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)
According to this Ptolemaic (300 BCE) papyrus, Seth turned himself into a leopard in order to approach Osiris (to steal his body?). Anubis overcame Seth, branded him all over with a hot iron, skinned him, and wore his pelt. Thus the leopard-skin robes worn by Egyptian priests. Blimey!
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: (snakes alive!)
Professor Betsy M. Bryan, Alexander Badawy Professor of Egyptian Art and Archaeology, and Near Eastern Studies Professor at Johns Hopkins University, and currently excavating at Mut's temple in Karnak, wrote in Egypt's Dazzling Sun: Amenhotep III and His World:
"Amenhotep III built Soleb Temple as a cult place for the god Nebmaatra, lord of Nubia, a deified form of the king himself as the moon god Khonsu, the deity embodied by the lion. Mythological texts tell of the left or lunar eye, the feline goddess (Tefnut, Hathor, or Mehit, for example) who ravaged the enemies of Ra until she was appeased. Then she became the full moon, bringing increase and prosperity for the land. The temple of Soleb contains the ritual of the illumination of the dais during which the lunar eye of Horus, which had fled there in a damaged state, is made well and then illuminated as the full moon. An appeased lunar deity is at rest in the Soleb lions, but stays potentially violent once again as the moon wanes to become a dagger-shaped sickle. Amenhotep III's lions encapsulate his identification with the solar (as witness the use of red granite) and lunar cycles, as well as his constant vigilance to keep the cosmos in balance." (p 219)
OK, either this is way off beam, or - and let's be honest, this is rather more likely - there is a bunch of stuff Professor Bryan knows that I don't. A lunar version of the Eye of Re mythology?! This I have to see! (Alas, only the Khonsu as lion bit is sourced, but by heck I'll be following up the rest.)

ETA: lol, I posted about this last year, then apparently forgot all about it! That's what happens when you constantly jump from topic to topic...

Anywho, I'm just going to park a few relevant Google Books links here:

Between two worlds

Temples of Ancient Egypt

Amenhotep III: Perspectives on His Reign

And, thanks to Flickr, here's a snap of Nebmaatre. If I'm reading the hieroglyphs correctly, that's the god's name above his head, with no cartouche - he really is a god, and not just Amenhotep III wearing a Khonsu hat.

Kozloff, Arielle P., et al. Egypt's dazzling sun: Amenhotep III and his world. Cleveland, Cleveland Museum of Art in cooperation with Indiana University Press, 1992.
ikhet_sekhmet: (lioness)
Been going through the photocopies in my piling system. Egad, what a muddle. One which I rescued from the wrong box, from Terrie Waddell's book Cultural Expressions of Evil and Wickedness, is a fascinating chapter on "the way in which cats have been associated with women when it comes to affecting a heightened sense of mystery, suspicion, duplicity, temptation, eroticism and evil." Combining "enigmatic sexuality with predatory behaviour", the "female/cat mix" appears again and again in pop culture; Waddell traces its origins back to the demonisation of female deities associated with cats.

There may be something to this. You don't have to look far to find any number of goddesses and other mythological characters associated with cats large and small. Waddell mentions the Maenads, "thought to lure 'respectable' women out of their homes and onto the streets during Dionysian festivals". The goddess on the Burney Relief perches atop two lions. Ishtar and Qudshu stand atop lions; Atargatis and Allat are accompanied by lions. (Nor is the association limited to the West: the Hindu goddess Durga rides a tiger or a lion, as does Nana, and the dakini Simhavaktra has a lion's head.)

Plus, of course, there are the Egyptian goddesses portrayed with lioness heads - the more I look, the more of these I find: Sekhmet, Bastet (whom Waddell says was a psychopomp?), Tefnut, Pakhet, Wadjet, Menhit, Wenenut, Werethekau, Ai, Henut-Mestjet, and more. (There are lion gods as well, but not so many, and none so prominent, except the lion-headed Bes.) The association is not limited to the divine: Waddell quotes from Carol Andrews' Amulets of Egypt, pointing out that "cat fetishes were a component of the insignia of female royalty" in the New Kingdom, and of course there's the often-seen image of domestic tranquility, the cat under the chair of the mistress of the house, as well as sayings like "When a man smells of myrrh, his wife is a cat before him - when a man is in trouble, his wife is a lioness before him." (From the Instructions of Ankhsheshonq - but is the 'lioness' nagging him, or defending him?)

But here's where we enter unfamiliar (to me, anyway) territory. Waddell quotes Donald Engels' Classical Cats: "The cult of Isis and her sacred cat companion Bubastis was widespread and influential throughout the Roman Empire..." Waddell remarks, "The cult of Bastet... continued via its fusion with the goddess worship of Artemis, Diana and Isis well into the Middle Ages... If [these sects] threatened the Christian West, then it's not surprising that cats, the signifier of these matri-centred religions, were consider satanic."

Hmmm. I'll have to have a look at Engels' argument in more detail, along with exploring Isis' worship outside Egypt, an area I've only recently started to poke around in.

ETA: The useful essay on Bastet at per-Bast.org remarks: "Previous to the Graeco-Roman influence on Egypt, Bast was exclusively solar; being the Eye of Ra, She had to be. It is only after She is linked to Artemis that She becomes lunar." This may be the missing link I've been looking for - how, in modern Neo-Paganism, Bastet is sometimes characterised as the Left Eye and therefore the moon, in a neat parallel with Sekhmet, the solar Right Eye. I don't think the Egyptians themselves made that comparison, but it does seem like a logical development from the idea that Bastet is a benevolent form of Sekhmet. (The link Isis - Bastet - Artemis could also explain why Sharon Kelly Heyob puzzlingly describes Isis as a "moon goddess" in The Cult of Isis in the Graeco-Roman World.)

Waddell, Terrie. "The Feline/Female Morph: Myth, Media, Sex and the Bestial". in Waddell, Terrie (ed). Cultural Expressions of Evil and Wickedness: Wrath, Sex, Crime. Amsterdam; New York: Rodopi, 2003, pp 74-96.


Jun. 4th, 2011 09:33 pm
ikhet_sekhmet: (Default)
Long-time readers of this blog may have noticed my obsession with lion-headed Egyptian deities. I remember as a kid being slightly puzzled as to why there was a lioness goddess, Sekhmet, but no lion god. But of course, there are several known male deities who are portrayed with lion heads or as lions, such as Apedemak and Mahes - even Horus has a go at Edfu.

Here's the god Shesmu, on the southern staircase at Denderah:

His name appears above him - I've highlighted it in red here:

It's the sign for a wine press, plus an adorable little lion-headed determinative. :) Up to the Middle Kingdom, explains Mark Ciccarello, Shesmu was the patron of the wine press, but swapped making wine for making ointment in the New Kingdom.

From his first appearances in the Pyramid Texts, Shesmu is one of those Egyptian deities who's both friendly and dangerous: he presents the dead pharoah with wine, but also chops up gods for the meal in the Cannibal Hymn. Similarly, in both the Coffin Texts and the Book of the Dead, he's described as both feeding the deceased and as one of the god who traps them in a net. (He even has a staff of demons, the Shesmus, to help him.) In the BD he's a butcher again, described as the "mutilator of Osiris" (does that mean he's the guy who chopped Osiris into pieces?). ETA: Uh-uh. See the comments. :)

Shesmu is shown in a number of temples; probably the first actual image of him is in Seti I's temple at Abydos. He's pretty benevolent in these contexts, presenting ointment and helping to embalm the dead, and starts being shown with a lion's head. Interestingly, Ciccarello points out that Shesmu tends to be depicted with a lion head when he's acting benevolently; generally, it's the one with a human head you've got to watch out for!

(Plenty more detail at the entry on Shesmu over at the amazin' Henadology!)

Ciccarello, Mark. "Shesmu the Letopolite." in Mark Ciccarello, Mark, et al (eds). Studies in Honor of George R. Hughes. Chicago, Oriental Institute, 1976.
ikhet_sekhmet: (nebty)
We had the great good fortune of being able to visit Melbourne for the King Tut exhibition at the Melbourne Museum. It's beautifully presented, and there was a mix of objects I've been seeing photos of all my life, such as some of Tut's pectoral ornaments, and things I don't think I've ever laid eyes on before.

One of these was a wooden statue of an enthroned, lioness-headed, mummiform goddess, 54 cm high, which was found in the sarcophagus chamber of Amenhotep II. The catalogue describes it as being "carved from ten separate blocks of light reddish wood and coated with bitumen". The eyes, which may have been inlaid with semi-precious stones, have been crudely gouged out, revealing the wood beneath the sticky-looking black coating. There's a picture of it online here.

The label at the exhibition compared the figure to the Sekhmet found in Tut's tomb, but suggested this particular one might be a deity from the Book of the Dead - there are a couple of similar figures, wielding knives, visible in Hunefer's copy (top left in this flickr photo). I'll see if I can find a clearer image. (ETA: Here's a hippo-headed one from Ramesses I's tomb.)

(Surprisingly, the exhibition didn't include any of Amenhotep III's statues of Sekhmet. This may make the Melbourne Museum one of few institutions on Earth which doesn't have one. :)
ikhet_sekhmet: (Default)
I often come across this statue for sale on Ebay or elsewhere:

It's usually flogged as "Sekhmet in her male aspect" or some such. It's actually a pretty terrific piece of art - but who is it really? Possibly this chap:

One of four gods protecting the doors of the third shrine of Tutankhamun (ie the concatenated shrines containing his coffins, the third one from the outside). Piankoff translates his name as "Slaughter Head", which is fabulous. There are other, similar figures about the place, but Tut's fame makes it likely that this chap was the artist's model.

He's visible in context (just!) in these Flickr photos:

And more clearly in this photo from the Griffith Institute:

ETA: Here's a female version of the same deity from the tomb of Nefertari:
Piankoff, Alexandre. The Shrines of Tut-Ankh-Amon. Princeton, NJ, Princeton University Press, 1977.
ikhet_sekhmet: (lunar eclipse)
Now this is odd.
"Mythological texts tell of the left or lunar eye, the feline goddess (Tefnut, Hathor, or Mehit, for example) who ravaged the enemies of Ra until she was appeased. Then she became the full moon, bringing increase and prosperity for the land."
That's more from Egypt's Dazzling Sun, this time considering the Prudhoe Lions aka the Soleb Lions at the BM. I've been ferretting out references which seem to indicate the moon was thought of as the "left eye" of Ra, corresponding to the sun as his "right eye", or that seem to link the two eyes. I've found more than I expected (of which more later) but nothing quite like this, which seems to just conflate the two outright. (Kozloff is pretty sharp with the footnotes, but doesn't give one for this bit.)

The same article (page 219 of the exhibition guide, a book you wouldn't want to drop on your foot) notes that the temple of Soleb was dedicated to "Nebmaatra [ie Amenhotep III], lord of Nubia, a deified form of the king himself as the moon god Khonsu, the deity embodied by the lion." Amenhotep III built the temple; later, it was moved and reinscribed for Tutankhamen and Ay, with Nebmaatra being reidentified with another moon god, Iah. "Syncretized rather early, Iah and Khonsu are easily confused, since Iah was not uncommonly represented in an anthropomorphic striding form, as was Nebmaatra of Soleb."
Kozloff, Arielle P., et al. Egypt's dazzling sun: Amenhotep III and his world. Cleveland, Cleveland Museum of Art in cooperation with Indiana University Press, 1992.


Oct. 19th, 2010 07:17 pm
ikhet_sekhmet: (Default)
Via [livejournal.com profile] ratmmjess: The Hohlenstein-Stadel Lion Man, "the oldest imaginary being in the world".

On Flicker, a lion-headed Horus at Edfu.

Photographer Joan Lansberry's site includes great snaps from the Brooklyn Museum, the Sekhmet head that hypnotised me during my own visit, and the Predynastic birdlike lady nicknamed "the Nile Goddess". Plus more Sekhmets at the Met and a whole page of Set.

Striking gods from the Beltane Fire Society's Samhuinn 2009 celebration.

BBC: Oldest evidence of arrows found
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.


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

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

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

And finally, the Web comic XKCD pinpoints my eccentric research method. :)
ikhet_sekhmet: (Default)
Having a bit of a bookmark cleanup here. :)

  • Stelae from Deir el Medina at the Turin Museum. Some lovely colour pics here, including images of Renenutet, Qudshu, Raettawy, and the mysterious "Great Cat". (My favourite is the eensy stela to Meretseger, with the cobra goddess enjoying her beer and lotus. :)

  • I am an absolute sucker for stick-figure versions of the Book of the Dead, which are elegant and comical at the same time. Check out the two-headed deity from the tomb of Thutmosis III (first picture, at left), and the schematised gods from the Litany of Re in the same tomb (interrupted, rather wonderfully, by a cheerful-looking cat).

  • I was a bit silly last night, and the black-on-yellow illustrations from the Book of Caverns (scroll down to see them) gave me the giggles - as a mate pointed out, it looks like a video game gone mad.

  • Lovely colour snaps of the burial chamber of Inherkhau - I'd seen lots of pieces of this, but here's the whole shebang.

  • Finally, just to be thoroughly miscellaneous: No More God Spot?
ikhet_sekhmet: (Default)
Sculpture as old as civilisation tops $65m

Man! I am so lucky I got to see this at the Brooklyn Museum a couple of years ago. (I've got a journal article around here somewhere about the sculpture which I'll try to dig up.)


ikhet_sekhmet: (Default)
Plaything of Sekhmet

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