A 4,000-Year-Old Student ‘Writing Board’ from Ancient Egypt (with Teacher’s Corrections in Red)


Individuals raised on Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House books are inclined to affiliate slates with one room schoolhouses and rote workout routines involving studying, writing and ‘rithmetic.

Had we been reared alongside the banks of the Nile, would our minds go to historical gessoed boards just like the 4000-year-old Middle Kingdom example above?

Like our acquainted tablet-sized blackboards, this paper — or ought to we are saying papyrus? — saver was designed for use repeatedly, with whitewash serving as a type of eraser.




As Egyptologist William C. Hayes, former Curator of Egyptian Artwork on the Metropolitan Museum wrote in The Scepter of Egypt: A Background for the Study of the Egyptian Antiquities in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Vol. 1, From the Earliest Times to the End of the Middle Kingdom, the writing board on the prime of the web page:

…bears components of two mannequin letters of the very formal and ultra-poite selection addressed to a superior official. The writers persistently discuss with themselves as “this servant” and to their addressees as “the Grasp (could he stay, prosper, and be nicely.)” The longer letter was composed and written by a younger man named Iny-su, son of Sekhsekh, who calls himself a “Servant of the Property” and who, most likely in jest, has used the identify of his personal brother, Peh-ny-su, as that of the distinguished addressee. Following a long-winded preamble, through which the gods of Thebes and adjoining cities are invoked in behalf of the recipient, we get all the way down to the textual content of the letter and discover that it issues the supply of assorted components of a ship, most likely a sacred barque. Regardless of its formality and wonderful phrasing, the letter is riddled with misspellings and different errors which have been corrected in crimson ink, most likely by the grasp scribe accountable for the category.

Iny-su would even have been anticipated to memorize the textual content he had copied out, a apply that carried ahead to our one-room-schoolhouses, the place youngsters droned their method via texts from McGuffey’s Eclectic Readers.

One other historical Egyptian writing board in the Met’s assortment finds an apprentice scribe fumbling with imperfectly shaped, erratically spaced hieroglyphs.

Fetch the whitewash and say it with me, class — apply makes good.

The primary pill impressed some lively discussion and quite a lot of punchlines on Reddit, the place commenter The-Lord-Moccasin mused:

I bear in mind studying someplace that Egyptian college students had been taught to jot down by transcribing tales of the terrible lives of the typical peasants, to inspire and make them recognize their schooling. Like “the farmer toils all day within the burning subject, and prays he doesn’t feed the lions; the fisherman sits in concern on his boat because the crocodile lurks under.”

All the time thought it sounded efficient as hell.

We are able to’t confirm it, however we second that emotion.

Observe: The crimson markings on the picture up prime point out the place spelling errors had been corrected by a trainer.

through @ddoniolvalcroze

Associated Content material: 

A 3,000-Year-Old Painter’s Palette from Ancient Egypt, with Traces of the Original Colors Still In It

Who Built the Egyptian Pyramids & How Did They Do It?: New Archeological Evidence Busts Ancient Myths

What Ancient Egyptian Sounded Like & How We Know It

Ayun Halliday is an writer, illustrator, theater maker and Chief Primatologist of the East Village Inky zine.  Comply with her @AyunHalliday.

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