A robot examining a narrow chamber has found 4500-year-old graffiti written on a wall of the Great Pyramid at Giza. The text describes the oldest known case of insomnia, according to translators working on the project. The writing appears to be the diary of an Egyptian man named Amun who was working on the construction of the pyramid, one of the greatest engineering feats in history. The passage focuses on the problems that kept him up one long-ago night. Here is the text in its entirety:
Ach! Another sleepless night. I might as well jot down my thoughts. My shrink says that can unburden me, but that jackass also thought ostrich-dung soup and an Eye-of-Horus amulet would drive out Pharaoh’s demons and that was a pipedream.
Oh, boy, my stomach is killing me! I knew I shouldn’t have eaten that carrion, but after 12 hours cutting stone and a half-dozen pomegranate wine coolers, it looked so delicious. I won’t make that mistake again.
Who am I kidding? It is Nefertiti who keeps me awake. She, the fount of all wisdom and grace, has skin like a goddess and generous buttocks like the fleshy ibex of Minoan Crete. What can I say? I like generous buttocks and I cannot lie. Our best artists sculpt women in profile for a reason! Sigh. But she barely knows I am alive.
And that jackal Osiris! He too keeps me from sleeping. When he is not hitting on Nefertiti, he is boasting about his stone-setting or ingratiating himself with the Director of Building Tombs. Yesterday morning, after setting a perfect stone, he and Ramses ran toward each other, leapt into the air, and bumped their chests together. Please. Get back with me when the pyramid’s topmost stone fits like a glove. Until then it is premature to over-celebrate. May a holy man with delirium tremens circumcise them both with a slippery sword!
And the Director – he is obviously angling to become VP of Craftsmen. Not that it would be entirely bad for me if that dick got kicked upstairs. I’ve come a long way myself since my days shoveling out the sanitation pits behind the Pyramid of Khafre. Those were some stinky times, let me tell ya. You try tidying up after 30,000 quarry men after “Unlimited Fava Bean Friday” at Lentil Hut.
But I worked hard and paid my dues and pretty soon I landed a sweet gig as stonecutter, which led to my job as pivot man, then gypsum man and finally chief spritzer. What a sweet gig! I spent all day walking backward, watering down the sand to make it easier to drag the pyramid stones. Thanks to my expert spritzing, we moved a two-ton block every three minutes for five years! That got Nefertiti’s attention! And made Osiris’ cheeks burn with envy.
But then I had to get greedy. Had to ask the boss for a raise. Had to get big dreams of buying a ring for Nefertiti and popping the question. It seems only fair that a hardworking man should be able to earn a living wage. But one mention of that idea and I got demoted back to stonecutter, where I spend 14 hours a day cutting four-ton stones into two-ton stones, all for a fancy pyramid so Pharaoh can go off into the afterlife like some kinda bigshot. I guess it’s more important that Pharaoh has enough gold and jewels to last a lifetime. And 200,000 after-lifetimes. Oh, zing! I sure hope nobody reads this wall.
And even worse I got myself kicked out of my club, the Drunkards of Menkaure. Sigh. Sometimes I really miss my fantasy tug-of-war league. And now here I am, a lowly stonecutter, swallowing back my carrion acid reflux and plagued by sleeplessness. It’s going to take forever to work myself back to the top. Especially since I accidentally dropped a slab of stone on my pinky toe, smashing it flatter than the earth we live on. And that butcher the doctor only tied a hedgehog’s penis bone to it, charged me a co-pay of 200 grains of millet and sent me back to work.
Ugh! Will sleep never come? There ought to be a medicine to cure this but it would probably have side effects like sleepwalking into a pit of vipers or sleep-eating my weight in camel cheese. And now the sun is up and off to the stones I go. Amun out.