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Scribe's Exercise Board with Hieratic Text

Egyptian, Classical, Ancient Near Eastern Art

On View: Egyptian Orientation Gallery, 3rd Floor
Hieratic, the cursive form of hieroglyphs, was used most commonly for writing literature, business and personal letters, and record keeping. It was the first form of writing that Egyptian students learned. A youthful scribe wrote a hieratic inscription on this exercise board in the early New Kingdom. The text is an extract from “The Instructions of King Amunemhat,” composed in the Twelfth Dynasty, nearly four hundred years before the board was inscribed. The king urges his son: “Be on your guard against all who are subordinate to you . . . trust no brother, know no friend, make no intimates.” This “teaching” belonged to a common literary genre of classic texts often used to practice writing.
MEDIUM Wood, ink
  • Place Made: Africa
  • DATES ca. 1514-1493 B.C.E.
    DYNASTY XVIII Dynasty
    PERIOD New Kingdom
    DIMENSIONS 6 3/16 x 10 15/16 x 3/16 in. (15.7 x 27.8 x 0.4 cm)  (show scale)
    MUSEUM LOCATION This item is on view in Egyptian Orientation Gallery, 3rd Floor
    ACCESSION NUMBER 16.119
    CREDIT LINE Gift of Evangeline Wilbour Blashfield, Theodora Wilbour, and Victor Wilbour honoring the wishes of their mother, Charlotte Beebe Wilbour, as a memorial to their father, Charles Edwin Wilbour
    RIGHTS STATEMENT Creative Commons-BY
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    CAPTION Scribe's Exercise Board with Hieratic Text, ca. 1514-1493 B.C.E. Wood, ink, 6 3/16 x 10 15/16 x 3/16 in. (15.7 x 27.8 x 0.4 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Gift of Evangeline Wilbour Blashfield, Theodora Wilbour, and Victor Wilbour honoring the wishes of their mother, Charlotte Beebe Wilbour, as a memorial to their father, Charles Edwin Wilbour, 16.119. Creative Commons-BY (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, CUR.16.119_erg456.jpg)
    IMAGE overall, CUR.16.119_erg456.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph, 9/5/2007
    "CUR" at the beginning of an image file name means that the image was created by a curatorial staff member. These study images may be digital point-and-shoot photographs, when we don\'t yet have high-quality studio photography, or they may be scans of older negatives, slides, or photographic prints, providing historical documentation of the object.
    CATALOGUE DESCRIPTION Oblong wooden scribe’s exercise board, gesso coated, with obverse and reverse inscribed in Hieratic with portion of “Instructions of Amenemmes I” (Text in black, dots in red). The board is a typical exercise board of the New Kingdom and has the customary hole for suspension on the right edge. There are faint traces of other inscriptions presumably erased by the scribe. Condition: Extremely fragile. Fragments missing from upper edge and left side; small portion of gesso coating missing. Entire object assembled from many fragments.
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