3000-Year-old Ancient Egyptian Love Poem

Queen Nefertari and Pharaoh Ramses II at the Queen’s temple at Abu Simbel

Love songs and poems are a part of every culture in the world… Love is a universal language. It does not have any barrier, race, class, and even time! It is Love… simple, overflowing, and boundless… Some of the world’s oldest love poems were found in Egypt written several millenia ago. Amazing how timeless they are! I chose the picture of Pharaoh Ramses II and Queen Nefertari as it is well-known that Ramses II deeply loved her and had a temple built in her honor at Abu Simbel .

For this Valentine Day, enjoy this Love poem from Ancient Egypt, found in Deir el-Medina, dated about 1300 BC. It is part of the Chester Beatty Papyri I. As you read it, savor it slowly, and stop for a moment to ponder as the lover sings of his sweetheart as the fairest of all, her skin as bright as a star, her hair as precious as the lapis lazuli stone, stone highly valued in antiquity, her arms surpassing gold, her legs parading her beauty, and when she steps outside she is as the sun so beautiful she catches everyone’s attention. I have placed two of the most popular translations next to each other. Enjoy!

Sister Without Peer
My one, my soul without peer,

Most beautiful of all!

Rising like the morning star

At the start of happy year.

Shining bright, fair of skin,

Lovely the look of her eyes,

Sweet the speech of her lips,

She has not a word too much.

Upright neck, shining breast,

Hair true lapis lazuli;

Arms surpassing gold,

Fingers like lotus buds.

Heavy thighs, narrow waist,

Her legs parade her beauty;

With graceful steps

she treads the ground,

Captures my heart by her movements.

She causes all men’s necks

To turn about to see her;

Joy has he whom she embraces,

He is like the first of men!

When she steps outside

She seems like the Sun!

“She has no rival,              
  there is no one like her.
She is the fairest of all.

She is like a star goddess arising
…    at the beginning of a new year;
brilliantly white, shining skin;

Such beautiful eyes when she stares,
and sweet lips when she speaks;
she has not one phrase too many.

With a long neck and shining body
her hair of genuine lapis lazuli;
her arm more brilliant than gold;

Her fingers like lotus flowers,
ample behind, tight waist,
her thighs extend her beauty,

Shapely in stride 
 when she steps on the earth.

She has stolen my heart with her embrace,
She has made the neck of every man
turn round at the sight of her.

Whoever embraces her is happy,
he is like the head of lovers,

And she is seen going outside
like That Goddess, the One Goddess.”

The African Origin of Extradition

Ramesses II
Pharaoh Ramesses II

I just learned today that the first ever written extradition agreement – and peace treaty- was written in Egypt centuries ago by Pharaoh Ramesses II (The Great) between the Egyptians and the neighboring Hittites in 1259 BC.  It is the world’s oldest and first extradition treaty.  Mostly known as the Treaty of Kadesh, after the battle of Kadesh fought 16 years earlier, the agreement bound both sides to repatriate criminals and political refugees from the other side.  It was concluded between Egyptian Pharaoh Ramesses II, and Hittite King Hattusili III.  The purpose of the treaty was to establish and maintain peaceful relations between the parties.

The Treaty of Kadesh (the Hittite version) engraved on baked plates and currently housed in Istanbul
The Treaty of Kadesh (the Hittite version) engraved on baked plates and currently housed in Istanbul

In Egypt it was inscribed on the walls of temples in hieroglyphics, while in the Hittite capital of Hattusa (in present day Turkey) it was preserved on baked clay tablets.  Archaeological excavations at the Hittite royal palace uncovered it among the palace’s sizable archives.  The Egyptian version of the peace treaty was engraved on the walls of Pharaoh Ramesses II’s mortuary temple in Thebes.  Translation of the text revealed that this engraving was originally translated from the silver tablet given to Ramesses II, but had since been lost to contemporary historians. The scribes who engraved the Egyptian version of the treaty included descriptions of the figures and seals that were on the tablet that the Hittites delivered.  A complete version of the Hittite text is currently housed within Istanbul‘s Ancient Orient section of its Archaeological Museums.

Think about it, our ancestors the Egyptians were quite ahead of time… they even thought of extradition.  As the likes of Julian Assange or Edward Snowden run around the world in search of a place with no extradition, it is good to know that ancient Egyptians were men of honor, and light who had thought about such a law centuries ago.