Ancient Egyptian Literature, edited by Miriam Lichtheim

This 2009 edition, published by University of California Press, has proven itself an indispensable resource as I explore Kemetic writings. I hope others may also find it helpful.

The book is a collection of translations from hieroglyphic, hieratic and demotic writings from across Ancient Egyptian history, part of a series of collections of translations by Miriam Lichtheim.

The writings are helpfully organised chronologically and by genre. The time period covered streteches from the 5th Dynasty of the Old Kingdom, including the tombs of courtiers and royal family living during the time of the 4th Dynasty kings, through to the end of the Late Period.

Aside from the front matter, prefaces, introductions and so forth, the bulk of this book consists of verbatim copies of translations from other publications, which are identified at the start of each writing.

In many cases the referenced documents can be found online, and include drawings, transcriptions, transliterations and other details of the originating site or artifact. The attention to detail in this regard is meticulous, as one would expect from an academic work of fine quality.

Using the first translation as an example, here is a drawing I found of the original source - an architrave inscription from the 5th Dynasty mastaba of Princess Nisedjerkai, who served as a Priestess of Hathor under King Khufu.


As well as more obscure inscriptions, the book contains all of the more famous and popular works, including translations of Books of the Dead, Pyramid Texts, many examples of Sebayt including Ptahhotep, Amenemope, King Amenemhat and Hordjedef, the story of Sinuhe, the two tales of Setne Khaemwas and many inscriptions from famous stelae and temple walls.

The individual volumes are available for free on as PDFs:

Volume I
Volume II
Volume III

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Thanks so much for this!

Yes, I saw that in Watkins. Was going to buy the set for my shows but the Simpson book fills the need. Would be nice to know how they compare at some point.

I found this quite quickly:

It looks like there is a lot of overlap, and both provide references, although I do prefer the approach of including them with the chapter heading/title rather than only having a bibliography, the bibliography in the Simpson book is very well organised and presented, which is a boon.

I might have to get one of these when I can. :slight_smile:

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