Mythos 37 – Unification of Egypt

 

The unification of Upper and Lower Egypt circa 5,150 to 5,100 years ago(1)Aidan Dodson and Dyan Hilton (2004) The Complete Royal Families of Ancient Egypt remains largely a mystery. The history of ancient Egypt is divided into 3 kingdoms and 3 intermediate periods by Egyptologists, as well as a pre-dynastic era, and later periods, such as the Hellenic and Roman periods when Egypt was ruled by the Babylonians, Persians, Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, and Arabs. The three kingdoms were the high points of ancient Egyptian civilization, while the three intermediate periods were dark ages between the kingdoms. During these dark ages written records became sporadic, and it is unknown how long the Intermediate Periods actually lasted. This has led to some disagreements within the scholarly community, resulting in variant chronologies diverging by about three hundred years for the Early Dynastic Period, up to thirty years in the New Kingdom, and a few years in the Late Period.(2)K. A. Kitchen (1991) “The Chronology of Ancient Egypt” World Archaeology: Chronologies, Volume 23, Page 202

Upper Lower Egypt Prior to Unification of Egypt circa 5,150 Years Ago

Upper Lower Egypt Prior to Unification of Egypt circa 5,150 Years Ago

The reconstruction of early Egyptian history is based largely on the surviving ancient Egyptian king lists. Surviving king lists are either comprehensive but have significant gaps in their text such as the Turin King List, or are textually complete but fail to provide a complete list of rulers such as the Abydos King List. These king lists are broken into 31 dynasties according to the family that was in power at the time. Prior to the unification of Egypt there were two Egyptian Kingdoms, Ta-Mehu in the north, and Ta-Shemau in the south.(3)Johann Peter Adolf Ermann and Hermann Grapow (1982) Wörterbuch der Ägyptischen Sprache Akademie, Volume 5, Number 227, Pages 4-14 These two kingdoms became known as Upper and Lower Egypt during the Greek rule of Egypt, as the Greeks had a strong presence in Lower Egypt near the Mediterranean, while only maintaining a nominal control over Upper Egypt to the south.

The border of Ta-Mehu and Ta-Shemau was in the vicinity of the Giza Plateau(4)L. Adkins and R. Adkins (2001) The Little Book of Egyptian Hieroglyphics, Page 155 and prior to the unification, two forms of writing were in use in Egypt: Egyptian hieroglyphs and hieratic.(5)Hans Goedicke (1988) Old Hieratic Paleography Egyptian hieroglyphs seem to have developed from the preliterate artistic traditions of Egypt. Symbols on Gerzean pottery from around 6,000 years ago resemble hieroglyphic writing. In 1998, a German archaeological team under Günter Dreyer excavating at Abydos, modern Umm el-Qa’ab, uncovered tomb U-j of a Predynastic ruler, and recovered three hundred clay labels inscribed with proto-hieroglyphs, dating to the Naqada IIIA period circa 5,300 years ago.(6)Richard Mattessich (2002) “The oldest writings, and inventory tags of Egypt” Accounting Historians Journal, Volume 29, Number 1, Pages 195–208 Most remaining texts in the Egyptian language are primarily written in the hieroglyphic script. However, in antiquity the majority of texts were written on perishable papyrus in hieratic and later in demotic, which are now lost.

Hieratic was generally much more important than hieroglyphs throughout Egypt’s history being the script used in daily life. Hieratic was the writing system first taught to students; knowledge of hieroglyphs was limited to a small minority who were given additional training.(7)John R. Baines (1983) “Literacy and Ancient Egyptian Society” Man: A Monthly Record of Anthropological Science, Volume 18, New Series, Page 583 Through most of its long history, hieratic was used for writing administrative documents, accounting documents, legal texts, and private letters, as well as mathematical, medical, literary, and religious texts. Hieroglyphs on the other hand, were generally used for formal writings and engravings, and were known to the ancient Egyptians as mdw·w-nṯr, meaning “gods’ words.”(8)Antonio Loprieno (1995) Ancient Egyptian: A Linguistic Introduction, Page 11

References   [ + ]

1. Aidan Dodson and Dyan Hilton (2004) The Complete Royal Families of Ancient Egypt
2. K. A. Kitchen (1991) “The Chronology of Ancient Egypt” World Archaeology: Chronologies, Volume 23, Page 202
3. Johann Peter Adolf Ermann and Hermann Grapow (1982) Wörterbuch der Ägyptischen Sprache Akademie, Volume 5, Number 227, Pages 4-14
4. L. Adkins and R. Adkins (2001) The Little Book of Egyptian Hieroglyphics, Page 155
5. Hans Goedicke (1988) Old Hieratic Paleography
6. Richard Mattessich (2002) “The oldest writings, and inventory tags of Egypt” Accounting Historians Journal, Volume 29, Number 1, Pages 195–208
7. John R. Baines (1983) “Literacy and Ancient Egyptian Society” Man: A Monthly Record of Anthropological Science, Volume 18, New Series, Page 583
8. Antonio Loprieno (1995) Ancient Egyptian: A Linguistic Introduction, Page 11