ikhet_sekhmet: (Default)
(One of these days I would like to go back through all these jillions of links and organise them by subject. "'I would like'? I would like a trip to Europe!" - Daffy Duck)

Anat: Autonomous Goddess Of Ugarit. Presented by Ellie Wilson at the Society of Biblical Literature's annual meeting, November 1993.

Artefacts found in Pilbara cave show Aboriginal life in northern WA dates back 50,000 years (ABC, 19 May 2017) | The extraordinary science behind an Aboriginal history discovery 65,000 years in the making (SMH, 20 July 2017). "Artefacts found in Kakadu national park show that Aboriginal people have lived in Australia for a minimum of 65,000 years, 18,000 years longer than the previous estimate."

The world's oldest observatory? How Aboriginal astronomy provides clues to ancient life (Lateline, 13 October 2016) | How astronomy paved the way for terra nullius, and helped to get rid of it too (phys.org, 14 October 2016)

Ancient Humans Liked Getting Tipsy, Too (Smithsonian.com, 10 July 2017) | What wine did Jesus drink at the Last Supper? (phys.org, 17 April 2017) | Barley dormancy mutation suggests beer motivated early farmers (phys.org, 21 November 2016) | Revealing the science of Aboriginal fermentation (phys.org, 24 October 2016)

Late last year the Brooklyn Museum's Tumblr posted about the use of "Visible-Induced Luminescence imaging to map the presence of Egyptian blue". Meanwhile, the earliest known use of Egyptian blue has been identified in a bowl from the time of King Scorpion.

Archaeologists discover earliest monumental Egyptian hieroglyphs (phys.org, 26 June 2017)

DNA from ancient Egyptian mummies reveals their ancestry (Washington Post, 30 May 2017)

The origin of the tabby coat and other cat mysteries revealed (ABC Science, 20 June 2017) | No, Those Aren't Male Lions Mating. One Is Likely a Female. (National Geographic, 18 April 2016)

The Amazon Women: Is There Any Truth Behind the Myth? (Smithsonian Magazine, April 2014) | The kingdom of women: the society where a man is never the boss (The Guardian, 1 April 2017) The Mosuo of Tibet.
What ancient Egypt tells us about a world without religious conflict (The Guardian, 30 October 2015) The Faith After the Pharaohs exhibition at the British Museum.

Information-age math finds code in ancient Scottish symbols (Scientific American, 31 March 2010)

How we discovered that people have been cooking plants in pots for 10,000 years (phys.org, 24 January 2017)

Scientists find advanced geometry no secret to prehistoric architects in US Southwest (phys.org, 23 January 2017)

Why we'll always be obsessed with – and afraid of – monsters (Medical Xpress, 31 October 2016)

Inscription About Ancient 'Monkey Colony' Survives [Daesh] Attacks (LiveScience, 9 December 2016)

Women Are the Backbone of the Standing Rock Movement (Time, 29 November 2017)

This is your brain on God: Spiritual experiences activate brain reward circuits (Medical Xpress, 29 November 2016)

Pristine pressed flower among 'jaw-dropping' bronze age finds (The Guardian, 30 September 2016)

“Gay” Caveman Wasn’t Gay… (En|Gender, 7 April 2011) "... she was trans." Or third gender. Or...

Unearthing the origins of East Africa's lost civilization (CNN, 19 October 2015). Kilwa in Tanzania, part of the Azania trading society.

Gender and the Generic in Divine Acclamations (a series of Tweets from Edward Butler, 28 November 2015).

Thesaurus Linguae Aegyptiae


Jul. 26th, 2017 07:01 pm
ikhet_sekhmet: (Default)
Two interesting snippets, from:

van Wyk, Susandra J. The concealed crime of the naditu priestess in §110 of the Laws of Hammurabi. Journal for Semitics 24/1 (2015) 109-145.

"I translate MÍ.É.GAL as 'consort' or 'wife' rather than 'queen' because it is clear that the Assyrians themselves conceived of a 'queen' (šarratu) as either a goddess, or a woman (always foreign) who actually ruled, such as the queen of the Arabs mentioned in Esarhaddon's annals."

"Another emblem associated with MÍ.É.GAL as the scorpion, a motif that has been found in both official and private contexts on numerous items from the women's quarters of various palaces. The scorpion symbol is associated with Išhara (the goddess representing Ištar in her married state) and is usually found only on items related to women."
In pursuit of Išḫara the married Ishtar, I followed van Wyk's reference about the scorpions to three articles:

Herbordt, Susan. "Neo-Assyrian Royal and Administrative Seals and Their Use." in H. Waetzoldt and H. Hauptmann (eds), Assyrien im Wandel der Zeiten, 39 RAI Heidelberg July 1992, HSAO 6 (1997) 279-283.

"... there is good reason to assume the scorpion to be a symbol associated with the administration of the queen -- at least in the reign of Sennacherib. A symbolic meaning of the scorpion in this context is not clear. Since late Kassite times, it was used as a symbol for the goddess Išḫara, who shows a variety of characteristics from being a goddess of love, mother goddess and goddess of extispicy to being war goddess."
(Herbordt's references are in German, alas.)

Stol, Marten and F. A. M. Wiggermann. Birth in Babylonia and the Bible: Its Mediterranean Setting. Styx, Groningen, 2000.

This book quotes a passage from Atrahasis:

"At the moment of (their) marriage,
let Ištar rejoice in the House of ....
Nine days let there be made merry,
let them name Ištar 'Išḫara'."

And remarks: "We know from other texts that Ištar, the goddess of love, in marriage has the name Išḫara. Incantations show that she was a married goddess under this name: 'What Ištar does for Dumuzi, what Nananja does for her mate, what Išḫara does for her husband.' In a number of 'bed-scenes' we also see a scorpion; we assume that in these scenes the couple thus indicated is to be married. Her temple has the name 'House of the womb (šassuru)."

(Curse my inability to read German, or I'd be able to further pursue the references...)
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You read something over breakfast thinking, this is short, it'll only take a minute, and before you know it you're embroiled.

This short article from the year 1900 suggests that Ishtar was originally an androgynous deity before being "split" into male and female aspects. Similarly, Barton argues, Enlil and Ninlil were originally one and the same god. This intriguing idea is based on three pieces of evidence: one, in South Arabia, the goddess Athtar became the god Athtar, the deity's female aspect becoming a separate goddess, Shamsu; an inscription which Barton argues should read in part "the king of countries, the god Ishtar, the lady, the goddess Ishtar"; and an incantation in which both Enlil and Ninlil are called "mother-father". Barton also mentions Phoenician inscriptions referring to "Ashtart of the name of Baal" and "Tanit of the face of Baal".

This is appealing, but I don't quite know what to do with it. I can't find any citations of this article (which makes me wonder how I found it in the first place); apparently no-one else has built on this idea (although Barton discussed it further in his 1902 book A Sketch of Semitic Origins: Social and Religious). Connections suggest themselves: the primordial Aztec creator deity Ometeotl, both male and female, who can also appear as a male god, Ometecuhtli, and a goddess, Omecihuatl. OTOH, the Egyptian god Atum seems to have started off male and acquired female characteristics as a necessary part of being a creator.

There's also a mention of a Phoenician idol of a bearded goddess (Tanit, but with Baal's face?). I tried randomly searching for "bearded goddess" and came up with various examples, including a bearded Isis (which I will ETA), and the bearded Aphrodite / Aphroditus / Hermaphroditus, and his/her festival in which men and women swapped clothes - shades of the transvestism apparently involved in Inanna's rituals. Scholars have argued over whether Anat wore a beard. (Which I will also ETA because I can't lay hands on the photocopies right now.)

ETA: After much faffing about I found a section on Anat's beard in Neal H. Walls' book The Goddess Anat in Ugaritic Myth. There's a description of the god El mourning the slain Baal in a series of ritual actions, which includes shaving his beard and whiskers. Then Anat goes through the same series of steps. IIUC what El does, literally, is to "cut his cheeks and chin", where the word for "chin" is also used to mean "beard". So in Anat's case, she "gashed her cheeks and chin". Walls remarks: "the comparative evidence for bearded goddesses is dubious". I shall pursue this question. (Does Sekhmet's ruff count?)

ETA: Here's bearded Isis (click for larger size):

This is a plate from Symbolik und Mythologie der alten Völker: besonders der Griechen (Symbolism and mythology of the Ancient Peoples, Especially the Greeks) by Friedrich Creuzer. This in turn reproduces an illustration from Nachträge zu meinem Werke betitelt "Reise zum Tempel des Jupiter Ammon in der libyschen Wüste" (Supplements to my work titled "Journey to the Temple of Jupiter Ammon in the Libyan Desert) (whew!) by Heinrich Karl Minutoli. Here, alas, the trail runs out: Minutoli tells us that this is a relief in the Palazzo Grimani in Venice, and that is Graeco-Roman, but gives no further information.
Barton, George A. An Androgynous Babylonian Divinity. Journal of the American Oriental Society 21, 1900, pp. 185-187
Walls, Neal H. The Goddess Anat in Ugaritic Myth. Scholars Press, Atlanta GA, 1992.
ikhet_sekhmet: (ankh-mi-re)
Alexander Pruss' chapter "The Use of Nude Female Figurines" discusses terracotta figures from Mesopotamia, Syria, and Palestine, including those weird-looking ones with all the holes in the head for attaching hair and earrings, and the later, more naturalistic ones which sort of wave their boobs at you. These and similar objects have long been interpreted as "fertility figurines". Pruss argues that "any link to childbirth and motherhood is completely lacking with these figurines". None are pregnant; none hold a child; the hands are not pressing milk from the breasts, but supporting them, presenting them.

"Generally, there is no reason to believe that the ancient inhabitants of Mesopotamia and Syria could not separate the fields of eroticism and human procreation," writes Pruss. In fact, in the ANE, fertility was more closely linked with male deities, such as Dumuzi. By contrast, the patroness of sexual desire, Inanna/Ishtar, was childless ("except for some ephemeral traditions").

That said, questions remain about who used these sexually aggressive little figures, and exactly what for (household rituals? votive offerings?).

Pruss, Alexander. "The Use of Nude Female Figurines". in S. Parpola and R. M. Whiting (eds). Sex and gender in the ancient Near East: proceedings of the 47th Rencontre Assyriologique Internationale, Helsinki, July 2-6, 2001. Helsinki : Neo-Assyrian Text Corpus Project, 2002. pp 537-545.
ikhet_sekhmet: (ankh-mi-re)
More about Emesal, the Sumerian "women's language" - or was it? Gordon Whittaker argues that Emesal should be understood as a literary device, not as the genderlect used by Sumerian women (in contrast with with the differences between male and female speech in other languages, including Japanese). He points out that although Emesal is used for the speech of goddesses in certain types of Sumerian compositions, "the evidence for mortal women and girls actually using Emesal still needs to be presented." Enheduanna, the "greatest known author of Sumerian cultic literature, did not write in Emesal... even when she is writing in the first person and identifying herself by name."

Whittaker also discusses the evidence for the gala-priest as eunuch - concluding "more evidence is needed". The gala uses Emesal when singing laments and so forth; some Sumerologists have suggested that he was a castrato. Whittaker counters: "no direct, or even reasonably cogent evidence has ever been proferred that the genitals of the gala suffered the fate of the pre-modern choirboy." He also notes the evidence of galas having children and passing on their profession to their sons (although they could have been adopted?) and a reference to a gala as puršum bitim "patriarch". (In Sumerian proverbs, the gala speaks Emesal "in everyday life", but this could be stereotyping and/or satire.)

The more I read about this stuff, the less certain everything becomes.

Whittaker, Gordon. "Linguistic Anthropology and the Study of Emesal as (a) Women's Language". in S. Parpola and R. M. Whiting (eds). Sex and gender in the ancient Near East: proceedings of the 47th Rencontre Assyriologique Internationale, Helsinki, July 2-6, 2001. Helsinki, Neo-Assyrian Text Corpus Project, 2002.
ikhet_sekhmet: (ankh-mi-re)
Idly eyeing an article on Hittite birth rituals, I read that the midwife would give a newborn boy "the goods of a male child", and a newborn girl "the goods of a female child"; similarly, in a Sumerian ritual, the midwife gives a male child a mace and axe and a female child a spindle. The Hittites and the Mesopotamians were neighbours, but Aztec midwives, hugely separated in time and space, did exactly the same thing. I wonder how many cultures throughout history have engaged in this gender enforcement (and how the midwives handled intersex births, of which they must have seen very many).

Pringle, Jackie. "Hittite Birth Rituals". in Averail Cameron and Amélie Kuhrt (eds). Images of Women in Antiquity. Croom Helm, London and Sydney, 1983.
ikhet_sekhmet: (ankh-mi-re)
Some choice Inanna/Ishtar bits from an article on the Sumerian ball game (as played by Gilgamesh in his Epic):

"The hymnic passage of the bilingual Exaltation of Ištar states: 'O Inana/Ištar, make fight and combat ebb and flow like a skipping rope (ešemen2/keppû)! O lady of battle, make the fray clash together like pukku (the Akkadian version adds: and mekkû)" (George, 2003:898). The idea is that for the goddess of war, the fierce battle is enjoyable like a dance or game." (p 285) The pukku and mekkû, which Gilgamesh makes from the roots of the ḫuluppu tree which Inanna plants and waters, are a ball and mallet, which parallel the ring and rod which are the symbols of royalty.

"The cultic lament Uruammairrabi contains a similar passage about the goddess, in which she boasts: 'I send heads rolling like heavy balls (pukku); I play with my skipping rope whose cord is multi-coloured'." P. Lapinkivi argues that the keppû is not a skipping rope, but a "whip(ping) top". In either case, "its associations to pukku and the cult of the goddess are well attested." (p 286)

Annus, Amar and Mari Sarv. "The Ball Game Motif in the Gilgamesh Tradition and International Folklore". in Robert Rollinger and Erik van Dongen (eds). Mesopotamia in the ancient world: impact, continuities, parallels: proceedings of the Seventh Symposium of the Melammu Project held in Obergurgl, Austria, November 4-8, 2013. Münster, Ugarit-Verlag, 2015.
George, A.R. The Babylonian Gilgamesh Epic. Introduction, Critical Edition and Cuneiform Texts. Oxford, 2013.
Lapinkivi, P. The Neo-Assyrian Myth of Ištar's Descent and Resurrection. States Archives of Assyria Cuneiform Texts 6. Publications of the Foundation for Finnish Assyriological Research 1. Helsinki, 2010.
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)
The idea that the Sumerian term kar.kid (and its Akkadian equivalent ḫarimtu) consistently means "sex worker" has been put under the microscope. A proper analysis of this may have to wait until I can copy Julia Assante's article on the subject without cutting off half the pages this time. In the meantime, a short excerpt from a recent paper:

"In the list the word nidnu, although seemingly without a context, can be thought to denote (although not necessarily) 'wages' of a prostitute. After all, the prostitute is termed in Sumerian as MUNUSKAR-KID. As Sallaberger brings to my attention, the early writing of KAR-KID as KAR-KÌD/KÈ(AK) points to the etymology of the term as 'a worker at the quay/market place', although a less literal meaning can be thought of, such as 'a (woman), engaged in trade', or what in modern parlance would be called (offensively) as 'a
working girl'."

(Let us put aside the fact that "prostitute" is also an offensive term.) Were there no women who worked in the marketplace or at the quays other than sex workers? The author, Yoram Cohen, has considered Assante's argument that kar.kid/ḫarimtu has been misinterpeted, but considers it to have been "safely dismissed". Yet again and again there are texts he quotes in which "woman worker" would make just as much sense as "sex worker" where the word kar.kid or ḫarimtu appears. For example, Cohen writes:

"Under the ideal conditions of the land during Assurbanipal's reign, these workers will receive for their commodities by far more than the going rate — they will be paid by camels and slaves. The brewer sells as his commodity his beer, the gardener his vegetables and the tavern-woman — she sells what? Presumably sex for which she receives her nidnu."

Were there no women who worked in the tavern other than sex workers - no women innkeepers? No barmaids? Even the text under examination, which states that if a stranger asks for a bed for the night, you should give him the wages of a ḫarimtu, makes just as much sense if the woman in question is an innkeeper.

I retain a strong suspicion that the same assumptions and circular logic that invented "sacred prostitution" may be at work here. I have a mountain of material to get through, but something which would help convince me that kar.kid/ḫarimtu specifically indicates "sex worker" would be if there are terms for women workers that are consistently distinguished from it.

Assante, Julia. The kar.kid / harimtu, Prostitute or Single Woman? A Reconsideration of the Evidence. Ugarit-Forschungen 30 2003 pp 5-96.
Cohen, Yoram. The Wages of a Prostitute: Two Instructions from the Wisdom Composition 'Hear the Advice' and an Excursus on Ezekiel 16,331. Semitica 57 2015, pp 43-55.

ikhet_sekhmet: (ankh-mi-re)
Continuing with Mesopotamian cultic personnel: the kurgarrû held a "recognized office" rather than a temporary role (so was the saĝ-ur-saĝ, but the same evidence is lacking for the assinnu). Kurgarrû and assinnu often appear together, in lists and in rituals. In the Descent of Inanna, the kurgarrû and kalatura are sent to rescue the goddess, but in the Descent of Ishtar, it's Asushanamir the assinnu.

The kurgarrû, like some other "cultic officials", carried weapons. Henshaw cites lines from "Inanna and Ebiḫ", in which the god An says: "to the kurgara I have given the gír 'sword or dagger' and ba-da-ra ["club", "prod", "knife"] / to the gala I have given the drum and the li-li-is / for the pi-li-pi-li I have changed the sex".

(Interesting that it's An, not Inanna, doing the changing - "either a garment change, or a role change, or a literal sex change". It's Henshaw's parsimonious view the pili-pili carried the spindle when he played a female role, and a weapon when he played a male role. OTOH, the ETCSL gives a different translation: "I have transformed the pilipili cult performers." ETA: According to Jarle Ebeling, in pi-li-pi-li saǧ šu bal mu-ni-ak, the verb saǧ šu bal can mean "to turn something on its head / to turn something upside down". Betty De Shong Meador describes the transformation as "ritual head-overturning".)

Also in the kurgarrû's arsenal: the naglabu "razor", quppû "knife", ṣurtu "flint knife", and the belu / tillu also worn by the assinnu - all of which ulluṣ kabtat ᵈIštar, "delight the heart of Ishtar". An ershemma lamenting Dumuzi states: "the kurgarra of his city did not brandish the sword". "Elsewhere", says Henshaw, "one finds that these are not merely ceremonial weapons, but are covered with blood." Some authors suggest this is the result of self-mutilation; Henshaw believes it's part of a "war game". For example, in one rite, the kurgarrû and others "play war (lit. 'battlefield'), ie, act out a battle in dramatic liturgical form".

The kurgarrû also carry "instruments symbolic of the female": the pilaqqu "spindle, distaff or hair-clasp", whip, and comb. An astrologial prophecy tells us: "If Adad in the midst of the constellation Great Bear (gave a cry) and it rained cardamom (and they became?) men, then the kurgarrûs will sit in the house and the kurgarrûs will give birth to men." With epic litotes Richard Henshaw describes this as "difficult", but points out it does refer to the kurgarrû's "female role".

Ebeling, Jarle. "Multiword-verb combinations with and without ak". in Jarle Ebeling and Graham Cunningham (eds). Analysing literary Sumerian: corpus-based approaches. London, Oakville, CT, Equinox, 2007.
Henshaw, Richard A. "Appendix Three: The assinnu, kurgarrû and Similar Functionaries". in Female and male - the cultic personnel: the Bible and the rest of the ancient Near East. Allison Park, Pa, Pickwick Publications, 1994.
ikhet_sekhmet: (ankh-mi-re)
(Long ago (June 2011) I started a series of postings about the ancient Mesopotamian assinnu which I made a hash of, so this is a do-over!)

Richard Henshaw (1994) groups the assinnu with the kurgarrû, the kulu'u, the saĝ-ur-saĝ, the pilipili (pilpilû), and similar cultic functionaries who are "a kind of actor in the cultic drama". He remarks that, unlike most professional titles, many of these can't be translated; possibly they're foreign loanwords, or pre-Sumerian words.

Like many Akkadian words, assinnu was actually written down using Sumerian signs; someone reading a tablet out loud would have said "assinnu" when they saw LÚ.UR.SAL or UR.MUNUS. The LÚ indicates it's the name of a profession; SAL and MUNUS both mean 'woman'. Martti Nissenen (1998) says that: "UR.SAL, or 'man-woman', should actually be read "'dog-woman', 'dog' representing masculinity in a despicable sense" (147n45). I've often encountered this assumption in the literature - that 'dog' in terms like the Sumerian saĝ-ur-saĝ or the Akkadian keleb must be derogatory. However, UR also appears in terms like ur.mah "lion" and ur.saĝ "hero, champion"; more than one scholar has wondered if the saĝ-ur-saĝ is a type of ur-saĝ. (Henshaw says that it's not "bitch", which was written SAL.UR.) Drawing on the online Sumerian Lexicon, Saana Teppo points out that "'dog' can also mean a young man, a servant, a warrior, or an enemy".

In various cultic texts, we get glimpses of the assinnu's religious jobs, including chanting, singing, and dancing. In one ritual, the assinnu and the kurgarrû wear the belû / tillu (possibly a scabbard?) of the goddess Narudu. (Any relation to the saltier of Atargatis, I wonder?) In another, "... the assinnu is found setting a brick down in the House of Lament... He lights a fire over it and roasts on it various meats, fish, and other items. He pours a libation of beer and places seven loaves on the fire. The ritual ends with him singing the Love Lyric 'When I saw you in the Equlû.'" (One of several tasks for the assinnu and the kurgarrû during the month of Simanu, as described by A.R. George, who remarks that they were probably busy the year round.)

Martti Nissinen (2003) describes letters from Mari which mention prophecies delivered by assinnus attached to the temple of Annunitum ("a manifestation of the warrior aspect of Ishtar" - Wilson). (Prophets are often grouped with assinnu in "lexical and administrative lists".) Åke W. Sjöberg quotes passages describing saĝ-ur-saĝs carrying "the corvée basket" and yokes, which "show that the saĝ-ur-saĝ (when corresponding to the assinnu) had duties other than only cultic assignments".

Richard Henshaw cautiously outlines the evidence for the assinnu's sexuality. The Epic of Erra contains a line referring to the assinnu and the kurgarrû in Anum and Ishtar's temple, the Eanna:

ša ana šupluh nišī Ištar zikrusunu uterru ana ain [nišūti]

"The translation of this is ambiguous," cautions Henshaw: "'those who in order to bring about awe/religious awe in people, Ishtar turned their maleness into femaleness'... Nothing more appears in this text to indicate the nature of this change".

In a text describing "sexual advances, sexual dreams, etc", there's a line "something like: 'if a man suffers physically in prison, and like an assinnu the desire to copulate is taken away from him..." (This impotence could mean sterility rather than erectile dysfunction.) And another line: "... if a man approaches (for sexual purposes) an assinnu..." (Henshaw cautions that many lines of the text describe the "fantastic actions" in dreams rather than "actual cases".)

Of the Descent of Ishtar and Asushanamir, Henshaw says, "Why the assinnu could pass through the gate and confront the queen... is not explained in the text, but I propose that being of in-between sex made him impervious to the sexual rites and power that Ereshkigal, following the example of her sister, could impose upon him." (She herself is a pretty sexy goddess.)

One text pairs the assinnu with the sinnišānu: "The form of this word can be explained as the word for woman, sinništu, with the feminine ending" replaced by the masculine ending -ānu, perhaps to be understood "man-woman". Elsewhere, a curse promises to "(turn) his maleness like (that of) a sinnišānu".

One text, says Henshaw, includes a possible reference to a female assinnu - that is, "the feminine form of the noun assinnu" - and another mentions a female kurgarru.

Concluding his appendix on the assinnu and co, Henshaw remarks: "Many of the texts discussed in this section are cryptic; indeed, I think they were meant to be." Scholars sometimes seem to have drawn great, and sometimes questionable, conclusions about these cultic personnel from very small scraps of information.

ETA: More on the assinnu's unclear sexuality from Prophecy and Society in Ancient Israel. Robert R. Wilson cites the lines from the Epic of Erra above and notes that "This has been variously been interpreted to mean that the assinnu was a eunuch, transvestite, male cult-prostitute, or pederast. However, none of these interpretations can unambigously be supported by reference to other texts [therefore] some scholars hold that the assinnu was simply an actor who took a female role in cultic dramas." Assinnus appear in three of the Mari letters, and in one of them, the assinnu Šelebum goes into a trance in Annunitum's temple before giving a prophet warning meant for the king. Wilson suggests that, during the trance, Šelebum was possessed by the goddess, and therefore would have spoken and acted in a feminine way; and that this might have been a regular part of the assinnu's job.

George, Andrew "Four temple rituals from Babylon." in George, A R and Finkel, I L, (eds). Wisdom, Gods and Literature: Studies in Assyriology in Honour of W. G. Lambert. Winona Lake, Indiana, Eisenbrauns, 2000, pp. 259-299.
Henshaw, Richard A. "Appendix Three: The assinnu, kurgarrû and Similar Functionaries". in Female and male - the cultic personnel: the Bible and the rest of the ancient Near East. Allison Park, Pa, Pickwick Publications, 1994.
Kessler Guinan, A. Auguries of Hegemony: The Sex Omens of Mesopotamia. Gender & History, 9: 462–479, 1997.
Nissinen, Martti. "Introduction". in Prophets and prophecy in the ancient Near East, Martti Nissinen with contributions by C.L. Seow and Robert K. Ritner ; edited by Peter Machinist. Atlanta, Ga, Society for Biblical Literature, 2003.
Nissenen, Martti. Homoeroticism in the Biblical World. Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 1998.
Sjöberg, Åke W. A Hymn to Inanna and her Self-Praise. Journal of Cuneiform Studies 40(2) autumn 1988.
Wilson, Robert R. Prophecy and society in ancient Israel. Philadelphia, Fortress Press, 1980.
ikhet_sekhmet: (ankh-mi-re)
In "Genre, Gender, and the Sumerian Lamentation", Jerrold S. Cooper discusses the origins of the lamentation genre and the gala-priests who performed laments.

Cooper writes that the gala is "attested from the Fara [Early Dynastic IIIa] period... and at Lagash in the late-pre-Sargonic period and under Gudea the gala is associated with funerals". For example, mourners at Queen Baranamtara's funeral included "numerous gala"; Gudea's Statue B describes a general shut-down of funerals in Girsu during which "the gala did not set up his balag-drum and bring forth laments from it". (The balag-drum, Cooper points out, is the source of the name for the most common of the gala's laments, the balag; the term balag-di means "lamentation performer". "The gala first appears five hundred years prior to Ur III, and the balag-performer is attested five hundred years earlier still, in the earliest cuneiform lexical lists".)

In both examples above, "the gala is accompanied by women lamenters. Women may actually have served as gala in Presargonic Lagash, as they did later in the Diyala region". In cultures around the world and throughout time, funeral laments, as well as love songs and wedding songs, are the "musical province par excellence of women". Cooper notes that Inanna and Dumuzi appear in songs for both marriages and funerals, and that in some cultures these two rites have similarities. "That Inanna-Ishtar should be at the nexus of love and death is very fitting for a deity who is patron of both prostitution [sexuality, certainly] and battle. She is also associated with transformation and inversion... and weddings and funerals are the only two transformative rituals in ancient Mesopotamia of which we are aware."

Cooper's thesis is that the official lamentations developed from women's songs, much as Ancient Greek women's funeral laments were "brought under control and channeled into male-dominated ritual or literary enterprise"; female mourners were "joined by male colleagues who eventually replaced them". (Similarly, "the other realm of women's performance and Emesal usage, courtship and wedding song, came to be, at least for the elite, dominated by male performers.") Emesal is only used in Sumerian literature for the speech of women and goddesses, and for ritual laments, sung by galas. (A possibility about Emesal is that it was the local dialect of Lagash, and could only be written down "once Sumerian orthography fell under the influence of phonetic semitic orthography [which] could express dialectal differences", which is why no Emesal texts appear until the Old Babylonian period.)

This association with women, says Cooper, could explain "the ambiguous image of the gala - a ridiculous figure of uncertain sexuality according to some literary texts; a respected cleric with a wife and children in many documents". (Though personally I'm not convinced that the gala's "ridiculous" nature isn't a projection by modern authors.) Cooper points out that galas might have had different roles depending on historical period, context, and which deity they were serving. He also disputes that the logogram for gala, UŠ.TUŠ, should be read GÌŠ.DÁR, "penis + anus" - "the interpretation is not compelling, and other suggest themselves." (An example of projection? Here's another - the chief gala was in charge of "prostitutes", géme-kar-kíd. géme means female worker or slave, but the translation of kar-kíd (ḫarimtu) as "prostitute" has been challenged, as Cooper acknowledges; it may only mean "unmarried woman".)

(I thought of the cihuacoatl, the male deputy of the Aztec emperor, who was named after the snake goddess Cihuacoatl, "Snake Woman" - and speculation that the office might originally have belonged to women.)

Cooper, Jerrold S. Genre, Gender, and the Sumerian Lamentation. Journal of Cuneiform Studies 58(2006) pp 39-47.
ikhet_sekhmet: (ankh-mi-re)
In this chapter from Sacred Marriages, Saana Teppo (now Saana Svärd) describes the assinnu, the kurgarrū, and the kulu'u (or gala), and their role in the worship of Ishtar. "in their ecstatic performances," she writes, "they were joined with Ishtar in a union comparabable to sacred marriage... they fulfilled the same function as the king in the sacred marriage ritual: they ensured the blessing of the goddess for the country."

"It seems that all three groups of cultic functionaries were born as men (or hermaphrodites [that is, intersex people]), but... their appearance was either totally feminine, or they had both male and female characteristics. [All three are] recorded in the literature of the Sumerian period [and] continued to appear in Akkadian texts up to the Seleucid and Persian eras." They were rained for their ritual duties: "ecstatic dance, music, ritual plays, and performances", in which they wore female dress and makeup and carried masks, spindles, and weapons. Teppo admits that the "evidence for this from Mesopotamia is not overwhelming", but it is possible that, like the galli and the hijra (?), the cultic performers mutilated themselves to achieve "an altered state of consciousness in which they could achieve union with the divine - a sacred marriage". (Perhaps the weapons were for mock or ritual battles? One of the love lyrics W.G. Lambert translates, perhaps describing a ritual, includes the lines 'Battle is my game, warfare is my game,' he/she will utter and the Assinnu-priest will go down to battle, he will ... a jig [...]".)

In the Sumerian version of the Descent of Inanna, Enki creates the kurgarrū and "the kalaturru (GALA.TUR, which can be translated as 'young kulu'u')" from dirt under his fingernails and dispatches them to rescue Inanna. In the Assyrian version, Ea creates the assinnu Asushanamir for the same purpose.

Teppo discusses the possibility that the assinnu, kurgarrū, and kulu'u performed sex work connected with Ishtar worship; I'm going to put that aside for now, because I still haven't fully got to grips with the recent overturning of the long-standing assumption that every priestess (and almost every woman!) in Mesopotamia was a sex worker. I will note, though, that the "kulu'u is called Ištar's 'sweet bedfellow' (ṣālitu ṭābu) and 'lover' (ḫabbubu)."

(ETA: Henshaw (p 300) discusses this last, translating the lines from a "namburbi text addressed to Ishtar": "come enter our house / with you may enter the beautiful one / who sleeps with you / your lover and your kulu'u." Henshaw notes: "it couldn't be three separate people invited in!" Oddly, that was exactly how I read it - although I think Henshaw's interpretation is probably right.)

Teppo suggests that the assinnu's role in healing is explained by Asushanamir's helping to bring Ishtar back to life. Assinnus could also be prophets (and there are three Neo-Assyrian prophets who, though are not called assinnus, are described as being both men and women). The kurgarrus performed a "war dance" "with knives, swords, and clubs", and played "ritual games with skipping ropes and bawdy speech". The assinnu and the kurgarrū are often found in each other's company, such as at liminal moments - the New Year's Festival, and eclipses.

The kulu'u or gala was originally a lamentation chanter, listed alongside "female mourners and wailers" and using the female literary dialect, Emesal. (Possibly they replaced female singers, retaining "the female forms of the profession".) An Old Babylonian poem describes Enki creating the gala to soothe Inanna's heart. Galas peformed in temples, at funerals, and possibly at court. The chief gala (GALA.MAḪ) was a high-ranking official; there may have been gala guilds, gala families, and female galas. (There's possible evidence of a female assinnu and a female kurgarrū.) But some galas were slaves, and the galas could be forced to do corvée work for the temple.

Ishtar could change someone's sex or gender, as noted in Inana C (aka The Stout-Hearted Lady, Lady of Largest Heart), the hymn Išme-Dagan K, and The Epic of Erra, which says of Ishtar and the kurgarru and assinnu: "Who changed their masculinity into femininity to make the people of Ištar revere her. The dagger-bearer, bearers of razors, pruning-knives, and flint blades, who frequently do abominable [ie "taboo acts, forbidden to regular persons] to please the heart of Ištar." Which said, nobody knows for sure whether some or all of the assinnus, kurgarrūs, and kulu'us were castrated (and if so, to what extent). (Eunuchs, ša-rēši, were a separate category of persons.)

So these cultic personnel had an established, institutional role, but how well were they treated as individuals? Some of Teppo's evidence that they were marginalised doesn't quite convince me. Enki created them from the dirt under his fingernails, but then, he created the human race out of lowly clay (maybe there was a bit left over :). The curse placed on Asushanamir is pretty unequivocal, though, damning the assinnu to a homeless city life, and someone is insulted with the remark "He is a kulu'u and not a man" - a reminder that "in practical terms Mesopotamian society was strongly patriarchal and had fairly inflexible gender categories," as Teppo remarks. She goes on to say: "There was very little toleration for individuals who did not conform to the expected male and female roles." (I wish she'd given some evidence for Mesopotamian gender non-conformity!) Perhaps these "third gender" roles "existed specifically because the roles of men and women were so clearly defined" - they represented "an outlet, a means for society to deal with people who could not, for whatever reason, function in society as men and women."

Lambert, W.G. "The Problem of the Love Lyrics". in Hans Goedicke and J. J. M. Roberts (eds). Unity and diversity: essays in the history, literature, and religion of the ancient Near East. Baltimore, Johns Hopkins University Press, 1975. (p 105)
Teppo, Saana. "Sacred Marriage and the Devotees of Ishtar". in Martti Nissinen and Risto Uro (eds). Sacred marriages: the divine-human sexual metaphor from Sumer to early Christianity. Winona Lake, Indiana, Eisenbrauns, 2008. pp 75-92.
ikhet_sekhmet: (ankh-mi-re)
Inanna's magnificence was certainly distracting as I tried to read about an Old Babylonian tigi-hymn to Inanna (BM 96739, CT 36, 33-34). The hymn is about Inanna's investiture of Dumuzi and by extension the Babylonian king with authority, and scholar Daniel Foxvog examines its astronomical references, but as usual I got caught up on lines like these:
Lady, though (first) joyfully formed beautifully by Ningal for delight,
She then provided you with the power to destroy, like a dragon (ušumgal).

... from your mother's very womb you have girded on the utug and mitum maces.

Lady, the matters of your heart are greater than all heaven and all earth, who can know (anything) about you,
And at your word, a doubled cord that cannot be cut, the whole heaven is consumed.
Fabulous stuff! Inanna is also described as "mounted upon the storm winds", which IIRC is more characteristic of a male war-god such as Yahweh ("him who rides on the clouds", Psalm 68:4). But, as Foxvog points out, despite her awesome power she is a benevolent figure in this hymn (as she is in many others): "Could this be a memory of a time before her syncretism with Ištar?" (Dumuzi, by contrast, is an unusually martial figure.)

As for the astronomical bit: Foxvog discusses the constellations associated with various deities, including Orion (Papsukkal aka Ninshubur), Aries (Dumuzi/Tammuz), and Anunitu, "the eastern fish of Pisces" (Inanna / Ishtar). He suggests an astronomical interpretation of one of the concluding lines of the hymn: "Heaven shall beget him [Dumuzi] (anew) each month on the day of the new moon like the Moon (himself)". "The sun moves through the entire zodiacal belt of constellations over the course of a year, but the moon makes the same circuit monthly," he explains. In an idealized lunar calendar, "the moon would return each month to its starting point in its apparent course through the zodiacal belt, and the first visibility of the new crescent would invariable coincide with the first visibility of Aries. In this way, for the purposes of a priestly hymnographer uninterested in the details, the sky could indeed be said to 'give birth' every month to both Suen and Amaušumgalanna/Aries on the day of the new moon." (I'm not qualified to comment on the accuracy of the astronomy here!)

Foxvog gives a table of the correspondences between the Mesopotamian and Classical zodiac - here's a simplified version:

Aries ram
Taurus (Pleiades) bull
Orion and Gemini men
Cancer water (perhaps the Tigris and Euphrates)
Leo lion
Virgo grain
Libra scales
Scorpio scorpion
Sagittarius (tablet is damaged)
Capricorn goat
Aquarius figure
Pisces (tablet is damaged)

Foxvog, Daniel. "Astral Dumuzi". in The Tablet and the scroll: Near Eastern studies in honor of William W. Hallo. CDL Press, Bethesda MD, 1993.
ikhet_sekhmet: (ankh-mi-re)
If we don't include the Deities and Demigods Cyclopedia*, the first time I encountered the goddess Inanna, aka Ishtar, was the remarkable book Inanna Queen of Heaven and Earth: Her Stories and Hymns from Sumer, co-written by scholar Samuel Noah Kramer and folklorist and storyteller Diane Wolkstein. It presents an accurate but accessible "portrait" of the goddess through ancient Mesopotamian literature, as well as background info from Kramer and a slightly dodgy analysis by Wolkstein (about which Kramer was later scathing). It was one of my first Pagan-ish books, bought from a New Age bookshop some time in the early-to-mid nineties, around the time I was starting to discover Wicca, though I'm not sure which came first - Kramer and Wolkstein's Inanna or Starhawk's description of the Great Goddess in The Spiral Dance.

I had fallen rather in love with the cosmically** powerful character of Phoenix from the X-Men comics - particularly in her incarnation of Dark Phoenix. A friend once pointed out that Dark Phoenix is, literally, expressing the uncontrollable rage of a victim of rape. Without making that comparison - at school the continual attacks were rarely physical, let alone sexual - what could be more attractive to a young woman unable to escape or stop the bullying than her unrestrained, uncontrollable, shameless, gleeful destructiveness?

The other figure that had caught hold of my soul was Hundra, the eponymous barbarian warrior from a sort of paella sword-and-sorcery flick - an unapologetically feminist story, despite all the titillation. At about the same time I watched the video with a friend, I stumbled across a poem which I now understand was a parody - although til this day I still don't know which poet was being parodied - which contained the line: "the weasel burst, in colours past belief". Somehow my increasingly hypomanic mind fused all of this together into the character of the Weasel, who then appears throughout my adolescent art and poetry.

So I was very ready to encounter the queen who kicked over the mountain Ebih when it failed to show her proper respect, who sent her own husband to hell for the same crime. "You fasten combat and battle to your side", writes Wolkstein. But to my surprise, on looking through the book as I write up this personal account, there's very little reference to Inanna's impulsive, conflict-loving nature, her annihilating wrath - of the monster who eats corpses on the battlefield like a dog. That must have come when I discovered Enheduanna's poems Lady of Largest Heart and The Exaltation of Inanna. But how did I get from the regal lover of Kramer and Wolkstein's book to that Hundra - Dark Phoenix figure? Is there any way to reconstruct that path at this point?

* Or whatever that children's book was that taught me the word "Mesopotamia" and the idea of a stratified society, with people called "artisans" somewhere in the middle. Must try to figure out what that was.

** This is actually a word.


Kramer, Samuel Noah and Diane Wolkstein. Inanna Queen of Heaven and Earth: Her Stories and Hymns from Sumer. Harper and Row, New York, 1983.
ikhet_sekhmet: (ankh-mi-re)
Before the library began to shake, roar, and be evacuated (what was that all about?!), I read with interest a short article from the journal Iraq, from 1939. It concerns a figure called the SAL-ZIKRUM, who appears in the Code of Hammurabi, and in just one another Old Babylonian text. The word's meaning is disputed, but one interpretation is Sumerian "female" plus Akkadian "male", and in texts it's used as though it's feminine.

In Hammurabi, the SAL-ZIKRUM appears in six sections: firstly, in laws about priestesses and their dowries, and secondly, in laws about the adoption of a son by either the chamberlain of the palace or by a SAL-ZIKRUM. The one other document, possibly to do with a palace or temple, concerns rations for women weavers and for a SAL-ZIKRUM.

The authors conclude that the SAL-ZIKRUM was probably a eunuch who dressed as, and was treated as, a woman; but to my inexpert eye, this seems to involve a lot of assumptions that aren't given support in the article - for example, that the chamberlain of the palace was a eunuch. They refer to an earlier commentator who "suggested that it is intended to describe either "female men" in the sense of women designated as men or else some kind of female eunuch." Well, the eunuch part doesn't sound likely to me either, though celibacy (or rather, not having children) is a possibility. Equally difficult for the authors to imagine is "the treatment of women as men, ie of the inferior as the superior sex" - though to be fair they probably intended to indicate the attitude of the Babylonians, and not necessarily their own - even if it was 1939. :)

What if, though, we have here a glimpse of a "fourth gender" in Mesopotamia? We know about plenty of cultic functionaries who are apparently feminised men and who are at least somewhat recognised and integrated. If the SAL-ZIKRUM actually was the "woman-man", is it possible she, or he, was a masculinised woman? Or - perhaps like the authors - am I trying to build too large an edifice on too small a foundation?

* This translation of Hammurabi gives "devoted woman", and Brigitte Groneberg similarly interprets the word as SALsekretu, referring to a class of cloistered priestesses and to members of a harem.

G.R. Driver and John C. Miles. The SAL-ZIKRUM "Woman-Man" in Old-Babylonian Texts. Iraq 6(1) spring 1939 pp 66-70.
Groneberg, Brigitte. Die sumerisch-akkadische Inanna/Ištar: Hermaphroditos?. Die Welt des Orients 17 (1986), pp. 25-46.
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)
  • 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: (ankh-mi-re)
    Spiritual Power? 18th-Century Artifacts Unearthed in Caribbean

    The Archaeologist as Titan [review of Belzoni: The Giant Archaeologists Love to Hate]

    Remains of Long-Lost Temple Discovered in Iraq: "'One of the best results of my fieldwork is the uncovered column bases of the long-lost temple of the city of Musasir, which was dedicated to the god Haldi,' Marf Zamuatold Live Science in an email. Haldi was the supreme god of the kingdom of Urartu. His temple was so important that after the Assyrians looted it in 714 B.C., the Urartu king Rusa I was said to have ripped his crown off his head before killing himself."

    Oops! Etruscan Warrior Prince Really a Princess

    Archaeological cave dig unearths artefacts from 45,000 years ago (Australia)

    Bisexual Viking idol marks ancient circle (2004)

    Was Cleopatra a drag queen? (2005) (Three known artifacts show Cleopatra VII dressed as / represented as a man.)

    Brooklyn Museum to publish a handbook for the recently deceased (Book of the Dead of Sobekmose)

    One-of-a-kind Egyptian spider rock art dates back to 4,000 B.C.

    Alan D. Eames, 59, Scholar of Beers Around the World, Dies

    Ancient Egyptian mummies buried near Barnsley

    Barnsley lass Joann really digs Egypt (not what I was looking for, but pretty entertaining nonetheless :)

    Clues to Lost Prehistoric Code Discovered in Mesopotamia (looking inside clay envelopes with CT scans)

    Die Auferstehung der Göttin Sachmet (The Resurrection of the Goddess Sekhmet) and Egyptian goddess statue unveiled in İzmir’s Red Basilica - an 8.5 metre tall statue in Pergamon

    More Sekhmet statues unearthed at Amenhotep III's temple in Luxor

    4,000-year-old [Old Babylonian] erotica depicts a strikingly racy ancient sexuality



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    Plaything of Sekhmet

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