ikhet_sekhmet: (ankh-mi-re)
Egyptian hieroglyphs at Mnamon: Ancient writing systems in the Mediterranean: A critical guide to electronic resources

Ancient Egypt for kids - Egyptian Crowns and Headdresses of Gods

A Very Remote Period Indeed: A blog reviewing recent archaeological publications having to do with Paleolithic archaeology, paleoanthropology, lithic technology, hunter-gatherers and archaeological theory.

Untangling an Accounting Tool and an Ancient Incan Mystery (NYT, 2 January 2016)

Diodorus Siculus describes the Assyrian king Sardanapallus (perhaps Ashurbanipal) as a transvestite / transgender bisexual and blames him for the destruction of the Assyrian Empire - although the Greek historian's account mostly sounds like a pretty ordinary war.

Ancient Egyptian herbal wines (Patrick E. McGovern, PNAS 106(18), 5 May 2009) | Archaeological team prepares 4,000-year-old Hittite meals (Slate, 8 September 2016)

Ancient 'Mad Libs' Papyri Contain Evil Spells of Sex and Subjugation (LiveScience, 20 May 2016)

Scientist debunks nomadic Aboriginal 'myth' (GA, 9 October 2007) | Waking our sleeping Indigenous languages: 'we're in the midst of a resurgence' (GA, 31 August 2016) | Indigenous Australians most ancient civilisation on Earth, DNA study confirms (GA, 21 September 2016) | World-first genome study reveals rich history of Aboriginal Australians (ABC, 22 September 2016) | Indigenous Australians know we're the oldest living culture – it's in our Dreamtime (GA, 22 September 2016)

A Lost European Culture, Pulled From Obscurity (NYT, 30 November 2009). Review of the exhibition The Lost World of Old Europe: the Danube Valley, 5000-3500 B.C.

How human sacrifice helped to enforce social inequality (Aeon, 8 June 2016)

The Exotic Animal Traffickers of Ancient Rome (The Atlantic, 30 March 2016)

Female King Ruled in Canaan, Carving Suggests (National Geographic, 10 April 2009)

Scientists use 'virtual unwrapping' to read ancient biblical scroll reduced to 'lump of charcoal' (GA, 21 September 2016)

Unearthing the origins of East Africa's lost civilization (CNN, 19 October 2015)
ikhet_sekhmet: (ankh-mi-re)
I couldn't remember for the life of me why I'd borrowed this, so I just went through the index looking for interesting stuff. What an appalling thing to do with a book. Anyway:

The Hermopolitan Ogdoad (p 49): "Nun and Naunet, the primordial water; Heh and Hauhet, infinity in its spatial form; Kek and Kauket, darkness; and Amun and Amaunet, the hidden; this last pair being later replaced by Niau and Niaut, who symbolize the void." I wonder if that substitution represents a promotion for Amun to obscure snake in the lake to Creator. "Amaunet received a cult at Thebes from Dynasty 18 on" (p 26)

Re, in an unpublished papyrus at the Turin Museum (p 47): "When I manifested myself, manifestations manifested themselves. I had manifested myself as a manifestation of the existing: I manifested myself and manifestations manifested themselves, for I acted prior to the anterior gods I had created. If I acted priorly among the anterior ones, it was that my name existed prior to theirs, if I created anterior time and the anterior gods, it was to create all that is desirable on this earth." That's a lot of khepers.

"The two gods who were lords of the [Kom Ombo] temple each had his own divine 'family', made up of a mother goddess and a child god: to the triad Sobek-Hathor-Khons corresponded the triad Haroeris-Tasenetnefret ('the Good Sister')-Panebtawy ('the Lord of the Two Lands')... The theological system of Kom Ombo is extremely complex... [its myths] present original doctrines that constitute the specific 'theology' of the temple, in which two themes, one universalist and the other local, are juxtaposed to and combined with one another.' (p 228-9) And naturally the bloody reference is in French: A. Gutbub, Textes fondamentauz de la theéologie de Kom Ombo (Cairo, 1973).

The Nubian deity Aresnuphis had a temple at Philae. (p 229)

"The foreign deities - Reshep, Baal, Anat, Astarte, and Qadesh - all had a human figure that the Egyptians assigned to them. Without doubt, they would have found it difficult to slip into animal or composite form, for these stem from the deep structure of the Egyptian concept of the divine." (p 18-19) But the Canaanite god Haurun was falcon-headed, and then "he was identified totally with the sun god he had become in the New Kingdom: Hamarkhis, the Great Sphinx of Giza." As Haurun-Hamarkhis, he was represented as the sphinx. (p 19) Sopdu was also a foreigner who "kept watch over the east of the land both inside and outside the frontier of Egypt". (p 18) Plus in Ptolemaic times there was "the divine Thracian horseman Heron", worshipped in Faiyum villages "whose populations included a large contingent of... former soldiers settled on land granted to them by the crown." (p 246) Other foreign gods worshipped in Egypt included Bendis (Thracian), Mithra (Persian), and Kybele and Attis. (p 276)

"... the bestiary present in the divine iconography was extremely coherent. It did not include animals that could live in Egypt at a remote point in time (giraffe, rhinoceros, elephant) but left because of climate change well before the period of historical, political, and religious formation, nor did it include those introduced at a much later time, such as the horse. More precisely put, while the horse played a role, it was in direct relation to foreign deities such as Anat and Astarte, who entered the native pantheon in the New Kingdom." (p 17)

Astarte and Reshep were introduced during the NK. "Astarte in particular, with the epithet 'daughter of Ptah', had her own temple at Memphis, the temple of the 'foreign Aphrodite' mentioned by Herodotus.' (p 276)

At Esna, Khnum is called "father of fathers, mother of mothers", and "associated with several goddesses, in particular Neith, the very ancient goddess of Sais, who at Esna was also a creative power and bisexual. Heqa, their divine child, received a cult in the mammisi... At Esna, the theme of creation is quite important and includes the 'raising of the sky', the modelling of humanity by the potter god, and the formation of the world by means of the 'seven creative words' of Neith." (p 227) Once again the reference (Sauneron) is en Fraçais. Zut!

Françoise Dunand and Christiane Zivie-Coche. Gods and Men in Egypt: 3000 BCE to 395 CE. Cornell University Press, Ithaca, 2004.
ikhet_sekhmet: (Default)
"Sometimes it is masculinity in the sense of battle prowess which is desired by the person who invests himself/herself in the symbols, as for example Paghat (ANET, p. 155), who in order to secure for herself masculine battle prowess to slay her brother's murderer dons masculine attire and even stains her skin with red murex, yet for purposes of disguising her intent she then puts on women's clothes over the men's clothes!"

- Hoffner Jr, Harry A. Symbols for Masculinity and Feminity: Their Use in Ancient near Eastern Sympathetic Magic Rituals. Journal of Biblical Literature 85(3) September 1966, pp. 326-334.
ikhet_sekhmet: (Endymion)
A few notes from this chapter of Religion in the Ancient World:

  • "It is also striking that Ba'al and Osiris, the dying fertility gods, each have two goddesses caring for them: Isis and Nephthys for Osiris, 'Ashtart and 'Anat for Baal." (Hmm, adds Kate: in the "Contendings of Horus and Seth", Seth gets 'Ashtart and 'Anat as wives. Ishtar and Anat do seem like a natural pairing - or even a redoubling of the same goddess? While I'm thinking out loud, is there any connection between the Sumerian ninan "lady of heaven" and the Egyptian nbt pt "mistress of heaven"?)

  • And in one myth, "El apparently mates with both Athirat and 'Anat". The dirty old man. Colless suggests that the lyre-playing figure at the right of this drawing of "Yahweh and his Asherah" may be 'Anat, as she plays a lyre in the Ba'al myth. ("A tenuous little link", to quote Kenny Everett.)

  • There's a male Ugaritic god, 'Ashtar, whose name is cognate with Ishtar, but is not the same deity as 'Ashtart. Ishtar appears as Ba'al's consort in a myth "only preserved in a tattered state, in a Hittite version."

  • "Deities are like words: some of them maintain their original meaning throughout the ages, but some of them shift their ground and acquire new functions over time."

  • Colless debates whether 'Anat or 'Ashtart was the Biblical "Queen of Heaven", mentioning that 'Anat-Bet'el and 'Anat-Yahu were worshipped at Elephantine alongside Yahweh.

  • Meanwhile in the Sinai peninsula, where the Egyptians got their turquoise, proto-alphabetic inscriptions use the title Ba'alat ("goddess") and name three goddesses: Elat, Tanit, and 'Anat. "Tanit has been variously identified as 'Ashtart, 'Anat, or Ashirat, but she may be a completely separate personage."
Colless, Brian. "Ba'al's Relations with Canaanite Goddesses." in Matthew Dillon (ed). Religion in the Ancient World. Amsterdam : A.M. Hakkert, 1996.


Jul. 10th, 2010 10:01 pm
ikhet_sekhmet: (Default)
The Coffin of The She-Cat of Crown Prince Thutmose ("Thutmose V"). She's wearing a little scarf! Squee!

Computer program deciphers a dead language that mystified linguists: "The lost language of Ugaritic was last spoken 3,500 years ago. It survives on just a few tablets, and linguists could only translate it with years of hard work and plenty of luck. A computer deciphered it in hours." | "Lost" Languages to Be Resurrected by Computers?

Unearthed: Matching figurines from unconnected prehistoric regions: "A collection of tiny, broken ceramic feet, ornate goggle-eyed statues and the famed 'Grimes Grave Goddess' are among 100 prehistoric figurines going on show at the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts next week to enable a comparison between a matching (but totally unconnected) tradition of human model making in Japan and Europe thousands of years ago."

And finally, the Web comic XKCD pinpoints my eccentric research method. :)
ikhet_sekhmet: (Butterfly hair)
A large number of recorded public lectures given at the California Museum of Ancient Art are available on CD. I hugely enjoyed a 1987 talk by Dr William Fulco titled "The Love Goddess in Western Semitic Tradition" - here are a few notes from that.

As an example of cultural exchange between Hurrian and Vedic culture, Fulco compares the depiction of Kali with a description of a victorious Anat, who wears a necklace of heads and a girdle of hands. (ETA: A comparison also made by Marvin H. Pope.)

Fascinatingly, Fulco suggests that goddesses such as Anat and Athirat may be the active versions of the things their corresponding gods represent; for example, where Baal is the war, Anat is the actual fighting. (I think there's got to be a comparison here with the Hindu idea of Shakti.) He connects the ambiguous sexuality which crops up throughout ANE religion. Later in the talk, discussing the significance of names, he remarks that Anat and other goddesses are sometimes called the "Name of Baal" - that is, "an external manifestation of [Baal's] personality"; "that reality visible and manifested to the outside - that you can interrelate with". Fulco also relates this to the feminine spirit of God in the Bible.

Regarding the question of whether Asherah was the consort of Yahweh, Fulco suggests that she was seen that way in popular rather than "normative" worship (and hence all the condemnations of the practice in the Bible, which "give you a picture of what's actually going on"!)

Regarding the relationship ANE religions and Christianity, Fulco rather wonderfully says: "If I may put it in a faith context, if the Incarnation means anything, it means coming in the language people understand... Near Eastern mythology, mythological language, forms of worship and so on were things people understood, and I think that's what the Incarnation means, it means to use those, change those... I feel quite comfortable with it. It gives me a sense of historical context."

Pope, Marvin H. "The Goddesses Anat and Kali," summary, Vol. II, 51, in
Proceedings of the 26th International Congress of Orientalists. New Delhi, 1968.
ikhet_sekhmet: (Default)
These goddesses are connected to each other, and to Inanna/Ishtar, in ways I'm not clear about. Are they essentially the same goddess, appearing in different cultures? Have they borrowed characteristics from one another? I intend to investigate!

In Stories from Ancient Canaan, Michael Coogan notes that while Anat, Astarte, and Asherah appear regularly in the Ugarit myths, none of them have major roles. Asherah is consort of the supreme god, El. The warlike Anat is Baal's sister and his wife; she has a ferocious temper. Like the Hindu goddess Kali, she wears human heads as a necklace and human hands on a belt.

In the myth of Aqhat, Anat demands the king give her his bow and arrow, made by the god of crafts; when he refuses and insults her, her vengeance costs Aqhat his life. The parallel with Ishtar's spurned proposal to Gilgamesh is striking.

Before wreaking her revenge, Anat turns to the supreme god, El, perhaps for help or permission (part of the story is missing); presumably he refuses her, because she threatens him, and he lets her go. Again there's a parallel, with Ishtar threatening to wreak havoc if the supreme god Anu doesn't let her take revenge on Gilgamesh; and with Inanna and Ebih, in which Inanna seeks Anu's permission to take revenge on the uppity mountain.

Coogan, Michael David. Stories from Ancient Canaan. Westminster Press, Philadelphia, 1978.

Sandars, N.K. The Epic of Gilgamesh. Penguin, London, 1972.


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