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report wenamun’s byblos god

Wenamun’s personal history is unknown. In fact, it is difficult to ascertain whether he was an historical or fictional figure. The document called The Report of Wenamun , a papyrus now in Moscow, is written to resemble a bureaucratic report on a mission to a foreign country. Yet the level of detail and the negative information included in it is never otherwise found in ancient Egyptian non-fiction. Wenamun travels to Byblos, a town in modern Lebanon, to buy wood for the ceremonial ship of the god Amun. En route, robbers steal Wenamun’s money. He continues to Byblos, but the king of Byblos has no interest in trading with a man without money, even if he represents the god. Finally, after many tribulations, Wenamun is forced to flee and he reaches Cyprus. Here the papyrus ends, before the story is concluded. Egyptologists disagree on how to judge this mixture of a non-fiction form with what is usually fictional content. In any case Wenamun’s report undoubtedly reflects the state of affairs at the close of the New Kingdom when Egypt had lost control of its possessions in the Near East.


Erik Hornung, Sinuhe und Wenamun: Zwei ägyptische Wanderer (Munich: Wilhelm Fink, 1995).

Wergeland, Agnes Mathilde (1857–1914) - World History [next]

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