The Egyptians in their own words
This book contains translations of ancient Egyptian texts originally inscribed on a variety of materials including stone, clay tablets and potsherds. However, most were written on papyrus, the ancient equivalent of paper made from the stems of marsh reeds; in fact our word ‘paper’ was derived from the word ‘papyrus’.
For over 3000 years, papyrus was the most important writing material in the ancient Mediterranean world. But after the Arab conquest of Egypt in the seventh century A.D, its production died out and the papyrus plant itself all but disappeared from Egypt.
In ancient times, papyrus was used for government records, legal contracts and private letters as well as magical, religious and literary texts. Today, there are an estimated 400,000 preserved papyri in collections around the world, 50,000 of which have been translated and published. The bulk of these were found in tombs and the rubbish heaps of ancient cities.
Because of Egypt’s dry climate, the texts survived reltively undamaged for thousands of years and the once mysterious Egyptians are now revealed, warts and all. In fact, we now know more about the lives of ordinary Egyptians than about any other ancient people.
This book is not a history of Egypt and does not follow a chronological order. Instead, it relates the thoughts, beliefs and feelings of the ancient people in their own words. Because the antiquated style of archaic texts can sometimes be long-winded and repetitive, I’ve edited them for the comfort of the modern reader.
The material I researched was truly fascinating; it reaches back across millennia to connect the reader with real individuals and their vivid lives. Yet I was unable to find a conventional publisher interested in this project. Therefore, I financed and published it myself; under the pressure of time and budget, I have completed both the writing and detailed illustrations in just two months. Many texts I wanted very much to include had to be omitted. Nevertheless, I believe you will find Ancient Egyptian Anecdotes both informative and richly entertaining.
I hope you’ll enjoy it.
Mark Millmore May 2010