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The Onomasticon of Amenemipet

- An Ancient Egyptian Encyclopaedia


Onomasticon is the Latinised writing of a Greek word (plural: onomastica) used by Egyptologists for ancient Egyptian compositions comprising lists of words by category. These are not dictionaries or explicit encyclopaedia, because they do not include explanations for the words. However, the order and selection of words provide an implicit guide to the categories into which the Egyptians divided the world. One example among the Tebtunis papyri of the 1st and 2nd centuries AD includes verbs as well as nouns: all other onomastica contain nouns only. The oldest is a fragmentary example of about 1800 BC, one of the Ramesseum Papyri. All onomastica would have provided instruction in both broad vocabulary and standard spellings, but there are no sources on the precise way in which they were used. The Onomasticon of Amenemipet is the only composition including a named compiler or author (whether historical or fictitious), and it is the onomasticon known from the greatest number of sources, from Ramesside Period to late Third Intermediate Period. One of the best preserved copies is a Third Intermediate Period papyrus from Hiba in Middle Egypt, acquired by Wladimir Golenischeff and often known as the Golenischeff Onomasticon: it served as the basis for the main modern edition of the composition, Gardiner 1947.

Onomasticon of Amenemipet: title

HAt-a m sbAyt wHa ib mty xm
rx wnnt nbt qmA.n ptH sxpr.n DHwty
pt m Ssrw.s tA imy.f
qaH Dw iwH m nwn
m Axt nbt HAy.n ra
srwdt nbt Hr-sA tA
mAi.n sS mDAt nTr m pr anx imn-m-ipt sA imn-m-ipt Dd.f


Onomasticon of Amenemipet: title translation

Beginning of the teaching, explaining to the heart, instructing the ignorant,
to know all that exists, created by Ptah, brought into being by Thoth,
the sky with its features, the earth and what is in it,
the bend of the mountain, and what is washed by the primeval waters,
consisting of all that is useful, illumined by Ra,
all that is made to grow upon earth,
reported by the scribe of god's books in the House of Life Amenemipet son of Amenemipet, who says:


Onomasticon of Amenemipet: words listed

The Golenischeff manuscript ends at word number 610: one fragmentary Third Intermediate Period papyrus continues with names of plants and trees (British Museum ESA 10795, unpublished).



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