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Hi Martin,

Thanks for the chronological clarification. Yes, you're absolutely on target that there are examples of x and ra distinguishable through context only in Old Kingdom hieratic. Without taking additional time out to rummage around in sources, I can't comment very usefully on distinctions of given characters in individual hands (or between similar characters in the same hand) of the Old Kingdom, but some of this can be detected by carefully examining palaeography tables. For the Ramesside period the matter of individual hands has been discussed by Jac. J. Janssen in the early 1990s in Journal of Egyptian Archaeology; the reference is in my article on hieratic referred to in my earlier post. There are periods (Late Middle Kingdom hieratic comes to mind) in which context is often needed to disambiguate some signs, and periods (Ramesside business hieratic comes to mind) in which many signs seem to be reduced to vertical lines and little oblique ticks. (Some scholars like Sarah Groll have taken to transcribing them "realistically" so that the hieroglyphic transcription is just as opaque and uninformative as the hieratic text.)

A couple of points regarding other posts. The Khufu graffiti aren't in a "subterranean" chamber but in the middle of the pyramid and were put on the block before it was put into position. (Compare Graham Hancock's post about the writing going into cracks.) They name a work gang. Why did the Egyptians do this? I really don't know why modern workers do a lot of the things they do, including scribbles that occasionally go on big cartons, crates etc. The evidence at a number of sites indicates that the Egyptians did what they did. A foreman or scribe with the necessary level of literacy would be available. (NB: Harry Smith published in JEA the rock inscriptions from the Middle Kingdom fort at Buhen, including the signatures of many soldiers. We don't know that they could write more than their name. Those inscriptions are one indication that literacy increased in the Middle Kingdom compared with the Old Kingdom.)

Another point. A "reality check" is needed for all of these lurid statements about capital punishment for writing on a sacred monument etc. etc. Give me a break. The Egyptians wrote lots of graffiti on their sacred monuments, while the monuments were still in use. Some are admiring or seem to be the work of people we would consider pilgrims, some are just a name or name and a title (like a "scribe Seti" whose graffito I photographed at Deir el-Bahri). In Temples, Tombs and Hieroglyphs, Barbara Mertz has interesting comments about the representation and name of Senmut in the Deir el-Bahri temple. Bottom line: The Egyptians had a wonderful sense of the sacred but they weren't sanctimonous or "holier-than-thou." Graffiti giving hostile or disparaging cartoons of a monarch? What may well be depictions of Hatshepsut and Senmut have been found at Deir el-Bahri. There are also distinctly disparaging images of Akhenaten. (See my article on Humor and Wit, Ancient Egypt, in the Anchor Bible Dictionary, where references are given.)

Regards,

Edmund S. Meltzer

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Subject Views Written By Posted
Michael Hayes: Thought on Egypt's Anomalies 298 Graham Langdon 14-Oct-04 21:47
Re: Michael Hayes: Thought on Egypt's Anomalies 240 Michael Hayes 15-Oct-04 15:42
Re: Michael Hayes: Thought on Egypt's Anomalies 209 Graham Langdon 15-Oct-04 18:10
Re: Michael Hayes: Thought on Egypt's Anomalies 214 SiddhaAwakens 15-Oct-04 22:10
is it accurate to say you, Graham, have changed 207 JimLewandowski 15-Oct-04 23:52
Re: is it accurate to say you, Graham, have changed 185 Graham Langdon 16-Oct-04 01:10
Re: is it accurate to say you, Graham, have changed 187 Jon B 16-Oct-04 10:20
Re: is it accurate to say you, Graham, have changed 209 Cesar 16-Oct-04 10:37
Thanks for that, my mistake 181 Jon B 16-Oct-04 11:08
Re: is it accurate to say you, Graham, have changed 189 Lee McGiffen 16-Oct-04 11:14
Re: is it accurate to say you, Graham, have changed 189 Cesar 16-Oct-04 14:45
Re: is it accurate to say you, Graham, have changed 191 Lee McGiffen 16-Oct-04 11:11
Re: is it accurate to say you, Graham, have changed 194 Citizen Attorney 16-Oct-04 17:06
Re: is it accurate to say you, Graham, have changed 207 fisherman 18-Oct-04 19:44
Re: is it accurate to say you, Graham, have changed 200 Michael Hayes 18-Oct-04 19:49
Re: is it accurate to say you, Graham, have changed 207 Elizabeth Newton 19-Oct-04 04:54
Re: is it accurate to say you, Graham, have changed 203 edmundmeltzer 19-Oct-04 00:08
Re: is it accurate to say you, Graham, have changed 177 Elizabeth Newton 19-Oct-04 04:59
Re: is it accurate to say you, Graham, have changed 191 fisherman 19-Oct-04 17:51
Re: is it accurate to say you, Graham, have changed 200 edmundmeltzer 19-Oct-04 22:47
Re: is it accurate to say you, Graham, have changed 176 Graham Langdon 20-Oct-04 22:27
Re: is it accurate to say you, Graham, have changed 184 Martin Stower 21-Oct-04 17:45
Re: is it accurate to say you, Graham, have changed 214 edmundmeltzer 22-Oct-04 03:29
Re: is it accurate to say you, Graham, have changed 148 Martin Stower 22-Oct-04 13:52
Re: Michael Hayes: Thought on Egypt's Anomalies 178 Michael Hayes 16-Oct-04 20:37
Re: Michael Hayes: Thought on Egypt's Anomalies 261 edmundmeltzer 16-Oct-04 05:56
Re: Michael Hayes: Thought on Egypt's Anomalies 235 Jon B 16-Oct-04 10:01
Re: Michael Hayes: Thought on Egypt's Anomalies 183 edmundmeltzer 16-Oct-04 11:24
Re: Michael Hayes: Thought on Egypt's Anomalies 192 Michael Hayes 16-Oct-04 18:49
Re: Michael Hayes: Thought on Egypt's Anomalies 189 edmundmeltzer 16-Oct-04 19:27
Re: Michael Hayes: Thought on Egypt's Anomalies 179 Michael Hayes 16-Oct-04 19:55
another possibility: naming rights 182 Citizen Attorney 16-Oct-04 22:04
Re: another possibility: naming rights 185 Tau 17-Oct-04 21:02
Re: Michael Hayes: Thought on Egypt's Anomalies 223 edmundmeltzer 16-Oct-04 22:09
Re: Michael Hayes: Thought on Egypt's Anomalies 213 Michael Hayes 17-Oct-04 00:32
Re: Michael Hayes: Thought on Egypt's Anomalies 176 Nebankh 17-Oct-04 01:01
Re: Michael Hayes: Thought on Egypt's Anomalies 202 edmundmeltzer 17-Oct-04 01:45
Re: Michael Hayes: Thought on Egypt's Anomalies 217 Nebankh 17-Oct-04 01:58
Re: Michael Hayes: Thought on Egypt's Anomalies 183 Nebankh 17-Oct-04 02:03
Re: Michael Hayes: Thought on Egypt's Anomalies 199 Brian Patterson 17-Oct-04 19:19
Re: Michael Hayes: Thought on Egypt's Anomalies 183 Martin Stower 18-Oct-04 17:51
Re: Michael Hayes: Thought on Egypt's Anomalies 196 Tau 17-Oct-04 21:26
Re: Michael Hayes: Thought on Egypt's Anomalies 186 Michael Hayes 17-Oct-04 23:10
Re: Michael Hayes: Thought on Egypt's Anomalies 207 music 22-Oct-04 03:56
Re: Michael Hayes: Thought on Egypt's Anomalies 228 Michael Hayes 22-Oct-04 11:51
Re: Michael Hayes: Thought on Egypt's Anomalies 193 Mr. Hunter 16-Oct-04 23:01
Re: Michael Hayes: Thought on Egypt's Anomalies 216 Michael Hayes 17-Oct-04 20:40
Re: Michael Hayes: Thought on Egypt's Anomalies 176 Martin Stower 18-Oct-04 17:58
Re: Michael Hayes: Thought on Egypt's Anomalies 179 Michael Hayes 18-Oct-04 19:45
Re: Michael Hayes: Thought on Egypt's Anomalies 183 Nebankh 17-Oct-04 01:18
Re: Michael Hayes: Thought on Egypt's Anomalies 192 Michael Hayes 17-Oct-04 02:24
Re: Michael Hayes: Thought on Egypt's Anomalies 185 Fredspage 17-Oct-04 22:03
Re: Michael Hayes: Thought on Egypt's Anomalies 188 Michael Hayes 17-Oct-04 23:21
Re: Michael Hayes: Thought on Egypt's Anomalies 250 Bewildered 18-Oct-04 03:43
Re: Michael Hayes: Thought on Egypt's Anomalies 207 Fredspage 18-Oct-04 12:30
Re: Michael Hayes: Thought on Egypt's Anomalies 197 Cesar 18-Oct-04 13:41
Re: Michael Hayes: Thought on Egypt's Anomalies 177 Michael Hayes 18-Oct-04 19:59
Re: Michael Hayes: Thought on Egypt's Anomalies 202 Cesar 18-Oct-04 20:12
Re: Michael Hayes: Thought on Egypt's Anomalies 201 Michael Hayes 18-Oct-04 20:45
Re: Michael Hayes: Thought on Egypt's Anomalies 178 Cesar 18-Oct-04 21:32
Re: Michael Hayes: Thought on Egypt's Anomalies 176 Michael Hayes 18-Oct-04 22:13
Re: Michael Hayes: Thought on Egypt's Anomalies 212 Raja 18-Oct-04 21:52
Re: Michael Hayes: Thought on Egypt's Anomalies 198 Bewildered 19-Oct-04 00:31
Re: Michael Hayes: Thought on Egypt's Anomalies 211 Elizabeth Newton 19-Oct-04 05:07
Re: Michael Hayes: Thought on Egypt's Anomalies 333 edmundmeltzer 19-Oct-04 05:37
Re: Michael Hayes: Thought on Egypt's Anomalies 218 edmundmeltzer 19-Oct-04 05:47
Re: Michael Hayes: Thought on Egypt's Anomalies 190 Elizabeth Newton 19-Oct-04 11:37
Re: Michael Hayes: Thought on Egypt's Anomalies 203 Martin Stower 20-Oct-04 12:26
Re: Michael Hayes: Thought on Egypt's Anomalies 209 edmundmeltzer 21-Oct-04 01:12
Re: Michael Hayes: Thought on Egypt's Anomalies 236 music 22-Oct-04 16:06


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