and numerals and their ancient religious uses in our e-book
Ancient Creation Stories told by the Numbers
by H. Peter Aleff
Numerals and constants
tell the creations of numbers and world
These prominent traditional sages were just the tip of the iceberg, if you forgive me this metaphor foreign to the Nile valley climate. Many other smart and/or ambitious people were also eager to excel in the scribal arts because their efforts were likely to be rewarded. For instance, the “Teaching for Merykare”, an Egyptian wisdom text from near the turn of the third millennium BCE into the second, advises the ruler to select his officials not by birth but by performance.
Some authors say that during Old Kingdom times the upper class was limited to the royal family, and this wisdom text is indeed later than the pyramids. However, if one considers the size and logistical complexity of the many diverse tasks to be coordinated against the even more obstacles created by Murphy’s Law, the pyramid- building rulers must have relied on large pools of able and well- trained administrators throughout their Two Lands to organize those country- wide efforts at all levels with such manifest success.
The great variety of titles attested for scribes of this and slightly later times reflects, at least in part, the enormous diversity of the manifold tasks. These titles range from grain and cattle counters to legal recorders, annalists, and treasury overseers; many refer to religious duties, such as “Scribe of Divine Writings”, "Scribe of Divine Books” and so prove again that the scribal arts served also non- utilitarian purposes.
To supply the necessary depth of skilled artists, designers, planners, managers, auditors, technical experts, local overseers, and so on, would have been beyond the capacity of even the largest royal harems, so any king wishing to complete his projects must have followed this advice to reward and promote for merit long before Merykare’s teacher passed it on. Teachings such as his were usually not social innovations but rather reiterated and extolled the then prevailing ideals.
The principle of selection by performance implies rewards to elicit and stimulate that performance, so chances are that at least some of the cushy and leisure- affording positions in
The wall decorations of the many private graves from that prosperous time typically show the elite owner attended by many servants. They let us appreciate, for instance,
Even in a cemetery of “middle- status and lower- ranking families”, the tomb paintings showed processions of offering- bearers attending the owners and demonstrated by their very existence that these not specially privileged people could afford the services of others.
The abundance of such scenes confirms clearly that at least some people back then were not always just toiling but, as Aristotle reports, had ample time to be as curious about numbers and anything else as some modern people are.
The Egyptologist Siegfried Morenz describes the importance of proper knowledge in his book on “Egyptian Religion”:
The devotion to learning and inquiry which such a world view fosters was further encouraged by the early Egyptians’ interactions with other cultures, particularly the one in Mesopotamia that highly valued numbers and the art of manipulating them.
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