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お願いします (1) What we know about how Egypt got along with its neighbors came to us quite by accident. In 1887 a peasant woman was poking through the ruins of an ancient city we now call Amarna. She was collecting the crumbled remains of mud bricks, which make excellent fertilizer. Digging through the rubble she came across a stash of tablets. The hunks of sun-dried clay looked more like dog biscuits a chicken had pecked than treasure, but the woman collected the unbroken ones on the off chance she could get a few small coins for them. She gathered as many as she could carry and sold them to her neighbor. The neighbor turned around and sold them for a slight profit to a local dealer in antiquities. No one knew what they were, or if they had any value. (2) Rumors of this odd discovery spread. Museum curators in the major European cities were curious. Were these tablets ancient? Were they records of some sort? Or was this just another money-making hoax? The curators sent scouts to Egypt to find out. The scouts had orders to buy as many tablets as they could if they turned out to be genuine. The British Museum sent Budge. (3) E.A. Wallis Budge knew the tablets were in the hands of native dealers, but just who those dealers were would not be easy to find out. Government officials in the Egyptian antiquities department had announced plans to seize the tablets and throw anyone connected to them in jail. The dealers weren't about to give up the tablets for nothing, and they didn't intend to go to prison either. Threats only made them stubborn. What tablets? They didn't know anything about tablets found at Amarna. The Egyptian official in charge, Monsieur Grebaut, just threatened louder. Anyone refusing to co-operate would be tortured. The dealers didn't trust anyone. Budge hoped he could draw them out. Today reputabld museums do not buy looted antiquities, but back in Budge's day that was how things were frequently done.

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(1) エジプトがどのように隣国とつきあっていたかについて、我々が現在知っていることは、全く偶然に我々の知るところとなりました。 1887年に、ある農婦が、我々が現在アマルナと呼ぶ古都の廃墟を棒でつついていました。 彼女は日干しレンガの砕けた残骸を集めていました。それは優れた肥料になるからです。 粗石を掘り進んでいくと、彼女はタブレット(粘土版)の隠し場所であった所に出くわしました。日干しにした粘土のかたまりは宝物と言うよりはむしろ鶏がついばんだ犬用のビスケットのように見えました、しかし、それらと交換に小額のお金を得ることができるかもしれない万に一つの見込みを期待して、その農婦は、砕けていないものを集めました。 彼女は、運べる限りたくさん集めて、それらを彼女の隣人に売りました。 その隣人は、今度は、地元の骨董屋にそれらをわずかな利益で売りました。 誰も、それらが何なのか、あるいは、それらに多少とも値打ちがあるのかどうか知りませんでした。 (2) この奇妙な発見の噂は、広まりました。 主要なヨーロッパの都市の博物館の学芸員が、好奇心を持ちました。 これらのタブレットは古代のものだろうか? それらは、何らかの記録だったのだろうか? あるいは、これもまた、金儲けのための作り話にすぎないのだろうか? 学芸員は、調査するために、偵察者をエジプトに派遣しました。 それらが本物であることがわかれば、出来るだけたくさんのタブレットを買うようにと言う命令を偵察者は受けていました。 大英博物館は、バッジを派遣しました。 (3) E.A.ウォリス・バッジは、そのタブレットが現地の業者の手の中にあるということを知っていましたが、その業者が誰なのかを調べることは、容易ではないだろうとも分かっていました。 エジプトの古代遺物部の役人は、タブレットを押収して、それらに関係がある者は誰でも投獄すると言う計画を発表していました。 業者たちは、ただでタブレットを手放すつもりは毛頭ありませんでした、また、彼らは刑務所にも行くつもりはありませんでした。脅しは、彼らを頑固にするだけでした。 どんなタブレットですか? 彼らは、アマルナで発見されたタブレットについて、何も知りませんでした。 担当しているエジプトの役人のグレバウト氏は、脅しを強めるだけでした。 協力を拒む者は誰でも、拷問されました。 業者は、誰も信用しませんでした。バッジは、彼が彼らをうちとけさせることができることを望みました。 今日、名の知られた博物館は、略奪された骨董品を買いませんが、バッジの頃には、そうしたことがしばしば行われていました。

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    お願いします (8) Budge sipped his coffee without any hurry, knowing Grebaut would be held up at the least until the next day. And that afternoon, a dealer arrived, bringing six clay tablets with him. Were they kadim ("old")? he asked. Or jaded ("new")? Were the tablets genuine? Or were they fake? Budge writes in By Nile and Tigris, "When I examined the tablets I found that the matter was not as simple as it looked. In shape and form, and colour and material, the tablets were unlike any and I had ever seen in London or Paris, and the writing on all of them was of a most unusual character and puzzled me for hours." (9) It was while he was puzzling over the wedge-shaped markings that he was able to make out the words, "to Nimmuriya, king of the land of Egypt." Budge writes, "The opening words of nearly all the tablets proved them to be letters or dispatches, and I felt certain that the tablets were both genuine and of very great historical importance." Budge stuck to his "letter" theory despite arguments from scholars who thought the tablets were fake and arguments from scholars who had misinterpreted the markings.

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    お願いします (4) When Monsier Grebaut's spies reported to him that Budge was in Egypt, he knew it must be about the tablets. He had Budge shadowed. The police reported Budge's every move to Monsieur Grebaut. Budge couldn't step outside his hotel room without being followed. Every antiquities dealer who met with Budge was investigated. When Budge traveled by train, the police climbed aboard, too. Monsieur Grebaut hoped Budge would lead him to the tablets. (5) In Luxor, while negotiating with a local dealer over a papyrus, word reached Budge that warrants for his arrest and the arrest of any dealer seen speaking to him were on their way. When Budge asked how long before the warrants arrived, the messenger explained that Monsieur Grebaut was bringing the warrants himself, traveling by steamer down the Nile. After coffee and more polite questions, the messenger told the whole story. It seems Monsieur Grebaut had not learned his lesson about threats. Single-minded in his quest to get Budge and the tablets, he had ordered the steamer captain to push on to Luxor and pass by the town where the captain's daughter was getting married. Just as they passed the captain's hometown the steamer "accidentally" ran aground on a sandbar. No matter how hard they tried, for some reason no one could free the steamer. It looked as if it wasn't going anywhere, at least until the wedding was over. (6) Frustrated, Monsieur Grebaut scoured the village for a donkey to hire so that he could ride the 12 miles to Luxor and arrest everyone who was mixed up in the whole tablet mess. But, oddly, there was not one donkey to rent anywhere in the village. (7) The messenger told Budge (probably with a sly smile) that the villagers had driven all the donkeys into the fields so none would be available for the unpleasant Monsieur Grebaut.

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