Episode 34: Night of the Long Knives

Senuseret I (Part I): 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 – his livelihood has disappeared and his connection to royal society severed.

Sinuhe flees to Byblos, in modern Lebanon. Venturing inland, he meets a local chieftain 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 the King of Egypt discovers his whereabouts…

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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 (Egyptian Museum, Berlin).


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

The journeys of Sinuhe.

A film based on Nina Waltari’s The Egyptian, which took some influence from Sinuhe’s story.



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).