Susanllewellyn's Blog

August 25, 2009

Office hieroglyphs (18)

You’ll remember, at the end of the last exciting episode, that we left this group of signs only half explored, prt hrw t hnqt hieroglyphs

its upper and middle components rendered as peret -kheru, a going forth of the voice, or invocation offering, its two lower components dangling in mid air:

From a going forth of the voice to a going into the mouth: it’s time to start on the menu – and where else but with the appetisers?  These are the two signs so far unaccounted for:

t hnqt hieroglyphs

t hnqt transliteration

 The one on the left needs no introduction to you.  You can spot a loaf of bread a mile off by now.  If you look at the loaf of bread in the painted version of this group

prt hrw t hnqt painting076

(on the right this time, so read from  the opposite direction) you’ll see it looks like the loaf of bread on top of the hetep sign

htp coloured062

In other versions of the peret-kheru group, the rather more elaborate loaf is replaced by the simple bun shape of t, te, which demonstrates that this is is the simple word for bread.  You can use either version.  They’re both easy to draw.

Almost as easy is the last sign in the group; henqet, beer.  When you’re invoking a farewell pint or ten for Donald in Sports Equipment, all you’ll need to do is draw a jar shape with a t-shape on top;- make the crossbar wide and the stem very short, and you’re there.

The artist scribe of the painted version has taken rather more care over his beer jug. The long neck minimised contact with the air and aided fermentation.  Egyptian beer was basically a wetter form of bread.  It was made from fermented dough and full of sediment and general floaty bits; so much so, they drank it with a straw to get at the liquid through the debris, like this:

strainer

  But it was very nutritious. 

Bread and beer were the two staples of the Egyptian diet, both made from grain, and both taught to the Egyptians by Osiris, god of the harvest.  They were the first things the tomb owner put on his shopping list for the afterlife, and the first thing to appear on his menu.

An invocation offering of bread and beer; not much different from the first things the waiter brings to the table in the restaurant, in fact.  We’ll move on to the main course next time.

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