Collection online


  • Object type

  • Museum number


  • Description

    Rectangular white stuccoed and painted wooden writing-board with a hole pierced in one side; inscribed with the Sayings of Khakheperraseneb.

  • Culture/period

  • Findspot

  • Materials

  • Technique

  • Dimensions

    • Height: 30.1 centimetres
    • Depth: 55.7 centimetres
    • Width: 0.8 centimetres
    • Weight: 1.1 kilograms
  • Inscriptions

      • Inscription Type

      • Inscription Script

      • Inscription Position

        recto and verso
      • Inscription Translation

        Titles/epithets include : Pure-Priest of Heliopolis
        Full text:
        r.1 The collection of words, the gathering of verses,
        the seeking of utterances with heart-searching,
        made by the priest of Heliopolis,
        Seni’s son Khakheperreseneb,
        called Ankhu.
        He says, `If only I had unknown utterances
        and extraordinary verses,
        in a new language that does not pass away,
        free from repetition,
        without a verse of worn-out speech
        spoken by the ancestors!
        I shall wring my body for what is in it,
        - a release of all my speech.
        For what is already said can only be repeated;
        what is said once has been said;
        this is no vain boast of the ancients’ speech
        that those who are later should find it good.

        r.5 No speaker has now spoken yet - may one who will speak now speak
        and another find what he will speak good!
        No one has now spoken yet for a matter spoken afterwards,
        as they have done long before.
        Here is no speaking what is only planned to be said:
        this is searching after ruin, this is falsehood -
        there is none who will remember his name to others!
        I have said these things as I have seen them;
        from the first generation until those who come after,
        they are now like what has passed away.
        If only I knew what was unknown to others,
        what is still unrepeated.
        I would speak this and then my heart would answer me;
        and I would enlighten it about my anguish.
        I would unload onto it the weight which is on my back,
        the utterances that make me helpless.
        I would announce to it the anguish I feel because of it.
        I would say "Ah!" on account of my relief.

        r.10 I am meditating on what has happened,
        the state of things that have happened throughout the land;
        changes are happening - it is not like last year.
        Each year is more burdensome than its fellow.
        The land is in uproar, has become what destroys me,
        has been made into what rests in peace.
        Truth is put outside,
        Chaos within the council.
        The counsels of the Gods are thrown into tumult,
        and Their directives are neglected.
        The land is <in> calamity,
        mourning in every place,
        towns and districts in woe,
        and everyone alike is wronged.
        The back is turned on reverence;
        the Lords of Silence are violated;
        morning still happens every day,
        but the face shrinks from what happens.
        I shall give voice to these things, for my limbs are weighed down.
        I am in distress because of my heart.
        It is a cause of suffering, yet I keep quiet about it!
        Another heart would show respect.
        A brave heart amid pain
        is a companion for its lord.
        If only I had a heart which knew suffering!
        Then I should alight on it,
        load it with words of misery,
        and drive away my anguish onto it.’

        v.1 He says to his heart:
        `O come, my heart, that I may speak to you,
        and you shall answer me my verses,
        explain to me what is throughout the land,
        how the once bright ones are cast down!
        I am meditating on what has happened:
        misery has appeared today -
        a morning when strangers have not passed away;
        everyone is silent about it;
        the whole land is in an extreme state.
        There is no person free from wrong,
        and everyone alike is doing it;
        breasts are saddened;
        he who commands is as he who is commanded,
        and yet the hearts of both of them are calm.
        Each day one must wake to it.
        Hearts cannot put it aside;
        yesterday’s share of it is like today’s,
        because the many imitate it, because of harshness.
        There is no one clever enough to understand;
        there is no one angry enough to give voice.
        Every day one wakes to suffering.
        Long and heavy is my anguish.
        The pauper has no strength
        to <save himself> from the more powerful man.
        Silence against what is heard is a disease,
        v.5 but to answer the ignorant is sorrow,
        to oppose an utterance now creates enmity.
        The heart cannot accept Truth.
        They have had no patience with the reply to a speech;
        all a man loves is his own phrase;
        everyone is based on crookedness,
        and honest speech is abandoned.
        I speak to you, my heart, so that you shall answer me.
        A heart which is touched cannot be silent.
        Look, the servant’s lot is like the lord’s,
        and many things are burdensome because of you.’
      • Inscription Comment

        Collection of the sayings of Khakheperraseneb, wab-priest of Heliopolis.
  • Curator's comments

    Parkinson R B, 1996, in Fs. Simpson, p.647 Lichtheim: Ancient Egyptian Literature: Volume I (1973), p.145-149.
    Translation: R. Parkinson, The Tale of Sinuhe and Other ancient Egyptian Poems 1940-1649 BC (Oxford World's Classics 1999), 144-50.
    Published: R. Parkinson 'The Text of Khakheperreseneb: New Readings of EA 5645, and an Unpublished Ostracon'. JEA 83 (1997), 55-68.


  • Bibliography

    • Shaw & Nicholson 1995 p164 bibliographic details
  • Location

    Not on display

  • Condition

    fair (cracked)

  • Associated names

  • Associated places

  • Department

    Ancient Egypt & Sudan

  • BM/Big number


  • Registration number


  • Additional IDs

    • BS.5645 (Birch Slip Number)
COMPASS Title: Wooden writing board and text of the Words of Khakheperresoneb


COMPASS Title: Wooden writing board and text of the Words of Khakheperresoneb

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