Saturday, June 29, 2013

I Get to Wondering. . .

Sometimes something I read or hear starts me wondering about some aspect that I want more information about.

Today I was thinking about the fact that Pharaoh Ramses the Great (and all the other ancient Egyptian kings named Ramses) are now being renamed Ramesses.
Ramses the Great


Who decided, after well over a century of archaeological and historical writing and research about these ancient Egyptians, that the name was wrong and should now, to the confusion of the average reader, be called Ramesses rather than Ramses?

I went online to try to find out. All I found were a couple of other variations in Wickipedia.

Now I can understand where the confusion might have originated. The ancients wrote their records without vowels. So take a bunch of consonants, i.e., rmss, and try to decide which vowels and where they should go.  The possibilities are many. Erimasos? Romesis? Et cetera and et cetera.
Ramses the Great's Mummy

I don't know how "Ramses" was selected as the right form so many years ago. I'm sure a linguist with expertise in ancient Egyptian could explain. I just wonder why scholars have apparently decided to confuse the rest of us by deciding "Ramesses" was better. When I first started running across "Ramesses" I wondered why I hadn't seen references to him before. But the similarities to "Ramses" in the discussions led me to believe that they were the same person. Wickipedia confirmed that, but did not discuss the change from the well-known "Ramses" to the currently acceptable "Ramesses."

Now you might think I'm just nit-picking, or wonder what is wrong with me to bother with such things, but some things just stick in my mind and make me curious.

Who had the power to change the accepted form of the famous pharaoh's name, and why?

OK, I'm done now.


  1. Last night I got to thinking about the expression "slept like a baby", which is supposed to be good. Why? My girl didn't sleep through the night, until she was over two, and only took catnaps during the day. ???

    1. I'm glad I'm not the only one whose mind gets occupied mulling over such things! A lot of old sayings are pretty weird when you thing about it. Without knowing their origin we just carry on understanding the meaning, although the actual words are nonsensical By the way, my first child was a wakeful, colicy child, but Jeremy was a good sleeper from the get-go. Oh, dear-now I have to wonder what a get-go is, anyway. Thanks!

    2. That's "think" not "thing."

  2. An old saying that I've heard and maybe even used myself without wondering what it meant was skin of my teeth. I've also read the book of Job many times, but the last time, the skin of my teeth nearly jumped off the page. Job 19:20 quotes Job as escaping with only the skin of his teeth. The notes offer "only my gums" as another way of saying it. This has nothing to do with Ramses, but it's a puzzle answered.