Pages 5

In the first place we may distinguish between direct and indirect sources. The former are of a textual and archaeological nature and constitute a reservoir so vast that it is hard for anyone today to obtain a comprehensive picture of it. After one hundred and fifty years of philological studies the old Egyptian texts are by and large accessible. They no longer have to be ‘ deciphered’ but merely translated. This does not mean that every passage can be translated with equal ease or reliability. A thorough account would therefore have to indicate which statements are based on words and sentences whose meaning is absolutely certain and which are not. The difficulties encountered in translation are as a rule not of a graphical or grammatical nature but stem from the fact that the Egyptians had a mode of thinking very different from our own.1