Name or Nickname? That Is the Question!

Let’s take a look at the names of my buddy Khnumti, whose monument has decent hieroglyphs you should be able to identify.
Egyptian, possibly from Saqqara, Relief from the Tomb of Khnumti, circa 2345—2184 B.C.E., white limestone, H. 23 7/8 x W. 19 5/8 x D. 1 in., Gift of the James G. Hanes Memorial Fund

If you’re looking at my false door in the Museum, he’s on your left.

Like mine, Khnumti’s monument was carved from limestone. The two panels you see were set perpendicular to a small false door in front of an offering tray, creating a niche where my friend would receive his offerings. The nobleman depicted on these panels is my friend, and his nickname and name are written just above his head and in front of his face.

Take a look at the panel on the left, just in front of his nose and mouth. His name starts with a stone jar that has a handle on one side. After that you have two tall and skinny signs: a twisted fiber wick and a tall vase. Under those you’ll see a flat sign that represents a door bolt. Below the door bolt is a cute little quail chick, and you should recognize the last sign. (Yes, you got it! It’s the horned viper used in the spelling of my nickname.)

The man determinative, to let you know you are dealing with a male name, is below the other column of hieroglyphs (the scribe ran out of space, it seems). That’s how the name of my friend is written, Khnumhesuf.

Now, look above his head, near the back of his puffy hair, for that same jar with the handle. The following sign is a bird, but not the cute quail chick. This time it’s an owl. Then the scribe ran out of space (again!) and wrote the last two signs below the owl. You will find a half circle, and the feather-looking hieroglyph is the same reed leaf you see in my name. Here you have the name Khnumti spelled out.

The other panel is similar, with Khnumti written in front of the man’s face and Khnumhesuf above his head. What is strange is that on the right panel it says that his beautiful name is Khnumti, but on the left one it says his nickname is Khnumhesuf! Did the scribe make a mistake? Maybe! Even ancient scribes made mistakes and typos sometimes. We’re only human.

Now let me ask you a question: which do you think is my friend’s nickname–Khnumhesuf or Khnumti?

Next time you’re in the Egyptian galleries, come say hello to your two favorite noblemen. (That would be me and Khnumti). And don’t forget to greet us by name! I’ll tell you later why that’s so important.

(The hieroglyphs in this blog post are made possible thanks to JSesh, an open source hieroglyphic editor.)

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