“Valuable Discovery,” circa Early July 1835
“Valuable Discovery of hiden reccords that have been obtained from the ancient buring place of the Egiyptians,” [, Geauga Co., OH, ca. early July 1835]; English in the handwriting of ; hieratic and unknown characters in unidentified handwriting (likely Cowdery); later redaction in the handwriting of ; signature of JS; three pages; Kirtland Egyptian Papers, CHL.Small notebook with a text block consisting of two gatherings, each of which consists of three machine-ruled sheets folded in half to make six leaves, for a total of twenty-four pages. The six sheets from which the notebook was made were probably originally three sheets that were cut in half horizontally. The leaves in the text block measure 6 × 7⅞ inches (15 × 20 cm). Each page contains about seventeen blue lines, now badly faded. Judging from the size of the paper, the color and number of lines, and the spacing between the lines, it appears the same paper used for this notebook may have been used for Copies of Egyptian Characters, circa Summer 1835–A. The two gatherings were sewn together, and a brown wrapper that is slightly larger than the text block was then sewn to the gatherings (though the wrapper is currently not attached to the gatherings). With the wrapper, the notebook measures 6⅛ × 8½ inches (16 × 22 cm).Staining on the cover and on the edges of the text block matches similar staining of other documents related to the Egyptian-language project, indicating close, long-term storage with them. The first three leaves are inscribed on the recto side of each leaf. Each of the recto pages of the notebook was paginated at a later time with the numbers 1 through 3. The handwriting and style of this later pagination match those on other Egyptian-language and Book of Abraham documents, which also points to collective custody and storage. “Valuable Discovery” was presumably included with the Egyptian material identified in various Historian’s Office inventories throughout the nineteenth century, which suggests continuous institutional custody.
This notebook is a companion to Notebook of Copied Egyptian Characters, circa Early July 1835. The first two pages of this notebook contain copies of hieratic characters, which are separated into three groupings. The characters appear to have been copied from several chapters of a nonextant version of the Book of the Dead for Amenhotep. The first page of this notebook contains two columns of hieratic characters, beneath which noted (in English) the location of the hieratic characters in relation to specific illustrations on the now-nonextant papyrus roll. The second page contains a third set of characters without any English description of their placement. The third and final inscribed page contains English text in Cowdery’s handwriting, with a few hieroglyphic characters that are also found on page 2 of the second notebook. This English text is identified in the second notebook as “A Translation” of Egyptian characters.wrote a title on the front cover of this notebook, and JS signed his name on the front cover as well. Williams also wrote his own last name and initials on the back cover of the second notebook, implying he had access to both notebooks—perhaps when he was working with JS and others on the Book of Abraham text.
Ritner, Robert K. The Joseph Smith Egyptian Papyri: A Complete Edition, P. JS 1–4 and the Hypocephalus of Sheshonq. Salt Lake City: Smith-Pettit Foundation, 2011.
Rhodes, Michael D. Books of the Dead Belonging to Tshemmin and Neferirnub: A Translation and Commentary. Studies in the Book of Abraham 4. Provo, UT: Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship, Brigham Young University, 2010.