Saturday, 4 September 2010

This blog has been moved.....

This will be my last post on this URL. The past few days I have been busy moving my blogposts to and will continue writing my posts there.
Hope to see you there soon ;)

Sunday, 11 July 2010

Ruling queens of ancient Egypt (2) - Hatshepsut.

Father: Thutmose I
Mother: Ahmose
Consort: Thutmose II (half brother)
Children: Neferu
Horus name: Wesretkau (Mighty of Kas)
Nebty name: Wadjrenput (She of the two ladies, Flourishing of years)
Golden Horus name: Netjeretkhau (Devine of appearance)
Throne name: Maatkare (Truth [Ma’at] is the soul [Ka] of Re)
Birth name: Khanumt-Amun Hatshepsut (Foremost of noble ladies)
Burial place: Originally KV20

Queen Hatshepsut lived from 1500 till 1458 BC and by ruling over ancient Egypt for 21 years (1479 – 1458 BC) she is the ruling queen with the longest reign in Egypt’s history.
She was the daughter of Thutmose I and Ahmose. Hatshepsut married her half-brother Thutmose II who became king of Egypt when his father died (1492 BC). Thutmose II was a son of Thutmose I and his minor wife lady Mutnofret. Since three of his older brothers died prematurely and Thutmose II was only a lesser son he had to marry his fully royal half sister to secure his claim of the throne and to secure his kingship.
Because of the similarities in domestic and foreign policies that were pursued under her reign Hatshepsut is believed to be the real power behind the throne during the (short) time Thutmose II ruled over Egypt. Hatshepsut only gave birth to a daughter named Neferu.
When Thutmose II died Thutmose III, son of Thutmose II and his lesser wife Iset (named after goddess Isis), was still an infant and too young to rule over Egypt so Hatshepsut acted as regent on his behalf. But how did Hatshepsut become queen of Egypt?
Never claiming to have ruled with or for her husband Thutmose II, Hatshepsut used her bloodline and fabricated a co-regency with her father Thutmose I to legitimize her accession to the throne. Even before Hatshepsut had taken on the throne name Maatkare there was an inscription left at Aswan by the royal steward Senemut, naming her as “king’s daughter, king’s sister, god’s wife, great royal wife Hatshepsut”. There are also scenes and texts at Deir el-Bahri of her claim that Thutmose I proclaimed her as heir even before his death.
It was not uncommon for women to hold official positions and own property during the times of Hatshepsut’s reign but still Hatshepsut did take several actions to make her accession to the throne even more acceptable for instance for the priests that had much power back then.
She dressed up in male clothing and is known to even wear an false beard. She did not hesitate to declare herself near godlike, telling stories about the gods talking to her while she was still in her mother’s womb. Hatshepsut even made up a story about the god Amon-Ra visiting her pregnant mother while she was at Deir el-Bahri in the Valley of the Kings.
Furthermore, Hatshepsut wanted to be called king and be addressed as “his” majesty. She also wanted to rule as a king refusing to be outdone by previous kings.
Egypt did not go to battle during Hatshepsut’s rule, only minor skirmishes occurred on the borders of Egypt. But she expanded the trade routes, renewed trading with Punt and she initiated and encouraged free trading with other countries. Besides that Hatshepsut believed Egypt should withdraw from the outside world and stay clear of the political unrest that was upsetting the middle east that time. The priests of Amon shared Hatshepsut’s ideas making it more easy for her to stay in power. With the support of the priesthood it was possible for Hatshepsut to have a peaceful and prosperous reign.

Like many other rulers of ancient Egypt, Hatshepsut was a great builder that has left us many monuments. Ineni who also worked for her father, brother and the royal steward Senemut was her architect. Statuary that have been created during Hatshepsut’s reign can be found in museums all over the world. Not only did Hatshepsut construct monuments at the temple of Karnak, she also restored the Precinct of Mut at Karnak.
Hatshepsut also had a masterpiece when it comes to building projects: her own mortuary temple build in a complex at Deir el-Bahri. It was designed by Senemut and the first complex to be build on the location that later would be known as the Valley of the Kings.

Hatshepsut’s reign came to a sudden end, according to Manetho Hatshepsut dies the 9th month of the 22nd year as queen but the cause of her death is still unknown. She could have died a natural death but some think it is also possible Thutmose III poisoned her to gain power. Computer tomography recently performed on what is thought to be her mummy, indicates that while being in her mid-fifties she died of a blood infection. If we are correct in thinking this mummy belongs to Hatshepsut, then she also suffered from arthritis, had bad teeth and on top of that possibly had diabetes.

Saturday, 19 June 2010

Ruling queens of ancient Egypt.(1)

When we think about Egyptian queens, names like Nefertiti and Cleopatra are most likely the first to spring to mind. But Egypt has been ruled by four more women: Neithikret, Sobeknefru, Hatshepsut and Tawosret. A seventh, MerNeith could possibly be the first Queen ever to rule Egypt but is too much disputed to be considered a ruling Queen without a doubt. Still she is mentioned here because she can’t be ruled out.

Although there are several types of queens in the history of ancient Egypt, the Great Royal Wife for example, only the actual ruling queens of royal blood will be mentioned in this post and the ones that follow on this subject.


Possible father: King Jer.
Mother: unknown
Consort: King Djet
Offspring: King Den
Buried: Tomb Y in Abydos

MerNeith or MeritNit was possibly the first female ruler of Egypt and she lived during the first dynasty of Egypt. Although the period of her reign is not exactly known it must have been around the 30th century BC. Her name means “beloved by Neith”. Merneith was the Great Royal Wife of King Djet and the mother of King Den.
MerNeith became Queen of Egypt because when King Djet died, her son Den was still thought to be too young to rule over Egypt.
Her Tomb was found at Abydos by William Petrie, a famous English Egyptologist at the beginning of the twentieth century. At first Petrie thought the tomb belonged to a, until then, unknown king of the first dynasty. Although her name can be found in a seal impression with those of other kings of the first dynasty, the falcon being the sign of kingship, is not present. On other lists there is no mention of her but there is of her son. For these and other reasons many scholars do not accept MerNeith as a ruler in her own right but see her as a co-regent next to her son. On top of that, there are no clear inscriptions that detail her role as a ruling queen so she is never looked at as “Queen” like the later female rulers Hatshepsut or Cleopatra.

Neithikret (ca 2148 – 2144 BC)

Possible father: Pepi II
Possible mother: Queen Neith

Neithikret, also known as Nitiqret or Nitocris has been claimed to have been the last ruler of the sixth dynasty at the end of the Old Kingdom period and the start of the First Intermediate period. Little is known about the first female to rule over ancient Egypt, there not even clear proof she ever existed. But she is mentioned in the Histories of Herodotus, the ancient Greek historian, and writings of Manetho, who was an Egyptian historian.

The Histories of Herodotus tells us the story of Neithikret who in revenge of her brother’s death kills all the people she holds responsible for this murder. Besides by Manetho and Herodotus Neithikret is only mentioned in the Turin Papyri.


Father: Amenemhat III
Mother: Queen Aat
Consort: Amenemhat IV (her brother)
Horus name: Merytre
Nebty name: Sat-sekhem-nebettawy
Golden Horus name: Djed-et-kha
Throne name: Sobekkare
Birth name: Sobeknefru
Burial place: unsure but could be Mazghuana

Queen Sobekneferu (Sobek is (like) the beauty of Ra) was a ruling queen during the 12th dynasty.
Sobekneferu became queen of Egypt after the death of her husband and brother Amenemhat IV. Her name often appears with the addition Shedty which means “with Shedet”, indicating she was involved in a religious movement in this town in Faiyum.
There are very few records of her short reign that only lasted four years but some damaged (headless) statues of her have been found in the Delta. It is also known she extended the funerary complex of Amenemhat III at Hawara but she also build structures at Herakleopolis Magna. She is listed in the Turin Canon, and there is a fine cylinder seal bearing her name and titulary, currently locate at the British Museum. Although generally the queen would use feminine titles, several masculine ones were also used.
There is an interesting, but damaged statue of the queen of unknown origin; the costume on this figure is unique in its combination of elements from male and female dress, echoing her occasional use of male titles in her records. This ambiguity might have been a deliberate attempt to mollify the critics of a female ruler.
(The Oxford History of Ancient Egypt, p159, The middle Kingdom Renaissance – Gae Callender)

Thursday, 20 May 2010

Was Egypt ever ruled by pharaohs?

When we refer to the rulers of ancient Egypt we often do so by calling them pharaoh but is this correct? Let’s see what the word pharaoh exactly means shall we?
The word pharaoh is actually a Greek word based on an Egyptian word that meant “Great House” and it originally referred to the king’s palace and its greatness and not to the king himself. But around the reign of Thutmose III in the New Kingdom it became a custom to use the word pharaoh as a form to refer to the person of the king.
These days it is also common to call the ancient rulers pharaohs but in fact we would be more correct to call them king or queen and refer to them using their throne names, certainly when we are talking about the rulers before the 18th dynasty.
So how did they refer to the kings and queens that ruled before the New Kingdom?
The names of the rulers changed when the ruler assumed the throne. The classic sequence of names and titles (royal titulary) held by each of the rulers consisted of five names and is called “the fivefold titulary”. This titulary was not fully established until the Middle Kingdom and consisted of the Horus name, the Golden Horus name, the Two Ladies name (Nebty), the birth name (nomen; sa-Ra) and the throne name (prenomen; nesu-bit). (The Oxford History of Ancient Egypt – Ian Shaw p.477)

The Horus name.
The Horus name was usually written in the serekh, which represented a palace façade. The name of the king was written in hieroglyphs inside this representation. Usually there was also an image of the falcon god Horus placed on top of it. The Horus name being the oldest form of the Kings name has been used since the early Predynastic period (prior to 3100BC). Many of the early Egyptian kings are just known by their Horus name. One Egyptian ruler, Seth-Peribsen King of the Second Dynasty, used an image of the god Set instead one of Horus. Some think this could be because of a possible internal religious division of the country. His successor Khasekhemwy (Khasekhemui) placed both symbols above his name but after that the image of Horus was always place next to the name of the king.

The Two Ladies name (Nebty)
The Nebty name was associated with the patron goddesses of Upper and Lower Egypt.
The first, Nekhbet , was the patron deity of Upper Egypt and was represented as an Egyptian vulture and the second, Wadjet, the patron deity of Lower Egypt who was represented by an Egyptian cobra.
The first time the Nebty name was used was by Semerkhet a king of the First Dynasty (around 2950BC) but it did not become a official independent title until the 12th dynasty which started somewhere around 1991BC.

Golden Horus name.
This name also known as the Horus of Gold, is part of the kings name typically featured the image of a Horus falcon perched above or beside the hieroglyph for gold.
The real meaning of this title is not entirely sure. Some say it represents the victory of Horus over his uncle Seth because the symbol for gold could mean that Horus was “superior to his foes”.
In ancient Egypt gold was also often associated with eternity, so this title could also have been intended to convey the kings eternal Horus name.

The throne name (prenomen; nesu-bit).
The throne name (added to the titular during the 3rd dynasty), enclosed in a cartouche and accompanied by the title nesu-bit, indicates that the ruler is king of Upper and Lower Egypt where the plant is a symbol for Upper Egypt and the bee a symbol for Lower Egypt. More generally, it indicates the king is a king of dualities, Upper and Lower Egypt, desert and cultivated lands, the human and the divine and so on. The prenomen was usually a reference to some religious belief and often invoked a god or gods in the name.
In some literature it is stated that the nesu-bit literally means “He or She of the Sedge and Bee” while others think the two words are related to other Afro/Asiatic words meaning something like “strong man” or “ruler”.

Personal name or birth name (nomen)
Like the name suggest, this name was given to the king at birth. The title was added to the titulary during the 4th dynasty to indicate the divine nature of the King and was preceded by the title “son of Ra”. The birth name is the name which is used by today’s Egyptologists although often roman numerals have to be added to the name to distinguish between kings sharing the same nomen. (Amenhotep III, Ramses II, Cleopatra V etc.)

Friday, 9 April 2010

The royal crowns of the ancient Egyptian pharaohs. (2)

The Nemes Crown.

This crown is actually more a striped head cloth then a crown, covering the whole crown and back of the head. It had two flaps which hung down behind the ears and in front of both shoulders. The Nemes Crown, the oldest example of which covers the head of the statue of Netjerikhet (Djoser) and the Khat were the most frequently worn headdresses. It was worn with a uraeus (a cobra in attack position) seshed, the uraeus being a part in the majority of the royal crowns.
The Nemes Crown can be seen combined with the earlier mentioned double crown on the statue of Ramses II at Abu Simbel. Maybe the best known example of the Nemes Crown is the Death-mask of Tutankhamun.

The blue Crown.

The Blue Crown or Khepresh is also known as the Blue Crown of War because pharaohs of the New Kingdom are often shown wearing this headdress in battle, but it also had ceremonial use. Although it is often referred to as the Crown of War, modern historians refuse to refer to it this way.
The material uses for the Khepresh was cloth or leather stained blue and it was covered with many little yellow sun-disks. Also with this crown a uraeus was fastened to its front.
The earliest mention of the Khepresh comes from the second intermediate period, where Amenhotep III is the first king depicted to wear the Blue Crown. During the 18th and 19th dynasty it was worn by some of the pharaohs as their main crown.

The Atef Crown.

This was a white headdress (Hedjet) combined with ostrich feathers and was worn during some religious rituals. The first depiction of the Atef Crown dates as far back as the reign of Sahure during the 5th dynasty. The meaning of the word “Atef” is known. While it may mean “his might” or “his terror”, the real meaning of the word remains unsure.
The Atef Crown is associated with the gods Osiris (who wears the crown as a symbol of the ruler of the underworld) and Heryshef (the ram god, ruler of the river banks), but it can also be worn by Horus and Re in their many forms.
Under Akhenaten (Amenhotep IV) the triple Atef occurs which may have replaced the Atef Crown during the Amarna period.

Thursday, 1 April 2010

The royal crowns of the ancient Egyptian pharaohs. (1)

The White Crown.

This crown, called Hedjed, is the crown of Upper Egypt. This conical shaped headpiece was worn as early as 3000BC. The White Crown could actually have been green because it is believed to be have been made from reeds.
The earliest image of the White Crown so far is in Northern Nubia (Ta-Seti) around the Naqada (pre-dynastic) period. So it could well be that the “White crown clan” migrated northward and their regalia was adopted by the Egyptians or it could be that the conquering Upper Egyptians took the White Crown as their own as they absorbed the kingdom into the new unified state, like they did for Lower Egypt.
The god Osiris is often shown wearing the White Crown of Upper Egypt and often became the Atef crown by being combined with feathers. After the unification of Upper and Lower Egypt it got combined with the Red Crown of Lower Egypt and was called the Pschent.
The symbol sometimes used for the Hedjet was the goddess, who is the Uraeus (cobra) shown next to the head of Nekhbet (the vulture goddess) on the Pschent.

The Red Crown.

The Red Crown, Deshret, is the crown of Lower Egypt and was as stated above got combined with the White Crown after the unification of Upper and Lower Egypt. No Red Crown survived so we can only guess what is was made of. Copper, reeds, cloth and leather have been suggested as material but this is in all honesty nothing more than a wild guess.
An early image of the Deshret can be found on the front side of the Narmer Palette; here we can see a victorious pharaoh wearing the Red Crown.
Since there has been no crown found in any tomb, even in relatively intact tombs, it could be possible that the crown was passed on from one pharaoh to the other.

The Double Crown.

This crown is also known as Pschent and symbolizes the unification of both Upper and Lower Egypt. The ancient Egyptians generally referred to the Double Crown as Sekhemti, which means the “Two Powerful Ones”. In general the invention of the Double Crown is thought to be done by Menes, a pharaoh of the first dynasty, but the first to wear the Double Crown can have been Djet, there is a rock inscription that shows his Horus wearing a double crown.
Surprisingly there are far less representations of the Double Crown then there are of the White and the Red Crown alone. Sculptures of the Double Crown not very often show the curled wire that often can be seen in representations of the Red Crown, sometimes because it is broken off but most of the times it just isn’t added.

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Moses an Egyptian?

After I finished my second posts on Akhenaten and monotheism it came to me that I am not finished with this subject, not in the least I might add.
As written in my first post on the subject, Sigmund Freud was the first to argue that Moses was in fact an Egyptian and an Atenist priest. He even comes close to suggesting Moses and Akhenaten was one and the same person. If this thesis is true, this could mean that after ruling Egypt for 17 years, Akhenaten did not die but he was the one that leaded the Israelites out of Egypt during the Exodus. Taking this one step further, could mean that as some think the mummy found in the tomb KV55 is not Akhenatens at all but we should search for his body in the plains of Moab at the foot of Mount Nebo. Understandably this all sounds rater farfetched at first glance but so does the thesis that Moses was an Egyptian and not a Hebrew. I am just at the beginning in my search for answers on this subject but am sure that in the end I will not know the truth but just one or more possible truths.

In part one of “Moses and Monotheism”, “Moses an Egyptian” (1934) Freud gives several reasons for his believe that Moses was an Egyptian, the first being the origin of the name Moses.
Chapter ii of the book Exodus tells us he was given his name by the Egyptian princess that saved him from the water of the river Nile, giving the explanation “because I drew him out of the water”. Moses, written as Mosche in Hebrew means “He that was drawn out of the water”. At first glance this seems a logical explanation but how high are the chances of an Egyptian princess having knowledge of the Hebrew language?
The book “History of Egypt”, written by J.H. Breasted looks at it a bit differently stating Moses is an Egyptian name originating from the name Mose which means ‘child’. The final ‘s’ is an addition drawn from the Greek translation of the old testament.

In his search for prove of the fact that Moses was an Egyptian, Freud compares the myth of Moses with the theory written in the book “Der Mythus von der Geburt des Helden” written by Otto Rank. This book deals with the fact that “almost all important civilized peoples have early on woven myths around and glorified in poetry their heroes, mythical kings and princes, founders of religions, of dynasties, empires and cities in short their national heroes. Especially the history of their birth and of their early years is furnished with fantastic traits; the amazing similarity, nay, literal identity, of those tales, even if they refer to different, completely independent peoples, sometimes geographically far removed from one another, is well known and has struck many an investigator.”

According to Rank the myth of a hero in many cases follows the same line. Starting with the birth of the hero being the son of parents of the highest station and most of the time even the son of a king. During the mothers pregnancy or even before that and oracle or a dream warns the father great danger will come of the birth of his child. This results in the father (or someone representing him) giving the order to kill the child or put it in grave danger which in most cases means that the child is put in a casket and delivered to the waves.
After that the child is saved by animals or poor people, suckled by a female animal or a woman of humble birth. When the child is full grown and after many adventures he rediscovers his parents and wreaks vengeance on his father. After that he is recognized by his people and attains fame and greatness.
The first to whom this myth attaches is Sargon of Argade the founder of Babylon (c.a. 2800BC) but there are more like Karna, Heracles, Moses etc….
But the myth of Moses stands apart, he is a child of Jewish Levites. The second family, according to the myth the humble one in which the hero is brought up, is in the case of Moses a family of high standard, the royal house of Egypt.
This divergence has struck many researchers as strange and have brought them to the conclusion the original myth must have been different. A pharaoh being warned by a prophetic dream that his daughter’s son would become a danger to him and his kingdom. This being the reason for the child shortly after birth being delivered to the waters of the river Nile and being found and saved by Jewish people that are to bring up the child. “National motives” according to Rank could have been the motive for changing the original myth to the form now known to us.
The myth of Moses has to be from Jewish or Egyptian origin. But the Egyptians had no reason to glorify Moses, to them Moses was not even an hero. So the legend has to be of Jewish origin, that being a problem too in its “original” form because the Jewish people have no reason to have an Egyptian as their leader.
To Freud the possible origin of the name Moses and the analysis of the myth of an hero projected on the person of Moses are not enough prove for the possibility of Moses being an Egyptian and there is a need for at least one other fixed point like proof of the period into which the life of Moses, and with it the Exodus from Egypt, fall would have sufficed but there is none. This brings us to another way of looking at Moses, “If Moses was an Egyptian……”

Moses and Monotheism – Sigmund Freud

and Akhenaten – Ahmed Osman

Sunday, 28 February 2010

Akhenaten and Monotheism (2)

The Amarna period.

If it had not been for Akhenaten, Aten had almost not have been figured in ancient Egyptian history. Aten first appeared during the 12th dynasty in the story of Sinuhe as a sun disk but merely as an aspect of the sun god Re. It seems that Aten became more important during the reign of Amenhotep III but it was Akhenaten that started the Atenist revolution and made Aten the “one true god”.
Akhenaten builds temples to the Aten and other structures near the temple of Karnak. Adoration of the traditional Egyptian gods was still continued these early years of his reign. But in his fifth regnal year, on the thirteenth day of the eighth month, the King who a month before that changed his name from Amenhotep IV to Akhenaten, started the construction of the city Akhetaten (The horizon of the Aten). During year 7 of Akhenatens reign Akhetaten became the capital city of Egypt. By shifting his court to the new capital it moved away from the influence of the traditional center of religion and its priests. This gave way to the changes of the focus of religious and political power.
Year nine of Akhenatens reign marks the moment of many radical changes.
Akhenaten now ordered the defacing of all Amun’s temples and those of all other gods throughout Egypt. Although Akhenaten is often seen as being a pacifist, one has to realize that these radical changes cannot have taken place without using any force. Akhenaten carried out a program of religious reforms declaring Aten no longer the superior god but the one and only god, forbidding the worshipping of all other gods publicly and privately. During this period the way Aten’s name was written also changed. No longer was Aten represented as the solar disk but written phonetically.
No longer was the God worshipped by the pharaoh and the priests in the closed surroundings of a temple, but among the people and in the open air under the rays of the sun disk.
Now Akhenaten’s monotheism was completely in effect and would last till his death, eight years later.

The decline and aftermath of Akhenatens monotheism.

With Akhenaten’s death, the Aten cult he had created and sustained, almost immediately fell apart. Due to pressure of the priest of the Amun cult and the fact that many people in fact never completely stopped worshipping the traditional gods in the privacy of their homes where they kept the symbols of these gods hidden, the return to polytheism became inevitable. Three years after Akhenaten’s death, his son Tutankhaten, who succeeded him (with Akhenatens vizier Ay as regent) at the age of eight years, left Akhetaten to return to Thebes. This is when he changed his name from Tutankhaten (Living image of Aten) to Tutankhamun (Living image of Amun).He was probably too young to make his own decisions and maybe not more than just a puppet of the priests. With the priests effectively in power, temples that Akhenaten had build, among them the ones in Thebes, were disassembled, their building blocks reused to create new structures. Inscriptions to Aten got defaced and the written record of the Amarna revolution and Atenism deleted. Later on even Akhenaten, Smenkhkare, Tutankhamun and Ay were removed from the official list of Pharaohs hereby making Amenhotep III immediately succeeded by Horemheb and in doing this denying the first monotheistic period in human history.


Toet-Ank-Amon – written by Otto Neubert
Akhenaten, King of Egypt – written by Cyril Aldred
The Oxford History of Ancient Egypt – written by Ian Shaw

Tuesday, 2 February 2010

Akhenaten and Monotheism (1)

Monotheism, the believe that only one god exists and was brought to the Egyptians of the 18th Dynasty by Akhenaten. Some even believe that Akhenaten was the pioneer of a monotheistic religion that later became Judism. One of those is Sigmund Freud, in his book Moses and Monotheism he argues that Moses was an Atenist priest that was forced out of Egypt after Akhenatens death.
In this book Freud argues that what Akhenaten was trying to achieve in ancient Egypt, to promote monotheism, was successfully achieved by the biblical Moses. Freud also said that monotheism was not a Jewish but an Egyptian invention, descending from the cult of the Egyptian sun god Aten.

But back to Akhenaten…..Akhenaten became king of Egypt by chance, his older brother Crown Prince Thutmose died at a young age and made Akhenaten (during those times going by the name Amenhotep IV) next to take over the throne. Before the death of his brother Akhenaten was studying religion and could have been preparing to become a priest. His early education has often been seen as a reason for his strong affinity with religion.
But could Akhenaten during his 17 year reign make this complete turnaround from polytheism to monotheism? In a way, the time was on his side. After his death, Amenhotep III left a wealthy and peaceful Egypt behind. Foreign cultures introduced their gods into Egyptian religion, some of them got associated with the Egyptian king, especially in his warlike aspect. On the other hand the foreign people got more and more seen as part of god’s creation and protected by the earthly representative of the sun-god Ra, the pharaoh.
The sunrise was seen as a repetition of the “first occasion”, the creation of the world in the beginning. Ra went through the same cycles as did the sun, the cycle of death and rebirth.
At sunset he entered the netherworld to be regenerated and reborn as Ra-Horakhty. (Horakhty = “Horus of the two horizons”). Together with the sun-god the dead were also reborn and joined Ra on his daily journey. Osiris, god of the dead and the underworld, was increasingly seen as an aspect of Ra. More and more all other gods became to be seen as an aspect of Ra, being the primeval creator of all. All other gods had emerged from him; this made them all aspects of him. This can be seen as an early tendency to a form of monotheism and made Akhenatens believe in Aten, being the one and only true god, maybe a very logical result of the religious atmosphere of these days.

Sources used: Wikipedia and “The Oxford History of Ancient Egypt (chap.10, The Amarna Period and the Later New Kingdom (c.1352-1069 BC) written by Jacobus van Dijk)”

Saturday, 23 January 2010

Bastet, the Cat Goddess

It is time wander off from Akhenaten, El Amarna and the whole Amarna period for a bit.
Reason for this is the recent unearthing of a temple presumably belonging to Bastet, the ancient Egyptian Cat Goddess. This was announced on Tuesday January the 19th by the Supreme Council of Antiquities
Egyptian archeologists discovered the ruins of this Ptolemaic-era temple in the city of Alexandria, which was founded by Alexander the Great during the 4th century BC.
Alexandria was the seat of the Greek speaking Ptolemaic Dynasty that ruled over Egypt for 300 years and came to a closure after the suicide of Queen Cleopatra.
But who was Bastet? It seems it is time for a closer look at this Goddess…..
Since 5000 to 6000 years ago domestic cats were highly appreciated for their mouse catching abilities. Cats were regarded godlike in these days and killing a cat was a crime punishable by death. It was common that when a domestic cat died the whole family grieved over its death and often the body of the cat would be mummified to show respect. There was a believe in a cats-afterlife, mummified rats and mice found in cat-tombs are thought to be prove of this.
Bastet was worshipped since the second dynasty and through that time had many names: Bast, Ubasti, Bastis and Bubastis (By the Greeks) being a few of them. Although Bastet was honored since the early days of Egyptian history it was not until much later she was acknowledged as a sister to Horus and a daughter of Isis and Osiris.
In the beginning Bastet was considered the protectress of The Royal House and The Two Lands wearing g the title of “The Tearer”. Later, during The New Kingdom (1570 – 1070BC), covering the 18th, 19th and 20th Dynasties of Egypt, she started to associated with Sekhmet, the warrior goddess who was depicted as a lioness and considered the mightiest of the two.

Temples where Bastet was honored are found different places like Bubastis, also known as Tell Basta or Egyptian Per-Bast, located in Lower Egypt. Although there were more places like Memphis-Sakkara and Dendera where Bastet was honored, Bubastis is considered the center of worshipping the Cat Goddess. Now with the unearthing of yet another temple in honor of Bastet at Alexandria it is not only prove that there are temples in many places dedicated to the Cat Goddess but also that she was worshiped throughout the mayor part of the Dynastic Egyptian History