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Book chapter

Историописание без истории: египетское восприятие прошлого и его фиксация

С. 25-37.

The paper treats the general character of ancient Egyptian apprehension and representation of the country’s history. Egyptians were greatly interested in their historical past: they created numerous literary compositions on historical topics; included historical figures into stories with fully invented novelistic plots; preserved and knew well general schemes of Egyptian history (in the form of king-lists which formed a kind of periodization and provided their readers with knowledge of names and succession of the kings) including theoretical concepts of large historical cycles. Nevertheless they have never created a real history (narratives tracing large periods of time or at least a single reign throughout all its course) because of the specific character of their sources: monuments and literary compositions dedicated to various events but irrelevant to the proper place of these events on the timescale on the one hand, and Pharaonic king-lists which gave the dynastic timeline on the whole but did not include any events on the other. Their combination was out of their possibilities or inclinations till the Hellenistic epoch. As the result Egyptian picture of the past was a chain of episodes within rather firm frames of general dynastic scheme (but the latter was also liable to modifications, transpositions and resulting variability), while these episodes themselves synthesized some elements of real history together with folklore models, belletristic inventions and vast contaminations (even more stimulated by the fact that deeds of many kings were similar to each other and they were often namesakes or similar by name).