Re: Strange Maths (was Re: Why not 13 months?)
Wed, 26 Jul 1995 17:08:47 GMT

In article <>, (SrA Tim Miller) writes:
>On 21 Jul 1995 00:20:15 GMT, (Whittet) said:
>W> Wouldn't it be easier for a society which had invented writing to
>W> just send a note instead of a man?
> No. You neglect the fact that there was a transaction of real
>goods taking place here; the Pharoh's agent would be expected to *PAY*
>for the order. Thus, it is easier to send an agent with orders to get
>material meeting certain specifications he carries with him, than to
>rely on the dubious measurment standards of a foreign people who are
>likely to try to cheat you anyway...
> Look at it from an Egyptian's point a view, and sending an envoy
>makes more sense. Considering the Egyptian mania for accuracy in
>measurement, and I think you'd agree that it would make psychological
>sense for them to even send their own workmen to harvest the material
>for themselves.
>Cerebus <>

Absolutely. Moreover, the whole business of "sending a note" is applying
modern thinking to ancient situations. What does it mean "send a note".
Something like "Hey, Tuthmosis, Ramses needs another three shiploads of cedars
for the new Amon temple. Please fax an order to king Hiram in Tyre, and tell
him to make it snappy". Really?!

Said note would have to be hand delivered across great distance, involving
crossing teritories not under your control, some of them outright dangerous.
Therefore you would not send a single messenger, you would send an expedition,
including military personel for protection and slaves to carry the supplies
needed on the road. Once you do it it makes a perfect sense to have the
expedition carry with it the payment (in gold, crafted objects or whatever) and
now you really need a hefty military protection otherwise the stuff you carry
may tempt somebody on the way. So, now that we have a whole trade expedition
on the way, doesn't it make sense to attach to it some craftsmen to make sure
that you get what you pay for (or even, as the previous poster suggested,
harvest the stuff yourself).

"Sending a note" became practical few thousand years later, in the days of the
Roman Empire, when you had a huge territory under a single administration,
governed by a single law and with people speaking a single language. In the
days of the early Egyptian Kingdom it certainly wasn't practical.

Mati Meron | "When you argue with a fool, | chances are he is doing just the same"