Friday, September 21, 2012

Demotic Dictionary

This came out of an awesome project to catalog everyday Ancient Egyptian language. Most of this writing that was sourced for these works is from the Greco-Roman period and not from the earlier periods. (I am currently wondering how much influence these writings might have from Greek and/or Latin or other languages at this point in history. Still, it is well worth checking out.

The Chicago Demotic Dictionary.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Some calm and much needed rest

The festival is done and I can get back to posting here with some sort of regularity. I was at Greater Pittsburgh Pagan Pride selling some of my beautiful wares. I am hoping to have my Etsy shop updated soon with all the items that I still have. That is another matter though. For now here are some pictures of my table from the event. Much of my art is Egyptian and I hope to have some of the next posts describe the purpose of some of these items. Just a short post today because I am still in need of rest after Saturday.


Me and all the Egyptian stuff.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Children's Hieroglyph Book.

Ancient Egyptian Hieroglyph by Kathy Allen is probably the best children's book I have ever seen that addresses Egyptian Hieroglyphs. This book is geared toward 3-4th grade or a little older depending on the skill of the child. This book talks about the history and uses of hieroglyphs. Not only is the ancient history covered but also the translation of the Rosetta Stone. Another interesting historical feature of this book that I haven't seen in other books is that it talks about Coptic writing and its link to hieroglyphs.

What is most impressive though is that this book has broken down translation and reading basics into a clear and comprehensible series of steps. This book makes hieroglyphs more accessible due to the simplicity and completeness of its coverage.

I definitely think this is a book for any child interested in Ancient Egypt. It would also be a great starting place for an adult to get the basics before moving on to the more complicated adult translation books.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Pictures from Facebook

I am sure most of you who have a Facebook account have seen those images comparing Jesus and Horus. I am sure you've seen them but here are a couple examples. (You can click them to make them bigger)

For the most part we are going to ignore the Jesus side of these and focus on what is said about Horus and how that relates to Ancient Egyptian religion. I will also endeavor to point toward sources for as much of this as possible. It might mean a huge bibliography or a lot of links but it is important. Also, I should say that there is nothing wrong with having any of these beliefs but pointing to them as Ancient Egyptian or that Christianity copied these early on from this religion then something must be said about authenticity of these claims.

Let's start with the list in image #1 just because it is the most extensive and will likely address many of the others.

First on the list of image #1 is "Written down 5000 years ago." This means it was written around 3000 BC. This is about 500 years before the Great Pyramids were being built. We know that by this time most of Egyptian mythology, the core anyway, was already strongly in place. From items like the Narmer palette(Discussions of the glyphs and meaning of the palette here.) and other sources contemporary to the palatte, we also know hieroglyphs were in use before 3000 BC. Likely this date of 5000 years ago is probably wrong. On the other side of it dates for the Bible range widely as to when it was written, much of it depends on which version of the Bible one uses. What I take away from all of this is that pointing out dates for either of these documents is probably not legitimate.

We then move on to Horus being born of a virgin. This is going to get into some weird things about Egyptian mythology. As the myth goes, either Osiris impregnates Isis or after Osiris is dead and chopped up Isis uses his dismembered phallus to impregnate herself. In the most traditional sense of virgin, a woman who has never been vaginally penetrated, Isis does not fit the bill. The other common definition of virgin is unmarried. As Osiris was about to ascend to the throne he would have been married by Egyptian customs and there are references to Isis as his wife prior to the dismemberment incident. Isis is not an unmarried woman. In still other myths Isis and Osiris mingle breaths, doesn't that sound like a euphemism, when he is resurrected and that is how she becomes pregnant with Horus. It is highly unlikely that Isis is a virgin in any myths.

Horus was born on Christmas Day. Since Osiris is murdered in early October/November it is highly unlikely that Horus would have been born the next month. The main festival of Horus, which is often associated with the birth of the god or goddess, is in June/July. If we consider the Egyptian ideals of realism their mythology we can see that July as more reasonable as this is 9 months after the murder. Another fact that points to the idea that this is reasonable is that Horus is hidden in a papyrus marsh after his birth so Set would not find him. December is the middle of the Nile flood and most papyrus beds would be underwater at this time making it impossible to hide a child there. July however is the time of low water and planting which would leave much of these areas open.

I don't even know where to start with this concept of three wise men and the Eastern Star. The Eastern Star is usually thought of as Sirius, which in Ancient Egyptian mythology was a goddess, Sothis/Sopdt. (Sothis was a goddess that sometimes heralded the arrival of epidemics and plague as well as her more benign association with the Nile flood bringing fertile soils.!) I don't have much to say about the three wise men. I can't say I have ever read anything about three wise men in any Egyptian myth.

This whole line "Taken to Egypt to avoid the wrath of Typhoon" is problematic. Horus was born in Egypt, usually somewhere in the delta region in most myths. He could not have been taken to some place he already was. (Very curious) Typhoon also causes problems since this is a Greco-Roman god who is a titan offspring of Gaia. I am sure they meant Set but in calling him Typhoon this no longer refers to Egyptian myth but a later Roman idea.

Taught in the temple as a child is also not likely to be true to the myths. There are many myths of Horus' childhood. Many of them include his haphazard childhood of being hunted by Set and stung/bitten by animals. We also must consider that in the ancient world most male children of a king would have been educated, likely in a temple, regardless of their nationality. This is hardly something that would set Horus apart from most other deities or king's children.

Anup is not an Egyptian god. I assume we are dealing with a misspelling of Anpu, the Egyptian name of Anubis. (Anubis is a Greek word) Misspelling a deity name does not instill confidence in me. Baptism is not an Egyptian practice. Baptism is a Christian concept and related to the Jewish concept Tvilah to restore purity. (You can also think of this as the removal of sin.) What they are doing in this piece is blurring all of these different concepts by compiling them under the Greek word "baptismos". This Greek word refers to Jewish ritual washing. From there they are saying that because the Egyptian priests also washed before entering a temple that they were practicing "baptismos" too. This is quite a long string of things to make this comparison work. As for the rest, I can't remember any listing of an Egyptian god or goddess' age being given in years, especially specific years. Usual descriptions refer to body, so something like the body of a young boy or bent with age or they just default to millions of years.

Egyptians combined gods and goddesses into Triads. This makes the 12 disciples rather weird. I thought that perhaps during the myth of Horus and Set, while Horus is hunting Set, that he might have had 12 army leaders in those with him. However, upon reading the myths I didn't see anything about the numbers of men in his army. I am not even sure where this would have come from.

Horus walked on water? Most myths refer to him and show him riding in a boat, as is true for the Egyptian gods in general. There are some myths where Horus is transformed into a winged sun disk to fly over the Nile but this still doesn't fit the concept of walking on water.

The next one just doesn't make much sense either. "Raise El-Azur-us from the dead". I know what they are trying to get at and that is the fallacy that Osiris and Lazurus(of the Bible) are one in the same. First, I must point out that the El starting piece is not in the Egyptian language but is in the Arabic names of various locales and deities. The writer is also trying to manipulate the Egyptian name Ausar which is a name of Osiris. Horus did not resurrect anyone, and certainly not Osiris. Anubis was the god to create mummification and raise Osiris from the dead. (Sometimes with the help of Isis and/or Thoth). Remember, at the time of Osiris' murder and resurrection Horus was not yet born. Not only is this false based on mythology but it would also require a fetus/zygote to raise people from the dead. Even the Egyptians didn't have myths that off the wall.

Transfiguration may be something we could stretch our imagination to believe. As I mentioned before, Horus transformed in some myths into a sundisk to fly around. However, this usually happened in the Nile valley and marshes, not on a mountain. I can grant them that both Jesus and Horus were supposed to have changed into something glowing at some point but these are very different ideas. Jesus glowing was to signal his divinity to those around him. (That is a very paraphrased comment for the sake of brevity.) Horus transformed in order to hunt down Set and try to kill him. He was a god so no need to prove his divinity to anyone.

Titles... "The way, the truth, the light" These are titles I have seen most often used and likely created by various modern forms of Egyptian religion. You could perhaps apply "the light" to Ancient Egypt in later mythology when Horus and Ra are merged into one solar deity Ra-Horakhty. Messiah is actually an interesting title, though it is not Egyptian at all. Aside from the Christian definition, Messiah also means a zealous leader of a cause. This definition could definitely apply to Horus as he was obsessed with vengeance and murdering Set for killing Osiris... though I doubt obsession with killing someone is Christ-like. The next title includes "God's" with a capital "G" which is not an Egyptian term but a Christian one. Son of man does not work at ALL for Horus as the Pharaoh, ie man, was the son of Horus not the other way around. Lamb of God, here we are with the capital "G" god. Also, as a god of the sky, war, revenge and vengence I doubt Horus fits into the traditional "Lamb of God concept. The Word is not applicable. This concept in Ancient Egypt was Ma'at, goddess of truth. The morning star refers to Sirius which we have already addressed. The light of the world in Egypt is Ra so perhaps this could be applied to Horus after he is merged with Ra.

Crucifixion was not used by Egyptians at all. This was a Roman practice Horus never dies in the mythology and therefore cannot be resurrected.

WOW that was just the first image. I hope you are not bored or overwhelmed but I am going to continue going through the rest of these comments on the other images. Might as well finish up.
 Image 2 has already been addressed in full.

On image 3 I would like to point out that Horus was born in a papyrus swamp and not a cave.

Image 4 starts out with the wrong date for the begining of Horus worship. Horus is referenced on the Narmer palette from 3000BC.

Healing of the sick and injured is highly unlikely for a god of war and vengeance. Likely, they have given Horus some of the attributes of Isis, his mother.

And at this point we are finished with dispelling some of these items that keep appearing on Facebook attributing things to Ancient Egypt that are not true. I have also seen these types of references between Osiris and Jesus as well. Here at least there are some more applicable relationships including being harmonious, kind, resurrected and so on. If you are interested in reading up on this more here are some suggested readings:
Wright, N.T. The Resurrection of the Son of God. London: SPCK, 2003.

In my searching for answers here I found some other treatments of this topic that take a different approach than I do. Here is one of them. If you are interested in the topic a simple google search will turn up more.
I think this is kind of funny.
I do hope that this covers the topic. If you have more questions, see another of these types of images that you want me to look into or want more information feel free to reply here or email me. 

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Book Review - Hieroglyphs Without Mystery

I just finished this book by Karl-Theodor Zauzich. The book had some great assets and some less than ideal items. Overall, this book could be used by a beginner but I wouldn't suggest it. While the book walks the reader through signs, phrases and grammar with great precision it has one big downfall. The glyphs in this book are written so small that unless you are familiar with the common glyphs it will be useless in helping you with translation. For someone who is familiar with the basic glyphs then you can get much from this book. One thing I picked up from this book is a quicker, script like form of some of the harder glyphs. (The owl, vulture and chick are the bane of my writing) There are also areas where the phonetics are given without the glyphs. Here again, familiarity with the common glyphs would be helpful.

The book does have some examples of inscriptions that it walks you through translating. However, other books have practice sections for these kinds of translations which this one does not. 

I think this is a great stage 2 book for someone looking to learn glyphs. Anyone who has read a couple books and has a familiarity with the "alphabet" and some of the biliterals and triliterals will do well with this book as a next step.

Find it here on

Sunday, August 12, 2012

The first doctors and medical textbooks.

I have realized that we have yet to touch on my favorite topics in Egyptology, medicine. This is a vast topic so we will touch on it here in small pieces. Before we get into talking about specific medical practices it is important to think about what writings exist for medicine at that time.

Names of the papyri:

- Berlin Papyrus - Gynecological, pregnancy tests and mathematics including algebra. c1800 BC

- Brooklyn Papyrus - Concerned mostly with poisonous and venomous stings and bites including identification of snakes, spiders and scorpions as well as prognosis based on symptoms. c1800 BC

- Brugsch Papyrus - Contains topics of  gynecology,contraception, fertility,  topical/visible/skin issues, mouth issues and chronic disease as well as trauma. (24 pages) c1300 BC

- Carlsberg Papyrus - Focuses on pregnancy and the eyes. c2000 BC to 100 AD. This set is suspected to be added to over time since it consist of writings in hieroglyphs, hieratic, demotic and ancient Greek.

- Chester Beatty Papyrus - Focuses on headaches and digestive tract/anal illnesses (19 papyri) c.1200 BC

- Ebers Papyrus - Mutiple medical topics such as skin diseases, trauma, gynecology, dentistry, chronic diseases (such as migraines) and traumatic diseases. (110 pages) c1550 BC

- Edwin Smith Papyrus - Part of a textbook on trauma diagnosis, treatment, prognosis and surgery techniques. In depth look at what body structures the Egyptians were familiar with including key ideas like the blood vessels being connected to the heart. (22 pages) c.1600 BC Can be seen in translation online.

- Hearst Papyrus - Focuses on issue of blood, hair and animal bites. (This is the only one of the 4 big medical papyri: Kahun, Edwin, Ebers and Hearst that I have not seen direct translations of.) c.2000 BC

- Kahun Papyrus - Women's health. Sometimes called the Kahan Gynecological papyrus. (35 paragraphs)c.1800 BC

- London Medical Papyrus- Prayer and magical aspects of medicine. c 1300 BC

Ramesseum Papyri - Includes Pediatrics, gynecology, and illnesses/injuries related to the eyes and muscular system (17 papyri) c1980 BC

Other smaller papyri exist or papyri that has a small reference to something medical but these are the larger ones that deal with medicine exclusively, or almost so. In addition to using the papyri directly there are some books on this topic that are well worth reading if you are interested in this topic.

Books and videos

Ancient Egyptian Medicine by John Nunn. This is probably the best of the books out there for the medical papyri as far as description, categorization and referencing.

The Art of Medicine in Ancient Egypt from the Metropolitan Museum of Art

An Ancient Egyptian Herbal by Lise Manniche. Medicinal plants in Ancient Egypt. I have not yet read this book so I can't speak for its content. However, it does look very interesting.

Ancient Egypt, Modern Medicine a documentary from the History Channel. Talks about the when and what of the big topics in Ancient Egypt. You can see an excerpt from it here.

Investigation Into Dynamics of Ancient Egyptian Pharmacology: A Statistical Analysis of Papyrus Ebers and Cross-Cultural Medical Thinking This looks truly fascinating as well but I haven't got to read this yet either.

The Quick And The Dead: Biomedical Theory In Ancient Egypt Another of the books I want to read but can't because cost prohibits me.

The Healing Hand: Man and Wound in the Ancient World by Guido Majno This book gives a brief, layman accessible overview to the history of surgical and trauma practices in all the ancient world.

Man and Wound in the Ancient World: A History of Military Medicine from Sumer to the Fall of Constantinople by Richard Gabriel. I haven't read this one personally either but the local librarian suggested it as a good study of injuries related to war and medical practices for the battlefield in the ancient world.

Friday, August 10, 2012

More craft

Since I haven't updated and I am still working on items for my upcoming vending event in September I am going to take some more time to share what I am working on once more.

This is another sistrum but this one I have given a twist of Meso-American decoration to the handle. I really think it works despite the very different cultures. I also think it works because the Meso-American cultures use rattles as well.

Papyrus of Sobek

A very modern looking papyrus of Sekhmet and Mehen

Papyrus of Bes

Pair of Papyri of a hawk
Could be Horus, Ra or Montu depending.
I am not sure which these will be yet.

Papyrus of Montu as counter of time

Papyrus of Bast

I hope to get back to real posts on Egyptian history soon but for now, hope you are enjoying the artwork.