Here’s another two chapters of my ongoing translation of Nils Mattsson Kiöping’s 1667 travelogue. These chapters end the book’s section on the Red Sea region.
Chapter 25: Egypt, Suakin
…where we arrived on the 25th September. When we came there we were severely questioned over whether we were pirates. We bought water from them and loaded the ships with the finest available mummy (or dead human bodies). We bought this mummy from the Jews. We were not allowed to enter the town, so the Jews came to us. Many Christians visited us, and as I understood it, there would be great numbers of Christians there, and the Catholics would have three monasteries in there. They get this mummy from the Arabian desert or Sea of Sand, out of the sand, who has been smothered in it, and shrivelled up from the sun’s heat like a dried fish.
Chapter 26: Writing in the Near East
The Arabs, Armenians, Medes and Persians all use the same letters for writing, also paper made from cotton which is as smooth as if it had been gone over with a whetstone. Instead of a quill they use a straw or a reed. When their children begin to learn to write they are given (instead of paper, quill and ink) a little thin board, about an ell long, and a little sack or bag of fine sand which they sprinkle thinly on the board. And so they learn to draw the letters with their finger in the sand, until they can make them correctly. Then they get pen and ink.