Aspects of the Military Documents of the Ancient Egyptians


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John Anthony Spalinger

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This is the first comprehensive treatment of the composition and historiographic background of ancient Egyptian military inscriptions (c. 1550 B.C. to C. 450 B.C.).  In his chronological study Anthony Spalinger analyzes numerous texts from a formalistic as well as a literary viewpoint.  His discovery—that aspects of ancient Egyptian military writing were regulated by a preexisting framework and set phraseology—will enable historians of ancient Egypt to discriminate between what was hyperbole and what was reality in a given military situation.  
The opening chapters of this work cover the briefer and simpler of the Egyptian military texts.  A standard subgenre of this writing was the so-called texts (meaning “One came”), in which the events of a war were couched in an official report by a messenger to the Pharaoh.  These short inscriptions became a stock part of Egyptian military writing in the early days of the Empire and were carried down to the end of Pharaonic civilization.  Spalinger next deals with the stock lexical items employed by the Egyptians when drawing up military compositions.  He then considers the official war diary of the scribes as well as the more literary war accounts.  In the final chapter Spalinger describes how the ancient Egyptians themselves classified their military texts.  Although recognizing that the different Pharaohs had stylistic preferences, he relates the method of inscription chosen by the Egyptians to the importance of the military event or to the amount of detail preferred. 
ISBN: 9780300023817
Publication Date: April 1, 1983
240 pages, 6 1/8 x 9 1/4