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This page presents J.H. Breasted's translation of the inscription of Harkhuf, an Old Kingdom dignitary dispatched to the city of Yam, and his adventures in Nubia.
Pharaoh ♥ little man.


333.4The majesty of Merenre my lord, sent me, together with my father, the sole companion, and ritual priest, Iri to Yam, in order to explore a road to this country. 5I did it in only seven months, and brought all (kinds of) gifts from it [...]. I was very greatly praised for it.


334His majesty sent me a second time 6alone; I went forth upon the Elephantine road, and I descended from Irthet, Mekher, Tereres, Irtheth, being an affair of eight months. When I descended 7I brought gifts from this country in very great quantity. Never 8before was the like brought to the land. I descended from the dwelling of the chief of Sethu and Irthet, 9after I had explored these countries. Never had any companion or caravan-conductor who went forth to Yam before this, done (it).


335His majesty now sent me a third time to Yam; 11I went forth from [...] upon the Uhet road, and I found the chief of 12Yam going to the land of Temeh to smite Temeh 13as far as the western corner of heaven. I went forth after him to the land of Temeh, 14and I pacified him, until he praised all the gods for the king's sake.


336.1[...]t, Yam who followed [...] in order to inform the majesty of Merenre, my lord 2[...] after the chief of Yam. Now when I had pacified that chief of Yam 3[...] below Irthet and above Sethu, I found the chief of Irthet, Sethu, and Wawat 4[...].

I descended with 300 asses laden with incense, ebony, heknu, grain, 5panthers, [...], ivory, [throw-sticks], and every good product. Now when the chief of Irthet, Sethu, 6and Wawat saw how strong and numerous was the troop of Yam, which descended with me to the court, and the soldiers who had been sent with me, (then) 7this [chief] brought and gave to me bulls and small cattle, and conducted me to the roads of the highlands or Irthet, because I was more excellent, vigilant, and [...] 8than any count, companion or caravan-conductor, who had been sent to Yam before. Now, when the servant there was descending to the court, one sent the [...], 9sole companion, the master of the bath, Khuni, up-stream with a vessel laden with date-wine, [cakes], bread, and beer. 10The count, wearer of the royal seal, sole companion, ritual priest, treasurer of the god, privy councilor of decress, the revered, Harkhuf.


351.1Royal seal, year 2, third month of the first season, (third month), day 15.

2Royal decree (to) the sole companion, the ritual priest and caravan-conductor, Harkhuf.


3I have noted the matter of this thy letter, which thou hast sent to the king, to the palace, in order that one might know that thou hast descended 4in safety from Yam with the army which was with thee. Thou hast said [in] this thy letter, that thou hast brought 5all great and beautiful gifts, which Hathor, mistress of Imu hath given to the ka of the 6king of Upper and Lower Egypt Neferkare, who liveth forever and ever. Thou hast said in this thy letter, that thou hast brought a dancing dwarf 7of the god from the land of spirits, like the dwarf which 8the treasurer of the god Burded brought from Punt in the time of Isesi. Thou hast said to my majesty: "Never 9before has one like him been brought by any other who visited Yam."


352Each year [...] thee 10doing that which thy lord desires and praises; thou spendest day and night [with the caravan] in doing that which 11thy lord desires, praises and commands. His majesty will make 12thy many excellent honors to be an ornament for the son of thy son forever, so that all people will say 13when they hear what my majesty doeth for thee: "Is there anything like this which was done for the sole companion, Harkhuf, 14when he descended from Yam, because of the vigilance which he showed, to do that which his lord desired, praised and commanded!"


353.15Come northward to the court immediately; [...] 16thou shalt bring this dwarf with thee, which thou bringest living, prosperous and healthy from the land of spirits, 17for the dances of the god, to rejoice and [gladden] the heart of the king of Upper and Lower Egypt, Neferkare, who lives forever. 18When he goes down with thee into the vessel, appoint excellent people, who shall be beside him 19on each side of the vessel; take care lest he fall into the water. When [he] sleeps at night appoint excellent people, 20who shall sleep beside him in his tent; inspect ten times a night. 21My majesty desires to see this dwarf more than the gifts of Sinai and 22of Punt. If thou arrivest at court this dwarf being with thee 23alive, prosperous and healthy, my majesty will do for thee a greater thing than that which was done for the treasurer of the god, Burded 24in the time of Isesi, according to the heart's desire of my majesty to see this dwarf.

354.25Commands have been sent to the chief of the New Towns, the companion, and superior prophet, to command that sustenance be taken 26from him in every store-city and every temple, without stinting therein.

Sir Graham