Episode 34: Night of the Long Knives

Senuseret I (Part One): The Tale of Sinuhe.

Egypt is in disarray. King Amenemhat I has been murdered in his bed, slain by his own guards.

Hearing the news, a royal soldier and attendant named Sinuhe panics – with Amenemhat dead, his livelihood has disappeared and his connection to Egyptian society severed.

Sinuhe flees to Byblos, in modern Lebanon. Venturing inland, he meets a chieftain of Yam, and is taken into his service. He prospers, and builds a new life.

But Sinuhe has not escaped trouble, and must face a local warlord in single combat, and then deal with the fallout when Senuseret learns where Sinuhe has fled.

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The Tale of Sinuhe, discussed on BBC Radio 4 with Melvyn Bragg. A nice (and very British) discussion of the tale. Enjoy!

Update 2016: A new reading! Barbara Ewing (actress) and Richard M. Parkinson (Professor of Egyptology, Oxford) have produced a new version of Sinuhe’s tale.

The Egyptian (1954): with Portuguese sub-titles (not Italian; my mistake!).

A papyrus copy of The Tale of Sinuhe, written in hieratic

(Source: the Egyptian Museum, Berlin).


A limestone ostraca (shard of pottery or stone) with the Tale of Sinuhe in hieratic.

The journeys of Sinuhe.


Miriam Lichtheimm Ancient Egyptian Literature, 2006.

W.K. Simpson (editor), The Literature of Ancient Egypt, 2003.

Reshafim.org – The Tale of Sinuhe.

Scott Morschauser, “What made Sinuhe run?” Journal of the American Research Center in Egypt 37 (2000).

Hans Goedicke, “Sinuhe’s Duel.” JARCE 21 (1984): 197-201.

Anthony Spalinger, “Orientations on Sinuhe,” Studien zur Altägypischen Kultur 25 (1998).

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