Tuesday, March 23, 2010

On Dating Egyptian Literary Texts

Dating Egyptian Texts

Institute of Egyptology and Coptic Studies, Göttingen, June 9th to 12th 2010. This website is effectively the brochure for a seminar, but it has some useful information in its own right.

A central issue of Egyptological research is the question of dating the original composition of religious or literary texts. However, re-dating might amount to a downright re-writing of parts of the Egyptian cultural history. Very prominent is a lively debate about the date of composition of a number of literary texts, traditionally dated to the First Intermediate Period or the Early Middle Kingdom but known only from New Kingdom manuscripts. Over the last forty-five years, several attempts have been made to date the production of some of these texts much closer in time to their first physical appearance. Using religious, cultural, linguistic, or textual arguments scholars have argued for a New Kingdom origin (Admonitions: van Seters 1964 (» list of readings); Hymn to the Nile: van der Plas 1984; Merikare: Bickel 1994; Amenemhet: Grimal 1995; Loyalist [Kaires]: Schipper 1998). More recently the discussion has heated up considerably with contributions that argue for a New Kingdom origin of Merikare, Neferti, Khakheperreseneb and Amenemhet with the reassessment based on conceptions of Egyptian cultural history (Gnirs 2006; eadem in press) or on linguistic analysis (Stauder, in press). On the other hand, there is an equally strong tendency to oppose any later datings which bases itself on the very same categories of arguments (for example Amenemhet: Burkard 1999; Merikare and Neferti: Burkard/Thissen 22007) and a general attitude to take the oldest linguistic layer of a text as a direct indication of its time of origin (von Lieven 2006).

No comments: