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Harkhuf's journeys to Africa
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Meresankh
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 16, 2005 11:25 am    Post subject: Harkhuf's journeys to Africa Reply with quote

just thought some people might be interested in this BBC site about HArkhuf and his journeys into Africa. It's got a transcript of the famous letter about the pygmy, too!

www.bbc.co.uk/history/egyptians/human_gallery_1.shtml

I'd still love to know how a pygmy got to Kush, though, much less to Punt! I mean, how DID you get from central Africa to the East African coast in those days?
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Meresankh
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 16, 2005 11:30 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sorry, the underscores aren't coming through, so try

www.bbc.co.uk/history/ancient/egyptians/

and open on "Voices from ancient Egypt".
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anneke
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 16, 2005 1:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for that link Meresankh Very Happy

I just received the latest edition of a journal called KMT (got it yesterday). It has an article called "The African Journeys of Count Harkhuf & The Gift of the Dancing Dwarf". I haven't had time to read it yet, but I immediately thought of our discussion when I saw it.
It does have a full page size painting by a H.M.Herget depicting as it says:
"the return voyage north of Count Harkhuf, Governor of Upper Egypt and Royal Chamberlain, following a trip to the land of Yam, where he aquired a rich cargo of goods for eight-year-old King Pepi II, including a dancing dwarf, seen performing for his temporary new master"

The article also has this picture of dancing pygmies:
http://www.dignubia.org/maps/timeline/img/b2300b-pygmies.jpg
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Meresankh
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 16, 2005 2:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've been looking at my son's school atlas, which shows the geographical features of Africa, and trying to work out how these journeys could have been undertaken (assuming the terrain was the same in those days). For instance,how did a pygmy get to Kush? I'll assume that the 6th cataract was the southern boundary of Kush. Well, if you take a journey down the White Nile you come to a tributary called the BAhr-el-Arab, which skirts the edge of the Sudd, and eventually leads into the rainforest. So possibly he made that journey in the opposite direction. An overland journey across the savannah is possible, I suppose, though I guess that traders and travellers wouldn't want to go too far from water in those days.

Now, getting to Punt would be a bit more complicated. An overland journey from west to east seems a bit unlikely here, because it would mean getting through the Sudd, a malarial swamp full of crocodiles and hippos which I suppose no-one would have wanted to spend much time in, in those days. Even in the 19th century, they were dropping like flies. The there'd have been a trip across the Ethiopian highlands, which I guess wouldn't ahve been too pleasant for a rainforest dweller. So I'd guess we're talking about a journey up the White Nile again, then reversing back down the Blue Nile into Ethiopia, and finally an overland journey to the coast.

It seems to point to an interesting web of trading connections along the courses of the Blue and White Niles, and into Ethiopia. Unless maybe pygmies were more widespread in Africa then, than they are now?
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 16, 2005 4:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Here's a copy of the inscriptions on Harkhuf's tomb.

Maybe you mentioned it before and I just didn't absorb it, but Harkhuf went on a total of 4 trips to Nubia. The first was lead by his father Iri. It was on the 4th trip that he got a pygmee for the 8 year old King Pepi II.

The article in KMT does talk about the location of these lands. When I havae more time, I will see if I can summarize the discussion about that.

There's an article on touregypt you might find interesting.
http://www.touregypt.net/featurestories/yam.htm

Harkhuf's trips took some 7 or 8 months.

Quote:
He tells us that they took, respectively, seven and eight months to travel to Yam and back. We also are told that on one journey he returned by way of Setju and Irthet, and another time via the frontier between the land of Setju and its southern neighbor, Irthet. The name, Wawat also is mentioned. Obviously, all of these territories were to the north of Yam, since they were on the return route. These references have led to considerable scholarly debate about Yam's location. 

Some scholars believe that Harkhuf's donkey caravans began their journey at Memphis, to which they also returned. Given the length of the journey, these scholars therefore belive that Wawat, Setju and Irthet were located in lower, or northern Nubia and that Yam was therefore in upper, or southern Nubia. Other scholars see Elephantine as the starting and end point for each caravan, with the trade goods then being shipped between this southern city and the more northerly capital. They believe that Yam lay further south, perhaps on or near the Shendi Reach of the Nile (above the fifth cataract, near where it divides into the White and Blue Nile). This would permit Wawat to comprise all of Lower Nubia, as it in fact did in later times, and Setju and Irthet to be in Upper Nubia. 

These two theories have considerable implications. According to the first, Wawat, Setju and Irthet would each be small in territory and best described as chiefdoms. At one point, Harkhuf found them to be combined under a single ruler, but even then they would represent only a fairly small kingdom. However, in the second case, each territory would have been much larger, and if combined, would represent a substantial kingdom that could be quite threatening to southern Egypt, as well as creating substantial problems with access tot he desirable goods available in Yam. 


This is one possible interpretation:

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anneke
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PostPosted: Sun Feb 20, 2005 6:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I looked at the KMT journal article ass well as Morkot's book The Black Pharaohs: Egypt's Nubian Rulers

There seem to be two different interpretations of the location of these Nubian states.

The more conservative view (proposed by people such as Gardiner and Edel)

Wawat: Extended fro the 1st cataract down to Seyala.
Irtjet: Corresponds roughly to the Korosko bend of the river. Extends from Wadi el-Sebua to Toshka.
Satju: Extends from Abu Simbel to Buhen Region.
Medjay: roughly from Buhen to 3rd cataract.
Yam: south of the Third Cataract. Yam would then correspond to a precursor of the Kerma culture?

The more radical view (proposed by David O'Connor 1986/1987 and onwards)
Wawat: Is all of Lower Nubia. From the first cataract (elephantine) all the way up to the 3rd cataract.
Irtjet and Satju take up most of the Dongola reach which extends from the Kerma basin in the north (near 3rd cataract) to approximately the 4th cataract.
Yam corresponds to the Berber-Shendi reach. (I think that means from the 5th to the 6th cataract.)


I have no idea which one's more likely. Harkhuf mentions taking 7 months to trtavel to Yam. But it's not clear where his starting point was. If it's measured from his home town of Nekhen and the 7 months is a 1-way trip then I could easily see Yam lying that far south. If the trip is measured from Memphis, and it's a 2-way trip then it's another story Smile .

The different interpretations do put very different lights on the the size of these kingdoms, as well as what it would take to control these regions.
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Meresankh
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 21, 2005 8:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Looking at his tomb inscription, it's also not made clear if he made an overland trip, or down the Nile, or a mixture of both. I imagine an overland trip would have been far more difficult in those days.
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 25, 2005 3:00 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

This is a little off topic, but I am always interested in such things as this, from the tomb inscriptions of Harkhuf (the link provided earlier by anneke):

Quote:
I was excellent ......... [one beloved] of his father, praised of his mother, whom all his brothers loved. I gave bread to the hungry, clothing to the naked, I ferried him who had no boat.


And here's an excerpt from the Bible, Matthew 25: 34 – 40:

Quote:
"Then I, the King, shall say to those at My right, ‘Come, blessed of My Father, into the kingdom prepared for you from the founding of the world. For I was hungry and you fed Me; I was thirsty and you gave Me water... naked and you clothed Me; sick and in prison, and you visited Me.’"


This business of clothing the naked and feeding the hungry is one of the major precepts of major world religions, such as Christianity. And yet the ancient Egyptians were preaching the same kinds of things long before many of these major world religions even existed. A people ahead of their time, no?
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anneke
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 25, 2005 3:39 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Interesting to see such social values expressed. I'm not surprised they valued these ideas, but it does say something that it made it into their tomb inscriptions.

Also intriguing that "I ferried him who had no boat" comes right after "I gave bread to the hungry, clothing to the naked". Somewhow shows the importance of being able to navigate the Nile.
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 25, 2005 9:07 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

That's a great example of the connections between Christian and ancient Egyptian religion. I never knew about that one. I find the connections and similarities between the two different religions very interesting and I wish more people could be open minded about things like this like we are here.

Is it true that the story of Ptah's creation of the world is similar to 'in the beginning there was the word'? Sorry, I've gone off at a tangent here...
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PostPosted: Sat Feb 26, 2005 2:26 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

From anneke:
Quote:
Also intriguing that "I ferried him who had no boat" comes right after "I gave bread to the hungry, clothing to the naked". Somewhow shows the importance of being able to navigate the Nile.


And it's not like that excerpt I quoted from the site you provided is rare. It is very commonly expressed by all sorts of Egyptians on their stelae and such. It's clear the Egyptians were concerned that they be remembered as generous and helpful to their fellow man.

From isisinacrisis:
Quote:
Is it true that the story of Ptah's creation of the world is similar to 'in the beginning there was the word'?


Now that's a new one for me. Anyone else heard of this before? If I start hearing of inscriptions stating that Ptah turned water into wine and fed the masses with fishes, I'm going to start to worry that some secret Christian sect has been going around and changing ancient Egyptian inscriptions.

Hmmm, possible new story line for a Dan Brown novel?
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PostPosted: Sat Feb 26, 2005 10:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hehehe...no, what I saw about Ptah was that he created the world by speaking it's name-in other words saying 'the word'.

I have also heard that there are loads of Bible verses that have similarities between older Egyptian texts. Not just the Akehnaten psalm. And also that the bit about Jesus saying the bread is his body and the wine is his blood comes from Osiris worship, where people would eat bread shaped like Osiris, or bread grown from grains in Osiris shaped growing beds-I can't remember right now...but imagine if DB saw that!!
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PostPosted: Sat Feb 26, 2005 11:08 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

kmt_sesh wrote:


This business of clothing the naked and feeding the hungry is one of the major precepts of major world religions, such as Christianity. And yet the ancient Egyptians were preaching the same kinds of things long before many of these major world religions even existed. A people ahead of their time, no?


I think things like this tend to be cross-cultural, though, don't they? For instance something very similar to the golden rule "do unto others as you would have them do unto you" is attributed to Confucius.

Actually, that BBC website I put up does also mention that many of the precepts in the Egyptian "books of instruction" did end up in the monotheistic religions, which I guess is not surprising, as they all originated in the same part of the world.
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PostPosted: Sat Feb 26, 2005 11:12 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

isisinacrisis wrote:
the bit about Jesus saying the bread is his body and the wine is his blood comes from Osiris worship, where people would eat bread shaped like Osiris, or bread grown from grains in Osiris shaped growing beds-I can't remember right now...but imagine if DB saw that!!


Actually, this has been known to scholars of comparative religions for a very long time - there are a lot of similarities between the stories of Christ's resurrection, and pagan vegetation gods such as Osiris and Dionysos. The bit about the grain being his body and the wine his blood is very strongly reminiscent of the cult of Dionysos, whose worshippers believed they could be at one with him by eating a sacred meal which represented him. I don't know if the worshippers of Osiris ever did the same. Possibly in Greek times, under the influence fof the Dionysos cult, they did.
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PostPosted: Sat Feb 26, 2005 11:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Actually, that BBC website I put up does also mention that many of the precepts in the Egyptian "books of instruction" did end up in the monotheistic religions, which I guess is not surprising, as they all originated in the same part of the world.


Can you tell me where on the site? I can't seem to find it...
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