> I've uploaded a major revision to my paper here:
> The Westcar Papyrus is an ancient Egyptian papyrus
> thought to date to the Hyksos period (circa 18th
> to 16th century BCE). The collection of stories
> centres around the IVth Dynasty Pharaoh Khufu (aka
> Cheops) and a series of wonders or acts of magic
> performed by various priests. The stories have
> been given the title “King Cheops and the
> magicians”. In this paper, I review the stories
> within the Westcar Papyrus and seek to:
> 1. Establish that the stories are using elements
> of mythological storytelling to convey
> astronomical data;
> 2. Offer a new understanding of what Khufu seeks
> for his horizon or Pyramid through a new
> translation of a critical phrase within the story
> of Djedi; and
> 3. Establish a timeframe based on the astronomical
> data encoded within the stories that has been
> interpreted to date.
> This revision refines the thinking around the
> characters Reusre and Userref which provides a
> better identification of the children of Ruddjedet
> and what is meant by the house of Thoth. I have
> also included a new section on possible R.A.
> alignments. As always, keen for feedback.
There are two main criticisms that I have received in private correspondence for my paper:
1. The premise of an orally transmitted myth that was subsequently written down allows for speculation but it is difficult to determine what was the reality; and
2. Lull and Belmonte's papers are based on New Kingdom and Ptolemaic era whereas the Westcar Papyrus is a Middle Kingdom document with a potentially older origin.
I want to discuss both of these criticisms. I had an unfounded idea that these stories could relay astronomical information, inspired somewhat by Sweatman’s seeming success at “decoding” Gobekli Tepe. While that inspiration was perhaps ill-informed, I formed a hypothesis that the stories of the Westcar Papyrus were encoding astronomical data. At this point, my hypothesis was speculative and required evidence to support the hypothesis. However, our knowledge of Old or even Middle Kingdom astronomy is extremely limited.
One of the highest quality papers on Egyptian astronomy I found was that of Lull and Belmonte who review New Kingdom and Ptolemaic era astronomical ceilings, coffin lids and the Zodiac of Dendera to determine an Egyptian firmament. The approach I took in my paper is to review the characters of the stories to test whether the known Egyptian constellations that Lull and Belmonte identify from could reasonably be applied to those characters. For each character that I assign a constellation, I offer reasoning.
The projection of astronomical knowledge from the New Kingdom and Ptolemaic era onto a Middle Kingdom document should not be possible without awkward attributions. What I found early on was that there was some limited success in the story of Djedi the Magician. As I worked through additional stories, I came to realise that all of the stories could be explained by reference to the Egyptian firmament identified in Lull & Belmonte and not only that but they referred to different elements of the same night sky.
I argue that the ability to explain not just a single story but all stories, the traceability I offer through explanation provides the supporting evidence necessary for this part of my hypothesis. Do you agree?