Listen to Shades

The Teachings of Ptahhotep: The Oldest Book in the World

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The Instruction of Ptah-Hotep and also as The Maxims of Ptahhotep, the work is believed by some scholars to be the oldest book in the world. Authorship is attributed to Ptahhotep, a vizier under King Isesi of the Egyptian Fifth Dynasty (ca. 2414-2375 BC). It is a collection of maxims and advice in the sebayt (teaching) genre on human relations and are provided as instruction for his son. The work survives today in papyrus copies, including the Prisse Papyrus which dates from the Middle Kingdom and is on display at the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris.