Saturday, March 17, 2012
"Julia with Tea"

She's got some tasty tamaryokucha tea in that cup!

Thursday, March 22, 2012 A
"Ptah and Senwosret"

I was looking at _Chronicle of the Pharaohs_ by Peter Clayton, and found an unusual image of the god Ptah and King Senwosret I (aka Senusret I or Sesostris I) in a rather intimate embrace. From his heb-sed temple at Karnak, the relief is now at the Cairo Museum. I scanned the photo at 800dpi and made plans to trace it. In the meantime, I looked for more info. I wasn't able to find any other reference photo. All images on the web, such as the one at, stem from Clayton's photo. I did find other info, however. Clayton's book says Senwosret's temple was 'destroyed'. William Stevenson Smith and William Kelly Simpson explain why. Amenhotep III had dismantled it to use in the foundation filler of his Third Pylon. Archeologists have been able to "reconstruct a small Heb-Sed pavilion" by recovering the blocks from Amenhotep III's foundation. The relief of Ptah and Senwosret has a bad crack in it, was this the reason it did not end up in the 'White Chapel' reconstruction? It could be somewhat fragile. In my trace, by looking at Djoser's reliefs, I was able to surmise the position of his hand and bull tail, and give a idea of what was once there:

Printable pdf is available

Senwosret's pyramid might have fared better than his temple, as it was not dismantled, however, centuries of water seepage have made it inaccessible. Excavators were able to retrieve his limestone statues from his mortuary temple, ten of which are in the Cairo Museum. In all of them, Senwosret is seated on a backless throne, wearing the names-headdress with false beard, a short kilt and holding a folded cloth. The statues are very similar, except for a few differences. “Notably, the decoration on the sides of the thrones changes: on five of the statues Nile gods can be seen tying a knot around the hieroglyphic sign for union, in reference to the unification of the Two Lands; while on the five remaining statues the Nile gods are replaced by images of Horus and Seth.” (_Inside the Egyptian Museum with Zahi Hawass: Collector's Edition_, by Zahi Hawass, Sandro Vannini, page 108)

While some of those statues feature his birth name, at least one features his throne name, Kheperkara:

Drawn from a greatly enlarged photo on the web, with reference to other images of his statue thrones, printable pdf is available

Reference Texts
_Chronicle of the Pharaohs_, by Peter A. Clayton, Thames and Hudson, 2006
_The Art and Architecture of Ancient Egypt_, by William Stevenson Smith and William Kelly Simpson, Yale University Press, 1998
_Ancient Egyptians: People of the Pyramids_, by Rosalie F. Baker and Charlies F. Baker, Oxford University Press, 2001
_Inside the Egyptian Museum with Zahi Hawass: Collector's Edition_, by Zahi Hawass and Sandro Vannini, American Univ in Cairo Press, 2010

Thursday, March 23, 2012 B
"A Tale of Two Egg Cups"

The one on the left is by WMF, the one on the right is by Alessi

Both of these were finds at Ebay. I got a pair of the Alessi ones first. Then I spied the pair of WMF ones later. The seller called the German made ones "vintage". Merriam-Webster gives as definition "a period of origin or manufacture." Well, that could be any era. Trying to be more specific, I took to Wikipedia. While they don't list 'collectables', they do give for 'vintage clothing' a parameter of anything "from the 1920s to 1960s".

The boxes the WMF cups came in don't give a date of production, only the item number 06 1731 6049. My web searches have revealed nothing further about these pieces.

Meanwhile the Italian made ones are still in production. They were designed by Carlo Mazzeri and Anselmo Vitale. According to their website, Anselmo Vitale "died prematurely in 1978 at the height of his career as an architect and designer." That means the original design couldn't have been made any later than 1978.

There are subtle differences. The Alessi cup has a shiny bowl for the egg to sit in, while the WMF cup has a matte bowl. The WMF cup has slightly more rounded edges.

No doubt the WMF model was long discontinued before Alessi's went into production. It is the art historian in me, (and good design is a part of art); but I'd like to know more about this.

Sunday, March 25, 2012
"Four Spells Featuring Set"

While hunting for references to the god Set in ancient Egyptian Magical literature, I came across four particularily interesting instances. They all come from the Leiden Papyrus, which is one half of a papyrus found in Thebes by Anastasi, the Swedish consul at Alexandria in the early 1800's. He sold one half to the Dutch government and later sold the other half to the British Museum.

According to Griffith and Thompson, it is "the latest known papyrus written in the demotic script; most of the glosses are really Coptic transcriptions.1 Furthermore, "the writing is a strange jumble; the hieratic is inextricably though sparingly mixed with the demotic, a single word being often written partly in hieratic, partly in demotic."2 "The use of hieratic might be thought to indicate some antiquity where it occurs."3 Some sections are copied from earlier times. An ancient Egyptian ships' log, Papyrus Leiden I 350 verso, is certain to be from the time of Ramesses II, as it mentions "the regnal year 52".4 Jacobus Johannes Janssen asserts "that the letters were sent to prince Kha-emwese in his capacity as high priest of Ptah at Memphis and that the papyrus as a whole was intended to be a report to him." 5

Was it because Ramesses II's son Khaemwaset was widely regarded in later periods for his magical abilities that the scribe, possibly himself a magician, included it?

Anyway, back to the spells of uncertain vintage. The first spell is meant to be incited while drinking beer, to chase away demons. Set expresses himself in the intoxicating power of the beer:

(-rt.13,3) A Spell for the Drinking of Beer:
Hail to you, lady of Hetpet!
When he has set his heart on it, there is no restraining Seth.
Let him carry out his heart's desire, to bear away a heart in that name 'beer' of his,
to confuse a heart, to bear away the heart of an enemy, a fiend, a male dead, a female dead, and so on!

This spell is to be recited while drinking beer; should be spat out.
A true means, proved a million of times!

The magician neglected to advise that this sort of 'magic' should be engaged sparingly!

Perhaps too much beer could be the source of a headache experienced by Horus! While he is suffering, his brother Set is guarding him. "The latter's task is (if the restorations of this much damaged passage are correct) to keep Horus' lower parts (the legs) safe from demons, as a kind of guardian-angel. This role is as far as I know, unique for him; but relations between the two brothers were at times friendly, see H. te Telde" 7

Te Velde explains "Horus and Seth are the gods who contend and are reconciled or who are separated and reunited.", 8 "When Horus and Seth are reconciled, they do not fight with one another, but together against the common enemy", which is Apep, "The spear of Horus goes forth against thee. The lance of Seth is thrust into thy brow."9 It is with this co-operation that Set is able to destroy Apophis (aka Apep). So when all are seeking after Ma'at (justice, truth and balance), the gods are a team.

In the following spell, the magician goes from recounting the mythic tale to speaking as Set, acting for someone who needs healing:

(-rt. 2. 9) Another spell of conjuring a head which aches.
The boy Horus spends the day lying on a cushion of ned-fabric
and his brother Seth kept watch over him, because he lay stretched down,
his task being to keep healthy the lower parts ...
have lead astray him whom the gods seek.

I have fetched thread of a piece of ned-fabric and I have provided them with seven knots
so that I can apply them to the big toe of NN, son of NN, that he may be raised up healthy."10

Two spells invoking Set's power against demons likely originated from the New Kingdom. The demon in question is the 'akhu-demon' or 'samana-demon', "a disease-bearing demon"11 from Sumeria. Simson Najovits explains, "Also during the New Kingdom (from c. 1550 BC), Egypt imported the West Asian mother goddesses Astarte and Anat, as well as a West Asian demon, the ahku-demon or samana-demon."12

I quote excerpts from the two spells:

The raging of Seth is against the 'akhu-demon;
the grudging of Ba'al is against you!
The raging of the thunder-storm - while it thirsts after the water in heaven, is against you!
Then he will make an end of the violence, having laid his arms on you.
Then you will taste the things the Sea tasted through his hand.
Then the lion will make his approach to you.
Ba'al will hit you with the pine-tree that is in his hand.
He will treat you again with the pinewood spears that are in his hand!

It is like this you also will be, oh samana, with the gods acting against you,
following the accusation against you that the god made,
and the water, and the many poisons of Seth, and the bitter poisons of Shu, the son of Re,
and the poisons of Wepwawet that are like those of a snake, and the poisons of the Upper God
and Nungal his wife, the poisons of Reshep and Itum, his wife!
The poisons of the fire are directed against the 'akhu-demon.
It is the poisons of the fire that will extinquish you.
Then you will be finished like yesterday is finished." 13

In the second spell, the magician taunts the samana-demon:

"See, I have lots of words against you!
From the big pitcher of Seth I have drunk them;
from his jug I have drained them,
Listen, samana-demon, listen!
The voice of Seth is roaring...
listen to his roaring!

In both of these spells, Horus and Set are working together to finish this demon, as they do with the Apep. Thusly, the gods will learn of its death, when the rumor arrives "at the House of Re, to wit: 'Horus has vanquished the samana-demon!'" 15

1. F. Ll. Griffith and Herbert Thompson, The Demotic Magical Papyrus of London and Leiden, (1904), page 7, as found at (March 24, 1012)
2. Griffith and Thompson, 13.
3. Griffith and Thompson, 13.
4. Jacobus Johannes Janssen, Two Ancient Egyptian Ship's Logs, (E.J. Brill, 1961), 4.
5. Janssen, 6.
6. Adapted from consulting two different translations by Joris Frans Borghouts:
   The Magical Texts of Papyrus Leiden I 348, (Brill Archive) 27.
   Ancient Egyptian Magical Texts, (Brill, 1978) 32.
7. Borghouts, MToPLI, 16.
8. Herman Te Velde, Seth, God of Confusion: A Study of His Role in Egyptian Mythology and Religion, trans. Mrs. G. E. van Baaren-Pape (Leiden, E.J. Brill, 1977), 70-71.
9. Te Velde, 71.
10. Adapted from Borghouts, MToPLI, 17.
11. Johannes J. A. van Dijk and Markham J. Geller, Ur III Incantations from the Frau Professor Hilprecht-Collection, Jena, (Harrassowitz Verlag, 2003), 1.
12. Simson R. Najovits, Egypt, Trunk of The Tree, Vol. I: The Contexts, (Algora Publishing, 2003), 93.
13. Borghouts, AEMT, 18-19.
14. Borghouts, AEMT, 20.
15. Borghouts, AEMT, 21.

Wednesday, March 27, 2012
"A Small Discovery"

Trace of Set, who is "On a limestone block of a destroyed monument of Thutmose II, in the Open Air Museum, 18th Dyn."

Thus the original photo is described in KMT magazine, VOLUME 15, NO. 4, Winter 2004-05. It wasn't until I was well into my trace of it that I put two and two together:

"Seth approaches Hatchepsut's face with the Ankh and Was. Nephthys is behind her. Hatchepsut is represented as a woman
and we see only one cartouche, she is likely the Great Royal Wife and not the Pharaoh. This is normal because this relief dates from Tuthmosis II."

I'd first seen this scene at Alain Guilleux's "Une promenade en Egypte" website, and the descriptive text has been translated from his French. I attempted a trace, and then found a better photo from which to trace in Eugene Cruz-Uribe's article "Seth, God of Power and Might" which appears in the 2009 issue of Journal of the American Research Center.

As I traced the close-up of Set's image, I thought, "Where have I seen those damage breaks before? They are following a line I've seen elsewhere." "Destroyed monument of Thutmose II", Hatshepsut was his wife!

Yes, the close-up of Set is from the larger piece! Andrzej Cwiek explains that originally this scene was placed symmetrically, with a scene in which Thutmose II was being "crowned by Osiris and Isis" (Cwiek, “Fate of Seth in the Temple of Hatshepsut at Deir el-Bahari”, for Centre d'Archeologie Mediterraneenne de l'Academie Polanaise des Sciences, Etudes et Travaux XXII, 2008, page 56)

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