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It is my hope that you will read it with interest and pleasure.
It is not unusual for a father to apprentice his son to a respected, successful professional; it is quite unusual for such a man to accept the son of a farmer as his apprentice. Tuku is eight years old when he is told by his father that he will be leaving his family and moving into the temple dormitory to study for the priesthood. This is even more unusual since the priesthood is usually the reserve of the children of the noble families—those who can trace their maternal lineage back to some branch of the royal families of Egypt. Tuku's father, Muht, is a tenant farmer on one of the many farms belonging to the temple of Amun-Ra near the Winter Palace in Luxor. He and his three older sons go off each day to work in the fields. Tuku, his mother, and two older sisters spend the morning working in the family vegetable garden. After lunch, when the women retire to a shady spot to rest and even nap, Tuku walks to the temple library where he has come to know most of the acolytes. (Tuku was seven years old the first time he did this. As he was exploring, he heard voices coming from one of the buildings. This drew him inside where half a dozen young men were listening to the instruction of an older man. When this man saw the child peering in at the door, he smiled and beckoned to him. This man was Kanooch, the high priest and "servant of god." All the young men were smiling at him, and they made welcoming comments as he entered the room. Kanooch questioned Tuku to learn the circumstances of his unexpected appearance. As Tuku answered the priest's questions, he was drinking in the surroundings, and soon, it was he who was asking questions. Tuku had never seen so many scrolls. They were all carefully stored in slots along the walls. These slots all had identifying markings as did each individual scroll. Tuku moved to the shelving and pointed to a hieroglyph that he recognized; he informed all gathered that he knew what it meant.)
From that day onward, Tuku makes a daily visit. The young men all take his education as their personal responsibility and are pleased when he shows a quick intellect. The child has learned to read and write both in hieroglyphs and the Egyptian shorthand—hieratic. He is very proud—as are his teachers—of his elegant and precise forms. His favorite teacher is Tahrir who is training to be a lector- priest ("he who is over the Festive Scroll"). To reach this level, Tahrir has first mastered the training of the scribe—studying and copying the sacred texts. The two boys (Tahrir is sixteen) become close friends. Tuku loves reading the ancient texts stored in the library. The boys are often together, and it is obvious that they are developing a special bond. Kanooch has been greatly impressed, and it is he who visits Tuku's family and initiates the move to the temple where he, Kanooch, wishes to become Tuku's mentor.
Kanooch has held his position as high priest for many years. He was chosen for this exalted assignment by Amenhotep II. A cousin by marriage (it always pays to be related to the royal family), Kanooch can claim to be a member of the aristocracy of Egypt. He had served in a number of temples in the major cities, making him well qualified for this appointment by his Pharaoh. Now, with close support and special consideration from the royal family, his temple has become very wealthy.
The temple owns many farms that produce an abundance of foodstuffs. In addition to feeding the many families employed by the temple to operate the farms, there are specialized employees—from the carpenters, weavers, herders, and overseers, to the priests themselves. All are primarily paid in produce.
There are hundreds of mouths to feed, and still, the temple has more to sell in the marketplace. They have what today would be called a "marketing department" and "accounting department" and all the other "departments" necessary to run a large, multifaceted business.
Besides all this, the treasury room contains a large amount of gold, silver, ivory, precious gems, and jewelry. The temples all over Egypt control so much wealth that they serve as the backbone of the prosperity of the nation. And here, in this Temple of Amun-Ra, the man in charge is Kanooch.
When Kanooch pays an evening visit to the home of Tuku, the family is almost driven to panic.
Such an authority figure has never before entered their home. It is the boy who proceeds to make their guest welcome. After a great deal of confusion, Tuku introduces his family to his good friend, the high priest, Kanooch. Tuku first asks Kanooch if he will accept some refreshment; and when the priest assents, Tuku's mother, Naku, almost stumbles in her haste to bring forth a cup of weak wine. She apologizes for the humble fare. Kanooch is most gracious. He smiles and says, "There is no need for that, my dear, I'm sure there is no liquid more sustaining than that of the fig." With that, he takes a sip from the cup, and then looking directly at Muht, he reveals the reason for his presence.
"Please," he says, "I have come to ask that your son, Tuku, join my acolytes in the temple. He has been with us on many an afternoon, and I believe he has shown the necessary qualities that we seek for training as a priest. I know that you may feel that he is too young to leave his home and his family, but you must recognize that he will be living within the temple grounds just a short walk from here. He will be permitted to visit you quite often, and the chance to join the priesthood is not to be had by just anyone."
He pauses and takes another sip from his cup. He sees that the family does not know how to react, and he goes on, "We will expect Tuku to move in with the other students in two days. He need bring very little as the temple will provide for all his needs. Now, if I may, I must return to the my duties. I sincerely thank you for welcoming me into your home." As he sets his cup down and gets to his feet, everyone in the room scrambles to their feet. Turning to Tuku, he says, "Tahrir has asked that your sleeping couch be placed next to his. I will expect you in two days." With that and a wave, he leaves.
There is a moment of stunned silence followed by pandemonium. Finally, Tuku's father is able to quiet the family, and he asks Tuku if he wishes to study for the priesthood. When Tuku answers in the affirmative, he says, "Well, then it's settled." There is no discussion. Tuku's father, acknowledging the authority of the high priest, commands that no one in the family is to question the decision. And so, Muht, with obvious pride, tells Tuku that he must prepare to move to the temple.
Amenhotep III and his wife, Queen Tiye, are both worshipers of Amun-Ra and are close friends with Kanooch. This temple is only a short distance from the Winter Palace in the southern part of Thebes (Luxor), on the east bank of the Nile. The great palace of Malkata is on the west bank, beyond the Valley of the Queens. Malkata Palace is where the royal family resides during the heat of summer; it is called the Splendor of Aten and has its own Temple of Amun-Ra on the palace high grounds. (The Aten is one of the minor gods in the Egyptian pantheon. It takes the form of the sun-disk.) When the royal family goes to this palace, Kanooch and his staff join them and reside in this temple. There is also a large Temple of Amun-Ra at Karnak in the northern part of Thebes, on the east bank of the Nile. This temple is the traditional site where a Pharaoh is crowned and has its own resident high priest, Maadum, and his resident staff. Still, it is the temple at Luxor that is the favorite of Amenhotep III and his family.
Thebes is the capital of Egypt, and thus is the home of the Pharaoh and his government. (The move from Memphis was proclaimed by the Pharaoh only a few years before.) Queen Tiye is the actual power behind the throne. She is both wise and discerning. Meeting her, one is impressed by her demeanor as a sweet, loving mother with a lively personality. She is, however, a very astute and knowledgeable woman. She has an extensive understanding of the workings of the government and the desires of the people. Even more, she instinctively recognizes the shortcomings of any individual with whom she comes in contact. With keen insight, she works hard to insure the approval of the Pharaoh's government and of the popularity of the Pharaoh himself. At this time, the people of Egypt love their Pharaoh and their queen.
This couple have had six children who survived to adulthood. All except the crown prince have been married to members of the Egyptian nobility. Actually, the original crown prince, Thutmose, predeceased his father, thus moving their second son, Amenhotep IV, into this position in the royal succession. Most of the aristocracy of Egypt are, in fact, extensions of the many royal dynasties that have ruled here for centuries. It is rare when anyone from beyond the recognized nobility achieves an appointment to a position of power and influence. Though an Egyptian Pharaoh may have many foreign wives in his harem, it is a rule that no Egyptian princess may marry a foreigner. To do so might disrupt the succession, allowing a non-Egyptian to lay claim to the throne.
* * *
Tuku is a fast learner. Kanooch is very pleased with his rapid progress. Whenever his work is praised, which is often, he responds with the appearance of humility; but his heart swells with pride. He quickly realizes that hiding his pride actually increases the praise he receives, and he relishes that praise. He also understands that he is more likely to get ahead by downplaying any sign of ambition. Already, at the age of eight, he is developing an instinct to hide his vanity and ambition and to manipulate others.
An important event has been scheduled. This day, the Pharaoh will be dedicating the new third pylon and new forecourt at the Temple of Amun-Ra in Luxor. Outside the palace, two platforms on four legs have been placed on each side the portico. The platforms match the height of the portico, about four feet above the ground. Each bears a throne of carved wood inlaid with ivory and gold. Each has carrying poles decorated with ivory and gold. Arriving on the portico, the crown prince assists Queen Tiye to her portable throne. Her ladies arrange her garments and place the crown of Tauret upon her head. This is a tall, elaborate headpiece featuring a sun disk surmounted by vertical feathers all covered in silver. Meanwhile, the crown prince helps his father to his portable throne. Amenhotep III is suffering with arthritis and uses two canes while walking. Once seated, his servants take away the canes and arrange his elaborate kilt and tunic. They then hand him his pschent crown, which he places upon his own head. (This is the double red-and-white crown of the two kingdoms of Egypt.) He then signals for the procession to move out of the palace grounds. The bearers crouch in position and lift the platforms in unison.
The people of Thebes are out in droves to cheer and honor their ruler. The country, at this time, is at the very height of its power and influence. The economy is flourishing. The people are prosperous and at peace. There is stability under the influence of the traditional political and religious certainties.
The Amun priesthood is a powerful, stabilizing foundation upon which the government is much dependent. The Pharaoh has ruled for thirty-eight years and at no time during his tenure has there been conflict with some foreign power. His one concern is this concentration of power in the priesthood. At times, he fears that his power as Pharaoh is in jeopardy. Today, he will enjoy the successes of his reign.
Though he is not aware of the fact, this procession is the last of the many in which Amenhotep III has participated. Throughout his reign, he has been a builder. He has commissioned the building of many temples and the erection of many monuments throughout Egypt, and he has often been there to personally participate in their dedication. From Libya to Nubia and all points along the Nile, Amenhotep III has added to the glory of Egypt. His people love him and today those who can be there are showing that love. This is a time for his people to show their gratitude.
Kanooch stands before the pylon to greet his friend and king. He will lead the religious rite of dedication. On each side of the pylon stands an obelisk recounting the many works of Amenhotep III in his service to the gods. Fronting each of these obelisks are seated statues of the Pharaoh. Off to the side, Tuku stands with the other students from the temple.
As the procession approaches, the crowd swells and Kanooch signals for silence, and bowing his head, he lowers himself to one knee. The people do the same, and an eerie silence permeates the scene. The bearers halt and lower the thrones, side by side, onto their platform legs. They also kneel and bow their heads. Amenhotep III takes a moment to gaze around the crowd. He reaches out his left hand to that of Queen Tiye, who takes hold in an obvious show of affection. The Pharaoh raises his right hand and, after a deep breath, speaks, "Rise up, my people, for this is a day of dedication and celebration. The gods have given us a beautiful day and we wish to make it glorious." He then motions to Kanooch to proceed with the dedication to Amun-Ra.
The ceremonies only last about forty minutes, and then, just as the bearers are about to lift the Royal couple, Tuku walks boldly forward. Shuhra, captain of the Pharaoh's personal guard, steps out to intercept him; but Amenhotep III, recognizing Tuku, waves him back. Tuku approaches his Pharaoh, and after bowing deeply from the waist, he holds out a scroll. Shuhra again steps forward, and taking the scroll from Tuku, he hands it to his king. Tuku, still bowing, backs away. Amenhotep III opens the scroll. In beautifully crafted hieroglyphs, the scroll is a commemorative of the occasion. It is fully decorated with scenes of the Nile, with flowers, birds, and boats depicted in bright colors. Truly a work of art. The Pharaoh first calls for silence and then reads the brief sentiment written on the scroll.
Lastly, he holds the open scroll up to show it to the crowd. There are many "ohs" and "ahs" as he turns the scroll for all to see.
Amenhotep III calls for Kanooch to come forward. As the priest approaches, the Pharaoh begins to thank him for this beautiful scroll. Kanooch bows and thanks the king for his praise but reveals that he knew nothing of it. Both men turn to look for Tuku. He is called forth and explains that it was his idea and his creation. He wanted to show his love for his Pharaoh and had felt that this ceremony was his best opportunity. (In fact, Tuku instinctively recognized this opportunity to have the Pharaoh take notice of him. The chance for being in the "limelight" was not to be ignored.) Amenhotep III and Queen Tiye are wonderfully effusive in their praise. The Pharaoh and Queen Tiye have truly taken a shine to this young boy. The queen especially likes him. The crowd noisily demonstrates their approval. Tuku, though soaking it up, bows to his royal admirers with a great show of humility. His efforts have been rewarded.
Amenhotep III dies. A winter cold advances into pneumonia, and the doctors are unable to save him.
Amenhotep IV, meaning "Amun is content," becomes Pharaoh. He is crowned in the Temple of Amun-Ra at Karnak, in the north end of Thebes. The ceremony is conducted by the resident high priest, Maadum, and his understudies. Kanooch and a select few from his staff—including Tuku—are also participants. (Maadum knows that Kanooch is favored by Queen Tiye, and since the two priests are old friends, Maadum does not hesitate in asking Kanooch to assist him.) After a lengthy ceremony beseeching the favor of the gods, the actual crowning begins. Amenhotep IV has been sitting on his golden throne throughout this preliminary ceremony. Much care has been taken in preparation for this appearance—his body cleansed, his head shaved, his neck anointed with myrrh—he has shown no emotion but has remained sitting rigidly with his hands upon his knees, staring straight ahead. His face has received expert treatment by those trained in the arts of makeup. His green eye shadow is kohl and the liner is galena. A blush of ocher is on each of his high cheekbones. His fingernails and toenails are painted with henna and his quilted kilt is bright blue. Now, Tahrir, Tuku, and Kanooch emerge from behind a screen. Both Tahrir and Tuku hold long exquisitely woven carpets across their forearms. Upon Tahrir's carpet, he bears the crook, the symbol of the power of the state and the responsibility for the people—the shepherd's flock. Tuku carries the flail, the symbol of the justice of the state and the scourge to be wielded when punishments are deemed necessary to sustain the social system. Kanooch carries a golden tray upon which is the pschent, the crown of the two kingdoms with a golden diadem and uraeus with the cobra and white vulture. While the acolytes chant the age-old incantations, Maadum silently retrieves the crook and places it in the left hand of the king while positioning it across his chest toward the prince's right shoulder. He then retrieves the flail and places it in the right hand of the king and positions it across his chest in the opposite direction. Finally, with great solemnity, he takes the crown from the golden tray held by Kanooch and slowly walks behind the new Pharaoh. Raising the crown high above his head, he slowly lowers it and places it upon the head of Amenhotep IV. The final symbolic piece of regalia is then produced by Maadum. It is the false beard, and the high priest attaches it to the pschent, above the ear on either side. The false beard worn by the Pharaoh proclaims his oneness with the gods. (At this time, the Pharaohs favor the "Divine Osirid Form," meaning, the beard depicted on the image of Osiris, guardian of the underworld. This is a narrow, plaited beard with a bulbous end jutting forward.) Amenhotep IV then poses for those in attendance with this short staffs crossed in front of his chest—the crook at his right shoulder and the flail at his left. Maadum now leads the prayer to Amun-Ra to grant the new Pharaoh a long and productive life: many children and many successes, a peaceful and prosperous reign, and pledging to keep deep respect for the gods and to provide offerings for their sustenance.
Excerpted from ALL IN FAVOR, SAY AY by JACK MARTIN REID Copyright © 2012 by Jack Martin Reid. Excerpted by permission of Trafford Publishing. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Posted August 5, 2012
A very entertaining book about ancient Egypt.Jack presents the pharoahs and families as well as those who serve them as ordinary people with the same human failings that we witness today. Jack did a good job in detailing the customs and history of the era. A good read for anyone interested in ancient Egypt, whether it be of their customs or historical lineage of that eraWas this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.