes illœ eum, adjuvant eum. Dicit Horus ad Isidem (et) Nephthin in Tattu ut prehendant Osiridem, ut salvent (eum) ne mergatur.

(Col. 6) (lines 18-21) [glyphs]
Fiunt illæe obedientes ei. Offerunt illi dei omnes dona sua. Tunc oblata est domino cœli et terrœ, arca Plah;2 confecta est cisterna [p.253] deorum de domo Ptah, domini vitœ, domini ...; facta est Ankh-ta-ta prope eam.

(Col. 7) (lines 22-25) [glyphs]
Salutat ille societatem eorum, prœparat ille donnes eorum; statuit ille corpora eorum; illi conciliant eum; veniunt dei in corporibus suis, cum ligno omni, omni cum lapide omni, cum sacello omni, rebus omnibus vigentibus; qui circum eum sunt

(Col. 8) (line 26) [glyphs]
dei, offerentes res quascumque, bona sunt.

We may here pause to give some explanation and justification of our corrections and of our Latin interlinear version.

1. The first character is obliterated in M. Sharpe's copy, but we have little hesitation in supplying the character [glyph], Xnum, to which the [glyph] is the supplementary consonant. The word [glyphs] to unite with, is of frequent use and requires no further illustration.


2. The word [glyphs] has been explained by M. Birch as a title of the king or the king's palace, and it is used in that sense here. It is ordinarily accompanied by the additional sign [glyph], house. The character is often exchanged for its variants [glyph] and [glyph]. Thus, Burton, Exc. hierog., pl. 83; [glyphs] I was in favour of the king above all the counsellors. Also, Dumichen, Hist. Inschr., IV, 41: [glyphs] a message to the king.3

Sometimes the word is used not for the king, but for the palace, which is the primary meaning of the group [glyphs]. Thus, Recueil IV, pl. 43: Established upon thy throne m the palace [glyphs].

What the exact meaning of this title is has not, I think, been explained, nor am I in a position to do so completely. It is however clear that [glyphs] means some beneficent function performed by a deity or by a king, as is shown by the inscriptions on the sepulchral vases.

The Egyptian gods, in the attitude of exercising the beneficent action of [glyph], are represented as extending their hands open over the person who is the object of their protection.4 It is clear that in our case, [glyph] is the [p.255] verb expressing this action; the usual rendering eligere is not the best word, and sotep has certainly several other meanings only remotely connected with the idea of choose or choice. For instance, on the coffin of Seti I,5 I find [glyphs] where sotep has the determinative appropriate to deadly and fatal acts. M. Brugsch6 suggests the fundamental idea of cutting, dividing. Possibly in the phrase [glyphs], the idea may be to deal out, distribuer, austheilen.

It is not only to gods that this beneficent action is attributed. In the inscription of Una published by M. de Rougé in his Researches, I find a phrase which occurs twice. The first example is in Pl. VII, l. 9: [glyphs] the meaning of this appears to me to be: I acted to the gratification of his majesty, when the king performed sotep-sa, and when he went a journey. The other place, Pl. VII, lig. 34 confirms this: [glyphs] when it pleased his Majesty to devote his time (basu, vigilare) to sotep-sa, I was put in the place of attendant in preference to all lords.

M. de Rougé also quotes (p. 111) a passage from another inscription, in which the phrase occurs: [p.256] [glyphs] (I was one) who went in every ship engaged in sotep-sa, who went upon the journeys of the king.

In these instances I conjecture that sotep-sa may perhaps mean distribution of alms or distribution of favours and it could appear that the earlier kings were in the habit of making progresses for the exhibition of the royal bounty. The title of distributor of alms or distributor of favours is a very natural title for a king. Compare the Anglo-Saxon title BEHA-GIFA, giver of rings (i.e. money), poetically synonymous with king, and HLAF-ORD, literally source of bread, from whence the modem English lord is derived.

3. The pronoun [glyphs] is used in Egyptian either at the beginning or at the end of a sentence, and it may be either subject or object. In what way it is to be taken can only be determined by the context. In the present case, instead of joining [glyphs] with [glyph], I have, in conformity with what appears to be the sense, attached it to the preceding words. I take [glyphs], he is Ptah the old, to be an explanation of [glyphs], Tatanen, here used as synonymous with Ptah, though properly it means the land or province over which he ruled. The appellation Ptah Tatanen or Ptah of the land Tanen is common in the texts, and for this we sometimes find the expression [glyphs],7 Ptah presiding over Tanen.


4. [glyphs], Osiris. We find here the person who is the subject of the first paragraph of the text, namely Osiris; and it is manifest that the beginning of the inscription is wanting. How much may have been lost, it is impossible to say, but it seems to me probable that the legend of the life of Osiris must have preceded, and that we have on this stone merely the concluding part of it, namely the return of Osiris to Egypt after his wanderings over the world, related by Diodorus Siculus, in his first book, chap. 17 to 20.

5. [glyph], I translate this: Castellum Ant. The figure in the castellated enclosure I take to be identical with that which appears as the name or symbol of the 9th nome of Lower Egypt,8 and also of the Pehu [glyph] of the 2d nome,9 and which is phonetically written [glyphs], ant.10 In the fourth nome is also a Pehu of the same name.11

The castle of Ant may hare been in one of these places, or it may have been in some other place named from this same personage Ant. In any case we can have little hesitation in identifying this place with the ancient town called Antœus, where according to the narrative of Diodorus,12 the battle took place in which Isis subdued Ty- [p.258] phon and avenged the death of her husband Osiris. The Greeks identified this with Àntœpolis in Upper Egypt, but our locality was in the north part of the land. Whether this old Egyptian king or hero Ant had any thing more in common with the Libyan Antœus, said to have been slain by Hercules, than the resemblance of the name must remain doubtful. Perhaps [glyphs] may be identical with [glyphs] Anta, the bull (qu.? son) of Se£, mentioned on the Tanis obelisk13 of Ramesses II.

The inscription formerly contained further particulars concerning this castle of Ant (See M. Sharpe's Plate 37, col. 4, and Plate 36, col. 3); but the context is extremely obliterated. In the former of these two passages mention was made of building the castle of Ant.

6. [glyphs] The phrase [glyphs], literally, he does, deserves remark. It is clearly superfluous here, and has, I believe, no further signification than that of an adverb or conjunction, like the Greek δή or the Latin igitur, quidem, vero. Many instances of this word [glyphs] or [glyphs] occur in the texts. I will adduce one or two to illustrate its use: [p.259] [glyphs]14 thou blockest up forsooth the road against us; dost thou not forsooth allow us to journey on the road? In the same papyrus the phrase [glyphs] Ivit quidem hortulanus ille..., frequently recurs. And so also in the 17 chapter of the Ritual we have repeatedly such phrases: [glyphs] Quid quidem illa? Uta est in hora sua. Here the subject of the question being feminine, it is clear that which has the masculine pronoun cannot be referred to it, but must be a disconnected interpolation.

I will quote likewise: [glyphs]15 whether ye be silent indeed, ye gods (or whether) god talks with god. In the inscription of Canopus, I. 13, answers to the Greek [Greek], and it is translated very accurately by Dr Lepsius: Seiend wohl dieser Tag der Anfang .....

In the Coptic the particle ntof (lit. he, it) seems to be used in a somewhat similar way: [Coptic]16 they who are carnal or indeed others; [Coptic] [p.260] [Coptic],17 all men who are sinners, or else indeed those who are not sinners.

7. The phrases [glyphs] and [glyphs] are written in the inscription parallel to one another, and several instances of this antithetic arrangement occur further on in the text, where two simultaneous states or actions are attributed to one person. This observation will enable us to explain certain passages towards the end of the inscription, which would otherwise be unintelligible.

8. [glyph] is apparently used for house, without the usual addition [glyphs]. It will be observed that in this inscription there is a great economy of determinatives as well as of expletive phonetic characters. Thus, immediately preceding this word, we have [glyphs] for [glyphs], and just afterwards occurs the shortened form [glyphs] for [glyphs], with.

9. [glyphs], Paχar. The Coptic vl4ri, remedium, offers the most obvious explanation of this word; the original idea seems to be to attend to, curare. M. Brugsch thinks the word identical with [glyphs] and considers the fundamental idea to be that of surrounding.18 But the meaning curare, remedium is supported by phrases such as occur Sharpe II, pl. 83, 14; Sharpe I, [p.261] pl. 80, 11. In the Prisse papyrus we have: [glyphs]19 Hast thou a son who despises not God, one who is careful in attending to thy business. In another place there is an exhortation to a man to love and care for his wife: [glyphs]20 curæ sit tibi quicquid ad membra ejus pertinet.

In the passage in our text, the words peχar-sn express some service or office performed by the gods to Osiris, of which the exact nature is not clear. A character has been obliterated after sn; it may have been only ׀׀׀, the mark of the plural, but M. Sharpe's copy leaves this in doubt. [glyphs], literally, ad tempus, means perhaps forthwith, at once, or ad tempus opportanum, at the time when he required it. Compare the passage Ritual, Chap. I, col. 12: give ye bread and haq [glyphs].

10. [glyphs] is usually translated to approach, but would seem here to be used with a causative sense, to conduct, lead or cause to approach.

11. [glyphs]. The 21 or 15 Sebχet or gateways of [p.262] the underworld are described at length in chaps. 145 and 146 of the Ritual. This passage must refer to the obsequies of Osiris.

12. [glyphs]. This is a variant of [glyphs], holy (places); it has only been noticed hitherto in recent inscriptions (see Revue Archéol., vol. XII, p. 201, and Brugsch, Dict., p. 1261), and its occurrence in our inscription might be thought to throw doubt upon its genuine antiquity. I can however point out an instance of the occurrence of the form [glyphs] for [glyphs] much older than the reign of Sabaco, namely upon the coffin of Seti I.21 This is a conclusive proof that this variant was not one of the fancies of the late periods, and it shows the necessity of caution in condemning words as modem because we have found them only in the Ptolemaic or Roman texts. Some of the words which are found in these texts, but are unknown in the middle periods of Egyptian history, are in fact of great antiquity, and have apparently been culled out of the most ancient texts. I may instance the word [glyphs], which I have endeavoured to show to be the phonetic equivalent of the group [glyphs]. This word, though occurring frequently in the Dendera and other modem texts, is never met with, I mean in its phonetic form [glyphs] s'eps, in the texts of the 18th and 19th dynasties, nor is it common in any texts of the 12th or earlier dynasties. [p.263] Two instances however occur in the Aelteste Texten (11th dynasty), published by Dr Lepsius; Pl. 14, col. 42: [glyphs], and Pl. 15, col. 63: [glyphs].

13. The meaning of the phrase [glyphs] er emta, is not clear; [glyphs] occurs in Papyrus Prisse, p. 10, I. 2; p. 17, 1. 2; p. 19, 1. 6, and in all these cases the word feet or footsteps, gressus, appears to answer. The determinative [glyphs] or [glyphs] points to some such meaning. Er nemta would be literally ad pedes or ad gressus, but it seems here to be used as a preposition, and may merely mean towards, like the Coptic e---rlt.

A character is obliterated after [glyphs], it may have been [glyph] or [glyph], or perhaps, ab, the east. Without being able to refer to the stone itself to see the exact size of the obliteration, I cannot determine in favour of either of these characters.

The word [glyphs] is obscure in M. Sharpe's copy. It may possibly be [glyphs], but I incline to [glyphs], a well known synonym for the West.

The general meaning of the whole context seems to be that the gods conducted Osiris to the place of burial, the abodes of the dead, over against the place where the sun rises in the East, and following the paths of the, sun to the West.


14. [glyphs] Whether this phrase is grammatically connected with what precedes, or whether we have here the commencement of a new paragraph, as if it were [glyphs], I cannot decide. We shall find by the latter part of the inscription that a particular place is intended to be pointed out where the body of Osiris fell into the water.

15. [glyphs] lit. ut merqeretur in suis. The last word suis, is redundant, and the meaning merely that Osiris fell into or was drowned into the water. We have examples of a somewhat similar redundancy in the possessive pronoun in Coptic in such phrases as: [Coptic], ad finem (suum) terrœ;21 [Coptic], ex ore (suo) Davidis. Compare also the redundant use of [glyphs], that did he, at the end of a sentence, where it adds nothing whatever to the sense (see my remarks upon [glyphs] p. 258, no. 6).

16. [glyphs] It is uncertain whether the two eyes are here used as determinatives, or whether we should not rather consider them as a substantive, and translate oculis earum videntibus eum. But in either case the sense is the same.

17. [glyphs] This places the scene of the accident to Osiris in Tattu, i.e. Mendes. It is remarkable however that the [p.265] metropolis of the IX nome, that of Ant, was called [glyphs]. house of Osiris, lord of Tattu. Can there have been more than one place bearing this name, and is the celebrated Tattu after all to be looked for in the IX nome and not in the XV or Mendesian as hitherto supposed?

18. [glyphs] The middle sign is not clear in M. Sharpe's copy. If I read it rightly [glyphs], it must be considered as a determinative, and the word to be identical with to offer.21

19. [glyphs] Tins is a singular elongated form of the not unusual word [glyphs], hotep-het (or hotep-ab) which means both to make a propitiatory offering and also to be propitiated or satisfied with an offering. The meaning here appears to be that a place called the Granary of Ptah was dedicated to Osiris [glyphs], lord of heaven and earth, and it would seem that the scene is now changed to Memphis, the head quarters of the old kingdom of Ptah.

20. [glyphs], sakata. The word [glyphs] occurs in Recueil, pl. 57, col. 3 and elsewhere. It is probably identical with [glyphs], saka, which means to collect together, to put in order, arrange. It is applied here rather strangely to the making of a pool or tank: [glyphs].


21. [glyphs], anχ-tata. This is the well known name of a portion of the city of Memphis.21

22. [glyphs] In Sharpe's copy the two last characters are but the first must be a blunder for [glyph]. The determinative is not clear, and I know of no such word. On the coffin of Seti I, we have [glyphs] and [glyphs], meaning apparently to salute, and that sense will suit the group in the passage before us.

23. [glyphs] χem the same word as [glyphs], adytum, sanctuary. It is remarkable from not having the usual determinative [glyphs].

24. [glyphs], illi conciliant eum. It may be doubtful whether [glyphs] be not here the subject, and whether we ought not to translate: ut propitiet Mecorda eorum.

25. [glyphs], ma pa.u. This word means temples or shrines, and I believe it to be formed in the same way as [glyphs], rapa.u, which means also temples or a temple. Both seem to mean literally pars œdium, though I do not perceive how this came to mean a temple or shrine. We find this variously written. Thus, Canopus Inscription; 1. 29: [glyph]; ibid., 1. 28 [glyphs] and II Denkm., Bl. 122 [glyphs]; Rev. Archéol., vol. XI, p. 359 [p.267] (Edfou), [glyphs]; IV Recueil, pl. 87, col. 12 [glyphs]. In modern inscriptions the [glyphs] is frequently exchanged for [glyph], ma. Thus, Canopus Inscr., 1. 2 [glyphs], ibid., 1. 29; and Rosetta. I. 14: [glyphs].

This last form has been explained house of truth as if [glyph] was the equivalent of [glyphs]. I think the examples above given are sufficient to show that it is the mere phonetic equivalent of [glyphs], which has quite a different sense.21

26. The construction of this last sentence is worth remarking. The meaning is: whatsoever things are offered to him by the gods who are about him, they are good.

Up to this point the narrative appears to refer to Osiris. He is represented as arriving at the dwelling of Ptah, the most ancient king or divine ruler of Lower Egypt, and as taking up residence at a place called the castle of Ant, in the northern part of the land. Here, by a singular kind of anachronism, he is said to be visited by his son Horus wearing the crowns both of the northern and southern countries, and to be attended by the elder gods ([glyphs]) as well as those who belonged to his own circle. He is then said to have visited the abodes of the dead, the lords of eternity [p.268] ([glyphs]) and here follows the mysterious incident of his being submerged in the water, in the sight of Isis and Nephthys, who, at the command of Horus, run to assist him, and it would seem that he is established in the city of Memphis.

It seems as if we had here an obscure account of the first introduction of the Osirian religion into Memphis, and of the identification with him of the older god Ptah, the inventor of fire and useful arts, in whom the Greeks saw some analogy to their Hephœstus, but who, as is well known, is usually represented in the form of the mummied Osiris.

The inscription now seems to go back to an earlier period and to refer to proceedings in the beginning of the reign of Ptah:

Col. 8 (lines 27-28) [glyphs]
Thoth prudens, nobilissimus multo deorum, ille propitiat Ptah cum faciat res omnes, divina verba omnia. Tuncquoque creavit deos, fecit civitates, instituit provincias, posuit deos securos

(col. 9) (29-32) [glyphs]
in cellis. Floret domus omnis cum [p.269] jubet; verba sapientiœ exeunt a lingua (ejus); fit benedictio in res omnes die dicendi quod fiant. Nondum fecerat deos Ptah-ta (nen) Tunc fuit ut creati sint dei; exeunt res omnes ab illo, tom oblationes guam cibus in corde ac etiam lingua; ille fecit opera gravia? ferri ac etiam metalli? fecit cibos omnes, oblationes omnes. Divinum decretum hoc factum est ad amicos (et) inimicos: ille dat vitam justis, dat mortem injustis.

(39-40) [glyphs]
Facit opera omnia, instrumenta omnia, fabricationem manuum, gressionem pedum, nativitatem societatis deorum, [p.270] visionem oculorum, auditum aurium, inspirationem per nasum venti; dant hœc voluptatem patri suo. Facit ut exeat decretum quodcumque a lingua, sapiens id sit. Creati sunt dei omnes (sed) nondum societas deorum ejus. Tunc facta est proclamatio divinorum verborum omnium sapientiœ.

Col. 12 (lines 40-44) [glyphs]
Societas deorum ejus coram eo in quassaiione nervorum, extensions manuum. Tum ... Horus fit ... . societas deorum, Tum per nervos ejus per digitos ejus; societas deorum trigenta?

Inscribitur in regione hâc Mat nomen rerum omnium exeuntium a Shu (et) Tefnet in Ma; (Col. 13) est [p.271] quid hujus, est quid illius, secundum voluntatem Ptah; fit virtus incorde, viqorin manu, .....in stomacho omni, in ore omni deorum omnium, hominum omnium, animalium omnium viventium et intelligentium (Col. 14) et loquentium; quidquid placeat cuique, quidquid est in corde, quidquid est in lingua, in portione Tum. Maximus ille Ptah...

We have brought our Latin version to the point where the text becomes hopelessly obliterated, and we shall now continue our notes upon the more difficult words in the text.

27.  [glyphs], sa, an epithet of Thoth, identical with the word [glyphs], ss'sau, of the Anastasi papyri, may be translated clever, skilful. The word as written in the XIX dynasty papyri, is probably not a dissyllable, ses'sau, but the [glyph] has been introduced to modify the ancient pronunciation sau, and we ought to pronounce it simply s'au. Dr Hincks, I believe, made [p.272] this observation in his dissertation upon the Egyptian characters, of 1848, and it seems to me perfectly well founded.

28. [glyphs], aa pehti. On the authority of the Greek text of the Rosetta Inscription, I adhere to the translation nobilissimus. The superlative must here be used, as the word is followed by the particle [glyph], which means above or beyond. In the Canopus Inscription also corresponds to [Greek]. So that [Greek] and [Greek] must both be considered as equivalents of pehti, although the word may in some places be used for strength or valour (see Chabas, Voyage, p. 332, note).

29. [glyphs] nemnem. A new word to me. Motion of some kind is indicated by the determinative [glyph], and the reduplicated form may indicate continuity or repetition of the same action, [glyphs]. The idea of growth, the constant shooting forth of vegetation answers well, and I translate the word conjecturally floret.

30. [glyphs] kaat-hat. Further on we have [glyphs] and in column 13, [glyphs] without accompaniment. I have never found these words elsewhere, unless they be identical with [glyphs] and [glyphs].26 But [glyphs] is used for work of the hands, while our kaat evidently refers to a quality of the mind. The Coptic klt, kl+, sapiens, intelligentia, and klt [p.273] xht, sapiens, are the obvious equivalents of kaat and kaat-hat.

31. [glyphs] This is a very obscure passage. I suppose [glyph] to be the same as [glyphs], morning or day. It may be doubted whether [glyphs] depends upon [glyphs] and whether it should not be taken as the commencement of the next phrase. If however the words be rightly joined as above, the meaning of the whole will be: a blessing ([glyphs], amaχ) was pronounced upon all things, in the day when he bid them exist, and before he had yet caused gods to be made for Ptah. One cannot but be struck with a certain resemblance in these words to the description of creation in the first chapter of Genesis.

32. [glyphs] In M. Sharpe's copy, we have [glyphs] It that be the true reading, we must suppose that the several gods of each particular city are intended.

33. [glyphs] These words are written parallel to each other in the vertical column, making an antithesis.

34. [glyphs] Here we have another antithesis between the heart or mind, and the tongue or taste. The connecting word is obscure in M. Sharpe's copy, but I have little hesitation in rendering it [glyphs], which occurs again a few words further on. This is a form of [glyphs] or [glyphs], sometimes written [glyphs], as in the inscription of Una published by M. de [p.274] Rougé in his Recherches. This word has doubtless several meanings, some of which are retained by its Coptic descendants is and isj. In the passage before us, as well as in the Una Inscription, it appears to have the meaning and, also or moreover. In the Aelleste Texten27 [glyphs] occurs meaning simply and: [glyphs], i.e. Anup and χentamenti, [glyphs] and [glyphs] are used in a similar way.

35. [glyphs]. It is admitted that [glyphs], tenas, has the meaning heavy as M. Chabas has shown. But it seems to have some secondary signification which has not yet been exactly defined. [glyph] and [glyphs]28 probably denote some kinds of metals. In the passage Sallier, p. 3, 1. 2: [glyphs], bolts made of some kind of metal, the determinative sign [glyph] appears to stand for the word [glyphs].

36. In the inscription the words translated amicos et inimicos are written parallel to each other, and so also are the succeeding phrases: dat vitam justis, dat mortem injustis. We have thus ÷, life, in antithesis with [glyphs] tat, which must mean death. I am not aware of the occurrence of this word elsewhere. Probably [p.275] [glyph] is not the letter j but [glyph], which occurs as determinative of death.29 [glyphs] χbnt, is opposed to [glyphs], hatap, the latter meaning what is acceptable to god, the former the contrary; so that χr hatap and χr χbnt may be translated not improbably the righteous and the unrighteous. [glyphs] is he who receives the divine command with pleasure; [glyphs] one who hates and rejects it.

37. [glyphs], nut. This word is well known and has various meanings. What the object [glyph] is, has not been accurately determined. It is apparently a sort of mallet. It is perhaps used here in its original sense, and I have translated it vaguely instrumenta.

38. [glyphs], arkai. This word usually means either last, Copt. lurhj, finis; or oath, Copt. wrk, jurare. In the passage before us the meaning decree seems more suitable. This sense is in fact allied closely to that of finis, terminus: definire, determinare, to appoint, limit or fix by a decree.

39. The word [glyphs], nas, proclaim, wants its usual determinative [glyph]. I do not understand the small basilisk [glyph] joined with the [glyph] in the text. It is possibly a mistake.

40. [glyphs], kammt. This word is quite unknown [p.276] to me. I suspect that the owls ought to be eagles, and the word corrected to kaat, wisdom.30

41. [glyphs],31 nuhu, is probably the same word as [glyphs] nennuhu, Copt. nex, excutere. The determinative is obscure.

42. [glyphs] The letters [glyphs] are doubtful. The passage is obscure; but something seems to pass between Horus and Tum, as to the creation of gods.

43. [glyphs]32 mpu. I can make nothing of this word unless it be the equivalent of the Coptic plp, thirty, the three slightly curved lines serving as a determinative indicating three tons. The following word [glyphs] of which the determinative appears to be [glyphs], is also very doubtful; perhaps may be intended. Compare the passage in de Rougé's Recherches, p. 47, and Brugsch, Diction., p. 1206.

44. [glyphs], ra pen mat, this region of Mat. The use of [glyphs] for region is not uncommon. Recueil IV, 29. 4: [glyphs], region of the east; So Recueil III, 98 , 12; also Recueil IV, 17, 100 [glyphs].

The word [glyphs] is usually employed to mean rose-coloured granite. It here is the name of a region or district, and we learn from a later column of the ins- [p.277] cription that it was identical with [glyphs], Ta-tanen Mat being the more ancient name.

From the determinative, the word [glyphs] would seem to mean originally the heart or some thing connected with the heart. I suspect the pericardium or sack which contains the heart is intended, and this word is the same as mat, in the mysterious 30th chapter of the Ritual, where the words [glyphs] have not yet been satisfactorily explained. The meaning probably is: let my heart be restored to the pericardium. In chap. 26, [glyphs], may mean the same thing. That is a part of the body appears from a passage in the Aelteste Texten, pl. 5, col. 15: [glyphs] my MAT is given unto me. This occurs in a list of various parts of the body, which are said to be restored to the defunct.

45. Shu and Tefnut were the first born children of Ra, the sun, and they are represented as concurring in some way in the process of creation, each presiding over a particular department. The construction of the passage is very doubtful, and the meaning may perhaps be: all things from which Shu and Tefnut are manifested. The succeeding words also present a puzzle; perhaps [glyphs] is the same as [glyphs], who, what, which, and the meaning of the whole may be that it was the province of Ptah to say which name belonged to which.


46. [glyphs] The first letter of the word is lost. The determinative [glyph], as well as the context, shows that animals are intended.

47. [glyphs], at, portion, division; Copt. toe. As before, the apposition of the names of each of the works of creation was said to be [glyphs], the province of Ptah, so here the distribution of various qualities of strength, courage, etc., the gifts of the understanding and of the tongue are said to be [glyphs], the portion or province of Tum.

The text here ceases to be readable; but we see that what followed had reference principally to Ptah. The upper part of columns 15, 16, 17 and 18 is preserved. At the top is a horizontal line containing the words Ptah in the divine forms.33 Underneath are four figures of Ptah, in the mummy-like form, but with two hands displayed, holding the cucupha-sceptre. These figures are entitled: 1 Ptah [glyphs], Ptah the old. 2 Ptah [glyphs]; this title is obscure; perhaps it means king of the land. 3 Ptah [glyphs], Ptah-nun, i.e. Ptah in the form of the water-god. 4 Ptah [glyphs], Ptah in the ancient seat. Beneath these figures very little remains legible.

On plate 37, there remain only two fragments of two vertical lines. At the top of col. 3, we have the name of [p.279] Seb and the character for son, this latter figure facing the other hieroglyphics.

Col. 5 (Sharpe's Pl. 36) is headed by the character for Horus facing those for Isis and Nephthys, and beneath the word t'ot, the whole meaning: Saith Horus to Isis and Nephthys.

The remaining words of the beginning of the speech only form a doubtful phrase. The rest of the column is obliterated, excepting the few last words. These joined to the words at the top of the following column run thus: [glyphs] ducunt eum ad (locum) quo mergeretur Osiris in aquissuis, conspicientibus Iside....

It is plain we have here a repetition of the story given in cols 4 and 5 of Pl. 38,34 of the fall of Osiris into the water in the sight of Isis and Nephthys, who are charged by Horus to rescue him from drowning.

The column 7 (Pl. 36) is headed: Saith Seb to the society of gods, and the same heading is repeated in the five succeeding columns. It appears to me that the six columns contain one connected speech, and that a new sentence or address does not commence at the top of each column. There are some large spaces obliterated and there are also some spaces left blank in the inscription. It is doubtful whether these were so in the original before it was restored by king Sabaco. I suspect these [p.280] blanks must indicate ancient obliterations which it was found impossible to restore.

The purport of the speech addressed by Seb to the gods is to settle the contest of Horus and Set. Very little can be made out of the scanty remains of the text. I will here give a phrase of some interest: [glyphs] Stet Horus super terram; conjunget terram hanc Mat in nomine prisco Tatanen memphitice.

The reader will see that it is not clear from this whether Mat or Ta-tanen were the more ancient name. The name of Tatanen however certainly continued to be remembered to late times, while that of Mat seems to have vanished altogether and is known only from this inscription.

The 13th column on Pl. 36 is headed by the name of Seb facing the name of Horus, beneath which there is room for another figure. There can be no question that the vacuum was originally filled by the figure of Set, as it is evident that more than one person is addressed by Seb. The speech is obliterated with the exception of the phrase [glyphs], the south and the north to the first son of his body ([glyphs] is either an error or an ancient form of [glyphs]). All the rest, which must have had reference to Set as well as to Horus, has been left unrestored.


The 14th column contains an address of Seb to Horus alone. It runs: [glyphs] I per locum demersionis patris tui in eo..... In boreali regione ille est. Seb dat hœreditatem suam Horo filio.

In the heading of col. 15, the personage to whom Seb addresses a speech is entirely wanting, and it is clear that we must again supply the figure of Set. The address is as follows: [glyphs] I per locum nativitatis tuae. Est in aastrali mons, arnatus a Seb, conjungens portionem. Hori ad portionem Set.

At the bottom of this column the name of Set has been obliterated subsequently to the restoration by Sabako, the marks of obliteration plainly appearing in M. Sharpe's copy.

The following columns 16 and 17 contain a kind of explanatory comment upon the two preceding speeches. The name of Set has been erased in two places: [glyphs] Cum divideret terras, ille (Seb) Horus (et) Set sleterunt [p.282] super stationem, conventum facientes: Terra de An terminus terrœ est. Terra de An terminus terrœ est.

Here follows a blank to the bottom of the column.

In the above text the words [glyphs], ha, stand, are placed parallel to each other, and so also the words [glyphs], at, station. This arrangement has been explained before. It is here applied so as to represent the transaction in the most significant way. Horus and Set are pictured standing upon two opposite eminences, from whence they make the solemn agreement one with the other, contained in the following words which the sculptor would doubtless have arranged in parallel vertical lines, had not the shape of some of the hieroglyphics rendered this inconvenient. The words which each pronounces are: The land of An is the boundary of the land.

[glyphs], An, is the name of the XXI nome of Lower Egypt. It was the district in which lay the quarries of Troia, now called Tura, some miles to the south of Cairo.35 The name of its divisions are given in Recueil III, pl. 15. Its mer [glyph], was [glyphs], the great stream, or [p.283] the great water-meadow. Its uu, [glyphs], was [glyphs], the front of the red rock. Its pehu, [glyphs], was which may mean the pool of the proclamation of the two gods. In this name we have probably a trace of the legend which makes this locality to have been that where Horus and Set divided the land.

The word [glyphs] in the text is the same as [glyphs] of the later texts, which seems best translated by the word station:

Col. 17 [glyphs]
Die comprimendi rixas eorum, ponit Set regem in terra australi, in loco unde venisset; in Sasasou ille est. Seb ponit Horum regem in terra boreali, in loco quo mer sus est pater ejus.

From this it would appear that the earliest tradition regarding the god Set was that he came from the southern country and from the place named Sasasu. M. Brugsch has cited several places in which Set is named in connection with Sasasu ([glyphs]) I am not aware that the locality has been identified. From col. 15, it is clear that the legend represented Set as having been born in this place, and it was a mountainous district said to have been beloved by Seb and connecting the boundaries of the two lands. In this case it must be looked for not [p.284] far from the nome of An, where the convention took place. Sasasu it mentioned Pap. Sallier IV, p. 11, 5, in the legend of the 15th choiak, but the meaning of this legend is obscure and it is doubtful whether Sasasu is taken there are the name of a town; see also Pap. Sallier IV, p. 17, 4, and Leiden pap. 344, p. 11, 4.

The word [glyphs] also occurs in the name of a king on the Karnak tablet, 43.

Col. 18. There only remains in the middle:

Offerunt illi dei omnes cum contenderet cum Set.

The word [glyphs] has occurred before.36 [glyphs] is used here in the sense of contend, debate a question. It has this sense in Pap. d'Orbiney, p. 19, 5, where Bata is said to have brought his wife before his counsellors and pleaded with her in their presence, whereupon they pronounced sentence. The debate between Horus and Set is mentioned Pap. Sallier IV, p. 9, 4.

Col. 19 is blank at beginning and end. All that remains is a sentence which reads: generatus est ille a Tuni, creatore societatis deorum.

Col. 20 is entirely blank.

Col. 21. In the middle are the words: Terrain australem borealem conjunxit hic, ornatus australi corona, ornatus boreali corona.

Col. 22. In the middle are the words:


Ptah hic est Mat in nomine prisco..., the meaning of which was perhaps: This was the kingdom of Ptah called anciently Mat. The last figures [glyphs] give no sense; if we compare the text with that of col. 12, one is inclined to suspect that [glyphs] is a mistaken restoration of [glyphs].

Here closes this ancient document of which time has only spared a few fragments, enough to stimulate curiosity, but futile to satisfy it.

Ch. Wycliffe Goodwin.


1 Plates 36 , 37 and 38.

2 Dans l'inscription, le nom de Ptah est représenté par la figure de ce dieu, qui manque à mon assortiment de types (F. Chabas).

3 Berlin Pap. I, 1. 215 occurs [glyphs], which is to be transcribed sa. This phonetic value is now admitted by all Egyptologists for the sign [glyphs] and its variants.

4 Chabas, Pap. Mag, Harris, pl. 214.

5 Bonomi, pl. i, 7, 18, etc.

6 Diction., p. 1342.

7 IV Sallier, Back, p. 1, 1. 17.

8 III Recueil, Pl. XIII, A, 9.

9 Ibid., Pl. XXIV, C , 2.

10 Ibid., Pl. XIII A , 2, C, and elsewhere.

11 Ibid., Pl. LXII.

12 Bk. I, ch. 21.

13 Burton, Excerpta hierog, Pl. XXXIX. See Brugsch, Geog. I, p. 134. The words or the obelisk are: [glyphs] and I have much doubt whether we should not consider these words as two titles of Ramesses: Soldier of Anata, bull (son?) of Set.

14 Pap. Berlin II, lig. 8.

15 Todtb. ch. 78, lig. 4.

16 Zoega, catal. p. 385.

17Pistis Sophia, p. 275, 1. 20.

18 Diction., p. 500.

19 Pap. Prisse, pl. 7, I. 11.

20 Ibid., pl. 10, 10.

21 BONOMI, pl. 13 , col. 5.

22 Acts, 1,8.

23  See III Recueil, pl. 38, col. 3.

24 Brugsch, Geog., vol. I, p. 236.

25 See Brugsch, Dict., p. 855, and Chabas, Inscription de Rosette, p. 46, where a different view of the origin of the word [glyphs] is taken.

26 BRUGSCH, Diction., p. 1476.

27 Pl. 6, col. 5.

28 Dans l'original ces trois signes sont un peu différents; ils sont croisés par deux diagonales. (F. C.)

29  Brugsch, Diction., p. 176.

30 See above, p. 272, note 30.

31 Le détenninatif de ce mot, tel que le donne la planche de M. Sharpe, ne se rapporte à aucun hiéroglyphe connu (F. C.).

32 Dans l'original les trois lignes sont légèrement courbes. (F. C.)

33 In this passage [glyphs] is evidently an error for [glyphs].

34 See above, p. 252.

35 See Zeitschrift, 1867, p. .91, 92, 93.

36 See above, p. 265.