Chariot to Heaven
© Jaromir Malek 2011
A night visit
The house in which Meryt's parents lived was not much different from the other small dwellings which made up most of the city of Mennufer. It was on the eastern edge of the city, separated from the river by a low-lying plain which was the first thing to disappear under water when the inundation arrived. From the roof of the house one could see boats anchored in Perunufer, the city's main harbour. They came loaded with goods from all over Egypt. Large sailing boats were brought here majestically by northerly winds from the Delta. Others, just as large but propelled swiftly and rhythmically downstream by many oarsmen, came from the cities in Upper Egypt and some from even further south, from the land of Kush. Meryt hoped that one day she would be able to visit all those wonderful places about which she had heard so much. How much she would like to visit the magic city of Swene, the home of the ram-headed god Khnum near the Nile cataract! Or Wese, the city of the god Amun, with its huge temples!
But all this was not much more than day-dreaming. How could she ever hope to go that far from home? Her father, Ptahemwia, worked as an ordinary scribe in the temple of the god Ptah built by King Amenhotep. But the temple was not doing well: its buildings suffered a great deal during the time when Egypt was ruled by Akhenaten, the father of the present king, and it had not yet recovered. Meryt's father did not say much about it, but from an occasional unguarded remark she gathered that King Akhenaten was not very popular in Mennufer. Meryt's father worked in the department which kept records of the temple's income. Much of it should have come from the temple's own land and workshops, but these had been taken away from it during Akhenaten's reign and only a few had been restored back to it by the new king. But today was a special day in the Ptahemwia household: it was a day when beer jars were