copyright Adrian Keating 2000 email@example.com
these transcripts are personal emails between myself and Dr Gilbert. Permission is required to copy.
I recognise these photographs as being from an Australian rock depiction which supposedly has evidence of Ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs. I believe that the inscription is a modern forgery, and not a good one at that.
As far as translation is concerned, the inscription has several features which were copied from several 'modern' publications of Ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs, however the greater part of the inscription cannot be translated as it is nothing more than a collection hieroglyphs which do not form words or phrases. The exception, which seems to prove conclusively that this is a modern copy, is the copy of the king's names and titles found within photo e5r. In this photo, the large box on the left (which should be a cartoush) is headed by the Sedge Plant and Bee title which means 'King of Upper and Lower Egypt', while the name within the box is 'Khufu', who was in fact the 4th dynasty king of Egypt who built the Great Pyramid at Giza (ie. he is very well known). The box on the right is headed by a Duck and Sun title which means 'Son of Re', while the name within the box is unknown but possible could be read as 'Neferankhru'. Interestingly this name is written similar to Khufu's fathers name Sneferu' but has used an Ankh sign instead of a Rolled linen sign. So if we were to believe this inscription we would think that it was of Khufu of the 4th dynasty, unfortunately the 'Son of Re' title was not used until the 5th dynasty and hence this creates a major problem in our believing this text. You should perhaps read the few pages on kings names in pages 267-73 of An Introduction to Egypt by T.G.H. James, which is available in most libraries. To summarise the text cannot be translated although it has several hieroglyphs which could represent names from several different periods of Egyptian history.
Other reasons that confirm the inscription is a forgery, include (but not limited to) - Many of the hieroglyphic characters are drawn incorrectly, and in Ancient Egypt if you did not draw the 'chick bird' or the 'cartoush' correctly the words just would not work, and this is especially true during the reign of Khufu and his successors when the hieroglyphs where the finest of all periods. - Direction of hieroglyphic characters are frequently incorrect, for example the title 'King of Upper and Lower Egypt' is facing the opposite direction to that of the name 'Khufu'. Such errors were just unheard of in Ancient Egypt, although it is interesting that during Greco-Roman times pseudo hieroglyphs were sometimes used by persons who could not read or write hieroglyphs but thought they looked good. The rock inscription has similar faults as these pseudo hieroglyphs, so whoever wrote them most likely did not read or write Egyptian hieroglyphs. - The art of placing inscriptions on rock outcrops varied over time, whereas early rock inscriptions in Egypt tend to be fluid (especially when hieroglyphs were not yet developed), by the time of the 4th dynasty kings, rock inscriptions would typically have been left raised above a smoothed flat base (ie carefully carved by skilled craftsmen) this would have been especially true for royal inscriptions depicting the king's name.
> Are these glyphs relatively famous to the
> local circle of the Egyptologically Interested?
I personnally saw them referenced on a general search on hieroglyphs, and thought they may have been hieroglyphs on an object in a private collection. When I saw the photographs I quickly saw them as 'recent' copies and moved on. I do not think many Australian Egyptologists would have more than a passing interest, although it may be a good exercise for a senior high school class studying Ancient History of Egypt to gather evidence to refute the claims. Most scholars would not take them seriously, although the inscription may be of interest to those studying Egyptomania (or the study of how ancient Egypt has influenced modern cultures).
> Notwithstanding its exaggerated style, to my untrained
> problems the article presents are
> 1 the claim that "....The hieroglyphs were
> extremely ancient, in the archaic style of the early dynasties. This
> archaic style is very little known
> and untranslatable by most Egyptologists who are all trained to read Middle Egyptian upward.."
The classic Egyptian dictionaries only handle Middle Egyptian, and there are few people in the world who can read and translate the early formative style. The earliest Egyptian hieroglyphs are dated to the rise of the Egyptian state and are normally referrred to as belonging to Dynasty 0 (before King Aha, first king of Dynasty 1). The archaic period is a term sometimes used for the first two Egyptian Dynasties, ie. Dynasty 1 and 2 now normally referred to as Early Egypt, during which time the early hieroglyphs evolved and were refined so that simple groups of hieroglyphs representing a person's name (for example) later developed into relatively lengthy hieroglyphic lists giving a person's titles, names and offering formulae. See A.J. Spencer, Early Egypt: The rise of civilisation in the Nile Valley, 1995, as an introduction. Throughout the predynastic and early dynastic periods the language itself seems to have remained the same, while the changes in the hieroglyphic inscriptions seem to represent the evolution of how to write the spoken language. The basic Egyptian language, as spoken, seems to have remained largely the same for at least the first two thousand years of Dynastic Egypt, hence the hieroglyphic language of the Middle Kingdom is very similar to that of the Old Kingdom, and indeed the Early Dynastic Period. Over time the writing of the Egyptian language was refined so that the meaning became clearer as the grammatical construction was written in more standard forms. Now modern Egyptologists initially learn Middle Egyptian (ie. language of Middle Kingdom texts) to obtain a basic knowledge of the language. They then typically study Old Kingdom documents, Early New Kingdom documents, Late New Kingdom documents, and Early Dynastic inscriptions in order to better understand each period. Once again most of the language remains constant over this large time period, and hence there are few differences between the Middle Kingdom and Archaic Egyptian language, although the written hieroglyphs are like comparing Old English with Modern English. Early Dynastic hieroglyphs have been intensively studied by Egyptologists, refer to P. Kaplony, Die Inschriften der agyptischen Fruhzeit,(3 vols.), 1963-71; and J. Kahl, Das system der agyptischen Hieroglyphenschrift in der 0-3 Dynastie, 1994.
[quote from article.htm]
>".. Because the old style contains early forms of glyphs that correlate
>with archaic Phoenician and Sumerian sources one can
> see how the university researchers who saw
>them could so easily have thought them to be bizarre
> and ill-conceived > forgeries.The ageing Egyptologist Ray Johnson, who had translated extremely
> ancient texts for the Museum of Antiquities in
>Cairo eventually was successful in documenting and
> translating the two facing walls of Egyptian characters. …
>which stemmed from the Third Dynasty..."
It is relatively simple to suggest that Sumerian pictoglyphs or the much later Phoenician pictoglyphs are mixed with the Egyptian hieroglyphs, but this would be bizarre. Imagine a mix of three cultures from three different periods writing a single document. Say a Medieval Spaniard with an Aztec king and a Modern Englishman writing a sentence using their three languages for some of the letters or words? THe assertion that the Australian inscription is of Dynasty 3 cannot be supported. As stated in my previous email the King's name in the cartouche was of a Dynasty 4 king, and the cartouse itself was not used until the reign of King Sneferu, first king of Dynasty 4. I do not personnally know Ray Johnson, although the Oriental Institute of Chicago has a Raymond W Johnson on their books, (search for OI web site: List of North American Egyptologists). If this is the same authority, I would suggest that he may have been misquoted somehow!
Final comment, the aim of scholarly endeavour is to better understand our environment by considering available evidence in a scientific manner. However the evidence as we see it is subject to the prejudices and constraints of the our own culture. The resulting conflict between science and belief remain a paradox which cannot be resolved.