David Roberts, Baalbec- Ruins of the Temple of Bacchus 1840
Anonymous asked: Can you tell us anything, please, about what sort of materials were used to teach young boys in training to become scribes? What did they use to practice reading or writing? I've seen examples of wise maxims, and certain classic tales, but I wondered if you could tell us a bit more?
- Wooden tablets
- Reed instrument
- Various coloured inks
- Lather, rinse, repeat?
By use, do you mean texts or actual instruments? Because they used both. Mainly taught by their fathers or grandfathers, or in some cases at special scribal schools (but this was only for very special circumstances).
There are hundreds of ostraca near the mortuary temple of Ramesess II that show there was some sort of open air school there. Bekhenkhonsu’s statue inscription tells us of a school in the precinct of Mut at Karnak. Basically reading and writing was learned by copying up older texts and having them corrected by the chief scribe. We have examples of the Satire of the Trades showing the student’s work and then the chief scribe’s corrections. We know that texts were corrected before the final version of what we have now because the papyrus shows signs of palimpsest, which literally means scraped clean and used again. There were even “set books” during the Middle Kingdom that formed the Kemyt “Completion”, these were idioms and formulae compiled in the 11th dynasty. Compiling lots of different ostraca over time shows that these Kemyt were in use for well over a thousand years. It is from this that we know of such texts as the Satire of the Trades, and the Teachings of Ptahhotep. The Tale of Sinuhe is also one we know from teaching texts.
Pupils were first taught with ostraca as this was the cheapest material available, and it was only once they had mastered writing sufficiently that they were allowed to move to papyrus. The first writing was also taught in Hieratic, not in Hieroglyphs as these were only progressed to later when the student had grasped the ligatures and curves of signs as well as recognising complete words without having to analyse component signs. By doing this they gradually began to recognise individual words.
A text would then be written by the scribe or his assistant and given to the boys to learn. They would then learn this by wrote and be able to write it from memory. Other times, the scribe would give an examination orally and the students had to write down what he was saying accurately.
Often the students were ignorant of what they were writing and therefore we have many texts that suffer from grammatical errors or just corruptions of the text. You would think from this that grammar wasn’t taught, but later Demotic texts show signs of nouns and their prefixes being taught.
We have no evidence showing the learning of contemporary languages, but we know they must have because of the cache of letters at Amarna. Therefore scribes must have been able to read and write Akkadian/Cuneiform.
Maths and Geometry were taught but we only know of this through fragmentary texts that now reside in Moscow and in the British Museum. These show triangle, trapezoids, rectangles, and circles. There are also comprehensive lists of birds and plant life too. These are known as Onomastica.
There were even maths tests:
"A ramp is made of 730 cubits with a width of 55 cubits, consisting of 120 compartments(?) filled with reeds and beans, with a height of 60 cubits at it’s top, its centre of 30 cubits, a batter(?) of 15 cubits, and its base(?) of 5 cubits. The army commander is asked the number of its bricks. All the scribes together are deficient in knowledge. They all put their trust in you, saying, "You are a clever scribe, my friend. Determine it for us quickly. See, your name is renowned…Don’t let it be said of you that there is anything you don’t know! Answer us concerning the number of its bricks. Look, its measurements(?) are before you each one of its compartments(?) is 7 cubits by 30 cubits wide." (P.Anastasi I Page 14 Lines 2-8)
Interestingly the Egyptian word for teach/instruct “sbAyt” (Sab-eye-at) is the same word for punishment/pain. Hence being determined with a man with a stick. (The same occurs for teacher. So the literal meaning of teacher in Ancient Egypt was “Punisher”)
This is all I can remember off the top of my head. I’m pretty sure there’s more but it’s not coming to me right now :)
Never not reblogging.
The Lady Chapel, at Westminster Cathedral.
“I suppose they try to make you believe an awful lot of nonsense?”
“Is it nonsense? I wish it were. It sometimes sounds terribly sensible to me.”
“But my dear Sebastian, you can’t seriously believe it all.”
“I mean about Christmas and the star and the three kings and the ox and the ass.”
“Oh yes, I believe that. It’s a lovely idea.”
“But you can’t believe things because they’re a lovely idea.”
“But I do. That’s how I believe.”
Brideshead Revisited, Evelyn Waugh (via bohemiaisaliveandkicking)
Dignus est agnus, introit for the feast of Christ the King (which was yesterday; here, sung for a votive Mass of the Body and Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ, celebrated by Pope Benedict XVI at Westminster Cathedral, 18th September 2010).
Dignus est Agnus qui occísus est, accípere virtútem, et divinitátem et sapiéntiam, et fortitúdinem, et honórem. Ipsi glória et impériun in sæcula sæculórum.
Deus, judícium tuum Regi da: et justítiam tuam Fílio Regis.
Gloria Patri, et Filio, et Spiritui Sancto. Sicut erat in principio et nunc et semper et in saecula saeculorum. Amen.
(“Worthy is the Lamb who was killed, to receive power, and divinity, andwidom, and strength, and honour. To him be glory and power unto ages of ages.
O God, give grant judgement to your King, and your justice to the King’s Son.
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit; as it was i teh beginning, is now, and ever shall be, unto ages of ages. Amen.”)
(Text drawn from Revelation 5:12 & 1:6, and Psalm 71.
I’m a day late, but I hope everyone had a happy feast, anway.)
The Doctor: being kind of a dick for 50 years.
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