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
ikhet_sekhmet: (Default)

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kákosy, László. Egyptian Healing Statues in Three Museums in Italy: Turin, Florence, Naples. Ministero per i beni e le attività culturali, Soprintendenza al Museo delle antichità egizie, 1999.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Theodor Abt and Erik Hornung. Knowledge for the Afterlife: The Egyptian Amduat – A Quest for Immortality. Living Human Heritage Publications, Zurich, 2003.
ikhet_sekhmet: (ankh-mi-re)
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

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

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

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

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

    Cruz-Uribe, Eugene. Hibis temple project, Vol 1: Translations, commentary, discussions and sign list. San Antonio, Texas, Van Siclen Books, 1988.
    Parker, Richard A. The Calendars of Ancient Egypt. Studies in Ancient Oriental Civilization 26. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1950. (Source of the "dual year" concept.)
    Yoyotte, J. Une monumentale litanie de granit. Les Sekhmet d'Aménophis III et la conjuration permanente de la Déesse dangereuse. Bulletin de la Société Française 87-88, 1980.
    ikhet_sekhmet: (ankh-mi-re)
    Presumptive "ocular prosthesis" found in the Burnt City - Tumblr discussion, including artist's impression. :)

    Evolution of Angels: From Disembodied Minds to Winged Guardians

    Africans in Roman York?

    Oldest Perfumes Found on "Aphrodite's Island"

    Peking Man Was a Fashion Plate

    Papyri Point to Practice of Voluntary Temple Slavery in Ancient Egypt

    Study shows 'gene flow' from India to Australia 4000 years ago

    Stirling Castle's Amazon warrior revealed

    Sekhmet's bits: Forgotten statue uncovered

    Temple find shows sway of ancient Egyptian religion

    War was central to Europe's first civilisation - contrary to popular belief

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

    DNA sleuth hunts wine roots in Anatolia

    Robot Finds Mysterious Spheres in Ancient Temple (Best headline ever. The temple's in Teotihuacan.)

    Uncovered: Ritual public drunkenness and sex in ancient Egypt

    Linguists identify words that have changed little in 15,000 years

    Classic gags discovered in ancient Roman joke book

    Cosmic find unearthed using Aboriginal Dreaming story

    Digging for the truth at controversial megalithic site (Indonesia's Gunung Padang)

    Folk magic found in old Brisbane basement

    The earliest iron artifact ever found was made from a meteorite

    Evidence of 3,000-Year-Old Cinnamon Trade Found in Israel

    Cheese first made at least 7,500 years ago

    How Egyptian god Bes gave the Christian Devil his looks

    Ancient Magician's Curse Tablet Discovered in Jerusalem

    Egyptian goddess statue unveiled in İzmir’s Red Basilica (It's a nine-metre tall Sekhmet. Wow!)

    Finds in Israel add weight to theory God “had wife”


    Evidence of fire-raining comet discovered on Earth: "The sea of silica was a well-known area of study as its glass was found in highly valuable jewelry, including a brooch of the Egyptian pharaoh Tutankhamun."

    Untangling the Mystery of the Inca (khipu)

    ETA (thanks, [livejournal.com profile] alryssa!):

    "Lost City" of Tanis Found, but Often Forgotten

    Photos from the submerged ancient city of Heracleion


    Sep. 5th, 2013 08:30 pm
    ikhet_sekhmet: (Butterfly hair)
    I'm awfully keen on Tutu (here he is in my Tumblr). I shall now bore for the Commonwealth on the subject. Or, to put it another way, here is a catch-all posting for this unusual Egyptian deity. :)

    Tutu or Tithoes originated in Sais, came to prominence in the Late and Graceo-Roman periods, and was worshipped throughout the country. He started off as a vanquisher of Apophis, but became popular as the master of demons. He is most often depicted as a sphinx.

    Tutu has power over the demons that cause disease and misfortune - a group with various titles: the Seven Demons of Neith, the ḫ3tyw (butcher demons) of Sekhmet, and the šm3yw (wandering demons) of Bastet. The demons, who may also be dispatched by Mut or Nekhbet, are also called šsrw "arrows" (from the bow of Neith), hbyw "messengers", or wpwtyw "messangers". They often appear as armed, animal-headed men. (Khonsu, the son of Mut, Nefertem, the son of Sekhmet, and Mahes, the son of Bast or Sekhmet, could also control their mothers' squads of demons.) Tutu may be depicted with these demons, and given titles such as ḥry šsrw "master of demons".

    Tutu is frequently called '3 pḥty "great of strength", which is also the name of the first of Neith's demons. He's also called "who comes to the one calling him", which expresses his availability to the ordinary person who needs help. He's also called "lord of the Book" (of Life and Death), "who saves men from evil", and even "the divine demon".

    Tutu is typically portrayed in the form of a sphinx, though he does also pop up in human form, especially in temples; and occasionally as a lion-headed man. As a sphinx, Tutu may be accompanied by a griffin, representing the Roman goddess Nemesis; with the Wheel of Fortune; and/or with a winged sun indicating his divine status - though his demonic nature was expressed by addition of weapons, snakes, or scorpions to his paws. Another goddess, Petbe, was equated with Nemesis and may have contributed Tutu's snaky tail: "In the Demotic 'Tefnut Legend',' writes Kaper, 'Petbe is described as a griffin, 'whose tail is that of a serpent'."

    Tutu is often depicted facing out of images, like Bes - as Frankfurter points out, this gives him extra apotropaic power. He typically wears the tni crown (two ostrich feathers, sun disc, twisting rams' horns). His sphinx body may have a crocodile head emerging from the chest, an entire croc body slung under the sphinx, a lion's head joined to the back of the human head (and a crocodile or ibis head joined, in turn, to the lion), He may wear Roman soldiers' dress, including one example of a gorgoneion, and another of a lion's face in its place. A few sphinxes have wings - Kaper is reminded of the verb ḫsḫ, "be fast", which could be determined with a griffin or a sphinx.

    Tutu's consort, Tapshay, Tapashay, or Tapsais, was worshipped alongside him and Neith at Ismant el-Kharab (ala Kellis, the only place Tapshay was worshipped, and the only temple dedicated to Tutu). She wears the red crown, Hathor's feathered crown, or both, as in this bronze statuette. Olaf Kaper speculates "she may have been a private person who was divinised after her death". (At Shenhur, Tutu was the consort of Isis of Shenhur.)

    Frankfurter, David. "The local scope of religious belief". in Religion in Roman Egypt: assimilation and resistance. Princeton, N. J. : Princeton University Press, c1998.
    Kaper, Olaf E. The Egyptian God Tutu: a Study of the Sphinx God and Master of Demons with a Corpus of Monuments (Orientalia Lovaniensia Analecta 119). Dudley, Mass. : Peeters, 2003.
    Kaper, Olaf E. The God Tutu at Kellis: On Two Stelae Found at Ismant el-Kharab in 2000. in Gillian E. Bowen and Colin A. Hope (eds). The Oasis papers 3 : proceedings of the Third International Conference of the Dakhleh Oasis Project. Oxford : Oxbow, c2003.
    ikhet_sekhmet: (ankh-mi-re)
    Check out this Late Period stela:

    Here's my best stab at rendering the inscription in English:
    "Down! Down! You greedy creature that grabs with both arms for the Eye of Re and the Horus child! Fly to the block of Sekhmet, so that it burns your limbs and cuts off your fingers, and your footprints run away from Egypt, without your son taking your place. If you go to the Lake of Fire as an enemy devouring the Eye of Horus, may the flame be in your body; may she cut off your limbs, may your life on earth be miserable before you. Do not direct your wickedness against the prophets and priests of Haroesis, the prophet Pechrodise, son of mistress of the house Qris."
    Sekhmet is captioned "Sekhmet, mistress of executioners' blocks, whose fire threatens all, the great". Set, not unusually, isn't directly named. He appears to have the head of an ass rather than the set-animal; Blok discusses the representation of Apophis as an ass, and also mentions the ass-faced, knife-wielding underworld demon I have inelegantly labelled face out donkey guy. Anywho, I'll have to have a proper crack at the German later. (I wonder what the significance of the lizard and, erm turtle? under his prison is?)

    Blok, H.P. Eine magische Stele aus der Spätzeit. Acta Orientalia 7,8, 1929, pp 7-112.
    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.

    Two faces

    Oct. 27th, 2012 09:09 pm
    ikhet_sekhmet: (Default)
    "The manifestation of the divine, which ever presents two faces to mankind, holds the deepest philosophical interest. Egypt, like Greece, has its uncertain divinities. Sekhmet, the patron of healing, indiscriminately shoots the arrows of sickness into the welter of humanity with Apollonian detachment; and our papyrus three times invokes divine entities for aid against the threat of divine sickness. The enemy is the god; hope, the divine enemy. Where is the happy outcome? In order to assuage the suffering of the innocent human patient, the work of magic finds out the 'true' enemy upon whose head it fixes the curse - that is the dénouement of our spell."

    Sederholm, Val Hinckley . Papyrus British Museum 10808 and its cultural and religious setting. Leiden; Boston: Brill, 2006.
    ikhet_sekhmet: (Default)
    "In the 21st Dynasty a series of new iconographic compositions came into being... [since tomb walls] had ceased being carriers of the... compositions, as a result of the new policy of the Theban Priests Government, their function was taken over by coffins and papyri. The much smaller decorative surface... was a cause of the much greater confidence in pictorial means of expression... as well as the great condensation of the iconographic motifs, and their ambiguity. Practically each scene... bears solar and at the same time, osirian features, showing the great solar-osirian synthesis that... reached its apex in this period."

    Aha! This makes more sense of those bizarre funerary papyri.

    (As an example of the Project's contents, Niwiński describes a frequently-used vignette of three mummiform deities trampling a serpent, identified with both Apophis and Seth. One of the deities is often lioness- or cat-headed, and may represent Isis. I'm making a note of this because I've got some damn thing somewhere or other about Isis being assimilated to Sekhmet or something. Oy, the mess.)


    Niwiński, Andrzej. "The 21st Dynasty Religious Iconography Project: A Task for the Egyptology in the Nineties. Exemplified by the Scene with Three Deities Standing on a Serpent". in Studien zur Altägyptischen Kultur Beihefte 3, 1989.
    ikhet_sekhmet: (Default)
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    ikhet_sekhmet: (Default)
    Much of interest! In late Egypt Isis is theologically elevated to the highest status, recalling Inanna's elevation by Enheduanna. Absorbing the attributes of other goddesses, Isis becomes the creator and sustainer of the cosmos, the head of the triad she forms with Osiris and Horus, and not just the Eye of Re but the female Ra. I can't help wondering if, had the process continued, she would have absorbed (or eclipsed) the male creator god himself and become a truly universal goddess.

    Particularly of interest to my Sachmisiac heart, of course, are Isis' characterisation as a "bellicose goddess" and her connections to Sekhmet and Menhyt. (More on this in a subsequent posting.)

    When Hymn IV refers to Isis' b3, it makes a sort of pun on the word for "leopard", b3, using a leopard determinant. Louis Žabkar suggests this indicates her protective / punishing power. Hymn VIII addresses Isis as "You whom the gods have propitiated after (her) rage". Hymn V, which characterises her as Re's protecting uraeus aboard his barque; it calls her "Mightier than the mighty" and "Mistress of flame", and has her lopping off millions of enemy heads and destroying Apep "in an instant". Another inscription at Philae describes her as "more effective than millions of soldiers"; and in another, in which she is explicitly identified with "Sekhmet, the fiery goddess", she tells the king: "I cause your strength to be as that of the raging lion, your power like my power."

    A Roman-era hymn at Philae also calls her "Sekhmet, the fiery one", as well as "Mistress of battle, Montu of conflict / One to whom one cries out on the day of encounter". As Žabkar remarks, "in order to save those she loves [she] does not hesitate to step into the thickness of the battle itself."

    Žabkar points out the political meaning of a warlike Isis authorising the king to fight, especially given Philae's position on the border (the huge figures displayed on the temples' walls must have at least impressed the Nubians). Other examples of this warrior Isis occur at Abydos, and at Aswan, where she's given the title "vanguard of the army" - the opposite of Inanna's position at the back of the fight, egging the soldiers on. :)

    The ferocious hymns are thrilling, but even with the inevitable slight clunkiness of translation, the quieter ones lift up my heart: "She is the one who pours out the Inundation / That makes all people live and green plants grow." Ah. :)

    Žabkar, Louis V. Hymns to Isis in her temple at Philae. Hanover, NH : Published for Brandeis University Press by University Press of New England, 1988.


    ikhet_sekhmet: (Default)
    Plaything of Sekhmet

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