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Inanna/Ishtar Bibliography

Dec. 30th, 2020 | 08:38 am

Last updated 15 February 2014.

Inanna/Ishtar BibliographyCollapse )

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Sekhmet and related goddesses bibliography

Dec. 29th, 2020 | 11:05 am

Last updated 24 April 2014.

Sekhmet and related goddesses bibliographyCollapse )

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Partial bibliography for this LJ

Feb. 12th, 2020 | 12:56 pm

Partial bibliography for this LJCollapse )

(Last updated 15 February 2014.)

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The Gender Heresy of Akhenaten

Aug. 24th, 2015 | 10:11 pm

Wanted to note here Winnie Brant's theory that Akhenaten was transgender - hence his "epicene" portrayal. Brant is not an Egyptologist, so caution is indicated (the vandalism of Amun-Min's phallus in temple portrayals dates to much later, doesn't it?) but some of her ideas are interesting - for example, she suggests that Akhenaten might have turned against Amun after the god failed to change his male body into a female one.

Brant points out that if Akhenaten wanted to appear in public (or in inscriptions) as a woman, he faced a problem: "If Akhenaten dressed in women's clothes, he would not be pharaoh! If he felt the urge to appear cross-dressed in public, there was only one woman he could pretend to be and still maintain his royal authority: his chief queen, Nefertiti." She suggests that this could explain their resemblance in portraits, as well a kingly portrayal of Nefertiti smiting foreign female prisoners in a male skirt, as well as her sanctuaries at Karnak which had "no counterpart for the king". It's an interesting suggestion, that this symbolic merging of king and queen could have been a way for the pharaoh to express or inhabit his female self.

Brant, Winnie. "The Gender Heresy of Akhenaten". in in Bullough, Bonnie, Vern L. Bullough, and James Elias (eds). Gender Blending. Prometheus Books, New York, 1997.

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The Sal-Zikrum, or "woman-man"...?

Aug. 7th, 2015 | 10:21 pm

Before the library began to shake, roar, and be evacuated (what was that all about?!), I read with interest a short article from the journal Iraq, from 1939. It concerns a figure called the SAL-ZIKRUM, who appears in the Code of Hammurabi, and in just one another Old Babylonian text. The word's meaning is disputed, but one interpretation is Sumerian "female" plus Akkadian "male", and in texts it's used as though it's feminine.

In Hammurabi, the SAL-ZIKRUM appears in six sections: firstly, in laws about priestesses and their dowries, and secondly, in laws about the adoption of a son by either the chamberlain of the palace or by a SAL-ZIKRUM. The one other document, possibly to do with a palace or temple, concerns rations for women weavers and for a SAL-ZIKRUM.

The authors conclude that the SAL-ZIKRUM was probably a eunuch who dressed as, and was treated as, a woman; but to my inexpert eye, this seems to involve a lot of assumptions that aren't given support in the article - for example, that the chamberlain of the palace was a eunuch. They refer to an earlier commentator who "suggested that it is intended to describe either "female men" in the sense of women designated as men or else some kind of female eunuch." Well, the eunuch part doesn't sound likely to me either, though celibacy (or rather, not having children) is a possibility. Equally difficult for the authors to imagine is "the treatment of women as men, ie of the inferior as the superior sex" - though to be fair they probably intended to indicate the attitude of the Babylonians, and not necessarily their own - even if it was 1939. :)

What if, though, we have here a glimpse of a "fourth gender" in Mesopotamia? We know about plenty of cultic functionaries who are apparently feminised men and who are at least somewhat recognised and integrated. If the SAL-ZIKRUM actually was the "woman-man", is it possible she, or he, was a masculinised woman? Or - perhaps like the authors - am I trying to build too large an edifice on too small a foundation?

* This translation of Hammurabi gives "devoted woman", and Brigitte Groneberg similarly interprets the word as SALsekretu, referring to a class of cloistered priestesses and to members of a harem.

G.R. Driver and John C. Miles. The SAL-ZIKRUM "Woman-Man" in Old-Babylonian Texts. Iraq 6(1) spring 1939 pp 66-70.
Groneberg, Brigitte. Die sumerisch-akkadische Inanna/Ištar: Hermaphroditos?. Die Welt des Orients 17 (1986), pp. 25-46.

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Anat, the Iliad, and the Bible

Jun. 30th, 2015 | 05:56 pm

When I saw the spectacular conjunction between Venus and Jupiter currently in our skies, my first thought was, "She's probably threatening to beat him up." I was thinking of Anat's threat to El ("I will make your beard run with blood") in the stories of the hero Aqhat and of Baal's palace, and the parallels between that bloodthirsty Ugaritic goddess, the Mesopotamian Ishtar, and the Greek Aphrodite. But perhaps Athena is a closer analogue for Anat, as Bruce Louden argues in The Iliad: Structure, Myth, and Meaning.

Although Athena is often "calm and thoughtful", she also has angry and martial episodes. "Many of Athena's more striking features in Homeric epic - her use of deception against mortals, resentment of Zeus, bloodthirstiness... - all have close equivalents in earlier depictions of Anat." (p 285) As well as the similarity in their names, both wield spears, both "have certain masculine tendencies, are closely involved with their fathers, and have no relation to their mothers." (p 247) Both confront their fathers to get their own way, Anat with a direct threat, Athena while gripped by "savage anger"; and both are summoned to their fathers by divine messengers. (p 249-250) Louden also draws parallels with Anat and Baal and Athena and Ares (p 252-7).

Anat and Athena both punish arrogant heroes who foolishly offend them (something they have in common with Ishtar). In Anat's case, it's Aqhat, whose bow she covets; he rejects her offer of riches or immortality, telling her that bows are not for girls and even describing to the goddess of war what materials are needed to make one. In Athena's case, Hektor, Paris, and Pandaros all fall victim to the cheeked goddess' wrath. In both instances, the goddess enlists the help of another warrior (Yatipan, Achilles, and Diomedes) to get her revenge.

Louden compares the linking of feasting and slaughter in the Odyssey (the gory massacre of the suitors, in which Athena is instrumental), and Anat's "bloodbath":

"She arranges chairs for the soldiery,
Arranges tables for the hosts,
Footstools for the heroes...
Knee-deep she gleans in warrior-blood,
Neck-deep in the gore of soldiers,
Until she is sated with fighting in the house,
With battling between the tables."

(This is the most straightforward explanation of that passage I've ever read: Anat isn't fighting actual furniture, nor turning tables and chairs into soldiers, but hosting a feast and then killing the participants!)

Though there's no mention of Anat's worship in the OT, she is mentioned in personal and place names; but Louden also argues that the depiction of Yahweh himself was influenced by her imagery and mythology. He remarks that "divine bloodthirstiness is a typical aspect of deity for the period", as are deception and cruelty; he gives some striking and disturbing Biblical examples, including images of sacrifice and cannibalism (which tie back in to the combination of feasting and killing). He also compares the herem of Yahweh - the mass killing of a city's whole population, with the implication of human sacrifice - with a word of the same root used in one text to describe Anat's warfare.

Louden, Bruce. The Iliad: structure, myth, and meaning. Baltimore, Md, Johns Hopkins University Press, 2006.

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Links: June 2015

Jun. 13th, 2015 | 11:04 pm

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)

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Snippets from "Gods and Men in Egypt"

Jan. 26th, 2015 | 09:25 pm

I couldn't remember for the life of me why I'd borrowed this, so I just went through the index looking for interesting stuff. What an appalling thing to do with a book. Anyway:

The Hermopolitan Ogdoad (p 49): "Nun and Naunet, the primordial water; Heh and Hauhet, infinity in its spatial form; Kek and Kauket, darkness; and Amun and Amaunet, the hidden; this last pair being later replaced by Niau and Niaut, who symbolize the void." I wonder if that substitution represents a promotion for Amun to obscure snake in the lake to Creator. "Amaunet received a cult at Thebes from Dynasty 18 on" (p 26)

Re, in an unpublished papyrus at the Turin Museum (p 47): "When I manifested myself, manifestations manifested themselves. I had manifested myself as a manifestation of the existing: I manifested myself and manifestations manifested themselves, for I acted prior to the anterior gods I had created. If I acted priorly among the anterior ones, it was that my name existed prior to theirs, if I created anterior time and the anterior gods, it was to create all that is desirable on this earth." That's a lot of khepers.

"The two gods who were lords of the [Kom Ombo] temple each had his own divine 'family', made up of a mother goddess and a child god: to the triad Sobek-Hathor-Khons corresponded the triad Haroeris-Tasenetnefret ('the Good Sister')-Panebtawy ('the Lord of the Two Lands')... The theological system of Kom Ombo is extremely complex... [its myths] present original doctrines that constitute the specific 'theology' of the temple, in which two themes, one universalist and the other local, are juxtaposed to and combined with one another.' (p 228-9) And naturally the bloody reference is in French: A. Gutbub, Textes fondamentauz de la theéologie de Kom Ombo (Cairo, 1973).

The Nubian deity Aresnuphis had a temple at Philae. (p 229)

"The foreign deities - Reshep, Baal, Anat, Astarte, and Qadesh - all had a human figure that the Egyptians assigned to them. Without doubt, they would have found it difficult to slip into animal or composite form, for these stem from the deep structure of the Egyptian concept of the divine." (p 18-19) But the Canaanite god Haurun was falcon-headed, and then "he was identified totally with the sun god he had become in the New Kingdom: Hamarkhis, the Great Sphinx of Giza." As Haurun-Hamarkhis, he was represented as the sphinx. (p 19) Sopdu was also a foreigner who "kept watch over the east of the land both inside and outside the frontier of Egypt". (p 18) Plus in Ptolemaic times there was "the divine Thracian horseman Heron", worshipped in Faiyum villages "whose populations included a large contingent of... former soldiers settled on land granted to them by the crown." (p 246) Other foreign gods worshipped in Egypt included Bendis (Thracian), Mithra (Persian), and Kybele and Attis. (p 276)

"... the bestiary present in the divine iconography was extremely coherent. It did not include animals that could live in Egypt at a remote point in time (giraffe, rhinoceros, elephant) but left because of climate change well before the period of historical, political, and religious formation, nor did it include those introduced at a much later time, such as the horse. More precisely put, while the horse played a role, it was in direct relation to foreign deities such as Anat and Astarte, who entered the native pantheon in the New Kingdom." (p 17)

Astarte and Reshep were introduced during the NK. "Astarte in particular, with the epithet 'daughter of Ptah', had her own temple at Memphis, the temple of the 'foreign Aphrodite' mentioned by Herodotus.' (p 276)

At Esna, Khnum is called "father of fathers, mother of mothers", and "associated with several goddesses, in particular Neith, the very ancient goddess of Sais, who at Esna was also a creative power and bisexual. Heqa, their divine child, received a cult in the mammisi... At Esna, the theme of creation is quite important and includes the 'raising of the sky', the modelling of humanity by the potter god, and the formation of the world by means of the 'seven creative words' of Neith." (p 227) Once again the reference (Sauneron) is en Fraçais. Zut!

Françoise Dunand and Christiane Zivie-Coche. Gods and Men in Egypt: 3000 BCE to 395 CE. Cornell University Press, Ithaca, 2004.

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Snippets from this and that

Dec. 12th, 2014 | 10:29 pm

  • 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

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    Links August 2014

    Aug. 31st, 2014 | 06:37 pm

    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


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