One of the oldest and most valuable treasures of world literature is the Letter to Herkhuf, nomarch of Upper 1 Nome, Ta-Seti, whose capital was Elephantine, now Aswan, in Upper Egypt. It is an official royal missive, the oldest and perhaps the only complete piece of such Egyptian correspondence preserved: saved to us in the form of a stone inscription in the worthy Old Kingdom official's own grave chamber, where it forms part of his autobiography; apparently he was very proud of having received a letter directly from the pharaoh himself — in this case, Pepi II, circa age 8. He writes:

Seal of the King Himself. Second year of His reign, third month of the season Akhet, fifteenth day. Royal decree to the Sole Companion, Lector-Priest, chief of interpreters, Herkhuf:

I have acquainted myself with the words of your letter, which you addressed to the king in the palace to inform him that you travelled in peace to the land of Yam, with the army, which accompanied you. You said in your letter that you were bringing back all sorts of presents, important and beautiful, which Hathor, lady of Imaou, gave for the ka of the king of Upper and Lower Egypt, Neferkare— may he live eternally and forever! You also say in your letter that you will bring back a dwarf for the dances of the God, coming from the land of the dwellers on the horizon and similar to the dwarf which the treasurer of the God, Bawerdjed, brought back from Punt in the time of the king Isesi.

You also say to My Majesty: never before has such a one been brought back by any of those who have visited the land of Yam. It is said that, each year, you accomplish that which your royal Lord wishes and praises. You pass your days and your nights thinking of doing that which your Lord wishes, praises and commands. So My Majesty will act such that the numerous and excellent honours which are yours shall also please the sons of your sons for eternity and that men will say, when they hear what My Majesty has done for you: »is there any parallel to that which was done for the Sole Companion Herkhuf when he came back from the land of Yam, because of the diligence with which he carried out that which his Lord wished, praised and commanded?«.

Therefore leave everything, come back to the north, to the Court, and bring with you the dwarf which you have brought from the land of the horizon-dwellers, alive, in good health and strong so that he may dance for the God and make cheerful and rejoicing the heart of the King of Upper and Lower Egypt, Neferkare— may he live eternally!

When you come with him into the ship, set reliable men about him on both sides of the boat and take care that he does not fall in the water. When he lies down to sleep at night, appoint trustworthy men to sleep beside him in his tent. Inspect him ten times a night! For My Majesty desires to see this dwarf more than all the goods of Sinai and Punt.

If you reach Court and the dwarf is with you, alive, in good health and strong, My Majesty will do great things for you, more important than those which were done for the treasurer of the God, Bawerdjed, in the time of the king Isesi, according to the desire which My Majesty has to see this marvelous dwarf. Orders have been sent to the chief of the new town, Sole Companion and steward of the priests to command that victuals be taken by his care in every warehouse town and in every temple, without exception.