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Sobek

(322 words)

Author(s): von Lieven, Alexandra (Berlin)
[German version] ( śbk, Graecised as Σοῦχος/ Soûchos, cf.  Damascius, Vita Isidori P 99) was the crocodile-headed chief god of the Faiyum. The most important local form was S. of Šedet (Crocodilopolis, from 256 BC Arsinoe [III 2], modern Madīnat al-Fayyūm). His cult was widespread; a temple to him (together with Haroeris) in Kom Ombo is particularly well-known. S. was considered the lord of the North. The goddess Neith is mostly named as the mother of S., and occasionally in the Faiyum the ephemeral crocodile deity Senui ( snwj, Graecised as Ψοσναυς/ Psosnaus: SB 6154,7 = 5827; [5. 8…

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…

Thoeris

(170 words)

Author(s): von Lieven, Alexandra (Berlin)
[German version] (Θόηρις/ Thóēris etc., Egyptian T-Wr.t, 'the great one'). Egyptian protector-goddess, presumably identical with Ipet. Both of them are represented in the shape of a hippopotamus with the paws of a lion and the tail of a crocodile. The name T. may originally have been only an epithet of Ipet. The most important attribute of T. is a loop identical with the hieroglyph for protection. Because of her function as a protector, T. was quite popular (e.g. as an amulet), but she cannot be seen…

Osiris

(483 words)

Author(s): von Lieven, Alexandra (Berlin)
[German version] (Ὄσιρις/ Ósiris, Eg. Wsr). The ruler of the afterlife, one of the central figures in Egyptian mythology from the Old Kingdom; he was regarded as the son of Geb and Nut, brother and husband of Isis and the posthumous father of Horus; additional siblings were Seth and Nephthys. There was no coherent version of the myth of O. until Plutarch ( De Iside et Osiride, [7]), although it is already attested in allusions and extracts in the oldest texts. O. was regarded as the mythological king at a time when the gods reigned on earth and evil did not y…

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…

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…

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…

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.

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…

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…

Tebtynis

(171 words)

Author(s): von Lieven, Alexandra (Berlin)
[German version] (Τεβτῦνις/ Tebtŷnis, also Τεπτῦνις/ Teptŷ nis). City in the Faiyum, Egyptian  Bdnw [1], modern Umm al-Buraiǧāt; the main god was Sobek, Lord of T. (Greek Soknebtýnis). Remains of the city and the temple have been excavated [2; 4]. Although not of great relevance in Antiquity, T. has particular significance for modern scholars because it includes the remains of a comprehensive temple library from the first two centuries AD, containing hundreds of hieroglyphic, hieratic and primarily demotic MSS of religiou…

Hatshepsut

(216 words)

Author(s): von Lieven, Alexandra (Berlin)
[German version] ( Ḥ.t-šps.wt, ‘first among noble women’). Daughter of  Thutmosis [1] I, wife of Thutmosis [2] II; after his death she assumed the rulership for her underage stepson and nephew Thutmosis [3] III. Soon thereafter, she had herself crowned  Pharaoh and was depicted as a man. Her reign ( c. 1490-1469 BC) was marked by an important building programme. Aside from extensions to the Imperial temple in Karnak ( Thebes), H.'s architectonically unique temple of the dead in ad-Dair al-Baḥrī deserves special mention. Among many enterprises,…

Sekhmet

(290 words)

Author(s): von Lieven, Alexandra (Berlin)
[German version] Egyptian goddess, wife of Ptah (Ptah) and mother of the lotus god Nefertem. S. is usually depicted as a lion-headed woman; her main cult site is Memphis. As her name ('the powerful') suggests, S. is a dangerous goddess par excellence. She is the ruler of the demons, especially the ḫ.tiw ('slaughter demons', the seven invisible decan stars; Astronomy B.2.). Hence statues, primarily in the late period (713-332 BC), often represent her on a throne the sides of which are decorated with decan figures in the form of snakes. Identifie…

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…

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…

Seth

(494 words)

Author(s): von Lieven, Alexandra (Berlin)
[German version] As the killer of his brother Osiris, S. is a central figure of Egyptian mythology [8]. He is usually depicted with the head of an unidentified animal (known as the S. animal). He litigates and fights with the son of Osiris, Horus, over Egypt's rule [1]. Together, the two gods embody Upper and Lower Egypt; much more common, however, is the connexion of S. with the desert and foreign lands. In the New Kingdom, this led to his identification with the Syrian Baal, who is associated wi…

Satis

(150 words)

Author(s): von Lieven, Alexandra (Berlin)
[German version] (Σάτις/ Sátis, Egyptian Sṯ.t), Anuket and Chnum (Chnubis [1]) are the three chief deities of the island of Elephantine. The temple of S. on Elephantine is archeologically attested as early as the Early Dynastic Period (from c. 2800 BC) [1]. S. is depicted as a woman wearing a crown with horns. Because of the phonological similarity of S. and Sothis, the two goddesses were identified with one another in the Late Period (713-332 BC) [2]. This connection is reinforced by the association of Sothis with the flooding of …

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) …

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…

Nephthys

(201 words)

Author(s): von Lieven, Alexandra (Berlin)
[German version] (Νέφθυς/ Néphthys, Plut. De Is. et Os. passim; Epiphanius, Expositio fidei 3,2,12; Egyptian Nb.t-Ḥw.t, ‘mistress of the house’). In Egyptian mythology, N. is the daughter of Geb and Nut and sister-wife of Seth; other siblings are Isis and Osiris. She is known primarily for helping Isis in her search for Osiris and in rearing Horus; little is known of her own characteristics. N. protects the dead and, along with Isis, Neith und Selket, takes care of their entrails. She appears in the Pyramid Texts as a ‘pseudo-woman who had no vulva’, and had…

Sinuhe

(220 words)

Author(s): von Lieven, Alexandra (Berlin)
[German version] (Egyptian z-nh.t). Hero of an Egyptian story, generally regarded as a masterwork of Egyptian literature. The text has come down to us in various papyri and ostraca from the period of c. 1800 to 1100 BC. The original probably dates from the time of Sesostris I. In the story, S. is a liegeman to the crown prince Sesostris . On the way back from a campaign in Syria, Sesostris learns of the death of his father and sets out for the residence with his retinue. S., who overheard these news unobserved, deserts and fle…

Sothis

(168 words)

Author(s): von Lieven, Alexandra (Berlin)
[German version] (σωθίς/ sōthis according to Heph. [5] 1,1). Constellation (Egyptian śpd.t, from śpd 'sharp'), essentially corresponding to Sirius (its main star). Identified with Isis, it appeared in a prominent role as early as the Pyramid texts (Funerary literature) [1]. It retained this role until the end of the Egyptian religion. S. is one of the 36 decan stars (Astronomy B.2.). Its first heliacal rising was thought to introduce a new  year and forebode the flooding of the Nile. Its 70-day phase of invi…

Hathor

(245 words)

Author(s): von Lieven, Alexandra (Berlin)
[German version] (Egyptian Ḥw.t-ḥrw, ‘house of Horus’; Greek Ἀθωρ/ Áthōr [4]). The Egyptian goddess H. - in human or cow shape - is regarded as the daughter of  Re and as the mother of the music god Iḥy. She is often matched with  Horus of Edfu as a partner. H.'s areas of competence cover love, music, as well as the realm of the dead. In the   interpretatio [2] Graeca she is identified with  Aphrodite [4]. At birth, seven H.s determine the baby's destiny [5. 41 f.]. As an aspect of the ‘dangerous goddess’, H. usually represents the appeased sid…

Thot

(466 words)

Author(s): von Lieven, Alexandra (Berlin)
[German version] (Θωύθ/ Thōýth and similar; Latin Theuth; Egyptian Ḏḥwtj). Egyptian god of wisdom, knowledge and writing and moon god. The cult of T. was practiced mainly in Hermupolis (magna); however, there were also cults of T. in numerous other places. T. has probably been worshipped since the Early Period; reliable documentation is extant from the period of the Old Kingdom ( c. 2700-2190 BC). He is mostly represented as a man with the head of an ibis; the ibis and the baboon are sacred to him. T. is supposed to be either a son of Neith or, having no m…

Wepwawet

(207 words)

Author(s): von Lieven, Alexandra (Berlin)
[German version] ( Wp-w.wt/Upuaut, 'Opener of the Ways') is represented as a standing jackal or a jackal-headed man. He is a god of the dead (cf. Anubis), but his standard also leads the king's 'Horus escort', when he walks in public. This is reflected in Hdt. 2,122, where a priest is led by two jackals to the Sanctuary of Demeter [3. 58 f.]. Presumably W. is also the Macedon mentioned in Diod. Sic. 1,18 as a companion of Osiris [1. 83]. Clem. Al. Strom. 5,7,43 suggests an astronomical interpretat…

Soknopaiou Nesos

(110 words)

Author(s): von Lieven, Alexandra (Berlin)
[German version] (Σοκνοπαΐου νῆσος/ Soknopaïou Nêsos; Egyptian paj, later t mj(.t), modern Dīmā). Town in the Faiyum; the chief god was Sobek. Like Tebtynis, S. is primarily significant because of its papyri (Greek documents, temple library with Hieratic and a large number of Demotic religious, literary and scientific papyri, c. 1st-2nd cent. AD) [2]. Their edition is still in progress [4]. von Lieven, Alexandra (Berlin) Bibliography 1 A. E. R. Boak, S. N., 1935 2 E. A. E. Reymond, Demotic Literary Works of Graeco-Roman Date, in: FS zum 100jährigen Bestehen der …

Sachmet

(257 words)

Author(s): von Lieven, Alexandra (Berlin)
[English version] Äg. Göttin, Gattin des Ptah (Phthas) und Mutter des Lotosgottes Nefertem, üblicherweise als löwenköpfige Frau dargestellt; Hauptkultort: Memphis. Wie ihr Name (“die Mächtige”) schon andeutet, ist S. die gefährliche Göttin par excellence. Sie ist die Herrin der Dämonen, speziell der ḫ.tiw (“Schlächterdämonen”, die jeweils sieben unsichtbaren Dekansterne; Astronomie B.2.). Statuen, v. a. der Spätzeit (713-332 v. Chr.), stellen sie daher oft auf einem Thron dar, dessen Seiten mit schlangengestaltigen Dekanfiguren geschmü…

Nut

(196 words)

Author(s): von Lieven, Alexandra (Berlin)
[English version] (äg. Nwt). Die äg. Himmelsgöttin, Tochter von Schu (Luft) und Tefnut (Feuer; Tefnutlegende), Gemahlin des Erdgottes Geb und Mutter von Osiris, Seth, Isis und Nephthys sowie des Sonnengottes Re und der 36 Dekansterne. N. erscheint rein menschengestaltig mit einem nw-Topf auf dem Kopf oder als Kuh. Häufig sind kosmologische Darstellungen, die Geb auf der Erde zeigen, getrennt von N., die über ihm von Schu hochgehoben wird. Nach dem sog. “N.-Buch”, einem kosmologischen Traktat über den Lauf der Gestirne, entstand diese T…

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…

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…

Nephthys

(192 words)

Author(s): von Lieven, Alexandra (Berlin)
[English version] (Νέφθυς, Plut. Is. passim; Epiphanios, Expositio fidei 3,2,12; äg. Nb.t-Ḥw.t, “Herrin des Hauses”). N. ist in der äg. Mythologie die Tochter des Geb und der Nut und die Schwestergemahlin des Seth, weitere Geschwister sind Isis und Osiris. Sie tritt hauptsächlich als Helferin der Isis bei der Suche nach Osiris und der Aufzucht des Horus auf; entsprechend wenig eigene Züge sind von ihr bekannt. N. beschützt den individuellen Toten und kümmert sich zusammen mit Isis, Neith und Selket um seine Eingeweide. In den Pyramidentexten erscheint sie als…

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…

Osiris

(400 words)

Author(s): von Lieven, Alexandra (Berlin)
[English version] (Ὄσιρις, äg. Wsr). Der Jenseitsherrscher, eine der zentralen Gestalten der äg. Mythologie seit dem AR; gilt als Sohn von Geb und Nut, Brudergemahl der Isis und postumer Vater des Horus; weitere Geschwister sind Seth und Nephthys. Erst Plutarch ( De Iside et Osiride, [7]) überliefert eine zusammenhängende Fassung des O.-Mythos, doch in Anspielungen und Auszügen ist er bereits in den ältesten Texten faßbar. O. galt als myth. König zu einer Zeit, als die Götter auf Erden herrschten und das Böse noch nicht existierte. Pluta…

Phthas

(566 words)

Author(s): von Lieven, Alexandra (Berlin)
[English version] (Φθᾶς, Φθάς; äg. Ptḥ, Ptah) war zunächst der Schöpfergott von Memphis, erhielt jedoch später auch andernorts, z.B. im äg. Theben, Kulte [10]. Wie Thot der Schreiber und Gelehrte par excellence war, galt Ph. als der Handwerker, speziell Metallbearbeiter [4]; die interpretatio Graeca kennt ihn als Hephaistos. Zusammen mit seiner Gemahlin Sachmet, einer löwenköpfigen Seuchengöttin, und beider Sohn Nefertem (mit dem Lotos verbunden) bildete Ph. die memphitische Götter-Triade. V.a. in der Spätzeit (1. Jt. …
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