[This June 2003 essay is taken
from the Yahoo discussion group, “Ta-Seti”]
Below I have given an analysis of the "Table of Nations" scene
in the Tomb of Ramses III, mainly because there have been several Egyptologists
and other writers who have presented false information and have erroneously
claimed that this popular scene does not really exist and is the result
of a reproduction error made in the 20th century by Kurt Sethe/Richard
Lepsius. I will briefly address this erroneous argument as well as address
an amazing statement recently made on this forum. The actual photographs
from the Ramses III tomb itself presented in this review will show that
the "Table of Nations" images are accurately presented in the
reproduction color drawings of the scene by Sethe and Lepsius.
This review is an excerpt and modification of my larger forthcoming work
on tomb scenes in the Nile Valley.
Read the descriptions for each of the seven photos & drawings referred
to in this review of the Ramses III tomb evidence.
I will make a few points in regards to my first-hand observation and documentation
in the 20th dynasty Tomb of Ramses III in the Valley of the Kings (KV,
Tomb 11), and the general accuracy of the "Table of Nations"
scene reproductions of Egyptologists Richard Lepsius (1840s) and Kurt
Sethe, et al. (1913). The texts and images of the "Table of Nations"
scene show four nations (or groups) of people, including the ancient Kmtjw
("ancient Egyptians") who clearly depicted themselves (on the
far left of the scene) as jet *black* in skin tone and dressed IDENTICAL
to the other jet black African people (the third group from the left)
to the south. This rare 20th dynasty (1200 BCE) scene shows that the Egyptians
saw themselves as a Black people.
The "Table of Nations"
scene reproduction (1913)
The "Table of Nations" scene in the Ramses III tomb (KV 11)
was painted by the ancient *royal artists* themselves and thus it presents
undeniable objective evidence of how the African people of Egypt chose
to present themselves in this scene. There are black skinned images of
ancient Egyptians in every major period and in every region of the country,
but only in tomb KV 11 do the Egyptians present themselves as *completely
identical* in skin tone AND attire to other black Africans (Nubians).
These KV 11 images stunned Euro-American scholars and writers who have
tried to falsely separate the Egyptians from other black Africans. The
promotion of these Ramses III tomb images by Dr. Cheikh Anta Diop (1981)
and others, which show the Egyptians and Nubians as identical, dealt a
serious blow to the fanciful claim that ancient Egyptians and Nubians
were "totally distinct" and "unrelated" groups.
The opposition to this objective
tomb evidence has caused several Euro-American writers to misrepresent
the scene and mislead the public with false statements and cut-&-paste
photos of carefully selected sections of this tomb relief. These Euro-American
writers have misled the general public to erroneously believe that the
scene of the four nations no longer exists and that the color reproduction
published by Kurt Sethe/Richard Lepsius (1913) and made popular by Diop
are somehow an "error." I will give a few examples of this opposition
THE KURT SETHE - RICHARD
Richard Lepsius conducted research in Egypt from 1842-1845 and his work
was originally published in 12 volumes from 1849-1856. However, the KV
11 "Table of Nations" scene and other materials were not published
until the later 1913 supplemental edition, which was compiled by Edward
Naville and Ludwig Borchardt, and edited by Kurt Sethe.
The so-called 1913 Sethe/Lepsius
version is a condensed reproduction of the original tomb scene. Sethe/Lepsius
simply condensed the 4 images for each of the four groups to 1 representative
for each of the four groups (i.e. the 16 images were reduced to 4 images).
Apparently, this was done because all 4 of the images for each group are
identical, and thus they simply omitted the redundant images. The texts
were also condensed from their original horizontal position in front of
each of the 4 images per group to a single vertical column in front of
1 group representative.
Nevertheless, this condensed
Sethe/Lepsius reproduction version of the "Table of Nations"
is ACCURATE in both the representation of the images and the positioning
of the texts:
Kurt Sethe / Richard Lepsius reproduction
(description by C.A. Diop):
ACTUAL TOMB PHOTOGRAPHS
I first visited and photographed the "Table of Nations" scene
in the Tomb of Ramses III in both 1994 and 1995, and the scene DOES still
exist today. The scene is long and thus it is too difficult to photograph
the entire scene at once, so it has to be photographed in sections. This
difficulty in recording the entire scene with one photograph has allowed
some Euro-American Egyptologists to mix up the images and take the entire
scene out of context. They carefully present only two images at a time
(instead of ALL FOUR images of each group) in order to never reveal the
horizontal texts which runs across the scene and identifies each group.
I have taken a number of photographs
from the actual Tomb of Ramses III itself and the two photographs below
(figs. 2-3) represent the OBJECTIVE EVIDENCE that the Sethe/Lepsius reproduction
is *accurate* and that the Egyptians indeed depicted themselves as jet
black in skin color and dressed identical to the other black Africans
to the south. The photos show the beginning (far left) of the scene. They
show the four images of the Egyptians as they saw themselves, and their
name _Rmt _ (i.e. "the Kmtjw" or "the Egyptians")
is also clearly written. Here is a unique inside view of the tomb, and
this photographic evidence is IRREFUTABLE.
These 2 photos close
the books on this case:
Manu Ampim photo of 4 Egyptians ("Rmt") in tomb KV 11, 1994:
Manu Ampim photo of 3 Egyptians ("Rmt") in tomb KV 11, 1994:
These photos from the tomb itself clearly show that 4 of the black skinned
people in the Ramses III "Table of Nations" scene are in fact
the Egyptians as they saw themselves The ancient artists made their identity
known by placing the text in front of each image as they clearly called
themselves, "Rmt" ("the Egyptians"). Any claims to
the contrary would be absurd.
Despite the irrefutable photographic documentation of the scene, various
Euro-American writers and Egyptologists have made several dishonest and
erroneous claims, namely that:
A) The scene doesn't actually exist!
B) Sethe/Lepsius made an error in showing the black skinned Nubian group
twice, instead of showing the "brown" skinned Egyptian group
in the first position (far left of scene)... [Note: These Eurocentric
writers often cause deliberate confusion by mixing in the Seti I tomb
scenes and making wild claims that the two tomb scenes are "exactly"
alike. See below.]
C) Sethe/Lepsius made an error in positioning the text "Rmt"
(i.e. "the Egyptians") next to the Nubian images, or
D) The 1913 edition published by Sethe, et al. is an inaccurate version,
based on Lepsius' original research conducted in the 1840s.
Each of these claims are shown to be completely false by the original
tomb photographs (figs. 2-3). The tomb photos show that the opponents
of Sethe/Lepsius and Diop have made their erroneous argument by NEVER
showing ALL FOUR of the Egyptians or ALL FOUR images of the Nubians, so
that the entire name (presently horizontally across the scene) of the
groups cannot be seen by the public.
These writers and Egyptologists use the cut-&-paste
photo distortion technique to make sure that the images and
texts cannot be seen in their entire context. In their deceptive presentation
these writers only show 2 images of a group instead of all 4 images, because
this would show too much of the text and would reveal the identity of
both the black skinned Egyptians and the black skinned Nubians. This is
the reason that Eurocentric scholars and writers will never present the
*original photographs* of all four representatives of the groups.
Egyptologist Dr. Frank Yurco is one such person that completely misrepresents
the "Table of Nations" scene in the Ramses III tomb. In a 1996
article on the Ramses III tomb reliefs, Yurco makes a number of false
statements as he conveniently overlooks the actual tomb evidence.
1. Yurco claims that the Sethe/Lepsius edition "is indeed a pastiche
and not at all what actually is on the wall in Ramses III's tomb reliefs.
...Accordingly, all claims based upon the 1913 pastiche...rest upon a
nineteenth to early twentieth century copy that is not correct!"
Yurco misrepresents the work of Sethe/Lepsius and does not explain that
they simply reduced the scene from 16 figures to 4 figures, and that the
image of each group of men and the accompanying texts are condensed but
that the reproduction is otherwise ACCURATE, as the actual tomb photographs
indicate. Yurco conveniently shows only 2 members per group and does not
show ALL FOUR members of the Egyptian or Nubian groups in order to omit
their name. For example, see
Yurco shows only 2 members per group
2. Yurco compounds his error by claiming that the "Ramses III reliefs
are *exactly* like the Sety I wall reliefs." [emphasis added].
This statement is completely false. From Yurco's own photographs of the
two tombs, the Ramses III and Seti I wall reliefs of the four "Table
of Nations" groups are obviously different. In each case the appearance
and attire of the four groups are shown differently in the two tombs.
Not only are there different ethnic groups in the B and D position, but
the Egyptians and Nubians are also portrayed markedly different. In fact,
several of the groups in the Seti I tomb reliefs are not even wearing
shirts! Anyone can compare the images in the two tombs and see that not
only are the Ramses III and Seti I scenes obviously different, but that
Yurco is openly making false statements. Notice the undeniable contrast
between the Seti tomb images (fig. 5-6) and the Ramses III tomb images
Seti I tomb photograph:
Seti I tomb drawing:
Tomb of Ramses III: 3 groups shown by Yurco
With Yurco's own photographs it is clear that there is a very sharp difference
in appearance of each group in the two tombs, yet Yurco boldly makes an
amazing claim and states that the two scenes are "exactly" alike!
3. Yurco falsely claims that in Erik Hornung's "photographs of the
actual walls of Ramses III's tomb are accurate representations of what
Ramesses III had depicted."
The correct order of the four groups of men is shown by Sethe/Lepsius
(1913) and followed by Diop (1981), and this is clearly demonstrated by
the Ramses III tomb photographs. From left to right the correct order
of the groups are A) Rmt B) Aamw C) Nhsyw and D) Tjhnw. See:
Correct order of the images and texts:
ERRORS BY ERIK HORNUNG
Yurco presents multiple distortions of the Ramses III "Table of Nations"
scene and they are largely based upon the multiple errors of Dr. Erik
Hornung. Both Hornung and Yurco misrepresent this scene in three specific
ways. Yurco and Erik Hornung in _The Valley of the Kings (1990)_ plates
107-109 (p. 148) distort the Ramses III scene in the following ways:
Distortion 1: Hornung and Yurco show only "3"
groups of men instead of ALL FOUR groups that are clearly shown on the
tomb walls. (This distortion conveniently omits showing both the Egyptians
AND Nubians in the same set of photographs).
Distortion 2: Hornung and Yurco show only "2"
representatives per group instead of ALL FOUR representatives of each
groups. (This distortion conveniently omits the full name of each group
which is written horizontally).
3: Hornung and Yurco mix up the order of the groups:
||A, B, C, D
||D, A, B (C is
||A, D, B (C is
Compare Yurco's A, D, B order
with Hornung's D, A, B order.
See figure 7 for Hornung's distortion of the group order.
See figure 4 for Yurco's distortion of the group order.
Hornung's distortion of the group order:
Yurco's distortion of the group order:
Figure 2 for text of the scene which identifies the Egyptian group:
Hornung mis-labels the black skinned Group A as "Nubians" eventhough
the text clearly reads Rmt (i.e. "the Kmtjw"
or "the Egyptians"). It is clear that Hornung both distorts
and mislabels the scene and is not a reliable source on the Ramses III
Frank Yurco also misrepresents the Ramses III scene in the same ways as
Hornung. Yurco presents the same 3 distortions, and he mis-labels the
black skinned Group A as "Kushites," despite the textual evidence
to the contrary.
It is obvious from Yurco's citation and by comparing the photographs that
he used Hornung's photos of the Ramses III scene, but he decided to change
the order of the groups. This indicates that Yurco knew exactly what he
was doing as he deliberately re-arranged and further distorted the order
of the scene. If Yurco's presentation is sincere why would there be any
need to re-arrange the photographs and change the order of the groups
as presented by Hornung? Either he was attempting to mislead the readers
or he was attempting to cover up Hornung's error? Either way, Yurco's
actions of re-arranging the photos are very suspicious. Afterall, Yurco
did state that Hornung's "photographs of the actual walls of Ramses
III's tomb are accurate representations." If Yurco really believed
that Hornung's photos are "accurate representations," then why
did he deliberately change the order of the photographs? It seems clear
that Yurco has something to hide.
Yurco not only distorts and misrepresents the Ramses III scene, but he
also erroneously criticized the accurate reproductions of Sethe/Lepsius.
Yurco's essay on the Ramses III wall relief is careless and questionable
"scholarship," as it contains multiple errors and distortions
of the "Table of Nations" scene.
An examination of the actual tomb photographs (figs. 2-3) show that much
of the debate about the Ramses III "Table of Nations" scene,
has more to do with *ideology* than the actual tomb evidence. None of
the Sethe/Lepsius detractors will EVER show *original photographs* of
ALL FOUR images of the Egyptians from the Ramses III tomb itself, because
their argument is not based on the objective photographic evidence, it
is based on their modern racial positions.
I have seen the "Table of Nations" scene in several Valley of
the Kings tombs (KV 8, KV 11, KV 15, KV 17, etc.) and they all have differences
and variations. There is NO absolute fixed standard on how the four groups
are portrayed, and any claims to the contrary are nonsense. The one thing
that is consistent about these scenes is that the *order* does not change:
the Egyptians are always shown as the *first group* on the far left next
to the god Heru (Horus); then the Aamw second; the Nubians are always
the third group from the left; and the Tjhnw are the fourth group from
the left. Nothing else is consistent from tomb to tomb in how these groups
are portrayed. The attire, headdress, and facial features of the four
groups change from tomb to tomb. Beware of anyone who would have us to
falsely believe that all tombs had the same "exact" images and
thus "if you have seen one tomb you have seen them all."
The Ramses III "Table of Nations" scene is indeed rare, but
to claim that it doesn't exist or that Sethe/Lepsius made errors is dishonest.
There are several Euro-American writers and Egyptologists who use the
distraction approach by focusing on images from other tombs (rather than
the KV 11 images themselves), or they use the well known cut-&-paste
technique to deliberately misrepresent the scene. However, there are literally
countless people in the world who have personally viewed the KV 11 "Table
of Nations" images, and I challenge anyone to publish *original photographs*
of ALL FOUR Egyptians and Nubians from the Ramses III tomb, and still
claim that the scene as reproduced by Sethe/Lepsius is an erroneous "pastiche."
With the evidence of photographs #2-3, which undeniably show the Egyptians
as black skinned and dressed identical to the other black Africans, now
Yurco and company will have to think of more creative ways to mislead
the public. Maybe they will now make other unsubstantiated claims and
state that the well-trained ancient Egyptian royal artists had a lapse
in memory, forgot their "real" racial identity, and thus made
a major mistake in the Ramses III tomb!
 Richard Lepsius (Kurt Sethe et al., editor), _Denkmaler aus Aegypten
und Aethiopien, Erganzungsband_ (1913 edition), plate 48.
 Cheikh Anta Diop, _Civilisation ou barbarie_ (original French edition,
1981) / _Civilization or Barbarism_ (English ed., 1991), p. 66 (figure 17).
 Frank Yurco, "Two Tomb-Wall Painted Reliefs of Ramesses III and
Sety I and Ancient Nile Valley Population Diversity," in _Egypt in
Africa_ (1996), ed. by Theodore Celenko.
 Erik Hornung, _The Valley of the Kings: Horizon of Eternity_ (1990),
pp. 147-149 (plates 105, 107-109).