Thursday, March 31, 2005

History & Archaelogy -- Khmer & Devanagiri and The Book of the Dead

Some of you may know that I'm a big fan of archaeology and history in general. To this end, me and Cydonian have been discussing some stuff on possible research ideas. And quite recently, I also laid my hands on The Book of the Dead. Details follow! Khmer & Devanagiri The Cydonian and I had a little chat last night and thought up of a few cool areas we could explore. One of these is a study of possible influences on the Khmer language by Devanagiri and other scripts. The Khmer language is originally derived from Brahmi, by the way of the Pallava script and is quite different from the other tonal languages of the region. The influences of Sanskrit and Pali are particularly unique, but understandable given that these two languages were the medium of two of the primary religions in that entire region - Hinduism & Buddhism. The language, cultural and religious influences in terms of not just phonetics and alphabets but also semantics brings up interesting prospects for a study of their ontological origins. Hopefully, we can explore some possibilities there. The Book of the Dead So, I was walking down the aisles of Barnes and Nobles when I noticed this book - "The Egyptian Book of the Dead - (The Papyrus of Ani) by Sir E. A. Wallis Budge." Quite naturally, I had to buy the book, especially considering the fact that I've been trying to improve my knowledge of the hieroglyphics for sometime now. And I'm a fan of Dr. Daniel Jackson, so it would be unfathomable that I would not get such a book.

So far, the book has been an interesting albeit deep read. It is not for the faint of heart, and if you are unfamiliar with how hieroglyphics work, this book will make absolutely no sense to you. However, it is an extremely detailed and very well written piece of work, and has the entire Book fo the Dead, quite nicely transliterated and translated. Very highly recommended for intermediate and upwards, definitely not for dilettante amateurs.
[The above image shows Ani the weighing of the royal scribe’s heart against a feather representing truth - I hope it's a really, really heavy feather that they use for me.] Edit: Yup, like the Cydonian said, this ain't an April 1st post. It's for real. And no, I'm not considering a career in archaeology (atleast, not yet). However, inputs, opinions and ideas are more than welcome!