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Peck - PAPYRUS OF NES MIN THE PAPYRUS OF NES-MIN: AN EGYPTIAN BOOK OF THE DEADDetroit Institute of Arts Acc. Non-poisonous snakesA such as boa constrictors or pythons can be domesticated, and even held and stroked. But this isna€™tA the case with poisonous snakes because they are nervous by nature and easily agitated.
It doubtless would have been includedA in the tomb as a part of the group of documents mentioned. When poisonous snakes inject their razor-sharp fangs deep into a victim, they pushA down into his flesh, which causes the venom to pump through the victima€™s flesh and into the bloodstream.A Once the venom is injected, the snake lets loose and slithers away. These were not preserved "instead ofA the more usual Book of the Dead" but probably interred in addition to it. The notion that a civilization developed and maintained a complex writtenA language based on a system of pictures holds a fascination that is undiminished today. AlthoughA there were numerous examples of carved hieroglyphic inscriptions in the collection, for manyA years the DIA lacked an important example of ancient writing on papyrus. A few fragmentaryA pieces of text of late date, in terms of the history of Egypt, were all the museum had to show forA this important medium for the transmission of art, commerce, and religion. It has amply been demonstrated in the literature on the history of EgyptianA art that linear abstraction and the necessary skill in draftsmanship were the underlying principlesA and the basis for all of the visual arts in Egyptian civilization.In 1972 Richard A. Not only does it meanA to tame, but it was also used to describeA animal trainers who were experts at capturing and domesticating the wildest and most ferocious of beasts, such as lions, tigers, and bears. Normally these animals would maul or kill a person, but these skilled trainers were able to take the wildest animalsA and domesticate them, even turning them into house pets. This demon-possessed man was so ferociousA that those who could domesticate the most ferocious of beasts were unable to subdue and tame him.A Now James uses this same word in James 3:8 to describe the tongue! Because the tongue is so unstable and restless,A its behavior is almost impossible to predict.
It is like a snake that may appear to be docile but isA actually just waiting for a victim to come along in which to inject its venom. The word thanatos is the Greek word for death, and the wordA pheroA means to bear or to carry.
When these two words are compounded into one, as in this case, the new word meansA death-bearing. The pieces were treated and mounted in the museum's conservation laboratory and placed on exhibition in fragmentary condition.
Like the poisonous snakes described above, the tongue is depicted as an instrument that is full of death and poison. The hope persisted that a better-preserved and typical ink drawing or painted section from a Book of the Dead might be found for the collection, but it wasA not until 1988 that this was realized in a manner as welcome as it was totally unexpected. The object that was offered to the museum, the Book of the Dead of Nes-min, was a virtually complete example of a papyrus replete with carefully executed drawings of high artistic quality.To many people today, the Book of the Dead is considered the classic example of anA ancient Egyptian religious document.
It is a text that is easily accessible to the general publicA because it has been translated and published in a number of versions, the most popular probablyA being that of Sir E. Like a poisonous snake, it is nearly always poised to strike and to deliver its load of deadly venom.a€?A Have you ever said anything to someone that was so sharp, it sounded like you were attacking him? A far better modern comparison would be with the older formA of the Anglican Book of Common Prayer, which was also a compilation of texts and prayers andA contained spells to ward off evil influences. Did you have to create a recovery operation to fix the mess you created with your words of unkindness?A We are all guilty of saying ugly things from time to time simply because we all have tongues! Surprisingly, nothing ofA the kind is preserved in the most famous of all the pyramids from earlier in Dynasty 4 (26tha€“25thA centuries).
The only way our tongue can besubdued, tamed, and brought under control is if we submit it to the control of the Holy Spirit. During a period of decline after Dynasty 4, the kings of Egypt sought to insure theirA immortality through the addition of engraved prayers and spells to their tomb-pyramids.
By committing yourA tongue and your mouth to the Lordship of Jesus Christ, you give the Holy Spirit the authority to penetrate this realm of your life with His power and control. He will help you keep a tight rein on your mouth so you can keep from saying things you will later regret!A Why not stop right now and submit your mouth and tongue to the Lordship of Jesus? The daily recitations to be made on behalf of the king's spirit in the temple associated withA his pyramid are also included.Later, during the Middle Kingdom, particularly Dynasties 9 to 11 (22nda€“21st centuries), many of the prayers and spells originally reserved for royalty were somewhat "democratized" and were allowed for the use of members of the nobility. Rather than being carved on the walls of tombs, these texts were written or painted on the inside walls of box-shaped coffins for the deceased, giving these the appearance of small tomb chambers (fig. I amA unable to control my tongue by myself, so right now I deliberately make the decision to ask Youto invade this area of my life with Your power and Your control. 65.394The original Pyramid Texts of the Old Kingdom were supplemented with other material, often including spells to ward off hunger and thirst as well as specific evils or dangers that the spirit might encounter. These painted compilations of text and spells, for obvious reasons, have been named Coffin Texts.
In their number and variety, the texts also add a great deal to our knowledge of the development of Egyptian religious thought, particularly concerning the rising importance of the god Osiris as the protector of the dead.Beginning during the New Kingdom, as a part of the development of religious beliefs, the new and expanded corpus of texts became available to a larger segment of the population, dependent, however, on what an individual was able to afford.
Do you relate to this teaching about the tongue being like a snake that occasionally strikes and injects deadly venom into its listeners?A 2. This last major phase in the development of funerary texts is the collection of prayers and spells popularly called the Book of the Dead (the proper title was something along the lines of the book of "going forth [from the tomb] by day"). Have you ever had the experience of saying things you later regretted a€” but by the time you came to regret those negative words, the damage was already done? It was traditionally written on papyrus, although selected passages are found on tomb walls and on some specific funerary objects, as will be discussed below. It was often augmented by a series of illustrations or vignettes mainly related to the various "chapters" (more properly, "spells").
Did you ever go back to that person and ask him or her to forgive you for acting so unlike Jesus?A 3. There exist a number of forms or compilations, varying considerably in completeness, that make up the Book of the Dead. Some examples were produced in the expectation of purchase, with the name and titles of the deceased to be added in designated blank spaces.
In various forms, the Book of the Dead was in use in ancient Egypt for almost 1,500 years.It is a common misconception that the numbering system used in modern publications to designate the spells is ancient.
On the contrary, it was devised by Richard Lepsius, the pioneer German Egyptologist, in the early nineteenth century. The names assigned to the various spells are generally derived from the titles or labels used to designate them in the text. These were typically written in red pigment to set them off from the rest of the text, which was written in black ink, an example of the most ancient application of a visual differentiation that has come to be called "rubrics" (deriving from the Latin word for the color red) to designate headings in a religious text.The religious matter dealt with in the Book of the Dead is the result of a long evolutionary process and is extremely varied. It includes hymns in praise of Re, the sun god, as well as other hymns or prayers addressed to Osiris, the ruler and judge of the spirits of the deceased. There are several sections that deal with the concept of the spirit acquiring the freedom and ability to leave the tomb "by day" or in "triumph over enemies" and in various magical forms or manifestations.


They also guard against dangers, as exemplified by serpents and crocodiles.We know the Book of the Dead mainly from examples written on papyrus, the most familiar material, but two of the spells were regularly inscribed on specific funerary objects. One of these is spell 30b, which is found engraved on a special class of amulet called a heart scarab.
This was traditionally made of green stone and intended to be wrapped on the mummy over the heart, which, unlike the other internal organs, was left in place in the body (fig. 73.81 The text of the heart scarab addresses the heart of the deceased and pleads that it not rise up and witness against the spirit and influence the weighing of the heart in the balance of judgment.
The other frequently found text is spell 6, which is written, impressed, or inscribed on shawabtis, the mummy-form funerary figures intended to magically supply the spirit with workmen (fig. When it was acquired by the museum, it had been cut into twenty-four sections, generally separated at logical junctures that did not significantly harm the text or the drawings. After acquisition by the museum, the papyrus was treated, some of the sections were reunited for the sake of visual clarity and continuity, and each of the parts was remounted and framed in a standard frame size.5Such rolls of papyrus have sometimes been found broken or otherwise spoiled by mishandling and unrolling without proper care. Only one vignette, a scene of four ibis-headed figures at four doors, appears to have been intentionally mutilated, as a complete figure has been removed. Otherwise, the condition of the document is generally good, although the top edge has suffered somewhat and has a ragged appearance.
Nes-min had the title of Prophet (priest) of Neferhotep, a somewhat obscure Egyptian deity who was the object of a cult in the region of Hu (known to the Greeks as Diospolis Parva) in Middle Egypt during the late period. He was also a priest of Amun-re at the Temple of Karnak at Thebes, and he counted among his other distinctions the rank of phyle leader, responsible for a contingent (or shift) of priests. Thus his social status would have been such that he could afford a Book of the Dead of good quality and considerable size. It is known from the "colophon" he added to the Bremner-Rhind papyrus (discussed below) in the British Museum, London, that he had more than twenty priestly and other official titles to his credit.
These include priesthoods in the service of the gods Amun, Khonsu, Min, Osiris, Isis, Nephtys, Horus, and Hathor, in addition to that of Neferhotep. We know little about the man Nes-min beyond the names of his parents, the titles he held, and the choice of religious texts he took with him to his tomb, but there is one additional and important bit of evidence about him provided by one of those documents.It was not the usual Egyptian custom to include the year, month, or day in a religious text such as the Book of the Dead, in contrast to personal letters or state, legal, and commercial documents, where a recorded date might have been important. The determination of a period or date for the execution of an example of a religious text is usually based on the linguistic, calligraphic, or artistic style. It is generally only when an individual is not only named but also can be identified with some certainty by titles and family relationships or some genealogical notation that a more exact date can be established for a particular document. Nes-mina€™s Book of the Dead, however, can be said to be as precisely dated as almost any funerary papyrus in existence. This individual is well known in the Egyptological literature because other papyri belonging to him have been identified and well published in the past.6 In the Detroit papyrus, Nes-mina€™s father and mother are mentioned by name7 as are some of his somewhat unusual titles, so that we can identify him with great certainty as the owner of two other papyri in the British Museum (BM10208 and BM10209), which give him some of the same titles and the same genealogy. Furthermore, he was the author of the so-called colophon of the Bremner-Rhind papyrus (BM10188). These are the documents, consisting mainly of prayers, mentioned in the quotation at the beginning of this article. The identification of Nes-min with this last papyrus is particularly important because it is dated to year 12 in the reign of Alexander IV, the posthumous son of Alexander the Great, or 306a€“305 B.C. The logical conclusion is simply that if Nes-min was a mature man alive in 306a€“305, his Book of the Dead was certainly made during the first half of the third century B.C.
According to Mosher, the contents of the Detroit papyrus of Nes-min are somewhat typical for a Book of the Dead made late in Egyptian history, at the very beginning of the Ptolemaic Period.
He has pointed out that this papyrus contains 148 of the 165 spells that had come to be standard in the Late Period codification of the corpus. He also observed that some of the texts are abbreviated, but that this is not to be considered a fault, because even some indication of a particular spell was deemed to be more effective than omitting it completely.The text of the document is written in hieratic script, a cursive form of Egyptian hieroglyphic writing, although some of the larger vignettes have texts written in a more formal hieroglyphic hand. In the shape and simplification of individual signs, the cursive script shows the influence and limitations of the reed pen employed to produce it, but it was faster and easier to write and well adapted to a papyrus surface.
The relationship of hieratic to the formal hieroglyphic style of writing is roughly comparable to that of modern cursive writing to block printing or printed type. He was a master draftsman with a command of Egyptian standard requirements and proportion and was immensely skilled in the handling of pen and ink, as is shown by the fine and consistent quality of line throughout the whole document. The figures have been slightly abbreviated in a stylized manner for which parallels can be found in other papyri of the same time.The Book of the Dead of Nes-min is a rich collection of vignettes meant to accompany the various spells of the text. They range in size and complexity from large, multifigured examples to the smallest drawings accompanying short spells.
A number of them are exquisite little masterpieces in their own right and show the ability of the artist to capture the look and spirit of human and animal life within the strictures of the rules of Egyptian art. Among these, the drawings of birds should be particularly noted; the standard method of representing the various birds is adhered to but the individuality of types is recognized (see fig.
5).A The tiny drawings at the top edge of the papyrus, which act almost as a continuous frieze, contain many examples of meticulously detailed renderings. These include the ubiquitous images of the deceased, priests and officiants, the gods, and numerous offerings for the good of the spirit of Nes-min.Of all of the vignettes included in any version of the Book of the Dead, probably the most familiar and most often reproduced is the Weighing of the Heart scene representing the individual judgment of the deceased (fig. 6).A Typically, as in the Detroit papyrus, the deceased is led into the Hall of Judgment by the god Thoth, the patron deity of scribes and writing, who is represented as ibis-headed. Nes-min is shown on the far right, accompanied by the goddess Ma'at, the female personification of truth and order, who is identified by the ostrich feather hieroglyph on her head. It is significant that Nes-min not only holds the same feather (twice) in attestation to his adherence to the notion of truthfulness but also wears an amulet of the goddess on a cord around his neck.
Before him he is able to witness the weighing of his heart in the scale against the feather of Ma'at. Jackal- and falcon-headed deities assist in the process of weighing, while a baboon, an animal sacred to Thoth, perches at the top of the scale. Ammit, the devouring monster, waits atop a shrine-shaped pedestal to consume the heart if it is found wanting in the balance.
He is accompanied by images of the "Four Sons of Horus," who emerge from a lotus blossom, symbolic of rebirth. The whole action takes place under the attention of forty-onea€”or forty-two, the standard number, when Osiris is counteda€”assessors of the dead, each holding, again, the ostrich feather of Ma'at. The list of transgressions is so detailed and so revealing that it has been compared to the morality espoused in the commandments of the Judeo-Christian tradition or the moral strictures of other religions. In essence, it gives the modern reader a clear idea of what would have been considered a moral and correct way of life in ancient Egypt. The rubric preceding this lengthy passage tells us that it is to be uttered upon the spirit's arrival at the hall of justice, at the time of the weighing of the heart or the individual judgment.The drawing style in the Book of the Dead of Nes-min is well exemplified by the execution of this vignette of the Weighing of the Heart.
The individual figures appear to be tall and graceful and exhibit an inner coherence of form that tended to gradually weaken during the following Ptolemaic Period, although the treatment of some anatomical parts here prefigures the later style, particularly in some apparently awkward combinations.
The linear delineation of figures and parts of figures is done with great care, subtlety, and accuracy and in considerable minute detail. One rather curious peculiarity of the drawing style is the use of an "overlap" in which lines cross or intersect in a manner that almost suggests inadequate prior planning and the consequent necessity for overdrawing.
This can be seen particularly in the arms of the figure of Nes-min as they cross his torso and in the detail of the column capitals of the architecture framing the scene of judgment.


The overall design and arrangement were carefully thought out; the composition is well balanced, with adequate space allotted to each of the participants in the drama. This distinguishes it from other examples of the Book of the Dead where text and figures vie for space in a crowded format.In most Books of the Dead of the Late Period, there are only a select number of vignettes done on a large scale. These include the Weighing of the Heart scene discussed above and a few other formulaic images. A further example of such emphasis in the Detroit papyrus is the composite scene in which Nes-min is depicted carrying out a variety of agricultural activities in the two center registers (fig. 7).A On the right he cuts grain with a curved sickle and on the left drives cattle, which will tread on and thresh it.
In the next lower register an earlier part of the cycle is depicted in which Nes-min plows the field and sows the grain. The accompanying text reads (in paraphrase), "I plow and I reap in the field of offerings and I am content with the gods." This is a part of the illustration for spell 110, an elaborate homage to the gods that seeks to guarantee the continued good of the spirit of the deceased. The stylized representation of farm activities was standard for this spell in the Book of the Dead and had no direct reference to the occupation of the deceased; nor were these images included to suggest that it would be his fate to labor as a common field hand in the next world. The agricultural cycle of plowing, sowing, reaping, and threshing was seemingly employed as a graphic image of the progression of the seasons, the cycle of beginning and completion, and the continuation of life in which the deceased aspired to participate for eternity.The variety as well as the quality of illustrations in this Book of the Dead is further exemplified by a vignette with two distinct parts (fig. The falcon-headed figure is Sokar-Osiris, a conflation of the qualities of Osiris and Sokar, a falcon-headed god of the necropolis. The goddess next to him is the personification of the West (Imnt), the land of the blessed. Sokar-Osiris is depicted with the typical mummy form and crown associated with images of Osiris. One of the interesting aspects of the grouping of these three figures is the result of a standard mode of representation found in all two-dimensional art of ancient Egypt.
Although the goddess is shown as if she were standing behind the god, she is actually meant to be seen as standing on his right side and thus accompanying him in a position of equality.The left-hand section of this vignette contains three separate elements that generally appear together and accompany spell 148. These are: the Seven Celestial Cows with the Bull of Heaven, the Four Rudders, and the Four Sons of Horus.
Through each of these somewhat disparate agencies, an appeal for the protection of the spirit is made or implied.
All of these elements are enclosed in an architectural framework resembling a shrine.Although this Book of the Dead was generally executed with care and skill, the artist has inconsistently treated the two ends of this shrine-like structure. The right side may be unfinished, but it actually looks as if there was a change of design or a lapse of memory from one end of the enclosure to the other, so that the two ends do not match and possibly belong to different types of architectural structures. This was a relatively small mistake, hardly noticeable and hardly affecting the appearance of the composition, but it does underscore the notion that such texts were executed by fallible individuals. Seemingly the product of a careful and meticulous craftsman, the Detroit papyrus is remarkably free of infelicities of design. As such, it can take its place with other important examples of the genre representing one of the last phases in a long tradition of religious literature that has been preserved from ancient Egypt.When the Detroit papyrus was acquired for the collection of the museum from the New York art market, it had virtually no provenance provided for it other than that it had been known by some Egyptologists to have been in Europe for a number of years. In an effort to determine its recent history, a series of inquiries was made among scholars who have made a particular study of Egyptian papyri of the Late and Ptolemaic Periods, and no satisfactory information was obtained beyond a vague memory on the part of some who recalled it as being in an old German or French collection. The connection provided by the "colophon" of the Bremner-Rhind papyrus may provide a suggestion of its possible modern history, if not solid evidence as to its source.R. Faulkner takes issue with the designation "colophon" for the notation presumably written by Nes-min on the Bremner-Rhind papyrus, since it does not actually date the production of the manuscript or identify the person who wrote it, as a colophon, by definition, is intended to.
10 The date given is the year in which this additional note was made in a handwriting completely different from the original text. The long list of sacerdotal titles associated with Nes-min and the names of his father and mother in the "colophon" are of utmost importance for the identification of the precise owner of the Detroit papyrus. It is this genealogical evidence, as noted above, by which the Detroit Book of the Dead can be securely connected with the Bremner-Rhind papyrus.11The Bremner-Rhind papyrus is identified by the names of former owners, as is customary in museum nomenclature. Alexander Henry Rhind was a Scottish lawyer who traveled to Egypt for his health in 1855a€“56 and 1856a€“57.12 As did many other educated Europeans who went there for medical reasons, he undertook excavations in the Theban area (modern Luxor). Through excavation or purchase he acquired a large collection of antiquities, which he eventually bequeathed to the National Museum of Antiquities, now the Royal Scottish Museum, in Edinburgh.13 Rhind was very much ahead of his time in that he recognized the importance of recording the context and the finding locations of the objects he excavated. After Rhinda€™s death, Bremner sold the papyrus that jointly bears their names, with others, to the British Museum. 15 Why these objects did not go with the rest of Rhinda€™s collection to Edinburgh is not clear, but the fact that an important papyrus such as the Bremner-Rhind was not included in the bequest suggests that there may have been otherwise unrecognized material in the Rhind collection that was excluded as well.
It is thus probable, but impossible to prove, that the Detroit papyrus was a part of the Rhind collection and may have been directed elsewhere, possibly to a private collector. If this is true, it has remained unidentified as such, as the papyrus for the most part has gone unpublished for more than a hundred years. It should be noted, however, that Faulkner said, Nothing definite is known of the provenance of the [Bremner-Rhind] manuscript, but the presumed last owner, the priest Nesmin who wrote the "Colophon," appears to have been a Theban, judging by the priestly titles he bore.
Although there is no direct evidence bearing on the point, it seems probable that the papyrus came from his tomb, and it would be interesting to know in what circumstances a book which appears to have been written originally for a temple library came into the private possession of a member of the priesthood.16It would be as interesting to know where Rhind acquired the Bremner-Rhind papyrus and the other papyri related to Nes-min, since it is possible that the Detroit papyrus may have come from the same source.
In 1964, in pursuit of material for her study of the two other papyri from the Rhind collection, F. In contrast to these monuments, it is to the papyri of ancient Egypt, as to the clay tablets of Mesopotamia, that we must turn to witness the earliest stages of the recording of human thought and memory in a portable form.
Alessandro Roccati has used the material from the tomb of Nes-min as an example of care and concern for important texts to the point that they were included among the furnishings for the spirit of the deceased. Limme, "Un 'Prince Ramesside' FantA?me," in Aegyptus Museis Rediviva: Miscellanea in Honorem Hermanni de Meulenaere (Brussels, 1993), 114 n. Budge, The Book of the Dead (The Papyrus of Ani), 1890, 1894, 1913 (with various additions and emendations).4For more up-to-date background material and translations of the Book of the Dead, see R.
Haikal, Two Hieratic Funerary Papyri of Nesmin, Bibliotheca Aegyptiaca 14 (Brussels, 1970).W.
Herman De Meulenare, Seminarie voor Egyptologie, Rijksuniversiteit-Gent; it was verified by Malcolm Mosher. I offer my thanks to all of these scholars, but particularly to Carol Andrews, who was the first to point out the connection to me.12W. Uphill, Who Was Who in Egyptology (London, 1972), 247a€“4813Two instances of gifts of large collection of antiquities from Rhind are listed in the Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries, but there is no indication about material going elsewhere.
Letter to author from the Department of History and Applied Art, National Museums of Scotland, Edinburgh, May 26, 1999 (DIA curatorial files).14Brian M. BENSON IN EGYPT EGYPT IN TIN PAN ALLEY IMAGES OF CLEOPATRA IN FILM LESSONS FROM HISTORY MARGARET BENSON PAPYRUS OF NES MIN THE RAPE OF LUXOR SONNINI PAPYRUS OF NES MIN THE PAPYRUS OF NES-MIN: AN EGYPTIAN BOOK OF THE DEADDetroit Institute of Arts Acc.
The pieces were treated and mounted in the museum's conservation laboratory and placed on exhibition in fragmentary condition.



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