Amun does not camp on the beach
The journey of the Egyptian high official Wenamun was recorded at the beginning of the 21st dynasty. It marks the start of the Third Intermediate Period, a time when the empire was divided into two areas of power. Wenamun goes from Thebes on a special mission to Byblos in the Lebanon. He is sent by Herihor, who at that time rules over Upper Egypt. The large wooden barque in the temple of Amun-Ra at Karnak needs renewal with wood of silver firs.
Wenamun’s travelogue is known for its many misfortunes. On his departure Wenamun knows that he cannot be successful in his mission without the consent of the ruler over Lower Egypt. When he arrives in Tanis, the ruler in the Delta does not let him leave at once. After a delay of eight and a half month Wenamun finally sails out from the port of Tanis.
The journey along the Mediterranean coast does not go as planned either. When Wenamun moors his cargo ship for the first time at the coastal town of Dor, he was robbed by one of his crew members. Wenamun held the Prince of Dor responsible for this situation and forced him to track down the thief. The following eight lines in the papyrus are crucial for an understanding of the further course of the journey. Unfortunately these lines contain some lacunae. The translation of the text that follows this patchy part makes clear that Wenamun in the meantime has arrived at Byblos. Somewhat further the text will make clear that Wenamun is not very welcomed by the local ruler of Byblos. All Egyptologists agree however on one point. Wenamon has now also lost his ship and is staying with the cult statue of Amun in a tent on the beach of Byblos. However from the text we may conclude that Wenamun has just achieved an important success. In accordance with the common translation it is stated:
I celebrated my success in my tent on the beach of the port of Byblos. I [….] of Amun-of-the-Way and I placed his property in it.
Egyptologist Huub Pragt has a completely different translation and interpretation for this text passage. In this lecture he will show that Wenamun’s journey was much less unfortunate than previously thought.