a high-ranking official and priest who lived at Sais in the latter half of the sixth century BCE. The little that we know of him comes from texts inscribed on his naophorus statue now in the Vatican Museum. There we learn that he was a naval officer in the reigns of the twenty-sixth dynasty rulers Amasis and Psamtik III (569–525 BCE) and was raised to the rank of “Chief Physician and Controller of the Palace” after the Persian king Cambyses conquered Egypt in 525 BCE. His tomb was recently discovered at Abusir, although it remains unclear whether he was ever buried there.

Several intriguing questions surround this man. In one text on the Vatican Museum's statue, Wedjahorresne claims responsibility for creating the royal Egyptian titulary for Cambyses, who was the ruling pharaoh, and states that he was duly promoted to his new official positions as a result. These remarks have led a number of modern scholars to call him a traitor and collaborator. We should not necessarily brand Wedjahorresne with such modern and politically charged terms. There is much evidence that points to such “collaboration” as the norm during the Persian Empire; high-ranking officials in Persian-occupied foreign lands were usually retained in their posts, to promote peace and to preserve the ancient cultures of those lands. By the same standards, the biblical prophets Ezra and Nehemiah, both officials in the Persian Empire, would have to be termed “collaborators” as well. Furthermore, during their rule of Egypt as pharaohs, the Persian kings, for the most part, showed an interest in and respect for the Egyptian religion.

An additional point of interest stems from a fragmentary text, on the statue of another individual, which dates to the beginning of the Second Persian Occupation of Egypt (mid-fourth century BCE). It has been interpreted by several scholars as evidence that Wedjahorresne was revered as a holy man at Memphis 170 years after his death, a development that hardly points to belief in his behavior as treasonous, at least in the eyes of one of his countrymen who lived generations later.

Bibliography

  • Baines, J. “On the Composition and Inscriptions of the Vatican Statue of Udjahorresne.” In Studies in Honor of William Kelly Simpson, edited by P. Der Manuelian. Boston, 1996. Discusses the orientation and meaning of the texts on the Vatican Museum's statue, emphasizing their predominantly religious nature.
  • Holm-Rasmussen, T. “Collaboration in Early Achaemenid Egypt: A New Approach.” In Studies in Ancient History and Numismatics. Aarhus, 1988. Takes issue with the negative portrayal of Wedjahorresne as a collaborator.
  • Lloyd, A. B. “The Inscription of Udjahorresnet. A Collaborator's Testament.” Journal of Egyptian Archeology 68 (1982), 166–180. Contains a full translation and discussion of the texts on the Vatican Museum's statue.
  • Posener, G. La Première Domination Perse en Égypte. Bibliothéque d'Etude 11 (1936), 1–26. Gives hieroglyphic texts, translations, and discussion of the texts of the statue at the Vatican Museum.
  • Verner, M. “La tombe d'Oudjahorresnet et le cimetière Saïto-Perse d'Abousir.” Bulletin de l'Institut Français d'archéologie orientale 89 (1989), 283–290. Preliminary publication of the tomb of Wedjahorresne.

Paul F. O'Rourke