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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…

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…

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…
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