Episode 34: Night of the Long Knives

Senuseret I (Part I) and the Flight of Sinuhe.


Egypt is in disarray. King Amenemhat I has been murdered in his bed, slain by his own guards.

Hearing the news, a royal soldier and attendant named Sinuhe panics - with Amenemhat dead, his livelihood has disappeared and his connection to Egyptian society severed.

Sinuhe flees to Byblos, in modern Lebanon. Venturing inland, he meets a chieftain of Yam, and is taken into his service. He prospers, and builds a new life.

But Sinuhe has not escaped trouble, and must face a local warlord in single combat, and then deal with the fallout when Senuseret learns where Sinuhe has fled.

The Tale of Sinuhe, discussed on BBC Radio 4 with Melvyn Bragg. A nice (and very British) discussion of the tale. Enjoy!


The Egyptian [1954]; now available on Youtube (link)

A papyrus version of Sinuhe's tale, now in the Berlin Museum.

A 19th Dynasty ostracon (decorated shard of limestone or pottery) with a segment of the Tale of Sinuhe.

The journeys of Sinuhe (approximate).



Miriam Lichtheim. Ancient Egyptian Literature. Vol. I.

W.K. Simpson. The Literature of Ancient Egypt.


Scott Morschauser. "What made Sinuhe run?" Journal of the American Research Center in Egypt. Vol. 37 (2000): 187-98.

Hans Goedicke. "Sinuhe's Duel." JARCE Vol. 21 (1984): 197-201.

Anthony Spalinger. "Orientations on Sinuhe." Studien zur Altägypischen Kultur. Vol. 25 (1998): 311-39.