Ptahhotep

Written by Felgr Pavel on .

Ptahhotep was the highest judge, administrator of all royal buildings and vizier of the last but one ruler of the 5th dynasty Djedkare Isesi (2,388 – 2,356 BC). He was also the author of the eldest learning fully preserved. He lived to the age of 110 years (only few Egyptians lived to this age, e.g. Pepi II among others).

Ptahhotep is known for his writings "The Maxims of Ptahhotep" that was very popular in ancient Egypt and its author was honoured a lot. These writings had been rewritten throughout all Egyptian history. The first work of this type was written by Imhotep (vizier and builder of the first pyramid of Djoser, the Pharaoh of the 3rd dynasty). Unfortunately this work hasn't been found yet.

Ptahhotep asks for releasing of charge in his scroll because of his old age (110 years) and replaced him with his son. The Pharaoh agrees, but on condition that Ptahhotep passes his knowledge on (37 chapters written down). Some of them are current even nowadays:

  • ...you should only speak, when you understand the subject. The one, who speaks in a meeting, should be an artist, speaking is harder than any other work and serves only to them, who know it perfectly. Don't say this one time and that next time. Every of your intentions reach its aim only in case you will speak perfectly. Everytime you speak, be level-headed. You should always utter something outstanding only, to make the great noblemen, who are listening to you, say: "How excellent is what come out of his mouth!"
  • If you find a great debt by a poor man, divide it into three parts, forgive him two of them and keep only the one. You will find out that this is the best way of handling in life and you will be able to sleep calm then. You will appreciate it as good news in the morning, because it is better to hear thank you for your love to a fellowman than have a fortune in a storehouse, it is better to have only bread in all conscience than a fortune heavy with reproaches
  • Be cheerful for the whole life, don't do more than is ordered and don't shorten time for entertainment this way. The soul loathes taking time of merrymaking away from it. So don't lose even an hour more than needed with care for your estates, the wealth will come even if you satisfy your longings, on the contrary - there is no benefit from wealth, when longings are being neglected
  • Don't you dare rob a man living in poverty and fight with a man with broken arm
  • Don't boast about your knowledge, but discuss with a learned man as well as with a non-learned one
  • If you want to sustain favour of a house, where you come as a friend, avoid contacts with their women
  • Spend time with your friend after his work is finished, so his issues won't suffer
  • If the character of your friend doesn't stand a test, don't gain the truth from elsewhere, but talk to him yourself, settle it closeted and reach the state that you don't suffer because of his manners anymore. Discuss with him after some time and track his thoughts down in a conversation. If he is not aware even of this he has seen by himself and do something that offends you, keep being friendly with him, don't avert from him, be only reserved, don't speak to him as the first one, but don't answer arrogantly to him, don't separate of him and get close to him as well. It will be his turn one day, nobody can't avoid the fair fate

Mastaba of Ptahhotep

Mastaba of Ptahhotep

Weni - from an official to a general

Written by Felgr Pavel on .

Weni was born in a noble family under Pharaoh Teti rule, approximately 4,500 years ago. He became the most devoted helper of Teti's successors from the 6th dynasty, Pepi I. and Merenre. This honest man was not only honoured warrior and unblemished steward of royal manors, above all he was a confidant and a friend of Egyptian Pharaohs.

It wasn't an exception, that children from the most highborn families were educated in royal palace at the time of Old Kingdom. So Weni, future general, who defeated Egyptian enemies, might be educated with royal children. When he was about ten, he wore a kilt symbolizing his entrance to the society of adults. He got a commission the " head of the palace tenants" then.

Weni, beginning of a career

Still young Pepi I. came to the throne after Teti's death. Weni, who might be educated with the new ruler, became one of favourite of Pepi I. and got a commission of the "Great sanctuary administrator". It meant, that he took care about all royal manors, recruited and trained palace servants and administered the land of the Pharaoh. Not long after that Weni got also a commission of the "lector - priest".

It was an important position, that gave Weni the authority to supervise the right running of all cults worshipped at the Pharaoh's court. Another manifestation of Pepi I. trust was conferment of a title the "head priest of pyramidal town". He was put in charge of building Pharaoh's chantry pyramid, which was built to the north of the necropolis in Saqqara.

Weni also had a title "the only friend", which usually meant, that the dignitary moved in a close proximity around the ruler. However, it seems, that Weni and the Pharaoh were real friends.

Weni and military career

Rioting at the boundaries were at the birth of his other career. He was first-rate waging the Pharaoh's army and became an excellent strategist. The first enemies he had to fihgt with were "These, who live behind sand". It was name for bedouin tribes, that came from Canaan. They did robber incursions and threatened the Egyptian dominance over this area.

Weni set off in north-western direction and on the Horus way (an antique way along the Mediterranean Sea connecting Egypt with Asia) and penetrated into Cannaan. Bad-organised and incoordinated Bedouins couldn't oppose for a long time to the powerful Egyptian army. The inhabitants of Memphis (Mennefer) prepared a triumphal welcoming to Weni and his army.

But the Egyptian success was only relative, because the Pharaoh had to take a new crusade against the same tribes. It took five crusades on to whole to defeat the Bedouins. The fifth crusade was the mightiest. Weni decided to surround the enemy, so he needed plenty of soldiers. That's why the army was transported on ships to the battlefield.

Weni and pharaoh Merenre

After the rule of Pepi I. Merenre came to the throne. It seemed, that the new Pharaoh respected Weni as well and was friendly to him. He confered him several other titles, including the title the "chamberlain and sandals porter of His Majesty". For his power boosting the new Pharaoh relied on wise advice of his zealous helper, whom he had already known from his childhood. It was good for him, because Weni proved his loyalty to the land again. The power of monarchs grew all the time in the Upper Egypt. The local rulers requested for more and more independence on the central power.

Just at this moment Merenre I. showed his respect to Weni again, he appointed him to the "prince and governor of the Upper Egypt". Nobody could be titled like this before him. He was entrusted with a territory spreaded from Elephantine (at the level of the first cataract) to Qesy (middle Egypt). It included about 14 Nomes from total 40, that Egypt was separated into. Weni restored law and order and tax payments in the Upper Egypt and he also punished riots and robberies. He returned the dominance of the Pharaoh over this territory and watched carefully over all Nomes, which fell within his cognizance.

Mysterious Land of Punt

Written by Felgr Pavel on .

Even if there are many descriptions of the Land of Punt, this Garden of Eden and eldorado of ancient Egypt, it is still shrouded in mystery. Where was this blessed land situated, from where Egyptians imported gold, olibanum and ebony?

Egyptians rode to a distant country at the time of the 5th dynasty, 2,500 years BC, which was called "the Land of Punt". Trading with the Land of Punt was even more intense at the time of Middle and New Kingdom and more and more stories, fairy tales and depictions appeared about this mysterious land. There are conserved reliefs in a beautiful temple in Deir el-Bahari on the western Nile bank in Thebes (Waset), which depicted an expedition sent by queen Hatshepsut right there in the Land of Punt.

What we know about Land of Punt

But what do we really know about this gorgeous and distant land? Only a little - for example we know, that Punt was located at an estuary, villages were created by round huts standing on piles and were entered through a small ladder and the physiognomy of inhabitants was similar to the Egyptians. Abundant vegetation grew there - olibanum trees, forked palms, mangrove. Then art also portrayed animals strange for Egyptians such as sawfish, giant tortoises, flying fish and many African animals - leopards, rhinos and girrafes.

Egyptians imported to the Land of Punt trinkets, which they traded for various products: gold, electrum (naturally occurring alloy of silver and gold), ebony, wild beasts skin, aromatic plants (olibanum trees, pistacia terebinthus) and gum, resin, myrrh and olibanum of course - so much treasured for the Egyptians.

Olibanum burned by funereal ceremonies and in temples, it served as a medicine, cosmetics and was used for delicious meals preparation. Queen Hatshepsut brought from her expedition to the Land of Punt many olibanum trees, which she let set in front of her temple in Deir el-Bahari.

It was supposed, that the Land of Punt was situated in the area of contemporary Yemen. But this hypothesis doesn't seem to be eligible, because the Kingdom of Sheba originated there 800 years BC ago and big Egyptian crusades dated over 2,000 years BC ago. Nowadays most of historians locate the Land of Punt to eastern boundaries of Sudan and along Eritrea and Somali Red Sea coast and the Gulf of Aden.

Pepi II.

Written by Felgr Pavel on .

Pepi II.

Ninety-four years! This was allegedly the lenght of the longest rule in Pharaohs history, the rule of 6th dynasty Pharaoh Pepi II. An unpleasant result of his exceptional longevity was political chaos that came to the land. The chaos was so big that the death of Pepi II meant the end of the golden era at the same time.

Pepi II., the fourth of the fifth Pharaoh of the 6th dynasty (2,360 - 2,180 BC), was likely to be a son of Pepi I. and Ankhesenmeryre II., a princess who came from Abydos. Merenre, the half-brother of Pepi II., ruled before him for a short period, probably only for 5 of 6 years. Merenre's short rule continued in politics of his father, Pepi I. - Merenre mined in mines on Sinai Peninsula and made military crusades to Palestine that were led by loyal general Weni, who was already in charge under Pepi I. rule.

Pepi II. - pharaoh of the seven years

At the age of 7, Pepi II. couldn't rule by himself. So the regents ruled instead of him, his mother Ankhesenmeryre II. and his mother's brother and Pepi's uncle Djau, who was alreade a vizier under Merenre rule. Ankhesenmeryre II. was a very strong personality for sure, who affected Egyptian political history in a significant way. An inscription on a limestone block was preserved from her chantry temple that describes Ankhesenmeryre II as "royal wife of Pepi I. and Merenre and mother of the king Pepi II".

When young Pepi II. was old enough to rule single-handed, he continued with the politics of his father and his half-brother. But the former regent Djau surely helped to the inexperienced Pharaoh. So Pepi II. focused on Sinai Peninsula and the Land of Punt (Pharaohs already traded with Punt under 5th dynasty rule), from where more and more precious metal was imported.

Pepi II. was also interested in Nubia that was crucial for Egyptian economy. The ruler made winning crusades into Dongola area in the beginning of his rule. Another crusade was made even further to the south into the land of Jam, which was situated to the south of Buhen between the second and the third cataract.

Builder Pepi II.

Pepi II., whom we actually don't know much about, wasn't likely a very distinct Pharaoh, who was only marked out with his invicible health. He participated on embellishment of his capital Memphis (Mennefer) and other significant towns in Upper Egypt.

Pyramid of Pepi II. located in southern part of Saqqara necropolis. His rule was too long and his royal power was gradually decreased in favour of the Nomes. The king even had to issue two imunity edicts, which freed all people and property belonged to Min's temple in Qift of paying taxes and other payments.

The dissatisfaction of farmers increased more and more in the second half of Pepi's rule and the farmers revolted against the state administration officers in the end. Except these folk revolts, the old ruler had to face the pressure of Egyptian wealthy men, who gained more and more land all over the country for pursuing their chantry cult. This situation led to even bigger disparity among social layers.

The golden era of the Old Kingdom ended with the death of Pepi II. and an uneasy First Intermediate Period began that was affected by uncertainty and chaos. Disputes over the throne led to an inevitable crisis. Merenre II. came to the throne, one of the sons of Pepi II and his half-sister Neith. The wife of Merenre was allegedly queen Nitocris, who became the last ruler of the 6th dynasty.

Message from the Nile

  • History of Czech institution of egyptology

    The Czech egyptology founder is Frantisek Lexa, the author of up to now evaluated work about ancient Egypt magic and Demotic grammar. Seminar for egyptology started thanks to him in Faculty of Philosophy and Arts of Charles University in Prague in 1925. Two years later Lexa became the first regular professor of egyptology in then Czechoslovakia.

  • Abusir - outstation of Czech egyptology expedition

    Abusir is an archaeological locality in Egypt named after nearby recent village Abusir. It is situated on western Nile bank on the edge of Libyan tableland approximately 20 kilometers to the south-west of Cairo. The name of this locality is derived from ancient Egypt god Osiris, from Per Usir (Busiris), "(cult) place of Osiris" (Busiris in Greek).

  • Researches in Western desert

    Czech egyptology is successful in researching not only on pyramidal fields in Abusir recently, but also in supporting and organizing smaller expeditions into egyptian Western desert. Czech expedition has been working even in slowly evanescent oasis El-Hajez since 2003, which is situated about 400 km to the south-west from Cairo.

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