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Nut

(225 words)

Author(s): von Lieven, Alexandra (Berlin)
[German version] (Eg. Nwt). The Egyptian goddess of the sky, daughter of Shu (air) und Tefnut (fire; Tefnut, legend of), wife of the earth-god Geb und mother of Osiris, Seth, Isis and Nephthys as well as the sun god Re and the 36 decan stars. N. appears either in a purely human form with a nw-jar on her head or as a cow. She is depicted frequently in cosmological representations, which show Geb on the earth, separated from N. who is held over him by Shu. According to the so-called ‘Book of Nut’,  a cosmological treatise about the course of the heave…

Bastet

(193 words)

Author(s): von Lieven, Alexandra (Berlin)
[German version] (Egyptian Bst.t). Chief goddess of  Bubastis, represented as a cat or a cat-headed woman. B. is syncretistically associated with  Sachmet,  Hathor,  Isis and similar goddesses [1. 11-69]. In the   interpretatio [2] graeca she is seen as  Artemis (e.g. Hdt. 2,137), infrequently also as  Aphrodite (e.g. Pistis Sophia 139-140, [5]). B. can be understood as a more benign aspect of Sachmet, but she herself may be said to be mistress of a particular class of demon. In this capacity, she is assigned the lion god Maih…

Ptah

(628 words)

Author(s): von Lieven, Alexandra (Berlin)
[German version] (Φθᾶς/ Phthâs, Φθάς/ Phthás; Egyptian Ptḥ, Ptah) was initially the creator god of Memphis, but later he also had cults in other places, e.g. in Egyptian Thebes [10]. Just as Thot was the scribe and scholar par excellence, so P. was considered the artisan, especially the metal worker [4]; the interpretatio Graeca (Interpretatio II. Religion) calls him Hephaestus. P., his wife Sekhmet, a lion-headed goddess of the plague, and their son Nefertem (connected with the lotus) formed the Memphitic Triad of Gods. Particularly…

Scetic desert

(57 words)

Author(s): von Lieven, Alexandra (Berlin)
[German version] Region beyond the western edge of the Egyptian delta, esp. in the area which today is referred to as Wādī n-Naṭrūn. Christian monks retreated there beginning in the 4th cent. AD, four monasteries are still occupied today. von Lieven, Alexandra (Berlin) Bibliography A. Cody, in: A. S. Atiya (ed.), The Coptic Encyclopedia, vol. 7, 1991, 2102-2106.

Funerary literature

(1,660 words)

Author(s): S.LU. | von Lieven, Alexandra (Berlin)
[German version] I. Mesopotamia Funerary literature (FL), intended to assist the deceased in accomplishing the journey and achieving admission into the Underworld, is rarely found in Mesopotamian graves. A prayer (found in a grave from the Middle Elamite period, 2nd half of 2nd millennium BC [1]) has a deceased person calling on a divinity to lead him into the  Underworld. In contrast to the Egyptian Books of the Afterlife, Mesopotamian sources exist which adopt such knowledge for use in earthly con…

Bull cults

(379 words)

Author(s): Renger, Johannes (Berlin) | von Lieven, Alexandra (Berlin)
[German version] I. Mesopotamia In historical times, bull cults were of no significance in the religions of Mesopotamia which were mainly anthropomorphic in character. Enlil was metaphorically referred to as a bull, and the roaring of the weather god Hadad compared to the bellowing of a bull. The fact that bulls (and other animals) served as pedestals for the statues of gods (in Syria-Palestine and Hittite Anatolia) is no argument for an actual bull cult. The 'golden calves' in Ex 32 and 1 Kg 12,28-32 are also interpreted as pedestals for the invisible Yahweh. Renger, Johannes (Berlin) …

Bes

(330 words)

Author(s): Mlasowsky, Alexander (Hannover) | von Lieven, Alexandra (Berlin)
[German version] [1] Roman coinage In the Roman system of weights and measures the bes ( binae partes assis) represents 2/3 (8/12) of the as and, on the basis of the Roman pound (327.45 g), weighs 218.30 g [1. 72]. In Roman minting the bes was stamped with S as its symbol of value; only issued by C. Cassius in 126 BC in bronze (with the head of Liber/ prora) [2. 290].  As;  Small coin, shortage of;  Libra Mlasowsky, Alexander (Hannover) Bibliography 1 Schrötter, s.v. Bes 2 M. H. Crawford, Roman Republican Coinage, 21987. [German version] [2] Dwarfish Egyptian god with hideous face (Egyptia…

Deification

(1,408 words)

Author(s): Renger, Johannes (Berlin) | von Lieven, Alexandra (Berlin) | Bendlin, Andreas (Erfurt)
[German version] I. Ancient Orient In the Ancient Orient the deification of  rulers always occurred in the context of the legitimization and exercise of  rulership. Deified rulers and proper gods were always differentiated on principle. Renger, Johannes (Berlin) [German version] A. Mesopotamia References to the deification of living rulers are geographically restricted to Babylonia and temporally to the late 3rd and early 2nd millennium BC: a) individual rulers claimed divine descent for themselves as a means of legitimizing their rule…

Sun god

(930 words)

Author(s): Renger, Johannes (Berlin) | von Lieven, Alexandra (Berlin) | Taracha, Piotr
[German version] I. Mesopotamia In Mesopotamia, the Sumerian sun god Utu (written with the Sumerian sign for day, ud, which may be an etymological connection) was regarded as the city god of South Babylonian Larsa [2. 287-291] and the Akkadian god Šamaš (also common Semitic for 'sun') as the city god of North Babylonian Sippar. The sun god was never at the top of the Mesopotamian pantheon [1] which was dominated by Enlil (3rd/early 2nd millennium), Marduk (1st millennium) and Assur [2]. As the god of daylight, Ša…

Progenitors

(1,342 words)

Author(s): Renger, Johannes (Berlin) | von Lieven, Alexandra (Berlin) | Kierdorf, Wilhelm (Cologne)
[German version] I. Ancient Near East Knowledge of one's own progenitors in the ancient Near East legitimized one's status and material and immaterial rights in the individual and societal spheres. Such knowledge was based on patriarchal relationships of kinship. Evidence for this comes, for example, from lineage lists (Genealogies; OT: Gn 5; 11:10-32; 22:20-24; 25:1-9; Judges 4:18-22: progenitors of David [1]; 1 Sam 9:1-2: progenitors of Saul; Mt 1:1-17: progenitors of Jesus), the Assyrian Kings' Lis…

Mondgottheit

(1,060 words)

Author(s): Bendlin, Andreas (Erfurt) | Röllig, Wolfgang (Tübingen) | von Lieven, Alexandra (Berlin)
[English version] I. Allgemeines Die Stellung des Mondes in der ant. myth. Spekulation und kultischen Verehrung reflektiert seine zentrale Position in den kalendarischen, agrarischen und Monatszyklen in ihren unterschiedlichen Aspekten. Adressat von Kult kann der (personifizierte) Mond sein; Kult gilt auch den in ihrem Aspekt als M. mit dem Mond assoziierten männl. oder weibl., in den traditionellen Panthea verankerten Gottheiten. Während z.B. Selene/Luna ebenso wie Helios/Sol in der öffentl. Rel. d…

Moon deities

(1,252 words)

Author(s): Bendlin, Andreas (Erfurt) | Röllig, Wolfgang (Tübingen) | von Lieven, Alexandra (Berlin)
[German version] I. General The status of the moon in ancient mythological speculation and cult worship reflected its central position in the calendar cycles, agricultural cycles and monthly cycles with respect to their various aspects. The moon (personified) could be the addressee of the cult; the cult also included the male and female deities embedded in the traditional panthea and associated with the moon as moon deities (MD) with regard to their particular aspect. Whilst e.g. Selene/Luna just li…

Pornography

(3,053 words)

Author(s): Renger, Johannes (Berlin) | von Lieven, Alexandra (Berlin) | Henderson, Jeffrey (Boston) | Obermayer, Hans-Peter (Munich)
[German version] I. Ancient Near East With the possible exception of the numerous depictions of the sexual act on terra cotta reliefs and lead tablets - many of which may have served as magical amulets or represented ex voto gifts [1. 265] - there is no evidence of pornography from the ancient Near East. In literary texts, explicit verbal depictions that refer to sexuality are found in literary texts (e.g. hymns to Ishtar, who was, among other things, the goddess of sexual love) and therefore are to b…

Pornographie

(2,901 words)

Author(s): Renger, Johannes (Berlin) | von Lieven, Alexandra (Berlin) | Henderson, Jeffrey (Boston) | Obermayer, Hans-Peter (München)
[English version] I. Alter Orient P. ist aus dem Alten Orient nicht überl., es sei denn, man betrachtet zahlreiche Darstellungen des Geschlechtsaktes auf Terrakottareliefs und Bleiplaketten - von denen möglicherweise viele als magische Amulette dienten oder ex-voto-Gaben darstellten [1. 265] - als P. Explizite verbale, auf Sexuelles Bezug nehmende Schilderungen stammen aus lit. Texten (z. T. Hymnen auf Ištar, die u. a. als Göttin der geschlechtlichen Liebe galt) und sind so eher ein Zeugnis für eine unvoreingenommene Einstellung z…

Underworld

(3,318 words)

Author(s): S.LU. | von Lieven, Alexandra (Berlin) | B.CH. | Johnston, Sarah Iles (Princeton) | Käppel, Lutz (Kiel) | Et al.
[German version] I. Mesopotamia Myths, Epics, Prayers and Rituals of the 2nd and 1st millennia BC, in the Sumerian and Akkadian languages, describe the location and nature of the Underworld, along with the circumstances under which its inhabitants live. This domain, located beneath the surface of the earth and surrounded by the primeval ocean called Apsȗ, is known in Akkadian as erṣetu (Sumerian: ki), a term that can refer both to the surface of the earth and to the Underworld. There are other terms for certain characteristics of this region. The Underworl…

Dead, cult of the

(3,539 words)

Author(s): S.LU. | von Lieven, Alexandra (Berlin) | Prayon, Friedhelm (Tübingen) | Johnston, Sarah Iles (Princeton) | Doubordieu, Annie (Paris) | Et al.
[German version] I. Mesopotamia The cult of the dead in Mesopotamia is documented in written as well as archaeological sources. In the written sources, the term kispum is used for the act of supplying the dead with food and drink (monthly or bimonthly). An important part of the ritual was the ‘calling of the name’ [3. 163] ─ kispum thus served to ensure not only the existence but also the identity of the dead in the  Underworld. In the absence of the cult of the dead, the Underworld changed into a dark, inhospitable place. The living also had an inter…

Ritual

(7,433 words)

Author(s): Bendlin, Andreas (Erfurt) | von Lieven, Alexandra (Berlin) | Böck, Barbara (Madrid) | Haas, Volkert (Berlin) | Podella, Thomas (Lübeck) | Et al.
[English version] I. Begriff Der Begriff R. bezeichnet die komplexe Handlungssequenz einzelner, in einem logischen Funktionszusammenhang und nach einer festgelegten R.-Syntax miteinander verbundener Riten. R. finden sich nicht nur in rel., sondern auch in anderen gesellschaftlichen - polit. wie sozialen - Kontexten. Die Bed. von R. für die Teilnehmer läßt sich weder auf eine integrative (Legitimations-R.) noch auf eine die normale Ordnung temporär außer Kraft setzende Funktion - dies die beiden Extr…

Ritual

(8,221 words)

Author(s): Bendlin, Andreas (Erfurt) | von Lieven, Alexandra (Berlin) | Böck, Barbara (Madrid) | Haas, Volkert (Berlin) | Podella, Thomas (Lübeck) | Et al.
[German version] I. Term Ritual refers to an elaborate sequence of individual rites which, following an established ritual syntax, are logically connected within a certain functional context. Rituals are not limited to religious contexts but exist in other cultural contexts, political as well as social. The significance of rituals for those who participate in them can be reduced neither to an integrative function (legitimation ritual) nor to a temporary disabling of the regular structure - the two e…
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