Monthly Archives: February 2012

BM EA 589- The Punishment of Neferabu

BM EA 589 "recto"

This is the first of many Texts from Ancient Egypt that I will post on here in translation. They will probably gravitate towards the research I am performing on personal religion. This text comes from an inscribed stela from Deir el-Medina, and details Neferabu’s experience of the divine punishment of Ptah. This stela, BM EA 589,  forms part of the “personal piety” corpus of the New Kingdom and dates from around the time of Ramesses II. It is also unusual for the fact that it is inscribed with text on both sides.

It is housed in the British Museum and is only small at  39 cm x 8cm x 5cm. It was probably placed in the Ptah sanctuary on the path from Deir el-Medina (the village of the workmen working in the valley) to the Valley of the Kings (the place of truth that is mentioned in the text). The “recto”/front of the stela shows the owner Neferabu (in the bottom right) adoring Ptah, who is sat in front of a table of offerings.The upper register also shows a number of carved ears, so that Ptah may hear the call of Neferabu.  The lower register of the front is a short hymn to Ptah. However, the part of this artefact that I am focussing on in this post is the text inscribed on the “verso”/back of the stela (shown at the bottom of this post). So here’s what it says:

BM EA 589 “verso”

The beginning of the recital of the power of Ptah, of his south wall, by the servant in the place of truth in the west of Thebes, Neferabu, the justified.

He says:

“I am a man who swore falsely by Ptah, Lord of Truth- he caused me say darkness by day.

I will speak of his power to those who know him and those who do not know him,

to the small and the great!

Beware of Ptah, Lord of Truth!

Look, he has not overlooked the  misdeeds of anyone,

avoid swearing on the name of Ptah in falsehood.

Look, whoever says it in falsehood is overthrown!”

“He caused me to be like the dogs in the street,

my being in his hand.

He caused men and gods to look upon me as a man who has transgressed against his lord.

Ptah, Lord of Truth was true against me, as he taught me a lesson.

Be merciful to me, so that I may see your mercy!”

By the servant in the Place of Truth in the west of Thebes, Neferabu, the justified before the great god.

(Translation by D.M.Potter)

This text is interesting for a few reasons. First of all, it discusses the divine punishment of an individual. From the text it appears that through taking a false oath, Neferabu is punished by Ptah. This punishment takes the form of “seeing darkness by day”, whether this means temporary blindness or a lack of divine presence is up to questioning. Language wise there are also a number of illuminating points. 1) there is a fantastic pun of iway n iwyt(the dogs in the street) 2) Ptah has “taught me a lesson” works in a modern an ancient sense and 3) “my being in his hand” is written in a sense of possession and control, in the Teaching of Amenemope it also says that one should not “make fun of a man who is in the hand of god”.

The final thing that should be noted is that Neferabu did not learn his lesson, as  he got himself into trouble again with the godess Meretseger. This interaction is inscribed in the text of Turin N 50058

BM EA 589 "verso"

For more information about this text and the other texts of the personal piety corpus see the following:

Galan, J.M. (1999), ‘Seeing Darkness’, Chronique D’Égypte, 74, 18-30.

Baines, J. and Frood, E. (2011), ‘Piety, Change and Display in the New Kingdom’, in M.A. and Snape Collier, S.R. (ed.), Ramesside Studies in Honour of K.A. Kitchen; Bolton: Rutherford Press, 1-18.

Borghouts, J.L. (1982), ‘Divine Intervention in Ancient Egypt and its Manifestation (bAw)’, in R.J. Demaree, And Janssen, J.J. (ed.), Gleanings from Deir el-Medina; Leiden: Nederlands Instituut voor het Nabije Oosten, 1-70.

AND for full information on the artefact from the British Museum:

Categories: Egyptology | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Paris:The City of Lights

Last week I took a week off from Liverpool and went away to Paris for a few days ( thanks to Alex- she bought me the tickets for christmas), a brilliant idea and a deserved break I think. As we set off, the majority of Europe was experiencing what might likely be called “a cold snap”, the canals were freezing in Amsterdam, snow was falling on London and a few cities further east like Budapest and Sarejevo were shut down completely. So a nice warm time to visit.

However, if anything the cold weather just allowed us to get to places quicker and without the customary long queues usually present at the city’s favourite attractions. So heres a bit about what Alex and I learnt in the City of Lights.

1) The Louvre is very easy to get lost in and lose track of time in.

We visited The Louvre  during their late opening hours on Wednesday and went back for seconds on Thursday. I can highly recommend going during these late hours as you get to see the pyramid lit up fantastically, it also means that you can get up close to some of the more popular objects such as La joconde (the mona lisa), the venus de milo, and lots of the more popular paintings for large groups to view. We visited these works as well as other amazing artefacts such as the Hammurabi Code and Napoleon III’s appartments-  I shall be decorating my flat in a similar decadant fashion!

The Egyptian collection of the Louvre is fantastic, the collection was built up (on top of the existing royal collection) firstly by Napoleon as a result of his expedition to egypt- which resulted in the production of  Description de l’Egypte. As such, one wing of the Louvre is named Denon after Vivant Denon, the first director of the Louvre- who is buried in  the Pere Lachaise cemetary not too far away. The collection was then expanded under the orders of Charles X, this included acquisitions from Auguste Mariette, Bernadino Drovetti, Andre Durand and Henry Salt. So there is a great variety of artefacts from a wide period of Egyptian History. (Sadly on this visit the Coptic Gallery was closed for  refurbishment). The collection is split into two galleries- a thematic and a chronological. It is amazing and as such it is difficult to describe all of it, I will write a few shorter blogs in the future about some of the collection.

As always it is difficult when looking at so many pieces to spot the one object that you know to be housed within the museum you are in, after all it may be in storage at the time anyway. So on our way to find the exit, which is always easier said than done in the Louvre which has a Labyrinthine nature to it, I saw a small Ostracon in a cabinet marked “Magie” so I bent down to look at it. It was in fact O. Louvre 698- A Letter to the Dead written by Butehamun. This formed a large part of my MA thesis, I have never seen a photograph of this object, there is none published! So despite there being many other pictures from the Louvre, this is the one I have chosen to show here. Not only because I have a bit of a personal attachment to it but also because this small artefact was walked past by most people and its content is amazing! Again a future blog WILL be on this artefact, I promise.

A letter to the dead written by Butehamun.

2) Paris will cause you to fill up your camera’s memory

Much like Berlin, Cairo, Rome and New York, Paris is a beautiful and wonderful city. Also, due to my Mum’s influence when I was younger, I now love taking photographs. Paris has spectacular views though my favourite is the one below–>

This is the view of the Place de la Concorde from the end of Rue de Rivoli. The obelisk is around 3000 years older  than the EIffel Tower(Dating to the reign of Ramesses II), and used to stand at the pylon of the Luxor temple. If you walk up to the obelisk, you also get a view through  Le Jardin de Tuileries to the Louvre, and in the opposite direction down the Champs Elysees to the Arc de Triomphe (which has some reliefs of Napoleon’s Egyptian Expedition high up as well).

3) Egyptologists get everywhere!

Just to show this, the most unusual place I think I have found an Egyptian tomb relief- Disneyland

It was in a small attraction about the art of animation. It seems to be an unusual composite of the Ani Book of the Dead kept at the British Museum and the Beni Hasan Wrestling reliefs in the tomb of Baket III. I may be wrong, but it is unusual none the less. Sadly, I didn’t get chance to ask Mickey Mouse about his views on the current state in Egypt.

There is obviously lots more to say about Paris, the Louvre and there is lots of pictures to show you all as well.They may make it into a future post on here. But for the minute there are a few links for you:

(get there if you haven’t been already, even if you have, go again! Also under 25’s get in free) (one good part of this is the Museum pass which saves you time and money)

Categories: Egyptology, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment

My introduction to the electronic world!

Hi everyone!

This is my first post on my brand new, shiny blog. On here I will be posting all sorts of bits about Egyptology and my studies at the University Liverpool- letting you all know what I’m up to and what I have been looking at. There is a fair chance as well that I will also be putting other posts on here that are less Egyptological, but otherwise there is a chance we will all start seeing hieroglyphs everywhere…. it’s happened before!


Categories: Egyptology, Everything else, Reading/Reviews, Running, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , | 3 Comments

Create a free website or blog at