4 June 2017

Sudan: Portrait of Prince Khaliut - the Greatest of Moral Texts in the Old World

analysis

It was not carving on stone that immortalized the script of the Kushite Prince khaliut and kept it intact for thousands of years but the noble values the portrait contained that expressed man's good nature as enjoined by the divine books that came after it.

The script, that takes the form of an obelisk, was inscribed around the end of the 7th century BC. The script was unearthed in 1920 from the entrance of the Amun temple in the Jebel Barkal (al-Barkal mount), South of the town Dongola, Capital of today's Northern State of Sudan, says Prof. Abdelrahman Ali, the Director of the Sudanese National Corporation For Antiquities and Museums.

The script was translated into English by daughter of American Archeologist George Andrew Reisner who excavated the Kushite ancient sites and laid down the historical order of the Napata monarchs.

The script was later on authenticated by a number of scholars and was translated into Arabic by Prof. Abbas Sidahmed who said that " to the best of my knowledge, I had never found nor had I known a moral text that excels it in the ancient World ( before the holy scripts).

Prof. Ali indicates that, as an Egyptologist, Reisner had presented readings and explanations that tie the script to the Egyptian civilization. But, with the progress in archeological studies and continuous excavations, interpretations different from Reisner's narrative were put forward. These new archeological readings have confirmed that the Kushite civilization was home grown and had benefited from ideas derived from its contemporary Roman, Hellenic and Egyptian civilizations.

The portrait is a long stony obelisk written in hieroglyphic language. It is made of 34 horizontal lines, starting from the top in an arched semi-circle. Below this arch is a winged drawing of the sun. This point in the drawing is divided into two parts: The first is a picture of King Khaliut standing before the god Re. The second is a picture of King Aspelta clad in gods' attire and wearing a wig. To the left of the King the god Horus can be seen on the horizon.

Says Prince Khaliut in the script:

"I did not make falsehood, the abomination of the gods.

I did not rob the lawing-people. I did not commit a wrong.

My heart did not transgress to the detriment of the humble.

I did not kill a man on false premises when his crime had not happened.

I did not take bribes for wrong-doing.

I did not deliver a servant into the hand(s) of his lord.

I did not copulate with a married woman or a man.

I did not decide a case wrongfully.

I did not net the gods' birds.

I did not slaughter the small cattle of the god.

I did not take the property of the gods,

rather giving property to all the gods and goddesses.

I gave bread to the hungry, water to thirsty, clothing to the naked.

I did this on earth, being on the roads of gods,

Keeping away from their abomination for the sake of a good end

For those who are born after me in this land for ever and ever.

Values set by the Prince, says Prof. Ali, are the same values contained in the Koran and other divine books. "Texts of the script do reflect the ancient values of the Sudanese people. They express the ideals of a noble civilization that reflect history of a deep-rooted and a great state that had its contribution to the human civilization. They also reflect the Sudanese personality and that this people naturally cherishes ideals enshrined in the Koran and the Bible," he said.

Prince Khaliut is one of the sons of King Piankhy, the first monarch of the Nubian Kingdom of Kush, who asserts to have been chosen by the gods and elected by the people. Says Bianchi about his rule: "The gods make the king and the people make the king. But the god Amun had made me king and gave me the rule of all countries."

Khaliut is brother of King Taharqa who is called "the great warrior". All of them belong to the 25th family that extended its rule to Egypt, Palestine and Syria and ruled them for a century.

Deputy Director of Museums Ekhlas Abdellatif Ahmed Idris describes the script as "an unusual portrait which was inscribed to glorify and apologize for a former prince. What is surprising is that the one who wrote it was King Aspelta, grandson of King Taharqa, who also had a number of portraits, the most important of which is the Prince Khaliut portrait, which represents an apology to his grandfather Khaliut and speaks for him."

Adds Idris:"Archeologists think that the reason behind this apology could be that Khaliut was more worthy of the throne than Taharqa and for some reason the throne was deflected to Taharqa. May be there was a rebellion from the monks or Khaliut's followers that prompted Aspelta to draw the portrait and write the script, to deny any power conflict between Khaliut and Taharqa. And despite the fact that the portrait was carved during the rule of Aspelta, he (Aspelta) was speaking for Prince Khaliut and describes how Prince Khaliut had used to offer sacrifices to the gods and how he used to support the poor."

It was found that the portrait dates back to the second stage of the Kingdom of Kush i.e the Kingdom of Napata whose kings ruled Egypt for a century and wrote their documents in hieroglyphic.

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