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)
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)
    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)
    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)
    What a helpful and enlightening little book! Not just for comparisons with other Ancient Near Eastern cultures, but because everyone bangs on about the Bible these days, with varying levels of informedness.

    A few observations from its pages:

    "Artistically... ancient Israel was a cultural backwater... Yet one artifact from ancient Israel has survived: its literature, commonly if somewhat controversially called the Old Testament. Prohibited according to an ancient law from making graven images, the Israelites channeled their creative energy into literary activity." (p 1)

    References to other books, now lost, show that there was literature beyond what's now collected as the OT, including poetry (eg The Book of the Wars of the Lord) and royal records (eg The Book of the Acts of Solomon).

    "... in antiquity a book was not necessarily a single product of a single author but was often more like a hypertext, which several, even many writers might expand, edit, and otherwise modify [over generations]... For its final editors... preserving different sources was more important than superficial consistency. Even before the Torah became sacred scripture, then, its constituent parts had already achieved something like canonical status." (p 20) Hence different versions of the Ten Commandments were all included (p 61-2) (I'd like to compare some other ancient examples. Maybe the Gilgamesh epic?)

    Similarly, "Almost every biblical text is composite in the sense that unlike modern works it was not written once and then considered complete; rather, a text was subject to constant modification, variation, commentary, elaboration, expansion, and other types of addition and editing as writers from later generations continued to add their insights." (p 52) So for example "laws, rituals, institutions" are linked to the story of Exodus because of its importance. (I suppose in a way the responses of neo-Pagans to ancient texts are a version of this - the texts are not dead and set, but alive and changing - although we hardly form a single, coherent community or culture.)

    The Mesha stela, which has correspondences with the book of Kings, mentions the gods Chemosh and Ashtar-Chemosh, whom I must remember to look up. (p 27) Other gods mentioned in the OT: Amun, Marduk (aka Bel, Nebo), Nergal, Dagon, Baal, Resheph, Mot, Asherah, Astarte, Milcom of Ammon, Hadad of Aram, Tammuz, the sun, the queen of heaven, Azazel, and Lilith. Yahweh presided over a royal court of deities, the "sons of God" aka the "holy ones", who included his army or "host"; in later, more strictly monothestic times, this was not understood literally. (p 40-42) Similarly, Yahweh is described as battling the sea and proves his superiority to the Egyptian deities. (p 50) He himself has lots of the attributes of the local storm gods (eg p 53). (On a side note, recently I was puzzling how one might debunk the urban legend that the English word "amen" ultimately derives from "Amun", when I came across someone who pointed out that they don't actually start with the same letter. :)

    "in biblical law an orphan is technically a child without a male parent." (p 58)

    "Testament" means "Covenant". (p 59)

    "the sacred, personal name of Yahweh is not to be used in magic, sorcery, or other unlawful ways, for Yahweh is not a deity who can be localized or controlled." (p 62) (Contrast with Egyptian magic spells in which the sorcerer threatens cosmic destruction if the gods don't do his or her bidding!)
    ikhet_sekhmet: (Butterfly hair)
    ... is in so many tattered pieces, apparently, that it's not even clear what the story is about. Alan H. Gardiner thinks the Egyptian gods ask Astarte to intervene on their behalf with the greedy, bellicose sea, but even that's just an educated guess. One of the few fragments that's more than a few words in length is this bit of dialogue, presumably spoken by the sea:
    "... saw Astarte, as she sat upon the shore(?) of the sea. Then he said to her: Whence comest thou, O daughter of Ptah, thou angry and furious goddess? Hast thou ruined thy sandals which were thy feet, and hast thou rent the clothes which were upon thee, through this going and coming which thou hast made in the sky and the earth? Then said unto him Astarte..."
    Astarte's "going and coming... in the sky and the earth" reminds me of Inanna's tiring trip in Inanna and Shukaletuda: "after my lady had gone around the heavens, after she had gone around the earth". I forget who pointed out that proper Mesopotamian women didn't leave the house and wander about like that, but it makes me wonder if the sea is mocking Astarte, a not dissimilar goddess, for her unladylike behaviour. What a shame her reply is missing!

    Alan H. Gardiner. The Astarte Papyrus. Egypt Exploration Society. Studies presented to F. Ll. Griffith. Milford : Oxford University Press, 1932. pp 74-85.
    ikhet_sekhmet: (Butterfly hair)
    Dimitri Meeks points out that since the horse was introduced into Egypt from the Near East, it makes sense that horse-riding deities in Egypt are also from the Near East. The most prominent rider is Astarte, who's actually better known from Egyptian examples than from Near Eastern ones. He highlights three in particular:
    • Hibis, where Astarte and Reshep are part of the pantheon of Heracleopolis;
    • Edfu, where a lion-headed Astarte drives a chariot drawn by four horses - Meeks says she is "clearly identified with the goddess Sekhmet";
    • Tod, where Astarte is shown in the form of Hathor and called "the one who controls the horse".
    Meeks outlines the connections between these goddesses, royalty, and royal victory in battle - so, for example, at Denderah Hathor is given the title "mistress of royalty and mistress of horses".

    Other gods were also horse-riders or charioteers, such as Horus the Saviour, shown in cippi riding a chariot drawn by griffins; and Thoth, called "master of horses" in a Ramesside inscription. Also at Tod, Raettawy is called "valiant in horseback battle".

    ETA: Bit more on Sekhmet and royalty. Janet H. Johnson, reviewing Philippe Germond's Sekhmet et la Protection du Monde, discusses Sekhmet's dual character as destroyer and protector, with her violent rage "channeled into annihilating the enemies of the sun-god"; similarly, "the wrath of the king against his enemies was the transferred destructive wrath of Sekhmet being used to maintain Ma'at." It was the king's job, at the New Year's festivities, to make sure Sekhmet was pacified and her anger therefore safely aimed in the right direction.

    When it came to ordinary folks struck by the goddess' ire in the form of sickness, Germond suggests, doctors worked alongside her appeasing w'b-priest. OTOH, in Les Pretres-Ouab De Sekhmet Et Les Conjurateurs De Serket, Frédérique von Känel argues that the w'b-priests were themselves medical doctors; for example, in the Papyrus Ebers, the w'b-priest is described taking the patients pulse.

    Clagett, Marshall. Les Pretres-Ouab De Sekhmet Et Les Conjurateurs De Serket by Frédérique von Känel [review]. Isis 76(4) Dec 1985 pp 628-629.

    Johnson, Janet H. Sekhmet et la protection du monde by Philippe Germond [review]. Journal of the American Oriental Society, 104(2) Apr-Jun 1984, pp. 361-362.

    Meeks, Dimitri. "L’introduction du cheval en Égypte et son insertion dans les croyances religieuses". in Gardeisen, Armelle (ed). Les Équidés dans le monde Méditerranéen Antique (Actes du colloque organisé par l’École française d’Athènes, le Centre Camille Jullian, et l’UMR 5140 du CNRS, Athènes, 26-28 Novembre 2003). Monographies d’Archéologie Méditerranéenne Occasional Publications 1, 2005, pp 51-59.
    ikhet_sekhmet: (Angel of the Birds 2)
    From a review in BAOS 357 Feb 2010 of The Origins of Aphrodite by Stephanie Lynn Budin, a book upon which I must lay my grubby paws because of its examination of goddesses (Inanna/Ishtar, Ishara, Asherah, Astarte, Qudshu) and cults (in Ugarit, Alalakh, Megiddo, Beth Shan, Tel Mevorakh, Lachish, Egypt) which may have influenced A.
    • "sex goddess versus fertility/mother goddess"
    • Cults of A. found "throughout Greece, the Aegean islands, Egypt, Magna Graecia, and in the Black sea region."
    • "Aphrodite entered Greece via Crete from Cyprus", "imported into Cyprus through the Phoenician settlement of Kition" and "amalgamated with a native goddess worshipped at Amathus and Paphos"
    • Adonis was the consort of the Cypriot Aphrodite and was lost in A.'s "transition to the west"
    From "Gods as a Frame of Reference" by Gertie Englund:
    • Egyptian theologians "did not study and interpret a basic text but they kept on creating new texts" (p 8)
    • "Many of the endless number of gods appearing in Egyptian texts and iconography were never the object of a cult and knowledge about them probably never passed the gates of the temple... However, the lack of a cult does not mean that a god is a purely speculative philosophical creation. The popular god Bes did not have a cult and no temple was dedicated to him." (p 19)
    • "There are surprisingly few adjectives in the Egyptian language... description is given in the form of an expression of identity. What one identifies with or identifies oneself with are gods. The gods who are personified concepts are used as concepts." (p 21)
    • The "rule which linguists call 'repression of sense'" may make Egyptian thought look as though it lacks abstract ideas and metaphors (p 22)
    • Someone who's got rich off flax and linen might be called the "husband of Tait" (p 22)
    • The House of Life is a microcosm - a library whose books describe the whole world (p 24)
    • Gods and humans maintain cosmic balance through "exchange of gifts", in which "Man offers what he has produced" (sounds like one of those nature/culture things to me)
    • "The myths offer as it were key scenarios of typical difficulties and problems", and by identifying with them, people could connect with the divine and receive "consolation and guidance" (p 24 - 25). A familiar thing to me as a Pagan, and I'm sure to most religious people.
    • While we think in "causalities", the Egyptians thought in "homologies", and approach which allows multiple assumptions about the same thing to be "valid simultaneously" - "a multitude of convert angles of approach" to the "undescribable". (p 26) (te Velde remarks: "working out the relationships between gods… was an important and favourite task of Egyptian priests". :) (p 240)
    From te Velde Relations and Conflicts:
    • "The Asiatic goddess Astarte can be given citizenship or godhood in Egypt and can be adopted as daughter of Ptah [in spite of which] exotic peculiarities, such as riding naked upon a horse, a thing hardly done by Egyptian goddesses, are not denied her." (p 240)

    • Amun had a close, ancient, but "rather vague and undefined relationship" with Amaunet, his fellow Karnak deity. "In the course of the 16th Century B.C. the cult of the goddess Mut, who had already been worshipped for centuries in the little provincial town of Megen, was introduced into the capital." Mut is first Amun's daughter, then his wife, and they are inseparable from this point on. (pp 240-1)

    • Regarding variations of the Ennead: "Already in the Pyramid Texts the retiring figure of the goddess Nephthys is sometimes replaced by the goddess Neith" (p 242) Karnak's great ennead had fifteen gods – the nine Heliopolitans plus Montu, Tjenenet and Iunet, Horus, Hathor of Gebelein, and Sobek; the little ennead was Thoth, Harendotes, Wepwawet of the south, Wepwawet of the north, Sobek lord of the Iuntiu, Ptah-upon-his-great-throne, Ptah-at-the-head-of-the-gods, Anubis lord of Ta-djeser, Dedwen-at-the-head-of-Nubia, Dewenawi, Merimutef, and Horus' four sons. Abydos' ennead numbered nine: Amun, Mut, and Khonsu, Re, Shu, Tefnut, Geb, Nut, and Wepwawet; or seven: two Khnums,two Wepwawets, Thoth, Horus, and Harendotes; or twelve: Osiris, Harendotes, Isis, Nephthys, Min, Iunmutef, Re-Harakhty, Onuris, Tefnut, Get (Geb?), Thoth, and Hathor. (p 243) Untersuchungen zum Gotterkreis der Neunheit by Winifred Barta contains a list of eighty-four enneads! (p 244)

    Englund, Gertie. Gods as a Frame of Reference: On Thinking and Concepts of Thought in Ancient Egypt. Boreas 20 1991, pp 7-28.

    te Velde, Herman. "Relations and Conflicts between Egyptian Gods, particularly in the Divine Ennead of Heliopolis", in Struggles of Gods. Papers of the Groningen Work Group for the Study of the History of Religions. Berlin, New York : Mouton, 1984. pp 239-257.
    ikhet_sekhmet: (lioness)
    A footnote in Mistress of the House, Mistress of Heaven gives a list of "almost forty [Egyptian] goddesses with leonine associations". Using the footnote's spelling, they are:

    Matit ("The Dismemberer")
    Mehit ("The Seizer")
    Pakhet ("The Mangler")
    the lioness of Athribis

    Blimey, I've never even heard of some of those! What a find! Hmm, I count 34, and I think some of those might be the same goddess with different names. OTOH, there's one missing - Henut-Mestjet or Mestjet (known from just one stela). ETA: And another - the goddess Ai!

    ("Leonine associations" is a bit vague. Many of these goddesses are routinely represented as a lioness-headed woman - but what's the connection for the others?)

    I'll add more stuff to this posting as I go along:
    • Djedet is "a protective goddess" in The Book of Traversing Eternity, although not in a liony way.

    • Geraldine Pinch notes that "Hathor, Lady of Mefkat... appears in lioness-headed form on a stela from Serabit el-Khadim."

    • Another addition: Seret is attested by an inscription on a 5th Dynasty statue. (Note to self: Le Role et le Sens p 386; Reallexikon der Religionsgeschichte p 199, Fisher 200.932 2 )

    • Here's Matit in the Lexikon. She was worshipped alongside the falcon deity Anty at Deir el Gebrawi in the Twelfth Nome of Upper Egypt. Here she is in Constant de Wit's Le Role Et Le Sens Du Lion Dans Legypte Ancienne. She had a male counterpart, the god Mati.

    • Wepset appears in the Coffin Texts (CT I, 376/7a-380/1a), in which fire is given "several different names, including Wepset and w3w3.t-flame." (Willems 1996.) She is the Eye of the Sun and the Distant Goddess ("Wawat" is Lower Nubia). "Shu is regularly identified with Onuris" and in this spell Shu is said to "extinguish the flame, to cool Wepset and extinguish the w3w3.t-flame which dispels the mourning of the gods." Willems also notes that a female w3w3.t-flame, personifying "the burning poison in a person's body" is cooled "in a magical text on the Socle Béhague (h25-26)". (p 317)

    • Seems like a reasonable place to throw in these snippets from The Life of Meresamun: "The multiple flexible strands of the menat are represented as a broad collar with falcon terminals around the neck of a female deity, most commonly Hathor but sometimes also Isis or the feline-form goddesses Tefnut, Sekhmet, Menhit, and Bastet." (p 37) "Among deities, Hathor, Mut, Sekhmet, and Tefnut are shown wearing them and, for unknown reasons, the menat was the characteristic emblem of the male god Khonsu." (p 39) Mistress of the House, Mistress of Heaven notes that lioness-headed goddesses "are known in relief as early as the Old Kingdom and in three dimensions from the New Kingdom." (p 138)

    • A statue of Prince Hetep-Seshat and his missus lists amongst his titles "prophet of Khentichemi [Khenti-kheti?], prophet of Banebdjedet, prophet of Horus and Seth... prophet of Bastet, prophet of Shesemtet." He was a busy lad.

    • Aperet-Isis formed a triad at Akhmim with Min and Kolanthes. (ETA: Aha! Henadology reports that Arepet-Isis is actually an epithet of Repyt.)

    • Isis was depicted with a lioness head on Sidonian amulets.

    Capel, Anne K. and Glenn E. Markoe. Mistress of the House, Mistress of Heaven: women in ancient Egypt. New York, Hudson Hills Press in association with Cincinnati Art Museum, 1996.

    Pinch, Geraldine. Votive Offerings to Hathor. Oxford, Griffith Institute, 1993.

    Teeter, Emily and Janet H. Johnson (eds). The Life of Meresamun : a temple singer in ancient Egypt. Chicago, Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago, 2009.

    Willems, Harco. The Coffin of Heqata (Cairo JdE 36418) (Orientalia Lovaniensia Analecta 70). Peeters Publishers and Department of Oriental Studies, Leuven, Belgium, 1996.
    ikhet_sekhmet: (Endymion)
    Some more figures of interest (to me!) from Dr. Cruz-Uribe's catalogue of the gods of Hibis Temple:

    • Mut - lioness-headed, enthroned, holding the wedjat eye (p 2)
    • Mut foremost of the temple of Ptah - enthroned, mummiform, holding something (lost), wearing skullcap. (p 14)
    • "Female figure, with arms at sides, stands between two cats seated on stands." (p 13) Next to:
    • Mut, foremost of the "Horns of the gods". Falcon-headed, with small disc and uraeus, arms at sides. (p 13)
    • Mut, foremost of the temple of Ptah. Standing, wedjat eye on head. [Helck MDAIK 23 1968 p 123 line 11; Gardiner AEO II 125; Holmberg, Ptah, p 190] (p 13)

    • Sekhmet the great, beloved of Ptah - recumbent lion on pedestal (p 14) [Germond p 341]
    • Sekhmet, lady of (possibly siw or sinw?) - hedgehog (?) on pedestal. [Germond 92 no 26; Brunner-Traut Spitzmaus 161; Aufrere BIFAO 85 1985 23] (p 39-40)
    • Sekhmet in the mansion of the ka - enthroned, mummiform, lioness-headed, atef crown. (Shares a platform with Ptah.) (p 42)
    The ear is questionable. It may only be damage to wall. )
    Cruz-Uribe, Eugene. Hibis temple project, Vol 1: Translations, commentary, discussions and sign list. San Antonio, Texas, Van Siclen Books, 1988.
    ikhet_sekhmet: (ankh-mi-re)
    So many photocopies and PDFs... I'm so much better at collecting them than I am at reading them, or posting about them. In this posting I want to gather together a whole lot of notes about the Egyptian goddess Bast or Bastet; when I've finished rummaging through all the research I've accumulated, I'll post again with a summary.

    This way to the cumulative note-taking... )And some links:

    Bastet, the cat - a report from excavations at Tel Basta, February 2009

    Aegis of Sekhmet or Bastet at the Metropolitan Museum of Art

    ETA: lots of stuff in the Bastet tag in my Tumblr!

    Ambers, Janet et al. A new look at an old cat: a technical investigation of the Gayer-Anderson cat. British Museum Technical Research Bulletin 2 2008.
    Arnold, Dorothea. An Egyptian Bestiary. The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin, New Series 52(4) spring, 1995), pp. 1+7-64.
    Cartwright, Harry W. The Iconography of Certain Egyptian Divinities as Illustrated by the Collections in Haskell Oriental Museum. The American Journal of Semitic Languages and Literatures 45(3) April 1929 pp. 179-196.
    Review by Henry George Fischer of Tell Basta by Labib Habachi. American Journal of Archaeology 62(3) July 1958, pp. 330-333.
    Pinch, Geraldine. Egyptian Mythology: a guide to the gods, goddesses, and traditions of ancient Egypt. Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press, 2004.
    Raffaele, Francesco. An unpublished Early Dynastic stone vessel fragment with incised inscription naming the goddess Bastet. Cahiers Caribéens d'Egyptologie , 7-8, 2005.
    Schorsch, Deborah and James H. Frantza. A Tale of Two Kitties. Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin, winter 1997/1998, pp 16-29.
    Scott, Nora E. The Cat of Bastet. Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin ns 17(1) summer 1958, pp 1-7.
    Spalinger, Anthony J. "Social and Religious Implications of the New Military System". in War in Ancient Egypt: the New Kingdom. Malden, MA; Oxford, Blackwell, 2005.
    Te Velde, H. "The Cat as sacred animal of the goddess Mut." In M. Heerma van Voss et al (eds). Studies in Egyptian Religion. Leiden, E.J. Brill, 1982.
    - Some Remarks on the Structure of Egyptian Divine Triads. The Journal of Egyptian Archaeology 57, August 1971, pp 80-86.
    ikhet_sekhmet: (Default)
    Anat appears in names in the Bible: the personal name Shamgar ben Anat (in Jude) and the city name Anathoth (multiple times), probably short for "Beth-Anathoth", "House of the Great Anat".

    By the time the Hebrews arrived in Canaan, Anat's worship had largely been displaced by that of Asherah and Astarte. The Hebrews, who "did not even want to pronounce the names of these despised goddesses", tended to confuse them. OTOH, the goddess were sometimes conflated by worshippers; in Egypt Anat and Astarte were fused into 'Antart, in Syria they were worshipped as 'Anat-'Ashtart ('Attar'atta, Atargatis).

    Anat was called "the maiden Anat" (bltl 'nt), "Anat the destroyer", and "the lady", amongst other titles. She is called Baal's sister and El's daughter, but these may be honorary titles rather than actual family relationships.

    Anat was worshipped in Egypt (probably introduced there by the Hyksos), with a temple at Tanis dedicated to Anat-Anta, and a sculpture showing Anat protecting Ramses II, who styled himself "nourished by Anta" and "beloved of Anta", and named his daughter Bent-Anat ("daughter of Anat"). In Memphis Anat was called "daughter of Ptah".

    Kapelrud, Arvid S. The Violent Goddess: Anat in the Ras Shamra Texts. Universitets-forlaget, Oslo, 1969.
    ikhet_sekhmet: (Default)
    These goddesses are connected to each other, and to Inanna/Ishtar, in ways I'm not clear about. Are they essentially the same goddess, appearing in different cultures? Have they borrowed characteristics from one another? I intend to investigate!

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

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

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

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

    Sandars, N.K. The Epic of Gilgamesh. Penguin, London, 1972.
    ikhet_sekhmet: (Default)
    Near Eastern goddesses imported into Egypt )

    Wilkinson, Richard H. The Complete Gods and Goddesses of Ancient Egypt. Thames and Hudson, London, 2003.
    ikhet_sekhmet: (Default)
    Just a jumble of bits and pieces from Egyptian Religion by Siegfried Morenz, to which I need to give a proper read.

    Morenz suggests that the name "Sekhmet", which just means "Powerful One", might have been a taboo name - that is, a title used instead of the goddess' real name. He gives various examples from other religions, and that there were taboo names for magical parts of the body, but concedes that there's no conclusive evidence. (He translates Pakhet's name as "the Rapacious One".)

    Morenz describes how local gods became specialised as they were more widely worshipped: "At first the deity appeared to his [sic] worshippers in all his vital power, but later he was regarded by a larger circle of believers reduced to a lesser form, so to speak, with his functions restricted. In other words, to begin with God means everything to a small group, but later comes to mean part of a greater whole to a larger number of faithful... the particular type of specialization was determined by the specific features of the deity concerned..." So, he says, Sekhmet the lioness became a war-goddess.

    Discussing the tendency of Egyptian deities to combine into trinities, such as Ptah-Sokaris-Osiris, Morenz notes that even foreign deities could be linked in this way by the Egyptians, such as the Syrian goddesses combined as Kadesh-Astarte-Anath. Foreign deities such as these were worshipped in Egypt during the New Kingdom, and absorbed into state religion. "Ishtar of Syria" (Ishtar of Mittani), was prayed to for healing, and the image of Ishtar of Nineveh was sent to visit Amenophis III in hopes of healing him. The deities of conquered lands were absorbed into state religion.

    "...in Samos a bronze cat of Egyptian origin was dedicated to Hera although the cat has no relation to this deity; this was no doubt done because it was associated with the Egyptian god analogous to Hera: Mut, the consort of Amon, who was equated with the cat Bastet." (p 245)

    Morenz, Siegfried. Egyptian Religion. Methuen, London, 1973.


    ikhet_sekhmet: (Default)
    Plaything of Sekhmet

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