Wenamun


Wenamun
Literary character c.1100 BC.
    The 'Story of Wenamun' is preserved on a papyrus which was purchased in Cairo in 1891 and is now in Moscow. It is a major literary source for the later period of Egypt's history and for the decline of her influence in Syria and Palestine. The story is perhaps based on an actual report, and it relates the experiences of Wenamun's travels and trading operations in the eastern Mediterranean when he was sent on a mission to Syria at the end of the Twentieth Dynasty (the papyrus can be dated to a time shortly after this journey was supposed to have taken place).
    As the background to Wenamun's adventures, *Ramesses XI had yielded his throne to two rulers—Smendes at Tanis in the north and *Herihor, High-priest of Amun at Thebes in the south. Egypt's former greatness abroad had by now collapsed, and the difficulties which Wenamun encountered with foreign princes and officials illustrate all too vividly that Egypt was no longer feared or respected by other peoples of the Near East.
    Wenamun was a temple official who was sent to acquire cedarwood from *Byblos to restore the sacred barque in which Amun's divine statue was carried around during festivals. In order to enhance Wenamun's prestige, an image of the god— 'Amun of the Road'—was sent with him.
    This story, set in that period of the New Kingdom when Egypt's empire was lost, can be compared with the Story of *Sinuhe which reflects the political and economic conditions of the Middle Kingdom when Sinuhe in his travels meets with personal success because he comes from a renowned and respected country.
BIBL. AEL ii. pp. 224-30; Nims, C.F. Second tenses in Wenamun. JEA 54 (1968) pp. 161-4.
Biographical Dictionary of Ancient Egypt by Rosalie and Antony E. David
* * *
   Hero of a literary tale set at the end of Dynasty 20. The Tale of Wenamun outlines his adventures on a trip to Lebanon seeking wood for religious constructions at Thebes. The story reflects the loss of Egyptian influence in the Near East and the political divisions in Egypt. It survives in only one incomplete copy.
   See also Literature; Sinuhe.
Historical Dictionary Of Ancient Egypt by Morris L. Bierbrier

Ancient Egypt. A Reference Guide. . 2011.

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