ikhet_sekhmet: (Default)

These figures appear on the back pillar of a magical healing statue, Turin 3031, which portrayed a man holding a Horus cippus. Only the lower part has survived.

If that's an accurate rendering of "Sekhmet the Great, beloved of Ptah", then her phallus seems to have slid down to her knees. Kákosy compares her to other lioness-headed, ithyphallic figures, from Karnak and Hibis, and also "the statue in Naples inv. 1065 back pillar right side ref V.1.", which alas I seem to have neglected to photocopy.

There are enough examples of this figure - the ithyphallic lioness-headed goddess - to say that it was definitely A Thing, a rare example of androgyny in Egyptian religion. But what did it mean to the ancients? If it's a syncretism between Mut or Sekhmet and a specific male god or gods, then why not name them? Perhaps it was comparable to pantheistic figures - showing that the deity in question had the powers of all the gods, male and female?

ETA: Figures labelled as Sekhmet appear elsewhere on the same statue - which makes sense for a goddess associated with sickiness and healing. The goddess takes various forms: holding two snakes; holding a long double-headed snake ("Sekhmet who subdues the Rebel"); as a lion-headed uraeus, presented with the wedjat by a baboon (presumably a reference to the tale of the Distant Goddess); and as a lion lying on a shrine, wearing the atef crown ("Sekhmet the Great who dwells in the City" (perhaps Thebes)).

Nefertum also makes multiple appearances, firstly to the left of Horus on the cippus, in the form of a lotus with tall plume hung with two pairs of menits. The texts on the cippus which refer to this symbol name "Horus the Saviour", who Kákosy speculates was identified with Nefertem in this case. Kákosy writes that this symbol was "a potent emblem" and says that Nefertem and his lotus often appear in magic; Horus on the papyrus, which appears on the right side of the cippus opposite Neferterm's symbol as its "counterpart", "may have been the symbol of rejuvenation and freshness of health" as well as the union of male and female (many goddesses hold a papyriform sceptre).

There are several other interesting figures, such as Sobek pulling a snake out of his mouth and two cats flanking a sistrum. "Khonsu the Great who came forth from the Nun" appears in the form of a crocodile on a pedestal with a falcon-head and sun-disc emerging from its back.

Kákosy, László. Egyptian Healing Statues in Three Museums in Italy: Turin, Florence, Naples. Ministero per i beni e le attività culturali, Soprintendenza al Museo delle antichità egizie, 1999.
ikhet_sekhmet: (ankh-mi-re)
This chapter by Donald B. Redford discusses the "ever-present struggle between land and sea, fair weather and storm", which "dominat[ed] the mythology of the maritime cities of the eastern Mediterranean", in the form of stories of hero vs monster - tales describing creation and providing "an archetypal rationalization of kingship". The version of the story from northern Syria, with Baal defeating Prince Sea on the coast near Mount Saphon (modern Jebel al-ʾAqraʿ / Kel Dağı), was the most influential: Greek myth placed the battle between Zeus and Typhon in the same area, Athena and Poseidon's rivalry is based on Anat and Yam's, and Marduk's defeat of Tiamat in the Enûma Elish is also drawn from the story.

Variations of the story occur further south, in cities where the worship of the goddess, called Astarte, "seems to outshine" her male consort. ("This may hark back to the Bronze Age when the cult of Asherah, the mother of the gods, as more prominent in the Levant. In the hinterland of the south, indeed, she continued to dominate as the consort of Baʿal and Yahweh.") In Byblos, "the goddess reigned supreme". She was known as "the Mistress of Byblos" - probably Astarte. Byblos also had the tale of the battle with the sea, but he "is worsted, killed and has to be revived by a loyal partner". (The story of Adonis and the Egyptian tale of the Doomed Prince, among others, show traces of this myth.) There were further variations at Sidon and Tyre.

A second storyline involves the "sexually-avaricious Sea who turns his attention to the beautiful goddess, the Baʿal's consort". Derivations include Typhon's pursuit of Aphrodite, the abduction of the Phoenician princess Europa, and Perseus' rescue of the Ethiopian princess Andromeda. Redford drily remarks: "There can be no doubt that the prospect of the innocent, voluptuous beauty ravished by the monster had an irresistable appeal to the collective subconscious of many a community in the Aegean". There are related stories of the goddess Atagatis / Derceto turning into a fish (along with her son) after being thrown or leaping into the water.

At Gaza, Anat, Astarte, Dagon, Reshef, Arsay, and Marnas were worshipped (later as their Greek incarnations, Athena, Aphrodite, Zeus, Apollo, possibly Persephone). "A Ramesside ostracon speaks of a festival of Anat of Gaza for which a 'cover' (? for a shrine?) seems to be one of the requirements". Redford links Plutarch's story of Isis and Osiris with Gaza. As Isis returns from Byblos, bad weather on the River Phaedrus provokes her to dry it up. Next, as Isis inspects Osiris' body at a "deserted spot", a prince of Byblos, Palaestinus, sneakily observes her and is struck dead by Isis' angry look. Plutarch writes: "Some say that... he fell into the sea and is honoured because of the goddess... and that the city founded by the goddess was named after him." Gaza is described with the same Greek word for "deserted spot" in Acts 8:26, and "Palaestinus" is derived from "p3-knʿn", "the town of Canaan".

(Bit more to come from this article; but now it is time for pizza!)

(OK pizza and "Game of Thrones" now complete)

Redford compares the stories from the southern Levant, which feature the water monster, the goddess, and her child, with Egyptian versions, including Astarte and the Sea (the Astarte Papyrus), the Story of the Two Brothers, and Set's hunt for Isis and Horus. "In Egypt, however, the motif has been largely separated from a maritime venue, and is now informed by the denizens and landscape of the Nile valley. The monster now takes shape as a crocodile, or serpent; the hero as ichneumon, falcon or scorpion. Horus defeats the serpent, the creator god subdues the water-monster (crocodile)." So for example, "the great battle... when Re had transformed himself into an ichneumon 46 cubits (long) to fell Apophis in his rage." (That's over 21 m fyi.)

Redford concludes by reminding us that it's impossible to draw a simple "family tree" of these stories, due to "the very general nature of the basic plot, and the mutual awareness and ease of contact enjoyed by eastern Mediterranean communities."
Redford, Donald B.. "The Sea and the Goddess". in Sarah Israelit-Groll (ed). Studies in Egyptology: presented to Miriam Lichtheim. Magness Press, Hebrew University, 1990.
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)


Jul. 8th, 2016 08:59 pm
ikhet_sekhmet: (ankh-mi-re)
You learn something new every day. The four horsemen of the Apocalypse (Revelation 6) are typically named as Death, War, Famine, and Pestilence. However, it turns out that only Death is specifically named in the chapter. War is fairly clearly identified, but Famine and Pestilence are both guesses. The horseman I'm used to seeing called Pestilence is described thusly (KJV):
And I saw, and behold a white horse: and he that sat on him had a bow; and a crown was given unto him: and he went forth conquering, and to conquer.
What struck me at once (so to speak) is that if this is Pestilence, then it's a Pestilence armed with bow and arrow - just as Sekhmet's messengers, the demons that deliver disease at her behest, are her "arrows".

Whether there's any connection between these two things is another matter entirely!

And this is how I found this out. *creeps away shamefully*
ikhet_sekhmet: (ankh-mi-re)
Over in Tumblr, my strange little hobby is trying to identify gods and demons in photos from Egypt. When the name is visible in hieroglyphs, of course, it's a pushover. At other times, I can only make an educated guess from other clues, because the iconography of many deities overlaps: Isis and Hathor; Amun and Khnum; Re and Ra-Horakhty; and the many lioness goddesses can look identical. I'm far less well up on the gods of the Levant, Phoenicia and Syria and Canaan and all that, but the problem of telling them apart seems to be even more pronounced, even for the experts. As Richard D. Barnett writes, "we have lost the keys for interpreting many of the bewildering variety of divine types".

So Barnett only "ventured to identify" one particular form of Phoenician goddess of the Iron Age with Anat (aka 'Anath): "a young girl, dressed in a long Egyptian woman's garment who wears either the great Egyptian triple version of the 'atef crown, called hm hm ('terrible'), or the 'atef crown on horns between two uraeus snakes". She also "wears an Isis-girdle, holds a shield and harpe and sometimes has a long dagger (or daggers) stuck in her girdle at her waist." Barnett describes this goddess as "partially transvestite": not only is she armed, but the hm hm crown is more usually seen on male gods, such as Osiris, Harpocrates, and Ba'al. This is a good match for the Anat of the Ba'al cycle, ready to avenge her brother's death, and representations of Anat from New Kingdom Egypt show her brandishing shield and weapons, as Barnett points out. (I'd add that it matches Papyrus Chester Beatty VII, in which Anat is described as "a woman acting as a warrior, clad as men and girt as women".) However, 'Ashtart (aka Astarte) was similarly depicted in Egypt: "it is clear that she and 'Anath often coalesced".

Barnett's goal is to trace the history of representations of Anat. The Iron Age in Phoenicia, 1200-500 BCE, roughly corresponds with the middle of the New Kingdom in Egypt through to the middle of the Late Period. Barnett writes that "the identification of Isis-Hathor with the Lady of Byblos goes back to the Middle Kingdom" and "the concept of 'Anath and 'Ashtart as war-goddesses is an invention of the Egyptian New Kingdom, and was not known in Phoenicia till the Iron Age." (There may be indications of it as early as the Hyksos period, however.) I guess this is a pretty good indication of the cultural exchange going on between Egypt and the Levant - iconography and gods being traded along with everything else. (Ugarit, however, predates the Iron Age, and 'Anat is pretty bloody warlike in the literature found there!)

It's also possible that 'Anath is represented in a different way - wearing Isis/Hathor's sun-and-horns headdress, flanking a god who could be Ba'al or Reshep, with a goat standing on its hindlegs on his other side. She embraces him (the god, not the goat). Apparently Anat and Hathor were identified with one another in second millennium BCE Syria. Barnett thinks it's more likely this goddess is 'Astarte. But he cautions that "Their roles and representations are in fact still at present very hard to distinguish. The distinction between the representation of the two sister goddesses is something of a mystery, which we are not yet in a position to unravel." Has it been unravelled a bit since 1978? Further investigation is indicated.

Barnett, Richard D. The Earliest Representation of 'Anath. Eretz-Israel 14 1978, pp 28-31.
ikhet_sekhmet: (ankh-mi-re)
  • Falsone, Gioacchino. "Anath or Astarte? A Phoenician Bronze Statuette of the Smiting Goddess". in Religio Phoenicia: acta colloquii Namurcensis habiti diebus 14 et 15 mensis Decembris anni 1984. Namur, Société des études classiques, 1986.

    This article discusses the rare bronze figurines of goddesses in the "smiting god" pose - left foot forward, both arms bent 90°, right one raised, weapons held in both hands (usually lost). The particular statue being discussed also wears the Isis/Hathor horned sundisc, which other Syro-Palestinian goddesses wear (possibly including Anat) but "in a peaceful attitude".

    "Athtart (Ashtart/Astarte) is less often mentioned and more obscure [than Anat], but may have had some similar functions. Some scholars have stressed her war attitude and her roles in hunting and chariotry. Later she becomes more sensual and less warlike. In the Iron Age, in fact, Anath seems to disappear or, at any rate, loses her importance, while Astarte assumes her functions and becomes the chief female deity of the Phoenician pantheon." (p 74)

  • te Velde, Herman. Seth, God of Confusion: a study of his role in Egyptian mythology and religion. 2nd ed. Leiden, E.J. Brill, 1977.
  • Gardiner, Alan H. Hieratic papyri in the British Museum. Third series, Chester Beatty gift. London, British Museum, 1935.
  • Dawson, Warren (1936). Observations on Ch. Beatty Papyri VII, VIII and XII. Journal of Egyptian Archaeology 22, 1936, pp 106–108.

  • In the Contendings of Horus and Set, the goddess Neith suggests that Set be married off to Anat and Astarte, while Horus gets the throne. "However," remarks te Velde, "the gods do not entertain this proposal."

    However, Set is linked sexually with Anat in Papyrus Chester Beatty VII, which possibly tells the story of Set raping (?) Anat while she was bathing, and how "the poison" ("the same Egyptian word was often used for 'seed', 'semen', and both senses are here intended together", remarks Gardiner) went up to his own forehead, making him sick. Anat begs Re to save Set. Re addresses her as "'Anat the divine, she the victorious, a woman acting as a warrior, clad as men and girt as women", and says ("cryptically"): "[Is it not?] a childish punishment (for?) the seed-poison put upon the wife of the god above [ie, Re] that he should copulate with her(?) in fire and open her(?) with a chisel?" In the end Isis arrives in the form of "a Nubian woman" and heals Set (and thus the patient, afflicted by scorpion poison).

    te Velde notes that Set has sex with 'Anat "who 'is dressed like man'", and quotes W.R. Dawson in a footnote: "The method by which Seth took his pleasure of 'Anat is interesting, as it further illustrates his already well-known homosexual tendencies." (p 37) However, both authors seem to be assuming that Anat was bathing fully clothed. ETA: Dawson's point is that Anat was on her hands and knees; otherwise, she would have drowned. But he also concedes that it wasn't anal sex, since "defloration resulted". tl;dr Egyptologists are weird.

    Gardiner: "That 'Anat became the consort of Seth is also implied by the obelisk of Tanis", on which Anat is called "the great cow(?) of Seth". (p 62)

    ikhet_sekhmet: (ankh-mi-re)
    Ancient customer-feedback technology lasts millennia (New Scientist, 2 March 2015). Nanni wants a refund from Ea-nasir for these rubbish copper ingots.

    The Newly Discovered Tablet V of the Epic of Gilgamesh (Ancient History etc blog, 24 September 2015). It revealed more details of Gilgamesh and Enkidu's battle with Humbaba in the Cedar Forest.

    Summer Solstice – Season of Passion and Social Justice (Summer's Path blog, 6 July 2015). Sekhmet, the Ancestral Outraged Mother, and fighting for racial and sexual equality.

    Grave of ‘Griffin Warrior’ at Pylos Could Be a Gateway to Civilizations (NYT, 26 October 2015)

    Farmers Have Been Enjoying The Fruits Of Bee Labor For 9,000 Years (NPR, 11 November 2015)

    Remains Of Captive Carnivores Discovered At Mexican Pyramid (iflscience.com, 19 December 2015)

    3,200-Year-Old Papyrus Contains Astrophysical Information about Variable Star Algol (scinews.com, 23 Decembe 2015): "Ancient Egyptians wrote Calendars of Lucky and Unlucky Days... The best preserved... is the Cairo Calendar dated to 1244 – 1163 BC (Ramesside Period). According to scientists at the University of Helsinki, this papyrus is the oldest preserved historical document of naked eye observations of a variable star, the eclipsing binary star Algol."

    Early Egyptian Queen Revealed in 5,000-Year-Old Hieroglyphs (Live Science, 19 January 2016) "... one inscription the researchers found tells of a queen named Neith-Hotep who ruled Egypt 5,000 years ago as regent to a young pharaoh named Djer."

    Discovery Of Ancient Massacre Suggests War Predated Settlements (NPR, 21 January 2016)

    Ancient Babylonian astronomers used calculus to find Jupiter 1,400 years before Europeans (ABC, 29 January 2016)

    Gobekli Tepe: The World’s First Temple? (Smithsonian, November 2008)

    Rise of human civilization tied to belief in punitive gods (Science News, 10 February 2016)

    Lost art of Aboriginal dendroglyphs revived by modern artist (The World Today, 19 February 2016)

    Is the Moon seen as a crescent (and not a "boat") all over the world? (Ask an Astronomer) Had to include this because of Inanna's "crescent-shaped barge of heaven". :)

    ikhet_sekhmet: (ankh-mi-re)
    Brief notes from Archaeological Perspectives on the Transmission and Transformation of Culture in the Eastern Mediterranean.

    In "Minoan Asherah", Stephanie Budin seeks to explain the form of the Judean Pillar Figure*, goddess figurines holding their breasts and with "a pillar-shaped, free-standing base". She argues that these combine features from Levantine figurines, which hold their breasts, and Cypriot figurines, which wear a "hoop-skirt". The result is an alternative to "the traditional Levantine female divine iconography... The pillar-shaped based covers, hides, or otherwise deletes the most consistently significant attribute of Levantine female iconography: the prominent display of the genitalia." Judean prudishness - or perhaps the figurines represent Asherah, "with a base that would not only emphasise her tree- or pillar-like associations, but would clearly render her distinct from the more erotic Ištars and Aštarôth of the surrounding regions." (Paul Butler has very kindly made his drawings for this chapter available online.)

    In "The worship of Anat and Astarte in Cypriot Iron Age sanctuaries", Anja Ulbrich writes: "The evidence for the worship of Astarte... shows her as a multi-faceted deity, who includes the functions of war- and city-goddess as well as a goddess of female sexuality, love and fertility. Anat is also "multi-faceted", but her primary role in Ugaritic myth is as goddess of war, "whose sexual activity is doubtful and elusive... This connects her strongly with the virgin Greek Athena, with whom, in the inscriptions from Iron Age Cyprus, Anat is invariably equated." A bilingual inscription is dedicated to "Anat, fortress of the living" in Phoenician, and "Athena Soteria Nike" in Greek.

    Ulbrich notes that coins from the Cypriot city of Lapithos show Athena with her Corinthian helmet on one side, and on the other, "a female head en face with a helmet with cow-ears and bovine horns with wings attached to them... this iconography points to prototypes from the Near East, where horned helmets, wings and arms" appear in depictions of war-goddesses (usually identified as Ishtar - the Mesopotamian equivalent of Astarte). This means that Canaanite goddesses with horns, or horned helmets, could be either Anat or Astarte, as could the goddess on these Cypriot coins. (Only Anat is described as having wings in the texts, which can help with her identification.) Both Anat and Astarte had sanctuaries on Cyprus, but it's not known if they were separate sanctuaries or those of a pre-existing goddess. "Astarte-figurines, depicting naked females with prominently rendered breasts and pubis, who partly touch their genitalia" were introduced from Phoenicia and were used as votives.

    Hathor was worshipped in Phoenicia, but, outside Egypt, only on Cyprus were large Hathor-capitals found, made from local limestone - like this one at the Met.

    * Not to be confused with the Pillar Figure of Judea, obvs.
    Clarke, Joanne (ed). Archaeological Perspectives on the Transmission and Transformation of Culture in the Eastern Mediterranean. Council for British Research in the Levant and Oxbow Books, Oxford, 2005.

    ikhet_sekhmet: (ankh-mi-re)
    "See, from the breasts of Anat I have suckled, the big cow of Seth. See, I have lots of words against you! From the big pitcher of Seth I have drunk them; from his jug I have drained them. Listen, samana-demon, listen! The voice of Seth is roaring [… …] listen to his roaring!"

    From number 24 in Ancient Egyptian Magical Texts, translated by J. F. Borghouts, Leiden, Brill, 1978.
    ikhet_sekhmet: (ankh-mi-re)
    My standing Google search for "sekhmet" brought up Hashem's Repudiation of the Egyptian Deities (I also found its academia.org incarnation, "And Upon all the Gods of Egypt I Will Execute Judgment": The Egyptian Deity [Sekhmet] and the Ten Plagues) a fascinating article discussing the Ten Plagues described in Exodus, and suggesting that more than one of them was intended to "repudiate" Sekhmet as a false god. Fascinating not so much for its actual content, but because of the idea that you could match the Plagues to particular Egyptian deities, which I hadn't encountered before: for example, the idea that Ra couldn't penetrate the darkness created by the Jewish God.

    Unfortunately, Ira Friedman's arguments are convoluted. He suggests that the first plague, the Nile turning to blood, was intended as a sort of signal to the Egyptians to turn (ultimately unsuccessfully) to Sekhmet for protection - a riff on the Destruction of Mankind, in which, he says, "... Sekhmet slaughters disloyal Egyptians, and either their blood or the blood-like substance with which a remorseful Ra subdues Sekhmet flows into the Nile." The idea of connecting the field flooded with blood-coloured beer with the bloody Nile is pretty clever, but the polluting of the Nile with either the beer or the actual blood of Ra's enemies isn't mentioned in the myth. What's more, the image of the bloody beer represents not the goddess' wrath, but her pacification.

    In the academia.org paper, Friedman connects Sekhmet to the pestilience that affected domestic animals, but not to the plague of boils. In the article, Friedman skips ahead to the final plague. He says that Sekhmet was known to the Egyptians as "the Destroyer", identifies her (I think?) with "the destroyer" mentioned in Exodus, and so argues that the Egyptians would have been dismayed when God killed their children but prevented Sekhmet from killing the Israelites' children (in revenge, I guess?). tbh, it's an involved argument based on an epithet I'm not sure Sekhmet actually had - Friedman doesn't give us a reference for it. As best I can make out, it doesn't appear in the list of 187 epithets listed in Hoenes' book, nor in the Lexikon. (The closest is "Sḫmt-sbi-nb: Die jeden Feind zerstört"; "Who destroyed every enemy".)

    (More than anything, writing this posting has reminded me that I know far too little about one of the deities that is most personally significant to me - even though I fancy myself as a lay scholar.)

    Hoenes, Sigrid-Eike. Untersuchugen zu Wesen und Kult der Göttin Sachmet. Rydolf Habelt Verlag, Bonn, 1976.
    Leitz, Christian. Lexikon der ägyptischen Götter und Götterbezeichnungen. Dudley, MA, Peeters, 2002-2003.
    ikhet_sekhmet: (ankh-mi-re)
    In a much-annotated and tbh rather muddled posting from 2009, I attempted to describe Sekhmet- of Sahure or Sekhmet-Sahure. This goddess is attested by stelae and inscriptions; her cult lasted from the New Kingdom until at least the Late Period. She is, or was, thought to be a local version of Sekhmet who came into being because of an image of the Fifth Dynasty pharaoh Sahure offering to her in the ruins of his mortuary temple.

    However, Tarek el Awady's 2013 article "Sekhmet-Sahure: New Evidence" argues that Sekhmet-Sahure was not a local form of Sekhmet, and that the whole of Sahure's "temple was revived in the New Kingdom as a healing place... and not as a temple of a new local cult".

    el Awady points out that Sahure's temple at Abusir is only eight kilometers from "the central worship place of Sekhmet-Ptah in Memphis", so there would have been no need for a local version of the goddess. Also, it's doubtful that an image of the king and Sekhmet survived intact until the New Kingdom; the images of gods and royalty had long since been defaced. (Many of the stelae found in the temple were made of stone recycled from the temple.)

    The evidence points to "a small settlement" for "priests-physicians and patients" on the south side of the temple. For example, votive stelae asked Sekhmet-Sahure for "healthy limbs, youthful limbs, sound body, sound mouth, goodly lifespan, breath and pleasure". Stelae were also found for Bastet and Sobek, who, like Sekhmet, are "well attested as healers". Many wedjat and Tawaret amulets were uncovered. Amongst the goddess' epithets was "the eye of Re upon the sun disk", also an epithet of goddesses such as Hathor and Bastet in their roles as healers.

    el Awady suggests that Sahure's own knowledge of medicine is the reason that a cult of Sekhmet and a sort of hospital sprang up in the ruins of his funerary temple (in which Sekhmet, Bastet, and Sobek were all depicted). The pharaoh's chief physician was named Ni-ankh-Sekhmet.

    The article includes a photograph of a limestone stela found in "the upper northern side of Sahure's causeway" which shows a worshipper facing Sekhmet-Sahure and (behind her) Qadesh. Also found at the site were a fragment of a stela to either Reshef or Astarte, and another to Qadesh "beloved of Ptah".

    el Awady, Tarek. "Sekhmet-Sahure: new evidence." in Etudes et Travaux XXVI. Centre D'Archeologie Mediterraneenne de L'Academie Polonaises des Sciences, Varsovie, 2013. Vol 1, pp 57-63.
    Gaber, Amr Aly Aly. "Aspects of the Deification of some Old Kingdom Kings". in Eyma, A.K. and C.J. Bennett (eds). A Delta-Man in Yebu: occasional volume of the Egyptologist's Electronic Forum 1, 2003. pp 12-31.
    ikhet_sekhmet: (ankh-mi-re)
    There are Amduat images over at my Tumblr, dwellerinthelibrary, which focusses on mythology, especially the irresistable visuals of Ancient Egypt. (I can see have a bit of tidying up work to do over there, though!)

    The cosmic drama comes to its climax in the seventh hour, as Apophis tries to stop the sun-boat, preventing the sun-god's rebirth and "repeat[ing] the murder of Osiris". (And this battle takes place every night! The Egyptians lived with a constant threat the universe will come to its end. It's like growing up in the eighties.) Apophis dries up the water, and the barque can no longer be towed; it sails on by magical power, provided by Isis, Set (called "the eldest magician"), and the sun-god, who is protected by the Mehen-serpent, while the goddess Selkis puts Apophis in shackles and her assistants chop him to bits.

    The sun barque still has a long way to go and a lot of work to do before dawn. The middle register of the eighth hour is another long scene of the barque being towed, including "the four rams of Tatenen, the god of the depths of the earth". Again the ram symbolizes the four ba-souls of Re, here identifying him with Tatenen. (Exactly which four gods those four ba-souls represent changes with the source, in typical Egyptian fashion.)

    The upper and lower registers are each divided (by doors again called "knives") into five caverns. The hieroglyph for "cloth" appears repeatedly (often with someone sitting on it), with fresh clothing being provided for the afterlife and as part of the general business of rebirth. Osiris (also protected by the Mehen-serpent) sits in judgment on his foes, who are decapitated (by a cat-eared demon). The sun-god sends the stars "on their way, since their stable orbits are a sign of the continuous order of the cosmos".

    This bit blows my mind. "The texts in the vaults describe how the Ba-souls of these beings respond to the generous promises of the Sungod. Human ears hear their jubilation as cries of animals and sounds of nature, like the humming of bees, banging on metal, the screeching of tomcats, the crying of birds, the roaring of bulls, etc. The Sungod, however, is able to recognize what their distorted voices are shouting."

    The work of renewal continues in the ninth hour, with bread and beer provided to the dead by three "idols" sitting on what look like neb-baskets. The darkness is illuminated by twelve fire-breathing ureai. In the tenth hour ("With Deep Water and High Banks" – the barque is afloat again, at least part of the time), the solar eyes are restored; eight forms of Sekhmet stand before a seated Thoth, who holds the whole eye. Horus rescues the bodies of drowned people from decomposition (as Isis rescued the parts of Osiris' body from the Nile).

    The leftmost figure of the eleventh hour is the "Time Lord" (well, the "Master of Time", with three faces: the sun disc in the middle, and two crowned heads looking left and right (ie backwards and forwards), representing the two Egyptian concepts of time, nḥḥ and dt. Next, Atum repeats the gesture made by Sokar back in the fifth hour, holding (lifting?) the wings of a serpent, with the paired eyes appearing on either side of him. The renewed sun-disc now appears in the prow of the barque; it's preceded by fire-breathing goddesses riding "double serpents", and by twelve gods carrying the Mehen-serpent. Isis and Nephthys, in the form of ureai, carry the red and white crowns.

    Meanwhile, the condemned are punished once more, "at depths not visited by the Sungod… 'completely deep, completely dark, completely infinite'", in pits into which armed goddesses and the serpent "Who Burns Millions" spit fire. ("You have not come into being," declares Horus of the Netherworld, "you are upside down!" Take that!)

    Finally we've reached the twelfth hour, where gods (including the sun-god) and the blessed dead walk through the body of the Mehen-serpent from tail to mouth, emerging rejuvenated. The sun-god has been reborn as Khepri, and Shu lifts him to the horizon. Osiris remains behind in the Duat - shown as a corpse lying against its curved wall. (Both authors remark that the helpful Mehen-serpent points in the direction as the barque, while Apophis points in the opposite direction. "Nevertheless, later Egyptian texts speculate about Apophis having not only an evil, but also a positive, regenerating aspect." – which makes me think of Set's dual role as Osiris' enemy, but Re's ally against Apophis.)

    Hornung has briefly summarized the Amduat, pointing out a few key or interesting highlights, and I've summarized his summary! I'm struck, though, by how much internal logic there is, how much sense it all actually makes (even without the help of Abt's Jungian interpretation, which I've only glanced at). What's also striking is that the Egyptians expended so much thought on the details of what happened in the netherworld – the commands of the creator god were apparently enough to explain goings-on in the realm of the living. Or can we squint and see the complexities of the underworld renewal as a dark reflection of the constant processes of renewal in the natural world?

    Thanks again for the loan, [livejournal.com profile] kylaw!

    Theodor Abt and Erik Hornung. Knowledge for the Afterlife: The Egyptian Amduat – A Quest for Immortality. Living Human Heritage Publications, Zurich, 2003.
    ikhet_sekhmet: (ankh-mi-re)
    Time to write up my notes from this book so I can return it to [livejournal.com profile] kylaw!

    Written to accompany the travelling exhibition "The Quest for Immortality – Treasures of Ancient Egypt", this book takes the unusual approach of juxtaposing Egyptologist Erik Hornung's description of the Amduat with Jungian analyst Theodor Abt's exploration of its meaning for modern, and perhaps ancient, spirituality and psychology. Abt remarks that the sun god's journey through the "nightworld, that is also the world of the deceased... can also be seen as a symbolic representation of an inner psychic process of transformation and renewal." Not surprisingly, this fits well with the Wiccan and Neo-Pagan ideas about the Dying God's trip to the netherworld and back, which takes place not during the night but during a different natural cycle – the seasons of the year.

    The Amduat, or "What is in the Netherworld", first appears in the early New Kingdom – "the first illustrated book in history", as Hornung puts it, "lavishly illustrated throughout" with scenes from the sun's journey through the twelve hours of the night. Part or all of the book appears in various arrangements in the tombs of NK pharaohs. In the late 21st Dynasty, the book appears in the tombs of the Theban priests of Amun, and is written on coffins and papyri rather than in tombs. It appears again in royal tombs of the 22nd and 26th Dynasties, and on royal and non-royal sarcophagi of the 30th Dynasty and the early Ptolemaic period. (There's also short, un-illustrated version – Hornung calls it a "quick guide".)

    The first hall of the tomb of Tuthmosis III includes a catalogue of 741 deities from the Amduat; in total, there are 908 "beings" in the book, including those which are punished and damned. (The Egyptians were not great followers of the principle Non sunt multiplicanda entia sine necessitate.)

    Each of the twelve hours shows the sun-god in his barque, attended by various deities. In the first hour, the sun passes through the (unrepresented) first gate, "Which Swallows All", which is then "'sealed' to prevent any evil forces from entering' (or exiting, I wonder?) this "intermediate realm" between the world of the living and the netherworld proper. The sun god travels in the form of a ba-soul; hence his ram's head. He's accompanied by two forms of the goddess Ma'at (as Abt remarks, it's "encouraging and consoling" that ma'at is present in the netherworld too - or, I wonder, does the creator god bring ma'at with him?) and welcomed joyfully by nine baboons (familiar from the tomb of Tutankhamun). This hour also introduces the twelve goddess of the hours of the night, which Abt calls "aspects of the goddess Hathor" – given names like "She who smashes the brows of her foes", "She who protects her Eye" and "She who rages", they certainly could be – and twelve ureai, whose fiery breath will protect the sun god from his enemies.

    In the second hour (called Wernes), the solar barque is accompanied by four more boats, one of which carries the moon. "Since the moon is meant to replace the sun during the night," says Hornung, "she is not normally present in the netherworld; but by going through phases, disappearing and becoming full again, is an important symbol not only of rejuvenation for the dead but also of the circular regeneration in time. Moreover, she is the left eye of the Sungod, as Hathor [whose symbol is carried in the next boat] is his right eye."

    The "abundant and well-watered" second hour and third hour (called Water of Osiris) are followed by the arid fourth hour (Rosetau), "the land of Sokar, who is upon his sand". Hornung characterises the netherworld falcon-god Sokar as "an aspect of Osiris". Sokar-land is filled with "impenetrable darkness", but if you could see it, it would look remarkably like a video game: there are "serpent monsters, some with several heads, or with legs and wings to emphasize their ability to move around quickly", as well as "a zigzag path" blocked by doors named "knife" and "full of 'fire from the mouth of Isis'". The barque, which has turned into a fire-breathing amphisbaena in order to light the way, has to be towed across the sand. The "night sun", which "has finally become the dark sun", can't wake the dead with his light – but they can hear his voice, the only sound in the darkness. The hour is broken up into short scenes, such as Thoth and Sokar healing the solar eye.

    In the fifth hour, we're still in Sokar-land. At the centre of the top register is Osiris' burial mound, with Khepri emerging from it in scarab form (like every other being in this register, it's helping pull the barque along!). At the centre of the bottom register is the double-headed sphinx god of the earth, Aker; inside Aker is Sokar in a cavern, lifting the wings of a triple-headed "multicoloured serpent" which is the sun god in another form. At the very bottom of the hour is the Lake of Fire – which punishes sinners, but provides cool water for the "blessed dead". (Dunno who the head in the centre of the middle register is, though.)

    At the "utmost depth" of the sixth hour (Arrival That Gives the Right Way), "Re as Ba-soul and Osiris as his corpse" are reunited, "and thus the light of the sun is rekindled". Re is reunited with both of his eyes (shown above Osiris in lion form, behind whom sits Isis-Tait). A baboon-headed Thoth offers himself in ibis form to a goddess who holds the eyes behind her back. The gods Nun and Sobek (with Set-ears?) appear in this watery hour, representing the primeval ocean, "out of which the Sungod has emerged at the beginning of time and is now renewed again." At the right of the middle register can be seen a five-headed snake protecting the sun god's corpse, a scarab on his head.

    In the next exciting installment: the battle with Apophis!

    Theodor Abt and Erik Hornung. Knowledge for the Afterlife: The Egyptian Amduat – A Quest for Immortality. Living Human Heritage Publications, Zurich, 2003.
    ikhet_sekhmet: (ankh-mi-re)
    Wanted to note here Winnie Brant's theory that Akhenaten was transgender - hence his "epicene" portrayal. Brant is not an Egyptologist, so caution is indicated (the vandalism of Amun-Min's phallus in temple portrayals dates to much later, doesn't it?) but some of her ideas are interesting - for example, she suggests that Akhenaten might have turned against Amun after the god failed to change his male body into a female one.

    Brant points out that if Akhenaten wanted to appear in public (or in inscriptions) as a woman, he faced a problem: "If Akhenaten dressed in women's clothes, he would not be pharaoh! If he felt the urge to appear cross-dressed in public, there was only one woman he could pretend to be and still maintain his royal authority: his chief queen, Nefertiti." She suggests that this could explain their resemblance in portraits, as well a kingly portrayal of Nefertiti smiting foreign female prisoners in a male skirt, as well as her sanctuaries at Karnak which had "no counterpart for the king". It's an interesting suggestion, that this symbolic merging of king and queen could have been a way for the pharaoh to express or inhabit his female self.

    Brant, Winnie. "The Gender Heresy of Akhenaten". in in Bullough, Bonnie, Vern L. Bullough, and James Elias (eds). Gender Blending. Prometheus Books, New York, 1997.
    ikhet_sekhmet: (ankh-mi-re)
    New Evidence That Grandmothers Were Crucial for Human Evolution (Smithsonian.com, 2012)

    A misdiagnosis of trauma in Ancient Babylon (mindhacks.com, 2015)

    Police uncover 36 Egyptian artefacts in Valencia (Olive Press, February 2015) - including part of a statue of Sekhmet.

    Busts of the lioness goddess unearthed in Luxor (ahramonline.com, February 2015): "Two black granite busts of the ancient Egyptian lioness goddess Sekhmet un-earthed in Luxor".

    6-foot Sekhmet statue unearthed in Mut temple (Luxor Times, 2013)
    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: (ankh-mi-re)
  • J. Gwyn Griffiths. [review of] Elkab I. Les monuments religieux a I'entrie de l'ouady Hellal by Phillipe Derchain. Journal of Egyptian Archaeology, Vol. 59 (Aug., 1973), pp. 257-259. http://www.jstor.org/stable/3856146

    "In this region the desert landscape confronts huge formations of rock, and Derchain believes that a ritual attested in reliefs and inscriptions is that of welcome to the goddess who returns from Nubia in the manner of Hathor-Tefnut. Thus the central scene in the Ramesside chapel (pl. 33), fragmentary though it is, shows an object (now missing) being offered to Re-Harakhty; it is being presented by Nekhbet, who is followed by Onuris and Thoth. Derchain... argues that the missing object is a wedjat-eye... he suggests also that the scene is unique in representing the return of the 'distant goddess' who is here embodied in Nekhbet." Griffiths agrees that the object is a wedjat-eye, but thinks it, and not Nekhbet, represents the stray Eye of Re.

    "Derchain's notes are always instructive, and among the points of mythological interest are the assimilation of Nephthys and Tefnut (p. 38), an association of Nephthys and Thoth (p. 41), the designation of Cleopatra III as 'strong bull, female Horus' (p. 49) [...] On p. 63 Derchain seems intrigued by a mention of Sothis in a context where Nesert, the uraeus, is identified with Bastet. There is a good deal of evidence for an association of Sothis and Bastet and the eye of Re".

    [See the first comment about that "association between Nephthys and Thoth".]

  • Cauville, Sylvie. Le panthéon d'Edfou à Dendera. BIFAO 88 (1988), p. 7-23

    This includes an illustration of a snake-headed Nephthys and a lion-headed Isis, winged and brandishing ostrich feathers. The inscription calls her "Isis who protects her son with her wings".

    Wish I could get a higher-quality picture than this:

    leontocephale isis

  • Kákosy, László and Ahmed M. Moussa. A Horus Stela with Meret Goddesses. Studien zur Altägyptischen Kultur, Bd. 25 (1998), pp. 143-159. http://www.jstor.org/stable/25152758

    This is about a stela from Thebes, from the first half of the first millennium BCE, held in the Museum of Seized Antiquities in Cairo. Unusually, even though it's got Horus on the crocodiles, it's got a prayer to Amun, traditional enemy of crocs, with some great lines: "Amun is the triumph. The name of Amun is more powerful than millions. More forceful is Amun-Re(?) than every amulet and your own eye." But of course what attracted my attention was this part of the spell: "Your mouths are sealed by Re, your gullets are blocked by Sakhmet. A voice of lamentation (is heard) from the temple of Neith, a loud wailing from the mouth of the Cat. The gods (say): 'what is it, what is it' ... Re, did you not hear the loud sound in the night on that bank of Nedit and the long silence among all the gods and all the goddesses... There is a voice of lamentation in the temple of Neith, a wailing, a wailing (in) the mouth of the Cat because of those (things) which Mag has committed." Mag or Mega is a crocodile, the son of Seth, often the target of spells like this. But who is the Cat?

    ETA: Links!

    I'm reverse-engineering Mesopotamian hit songs

    Maya Blue Paint Recipe Deciphered

    Scholars Race to Recover a Lost Kingdom on the Nile (Kush; June 19, 2007)

    6,000-Year-Old Temple with Possible Sacrificial Altars Discovered (Trypillian culture)

    Ancient 'Egyptian blue' pigment points to new telecommunications, security ink technology

    Unmasking the gods (28 February 2002; "the remains of a ritual costume worn by an Egyptian priest some 2,500 years ago")

    Tattoos: The Ancient and Mysterious History

    Massive 5,000-Year-Old Stone Monument Revealed in Israel

    Mysterious 'Spellbook' From Ancient Egypt Decoded

  • ikhet_sekhmet: (Butterfly hair)
    On the roof of Hibis temple there's what's left of a room which, presumably, depicted the deities of the dual year - the civil (solar) and lunar years combined:
    • thirty-six decans
    • twelve pseudo-decans
    • eleven additional gods to make up the difference in length between the solar year (365 days) and the lunar year (354 days)
    ... for a total of fifty-nine deities. In Hibis Temple Project Volume I (p 185-), Eugene Cruz-Uribe reconstructs the elaborate parade of gods in the room with the help of lists from elsewhere.

    A lioness-headed goddess, perhaps Sekhmet, makes a surprise appearance between Decans 21 and 22 (and Ptah between Decans 25 and 25a), and also at the end of the list. According to Cruz-Uribe, this tells us something about what the list of deities is for.

    As he notes, Sekhmet is invoked for protection at the time of the New Year - she is "frequently found on a variety of small objects, alone or with Ptah, as part of an invocation to an individual wishing them a good year". According to Yoyotte, "Sekhmet appears to personify the perils that must be reckoned with each and every day of the year"; at Dendera she is given a name for each of the thirty days of the month, and the king makes offerings to each one - assuring Re's daily triumph over the forces of chaos. (At the Karnak temple, Yoyotte believes, there would have been a total of 365 Sekhmet statues - one for each day of the year.)

    Now at Dendera, the king invokes the decans' help in appeasing Sekhmet. So this is Cruz-Uribe's interpretation of the elaborate roll call of time gods on the roof at Hibis, and the presence of Sekhmet and Ptah amongst them - to protect against chaos in the New Year rituals held at the change of the civil calendar and the lunar one.

    Cruz-Uribe, Eugene. Hibis temple project, Vol 1: Translations, commentary, discussions and sign list. San Antonio, Texas, Van Siclen Books, 1988.
    Parker, Richard A. The Calendars of Ancient Egypt. Studies in Ancient Oriental Civilization 26. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1950. (Source of the "dual year" concept.)
    Yoyotte, J. Une monumentale litanie de granit. Les Sekhmet d'Aménophis III et la conjuration permanente de la Déesse dangereuse. Bulletin de la Société Française 87-88, 1980.
    ikhet_sekhmet: (Butterfly hair)
    ... or a falcon-headed sphinx? Amongst the divers' finds was a granite falcon head, roughly 70 cm by 70 cm, with ears (which dates it to the seventh century BCE at the earliest). What sort of body it was attached to, though, remains a mystery - lion or croc? The book notes that hieracosphinxes were a New Kingdom innovation, representing pharaoh as Montu. There's a headless sphinx, with the foreparts of a lion and the hindparts of a crocodile, at Amenhotep III's temple. Later, in the fifth century BCE, drawings of this kind of falcon-lion-crocodile sphinx "often placed on a high plinth in the shape of a temple" crop up, a pantheistic figure representing Horus of Sohag, "known everywhere since the Old Kingdom as a redoubtable magician, who cured the sick and annihilated wicked enemies", and who appeared on magic columns, amulets, talismans, and so forth. (pp 206-207)

    (On a personal note, the text on this find was either poorly translated or written in a second language and had some weird printing errors, and I had trouble following it. More research is indicated. If only because I am fond of hybrid creatures.)

    You also get falcon-headed crocs with no lion parts, like the one at the Walters.


    ikhet_sekhmet: (Default)
    Plaything of Sekhmet

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