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Das Totenbuch pBerlin P. 10477 aus Achmim (mit Photographien des verwandten pHildesheim 5248).

Das Totenbuch pBerlin P. 10477 aus Achmim (mit Photographien des verwandten pHildesheim 5248). By BARBARA LUSCHER, with contributions from Ursula Rossler-Kohler and Maria-Theresia Derchain-Urtel. Handschriften des Altagyptischen Totenbuchs, vol. 6. Wiesbaden: HARRASSOWITZ VERLAG, 2000. Pp. xiv + 50, plates.

This sixth publication from the Book of the Dead Project at the University of Cologne is a welcome edition to scholars of the Late Period (LP) traditions from the Book of the Dead (BD) in Egypt. In particular, it not only provides reproductions of two of the six papyri currently known to have been produced at Akhmim during the Late Period, but also includes a thorough description of the contents of these two documents. In the discussions concerning content, the author demonstrates an exceptionally keen eye for detail, and she provides several valuable tables to accompany these discussions.

In the introduction, the author provides a number of general comments about the Book of the Dead tradition at Akhmim, a tradition that produced documents with hieroglyphic script in Style 3 format. She observes that two subtraditions can be observed at Akhmim, with P. Berlin 10477 belonging to the subtradition I have identified as B and P. Hildesheim 5248 belonging to A. She points out the problems with the dates that Peter Munro proposed for two of the documents, and she agrees with me in stating that the dates proposed by Munro for the stelae also need thorough re-evaluation. She cites my proposed date of the late first century B.C., but she follows a proposed date of the late first century A.D. given by M.-Th. Derchain-Urtel, which I shall address further below. She then touches on all of the interesting issues that can be observed in the papyri: corrupt texts, dittographies, haplographies, omissions, and portions of the texts of some spells arranged out of order, to name just a few. She observes that the texts of the Akhmim papyri clearly came from a common source because the six papyri are very similar to each other in all key aspects, with even the corruptions being essentially identical.

The main body of the study is devoted to the content of P. Berlin 10477, which consists of a set of BD spells as well as a unique text associated with the ba that is only otherwise found in P. MacGregor, also from Akhmim.

The author breaks down the BD portion of the document into nine main sections, as I have also done (Papyrus of Hor [London: British Museum Press, 2001]). In the table wherein she lists the specific texts found in each section, she also lists the specific subsections of lengthy spells like 17 and 144, information that is particularly valuable. In my own publication, I provided a graphic representation for the relative placement of texts and vignettes across the six documents, but I only listed the texts by spell number and did not identify the subsections. Hence this table is a valuable complement to my schematic diagrams and provides valuable details that I omitted.

Next, the author provides a thorough statistical profile for the different representations of the names and titles of the deceased and her parents. She also adds a short and useful discussion regarding some of the cursive hieroglyphs used in the document, one that complements a similar discussion by J. J. Clere in his publication of the Nesmin papyrus from Akhmim.

Luscher provides general discussions and observations about corruption and peculiarities in the texts, and this is accompanied by an excellent, hand-drawn, hieroglyphic transcription for the BD texts in P. Berlin 10477, with annotation marks that refer to the specific observations she makes. The text of Spell 1 is singled out for a thorough study and is accompanied by a synoptic transcription that contrasts the texts of all six Akhmim documents with that of P. Turin 1791, the text published by Lepsius and alternatively known of the Papyrus of Iwefankh. The author covers the remaining texts, however, in much less detail, preferring only to remark on a small subset of some of the interesting issues. This is not a shortcoming, however, for to have listed every issue in the text of every spell would have been an enormous undertaking and in the end would have had little critical value. For a detailed analysis of parts of other spells, one can see my publication.

Luscher points out two demotic numbers located under the lower margin of the document, and this invites me to ask how one should number columns in LP BDs. Specifically, should one number only those columns that contain text, or should one also include columns that contain only vignettes? This issue pertains to the Akhmim documents, where one finds eight vignettes for spells that consume entire columns, those associated with Spells 16, 18, 110, 125, 143, 148, 151, and 161. The author chose to number only the columns containing text, whereas in my publication I included the columns with these vignettes. Both methods are valid, and it would be intriguing to see how the Egyptians themselves numbered the columns. This can be done, I think, by virtue of these two demotic numbers at the bottom of P. Berlin 10477. Under column 320, the number 16 is written in demotic (Plate 14). Counting the number of columns from this point to the last column before the vignette for Spell 148, we find precisely sixteen columns. It seems this number was written by the scribe to track the number of columns needed for text before the start of the illustrations for Spell 148. The column where the vignette for Spell 148 starts has the number 8 in demotic below it (plate 15). This column consists of four registers, with an illustration on each register.

Each of these registers is framed by a pair of horizontal lines, and these lines extend to the right for three additional sub-columns that contain text. Assume that the scribe regarded all of this as a single column having several subsections. If we then go further down the document to the column wherein four of the seven cows are depicted on four registers, we see that it is also followed by two sub-columns of text on four registers. Assume the scribe regarded all of this as a single column having subsections. Note too that these two columns stand in a symmetrical relationship to each other. Counting the columns of text and vignettes in between, we find six. Tallying the two outer columns with the six interior columns, we have the number eight, which is precisely what we find under the start of the illustration. Note also that the text of Spell 149 starts in the ninth column from the start of the illustration for Spell 148. This number eight seems to be scribal notation for the space needed for Spell 148, and it also indicates that the scribes indeed numbered columns that contained text as well as vignettes.

The author next provides a list of the vignettes, by number, found in the nine sections of the document, followed by discussions about the eight large vignettes that separate these nine sections. She states at the outset that she does not claim expertise in vignettes found in Late Period Books of the Dead, and there are a few minor errors in her lists. I shall briefly correct those errors here. One can consult the Appendix in my publication regarding illustrations found in P. Berlin 10477 that are also found in P. Hor and P. MacGregor.

In Section 3, Luscher lists the sub-sequence 30-41-?-40-36. The unrecognized illustration is a parallel illustration for Spell 40 that can be observed in many Memphite LP documents, as well as in P. MacGregor and P. Hildesheim 5248. Later in this same section, the author lists the sub-sequence 31-43?-47?-50-47-64-63-65?-68-108. The vignette of Spell 43 is certain and is also found in P. MacGregor, although the scepter held by the deity in the first scene in P. Berlin 10477 has been omitted. The sub-sequence listed as 47?-50-47 should just be listed as 47/50, since the vignettes for Spells 47 and 50 were merged, an occurrence that can also be observed in P. MacGregor, as well as in a number of Memphite documents (see p. 23 in my book). No uncertainty exists regarding the illustration listed as 65?; one of two standardized Late Period illustrations for Spell 65 depicts the deceased standing with a staff and oriented toward the right, graphically confirming that he has gone forth (e.g., P. Turin 1791, P. Louvre N3081, P. Louvre N3248). This illustration is also found in P. Hildesheim 5248.

With regard to the illustration listed as 108, the author correctly recognizes Atum, Sobek, and Hathor, who are also mentioned prominently in the text of Spell 108. On the other hand, Spells 107 and 108 are closely related, as is evident from their titles, where each includes "... knowing the western souls." Three versions of the vignette for Spell 107 are attested in the Late Period, the second of which is as follows: the deceased stands in adoration before three standing deities--Atum, wearing the red and white crowns; Sobek, wearing the double plume; and Hathor (e.g., P. Louvre N3081, P. Louvre N3084, P. Louvre N5450, P. Turin 1791). This version is found in Style 2 documents from Memphis, as well as in later Theban Style 3 documents like P. Turin 179, and it is precisely that which is found in P. Berlin 10477. Further, the illustration for Spell 108 in P. Turin 1791 belongs to a standard Theban illustration that markedly differs from that of Spell 107. Hence the illustration here is that of Spell 107, not 108.

Also in section 3, the author lists the sub-sequence 100-93-94-92-91?. The series of illustrations here is indeed confusing at first appearance, but it can be sorted out by examining the same sequence in P. Hildesheim 5248, where it is 100, 98, 93. In the standardized illustration for Spell 98, the most common version found in Theban and Memphite documents is that the deceased stands facing left, extending his hand toward a boat on water that approaches him; a mummiform ferryman is seated in the boat, facing the deceased.

In P. Hildesheim 5248, this is exactly what we find, although the figure of the deceased has been omitted. The common vignette for Spell 93 in the Late Period is: the deceased stands, either raising his hands in adoration or extending a hand forward, before a boat that moves away from him; within the boat sits a mummiform ferryman who turns his head backwards to look at the deceased; the emblem of the East stands in front of the boat.

This illustration is also found in P. Hildesheim 5248. In P. Berlin 10477, after the illustration of Spell 100, we find the ferryman of Spell 93, but the boat heads toward the deceased, and the ferryman's head is turned to look away from her. The illustration of Spell 94 (Thoth offering a cup to the deceased) follows, and then we find the deceased facing right and extending his arm toward nothing. When comparing the illustrations in the two documents, it appears that the artist of P. Berlin 10477 drew the illustration of Spell 100 and intended to draw the vignette of Spell 98 next, but mistakenly drew the boat and ferryman of Spell 93 (hence no emblem for the East). Note that the deceased is included here, but omitted in P. Hildesheim 5248. The artist then drew the illustration of Spell 94, and started that of Spell 93, depicting the deceased standing with arm extended to the right, as in P. Hildesheim 5248. He then apparently realized his error with Spell 98 and omitted the boat. Thus, the sub-sequence in P. Berlin 10477 is 100, 98, 94, 93. The author's uncertainty regarding Spell 91 is unfounded. The shrine serves two purposes; the deceased opening the door of the shrine represents Spell 92, and the ba-bird flying out of the shrine represents Spell 91.

The final sub-sequence for Section 3 is listed as 86-84-82-81-79-72-124?-83. The phoenix of Spell 83, however, is clearly drawn beneath the heron of Spell 84. Regarding Spell 72, Luscher is correct; it is mistakenly listed as Spell 71 in my publication. The listing of 124?-83 is unsupported. Hence, this sequence should be 86-84-83-82-81-79-72.

In Section 4, the sub-sequence 113-117? is listed. In P. Berlin 10477, we find Horus, followed by the four sons of Horus. The standard LP vignette for Spell 112 depicts the deceased in adoration of Horus, Imseti, and Hapi; the standard LP vignette for Spell 113 is the deceased in adoration of Horus, Duamutef, and Qebehsenuef. In each, Horus wears the red and white crowns and holds a scepter. In the Akhmim documents, Horus has this same regalia, followed by Imseti, Hapi, Duamutef, and Qebehsenuef. Clearly the artist compressed the two illustrations into a single scene. The uncertainty regarding 117 is unfounded. Its title is "Spell for Taking the Road in Rosetau." The standard LP Memphite version for Spell 117 is the deceased holding a road-sign and walking away from a shrine with open door that represents his tomb. This is the scene in P. Berlin 10477, although the deceased faces the shrine instead of departing from it. Hence, this sub-sequence should be 112-113-117.

In Section 7, one finds the sub-sequence 133-132-130?-129-143-128?-149. The tentative identification as Spell 130 is indeed correct; the common sequence of deities in LP Memphite versions has Isis, Thoth, and several male deities, which is exactly what we find in P. Berlin 10477. The illustration tentatively identified as that of Spell 128 is not justified. Two standardized illustrations are found in LP documents, and the illustration in P. Berlin 10477 does not resemble either. For this reason, I left a question mark in my publication.

In Section 8, one finds the sub-sequence 151-149-?-143-154. Two standardized versions of illustrations exist for Spell 152 in LP documents. The standardized LP illustration found in Memphite documents is: the deceased stands with his hands on a large wall sign, behind which stand Osiris, Isis, and Nephthys. After the vignette for Spell 149 in P. Berlin 10477, we find the deceased with hands on a large wall sign. While Osiris, Isis, and Nephthys have been omitted, the illustration is certainly that of Spell 152. The next scene is from Spell 143, and then we find a scene from the vignette of Spell 151, as in P. MacGregor. Thus, this sub-sequence should be 151-149-152-143-151-154.

A lengthy essay by U. Rossler-Kohler concerning the historical development of the text for Spell 17 in the Akhmim documents follows. Unfortunately, while some of the information presented has value, much more is problematic, and numerous mistakes contribute little actual value to the essay. Addressing each issue is beyond the scope of this review, and I limit my focus to a subset of issues.

Throughout her discussions, Rossler-Kohler refers to the line numbers of an alleged archetypal text for Spell 17 that she published in 1979. While this system of line numbers might have value for documents produced during the New Kingdom and possibly the Third Intermediate Period, such line numbers are simply invalid for LP texts. To cite one specific instance, lines 59-83 of her archetypal text were so thoroughly reworked during the Late Period that her numbering system has no relationship whatsoever to the LP texts. Why use it, when the result is so confusing and misleading? Of course, the notion that an archetypal text can be put together for any spell and that it applies to all documents from the New Kingdom to the end of the Late Period is simply invalid. This approach is certainly unfounded when comparing LP texts against earlier texts, and I suspect it is also true when comparing eighteenth, nineteenth, and twenty-first dynasty texts against each other. I can see the benefit of using line numbers to refer to specific passages, but Rossler-Kohler's system does not work, and it would have been better to discuss the text by paragraph numbers, along the lines of those used by T. G. Allen in his study of P. Reyersen or his SAOC 37.

With regard to the tree diagram in which Rossler-Kohler attempts to show the derivation of the LP versions of Spell 17, she does not provide sufficient statistics to justify her claims. For example, she cites two documents for R1 (P. Vandier and P. Nespasfy) and only one for R2 (P. Iahtesnacht). Can one propose a version of a text based on the authority of a single document? Importantly, I have not observed the specific passages she cites as the basis of her R2 version in over 80 other LP texts with Spell 17. Her justification for R3 being derived from R1, and R4 being derived from R3, is stated on page 36, but without explicit citation of any documents; these must be inferred from later discussions. Unfortunately, her claims for R3 and an R4 are also based on a handful of documents. In short, her tree is unreliable.

In addition to making claims based on slender evidence, Rossler-Kohler frequently demonstrates simple unfamiliarity with the versions of the text for Spell 17 in LP documents. Let me cite one example. Of the five passages she adduces to justify her R2, the first is associated with her archetypal line 50/51. Her R1 text reads: "as for the head of the council of Naref, Great One is his name" (ir hr-tp d[TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]d[TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]t nt N[TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]rf wr rn.f), although, in using her archetypal text, she misreads the passage, emending nt to tn, and takes N[TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]rf-wr as a name instead of two separate elements in the sentence. One can observe the same R1 text in other Saite documents (e.g., P. Louvre N3091 and P. Vatican 48823), as well as in later documents, such as P.MMA 35.9.20. The R2 text shows a new variation: "as for the head of the council of Naref, his greatness belongs to his father--variant--Great One is his name" (ir hr-tp d[TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]d[TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]t nt N[TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]rf wr.f n<y> it.f ky-dd wr rn.f), a variation that can also be found in the Saite P. Turin 1842, as well as in later Memphite documents (e.g., BMFA 59.1070 and P. Louvre N7716).

Rossler-Kohler also fails to observe a third variation in other Memphite documents that reverses the order of the gloss: "as for the head of the council of Naref, Great One is his name; variant--his greatness belongs to his father" (e.g., P. Louvre E6130 and P. BM 10038, as well as on linen bandages listed by S. Quirke, British Museum Occasional Papers 92, as BM 47, BM 50, BM 127). She then correctly observes that yet another variation can be noted in P. Turin 1791 and P. Ryersen: "as for the head of the council of Naref, his greatness belongs to his father, Re," but she does not clearly indicate whether she regards it as R3 or R4. She correctly observes that the Akhmim text, found only in P. BM 10479, P. Nesmin, and P. Hildesheim 5248, is based on the same version found in P. Turin 1791, although the passage is much more corrupt in the Akhmim texts than she admits. This unfamiliarity with the LP texts is evident elsewhere in the essay.

Much is made about the title found in P. Vandier and P. Nespasefy, compared to the title found in P. Iahtesnacht. Rossler-Kohler concludes that R1 led to F1, having the complete title, and that R2, having an abbreviated title, is therefore derived from F1. The fact that the title was omitted and the text abbreviated in both P. Takerheb and P. Harendotes leads her to conclude that these two represent a Theban version derived from a posited F2, and that R4 derives from it. In examining this evidence further, however, one can observe that the title in P. Vandier was in fact abbreviated, ending after the phrase "of ascending and descending from the necropolis," at least if the transcription in Posener's publication is accurate. Secondly, the conclusion that the title was not transmitted in the Theban tradition because it was omitted in P. Takerheb and P. Harendotes shows no knowledge of Theban Books of the Dead from the third century onward, where the complete title is regularly found. See, for example, P. Louvre N3079, P. Leiden T16, P. Louvre N3086, P. Louvre N3089, P. BM 10257, P. Detroit 1989.10, and P. Reyersen, to name just a few.

Regarding the premature termination of texts in P. Takerheb and P. Harendotes, which Rossler-Kohler claims is the basis for the premature termination of Spell 17 in the Akhmim documents, she again demonstrates no knowledge of the LP Theban traditions for Spell 17. These are the only two Theban documents of the many I have observed where the text of this spell is terminated early. All others contain the complete text. Hence, P. Takerheb and P. Harendotes are not at all representative of the scope of any of the Theban traditions. Indeed, explanations for the abbreviation of the text in these two documents are readily at hand. The papyrus roll for P. Takerheb was neither long nor tall, and both sides of the document needed to be used. Unlike most Theban documents of the third century B.C., where nearly all texts of the corpus were written in hieratic, numerous spells are omitted in P. Takerheb because of insufficient space. For Spell 17, the scribe entered two "pages" of text and then terminated it in order to preserve room for subsequent spells. Similarly, the artist also prematurely terminated the vignette of Spell 17 to align with the text. While space does not allow me to discuss the premature termination of the text of Spell 17 in P. Harendotes, the same basic explanation for P. Takerheb applies, where most spells were terminated prematurely for spatial reasons. Importantly, the premature termination of the text of Spell 17 in these two documents is not representative of any version. The text terminates at a different location in each document, and both locations differ from the location where the Akhmim texts terminate.

With regard to the text in the Akhmim documents, Rossler-Kohler cites three passages to claim that the Akhmim text is based on Theban documents like P. Takerheb and P. Harendotes, but her evidence is invalid. She fails to observe that five versions for the text of Spell 17 can be readily observed in Theban documents from the Saite Period onward. Of these, P. Takerheb and P. Harendotes are representative of Version 4. More importantly, the Akhmim texts are based on Version 5, best represented by P. Turin 1971, not documents like P. Takerheb and P. Harendotes.

One can cite numerous such examples to demonstrate that this essay cannot be trusted. Rossler-Kohler displays a lack of basic familiarity with the LP texts of Spell 17, and basing broad claims on a few individual passages from a handful of documents leads her to risky and inaccurate conclusions. With the large photographic archive of Books of the Dead in Bonn, one wonders why Rossler-Kohler did not make use of it.

The short section written by M. T. Derchain-Urtel pertains to dating P. Berlin 10477, which by inference should apply to all six BDs from Akhmim. She postulates a date around the end of the first century A.D., based on peculiarities of individual signs in the Berlin document. Her first evidence involves the writing of dw[TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]t, where a p-sign was used instead of the house-sign, although this is only found at this one location in the Akhmim documents; elsewhere the house-sign is used. The frequent form of the house-sign in the Akhmim texts follows a form she cites for the reign of Trajan, although the inward turn is usually only slight in comparison to the form she illustrates. Importantly, the same form frequently found in the Akhmim texts can also be observed in a number of Style 3 BDs not produced at Akhmim and assuredly from the Ptolemaic Period (e.g., P. Louvre N3094 and P. Louvre N3096).

Derchain-Urtel cites the use of the hd sign for hm in line 65 (Spell 15i), which she states can be observed in Roman texts. In P. MacGregor, however, the correct sign is used. While Spell 15i was not included in the Group A documents, the title hm-ntr is frequent in P. Hildesheim, and the correct sign was regularly used there. Given the close similarity of the Akhmim documents to each other, it seems unlikely that they were produced at widely different times, and the correct use of the sign in the other two documents does not indicate a Roman date.

A third citation involves the extended front of the hieroglyph for Nephthys. The use of an extended front can, however, be observed in a variety of Style 3 BDs, such as P. BM 9906, P. BM 9909, P. BM 9923, and BM 10025. See P. BM 9963 for an example that has the extension on both sides. These are Ptolemaic documents.

Derchain-Urtel's remaining arguments are not without interest, but are equally unconvincing, including her discussion of the three pupils used in the word m[TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII][TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], which I have already addressed in my publication. In conclusion, no convincing evidence is presented to justify so late a date for these papyri, and I maintain that the latter part of the first century B.C. is more likely.

While I have raised serious criticisms about the essay by Rossler-Kohler and I remain unconvinced of the proposed late date for P. Berlin 10477, the material presented by the primary author, Barbara Luscher, makes this publication of particular value for anyone with interest in Late Period Books of the Dead.


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Author:Mosher, Malcolm
Publication:The Journal of the American Oriental Society
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Oct 1, 2003
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