A Tale of Suppressions and Semantics: Reinterpreting Papyrus Mayer A and the So-called ‘War of the High Priest’ during the Reign of Ramesses XI

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Abstract

The ‘War of the High Priest’ is a phrase commonly used by scholars to refer to the so-called ‘suppression’ of the High Priest of Amun Amenhotep by the King’s Son of Kush Panehsy during the reign of the last Ramesside king, Ramesses XI. The precise date of this event is debated, but it likely occurred around Regnal Year 17 or 18 of Ramesses XI (c. 1089–1088 BCE). The sources that document the ‘War of the High Priest’ are limited (P. Mayer A, P. BM EA 10383, P. BM EA 10052, and the Karnak Inscription) and scholarly opinion on the topic is hotly divided. What is clear, however, is that the term ‘suppression’ used to refer to this event is ineffectual in conveying the nuances of the Egyptian term thj, and by translating thj as ‘suppression’ extreme connotations are imposed upon it that alter modern perceptions concerning the ‘War of the High Priest’. This study will add to the existing debate on the ‘War of the High Priest’ by examining the terminology surrounding the event through a lexical analysis of thj, analysing its uses in other textual contexts, scholarly interpretation, and its wider implications. Chronological issues and debates will be discussed only on the periphery.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)359-373
JournalStudien zur Altägyptischen Kultur
Volume43
Publication statusPublished - 2014

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