Your Invitation to Endless Wonder

Those of you who have been following along with my blog will note that a) I post infrequently and b) I tend to post from my honours thesis from my senior year at Beloit College.  Mainly, this is because I am intensely proud of that thesis and wish to share it with you, secondarily because I have been intensely busy with working my way through graduate school, and tertiarily because I have had an idea for a post that I’m still doing research before I post.  However, this summer I find myself with a little more time on my hands – internships and intensive online Latin courses aside.  Therefore, I want to branch out a bit.  While that research-oriented post has yet to be completed, I wish to talk a bit about my favourite television show, Warehouse 13.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with Warehouse 13, it is a SyFy Original series.  This show is fantastic in all of its nerdy elements, and especially interesting for museum (and Classics!) – oriented people.  To put it simply, Warehouse 13 is what happens when you combine all that is awesome about the trilogy of Indiana Jones with steampunk.  Yes, you read that right – steampunk Indy.  Don’t believe me ? Check out the trailer:

<iframe width=”420″ height=”315″ src=”http://www.youtube.com/embed/_BPvZ5LBsVQ&#8221; frameborder=”0″ allowfullscreen>

Awesome, right? Here’s a video introduction (SPOILER ALERT):

Warehouse 13 is now in a season 4.5 (yes, they have an intermediary season).  Unfortunately, SyFy has only renewed it for one more season, making the fifth its final one! 😦

The basic premise of the show is the concept of ‘historical cooties.’ For those who are not on the up-and-up regarding material culture, historical cooties is the difference between a simple white dress and the one (in)famously worn by Marilyn Monroe.  It’s why Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” jacket was purchased for $1.8 million and why Sheldon Cooper from Big Bang Theory freaked out over a napkin.  What this show proposes is that, far from being just perceived differences in the objects, these ‘historical cooties’ actually imbue the object with mystical properties (aka Indiana Jones-type objects). Similarly, other objects on the show proof the adage that any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic (i.e. the steampunk element).  References to historical figures abound, such as: Hatshepsut, Alexander the Great, Nikola Tesla, and Philio Farnsworth (he invented the television).  All of these objects are “snagged, bagged, and tagged” by the main characters, and housed in a humongous government Warehouse (I’m not going to tell you the significance of 13!), which is located seemingly randomly in South Dakota.  This way, the world is protected from certain destruction by these objects.

Each object has an upside (the reason why they are initially used) and a downside (which is almost ALWAYS worse than the upside).  A hilarious example of an object mentioned in passing is that of Pavlov’s Bell, which has the ability to call dogs to you, but you will drool uncontrollably for 24 hours as a result of using it.  As you can see, the use of such objects created a layered morality that the characters often have to navigate carefully while on the job.  While it takes on a “monster of the week” feel, there are multi-episode story arcs that keep the show layered and interesting.  What I find the most interesting, however, is how closely it mirrors actual museum work (minus the exhibitions).  Because these objects are, by the essence they are imbued with, ‘alive,’ special care has to be taken for each object – especially relating to how they are stored because some objects need to be separated to keep from reacting and have different preservation needs.  Thus, the Warehouse has a caretaker (read: collections manager/registrar) and its own database to keep the objects in check.  They also have special “conservation” techniques to keep the objects from getting out of control.  And then, of course, there’s the nickname that Arty gives the Warehouse: ‘America’s Attic.” (I wonder how the Smithsonian feels about losing their title?) Arty, maybe a better nickname would be “The World’s Attic, since the objects span all of human existence.

As you can see, I sincerely love this show, so I am going to devote several posts to it, over the coming weeks.  Keep an eye out for them!

Welcome…to Warehouse 13!

 

Works Cited:

Divirgilio, Andrea. “Most expensive celebrity memorabilia.” BornRich: Home of Luxury. last updated: April 3, 2012. http://www.bornrich.com/expensive-celebrity-memorabilia.html

OdyWorld. “Official Trailer for Warehouse 13 VOSTFR.” YouTube video, posted August 21, 2009. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_BPvZ5LBsVQ

SyFy. “Best of Warehouse 13: Endless Wonder.” YouTube video, posted: April 4, 2013. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YnMT0LTyM-g

usafrmajor. “Big Bang Theory – Sheldon and the Leonard Nimoy Napkin” YouTube video, posted April 26, 2012. Original episode: Ep. 2.11, “The Bath Item Gift Hypothesis.” First aired: December 15, 2008.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eOWazhuRyME

Undergraduate Honors Thesis II C: Pt. 2

The Prophecies of Neferti (Papyrus Westcar, Dynasty 18) involves a wise individual lamenting the injustices of the world. Set in the court of King Snefru, one immediately notices similarities not only to The Eloquent Peasant but also to the Three Tales of Wonder.  What separates this story from the other two is that the sage Neferti is neither a wronged commoner nor one whose presence in court merely serves to amuse a bored pharaoh. Instead he is summoned to the royal court to prophesize the future (Lichtheim 1973:140).

I shall describe what is before me,/I do not foretell what does not come:/Dry is the river of Egypt,/One crosses the river on foot;/One seeks water for ships to sail on,/Its course having turned into shoreland./Shoreland will turn into water,/Watercourse back into shoreland./Southwind will combat northwind,/Sky will lack the single wind (Lichtheim 1973:141).

Unfortunately for King Snefru, prospects are not good.  Instead of Egypt being peaceful and orderly, Neferti belies a sinister future in which everything is turned topsy-turvy (Lichtheim 1973:140-143). As the

Sage’s exaggerated speech suggests this is a prime example of the literary topos of “natural distress” (Lichtheim 1973:139). In the quote above, Neferti provides particular examples of what will come to pass; namely, the entire geography, so central to Ancient Egyptian culture, will completely reverse, causing a massive upheaval in its peoples’ way of life.  Somehow, the “Asiatics” (Lichtheim 1973:140) which are mentioned at the beginning of the story, are the reason for the upheaval, which is not addressed until, “a king [comes] up from the South,/Ameny, the justified, by name” (Lichtheim 1973:143).  In fact, this sentence provides an important piece of evidence to show that this prophecy was written much later than its setting.  “Ameny” is referred to as “the justified,” which in ancient Egyptian means that he is dead.

A Dispute between a Man and His Ba typifies Lichtheim’s final tri-partite definition of “didactic” literature. One of the most famous Middle Egyptian texts, it is also the most controversial.  Maintained solely on one fragmentary papyrus (Papyrus Berlin), dating from between 1991 and 1802 BCE in the Twelfth Dynasty (Lichtheim 1973:163), the first part is missing.  Considering its subject matter, there has been much scholarly debate on its meaning[1].  What is clear, however, is the basic storyline of the remainder of the papyrus.  The known portion begins with a man arguing with his ba, which has just threatened to leave him (Lichtheim 1973:164). The man laments life and makes known his desire to be buried in the West in the proper fashion (Lichtheim 1973:164-165).  As he explains, “If my ba listens to me [without malice], its heart in accord with me, it shall be happy.  I shall make it reach the West like one who is in his tomb, whose burial a survivor tends” (Lichtheim 1973:165).  He further enumerates on all of the benefits allotted to the ba of a person who has been properly buried, in an attempt to entice it into complacency.  However, the ba refutes this tactic by offering two rather puzzling parables in an attempt to make the man reconsider his desire for death.  In response, the man laments, emphatically stating repetitively that, “Lo, my name reeks” and that society is destitute (Lichtheim 1973:166).  “Brothers are mean,” he complains, “The friends of today do not love” (Lichtheim 1973:166).  In any case, he is certain that “Death is before me today” (Lichtheim 1973:168), a poetic construction which finally serves to convince the ba to stay with him, despite its misgivings.

Bibliography:

de Buck, A. The Papyrus Westcar.  Egyptian Reading Book, 2nd Ed.  Leiden: Nederlands Instituut voor het Nabije Oosten. 1963

Lichtheim, Miriam. Ancient Egyptian Literature Vol. I: The Old and Middle Kingdoms.  Berkeley and Los Angeles, CA: University of California Press. 1973.

References for Translation:

de Buck, A.  The Papyrus Westcar.  Egyptian Reading Book, 2nd Ed.  Leiden: Nederlands Instituut voor het Nabije Oosten. 1963.

Gardiner, Sir Alan.  Egyptian Grammar: Being an Introduction to the Study of Hieroglyphs, Third Edition.  Oxford, UK: Griffith Insitute. 1957.

Hoch, James E. Middle Egyptian Grammar.  Toronto, Canada: Benben Publications. 1997.

Faulkner, Raymond O. A Concise Dictionary of Middle Egyptian.  Oxford: Griffith Institute. 1962.

Shennun, David. English-Egyptian Index of Faulkner’s Concise Dictionary of Middle Egyptian.  Malibu, CA: Undena Publications. 1977.


[1] This paper will not delve into the scholarly discussion, but interested parties are encouraged to research all

commentaries on their own, as Lichtheim suggests (1973:163).

Undergraduate Honors Thesis II C: Pt. 1

After looking at a few of the tales that Lichtheim classifies as “prose,” one must examine literature that she defines as “didactic.” Consider first The Instruction of Amenemhet I to his son Sesostris I, preserved on the Papyrus Millengren (Lichtheim 1973:136) — circa 1550-1292 BCE.  Within Lichtheim’s tri-partite definition of “didactic,” this story clearly falls within the category of “father to son.” The tale laments the actual regicide of King Amenemhet I in the thirtieth year of his reign (Lichtheim 1973:135), although it was obviously written after his death, perhaps by a scribe at the behest of Sesostris I, son of Amenemhet I.  It seeks to warn Sesostris against committing the same blunders that Amenemhet himself committed.  Chief among these is to, “[b]eware of subjects who are nobodies/Of whose plotting one is not aware.  Trust not a brother, know not a friend,/Make no intimates, it is worthless” (Lichtheim 1973:136).  Simply put, Amenemhet I cautions his son against trusting anyone, for everyone is secretly conspiring against him.  As Amenemhet reminds Sesostris, he was a good king.  He says, “I gave to the beggar, I raised the orphan/I gave success to the poor as to the wealthy; But he who ate my food raised opposition,/He whom I gave my trust used it to plot” (Lichtheim 1973:136).  Amenemhet then explains the events surrounding his death, namely that he was betrayed by his own guards (Lichtheim 1973:137).  He had no time to defend himself, because he was roused from sleep just before being assassinated.  Surprise in the night is, of course, the only way that the task of killing a pharaoh could succeed, because he is considered to be Horus- a living god (James 2005:105).  This instruction epitomizes the genre of “inscription motifs” which list positive moral attributes, because it explains why Amenemhet was a good ruler in life and therefore why he deserves an afterlife.  Thus, the last few lines of this instruction are very important, because they ensure that Sesostris would take over the throne in place of the conspirators.  In this way, “[k]ingship is again what it was in the past!” (Lichtheim 1973:138). Order in the sense of ma’at as represented by the royal family will be maintained, triumphing over chaos as represented by the conspirators.

Contrasted with Amenemhet’s Instruction is that of The Eloquent Peasant, a work preserved on four different Middle Kingdom fragmentary papyri, which together make up the full story (Lichtheim 1973:169).  Lichtheim defines The Eloquent Peasant as “didactic” because it is identified as an admonition; that is, a speech by a learned sage to individuals who are committing some injustice.  In the case of this story, the learned sage is a peasant named Khun-Anup, who rebukes both the steward Nemptynakht for his evildoing (Lichtheim 1973:171) and the magistrate for not fulfilling his duties as a justice.  In so doing, he appeals to the magistrate nine times, ostensibly getting nowhere on each occasion. Because the magistrate and His Majesty are so taken by Khun-Anup’s eloquence, they pretend to ignore his pleas, thereby inducing him to stay and petition further while secretly caring for the peasant and his family through an intermediary (Lichtheim 1973:173). Thus, the peasant becomes more and more desperate with each subsequent petition, until he finally threatens to invoke the god Anubis in order to obtain justice (Lichtheim 1973:182).  This ironic turn of events is what leads Lichtheim to suggest that the tale, beyond a discourse on the necessity for justice, is “…a parable on the utility of fine speech” (1973:169).  In her opinion, the basic message is that through the use of beautiful diction and persistence, people will always receive their just rewards. In the case of The Eloquent Peasant, the evil steward Nemptynakht is ultimately stripped of everything of worth, and his possessions are given to the peasant Khun-Anup as retribution.  Thus, the story has a just ending, and ma’at is restored (Lichtheim 1973:182).

Bibliography:

de Buck, A. The Papyrus Westcar.  Egyptian Reading Book, 2nd Ed.  Leiden: Nederlands Instituut voor het Nabije Oosten. 1963

Lichtheim, Miriam. Ancient Egyptian Literature Vol. I: The Old and Middle Kingdoms.  Berkeley and Los Angeles, CA: University of California Press. 1973.

References for Translation:

de Buck, A.  The Papyrus Westcar.  Egyptian Reading Book, 2nd Ed.  Leiden: Nederlands Instituut voor het Nabije Oosten. 1963.

Gardiner, Sir Alan.  Egyptian Grammar: Being an Introduction to the Study of Hieroglyphs, Third Edition.  Oxford, UK: Griffith Insitute. 1957.

Hoch, James E. Middle Egyptian Grammar.  Toronto, Canada: Benben Publications. 1997.

Faulkner, Raymond O. A Concise Dictionary of Middle Egyptian.  Oxford: Griffith Institute. 1962.

Shennun, David. English-Egyptian Index of Faulkner’s Concise Dictionary of Middle Egyptian.  Malibu, CA: Undena Publications. 1977.

Exhibition Planning

Hello All,

Sorry that I have not posted in some time, but I have been hard at work in class!  Also, I have been working on a special post, which I’m doing research for, so look out for that in the coming weeks.  To placate you all, though, I wish to share what I have been working on in my Exhibition Planning class at Tufts.  The students in this course are tasked with designing, researching, and installing an exhibition by the end of the semester in the Tufts University Art Gallery’s Koppelman Gallery (on the lower level).  This semester, students have been granted access to the Merriam collection at the Boston Public Library, which contains the singular collection of illustrator Boris Artzybasheff’s images.  these include the images he created for children’s books between the 1920s and the 1930s, and which are the foci of this exhbibiton.

We have been hard at work at our proposals.  First, we were to present our own individual proposals, based on what we would like to see.  This was turned in a few weeks ago (I will be putting mine up on the “Previous Work page of this blog soon). From those, we were placed into small groups to create a group proposal, which we will present to the class tonight! The next step will be to combine these all together to create the single proposal that we will pursue for the actual exhibition (I hope it’s ours!)

Here is the Prezi presentation we created for tonight.  I hope you agree that it’s awesome! 🙂

http://prezi.com/s0_onm6yyica/final-presentation/?kw=view-s0_onm6yyica&rc=ref-5416452

 

Undergraduate Honors Thesis II B: Prose Tales Pt. 2

The Tale of the Shipwrecked Sailor is preserved on the Papyrus Leningrad, whose provenience is unknown (Lichtheim 1973:211).  The papyrus is currently housed in a museum in Moscow.  This story is set as a story within a story, framed within yet another story.  It begins with a ship returning from an expedition to Wawat (Lichtheim 1973:212) and the captain is lamenting the troubles that he experienced during the journey.  One of his attendants, in an attempt to cheer him up, begins to tell his own tale.  This man had been on an earlier expedition, with a crew comprised of Egypt’s finest sailors, “[e]ach of them- his heart was stouter, his arm stronger than his mate’s” (Lichtheim 1973:213).  Caught in a storm, “the ship died” (Lichtheim 1973:213), along with the crew, leaving the man marooned alone on an island.  This proves to be fortuitous, because the island is rich with all of the goods that an Egyptian would ever need (Lichtheim 1973:212).  Also on this island lives a giant snake, described most magnificently as being, “…of thirty cubits; his beard was over two cubits long.  His body was overlaid with gold; his eyebrows were of real lapis lazuli” (Lichtheim 1973:212).  Originally, the snake is firm and threatening:

Who brought you, who brought you, fellow, who brought you?  If you delay telling me who brought you to this island, I shall make you find yourself reduced to ashes, becoming like a thing unseen (Lichtheim 1973:212-213).

 However, upon learning of the sailor’s predicament, the snake turns out to be quite benevolent.  He informs the man that he would be saved by “a ship…with sailors in it whom you know” (Lichtheim 1973:213).  But first, he tells his own tale of woe, in which he laments the death of his family due to a meteor striking the island (Lichtheim 1973:213).  Four months later, the foretold ship arrives and carries the man home so that he, “may die in [his] town” (Lichtheim 1973:213), an extremely important event for an ancient Egyptian.  Returning to the present time, the captain rebukes the attendant’s attempts to cheer him up, convinced that he is in deep trouble with the pharaoh and has no hope of redemption (Lichtheim 1973:215).

The final prose tale I shall discuss is The Story of Sinuhe, which describes the supposedly real-life events of a man fleeing the court of Amenemhet I after that king had been assassinated.  Two principle manuscripts come from the Middle Kingdom, one from Dynasty XII and the other from the end of Dynasty XIII (Lichtheim 1973:222-223) — approximately 1750 BCE.  One other papyrus dates from Dynasty XIX (1298 to 1187 BCE), but is more incomplete.  Sinuhe, at the beginning of the story, is a governor and the beloved attendant of King Amenemhet I (Lichtheim 1973:223).  However, soon into the story the “king ascended to his horizon” (Lichtheim 1973:223), which is a euphemism referring to the death of Amenemhet I, apparently due to regicide. Sinuhe, out of fear, flees Egypt.

But the royal sons who had been with him had also been sent for.  One of them was summoned while I was standing (there).  I heard his voice, as he spoke, while I was in the near distance.  My heart fluttered, my arms spread out, a trembling befell all my limbs.  I removed myself in leaps, to seek a hiding place.  I put myself between two bushes, so as to leave the road to its traveler (Lichtheim 1973:224).

 Whether Sinuhe fears he will be wrongfully accused, or whether he fears that he will be a target of the plot, is not clear, but he flees Egypt for the friendly regions in Asia.  He eventually settles in Upper Retenu, at the invitation of its ruler, Ammunenshi (Lichtheim 1973:224).  During this time, Sinuhe becomes quite successful, eventually becoming chief of the tribe.  He marries and has good “strong men” for sons (Lichtheim 1973:227).  He wins every battle he fights and takes away many spoils of war, for which the ruler is grateful.  This behavior incites a jealous enemy, against whom he is also victorious (Lichtheim 1973:228).  Hearing of Sinuhe’s situation, King Sesostris I, son of the assassinated pharaoh, Amenemhet I, sends a decree to Sinuhe, urging him to return home to his people (Lichtheim 1973:230).  Additionally, he asks why it was that Sinuhe left in the first place, because he was clearly not a party to the regicide.  Sinuhe admits that his behavior was rash, explaining that there was no logic to his self-exile.  “I was not afraid; no one ran after me; the god who had willed this flight dragged me away” (Lichtheim 1973:231).  Forgiven of any wrongdoing, Sinuhe returns home, where he is accepted back into the royal palace as a beloved friend of the pharaoh (Lichtheim 1973:232).

Bibliography:

de Buck, A. The Papyrus Westcar.  Egyptian Reading Book, 2nd Ed.  Leiden: Nederlands Instituut voor het Nabije Oosten. 1963

Lichtheim, Miriam. Ancient Egyptian Literature Vol. I: The Old and Middle Kingdoms.  Berkeley and Los Angeles, CA: University of California Press. 1973.

References for Translation:

de Buck, A.  The Papyrus Westcar.  Egyptian Reading Book, 2nd Ed.  Leiden: Nederlands Instituut voor het Nabije Oosten. 1963.

Gardiner, Sir Alan.  Egyptian Grammar: Being an Introduction to the Study of Hieroglyphs, Third Edition.  Oxford, UK: Griffith Insitute. 1957.

Hoch, James E. Middle Egyptian Grammar.  Toronto, Canada: Benben Publications. 1997.

Faulkner, Raymond O. A Concise Dictionary of Middle Egyptian.  Oxford: Griffith Institute. 1962.

Shennun, David. English-Egyptian Index of Faulkner’s Concise Dictionary of Middle Egyptian.  Malibu, CA: Undena Publications. 1977.

News Update

Good evening,

I first wish to apologize for not updating in a while, but I have had a hectic few weeks.  My holiday travels had several problems (as holiday travel often does), and last week I was the unfortunate victim of one of Boston’s “epidemics.” Now that I am feeling better, I wish to rectify this situation.  While at work, I came across an article about archaeology in Gaza – namely, that most sites are found accidentally, not purposefully.  It is a cry for more protection of ancient sites, particularly in such a hotly-contested area of the world (not to mention sacred ground for the three largest religious traditions in the world).  You can read the article here.

While we are on the subject of “accidental finds,” a new find was recently announced in Egypt!  Found under the mortuary temple of Pharaoh Amunhotep II in Luxor are a series of tombs which date to a more recent period than the temple itself.  Archaeologists have recovered partial remains of several individuals, as well as 12 canopic jars– vessels used to hold organs considered necessary for the afterlife after they were removed during mummification.  These organs – the liver, intestines, lung, and stomach – were each placed in a specific jar, the cap of which was usually carved in the depiction of the four sons of Horus (Imsety protected the liver, Qebensenuef the intestines, Hapi the lungs, and Duamutef the stomach).  These gods could be depicted in their human form or, far more common, in their animal-headed form.  The remains found in this tomb demonstrate the occupants were somewhat wealthy.  Article

References and Further Reading:

Boyle, Alan. “Bones and Jars of the Dead Unearthed in 3,000-Year-Old Egyptian Tombs.” in CosmoLog on NBC News. January 10, 2013. http://cosmiclog.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/01/10/16449485-bones-and-jars-of-the-dead-unearthed-in-3000-year-old-egyptian-tombs?lite

Izzidien, Ruqaya.”Gaza’s Archaeological Treasures at Risk from War and Neglect.” in BBC News. January 6, 2013.  http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-20853440

*Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. http://www.wikipedia.com

 

*Yes, I am citing Wikipedia in this particular case. I am not writing particularly scholastic work in this case, and it’s good for some general background information on the subject, which is why I linked to the articles.

Undergraduate Honors Thesis II B: Prose Tales Pt. 1

As I have stated before, it is my belief that all ancient tales are inherently didactic.  However, before I fully discuss my thesis, I must first provide some background in Egyptian literature.  In the posts that follow, I will enumerate on several examples of each “genre” of Middle Egyptian literature.  After all, in order to properly compare these genres, it is necessary to first look at several individual examples of literature that are encompassed by them.  First, I consider three stories designated as “prose,” beginning with The Three Tales of Wonder.

As stated earlier the only known copy, Papyrus Westcar, dates from the Hyksos Period (Lichtheim 193:215) — approximately 1620 to 1530 BCE.  Much of the beginning of the papyrus is lost, but researchers agree that the story itself is comprised of five sub-stories (Lichtheim 1973:215).  However, Lichtheim translates only the three latter ones because the first section is all but completely lost and the second is largely lacunae.  She begins with the “Boating Party” of King Snefru, father of the pharaoh Khufu (Lichtheim 1973:216), as told to Khufu by one of his sons, Baufre. King Snefru is quite bored and orders scantily clad women to row him around in a boat.  One of the women drops her pendant into the water (Lichtheim 1973:217), but the chief lector-priest is able to call it back from the depths of the lake.  Upon completion of this tale by his brother, Prince Hardedef informs King Khufu of the magical prowess of the magician Djedi, a living powerful magician.  The Pharaoh directs Prince Hardedef to locate Djedi and invite him to the court (Papyrus Westcar VII 8).  After arriving at the palace and demonstrating his magical abilities, Djedi prophesizes the birth of a set of triplets, each destined to become a pharaoh (Papyrus Westcar IX 9- IX 14).  The King is upset by this, out of concern for his own family line, but Djedi assures him that it would be “[a]s how I said- first your son, then his son, then one of them” (Papyrus Westcar IX 14).  King Khufu then asks about Redjadet, the mother of these triplets, ushering in the third and supposedly final tale: that of the actual birth of the triplets.  These children are named as follows: Wsrf (Papyrus Westcar X 9), Ra sAx (or “Sahure”- because it is undoubtedly an honorific transposition – Papyrus Westcar X 17), and Kkw (Papyrus Westcar X 23).  These names have been commonly understood to be puns on names of the real pharaohs of Dynasty V.  Although their mother, Redjadet, was “suffering herself with her irksome birth” (Papyrus Westcar IX 22), thanks to the gods that were sent to her aid (Papyrus Westcar IX 23), she successfully delivered the three future kings.  The miracle of her and her children surviving the difficult birth seems to be the focus of the tale. Since these tales are true, or meant to be perceived as true, Lichtheim classifies The Three Tales of Wonder as prose.

Bibliography:

de Buck, A. The Papyrus Westcar.  Egyptian Reading Book, 2nd Ed.  Leiden: Nederlands Instituut voor het Nabije Oosten. 1963

Lichtheim, Miriam. Ancient Egyptian Literature Vol. I: The Old and Middle Kingdoms.  Berkeley and Los Angeles, CA: University of California Press. 1973.

References for Translation:

de Buck, A.  The Papyrus Westcar.  Egyptian Reading Book, 2nd Ed.  Leiden: Nederlands Instituut voor het Nabije Oosten. 1963.

Gardiner, Sir Alan.  Egyptian Grammar: Being an Introduction to the Study of Hieroglyphs, Third Edition.  Oxford, UK: Griffith Insitute. 1957.

Hoch, James E. Middle Egyptian Grammar.  Toronto, Canada: Benben Publications. 1997.

Faulkner, Raymond O. A Concise Dictionary of Middle Egyptian.  Oxford: Griffith Institute. 1962.

Shennun, David. English-Egyptian Index of Faulkner’s Concise Dictionary of Middle Egyptian.  Malibu, CA: Undena Publications. 1977.

The Future of Archaeology

I often wonder about the state of my field in future generations.  50 years seems a little to short a time for any major change, but what will archaeologists 1000 years from now think of our technology-driven society?  How will they react to landfills full of motherboards and plastic bottles that refuse to biodegrade?  Of the ruined skyscrapers which cling precariously to the sky?  Will my fields still exist 1000 years from now, or has the internet rendered archaeology and museums obsolete?

First, a little background on my thought process.  My first semester at Beloit College, I took the introductory to archaeology course: “Archaeology and Prehistory.”  The professor had us read a fun children’s book in the last few weeks of the class, called Motel of the Mysteries.  Its purpose was to serve as a sort of “What-If” wake-up call for archaeologists, as it asks “what if we are wrong?” In it, the author re-appropriates the discovery of King Tutankhamun’s tomb for his tale.  The archaeologist, whose name is a pun on Howard Carter (discoverer of King Tut’s tomb), describes the wondrous things found in this “tomb”- actually a simple hotel room.  For example, he completely misidentified such rudimentary things as the folded toilet paper (seen at fancy hotels), bathtub, and even the bed as religious relics.  The most intriguing misappropriation, which carries with it a certain social commentary with it, is the wrongful identification of the television as an idol of a god. (Macaulay, David 1979)

While this book is a humorous exploration of the “what-if”- taken to an extreme – it nonetheless is a worthwhile exercise.  Paper trails and physicality of communication and personal connection are disappearing into the digital world.  To a future researcher, who would not have access to the internet, what will our civilization look like? And what if the Internet DOES still exist in the future, in some heightened form? Will virtual reality become our ACTUAL reality?  Science Fiction writers use that particular trope quite often.  In every instance that I’ve read, the problem is the same: if we can live in a universe of our own making, then why would we choose not to? The logical result would be the sacrifice of reality for the life of fantasy.

This questions are difficult ones to grasp, and impossible to answer.  Nonetheless, they are considerations that we must make as professionals.  Take museums for example.  Already, there is a push to make collections available online, whether through such open source ware as ContentDm, or through some other service.  At the very least, museums are expected to have collections highlights on their websites (which themselves are considered a necessity).  Virtual museums are also coming into vogue, yet while these do increase access to the collections for the broadest possible audience – anyone with an internet connection – it potentially limits ACTUAL visitation. Is that a con that museums can afford? In today’s economy, probably not, but they are accepting it nonetheless.  Personally, I can see physical museums consolidating in the future, or disappearing altogether, if the trend to “virtuality” continues down the path to Veelox.

The same issue holds true for archaeology.  One archaeologist, Sarah Parcak of the National Geographic, has pointed out that “less than one percent of ancient Egypt has been discovered and excavated.” (National Geographic website, 2012) Considering the ubiquity of discovered Egyptian sites, this makes the true number of possible sites mind-boggling.  If we take Egypt as a microcosm for the entire world’s history and prehistory, then it should follow that archaeologists have nothing to fear in terms of “job security.” Yet, modern research involves scientific technologies such as ground-penetrating radar that keeps the site intact and undisturbed.  If the ‘tools of the trade’ continue to develop away from actual excavation, then we could reach a point where the concept of discovery is rendered obsolete, particularly if the findings are published online for everyone to access.

All is not doom and gloom, however.  After all, the entire purpose of museums and archaeology is to align and disseminate information to the masses.  What will have to change is how these professionals will go about the business of doing so.  The issue is finding a balance between the traditional field and the “newest and greatest” technology.  What cannot be helped is that the everyday lives of everyone is available for all to see.  If the internet does persist into the future as a working tool, then archaeology of the 21st century in the 22nd and beyond will have to accommodate the information that it provides.

The Future Archaeology | DudeLOL.com.

Bibliography

Macaulay, David. “Mote of the Mysteries.” Houghton-Mifflin Company, New York City: 1979

National Geographic. “Sarah Parcak- Archaeologist, Emerging Explorer” (C) 2012 National Geographic. http://www.nationalgeographic.com/explorers/bios/sarah-parcak/

 

 

Book Translates American Minutiae for Russians – NYTimes.com

I’m taking a break from my final essay for Museums Today: Mission and Function to post this rather interesting article.  A friend posted it on Facebook, and I found it quite a refreshing distraction from my work.  It is true, one often does forget about the minutiae.

Book Translates American Minutiae for Russians – NYTimes.com.

Undergraduate Honors Thesis II A- Definitions

Definitions

Miriam Lichtheim identifies “didactic literature” as consisting of three types (1973:134). She describes the first as a father figure providing advice to his son, as in the case of The Instruction of Amenemhet I.  The second refers to admonishing, or prophetic speech, usually given by some wise man or prophet, often in defense of the public good (Lichtheim 1973:134).  Both The Eloquent Peasant and The Prophecies of Neferti fall into this category.  The final classification is an argumentative dialogue between two individuals, as in the case of The Dispute between a Man and His Ba (Lichtheim 1973:134).  With respect to “prose” tales, she recognizes that they “come from the sphere of the educated scribes and from the ambiance of the court” (1973:211), which means that they all reflect elite values.  What distinguishes these tales from their didactic counterparts, however, is that they share similarities to modern folk tales.  They often incorporate wondrous or fantastical events.  They are tales that may be true or at least meant to be perceived as true (1973:211).  For Lichtheim, “prose” tales are either biographical accounts or complete fiction.

Work Cited:

Lichtheim, Miriam. 1973.  Ancient Egyptian Literature Vol. I: The Old and Middle Kingdoms.  Berkeley and Los Angeles, CA: University of California Press.