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To celebrate Vikings Live, we have replaced our Roman alphabet with the runic alphabet used by the Vikings, the Scandinavian ‘Younger Futhark’. The ‘Younger Futhark’ has only 16 letters, so we have used some of the runic letters more than once or combined two runes for one Roman letter.

For an excellent introduction to runes, we recommend Martin Findell’s book published by British Museum Press.

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ostracon

  • Object type

  • Museum number

    EA5640

  • Description

    Limestone ostracon with part of Kemit: four vertical lines of text in cursive hieroglyphs. The top edge is original, but the bottom edges are chipped. The text is written in black between red ruled lines, and the metrical verses of the text are marked by horizontal red lines. The style of script and the layout of the text are characteristic of the composition entitled Kemit ('The Compendium'). The signs on this ostracon are rather clumsily written.

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  • Culture/period

  • Findspot

  • Materials

  • Technique

  • Dimensions

    • Height: 14.5 centimetres
    • Width: 19 centimetres
    • Thickness: 3 centimetres
  • Inscriptions

      • Inscription Type

        inscription
      • Inscription Script

        Hieratic
      • Inscription Position

        one side
      • Inscription Translation

        Your state is like living a million times!
        May Montu lord of Thebes act for you,
        Even as this servant desires!
        May Ptah South of his Wall sweeten your heart
        with [life], very [much]!
      • Inscription Comment

        Remains of four vertical registers of black-painted hieratic text, now faded in places, separated by red lines.The extract comprises the opening greetings of the letter (reading right to left). From the 'Book of Kemit' III, 1-4.
  • Curator's comments

    This is an elaborate model letter with a narrative, probably composed in the early Middle Kingdom in Middle Egyptian, which was used as an educational text for training scribes.

    Bibliography:
    equivalent to §§3-4 in G. Posener, 'Catalogue des ostraca hiératiques littéraires de Deir el Médineh' II, DFIFAO 18 (Cairo, 1951), pls. 1-21;
    translation: E.F.Wente, 'Letters from Ancient Egypt' (Atlanta, GA, 1990), 15—16;
    S. Birch, 'Inscriptions in the hieratic and demotic character from the collections of the British Museum' (London, 1868), pl. VII;
    cf. also examples in A.M. Donadoni Roveri (ed.), 'La scuola nell'antico Egitto' (Turin, 1997), 67-75;
    A. Grimm, "Kmjt-Texte", in D. Kessler/R. Schulz, 'Gedenkschrift fur Winfried Bata' (Frankfurt and Main, 1995).

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  • Bibliography

    • Parkinson 1999 67 bibliographic details
    • Demaree 2002 pl.35 bibliographic details
  • Condition

    fair (edges chipped)

  • Conservation

    See treatments 

    Treatment date

    1 September 1998

    Treatment proposal

    Investigate and consolidate surface. Clean.

    Condition

    Front surface is blistering and spalling -caused by salts crystallising under surface. Surface has been treated. Dirty."5640" painted in black on front.

    Treatment details

    Cleaned by rolling swab dampened with deionised water. Reattached surface with Primal AC33 (acrylic) after wetting with White Spirit (composition variable - petroleum distillate). Partially removed "5640" with Nitromors water soluble (methylene chloride,sodium hydroxide,cellulose) - obliterated remainder with Cryla colours (acrylic). "5640" painted on back.

    About these records 

  • Associated names

  • Associated places

  • Associated titles

    • Title: Book of Kemit III
  • Acquisition name

  • Acquisition date

    1834

  • Department

    Ancient Egypt & Sudan

  • BM/Big number

    EA5640

  • Registration number

    .5640

  • Additional IDs

    • BS.5640 (Birch Slip Number)
Limestone ostracon with part of Kemit: four vertical lines of text in cursive hieroglyphs. The top edge is original, but the bottom edges are chipped.  The text is written in black between red ruled lines, and the metrical verses of the text are marked by horizontal red lines. The style of script and the layout of the text are characteristic of the composition entitled Kemit ('The Compendium'). The signs on this ostracon are rather clumsily written.

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Object reference number: YCA1291

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