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Glossary

scribe

someone who could read and write; a highly respected title in ancient Egyptian times

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Ancient Egyptian Scribes
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The image of a seated man with crossed legs, holding an open papyrus roll on his lap, such as those in the Egyptian Museum, was the traditional pose for scribes throughout Egyptian history.

Scribes were essential to intellectual life and considered the principal artists of its culture.

The meaning of the Ancient Egyptian term for scribe could be understood in this sense, then, as "to draw" and "to create" rather than one who uses the brush "to write" or "to read".

Although their basic task was administrative in nature, throughout Egypt's history scribes were the keepers of the oral tradition, which has survived to modern times in various forms.

The priestly scribes of the House of Life, for instance, went beyond simply preserving the old texts and instead, they had the creativity to edit and revise the theological, liturgical, medical, and magical texts. By the time of the New Kingdom, this ability to compose new literary texts was widespread.

Texts preserved from this period onward present new stories and other types of literature that were not known before.

The circle of scribes apparently had been broadened to include members who did not necessarily belong to the elite, as they had in the Old Kingdom.

The concept of education and its significance was widespread among the Ancient Egyptians, which is highlighted in most of their literature from this period.

In several texts from the Ramesside period, the contributions of scribes to society were highly appreciated by the royal house and by the younger generations of scribes.

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Sites & Museums Sites & Museums
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Tutankhamun
Tutankhamun

Amenhotep, Son of Hapu
Amenhotep, Son of Hapu

Saqqara
Saqqara

The Seated Scribe
The Seated Scribe

Seated Statue of Amenhotep, Son of Hapu, as an Aged Man
Seated Statue of Amenhotep, Son of Hapu, as an Aged Man

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