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d’archéologie orientale - Le Caire

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Le mercredi 26 octobre 2016 à 18h00, IFAO géolocalisation IFAO

The Birth of Ancient Egyptian Literature

James P. Allen, Brown University

While the definition of “literature” is both subjective and debated, there is a central core of ancient Egyptian texts that is universally recognized as literary, included in every anthology of Egyptian literature in translation: works such as “The Story of Sinuhe,” “The Instructions of Ptahhotep,” and “The Debate between a Man and His Soul.”

Although Egyptian literary compositions are as old as the Pyramid Texts of the Old Kingdom, the works of the central core do not appear until the Middle Kingdom, some four hundred years later. What sets such works apart from other literary compositions? And why do not they appear before the second great period of ancient Egyptian history? This lecture will examine both questions and propose answers that have their roots in a fundamental shift in Egyptian psychology at the end of the Old Kingdom.