Sacred Texts  Ancient Near East  Records of the Past  Egypt  Index  Previous  Next 

Records of the Past, 2nd Series, Vol. IV , ed. by A.H. Sayce, [1890], at

p. 1


Translated by Philippe Virey

It is to Prof. Ebers that the honour belongs of having discovered and published this celebrated inscription, although Champollion before him had penetrated into the tomb of Amen-em-heb, of which he gives a short description in his Notices1 under No. 12. But the description is so summary that no inscription is noticed as existing in the tomb; nothing but the indication of the names of the defunct and his wife, and the mention of the cartouches of Thothmes III and Amenophis II allows us to affirm that it is really the tomb of Amen-em-heb. The monument, moreover, was buried in the sand, and had been completely forgotten when Prof. Ebers, during his stay at Thebes in 1872–73, had the good fortune to rediscover it. The great historical inscription contained in it attracted his attention, and he made a copy of the text, which he published in

p. 2

1873, 1 with a translation and interesting notes. My predecessors have already acknowledged the merits of this translation, 2 which can be appreciated by every Egyptologist. In my turn, I shall insist on the excellence of the copy, and I believe that I possess special qualifications for delivering such a judgment. Having myself had to transcribe all the texts in the tomb of Amen-em-heb, 3 I know well what difficulties Prof. Ebers has victoriously surmounted, and can recognise with what patience and sagacity he has made out the most obscure passages in a way that admits of no doubt, saving me from painful efforts and perhaps from unsuccessful conjectures.

If I now attempt to publish a new rendering of an inscription already translated by the masters of Egyptological science, it is that I wish to add a little sheaf of my own to the abundant harvest of facts collected at once by Prof. Ebers, and to put forward some new ideas derived from the study of other parts of the tomb of Amen-em-heb as well as of a neighbouring tomb belonging to an official of the same rank 4 as himself, entitled tennu n suten tennu n menfiu ("vicar of the king in the army," or substantially a minister of war). The great inscription

p. 3

tells us in the first place what were the glorious services by which Amen-em-heb rose to so high a dignity.

What was the exact signification of his title? The word tennu, which Dr. Brugsch has carefully examined in the Revue égyptologique1 does not always signify a minister in the sense in which we ordinarily understand the word; but I hope to show that it certainly has this meaning in our inscription. It properly signifies, as Dr. Brugsch has pointed out, "a deputy," "a delegate," "a vicar." Prof. Maspero, in his Manuel de Hiérarchie égyptienne2 explains that the military chief of a nome had at his side a tennu of the troops, a lieutenant of the forces, who could act in his place, more particularly, as his title indicates, at the head of the troops who were in service, but probably also in the offices of the administration. The tennu or vicar of a military officer will therefore be his lieutenant; the tennu or vicar of the governor of a city will be an assistant governor; the tennu or vicar of the Chancellor 3 will perhaps be an undersecretary of state; but the vicar of the king will be a minister. I have elsewhere 4 come to the conclusion that the tennu of the troops, who in the provinces was only a sort of administrative officer or military intendant, was at Thebes, under the title of tennu n 

p. 4

suten1 the deputy of the king, an actual minister of war. We see from the paintings which represent the conscription that he received recruits from all countries; in the tomb of Pehsukher many of them are Nubians and negroes. It was then the royal army which was administered by this functionary, but the royal army with the auxiliaries as distinct from the provincial contingents. In the different inscriptions of the tomb Amen-em-heb is further distinguished by a series of titles, all of which are thoroughly applicable to a minister of the king. But the most conclusive example is found in line 46 of our inscription, where the king says to Amen-em-heb: "Advance in dignity; be tennu of the army; and from the moment that this is said, watch over the royal forces." These words can have been addressed only to a minister; the meaning of "military intendant" is impossible here, for Amen-em-heb was already in command of the royal guard 2 when the king appointed him tennu, saying to him, "Advance in dignity." It would not have been an advancement for the commander of the guard to be appointed military intendant. I should add that Dr. Brugsch sees in the tennu or aten "of the world" and "of the two worlds" a sort of viceroy of Egypt or prime minister of the Pharaoh, and that Chabas remarks that there were atennu of foreign countries, of the treasury, and of the private house of the

p. 5

[paragraph continues] Pharaoh: "We recognise among them ministers of protected states, of finance, etc." The tennu Mahu, who was charged with the installation of Amen-em-heb, 1 was perhaps one of these ministers, but the text does not state what was the department which he administered. Sometimes, moreover, we find the terms tennu n suten, tennu n hon-f ("minister of the king," "minister of his majesty,"), without any further explanation.

In his new office Amen-em-heb superintended the recruiting of the army as well as its discipline and instruction. Several of the scenes depicted on the walls of his tomb represent him in the exercise of these functions. We notice among them a document which gives us a high idea of the organisation of the Egyptian troops, and enables us to understand their superiority to the hordes of Asia. "Behold the arm of Egypt," 2 says Amen-em-heb to the king, pointing out to him at the same time the officers who defiled before him: "behold the numerous force which is under thy hand. We form a complete whole, having but one mouth, one arm, one hand, all of us, the soldiers [keeping their ranks (?)], 3 and none quitting them."

The maintenance of the troops, accordingly, depended on the superior direction of the tennu. We see him presenting the officers of the commissariat to the king. "He causes the officers of the administration

p. 6

of the army, the officers of the commissariat, to march past before the Pharaoh, in order that the sacks may be filled with provisions, bread, beef, wine, biscuits, all sorts of vegetables, and all good things."

The tomb of Pehsukher shows us even the operations of harvest, in districts doubtless appropriated to the maintenance of the army, and sets before us a scene representing the inspection of the magazines of food. A clerk sums up the amount, and certain officers taste the quality of the provisions. The tennu thus has at his disposal a numerous administrative staff, and is at the same time at the head of the army. The officers who presented themselves before him were first of all received by the "scribe of the writings or the secretary of the tennu." And in a transport of pride the latter exclaimed: "There is none greater than myself! There is none greater than myself!" 1 thus asserting that he held the first rank among men, and next to the monarch who represented the divinity, and whose minister he consequently was.


1:1 Page 505.

2:1 Zeit and Thaten Tothmes III, in the Zeitschrift für ægyptischer Sprache (1873).

2:2 Chabas, Mélanges égyptologiques, 3me série.

2:3 They will appear in the Mémoires publiés par les membres de la Mission archéologique française au Caire.

2:4 The tomb of Pehsukher. The contents of the tomb will be published along with those of the tomb of Amen-em-heb.

3:1 I. pp. 22 sq.

3:2 page 37.

3:3 Examples are cited by Dr. Brugsch.

3:4 In my work on the tomb of Rekhmara, Governor of Thebes under the eighteenth dynasty, p. 8, in the Mémoires publiés par les membres de la Mission archéologique française au Caire, v. (1889).

4:1 The example is taken from the tomb of Pehsukher.

4:2 End of line 33 of the great inscription.

5:1 Line 46.

5:2 Literally "the smiter of the double earth."

5:3 Illegible.

6:1 Stêlê of Pehsukher, line 23.

Next: Text