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Names and signs. Remarks on hieroglyphs among Second Intermediate Period scarabs

Section 1. Late Middle Kingdom personal naming and administrative titles demonstrate extreme precision not matched in other periods, including early Middle Kingdom, Second Intermediate Period, and start of Dynasty 18. Does this reflect changes in administration, or in the source record?

Section 2. Scarabs offer an object category in continuous and substantial production through these periods: name and title scarabs are attested in bulk from late Middle Kingdom and Second Intermediate Period. The large corpus of late Middle Kingdom names and titles securely attested on hieroglyphic stelae and hieratic documents provides guidance in distinguishing groups of signs recording names and titles, from groups of signs in non-linguistic arrangement.

Section 3. Scarabs of the type known for mid-Dynasty 13 kings with filiation (in general Martin 1971 back-type 6) attest to a wide variety of names and titles, and in several instances the same name and title recurs on several scarabs (here denoted 'scarab series'). The most substantial early series is that of Senebsumai, recorded by Martin 1971 as with back-types 6 predominantly but also 3 (1), 4 (1, from Lisht tomb 405), 5 (1), 7 (1), and 10 (2). Scarabs of the type known for Hyksos and non-Egyptian names (in general Martin back-type 10) attest to a far lesser number of names and titles, and belong mainly to series for men titled treasurer or king's son. These peak in the treasurer Har series, recorded by Martin 1971 as with back-types 5 and 10 predominantly but also 4 (x2), 6 (1), 7 (1), 8 (1).

Section 4. One of the late series belongs to a treasurer called Peremhesut (formerly read Peremwahet). This is an Egyptian phrase not otherwise attested as an Egyptian name, but echoed in the corpus of autobiographical hieroglyphic inscription. Several examples of Egyptian phrases given as personal names to Western Asiatic men and women in the late Middle Kingdom indicate that Peremhesut might be another such Egyptianised identity for someone from the Semitic-speaking world.

Section 5. The Martin back-type framework does not separate late Middle Kingdom from Second Intermediate Period officials, as early and late types are both already found for Senebsumai (dated prosopographically to the period before king Neferhotep I of mid-Dynasty 13). Further expert research is required to refine dates for the attested officials and their titles. It is important to hunt for centres of scarab production. Provisionally it may be argued that no such centre was located in Upper Egypt before the New Kingdom (about 1550-1069 BC); in Lower Egypt, contenders include beside the kingship centres Tell el-Daba and Itjtawy, both Memphis, city of Ptah god of crafts, and Heliopolis, city of Ra, the god 'in' the scarab.


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