5 000 years ago, Imazighen

5 000 years ago, Imazighen

The name of the Libyans is registred in the oldest documents of – Egyptian historie , towards 3.000 before J.C, perhaps even before this date and the Libyans, today Imazighen, have an old history of more than five thousand years

Téhénou, Lybian, Imazighen

The country of the Libyans was called Tehenou among Egyptians. This designation is a little arbitrary, we only know about the T-h-n-w consonants; because the Egyptians did not wrote the vowels (like Touareg today). Only one “Libyan” could be named Teheni and several other Teheniou (in Egyptian: T-h-n-y-w).

We employ the name Libyans to indicate all the Berber or Imazighen of -antiquity which were near -Egypte. There was also a particular tribe: The Libou whose -appellation had been generalized by the Greeks of Cyrénaïque so that we in general speak today about the Libyans without reference to tribe.

It would be more correct calling the Berber ones by their name, namely Amazigh in the singular and Imazighen in the plural, witch mean the “free people” or the “noble ones”, because the name of Barbari relates in the -Antiquity with the people which spoke neither Greek, nor Latin. Also people which had a high civilization, like the Egyptians, Babyloniens or Perses were of Barbari to the eyes of the Romans.

Here is four documents:

The pallet of king Scorpion

The first document mentioning Libya is a pallet fragment of schist from king “Scorpion”, one of the predecessors of king Menés who reigned little before 3.000 before J.C.

The surface is divided into four horizontal bands whose first line is filled with oxen, the second with a row donkeys and the third with sheep. The fourth band is filled with a row of trees and a hieroglyphic group composed of the sign meaning “foreign ground” in which one planted a curved stick, arms of the Libyans. The whole is read Tehenou “ground of the Libyans”. It s the oldest known document to date in Egyptian writing. The name of the king that one can translate NR, “fish” and MR., “chisel” is written in a serekh, ancestor of the cartouche.

The whole represents, after Georg MOLLER, the spoils brought back by king “Scorpion” from a victorious forwarding against the country of Tehenou where there were oxen, donkeys, sheep and trees.

The ivory cylinder of -Hiéraconpolis

The small ivory cylinder bears the name of king Narmer, known by his famous schist pallet preserved at the Museum of Cairo.

Our document coming from -Hiéraconpolis, l-ancian Nekhen, 85 km in the south of Louxor, comprise three lines of bearded prisoners that the king terrace. The group in the middle, a curious mixture of symbolic writing system and hieroglyphic is perfectly readable: “the god Horus is alive. King Narmer, protected by the goddess “Vulture” from -Elkab city conquered the country of Tehenou and kills the prisoners ”

The pallet of king Narmer

This votive pallet in black schist is preserved at the Museum of Cairo, finely worked, it has a 64 cm height. Two lines horizontrales divide the surface of the back into three unequal parts.

All in top we see two heads of the goddess Hathor with horns and ears of cow, goddess of the sky. In the middle, a diagrammatic drawing of the royal palate in which is writen the name of the king. A “silure” is read nar and a “chisel” means sea, which gives Narmer.

The part in the middle shows the king, standing, carrying the crown of High-Egypt, embanking an enemy with a bludgeon, it is a perforated stone ball through which one passed a stick. The short clothing, maintained by only one strap and a belt with frangues of which an animal tail hangs, leaves most of its body naked. Behind him, a servant carries his sandals.

In front of the king, the Horus god in the form of a falcon brings to him prisoners of the country of papyrus: the Delta. All in bottom we see two enemies escaping, designated by two hiéroglyphes difficult to interpret.

The recto of the pallet is divided into four bands. One sees all in top the heads of the Hathor goddess with the palate of the king. Below, the king who carries the red crown of Low Egypt, between two servants, preceded by four men carrying of symbols posed on long stems, in front of 10 enemies whose cutted head is placed between their legs.

In the medium, two panthers whose exaggeratedly long necks intertwines to form in the middle a round hollow where the make-up was ground. All in bottom, a bull, probably the king, destroyed an enemy fortress with blows of horns. This pallet enables us to specify l-importance of the king. Work is of an extreme smoothness, astonishing for the time. The long interlaced necks is of mesopotamic origin.

Libyans of the country of Tehenou

The following document is much more recent. It dates from the reign of king Sahourê, second king of the fifth dynasty (2442-2430 before J.C). A copy of the relief is in the funerary temple d-un another king, Phiops II, from the sixth dynasty (2221-2157 before J-C).

It is a relief carried out carefully in the best tradition of Egyptian art. It includes eight superimposed bands. In top, the Seshat goddess, mistress of writing, note the number of the prisoners and the cattle which the king had brought back of the country of Tehenou.

The remainders of scenery from the first band had to show the king embanking the Libyan head, traditional scene. Its close relations spoke to Sahourê (nonvisible) and implre its leniency. The following bands show us the captured cattle: more than 123 400 oxen, 223 400 asses, 32 413 caprine and 243 688 sheep.

Other Libyan tribes

At side of the Libyans of Tehenou whom we know through Egyptian representations, there was also Temehou, with which they should not be confused. The first representation that we had of this tribe comes from the tomb of king Sethos Ier in the Valley of the Kings (1303-1290 before J-C.) they were fair-haired, had the blue eyes and the clear skin, they carried a long coat, open on the front, and with ostrich feathers in the hair.

Thereafter the names of the tribes multiply. In the Ramesside time we meet Libou or Libyans, Meshwesh or Mâ, Qeheq mentioned under Ramses II and Ramses III as well as Isebeten. This last name corresponds to that of Isebeten, old tribe from Hoggar which was unaware of the metals use and still lived in stone age when the current ancestors of Touareg penetrated in the country. A fraction of Isebeten joined to Dag Ghali, a Targui tribe which still have hunting rights in the Hoggar. Old Isebeten were also hunters.

Then there were Baqal, Qeyqesh, Mehesoun, perhaps Massules of the Romans, and Païat of the copt texts. Hérodote (towards 450 before J-C.) gives us a whole list of Libyan tribes living west -Egypte.

Rise of Lybian in ancient -Egypte

The Libyans enter —Egypte historie like enemies, like invaders. This is perhaps not exact with regard to the province of Fayoum which seems always Libyan before being integrated into the kingdom of -Egypte under Sésostris II (towards 1897-1878 before J.C).

To strike the country of Tehenou was an act whose several kings glorified themselves. Indeed, the Libyans of the small oases could not measure themselves with the Egyptians, by far higher in number. If Sahourê brings back a rich booty from the country of Tehenou, it s- certainly from Fayoum, oasis in which was a lake, today Birkat Qâroun, which still had the name: shet Temeh “lake of Libyans” under the 12th dynasty(HOLSCHER 1937: p. 49).

If the Libyans were often overcome during their first contacts with the Egyptians, their courage had to impress the latter, because one finds them starting from the New Empire like soldiers in the Egyptian army and even as officers. Mes en Mâ “master of the Meshwesh” was the title for high row officer. Thereafter the Libyans reach even the kingdom. Two of the 30 dynasties were of Libyan origin, the 22e and 23e (946-720 before J-C.) and their kings was called Sheshenq, Osorkon and Takeloth (comp. the name of T-K-L-HT in a numidic inscription).

With considering the examined documents, we note that Imazighen or Berber historie begins even with the threshold of Egyptian -historie, towards 3 000 before J.C, and not tardily with the Greeks or the Romans and even less with the Arabs.

In these documents, it s always about the country of Tehenou, Libya in the direction of the Greek historians, witch means the countries located west of -Egypte. The inhabitants was the Teheniou in Egyptian or hatiou-â N Tehenou, “princes of Libye”. This last denomination points out the proper name of the nation, Imazighen which also means the free men or the noble ones.

Marie Boudarène after Werner Vycichl / Translated by Sifaks U Rave

source: kabyles.com

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