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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…

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…

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…

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…

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), …

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 de…

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…

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. Identified with the wrathful eye of the sun, S. is Sothis, the mistress of the decans. Hypostases of the goddess are assigned to every day of the year (chronocratores [5]). S. spreads diseases by means of the demons and demonic darts (to some extent personified). Consequently, she must constantly be appeased by appropriate rites. If these are successful, her power operates in a protective way against her own de…

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: prog…

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.…

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…
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