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Dreams pp 29-43 | Cite as

Through the Looking Glass

Dreams in Ancient Egypt
  • Kasia Szpakowska

Abstract

The image of Egyptian magicians, dream interpreters, incubation temples, and the dreams of pharaohs have become so much a part of popular Western culture that it may come as a surprise to learn that, until quite recently, there has been no comprehensive treatment of ancient Egyptian dreams.1 This chapter presents a summary of that research and offers a historically based model for studying the dreams of a long-lasting culture with no living witnesses.

Keywords

Intermediate Period American Philosophical Society Night Terror Dream Report Middle Kingdom 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Notes

  1. 1.
    K. Szpakowska, The Perception of Dreams and Nightmares in Ancient Egypt: Old Kingdom to Third Intermediate Period, Ph.D. diss., University of California, Los Angeles, 2000, UMI Microform 9973224. This work is currently being revised for publication and includes an appendix with the author’s transcription and translation of all the known texts mentioning dreams, including those cited in this chapter.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    A. Volten, Demotische Traumdeutung (Pap. Carlsberg XIII and XIV verso), (Analecta Aegyptiaca III; Kopenhagen: Einar Munksgaard, 1942).Google Scholar
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    A. L. Oppenheim, The Interpretation of Dreams in the Ancient Near East (Transactions of the American Philosophical Society, New Series 46/3; Philadelphia, PA: American Philosophical Society, 1956): 179–355. A new work has recently been published which complements and expands the work on Mesopotamian dreams begun by Oppenheim:Google Scholar
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    J. D. Ray, The Archive of Hor (Texts from Excavations 2; London: The Egypt Exploration Society, 1976).Google Scholar
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    The major publications of these texts are: A. H. Gardiner and K. Sethe, Egyptian Letters to the Dead: Mainly from the Old and Middle Kingdoms (London: The Egypt Exploration Society, 1928);Google Scholar
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  10. W. K. Simpson, “A Late Old Kingdom Letter to the Dead from Nag’ Ed-Deir n 3500,” Journal of Egyptian Archaeology 56 (1970): 58–62;CrossRefGoogle Scholar
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  12. E. F. Wente, “A Misplaced Letter to the Dead,” Orientalia Lovaniensia Periodica, Löwen 6/7 (1975/1976): 595–600. Translations can conveniently be found inGoogle Scholar
  13. E. Wente, Letters from Ancient Egypt (Society of Biblical Literature: Writings from the Ancient World, vol. 1; Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1990).Google Scholar
  14. 12.
    The dream portion can be found on lines 20–22 of Amenhotep II’s Memphis Stela. The hieroglyphic text can be found in W. Helck, Urkunden der 18. Dynastie (Urkunden des ägyptischen Altertums IV, Heft 19; Berlin: 1957), IV, 1306, 11–1307, 2. An English translation of the campaign can be found inGoogle Scholar
  15. P. Der Manuelian, Studies in the Reign of Amenophis II (Hildesheimer ägyptologische Beiträge 26 Gerstenberg: Hildesheim, 1987), 225–226.Google Scholar
  16. 13.
    This passage is found in lines 28–30 of the Karnak description of Merneptah’s Libyan War campaign. The text publication can be found in K. A. Kitchen, Ramesside Inscriptions (Oxford: B. H. Blackwell Ltd., 1968–1991), IV, 5; 1. 10–15. An English translation can be found inGoogle Scholar
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    The entire stela was published in C. M. Zivie, “Giza au deuxième Millénaire,” Bibliothèque d’Etude 70 (1976). Translations of this text can be found in many works, includingGoogle Scholar
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    G. Posener, De la divinité du Pharaon (Paris: Imprimerie Nationale, 1960), 88.Google Scholar
  21. 17.
    In certain other cultures, the oneiric call to office seems to have been much more prevalent and to have served a clearly political purpose. Modern examples seem to express a much stronger political sentiment than that expressed in the New Kingdom royal dream accounts, which did not play such a prominent role in the pharaoh’s kingship. See, for example, K. Ray, “Dreams of Grandeur: The Call to Office in North-Central Igbo Religious Leadership,” in Dreaming, Religion and Society in Africa, ed. M. C. Jedrej and R. Shaw (Studies on Religion in Africa; Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1992), 61, andGoogle Scholar
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    This dream is part of the Biography of Ipwy (1.5–7), originally published in H. Satzinger, “Zwei Wiener Objekte mit bemerkenswerten Inschriften,” in Mélanges Gamal Eddin Mokhtar (ed. P. Posener-Kriéger; Cairo: Institut français d’archéologie orientale du Caire, 1985), 249–254.Google Scholar
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    For the publication of the tomb see K.-J. Seyfried, Das Grab des Djehutiemhab (TT 194), (Theben 7; Mainz am Rhein: Philipp von Zabern, 1995). The text publication can be found inGoogle Scholar
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    A. H. Gardiner, Hieratic Papyri in the British Museum, Third Series: Chester Beatty Gift, 2 vols. (London: British Museum, 1935).Google Scholar
  28. 28.
    Due to the idiosyncrasies of ancient Egyptian, an Egyptian pun could consist of a play based on sounds, meaning, and signs (A. Loprieno, “Puns and Word Play in Ancient Egyptian,” in Puns and Pundits: Wordplay in the Hebrew Bible and Ancient Near Eastern Literature, ed. S. B. Noegel [Bethesda: CDL Press, 2000], 3–20). See also S. B. Noegel, chapter 3 of this volume, and K. Szpakowska, The Perception of Dreams and Nightmares in Ancient Egypt.Google Scholar
  29. 35.
    Oracles in general are latecomers to the Egyptian world (J. D. Ray, “Ancient Egypt,” in Divination and Oracles, ed. M. Loewe and C. Blacker [London: George Allen & Unwin, 1981], pp. 174–190).Google Scholar
  30. 36.
    Maxim 18 of the Teaching of Ptahhotep. English translations of this popular text can easily be found in compilations of Egyptian literature, such as R. B. Parkinson, The Tale of Sinuhe and other Ancient Egyptian Poems 1940–1640 BC (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1997).Google Scholar
  31. 37.
    The phrase is found in New Kingdom Harper’s Songs and was literally “As for a lifetime done on earth, it is the time of a dream.” Two versions of this song have been found—one in the tomb of Neferhotep published in R. Hari, La tombe thébaine du père divin Neferhotep (TT50), (Collection Epigraphica Geneva: Editions de Belles-Lettres, 1985), and one in the tomb of Djehutimes published inGoogle Scholar
  32. L. Kákosy and Z. I. Fábián, “Harper’s Song in the Tomb of Djehutimes (TT 32),” Studien zur altägyptische Kultur 22 (1995), pp. 211–227.Google Scholar
  33. 38.
    The complete text has been found on seven papyri dating to the Middle Kingdom, and more than twenty dating to the New Kingdom (S. G. Quirke, “Archive,” in Ancient Egyptian Literature: History and Forms [ed. A. Loprieno; Leiden, New York, Köln: E. J. Brill, 1996], 379–401;Google Scholar
  34. R. B. Parkinson, “Teachings, Discourses and Tales from the Middle Kingdom,” in Middle Kingdom Studies [ed. S. Quirke; New Maiden: Sia Publishing, 1991], pp. 91–122).Google Scholar
  35. Some of the most accessible translations of this text can be found in M. Lichtheim, Ancient Egyptian Literature, (I: The Old and Middle Kingdoms; Berkeley: University of California Press, 1973), 222–235 and inGoogle Scholar
  36. R. B. Parkinson, The Tale of Sinuhe and Other Ancient Egyptian Poems 1940–1640 BC (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1997).Google Scholar
  37. 39.
    Many of these texts are published in K. Sethe, Die Achtung feindlicher Fürsten, Völker und Dinge auf altägyptischen Tongefässscherben des Mittleren Reiches (Abhandlung der Preussischen Akademie der Wissenschaften 1926; Berlin: Akademie der Wissenschaften, 1926).Google Scholar
  38. Their possible use in rituals has been discussed in R. K. Ritner, The Mechanics of Ancient Egyptian Magical Practice (Studies in Ancient Oriental Civilization 54; Chicago: The Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago, 1993), 140–155.Google Scholar
  39. 40.
    C. Fisher et al., “A Psychophysiological Study of Nightmares,” The Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association 18 (1970): 747–782; E. Kahn, C. Fisher, and A. Edwards, “Night Terrors and Anxiety Dreams,” in The Mind in Sleep: Psychology and Psychophysiology, pp. 437–447; A. Spielman and C. Herrera, “Sleep Disorders,” in The Mind in Sleep, ed. James and Antrobus, 25–80;CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. R. L. Van de Castle, Our Dreaming Mind (New York: Ballantine Books, 1994), 347.Google Scholar
  41. 41.
    G. Michaeilidis, “Bès au divers aspects,” Bulletin de l’Institut d’Égypte 45 (1963–1964): 70–73.Google Scholar
  42. 42.
    Originally published in I. E. S. Edwards, Oracular Amuletic Decrees, (Hieratic Papyri in the British Museum 4th Series, II volumes; London: 1960).Google Scholar
  43. 43.
    Found on the Dream Stela of Tanutamani in N. C. Grimai, Quatre Stèles Napatéennes au Musée du Caire: JE 48863–4866, Textes et Indices (Mémoires publiés par les membres de l’Institut Français d’Archéologie Orientale du Caire 106; Cairo: Institut Français d’Archéologie Orientale du Caire, 1981).Google Scholar
  44. 44.
    P. Vernus, “La Grande Mutation Idéologique du Nouvel Empire: Une nouvelle théorie du pouvoir politique du démiurge face à sa création,” Bulletin de la Société d’égyptologie de Genève 19 (1995): 69–95.Google Scholar
  45. 45.
    Ibid., p. 94. See also A. Loprieno, “Le Pharaon reconstruit. La figure du roi dans la littérature égyptienne au 1er millénaire avant J.C.,” Bulletin de l’institut français d’archéologie orientale 142 (June 1998): 20–21, for the differences between the Libyan and the Ethiopian responses to the problem of legitimation in the Third Intermediate Period.Google Scholar
  46. 49.
    K. Bulkeley, Visions of the Night: Dreams, Religion, and Psychology (Albany: State University of New York, 1999), pp. 77–91.Google Scholar
  47. 51.
    E. Hartmann, The Nightmare: The Psychology and Biology of Terrifying Dreams (New York: Basic Books, 1984), 41–44. Emotion, including guilt, can be a motivating force behind a dream (States, Seeing in the Dark, 235–250). For dreams as a venue for working out troubles, see H. Fiss, “Experimental Strategies for the Study of the Function of Dreaming,” in The Mind in Sleep, ed. Ellman and Antrobus, 311.Google Scholar
  48. 53.
    This determinative is the little sparrow (Gardiner G37). A detailed analysis of this passage can be found in Szpakowska, The Perception of Dreams and Nightmares in Ancient Egypt, 314–316 and K. Szpakowska, “A Sign of the Times,” Lingua Aegyptia 6 (1999), 163–166.Google Scholar
  49. 55.
    For a historical approach to dreams see P. Burke, Varieties of Cultural History (Cambridge: Polity Press, 1997), 23–42.Google Scholar

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© Kelly Bulkeley 2001

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  • Kasia Szpakowska

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