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Ancient Egyptian Literature

Ancient Egyptian literary compositions were generally copied on papyrus paper, and this has generally not survived the damp and fire of history (survival). The scale of destruction is revealed starkly by the numbers of intact tales, teachings and reflective sayings - only nine from the Middle Kingdom (about 2025-1700 BC), only seven from the New Kingdom (about 1550-1069 BC) and Third Intermediate Period (about 1069-664 BC) together. Nevertheless, these survivors, with the more numerous compositions known only from fragments, are enough to demonstrate the genius of the Ancient Egyptian art of words.

Many later literary works written in the demotic phase of the Egyptian language are still being edited for publication: demotic literature includes cycles of tales and teachings (for a summary see Tait 1996). The extent of foreign influence in demotic literature remains a subject of intense debate. There are fragments of demotic tales among the papyri extracted from cartonnage found at Rifeh, now preserved in the Petrie Museum.

Other topics to consider:


Further reading:

Among the translations from the Egyptian language into the English language, note:


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