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Author Topic: TURIN PAPYRUS MAP  (Read 410 times)
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« on: December 03, 2007, 07:47:40 am »

                                                 THE MAP’S AUTHOR AND PURPOSE

The map was made about 1150 BC by the well-known ‘Scribe of the Tomb‘ Amennakhte, son of Ipuy (Figure 11). It was prepared for one of the quarrying expeditions sent to Wadi Hammamat by king Ramesses IV (1156-1150 BC) of the New Kingdom’s 20th Dynasty. The purpose of these expeditions was to obtain blocks of bekhen-stone that would be carved into statues of the gods, king and other notables. A now famous rock-cut inscription or stela (officially designated CM 12) was left on the quarry wall by this king to commemorate his final and largest expedition during the third year of his six-year reign (Figure 12). According to the inscription, this included 8,362 men, which makes it the largest recorded quarrying expedition to Wadi Hammamat after one about 800 years earlier during the Middle Kingdom’s 12th Dynasty. It is almost certainly for Ramesses IV’s big expedition that the map was made, but what purpose it served is unclear. It could not have been a road map showing the way to the quarry because it only covers a small area with the 75 km between Wadi Hammamat and the Nile Valley excluded. Most likely, it was drawn as a visual record of the expedition to be viewed by either Ramesses IV or Ramessenakhte, the High Priest of Amun in Thebes, who organized the expedition for the king.

Although Amennakhte did not sign his name to the map, it is clear that he is its author. There are two pieces of evidence that support this identification. First, the text on the map side is in Amennakhte’s distinctive handwriting, which is well known to Egyptologists who have studied his many other writings. And second, the first and earliest text on the backside of the papyrus (the first one listed in Table 3) was written and signed by Amennakhte. It is not at all surprising that Amennakhte would have made the map. As one of the two ‘Scribes of the Tomb’ during Ramesses IV’s reign (along with Hori, son of Khons, who also wrote some of the later texts on the back), Amennakhte was an important administrative official in the Theban region and this is where the map (text 18) says the blocks of bekhen-stone were taken. He is well known from his many other surviving works to be an individual with an unusual combination of scribal, cartographic and artistic skills as well as a ‘sense of geology’. These attributes are especially well displayed on another of his papyri in Turin’s Egyptian Museum. This is an architectural plan of Ramesses IV’s tomb in the Valley of Kings (Figure 13). It is by far the most elaborate and sophisticated tomb plan to survive from ancient Egypt. It has Amennakhte’s distinctive handwriting labeling the parts of the tomb and giving their dimensions, and on the back is his last will and testament. The plan also includes elements of geology, such as a drawing of the king’s sarcophagus in the central burial chamber painted to resemble the pink granite of Aswan from which it was carved, and the location of the tomb under a mountain of well-layered, inclined strata, which is an accurate depiction of the situation in the Valley of Kings.

It is now known that Drovetti obtained both the quarry map and tomb plan, along with many other papyri, from Amennakhte’s family tomb at Deir el-Medina. If the map was made for Ramesses IV’s big quarrying expedition then why did Amennakhte keep it, and why did he and others reuse its backside for documents and drawings unrelated to the map? The answer to the first question is unknown, but that to the second is clear. Because papyrus paper was an expensive commodity in ancient Egypt, it was common practice among scribes to use the originally blank backsides once whatever was written or drawn on the front side was no longer needed. In other words, the papyrus map became scrap paper after the quarrying expedition it recorded lost its importance, perhaps following Ramesses IV’s death a few years after the map was made.

Amennakhte’s family tomb still exists as does, remarkably, his house in Deir el-Medina (Figure 14 and Figure 15). That it is his house is known from an inscribed door jamb, now removed for safe keeping, that graced its entrance. It is interesting to contemplate that it may be in this very place where one of the world’s oldest and most important maps was made over 3100 years ago. 
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