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King Shabaka & the Shabaka Stone (The Memphis Theology)

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The Shabaka Stone


http://www.touregypt.net/shabakastone.htm The Shabaka Stone is 92 x 137 cm in size. It has 62 vertical columns of text and 2 horizontal columns which rest across the top. Of the 62 vertical columns 23 have been worn away. The stone, before it was recognized for its value and rescued, was being used as a millstone resulting in the destruction of most of the text in the center of the stone.

Translation
The living Heru; Who prospers the Two Lands; the Two Ladies: Who prospers the Two Lands; the Golden Heru: Who prospers the Two Lands; King of Upper and Lower Chem: Neferkare; the Son of Re: Sha[baka], beloved of Ptah-South-of-his-Wall, who lives like Re forever.

This writing was copied out anew by his majesty in the house of his father Ptah-South-ofhis-Wall, for his majesty found it to be a work of the ancestors which was worm-eaten, so that it could not be understood from the beginning to end. His majesty copied it anew so that it became better than it had been before, in order that his name might endure and his monument last in the House of his father Ptah-South-of-his-Wall throughout eternity, as a work done by the son of Re [Shabaka] for his father Ptah-Tatenen, so that he might live forever.

--- [King of Upper and Lower Chem] is this Ptah, who is called the great name: [Tate]nen [South-of-his-Wall, Lord of eternity] ---. --- [the joiner] of Upper and Lower Chem is he, this uniter who arose as king of Upper Chem and arose as king of Lower Chem. --- --- "self-begotten," so says Atum: "who created the Nine Neteru."

[Geb, lord of the gods, commanded] that the Nine Neteru gather to him. He judged between Heru and Seth; he ended their quarrel. He made Seth the king of Upper Chem in the land of Upper Chem, up to the place in which he was born, which is Su. And Geb made Heru King of Lower Chem in the land of Lower Chem, up to the place in which his father was drowned which is "Division-of-the-Two-Lands." Thus Heru stood over one region, and Seth stood over one region. They made peace over the Two Lands at Ayan. That was the division of the Two Lands.

Geb's words to Seth: "Go to the place in which you were born." Seth: Upper Chem. Geb's words to Heru: "Go to the place in which your father was drowned." Heru: Lower Chem. Geb's words to Heru and Seth: "I have separated you." --- Lower and Upper Chem.

Then it seemed wrong to Geb that the portion of Heru was like the portion of Seth. So Geb gave Heru his inheritance, for he is the son of his firstborn son.

Geb's words to the Nine Neteru: "I have appointed Heru, the firstborn."Geb's words to the Nine Neteru: "Him alone, Heru, the inheritance." Geb's words to the Nine Neteru: "To his heir, Heru, my inheritance." Geb's words to the Nine Neteru: "To the son of my son, Heru, the Jackal of Upper Chem --- Geb's words to the Nine Neteru: "The firstborn, Heru, the Opener-of-the-ways."

Geb's words to the Nine Neteru: "The son who was born --- Heru, on the Birthday of the Opener-of-the-ways." Then Heru stood over the land. He is the uniter of this land, proclaimed in the great name: Ta-tenen, South-of-his-Wall, Lord of Eternity. Then sprouted the two Great Magicians upon his head. He is Heru who arose as king of Upper and Lower Chem, who united the Two Lands in the Nome of the Wall, the place in which the Two Lands were united.

Reed and papyrus were placed on the double door of the House of Ptah. That means Heru and Seth, pacified and united. They fraternized so as to cease quarrelling in whatever place they might be, being united in the House of Ptah, the "Balance of the Two Lands" in which Upper and Lower Chem had been weighed.

This is the land ------the burial of Ausar in the House of Sokar. ------ Auset and Nebt-het without delay, for Ausar had drowned in his water. Auset [and Nebt-het] looked out, [beheld him and attended to him]. Heru speaks to Auset and nephthys: "Hurry, grasp him ---." Auset and Nebt-het speak to Ausar: "We come, we take you ---."

------ [They heeded in time] and brought him to [land. He entered the hidden portals in the glory of the lords of eternity]. -------. [Thus Ausar came into] the earth at the royal fortress, to the north of [the land to which he had come. And his son Heru arose as king

of Upper Chem, arose as king of Lower Chem, in the embrace of his father Ausar and of the gods in front of him and behind him.]

There was built the royal fortress [at the command of Geb ---]. Geb speaks to Tehuti: ----- Geb speaks to Tehuti: ------. -------. [Geb] speaks to Auset: -------- Auset causes {Heru and Seth to come. Auset speaks to Heru and Seth: "[Come] ----------- ."Auset Speaks to Heru and Seth: "Make peace -------." Auset speaks to Heru and Seth: "Life will be pleasant for you when -------." Auset speaks to Heru and Seth: "It is he who dries your tears -------." -------. -------.

The Gods who came into being in Ptah:Ptah-on-the-great-throne --------.Ptah-Nun, the father who [made] Atum.Ptah-Naunet, the mother who bore Atum.Ptah-the-Great is heart and tongue of the Nine [Gods].[Ptah] ---------- who bore the gods.[Ptah] ---------- who bore the gods.[Ptah] ----------.[Ptah] ---------- Nefertem at the nose of Re every day.

There took shape in the heart, there took shape on the tongue the form of Atum. For the very great one is Ptah, who gave [life] to all the gods and their kas through this heart and through this tongue, in which Heru had taken shape as Ptah, in which Tehuti had taken shape as Ptah.

Notation: An alternative to the above paragraph might read: Heart took shape in the form of Atum. Tongue took shape in the form of Atum. It is Ptah, the very great, who has given [life] to all the gods and their kas through this heart and through this tongue, from which Heru had come forth as Ptah, from which Tehuti had come forth as Ptah.

Thus heart and tongue rule over all the limbs in accordance with the teaching that it (the heart, or: he, Ptah) is in every body and it (the tongue, or: he Ptah) is in every mouth of all gods, all men, all cattle, all creeping things, whatever lives, thinking whatever it (or:he) wishes and commanding whatever it (or:he) wishes.

His (Ptah's) Ennead is before him as teeth and lips. They are the semen and the hands of Atum. For the Ennead of Atum came into being through his semen and his fingers. But the Ennead is the teeth and the lips in this mouth which pronounced the name of every thing, from which Shu and Tefnut came forth, and which gave birth to the Ennead.

Sight, hearing, breathing--they report to the heart, and it makes every understanding come forth. As to the tongue, it repeats what the heart has devised. Thus all the gods were born and his Ennead was completed. For every word of the god came about through what the heart devised and the tongue commanded.

Thus all the faculties were made and all the qualities determined, they that make all foods and all provisions, through this word. to him who does what is loved, to him who does what is hated. Thus life is given to the peaceful and death is given to the criminal. Thus all labor, all crafts are made, the action of the hands, the motion of the legs, the movements of all the limbs, according to this command which is devised by the heart and comes forth on the tongue and creates the performance of every thing.

(Thus it is said of Ptah: "He who made all and created the gods." And he is Ta-tenen, who gave birth to the gods, and from whom everything came forth, foods, provisions, divine offerings, all good things. Thus is recognized and understood that he is the mightiest of the gods. Thus Ptah was satisfied after he had made all things and all divine words.

He gave birth to the gods,He made the towns,He established the nomes,He placed the gods in their shrines,He settled their offerings,He established their shrines,He made their bodies according to their wishes.Thus the gods entered into their bodies,Of every wood, every stone, every clay,Every thing that grows upon himIn which they came to be.Thus were gathered to him all the gods and their kas,Content, united with the Lord of the Two Lands.

The Great Throne that gives joy to the heart of the gods in the House of Ptah is the granary of Ta-tenen, the mistress of all life, through which the sustenance of the Two Lands is Provided, owing to the fact that Ausar was drowned in his water. Auset and Nebt-het looked out, beheld him, and attended to him. Heru quickly commanded Auset and Nebt-het to grasp Ausar and prevent his drowning (i.e., submerging). They heeded in time and brought him to land. He entered the hidden portals in the glory of the lords of eternity, in the steps of him who rises in the horizon, on the ways of Re the Great Throne. He entered the palace and joined the gods of Ta-tenen Ptah, lord of years.

Thus Ausar came into the earth at the Royal Fortress, to the north of the land to which he had come. his son Heru arose as king of Upper Chem, arose as king of Lower Chem, in the embrace of his father Ausar and of the gods in front of him and behind him.

______________________ Nine Gods = Nine Neteru

Thoth = Tehuti Egypt = Chem, Kemet Horus = Heru, Hru Osiris = Ausar, Asr Nephthys = Nebt-Het Isis = Auset, Ast --http://wysinger.homestead.com/nubian58.html

King Shabaka (Sabacos) 716-702 BC, Egypt Louvre Museum, France

Shabaka became pharaoh of Egypt and Kush after Piankhy died. He was probably crowned at Napata. When the Egyptian princes of northern Egypt revolted, he reinvaded Egypt and made Memphis his capital. He established diplomatic relations with the Assyrian kings at Nineveh (in what is now northern Iraq).

Statuette of an Nubian King Ancient Egypt. Late Period, XXV Dynasty. 7th century BC Bronze. 8.5 cm

This small Ancient Egyptian bronze statuette of an Nubian king dates to the short period when Egypt was ruled by the 25th Nubian Dynasty (8th-7th centuries BC), a period during which the art of the scuptural portrait flourished. According to Ancient Egyptian canon the ruler of the Nubian dynasty is shown as a walking man with his left leg thrust forward. Originally the ruler held some attributes in his hands, but these are now lost. One identifying feature of the Nubian rulers is a broad diadem placed over short hair, the diadem adorned with a band made up of imperial symbols in the form of ureus-snakes. Two such large urei (cobras) are placed over the king's forehead. According to Egyptian perceptions, cobras with their fiery breath protected the gods and kings from evil forces. Around his neck the Nubian wearns an unusual ornament, an amulet in the form of a ram's head on a string. The king's attire is Egyptian - a short pleated apron, the belt of which is adorned with geometrical ornament. The small figure was cast in bronze using the lost wax (cire perdue) method. This is one of only a few pieces in the Hermitage collection to depict a Nubian ruler Ancient Egypt. The details of Shabaka's campaign are not recorded anywhere in contemporary texts, but the subsequent Graeco-Roman tradition credits him with victory, the installation of a Nubian governor over Sais, and the recipient of oaths of fealty from his opponents. In the face of victory, Shabaka elected to remain in Egypt, rather than return to Napata, and chose Memphis as the site of his royal residence. Because he was the first Nubian pharaoh to reside permanently in Egypt proper, some Classical authors accord Shabaka the credit for founding Dynasty XXV. Herodotus, the so-called Father of History, writing in Greek about 450 B.C.E., described him as a just ruler who sentenced prisoners to public service in the form of dyke building for irrigation projects rather than condemn them to death. The most remarkable literary monument of his reign is doubtless the Shabaka Stone, a basalt stela that purports to have been copied from an ancient, but damaged, document to the degree that the worm holes of the alleged original have been faithfully reproduced as intentional gaps in the text of this stela. Written in a style reminiscent of the Pyramid Texts of the Old Kingdom, sculpted into the walls of the burial chambers of the pyramids of the pharaohs of Dynasty V and VI to ensure their successful passage into the Hereafter, the text of the Shabaka Stone deals with the role of Ptah, the creator god of the Memphite pantheon, and that of the city of Memphis relative to the Two Lands of Egypt. Whether the Shabaka Stone is, as stated, a Nubian copy of an older document or, as some scholars suggest, an original Nubian composition in an intentionally archaic style, it nevertheless demonstrates the antiquarian interests of Dynasty XXV in general and the reverential piety of its kings toward their venerable religious past. Such uses of the past helped to legitimize the contemporary religious programs of the Nubian pharaohs and enabled them to cloak those programs in an aura of authenticity.

Reference: Daily Life of the Nubians, Robert Steven Bianchi, 2004 The increased physical presence of the Nubians in Egypt at the royal residence of Memphis was but one vignette in the ever-changing picture of the ancient Near East as a whole at this time. Nubian consolidation of Egypt and Nubia into one polity enabled Shabaka's administration to gain a monopoly on luxury goods once passing from Nubian into Egyptian hands. Papyrus scrolls, finely woven Egyptian linen textiles, and even hides of elephants are listed as gifts received by petty princes of the Syria-Palestine region. Timber-poor Egypt continued to import cedar from Lebanon in exchange for Egyptian luxury goods. The history of the Syrian-Palestine region during Dynasty XXV is an exceedingly complex one, compounded by Assyrian-Egyptian relations. Seals originally associated with now-lost correspondence and found at the Assyrian site of Kuyunjik suggest an exchange of diplomatic correspondence between Shabaka and Sargon, king of Assyria. When Sargon was compelled to deal with military campaigns elsewhere in his kingdom, Shabaka seized the opportunity of establishing a foothold in the Syria-Palestine region. This presence inevitably placed Egypt in an adversarial position relative to Assyria, and caused concern among the petty rulers of the region as to the nature of their diplomatic alliances. Shabaka died before these issues came to a head. He was buried at el-Kurru in a tomb that was lavishly supplied with funerary goods, including vessels of various stones and finely worked articles of ivory and gold. His horses were also buried at el-Kurru, draped in beaded blankets and silver trappings.

Statuette of an Nubian King Ancient Egypt. Late Period, XXV Dynasty. 7th century BC Bronze. 8.5 cm

This small Ancient Egyptian bronze statuette of an Nubian king dates to the short period when Egypt was ruled by the 25th Nubian Dynasty (8th-7th centuries BC), a period during which the art of the scuptural portrait flourished. According to Ancient Egyptian canon the ruler of the Nubian dynasty is shown as a walking man with his left leg thrust forward. Originally the ruler held some attributes in his hands, but these are now lost. One identifying feature of the Nubian rulers is a broad diadem placed over short hair, the diadem adorned with a band made up of imperial symbols in the form of ureus-snakes. Two such large urei (cobras) are placed over the king's forehead. According to Egyptian perceptions, cobras with their fiery breath protected the gods and kings from evil forces. Around his neck the Nubian wearns an unusual ornament, an amulet in the form of a ram's head on a string. The king's attire is Egyptian - a short pleated apron, the belt of which is adorned with geometrical ornament. The small figure was cast in bronze using the lost wax (cire perdue) method. This is one of only a few pieces in the Hermitage collection to depict a Nubian ruler Ancient Egypt. The details of Shabaka's campaign are not recorded anywhere in contemporary texts, but the subsequent Graeco-Roman tradition credits him with victory, the installation of a Nubian governor over Sais, and the recipient of oaths of fealty from his opponents. In the face of victory, Shabaka elected to remain in Egypt, rather than return to Napata, and chose Memphis as the site of his royal residence. Because he was the first Nubian pharaoh to reside permanently in Egypt proper, some Classical authors accord Shabaka the credit for founding Dynasty XXV. Herodotus, the so-called Father of History, writing in Greek about 450 B.C.E., described him as a just ruler who sentenced prisoners to public service in the form of dyke building for irrigation projects rather than condemn them to death. The most remarkable literary monument of his reign is doubtless the Shabaka Stone, a basalt stela that purports to have been copied from an ancient, but damaged, document to the degree that the worm holes of the alleged original have been faithfully reproduced as intentional gaps in the text of this stela. Written in a style reminiscent of the Pyramid Texts of the Old Kingdom, sculpted into the walls of the burial chambers of the pyramids of the pharaohs of Dynasty V and VI to ensure their successful passage into the Hereafter, the text of the Shabaka Stone deals with the role of Ptah, the creator god of the Memphite pantheon, and that of the city of Memphis relative to the Two Lands of Egypt. Whether the Shabaka Stone is, as stated, a Nubian copy of an older document or, as some scholars suggest, an original Nubian composition in an intentionally archaic style, it nevertheless demonstrates the antiquarian interests of Dynasty XXV in general and the reverential piety of its kings toward their venerable religious past. Such uses of the past helped to legitimize the contemporary religious programs of the Nubian pharaohs and enabled them to cloak those programs in an aura of authenticity.

Reference: Daily Life of the Nubians, Robert Steven Bianchi, 2004 The increased physical presence of the Nubians in Egypt at the royal residence of Memphis was but one vignette in the ever-changing picture of the ancient Near East as a whole at this time. Nubian consolidation of Egypt and Nubia into one polity enabled Shabaka's administration to gain a monopoly on luxury goods once passing from Nubian into Egyptian hands. Papyrus scrolls, finely woven Egyptian linen textiles, and even hides of elephants are listed as gifts received by petty princes of the Syria-Palestine region. Timber-poor Egypt continued to import cedar from Lebanon in exchange for Egyptian luxury goods. The history of the Syrian-Palestine region during Dynasty XXV is an exceedingly complex one, compounded by Assyrian-Egyptian relations. Seals originally associated with now-lost correspondence and found at the Assyrian site of Kuyunjik suggest an exchange of diplomatic correspondence between Shabaka and Sargon, king of Assyria. When Sargon was compelled to deal with military campaigns elsewhere in his kingdom, Shabaka seized the opportunity of establishing a foothold in the Syria-Palestine region. This presence inevitably placed Egypt in an adversarial position relative to Assyria, and caused concern among the petty rulers of the region as to the nature of their diplomatic alliances. Shabaka died before these issues came to a head. He was buried at el-Kurru in a tomb that was lavishly supplied with funerary goods, including vessels of various stones and finely worked articles of ivory and gold. His horses were also buried at el-Kurru, draped in beaded blankets and silver trappings.

The Theology of Memphis


fugal monotheism, creative speech & pan-en-theism in Ancient Egyptian thought
by Wim van den Dungen http://www.maat.sofiatopia.org/memphis.htm#a51

1 the Shabaka Stone 2 the inscription on the stone 3 how old are the levels ? 4 the 3 layers of Egyptian thought 5 elements of Egyptian theology the theologies of Re, Thoth & Ptah the time before creation the first time 6 fugal monotheism 7 the Solar Bark & the Gates 8 Ptah and the theology of creative speech 9 the eternal work of Ptah : pan-en-theism ? the text of the Memphis

Theology Notes associated papers : The Shabaka Stone The Creative

Verb in Kemet Maxims of Ptahhotep

"Lo, every word of the god came into being through the thoughts of the heart &
Theology, lines 56-57

1 The Shabaka Stone : a few historical parameters.

"The living Horus : excellent Two Lands ; the Two Ladies : excellent Two Lands ; the Golden Horus : excellent Two Lands ; King of Upper and Lower Egypt : Neferkare, the son of Re, [Shabaka], beloved of Ptah-South-of-hisWall, who lives like Re forever. This writing was copied out anew by his Majesty in the House of his father Ptah-

South-of-his-Wall, for his Majesty found it to be a work of the ancestors which was worm-eaten, so that it could not be understood from the beginning to the end. His Majesty copied it anew so that it became better than it had been before, in order that his name might endure and his monument last in the House of his father Ptah-South-of-his-Wall throughout eternity, as a work done by the son of Re [Shabaka] for his father Ptah-Tatenen, so that he might live forever." Shabaka Stone,
lines 1 - 2 (horizontal).

The Shabaka Stone (BM n 498), is a heavy, near black block or slab of "Green breccia" from Wadi Hammamat named after Pharaoh Shabaka (ca. 712 - 698 BCE), who ruled in the XXVth Dynasty (ca. 716 - 702 BCE) and who is mentioned in LINE 1 of the inscription (the titulary). It was given by the First Lord of the Admiralty George John 2nd Earl Spencer (1758 - 1834) to the British Museum in 1805. It was registered in the inventory of the Museum on the 13th of July of that year. Up to now, its povenance is still unknown.1 For a more detailed discussion of the Shabaka Stone : click here. To contextualize Pharaoh Shabaka's "rescue", one has to realize he was the first king able to (shortly) reunite Egypt and take Residence at Memphis at the end of the Third Intermediate Period (ca. 1075 - 664 BCE) following the New Kingdom (ca.1539 - 1075 BCE). This Intermediate Period had been one of civil strife, and (as the two others before) confused and

characterized by the split of the land in Upper (South) and Lower (North, Delta) Egypt. "Following the death of Rameses XI, ca. 1069 BC, the 20th Dynasty -and with it the Renaissance era- came to an end, but the foundations of a new power structure were already in place, and transition to a new regime occured smoothly. Under the 21th Dynasty Egypt was -to outward appearances- politically united, but in reality control was divided between a line of kings in the North and a sequence of army commanders, who also held the post of high priest of Amun, at Thebes." Taylor, J. in Shaw, 2000, p.331. Whenever they were split, the Egyptians looked back to the Old Kingdom as the proto-type of a divine, stable, reliable and comprehensive (pyramidal) unity, with as foci Ptah of Memphis and Atum-Re of Heliopolis, superceded in the Middle & the Late New Kingdom by AmunRe of Thebes. The Old Kingdom conception of Egypt as the cosmos and uprisen land ("ta-Tenen") in the midst of chaos ("Nun"), had been replaced in the New Kingdom by the naturalism of the Sun ("Re") and its course (prototype of the Divine "creatio continua"). The New Solar Theology explained this in terms which rejected : "the entire mythic, pictoral world of polytheistic thought" Assmann, 2001, p.201. Politically, the New Kingdom brought internationalization, which defied the particularism of the Old and Middle Kingdoms. From Myceanae, Knossos, Mitanni, Babylon, and from the Hittites,

Assyrians, Libyans & Nubians gifts & trade goods were flowing in. The XVIIIth & XIXth Dynasties produced a formidable theological synthesis (cf. The Great Hymn to the Aten, Ramesside Amun-Re theology and great monuments of theocratic statesmanship). This political system collapsed under the last kings of the Late Ramesside period, the XXth Dynasty (ca. 1188 - 1075 BCE). After Pharaoh Ramesses III, the last great king able to repell invasions by the sea peoples (Philistines, Libyans), internal order rapidly decayed, leading to famine & the pilage of royal sepultures. The XXth Dynasty ends (ca. 1075 BCE) with civil strife and the split of Egypt. With it, the New Kingdom ended and the Third Intermediate Period began. The chief warrior-priests of Thebes (in charge of the rocking barks & statues of the divine oracles of Amun-Re and hence omnipotent) become the hereditary monarchs (in Upper Egypt) while the kings of Tanis held power in the Delta (Lower Egypt). At the end of the Third Intermediate Period (the latter half of the eighth century BCE), Egyptian sovereignty broke down (again) and the Nubian kings moved North.2 They first advanced to Thebes to control Upper Egypt. The brother of Pharaoh Shabaka, Piye, exercized only limited authority in Lower Egypt and returned to Napata (Upper Nubia). The art of this Kushite period of which he is the second Pharaoh, looks back to the Old Kingdom for inspiration, using models and styles from earlier periods (archaisms). 3 The black

African Nubian Shabaka was the first king of the "Ethiopian" Dynasty to reunite Egypt by defeating the monarchy of Sais while settling in Memphis. He needed "propaganda" to ideologically establish himself.4 Pharaoh Shabaka had indeed marched North to Memphis, making this Dynastic capital of old (cf. Pharao Menes, founder of Memphis) his new seat of government (cf. Frankfort on the importance of Memphis).5 The Shabaka Stone was originally set up in the temple of Ptah at Memphis. It is clear that this stone had to prove the legitimacy of the power of the Nubio-Kushite "Ethiopian" Dynasty (Egypt and Nubia unified). The stela affirmed that Pharoah, son of Ptah, was again the sole ruler uniting the "Two Lands" ... The story of how he found the worm-eaten work of "his ancestors" and its subsequent rescue may also be understood in the context of this search for political justification. Being "backed" by the god of Memphis had always been a sound mythico-political strategy and rhetorical device. His "rescue" is the making of a more permanent copy of the core of an ancient tradition, rooted in Memphis and the unification of the "Two Lands". Was this not suggestive of the fact that his reign would be a copy of tradition too ? To save a genuine tradition from being lost, had always remained a strong image in the minds of the Ancient Egyptians since the beginning of the Dynasties and probably even before. It was also potent in the minds of those around Pharaoh Shabaka, for the period of

strife, attempts of reunification, new decline and civil war had lasted for more than four centuries ! The "Ethiopians" did not stop the further decay of Egyptian autonomy and unity. Thebes was sacked under the Assyrian occupation (671 - 664 BCE) and although Psammetikus I (Wahibre) expels the Assyrians, Psammetikus III (Ankhkaenre) was kept in power by the Persians but committed suicide. Persian rule initiated the Late Period (664 - 332 BCE). The restoration of the old unity of the "Two Lands" had failed. The days of an independent Ancient Egypt were irreversibly over.

2 The inscription on the stone : hermeneutical levels.


The inscription on the Shabaka Stone claims to be a copy of an ancient wormeaten document which Pharaoh ordered to be transcribed for posterity (colophon). The egyptologists of the British Museum have good reasons to assume the compiler of the inscription on the stone reproduced the layout of early documents and introduced a number of genuine Egyptian archaisms (older spellings & grammatical usages) to lend the piece an air of antiquity.6 The story of the rescue of an old original is considered by scholars as an example of a rhetorical device well known in Egyptian royal inscriptions. So in this hypothesis, Shabaka's scribe invented the

whole composition (an amalgam of layouts) on the basis of existing documents. This begs the question of the age of the latter. Regarding the inscription three hermeneutical levels emerge : the inscription on the Shabaka Stone itself = extant text : This text is a composition of the XXVth Dynasty, and is probably an adapted and transformed version (hence a more advanced configuration) of an older "worm-eaten document" ; the worm-eaten document found by Pharaoh Shabaka = proposed original text(s) : The document is very probably a Late New Kingdom set of texts which contained the teachings of the priests of Memphis concerning the Lord of the Walls, Ptah. These texts contained more ancient thoughts but also bear the influence of the New Solar Theology and its all-comprehensive conception of divinity, i.e. the Great One in All forms (Re-Harakhty, Aten, AmunRe) ; the moment the ideas contained in the original text(s) emerged = lost original idea : This is more difficult to establish. Comparative themes as well as rudiments of the proposed "divine" creative speech can be found in earlier Middle & Old Kingdom sources. The archaic form of the "logos"-philosophy could be

associated with the importance of Pharaoh's Great Word (cf. Pyramid Texts), the crucial role of speech in the earliest manifestations of sapiental literature (cf. the VIth Dynasty Maxims of Ptahhotep) and the vocal-auditive and magical characteristics of Egyptian wisdom in general. Accepting Shabaka's original existed, is it then not likely it contained a canonical discourse, i.e. a set of thoughts defining an already well-defined cultural identity, in this case a religious form, namely the theology of Memphis ?7 I think it did. This proposed original would itself be a summary or canon of an older tradition, with an even more remote historical origin, going back to the moment of the actual emergence of the original ideas, probably articulated in a less complex and sophisticated format (like in the spells of the Pyramid Texts which contain references to Sia & Hu, themselves originating centuries before the extant record, namely Pharaoh Unis' tomb). A first hand investigation of the Shabaka Stone revealed the following table of contents. It has 6 sections : LINES 1 - 2 : heading (titulary, colophon) : general information about the stela & editorial remarks concerning its composition ; LINES 3 - 6 : prefaces : LINES 3 - 4 : general declaration of Ptah's supremacy as proclaimer of the

great name of "Tenen" and as Pharaoh and LINE 6 : introduction of the mystery-drama of the deities created by Atum who is begat by Ptah ; LINES 7 - 35b : the mystery-drama : here the division (decided by Geb) of the rule of Egypt between Horus and Seth is narrated and enacted. This settlement is replaced by the union of the Two Lands under the sole rule of Horus, who is a manifestation of Ptah ; LINES 48 - 52 : new heading & Ptah's epiphanies : reaffirmation all deities are manifestations in Ptah, to whom Ptah gave birth ; LINES 53 - 61 : the theology of Memphis ; LINES 61 - 64 : the royal residence : Memphis is the city of Ptah-Tenen.

Section V, the subdivisions : Shabaka Stone : section V : the theology of Memphis (right hand side) logoism : the process with wh The success of this cosmogony puts into evidence the importance including all po of "words of power". why this Memp Heliopolitan one

the power of cr an epistemology mind) are also natural philosop nature (Ptah is LINES 58 - 61 affirmation of everything, all b (celestial) as we Ptah we touc cosmogony of A

3 How old are the levels ?


Breasted8 concluded the original text used to compose the Shabaka inscription was probably written in the XVIIIth Dynasty (ca.1539 - 1292 BCE), i.e. at the beginning of the New Kingdom.9 The work of later investigators (Erman10, Sethe11, Junker12, Frankfort13) abandoned Breasted's justified caution and dated the original text between the Ith and the Vth Dynasty !15 Frankfort claimed : "The Memphite Theology presents the religious teaching for Menes' new capital. It combines views which we can recognize as new, since they concern the new foundation ; others which we suspect to be new because they run counter to common Egyptian beliefs and could hardly have gained acceptance it they had not been part of the great movement at the dawn of history. Other doctrines again seem to be rooted in Egyptian, or even African, traditions of the greatest antiquity." Frankfort, 1978, p.24.Friedrich

Junge (1973)16 convincingly demonstrated there are no philological grounds to ascribe the text to the Old Kingdom. He too thinks in terms of an original compendium of New Kingdom texts used in a free and adaptive way in the Late Period. The original compendium might date back as far as the Ramesside period, the Late New Kingdom, a period of extensive religious speculation. After Amarna, Ptah & Memphis had become more important again. Other leading egyptologists, like Hornung (1989),17 also reject an early dating of the original text. A Late New Kingdom date proves Egyptian archaism (i.e. the Old Egyptian of the Pyramid Texts) was perfectly mastered by Shabaka's scribe (and hence available in the many Houses of Life of major temples throughout Egypt). In this context, the Frenchman Grimal18 is apparently the only scholar who still fancies Old Kingdom dates when considering the text. Late Period scribes must have been great linguists. I accept the philological arguments of Junge and the insights given by the critical study of the political, opportunistic & propagandistic motivations of Pharaoh Shabaka. Hence, the original text was probably composed in the Ramesside period of the New Kingdom (XIXth or XXth Dynasty). Extant text, original text and the original ideas of the inscription on the Shabaka Stone each have a different age : extant text : ca. 700 BCE (XXVth Dynasty) - Third Intermediate Period

original text : ca. 1292 - 1075 BCE (XIXth - XXth Dynasty) - Ramesside New Kingdom ... lost texts ... other texts ? ... this is very likely ! lost original : ca. 2400 BCE (Vth Dynasty ??) - Late Old Kingdom

So if the original worm-eaten document found by Pharaoh Shabaka was written in the New Kingdom and the hermeneutical form of this New Kingdom original was canonical (implying it or they were the culmination of the evolutionary process of the form of the thoughts in question and not just the invention of the Memphite theologians of the New Kingdom),19 then clearly the origin of these ideas (perhaps not documented) could bring us back to the Middle Kingdom or perhaps to the Old Kingdom, to Grimal's Vth Dynasty dating, when the Heliopolitan view predominated. Can the age of the hermeneutical levels be established on the basis of Old, Middle & New Kingdom texts with reliable comparative elements, themes & contents ?

4 The 3 layers of Egyptian cognition


Early 20th century egyptology was modernist, positivist, antiquarian, Hellenocentric (if not Europacentric) and

reluctant to accept the fact Ancient Egyptians were also able to speculate, think and be truly spiritual and philosophical. Hellenocentrism, Europacentrism and a refusal (and/or inability) to understand figural and analogical thought by its own standards, compromized the understanding of ancient religious, philosophical & spiritual texts. This mentality is not extinct, although the old crocodiles are nearly all gone to meet the Balance. For nearly a century, the Shabaka Stone and its inscription remained unconsidered by egyptologists. In 1901, James Henry Breasted wrote his brief article "Philosophy of a Memphite Priest", which prompted other scholars to study the extant text. In 1909, Adolf Erman first put the word "memphitischer" and "Theologie" together in his "Ein Denkmal memphitischer Theologie". However, it was Breasted who first rendered the text of the Shabaka Stone and who copied the inscriptions by hand for his contribution to the Wrtenbuch der gyptischen Sprache. He also discovered the text did not read from right to left but in "retrograde form", characteristic of religious texts on papyrus (the order in which the columns are to be read is reversed even though the arrangement of individual hieroglyphs remains facing to the right). The layout of the inscription made Breasted date the textual original to the early XVIIIth Dynasty. But he and others soon realized this text was of one of the most important documents in the history of Ancient Egyptian

thought ! Breasted, who admired the sensitivity of the Ancient Egyptians, and who defined the inscription on the Shabaka Stone as "the oldest known formulation of a philosophical Weltanschauung"14, nevertheless writes : "I have tried to express in English the thoughts of the Egyptian in all their crudity, as he thought and expressed them. That they thus exhibit numerous paradoxes, is only in harmony with what we know is everywhere common in Egyptian religious thought, thus illustrating again what is almost an axiom in modern anthropology, that the mind of early man unconsciously and therefore without the slightest difficulty, entertains numerous glaring paradoxes." Breasted, 1901, 39, p.50f, my italics.Other egyptologists, however, acknowledged the imaginal (Assmann would say "constellational") nature of the mythical mode of thought in Ancient Egypt : "Images are not ornaments of adjuncts of ancient thought. They are inseparable from it because the ancients reached their insight in a manner which was intuitive and imaginative as much as intellectual." Frankfort, 1978, p.28. My own contribution comes from the side of critical epistemology, postmodern logic and process metaphysics, layering cognitive growth in modes of thought which develop in stages (cf. the genetical approach of Piaget). To understand Ancient Egyptian thinking, one is much helped by the analysis of the earliest stages of cognition, characterized by mythical, pre-rational and proto-rational modes of thought and their

prelogical, pre-conceptual and concrete operational standards. For more specifics on the layers of Egyptian thought, also consult : To Become a Magician (2001), and the neurophilosophical studies. The earliest, ante-rational modes of thought can be seen at work in the inscription of the Shabaka Stone. The way distinctions are bridged by the universalizing concept of Ptah is also typical for proto-rational activity (cf. the introduction of a universal, like Anaximander's "to apeiron", the boundless). It would therefore be unfair to deny Ancient Egyptian civilization its metaphysical, theological or mystical intentions & cognitive activities, albeit mythical, pre-rational & proto-rational, the cognitive activity founding pre-Hellenistic ante-rationality. These early layers of cognitive growth explain why their speculations do not imply a clear-cut & stable division between object & subject as we can see at work in the texts of Plato & Aristotle (cf. the intermixing nature of the Egyptian image versus the abstraction of the Greek sign - cf. Hermes the Egyptian). This shows the importance of multiple approaches (typical for the Egyptian mind) and the power of images when dealing with this (and other) ancient civilizations. "But we have found on closer inspection of the evidence that the ancients' adherence to quasi-contradictory opinions was not due to any inability on their part to think clearly, but to their habit of using several separate avenues of approach to subjects of a problematic nature. They did justice to the

complexity of a problem by allowing a variety of partial solutions, each of which was valid for a given approach to the central problem." Frankfort, 1961, pp.91-92,
my italics.

5 Elements of Egyptian theology


Although Hornung thinks it impossible to define "god" in terms of Ancient Egyptian thought, he nevertheless writes : "Les dieux gyptiens ressemblent, de par leur nature et leurs manifestations en mutation constante, aux temples du pays, qui n'taient jamais achevs, mais toujours 'en construction'. La forme axiale des temples en gypte est clairement ordonne, articule, et pourtant n'exclut jamais la possibilit d'extension et de transformation continues. (...) En cela, l'gypte diffre considrablement de la Grce, o temples et dieux sont relativement finis et complets." Hornung, 1986, p.235, my italics.Considering the Ancient Egyptian pantheon from Early Dynastic times until the Late Period, we discover the word for "god" or "nTrj" ("netjer") was used in the singular (one flagpole with stroke, "god", "goddess"), in the plural (three flagpoles, "the gods", "the goddess"), as a company of nine deities, called an "Ennead" (three flagpoles on top of which are drawn a circle and a loaf), or as a company of Enneads ... The presence of a singular use does however not imply monotheism ... In the Old

Kingdom, national deities such as Horus, Atum-Re, Ptah & to a lesser extent Thoth, Khnum & Osiris emerged (each with their consorts). In the Middle Kingdom, AmunRe became Dynastic. These deities were given the epithet "Great One" because of their "firstness" and to point to their role as creator of the "Two Lands". This "firstness" was linked with the mythical state before creation, the primordial ocean (the eternal flood), associated with the cultless "Nun". Consistent with the prerational logic put into evidence in the Late Vth Dynasty Pyramid Texts, the confusion between more than one "Great One" did not trouble the Egyptian mind, for preconcepts indeed lack the stability necessary to impress their thinkers with their flagrant contradictions. The conflicting terms are put side to side and dealt with inefficiently but often symmetrically (cf. To Become a Magician). Only with the naturalization of the pantheon in the New Solar Theology (XVIIIth Dynasty), did "god" in the singular point to Re and only to him. In the Ramesside worship of Amun-Re, we see a proto-rational conceptualization rise, in which a stable -albeit concrete & contextual- concept of worship in Egyptian style is a cultural form of civilization (which can be exported - cf. the egyptianization of Upper Nubia). The shortlived eradication of the plural under Akhenaten20 is particularly revealing. His religion was exclusive. No other deity but Aten could claim divinity, and only the sonless Pharaoh had access to his father.

In his theology, the contextualizations of proto-rationality are gone. Replace Akhenaten's "Aten" by Plato's "Idea of the Good", and an Egyptian form of conceptual rationality emerges. However, we know Akhenaten's religious experiment was disliked by his people and repressed after his death.21 The old ways were quickly "restored". Mythical, pre-rational and proto-rational modes of thought could not be relinquished. The time of rational, stable and decontextual concepts was not at hand (we have to wait for this until the Ptolemaic Age). The Theban Amun-Re became the "Great One" of the postAmarna henotheist system of religion, which would continue to exist in Egypt untill the last temple closed. The protorational features of this model are evidenced by the possibility of replacing the name of the "Great One" by another ... The theology of Memphis was probably written to show Ptah is even greater than "Atum-Re" (the later "AmunRe"). In this mode of thought, this conflict in greatness can not be resolved, for the proto-rational New Kingdom theology of Amun-Re as well as that of Ptah were rooted in pre-rational and mythical considerations. Of both, the theology of Memphis is intellectually superior and nearest to a naturalistic approach, superseding the "first time" of myth and the flagrant conflicts of pre-rationality. In it, the conflict of proto-reason is mediated (harmonized) by simultaneity of the contents of mind (heart) & the proclaiming speech (tongue) of Ptah, the all-

encompassing creator and fashioner. However, to make the leap to the rational mode of thought, nothing less than the eradication of all plurals will do (as Akhenaten so admirably conceptualized in the "free" and elastic Amarna style). the theologies of Re, Thoth & Ptah : In Ancient Egypt, the earliest traces of stable "schools" of cognitive reflections regarding the divine are the mythical & pre-rational theologies of the Old Kingdom, developed in Heliopolis (or "n"), Memphis (or "Men-nefer") & Hermopolis (or "Khemenu") 22 In the Old Kingdom, the Heliopolitan scheme is best documented (Pyramid Texts) and dominant. The only clear-cut theological text of the Memphite school we have, is the inscription on the right hand side of the Shabaka Stone, the so-called Memphis Theology, referring to a Late New Kingdom original copy. Ptah is mentioned only three times in the Pyramid Texts, and he is referred to as "the greatly noble" (Utterance 573, 1482). The Hermopolitan scheme is first known through Early Ramesside sources (Early XIXth Dynasty), although traces of it can be found in the Pyramid Texts. It develops considerably in the Late Period (cf. Hermetism). In all three, creation emerges as "the risen land" or "ta-Tenen" out of Nun, the chaotic state before creation. Upon this sacred hill, in Heliopolis, Atum-Re, the creator-god manifesting as the Sun, rested when he rose for the first time. "Nun" being the inert primordial ocean and the primordial

hill being the mount of creation. This pictoral representation refers to the mythical mode of thought. This "risen land" was a central metaphor, an example of the emergence of creation and light out of the undifferentiated waters, in which inert chaos lay dormant and hidden by darkness, in which the autogenetor "floated" (i.e. Atum, the ba or "soul" of chaos). It was a metaphorical sublimation of the natural environment, in particular the chaotic "strange attractor" defining the phase-space of the annual level of the inundation of the Nile (the presence of "Nun" in the "deep" of creation itself) and the phenomenon of the receding floodwaters leaving exceptionally fertile black silt behind (the black land, or "kemet") ; out of chaos springs the light, out of death new life emerges, and the cycle is eternal (repetition). Heliopolitan theology stressed the self-creation of Atum-Re and his creation of all by means of his hands and his semen. In the Old Kingdom, Ptah was "speaking" on the behalf of Pharaoh and providing the latter with supplies (Pyramid Texts, Utterance 573, 1482). In his mythical form, Ptah fashions the primordial egg out of which Atum hatches (in Hermopolis, the Ogdoad is said to fashion the egg). He is the patron of artists & artisans. Does his noble speech refer to the "sia" (understanding), "hu" (authoritative speech) & "heka" (magic) of the Pyramid Texts (which incorporated this element, as did Hermopolitan and Osirian thought) ?

the Heliopolitan scheme :

In Hermopolis, Thoth was the "Vizier" of Re and as sacred ibis he dropped the creative word to create the world out of the primordial chaos of the Ogdoad of precreational, chaotic deities. The "peace of Thoth" was the balance between the rather subjectifying Heliopolitan scheme (self-creation) and the objectifying Memphite answer (generative command and all-comprehensiveness). But in essence, the Hermopolitan scheme, with its emphasis on creation-through-theword, is easy to combine with the Memphite, which became Dynastic in the IIIth Dynasty (Memphis had become the capital of Egypt). the Hermopolitan scheme :

Heliopolitan theology became dominant in the Vth Dynasty, but it did not repress the theology of Memphis or Hermopolis. In fact, the three can be read as complementing each other, although differences were obvious. In the New Kingdom, the New Solar Theology tried to promote an all-comprehensive approach of Re, leading to the shortlived radical monotheism of Amarna and the Ramesside henotheist theology of AmunRe. The original text mentioned in the

extant text on the Shabaka Stone can be read as the answer of Memphis to this New Solar Theology. This is probably also the case for the Hymns to Ptah written under the Ramesses, were we read about Ptah : "who made heaven as a creation of his heart" & "who made the Earth according to the plan of his heart, whose manifestations came into being" ... The Heliopolitan, Hermopolitan & Memphite systems of thought form a mythical and pre-rational triad : Heliopolitan ritual (appearance) : AtumRe creates himself in the first time, Atum splits and the Ennead is made. This "first time" starts with Atum's autogeneration and ends with the emergence of Atum out of Nun (when the first ray of the Sun pierces above the horizon ? - cf. the "benben" or petrified ray of the Sun). His autogenesis instantaneously ({0} = 2) gives birth to Shu (air) and Tefnut (moist). Here pre-creation is left behind. Selfcreative Atum-Re has understanding, wisdom (sia), authoritative utterance (hu, the Great Word), magic (heka), justice & truth (maat). His eternal rejuvenation is based on his being all-light, forever alife & mutating perpetually in his Solar Bark, although at night Re navigates on the Nile of the underworld, the depth of which touches the primordial chaos of pre-creation. In Amarna theology, Re manifests as

the disk of the Sun, called "Aten", and is the sole, all-comprehensive deity of the system (except for his son, Akhenaten). In Ramesside theology, Amun-Re is of essence hidden & one, but pluriform in expressions. Hermopolitan magic (names) : Thoth is the head of the pre-creational Ogdoad and when, as the sacred Ibis, he drops the creative Great Word from his beak, he creates everything. Here the mythical origin (before time and before the intermediate, transient, fugal first time) is placed under the command of the divine mind, word of Re and god of magic. The primordial realm is characterized & personified. "Khemenu" means "the city of the eight gods" or "Ogdoad" of primordial deities related to the state of affairs of the primordial ocean, the great, absolutely inert & undifferentiated Nun ; Memphite unity (body) : Ptah is one & all-comprehensive (Ptah is Nun, Atum & Re). With mind he speaks the Great Word and creates everything therewith. Pre-creation, first time & creation are all put into one category, an exemplaric summation. Ptah was before creation, during the first time, at the moment of creation and in every created god & goddess, in all Kas &

Bas, in all temples and on every altar ... Just as Pharaoh was the only one facing the deities (everybody else had to face him), so was every member of the pantheon (the Enneads) a manifestation of Ptah. The Memphis Theology attempts to supersede the Heliopolitan doctrine on three accounts : Ptah is all-encompassing : he is the Great One of pre-creation, first time & creation ; The Great Word spoken by Ptah creates the Ennead, whereas in the Heliopolitan view, Atum creates the deities through onanism ; mind in the heart and creative speech by the tongue are like the semen and the hands of Atum, i.e. the Great Word spoken is the first cause and not Atum's mythical & pre-rational initiatoric act of taking semen in the hand and in the mouth. the Memphite scheme :

In these theologies, the "spoken word" played a considerable part. In fact, take away the "Great Word" spoken by Re and his son and there is no creation and no Egyptian state. So both in the Pyramid Texts, Coffin Texts, as well as in the Memphis Theology, we clearly find the

rudiments of the notion of the "logos" as a creative agent. the cosmological difference : the time before creation ... Nun is the watery abyss from which everything emerged. Therefore Nun, the Greek "chaos", is the "father of the gods", especially of Atum, his soul, and had no cult. In Memphis, Nun was Ptah-Nun, whereas in Middle Kingdom Thebes, Nun was identified with Amun, the hidden (mentioned only once in the Pyramid Texts). In Hermopolis, Nun recieved a consort (Naounet or Nenet). All three cosmologies acknowledge the double cosmological difference between, on the one hand, creation itself and that which was before time & space (the undifferentiated primordial ocean) and, on the other hand, the difference between the mythical "first time" ("in the beginning") and the actual historical time of the two and the millions (i.e. the eternity versus the temporality of the created world). In the Pyramid Texts, dating end Vth & VIth Dynasty and written by Heliopolitan scribes, we find : "(...) I was born in the Abyss before the sky existed, before the Earth existed, before that which was to be made firm existed, before turmoil existed, before that fear which arose on account of the Eye of Horus existed." Pyramid Texts, utterance 486 ( 1040). The "abyss" or "chaos" is another name for "nwwn", "Nun" (Nououn, also Nu, Noun or Niu), the inert and undifferentiated primordial waters. In the Old Kingdom, the pre-creational world was pictured as a deep, boundless & uncreated

watery mass. No gods were present. No Earth, no sky, no humanity. In it, nothing is born. The primordial waters are beyond turmoil, because no opposition or movement occurs in this undifferentiated, inertia. The great battles between Horus & Seth are not. The fact Pharaoh claims to be born in the Abyss, refers to the "zep tepy" or "first time", the emergence of creation out of the inert (in particular the autogenetic rise of the Sun-god Atum), which is simultaneous with the coming into the light of the gods & goddesses and the actuality of creation. "(...) for vindication which was born before anger came into being ; which was born before noise came into being ; which was born before strife came into being ; which was born before tumult came into being ; which was born before the Eye of Horus was gouged out, before the testicles of Seth were torn off." Pyramid Texts, utterance 570 ( 1463). Furthermore, in the language of the Old Kingdom, the pre-creational realm is invoked using what Gardiner calls a "virtual adverb clause" as in "he has had not yet ..." (Egyptian Grammar, 402). This virtual adverb is suggestive of the distinction, or difference between a realm before and after creation. What can be said about the pre-creational realm ? "Sur le plan de la philologique, nous voluons sur des bases fermes car des termes gyptiens tels que tm wnn et nn wn sont sans conteste des ngations du verbe 'tre' - le premier refermant un verbe ngatif, le dernier une particule. Il y

a ausi l'adjectif relatif ngatif (jwtj / jwtt) et un substantif qui en drive ; littralement, ces termes ne peuvent signifier que 'ce qui n'est pas' ou 'ce que n'existe pas'. Les gyptiens tablissent, en outre, une distinction nette entre le verbe 'tre', 'devenir' et 'vivre'."Hornung, 1986, pp.157-158. The pre-creational is without spatial division, for Earth & sky are not yet separated. The ascension of the god of air, Shu, has not happened yet. The primordial elements of this world of pre-creation are united and there is no place where a creator-god could exist and make creation emerge. Although Nun is inert and undifferentiated, the virtual, pre-creational matrix of creation (Atum) lies dormant in it. Hence, Nun is the passive, inert, undifferentiated set of "all possibilities", which is not the same thing as an absolute non-existence, emptiness or void. For in Nun lies also the capacity to create eternal repetition, the foundation of order and creation as a whole. In the Pyramid Texts, the pre-creational, chaotic realm is not presented as unstructured. The precreational, is given, in Hermopolitan style, primordial gods & their consorts. Faulkner translated "Hh", which occurs in Utterance 558 as "Chaos-god". A plural ("hyw.f" & "hhw.f") occurs in Utterance 406, rendered as "Chaos-gods". In later texts, they are called the "eightfold company" of gods, the "Ogdoad" of the primeval chaos before creation. These two read as follows : "(...) May I see you go forth as Thoth, when a waterway is prepared for the Bark of Re to his fields which are in a

part of the sky, may you rush on as one who is at the head of the Chaosgods." Pyramid Texts, utterance 406 ( 709)."O King ! Hail to you, you Chaos-god ! The travelling of the Great Black One is travelled for you, you stop a stopping of the Eldest God, there is censed for you the censing of 'kAi-smk' in n. Be alive ! Have dominion, dominion ! Life is raised up behind you, so live !" Pyramid Texts, utterance 558 ( 1390-1391). The Old Kingdom tried to produce images & personifications of this world (Nun, Naounet, Amun, Amaunet, chaos-gods). The need to understand how creation came into effect can only be satisfied when Nun is characterized in a way allowing for creation, even if the essential inert nature of Nun is left untouched. This happened by structuring the pre-creational and attributing creative power to it. This primordial structure is made clear in Hermopolitan theology, which allows the primordial ocean to be characterized & personified. In this scheme, the "chaosgods" (Faulkner)23 of pre-creation form the "Ogdoad" or company ("paut") of eight deities. They create the primordial egg out of which Atum hatches. They are hence before time and space. They beget and establish the gods & goddesses. These primordial deities are unlike the gods & goddesses of creation, who are as it were always "on the move". They are more like characterizations (attributes, accidents) of Nun and unlike the gods & goddesses, who come forth from Atum-Re, for they keep their unique style &

profile. The actual names of these primordial deities, the so-called list of the "paut" of Thoth are mentioned at Edfu, Dendera, Karnak, Philae etc. The oldest pictoral evidence of their form date from the reign of Seti I (ca.1290-1279) in the Early Ramesside Period of the New Kingdom (Early 19th Dynasty). The list below is of the Late Period, taken from the texts of the walls of the temple the Persian Darius II (424 - 404 BCE) built in the Oase of Khrga (Hebet). Nun and Naounet : primordial waters ; Hou and Haouet undefined ; : boundless,

Kouk and Kaouhet : total darkness, potential light ; Gereh and Gerhet : absence, negation, potential creation. In the primordial state of boundless inertia (Nun, Hou), a dark & passive potential (Kouk, Gereh) exists. The undifferentiated Nun holds dormant seeds. Kouk & Kaouhet (male & female sides of the power of darkness of Nun) were related to the cycle of the Sun. Kouk (Kekui) is later called "the raiser up of the light" (period of night which precedes the day), Kaouhet (Kekuit) the "raiser up of the night" (period of night which follows the day). In this sense, they announce the "first time", the emergence of Atum out of Nun, the dawn of a new Sun over the Nile after it set. Absolute darkness and negation are

understood when contrasted with light & affirmation. The first three chaos-gods (Naounet, Hou and Haouet) do not step outside the characterization of Nun as boundless & undefined. The last four chaos-gods seem to form the primordial quaternio preparing the emergence of Atum-Re and the start of the "first time". However, they too are in actuality inert. The "inert" qualities of Nun are associated with the even pairs of gods & goddesses which form the primordial Ogdoad. Created "companies" are usually trinities or trinities of three (or enneads, nine being the original number to which a "head" is added), i.e. uneven, essentially unbalanced or dynamical. Nun & its ogdoadic matrix is without duality, split, generation, time, life, death. All is absolutely undifferentiated, finished & complete. In physical terms, we could say the world before creation is understood as absolutely chaotic, i.e. the measure of entropy is infinite (implying homogeneity and with no flux).24 In Nun there is no heterogeneity between objects. The asymmetrical balancing-principle (the two moving scales of the balance) characterizing creation is totally lost. Symmetry is maximal. This is in accord with recent chaostheory.25 The head of the Ennead of Hermopolis is Thoth, the god of writing, learning, medicine & wisdom.26 According to Budge, the priests of Heliopolis and the authors of the system developed in the Pyramid Texts, intended a "company of gods" (or "paut") consisting of nine gods.27 In Hermopolis,

they had arrived at that number by adding their leader Tehuti or Thoth to a group of four pairs of primordial deities. In Heliopolis, they had added Atum. Budge dates the oldest representations of their forms not older than the reign of Seti I (cf. supra). But the way they are mentioned is suggestive of traditional ideas with a very ancient character.28 These gods (forming a primordial ogdoadic structure) represented concepts, faiths & beliefs which even at that remote period had been long dead.29 The Memphis Theology acknowledges the primordial ground (Nun) & its matrix (the Ogdoad of chaotic pre-existence) for Ptah is called "Ptah-Nun, the father who made Atum" (LINE 48a). the phenomenological difference : the "Urzeit" (zep-tepy) or "in the beginning" ... In the Coffin Texts, dating Middle Kingdom (ca. 19381759 BCE) we read : "I am a living one, possessor of years, and I live for ever and ever. Atum achieved eldership through his power when he fashoned Shu and Tefnut in Heliopolis ; when he was alone in his existence, without me ; when he separated Geb from Nut, before the first generation had been born, before the primeval Ennead had come into being." Coffin Texts, spell 80 (II, 39), my italics.The words "zp tpii" ("zep-tepy", the first time) indicate a liminal stage or realm between non-existence (Nun) and actual existence (Re and creation). We learn creation is not viewed as a unique event but as something which may repeat itself, so the world may return to be as perfect

as it was "in the beginning". The first time never ends. It is mythical and reflects eternal repetition (whereas "Nun" is eternal sameness or everlastingness). The same notion of a return to the source is suggested by the Heb Sed Festival, a jubilee commemorating the accession of Pharaoh and a "true renewal of kingly potency, a rejuvenation of rulership "ex opere operato" (Frankfort, H. : Op.cit., p.79) and it also occurs in the theology of the course of Re (cf. Amduat). In the cosmology of Heliopolis, Atum selfengenders "in the first time". Atum emerges out of Nun, as Re out of the first time. Both Nun and Atum are called "father of the gods". Nun is the passive side of universal fatherhood (Nun as father of all possibilities & potency), Atum the active, actual creation of all beings, the autogenetic capacity of chaos. In fact, creation happens when the inertness of Nun is overcome and the beings may come into existence. Except for the dormant powers, there is nothing in the abyss which could trigger this. However, the dormant nature of the power of the chaos-gods is such nothing can escape out of it. So how creation started can not be explained by Nun or the other chaos-gods. Headed by Atum, the Heliopolitan selfcreated creator, the Ogdoad becomes an Ennead and the problem is solved for Atum is "causa sui" (his own cause). In Ancient Egypt, the notion of the emergence of creation is linked with the rise of the "primordial hill", the coming into being of the "risen land" or "Ta-

Tenen". Everything is erected upon the risen land, a mount above the (receding) waters of chaos, bringing fertility. The risen land remains surrounded with the primordial waters, for creation itself does not eliminate the presence of Nun. The chaos-gods are the irreducible background of creation, growth, decay, death & resurrection. "O Atum-Kheprer, you became high on the hill. You rose up as the Benben in the Temple of the Phoenix in Heliopolis. You spat out Shu. You spew out Tefnut. You put your arms round them as the arms of the Ka (sign), so that your Ka-power may be in them." Pyramid Texts, utterance 600 ( 1652 - 1653). The "first time" ends with the emergence of this risen land. "Ta-Tenen" ("ta" or "Earth" & "tenen", "enen", "nen" or "inertness, rest, inactivity") emerges out of this golden age of the deities and establishes a firm foundation for creation to be erected upon. "Ta-Tenen" is a personification of the natural forces related to the constancy of the Earth and the ability of the risen land to hold together. "Ta-Tenen" represents the physical constants opposing chaos. "Ta-Tenen" or "Tenen" is the material cause of creation, not its efficient and final cause, which is Atum, and his eternity-in-everlastingness (eternal repetition).

6 Fugal monotheism ...


Atum, Atem, Tem or Temu was depicted

in human form. In the Pyramid Texts, Atum is associated with Re, the god of the Sun. In fact, in the Heliopolitan view, the dead wait in the Netherworld until the Boat of the Setting Sun, or Re in the form of Temu, appears (a theme also found in the later Amduat). In Memphis, Nun was called "the father of Atum". Indeed, Atum emerges out of Nun. Atum is active and originator of creation, Nun is the allcomprehensive passive & chaotic watery mass upon which the primordial hill (Atum's erect penis) as it were floats. Atum is eternal repetition ("neheh"), Nun is eternal sameness. Atum is eternity-in-everlastingness, Nun is everlastingness ("djedet"). "Atum is he who once came into being, who masturbated in Heliopolis. He took his phallus in his grasp that he might create orgasm by means of it, and so were born the twins Shu and Tefnut." Pyramid Texts, utterance 527 ( 1248).Atum, the original father (in the sense he is the efficient cause of creation) came into being in a paradoxical way, for, in the old translations, "Atum is, in fact, defined as 'he who became, in coming lengthened, which he did in Heliopolis.'"30 Atum created the world for his own pleasure, not parenthood. His progeny are accidental and the whole issue revolves around his bi-sexual auto-erotic intent. The lengthening and becoming stiff of his penis also refers to the emergence of the primordial hill and the solidifying of the waters of chaos and the becoming of the risen land, i.e. the period of the "first

time". The reason why something came out of Nun is thus explained as Atum pleasing himself. "Atoum, le premier dieu crateur connu, semble galement porter un nom dfinissant mais celui-ci est d'une interprtation plus complexe. Le verbe tm, dont le nom est un formation participale, signifie tout la fois 'ne pas tre' et 'tre complet'." Hornung, 1986, p.56.Atum is the alternation between pre-creation and creation. Anthes translates Atum as "he who is integral", Bonnet as "he who is not yet complete". Kees opts for "he who is not present yet", whereas Hornung chooses "he who is differentiated".31 Atum seem to me "he who is in-between" (Nun and creation). Atum encompasses both preexistence (he came out of potential existence) as well as existence (first time and emerging creation). He is not, because he is not caused like the other creatures (the gods, goddesses & other beings). He is complete, because he encompasses the chaotic (passively) as well as the orderly (actively), the chaosgods (who remain dormant, Nun being Atum's body as Atum is Nun's soul) as well as the gods & goddesses of creation (who are always moving and changing), Maat before all. This can only be because Atum is "the one" and "the greatest" ("ur").32 Hornung is right when he claims that in the minds of the Ancient Egyptians, the absolute unity the divine radically transcends the order of creation with its gods, goddesses, natural kingdoms and human cultures. One of the

necessary conditions of monotheism is fulfilled : to distinguish with ease between what is the truly Divine (the uncreated) and evidently worldly (the created), or, in Egyptian terms, between the power of powers and the powers. "L'tat d'avant la cration ne vaut pas d'tre recherch, mme pour le dieu crateur ; il y tait seul et devait se contenter de dialoguer avec ce qui ne rpond pas et en fait n'existe pas. En se diffrenciant et en accdant l'existence il engage le dialogue et le processur d'change permettant aux dieux et l'humanit de vivre." Hornung, 1986, p.181. Before creation and before the first time, Atum is not active, but deemed floating alone in the primordial waters. Nun is inert. Atum self-engenders and so creates the transition-zone between precreation & creation (the "zep-tepy"). This pre-creational, pre-existent "unity" (Atum) finally manifests as Re when the primordial hill rises, but begins with the creation of Shu & Tefnut. They initiate the beginning of the "first time" between everlasting chaos and eternal creation. The first cycle of myths deal with Atum sending out his Eye to find these children in the vast expanse of Nun. In this mythical time, continuously & endlessly, millions of beings emerge out of chaos through the ongoing "masturbation" of Atum. Participating in this process of emergence and actualization is by itself life-giving. "Les gyptiens ne rencontrent l'unicit absolue de dieu qu'en dehors du monde et de la cration, durant la transition fugace entre la non-existence et

l'existence. Par ses travaux cratifs, le premier - et l'origine le seul dieu, disperse l'unicit primordiale en une multiplicit et une diversit de manifestations : ainsi, en dpit de multiples caractristiques communes, chaque dieu est unique et incomparable." Hornung, 1986, p.169, my italics. The first Great One, Atum, creates himself (autogenesis) for his own pleasure and by doing so immediately & simultaneously gives birth to Shu & Tefnut, out of which the millions flow. Atum is the potentiality (capacity) of chaos to self-create (for he emerges out of Nun, called "father of Atum"). If Nun is equated with the set of all possibilities, or {0}, the Atum is the first to posit himself by his own powers, "causa sui", or (1). (1) is the sole creator (singular) of the first pair (dual) or (1 + 1 = 2), differentiating (plural) into the millions (2 + 1 = 3, ...). As soon as Atum splits to make way for Shu and Tefnut -created as a result of this split- Atum is the "head" of the Ennead, i.e. a multiplicity of deities. Absolute divine unity (1) is only a fugal intermediary state between chaos {0} & order (2). But in and by itself, this absolute divine unity starting the "first time", is the mythical representation of both the eternal now & the perpetual (re)creation of creation (as characteristics of "neheh"-time, or eternal repetition of the cycle). In this sense, the "first time" is the eternal and divine part of creation which perpetually underlines the order of the gods & goddesses of creation

(touching the pre-creational through ReAtum). The unity of Atum is essential to guarantee creation, but his ontological unity (essence) expresses itself simultaneously with his own self-creation in the existence of a multiplicity of gods & goddesses. This is unlike the quantitative approach of monotheism, a turn towards henotheism (albeit in an ante-rational mode of cognition). Atum's name "father of the gods" indicates that all gods & goddesses (via the "zep tepy") share in the original eternity and in the unity of the Greatest (Atum). Is Atum ever aware of being Atum ? Is Re not this awareness of self, self-consciousness ? Are there any recollections made by Atum outside of the immediate differentiation of Atum in Shu & Tefnut during the fugal, in-between state of his own self-creation ? These are Atum's actual limitations : in time, he only exists fugally, and in space (when chaos is broken open by Shu), he immediately differentiates into millions of gods & goddesses. Atum "causa sui" means an endless (re)generative capacity rooted in the boundless chaos of the primordial ocean, creating everything for its own pleasure. Egyptian cosmology is clear : Atum creates to see things are good. Atum creates the world to please Atum and only Atum. Creation unfolds because Atum takes his semen in his mouth. Nothing ejected is lost to the dark Nun, and this act is endlessly repeated. Because Seth, the power of "isefet" or "evil" present in creation, is part of Atum's Ennead, we may conclude Atum's efforts to keep

things clean were not a complete success. Creation itself contains the seeds of corruption. As soon as creation manifests, Maat is present, but evil too. The order of creation is therefore not inert, but dynamic. It is a battle-ground between opposed powers, endangering its balance or even treatening its unity. However, even death is not the end, for to end is to be able to begin again. Indeed, the actual presence of "isefet", "evil" or anti-life in creation is given by the god Seth. His "birth" only "disturbs the harmonious development of creation, wherein each pair of gods only produced one other pair. Thus the birthday of Seth is the beginning of confusion. (...) The idea of Seth's disorderly entry into the world appears to be already evidenced in the Pyramid Texts. It would seem that the word m 'to be born' is deliberately avoided there with regard to Seth."33 Sartre wrote about Seth : "Il sent le maudit : ds sa naissance il est le malaim, l'inopportun, le surnumraire. Indsirable jusque dans son tre, il n'est pas le fils de cette femme : il en est l'excrment ... par sa faute un dsordre s'est introduit dans le bel ordre du monde, une fissure dans la plnitude de l'tre."34 Te Velde connects Seth with homosexuality and anal intercourse in particular35 and often he figures as the god of moral evil.36 Even later, when he is overwon by Horus, Seth does not leave the stage. On the contrary. Eventually, the Ancient Egyptians worshipped Horus and Seth even as one god : "Horus-Set" (the Greek "Antaios") who represents a

"coincidentio oppositorum", beyond good & evil.

unity

7 The Solar Bark & the Gates : spatiotemporal differences.


"La cration ne devient possible que par le non-existant, de sorte que les dieux et le roi en sont particulirement dpendants pour le renouveau perptuel de leur oeuvre de cration et pour chapper la finalit sans vie. Selon la conception gyptienne, l'existant a besoin d'une rgnration constante des profondeurs du non-existant ; alors seulement il est en mesure de se prserver en tant qu'existant vivant. Il risque toutefois d'tre perdu s'il nglige l'aspect ngatif, corrosif, mortel du non-existant." Hornung, 1986, p.165, my italics.For Hornung, chaos is first of all non-existence, in the sense of absence of being. In my reading, the virtual adverb clause of the Ancient Egyptians refers to another pre-creational mode of being, a potential existence or virtual reality out of which the "first time" and actual existence emerge. By creation, chaos and order are separated from one another (day versus night) but do interact (destruction & regeneration). This is a nothingness becoming something. These relationships between pre-creation and the place of Re after dusk is as explicit as the bond between the god of confusion, Seth, and the terrible giant-snake Apophis, who,

each night again, tries to destroy Re. For thousands of years, priests offered prayers to the gods & goddesses to assist Re. Seth could be of immense help and called "the Eldest Sorcerer", for he was the only one who controlled this mythical beast of chaos (cf. Amduat, VIIth Hour). The original chaos is never done with, but interacts with the living, dying & resurrecting order of being. Chaos (potential "negative" existence) is imaged as a darkness divided by pylons, pillars, fields, hours, gates ... Only with the proper words of power ("hekau") could the demons be driven away and these gates be opened. He who was on the Solar Bark existed together with Osiris in eternal light, jubilation and an everlasting life of plenty and more. In the New Kingdom Books of the Netherworld, the Solar Bark is visualized as travelling through the darkness of the "Duat" (or Netherworld), surrounded with light. Deep down the pathway of this Bark of Millions of Years, the Ancient Egyptians placed the "hetemit", the "place of destruction". It is treated in the same way as the original chaos-gods, and represented the most destructive aspect of chaos (translated in human terms as walking on one's head or have faeces & urine as food & drink and the like). Above all this, the life-giving Solar Bark travels on the heavenly Nile, while in the deep, all possible darkness, chaos, night & destruction bring us back to the inert state of Nun, the primordial ocean and the corrosive effect of chaos. Each night again, the soul of Re

(and the body of Osiris), the noble dead, gods and goddesses and the dreaming are again confronted with the nightly underworld, separated from the realm of waking existence (not Earth, not sky). Each dawn, all gods, goddesses, deceased and living alike are reborn with Re by having travelled with him on the celestial Nile, the Milky Way, radically protected from the corrosive powers of evil by the Bark of Millions. In this way, the "night" represented a particular ritual dealing with the spiritual regeneration of the soul (as sleep rejuvenates the body). In this ritual, the potential hidden in the chaos-gods can be retrieved and fed as life-power to the continuous cycle of birth, death & rebirth (cf. the erection of Atum and His endless orgasms). It is this "power" and "life" which all gods & goddesses carry with them (cf. the "sekhem" staff and the "ankh" amulet). This force is not constant but needs to be regenerated each night (cf. the Book of the Hidden Chamber). As death is conquered, no scenes of dying itself or its pains were depicted.

COSMOLOGICAL Nun - Atum / zep-tepy

Creation is preceded by the primordial chaos of Nun, unlimited darkness & night, c the dormant potential of creation, fully inert and beyond differentiation. This is t Nun, or the latent, dormant Atum. In the Nun, Atum autogenerates for his own ple immediately and simultaneously gives birth to Shu and Tefnut. This is the first tu tepi") which ends when the risen land (Ta-Tenen) emerges and a firm foundation fo manifests. PHENOMENOLOGICAL from Atum to Re to

Creation is like the daily rising of the Sun, Re. The cycle of the Sun being an representation eternal repetition and self-creation. Re travels from Day to Night an

every morning anew and fresh. Souls need to be on or near the Bark o

8 Ptah and the theology of creative speech of Memphis.


In the first Dynasty, the usual iconography of Ptah, the god of Memphis, was already established in embryo. On the calcite bowl from Tarkhan, we see Ptah as anthropomorphic, smooth-headed, dressed in a high-collared garment with a tassel holding a sceptre of authority (never was Ptah depicted otherwise), standing in an open kiosk (or "naos"). His austere presence on the temple walls of all kingdoms is obvious and hardly deviates from this early appearance. Although the form of deities changed, Ptah remained the same. His form is a metaphor for stability, continuity, fertility and authoritative command, the main features of Pharaonic kingship. However, his name was not written with any determinative for "divinity" until the New Kingdom. The three phonograms of his name "p", "t" and "h" sufficed. Its most probable etymology being the root-word of later verbs meaning "to sculpture", "to fashion". His head is enveloped in a tightly-fitting skull cap, that leaves only his face and ears to view with forearms emerging from a linen wrapping that moulds itself closely around his form (compare it with the Heb Sedgarment of Pharaoh). In the Old Kingdom,

the high priest of Ptah was called "wer kherep hemut" or "supreme leader of craftsmanship", indicating that Ptah, "he with the beautiful face", was the god of skills, design, sculpture and the making or creating of something in general (also the art of well formed speech). In conjunction with "ta-Tenen" or "Tenen" he is linked with the foodstuffs & provisions given by the Earth. In the Heliopolitan texts, he is hardly mentioned, although Ptah is present during the crucial liferestoring "Ritual of Opening the Mouth" (performed on statues and the mummy). Ptah had however no other major role to play in the funerary rituals (except as the composite deity Ptah-Sokar, who ruled the Duat). Although Ptah created everything and was the god of the most ancient and holy town of Ancient Egypt (were all Pharaohs were coronated), he nevertheless had no personal cycle of legends.

Hymn to Ptah

Hail to You, You who are great and old, ta-Tenen, father of the gods, the great god first primordial time who fashioned humanity and made the gods, who began ev primordial times, first one after whom everything that appeared developed. He w the sky as something that his heart has created, who raised it by the fact the Shu it, who founded the Earth through that which he himself has made, who surround Nun and the sea, who made the Duat and gratified the dead, who caused Re to tr in order to resuscitate them as Lord of Eternity and Lord of Boundlessness, Lord o who lets the throat breathe and gives air to every nose, who with his food keeps all alife, to whom lifetime, more precisely, limitation of time and evolution are sub through whose utterance one lives. He who creates the offerings for all the gods in the great Nile, Lord of Eternity to whom boundlessness is subordinate, breath everyone who conducts the king to his great seat in his name : "King of

Lands". Papyrus Harris, British Museum, XXth Dynasty, ca.1150 BCE, painted papyrus, from The
42.5 cm., in : Morenz, 1973, p.182.

LINE 48 : (horizontal) is the headi theology of Memphis. The inscri Shabaka Stone : LINES 48 - 52 - notice mummiform LINES 49a - 52a are each follow Ptah with skull cap & was-scepter standing in a shrine. special determinative showin iconographic form of Ptah stand

shrine. Underneath, in LINES 49b - 5 specifications follow : "(48) The g manifest in Ptah : (49a) Ptah-on-t Throne, --- (49b) [Ptah] --- who gods. (50a) Ptah-Nun, the father w birth to Atum. (50b) [Ptah] --- who gods. (51a) Ptah-Naunet, the mo bore Atum ; (51b) [Ptah] --- (52a) Great, heart and tongue of the Ennea [Ptah] --- Nefer-Tem at the nose of day."

All deities mentioned in the theology of Memphis are epiphanies of Ptah. They manifest "in" Ptah, i.e. are all part of Ptah. All (pan) is in (en) Ptah (theos) : pan-entheism. The deities next to Ptah represent operational laws of creation (natural differentials), and of them, only Atum touches pre-temporal and pre-spatial precreation. Their names are so many "divine words" thought and spoken by Ptah. Creation and every thing in it are so many theophanies of Ptah as supreme creator through mind and speech. The spiritopolitical power of Pharaoh is modelled upon this mental and verbal theology and vice versa. Is this why Ptah's representation never changed ? Did he represent the all-encompassing "balance" of every duality (the "Two Lands"), as did Pharaoh and his Residence (the point of focus of the Egyptian state). It is likely so. The coherence of this proto-rational henotheism based on the power of thought & speech (cf. the Great Word) is

remarkable. Its constant dialogue with Heliopolitan theology (of Atum-Re) shows it was meant to be a complementary & more "cognitive" answer to the questions posed by Egyptian theology since the start of the Dynasties (creation, the pantheon, legitimation of Pharaoh, the status of Pharaoh and the establishment of Maat). LINES 53 - 57 (or "logos-section", in detail studied in On the Creative Verb in Kemet) :

"(53) There comes into into being by the to Shabaka Stone : LINE 53 (hieroglyphs in red are reconstructed) Atum. Ptah is the ver gods and their kas. tongue." "Heart" is "speech". The simulta and material (objective indicated by the use of The mental process suggested here is proto-rational, and of Ptah is not a "nous" aims at establishing a solid case for ongoing creative speech rational Divine (Platon and the ontic supremacy of Ptah as "very great" (while Rather, the content allowing, consistent with henotheism, other deities to exist simultaneously move P poles come together as such "in" Ptah). overseeing "Great wrote : "For such 'cr word into the causa m movens of an elemen
1978, p.29.

"Horus came into being in him ; Thoth came into being in him as Ptah. Power came into being in the heart and by the tongue and in all limbs, in accordance with the teaching that it (the heart) is in all bodies and it (the tongue) is in every mouth of all gods, all men, all flocks, all creeping things and whatever lives ; thinking whatever the heart wishes and commanding whatever the tongue wishes !" Shabaka Stone, LINE 54. Horus is an epiphany of Ptah's mind. Thoth of Ptah's tongue. The divine order of words thought in Ptah's mind & spoken by his tongue (both "in the form of Atum") have as their concrete object the unity of the Pharaonic State, of which Horus was the

ultimate deity (cf. the Old Kingdom "Followers of Horus", the confusion between Horus and Re, between Horus of Lower Egypt, avenger of Osiris, who is the justified Pharaoh of Egypt, and Horus the Old, the sky-god of the first Dynasties, the four sons of Horus in ritual, etc.). The art of divine speech, connected with Egyptian magic, is epiphanized as "Thoth", the god of writing, learning, wisdom, magic, healing arts etc. He was the secretary of Re and the brother of Maat, goddess of truth & justice. In the divine words thought & spoken by Ptah, everything (all possible being) has its place. All these beings are created by Ptah in Ptah while in the material process of speaking his immaterial mind. No mythical event is invoked, but only the fact that Ptah thinks and creates when he speaks. Although the accomplishment of this amazing mentalizing proto-rational theology is impressive, the "form of Atum" proves also to be its ultimate limitation. For Ptah is unable to create the world without Atum. Although the "form of Atum" also exists outside creation "in the mind of Ptah", paradoxically, the "mind of Ptah" always creates "in the form of Atum". The concept here is concrete, not formal or decontextualized ... Atum is the "form" used by Ptah to create everything by speaking divine words. The "form of Atum" is a rest of mythical and prerational thought proto-rationality cannot eliminate without formal reason. According to Hare, "this text is written with special care to emphasize the

intimacy, indeed the simultaneity and mutual implication of the intellective and the corporeal."37 Not unlike what we know of Anaximander or Parmenides, the author of the Memphis Theology moves beyond mythical & pre-rational thought. Here we see proto-rationality at work, for both object & subject are distinguished, integrated and transcended by Ptah-Nun, a "deus otiosus" (the divine inactive of pre-creation).38 But it can not be said of this author that he (like Plato) contemplated a realm of "pure" thought, outside the operations, conditionings or determinations of physical reality (a world of ideas, a "nous") and surely beyond contextual limitations (like "the form of Atum"). We have to wait for Greek rational thought for this.

Shabaka Stone : line 58

"(58) There came the saying that Atu concerning Ptah-Tenen : 'He gave birth to demiurgical cause) affirms Ptah-Tenen creates the deities, but seems no longer se in myth and pre-rational thought). Th (scarab) and "to give birth to" (three s pertinent. Ptah gives birth and life to eve Sun (in Heliopolis, Khepera was the self-c god Atum-Re of Heliopolis is not set a alternation-point between pre-creation a fashioning creation). Everything is created in the heart and by the tongue of Ptah, th

thing. "From him every thing came forth : foods, provisions, divine offerings, all good things. Thus Thoth knew and recorded that he is the mightiest of the gods. Thus Ptah was satisfied after he had made all things and all divine words." Shabaka Stone, LINES 58-59. Thoth (who is Ptah's tongue) knows and records Ptah's greatness. This act of self-reflection of the supreme being triggers his satisfaction, for he saw that it was good. It is true the theology of Memphis probably used the Heliopolitan theology to develop its own interpretation of the "heart" (the later Greek "logos"). Here Ptah encompassed both the precreational, creative and created phases of cosmogony (being both Nun, Atum-Re and the Enneads) and created everything with his word and by means of his creative speech. In the Old Kingdom, the authoritative command of Pharaoh was essential and used as model to explain how spoken words established truth & justice. In the Feudal Age, when nonroyals could also ascend, the authoritative command generated access, assistance (cf. the sjabti's) & protection in the afterlife as well as other magical assistance during life (healing, protection, blessings). It was no longer the exclusivity of Pharaoh and its objects were no longer the establishment & continuity of the Pharaonic state. It was a command which generated its object for those who spoke the proper words.

Heliopolitan scheme : authoritative & generative command Sia : thought Hu : authoritative command Heka : protection Maat : truth mythical & pre-rational thought Sia & Heka were not mentioned, for the Memphites reduced the whole Heliopolitan scheme to the formation of thoughts in Ptah's mind and the creative speech by Ptah's tongue. This creative speech is able to realize itself automatically and establish the peace needed by the Two Lands. When spoken, "justice is done to him who does what is loved". We identify three stages in the cognitive development of the Ancient Egyptian cognitive form regarding the power of mind & speech : Old Kingdom : mythical & pre-rational identification of "Hu" as the Great Word of Pharaoh with which he establishes and maintains truth and righteousness in the Two Lands by this authoritative command ; Middle Kingdom : the pre-rational generative command enabling one to repell the destructive forces (Apophis), to make statues come alive, to protect life and to allow the deceased to open the "double doors" of the horizon, to declare innocence, and to travel safely with Re-Osiris ; New Kingdom : proto-rational creative

Memphite sch

becomes

th w

inherent in

pr

speech which generates everything (Aten, Amun, Ptah). Also consult : On the Creative Verb in Kemet.

9 The eternal work of Ptah : allencompassing pan-en-theism ?


Both Nun and Atum were called "father of the gods".39 Nun was the primordial inertness, immobilizing the creative potential of darkness, night & negation. Atum, the "Lord of Creation", was the selfcreated, fugal god of creation, selfemerging out of this primordial ocean. If we understand him as "first cause" (actuality), then Nun, as naught, is "ultimate cause" (potential, capacity). Atum creates every thing for his pleasure, but his self-creation immediately & simultaneously engenders Shu and Tefnut. Hence, if Atum is eternally moving, Nun is for ever unmoved (and hence cultless). At dusk, Atum-Re declines towards the Netherworld,40 to return, at dawn, as new and as fresh as a child (Harpocrates). This cycle is repeated for ever. Atum manifests creation as the source of all light & life : Re. Nevertheless, as soon as Atum autogenerates in the Nun, differentiation occurs and a multitude of gods & goddesses are created. Atum is never present as stable, motionless or fixated. Even before the first time, he is deemed floating in the primordial waters. As soon

as he creates himself, he simultaneously becomes all gods & goddesses (mythical, pre-rational and proto-rational symbolizations of a variety of forms & images -not laws- of nature). The unity he represents is "on its way" and fugal, i.e. as an elaborated fuge, ever-fleeing the unity it nevertheless is and remains "in the beginning" (namely eternal repetition). Atum's ability to remain (a tangential) first only lies in the mythical "first time" of emergence, not in any created order (fashioned by his gods & goddesses). Floating in Nun, Atum is alone and virtual, the sheer "soul" capacity of chaos to lighten up its darkness. At dawn, like at the moment of the first light of the first day of creation, the first ray of Re differentiates the sky by overarching heaven & the risen Earth. Now what do we read in the theology of Memphis ? Nun and Atum are manifestations of Ptah (who, like Atum, is also depicted as human). Although the meaning of his name is unknown, it might be derived from the verb "to make", "to create". He creates All with his words and takes on the form of everything, for Ptah is Nun, is Atum, is all gods & goddesses and so his work is happening all the time in all of creation and also outside of it, i.e. in the pre-existence of chaos. Hence, there is no outside of Ptah. Everywhere Ptah is present to unite differences. Nothing steps outside him (cf. "pan en theos"). Insofar as he is understood as "on the Great Throne", Ptah is to be found in everything, before everything and giving birth to what

created everything. All the deities are "in" him, he is Nun and Atum and the Ennead. Everything is part of Ptah. In the Memphis Theology, this relates to his unity, which is mentioned more than once. So Ptah is truly called "Lord of Eternity". However, he foremost manifests himself : as chaos, as creator, as creation, as every element in creation. In all these modes of being, he is the same Ptah "on the Great Throne". The fact he is related to the process of shaping images & forms reaffirms the dynamic nature of the protorational theology of the Memphites of the New Kingdom. Instead of focusing on Ptah's absolute essence outside of all possible manifestation, unveiling or disclosure (as in the apophatic theology of ps.-Dionysius where the absolutely absolute is "hypertheos" or "beyond affirmation & denial"), Ptah is "the beautiful face" we should be able to behold in all possible modes of being. Ptah is always working to bring all to unity and contentment. Hence, there is no active transcendent pole in Ptah (as there is in the monotheisms of Judaism & Islam). The transcendence evident in Ptah is PtahNun and this aspect is absolutely inert. Hence, this pan-en-theism is also a protorational henotheism as in Theban theology (in its rational form, as in Sufism, the most active part of The God is His absolutely transcendent essence). henotheism : there is One Supreme Being who acts as the creator (transcending or identical with the

created order) of a multitude of deities and who figures as the sole Godhead of the pantheon (the anterational Enneads) ; theism : there is One Supreme Being (monotheism cf. Judaism, Christianity, Islam) or more than one Deity (polytheism - cf. the mythical tribal deities of the Old Kingdom), causing the created order to come into being and participating in its unfoldment ; pantheism : there is a Supreme Being that does not transcend the order of nature, so It and the world coincide. It may be understood as the most subtle, fiery, logoic part of nature (cf. Stoicism) ; deism : there is a Supreme Being who's essence transcends the created order, who acts as its creator but who leaves this creation be and hence does not interfere with its natural laws (the God of the philosophers in French rationalism) ; pan-en-theism : there is a Supreme Being who's essence transcends the created order, who (as Divine existence) acts as its creator and who encompasses all possible states of being, making All part of Him (Her or It - cf. "pan en theos", "all in God"). This rather technical position can be found in most mysticisms.

These positions may be developed using all modes of cognition. The less developed such a mode of thought is, the more likely unsolvable problems will arise. For example, the questions : "Were does the heart and tongue of Ptah come from ? How is his mind and speech possible ? Why are his thoughts and material creations simultaneous ?" cannot be clearly answered in this proto-rational dynamic discourse. Together with Nun, Atum-Re, Osiris (Old Kingdom), Osiris & Amun-Re (Middle Kingdom), Ptah is a "Great One". This Great One of Ancient Egyptian theology is either : fugal (tangential) : as in Heliopolitan theology were Atum exists as "one" only "in the beginning". For the Memphite priests, Ptah was "the father who made Atum" (LINE 49a) and Atum instantaneously generates Shu and Tefnut, so the "form of Atum" is a pre-rational blueprint of physical manifestation, namely from Nun via Atum, spliting into Shu & Tefnut or : {0} > (1) > (2) ... The thoughts of Ptah are simultaneous with this physical manifestation. the All (every mode of being) : this is realized in a pan-en-theistic way in the theologies of the Aten, Amun-Re of Thebes or "Ptah on the Great Throne" of Memphis. In all cases, overall unity of being is reached by all-comprehensiveness : both AmunRe and Ptah are before, during and

after creation. Their unity does not hamper the existence of other deities, considered "in" them (the Aten is the exception here). In that respect, for the Memphites, these deities are recuperated as so many "divine words" (compare this with the role of the Most Beautiful Names of Allah in Sufism). The fugal, mythical & pre-rational unity at the level of the "first time" (the ontotheological status of Atum) as well as the all-encompassing, proto-rational creative command of the word & work of Ptah, both point to genuine & constitutive henotheistic aims which are difficult to fulfill in theologies which often relapse into the narrowing geo-sentimentalities of prerational & mythical modes of thought. Only drastic approaches like the New Solar Theology and Akhenaten's Aten Religion have tried to do away with the hidden implication of myth. But Amarna has surely failed to deliver its prime aim, namely to deny darkness and the old pantheon its constitutive role in later Egyptian ideas about creation (as it had always done and continued to do). Hence, Ancient Egyptian theology as such never attained the level of rational discourse. Nevertheless, from the beginning, Egyptian religion was aware of the existence of a unique, divine power or god ("nTr") which is inaccessible to the human spirit. This unique divine power remained nameless (everything else could

be objectified through its "rn", "ren" or "name"). Thus the Egyptians always named the epiphanies of the "great god", and remained silent about that supreme deity as such ("nTr Aa" or ). The Pyramid Texts state : "O great god whose name is unknown, a meal is set in place for the Sole Lord." Utterance 254, 276 Indeed, in Heliopolitan theology, Nun and Atum were both called "the father of the gods". Mythical and pre-rational thought of the Old Kingdom confounded categories and had no clear-cut distinction between all and few. The unique, divine power existed next to a variety of sublimations of natural forces. Each nome had its "totem-talk", associated with a particular "divine tale" and its geosentimental myth, tracing ideosyncratic shapes in the mythical spacetime of each particular nome and giving rise to a plurality of "supreme" divinities (polytheism) and a variety of popular beliefs. The "great" theologies of Heliopolis, Hermopolis and Memphis were conceived by high ranking priests, royal administrators and Pharaoh. Popular polytheism, with its comfortable & flexible divinities la carte, did not fit into their conception of divinity. Rather than a variety of "supreme" divinities, "one" great god was conceived at the head of his company or "Ennead". This henotheism was however pre-rational. So the same inability to operate thought from within prevailed, and a variety of Enneads emerged, giving rise to three "supreme"

gods (Atum-Re, Thoth, Ptah) and one "supreme" popular god (Osiris). Two important features make Atum stand out : Atum is self-created (causa sui) - this act is understood in mythico-physical terms : he masturbates and takes his seed into his mouth ; Atum is first (prima causa) - but only in the mythical "first time" is Atum the "great one god" - his existence is simultaneous with his spliting in Shu & Tefnut (Atum is dynamical, fugal), giving birth to the Ennead, nature and humanity. As Pharaoh was the ultimate justifier, his building-projects indicated on which deity the emphasis lay. As a result, various "official" manifestations of the "great god" came into existence, each godhead (of a particular Ennead) claiming supremacy for himself : Horus & Atum-Re were usurped by Osiris in the Old Kingdom ; Osiris and Amun-Re reigned in the Middle Kingdom ; Amun-Re, Osiris & Ptah in the New Kingdom. With the dawn of protorationality in the Middle Kingdom, the old divisions (between Re and Osiris) were pacified through syncretism. By itself, the process of the synthesis of a series of divine attributes triggered the practical conception of a continuum of all divine attributes. In the New Kingdom, the concept of "one great god" manifesting in everything (the many) was firmly established. At this point, as the Hymns to Amun prove, Egyptian civilization had

overcome the popular polytheism of the Old Kingdom and the conflicting henotheist theologies (of the priests). Iconical henotheism (the cult of divine images) was kept in place, but the allencompassing nature of the godhead (the unity of Amun-Re-Osiris-Ptah) was established, albeit in a variety of temples dedicated to a variety of deities (i.e. protorational pan-en-theist henotheism).

The text of the Memphis Theology


The present text is a new translation based on the hieroglyphs on the Shabaka Museum (November 2001 & October 2004).41

Memphis Theology : lines 53 - 61 (section V) [ x ] = very likely ( x ) = conjecture or comment --= lost

Left side of the inscription on the Shabak

SECTION I (1 - 2, horizontal) The living Horus : excellent Two Lands ; the Two L Horus : excellent Two Lands ; King of Upper and Lower Egypt : Neferkare, the son o his-Wall, who lives like Re forever. This writing was copied out anew by his majest his-Wall, for his majesty found it to be a work of the ancestors which was worm-eate beginning to end. His majesty copied it anew so that it became better than it had endure and his monument last in the House of his father Ptah-South-of-his-Wall th son of Re [Shabaka] for his father Ptah-Tenen, so that he might live forever. SECTI the great name : Tenen. (4) He who united this land of the South as King of Upper Lower Egypt. (5) --- (void, no inscription) (6) He indeed begat Atum who III SUBSECTION A (7) Geb commanded that the Ennead gather to him. He judge their quarrel. He installed Seth as King of Upper Egypt in the land of Upper Egypt, a Herakleopolis). And Geb made Horus King of Lower Egypt in the land of Lower drowned (9) which is the "Division-of-the-Two-Lands" (probably near Memphis). Th stood over one region. They made peace over the Two Lands at Ayan (opposite Lands. SUBSECTION B (damaged) (10a) Geb's words to Seth : "Go to the place in Egypt. (11a) Geb's words to Horus : "Go to the place in which your father was dr Geb's words to Horus and Seth : "I have separated you." (12b) Lower and Upper Eg to Geb that the portion of Horus was like the portion of Seth. So Geb gave Horu firstborn son. (13a) Geb's words to the Ennead : "I have appointed (13b) Horus, Ennead : "Him alone, (14b) Horus, the inheritance." (15a) Geb's words to the inheritance." (16a) Geb's words to the Ennead : "To the son of my son, (16b) H Geb's words to the Ennead : "The firstborn, (17b) Horus, the Opener-of-the-ways. son who was born --- (18b) Horus, on the birthday of the Opener-of-the-ways. Horus stood over the land. He is the uniter of this land, proclaimed in the great Eternity. Then sprouted (14c) the two Great in Magic upon his head. He is Horus wh who united the Two Lands in the Nome of the (White) Wall, the place in which (heraldic plant for Upper Egypt) and papyrus (heraldic plant for Lower Egypt) were Ptah. That means : Horus and Seth, pacified and united. They fraternized so as to c be, being united in the House of Ptah, the "Balance of the Two Lands" in which U This is the land SUBSECTION D (very much damaged) (17c) --- the burial of Osiris Nephthys without delay, (19) for Osiris had drowned in his water. Isis [and Neph Horus speaks to Isis and Nephthys : "Hurry, grasp him ---." (21a) Isis and Nephthys --." (20b) --- and brought him to (21b) --- the earth (22) at the royal fortress, to royal fortress ---. (24a) Geb speaks to Tehuti : --- (25ab - 30a) --- (31a - 35a) ---

causes [Horus and Seth] to come. (29b) Isis speaks to Horus and Seth : "---." (3 peace ---." (31b) Isis speaks to Horus and Seth : "Life will be pleasant for you w Seth : "It is he who dries your tears ---." (33b - 35b) Isis speaks to ---. (36 - 47)

Right side of the inscription on the Shaba

The Memphis Theology

SECTION IV (48) The gods who manifest in Ptah : (49a) Ptah-on-the-Great-Th gods. (50a) Ptah-Nun, the father who gave birth to Atum. (50b) [Ptah] --- who bore who bore Atum ; (51b) [Ptah] --- (who bore the gods) ; (52a) Ptah-the-Great, heart -- Nefer-Tem at the nose of Re every day.

SECTION V
53

There comes into being in the heart ; there comes into being by the tongue, (s

is the very great, who gives life to all the gods and their Kas. Lo, through this hear being in him ; Thoth came into being in him as Ptah. Power came into being in the in accordance with the teaching that it (the heart) is in all bodies and it (the tongue) flocks, all creeping things and whatever lives ; thinking whatever the heart wishes

wishes ! 55 His (Ptah's) Ennead is before him as heart, authoritative utterance, tee Ennead of Atum came into being through his semen and through his fingers. Surel

the lips in the mouth, proclaiming the names of all things, from which Shu and Te gave birth to the Ennead (of Ptah). The sight of the eyes, the hearing of the ears, a they transmit to the heart, which brings forth every decision. Indeed, the tongue the Thus was given birth to all the gods. His (Ptah's) Ennead was completed. Lo, every the thoughts in 57 the heart & the command by the tongue.

Thus all witnessing faculties were made and all qualities determined, they that mak word. {Justice} is done to him who does what is loved, {and punishment} to him wh the peaceful and death is given to the criminal. Thus were made all labor, all crafts legs, (58) the movements of all the limbs, according to this word which is devised b

and creates the performance of everything. There came the saying that Atum, wh Tenen : "He gave birth to the gods !" From him every thing came forth : foods, things. Thus Thoth understood and recorded that he is the mightiest of the gods. Th things and all divine words. Lo, he gave birth to the gods. He made the towns. He in their shrines. (60) He settled their offerings. He established their shrines. H wishes. Thus the gods entered into their bodies, of every kind of wood, of every kin kind of thing that grows upon him, (61) in which they came to be. Thus all th him, content and united with the Lord of the Two Lands.

SECTION VI The Great Throne (Memphis) that gives joy to the heart of the gods in the mistress of all life, through which the sustenance of the Two Lands is provide drowned in his water. Isis and Nephthys looked out, beheld him, and attended to Nephthys to grasp Osiris and prevent his drowning. (63) They heeded in time and b portals in the glory of the Lords of Eternity, in the steps of him who rises in the Throne. (64) He entered the palace and joined the gods of Tenen Ptah, Lord of Yea Royal Fortress, to the North of this land to which he had come. His son Horus aros Lower Egypt, in the embrace of his father Osiris and of the gods in front of him and

Notes

(1) Hornung, E. : History of Ancient Egypt, Cornell University Press - New York, 1999, p.xv Darmstadt, 1993. Grimal, N. : Histoire the l'Egypte Ancienne, Fayard - Paris, 1988, p.552. El H Theology", in : Orientalia Lovaniensia, Peeters - Leuven, 150, 2004, pp.567 - 574. (2) Hare, T. : Stanford, 1999, p.172. (3) British Museum (http://www.thebritishmuseum.ac.uk), search = S Sog.Denkmals memphitischer Theologie oder der Beitrag der gyptischen Theologie zur Geis Deutschen archologischen Instituts, Abteilung Kairo, Zabern - Mainz, 1973, 29-2. Kraus, R. dem Shabaqo-Stein? in : Gold of Praise : Studies on Ancient Egypt in Honor of Edward F. Wente, Studies in Ancient Oriental Civilization, n58, Chicago, Oriental Institute, 1999, pp.239-246. (5) Fr Chicago Press - Chicago, 1979, chapter 2. (6) British Museum (http://www.thebritishmuseum.ac.u den, W. : Kennis & Minne-mystiek, Antwerp, 1994, epistemologisch preludium, 3. See als my qabalah. (8) Breasted, J.H. : "The Philosophy of a Memphite Priest.", in : Zeitschrift fr gyptische Breasted, J.H. : Ibidem., p.43. (10) Erman, A. : Ein Denkmal memphitischer Theologie, S Wissenschaften, Philosophisch-historische Klasse, Verlag der Akademie der Wissenschaften - Berlin der gyptischen Sprache im Auftrage der deutschen Akademien, Akademie Verlag - Berlin, 1957-6 Theologie', der Schabakostein des Britischen Museums, in : Unters.z.Gesch.u.Altertumskunde g H. : Die Gtterlehre von Memphis (Shabaka-Inschrift), Abhandlungen der Preussischen Akadem Klasse, Verlag der Akademie der Wissenschaften - Berlin, 1939, 23. (13) Frankfort, H. : Ancient Eg p.18. (14) Breasted, J.H. : Art.cit., p.39. (15) Altenmller, H. : "Denkmal memphitischer Theologie Junge, F. : Art.cit., 29-2. (17) Hornung, E. : Geist der Pharaonenzeit, Artemis - Mnchen, 1989, c Dungen, van den, W. : Op.cit, epistemologisch preludium, 3. (20) Hornung, E. : Akhenaten an

New York, 1999, pp.114-125 (cf. the "Reformation Stela"). (21) Hornung, E. : Ibidem, p.86. (22 Dieux d'Egypte, Trismegiste - Paris, 1992, pp.12-13. (23) Faulkner, R.O. : The Ancient Egyptian 1969, p.327. (24) Dungen, van den, W. : Chaos, Antwerp, 1996, 2.5.1 (25) Dungen, van den, W. the Egyptians, Dover - New York, 1969, vol.1, p.113. (27) Budge, W.E.A. : Ibidem, pp.282-283. W.E.A. : Ibidem, p.283. (30) Hare, T. : Op.cit., p.111. (31) Hornung, E. : Op.cit., p.56. (32) Horn God of Confusion, Brill - Leiden, 1977, p.27. (34) Sartre, J.P. : Saint Genet Comdien et Martyr, P pp. 37, 55. (36) Budge, W.E.A. : Op.cit., volume 2, p.244. (37) Hare, T. : Op.cit., p.181. (38) 3. Assmann, J. : The Search for God in Ancient Egypt, Cornell University Press - London, 1991, Op.cit., p.42, 140. (40) Budge, W.E.A. : Op.cit., volume 2, p.87. (41) The hieroglyphs of the Shab Museum (last week of November 2001 and first week of October 2004). Their translation was a found several important mistakes in more than one of them (wrong measurements, wrong asses translations, elimination of important hieroglyphs, etc.). To clarify these issues, a physical stud following translations were however very helpful : Allen, J.P. : Genesis in Egypt : The Philoso Egyptological Seminar - New Haven, 1988, pp.43-44. Frankfort, H. : Op.cit., pp.24-32. Erma Sitzungsberichte der Preussischen Akademie der Wissenschaften, Philosophisch-historische Klasse, 1911, 43. Junker, H. : Die Gtterlehre von Memphis (Shabaka-Inschrift), Abhandlungen d Philosophisch-historische Klasse, Verlag der Akademie der Wissenschaften - Berlin, 1939, 23. Wil in : Pritchard, J.B. : The Ancient Near East : An Anthology of Text and Pictures, Princeton Unive "Das 'Denkmal memphitischer Theologie', der Schabakostein des Britischen Museums, in : Un 1964, n10, part 1. Breasted, J.H. : Development of Religion and Thought in Ancient Egypt, Pe pp.42-48. Daumas, F. : La Civilisation de l'gypte Pharaonique, Arthaud - Paris, 1987, p.269. Lich of California Press - California, volume I, 1975, pp.51-57. Allen, J.P. : Genesis in Egypt : The Philo Egyptological Seminar - New Haven, 1988, pp.43-44. Rothhler, B. : Neue Gedanken zum Denkm Philosophischen Fakultt der Universitt Heidelberg, 2004.

http://www.sofiatopia.org/maat/shabaka.htm

On the Shabaka Stone


the most remarkable monument of Egyptian thought which we possess general features, spatial semantics & general contents

portrait of Pharaoh Shabaka from the naos he erected in the temple of Esna XXVth Dynasty (712 - 698 BCE)

by Wim van den Dungen associated papers : The Memphis Theology - The Creative Verb in Kemet

TABLE OF CONTENTS 1 General features of the Shabaka Stone. 1.1 Physical parameters & layout. 1.2 Spatial semantics. 1.3 Contents.

2 The age of the inscription and its hermeneutical levels. 2.1 Extant text, original documents and original ideas. 2.2 Worm-eaten documents of the late New Kingdom. 2.3 A new composition of the Late Period. 3 The spirito-political schemes of Pharaoh Shabaka. 3.1 Historical circumstances regarding the kingdom of Kush. 3.2 The intent of Pharaoh Shabaka. 3.3 Political mystery-play at Memphis. Bibliography

1 General features of the Shabaka Stone.


layout :

1.1 Physical parameters and

The Shabaka Stone (British Museum 498) is a heavy, nearly black slab of "Gree breccia" from Wadi Hammamat of 137 wide. The left side is ca. 91 cm, the right sid ca. 95 cm high. With a density of 2.7g/cm, its weight is about 430 kg. It is named aft the "black" Pharaoh Shabaka (ca.712- 698 BCE), who ruled in the XXVth Dynasty (c 716 - 702 BCE) and who's Old Kingdom styled prenomen name ("Neferkare") mentioned twice (in LINE 1). It was given by the First Lord of the Admiralty Georg John 2nd Earl Spencer (1758 - 1834) to the British Museum in 1805. It was registere in the inventory of the Museum on the 13th of July of that year. Up to now, i povenance is still unknown. For nearly a century, the Shabaka Stone and i inscription remained unconsidered by egyptologists.

Reconstruction o the layout of the Shabaka Stone by Breasted (note that he has only 10 channels) in : Zeitschrift f gyptische Sprache und Altertumskunde, Berlin, n39 (102), 1902, plates 1 & 2. For a larger picture : click here.

Being a stela, it has a written surface of 132 by 68.8 cm, which consists of 3 inscribe horizontal rows (LINES 1, 2 & 48) and 61 columns carved into the obstinate stone wi copper chisels (some columns contain scribal voids, while LINE 5 is empty). rectangular squarish hole of 12 cm by 14cm is cut deep into the stone in the cente out of which eleven rough channels or stripes in length of 25 to 38 cm radiate as result of ignorant disregard in post-Pharaonic Egypt, when it was probably used as nether millstone or as a foundation stone. The scribal voids may refer to the damage original Pharaoh Shabaka found, namely the outermost edge of a scroll rolled ope from left to right (Sethe, 1928). This respectless, rejectable activity has caused large area of the stone to be worn, with as result the full or partial erasure of 25 line (LINES 25 - 44) in the center of the inscription, dividing it in two parts : one dealin with Horus' justification to his father's throne (first, left hand side, rendered in dramatical, responsive way) and the so-called "theology of Memphis" (last, right han side, in prose). Worn areas and scribal voids have to be distinguished. LINES 3 & are not damaged (except perhaps in the original), but placed by Shabaka's scribe an empty area consisting of several columns (cf. infra). The inscription on the stone faint thoughout and illegible in the middle. Spatial semantics mark the introduction the "preface" to this Memphis Theology. The latter is followed by a proza "confirmation" of the dramatics of the responsive, left half. Unfortunately, what unite both parts is completely lost. 1.2 Spatial semantics. Under "spatial semantics" a understood all meaningful visual & graphic features contained in a text, elucidating th architecture of the composition, highlighting parts of the text and -on top of what

always the case in hieroglyphic writing- adding information which is not contained the phonography of the text (cf. the determinative in Egyptian), etc. James Hen Breasted was the first egyptologist to copy the inscription on the Shabaka Stone b hand, remarking that : "I have no doubt that with a better light than it is possible to g in the museum gallery, more could in places be gotten out."

James Henry Breasted copying a hieroglyphic text in the temple of Buhen, Egypt (photo taken by Friedrich Koch in 1906 - The Oriental Institute of Chicago University)

He made this copy for his contribution to the Wrterbuch der gyptische Sprache. Then, in 1901, he published a brief paper : "Philosophy of a Memphi Priest" and wrote it was "the most remarkable monument of Egyptian thought whic we possess." Indeed, for Breasted, the inscription was "the oldest known formulatio of a philosophical Weltanschauung." He also discovered the text did not read fro right to left but in "retrograde form". This script is common in religious texts o papyrus. The order in which the columns had to be read was reversed, even thoug the arrangement of individual hieroglyphs remain facing the right. This and oth elements of the special layout of the inscription, compelled Breasted to date th "worm-eaten" original mentioned in LINE 2 to the early XVIIIth Dynasty. Breasted 1901 paper prompted other scholars to study the extant text. In 1909, Adolf Erma first put the word "memphitischer" and "Theologie" together in his "Ein Denkm memphitischer Theologie". It was Sethe, who -in 1928- published his "'Denkm memphitische Theologie"', der Shabako-Stein", and understood it to be part "Dramatische Texte zu altgyptischen Mysterienspielen". The connotations "dramati & "mystery-play" should be given due consideration. When visiting the Britis Museum in 2001 (a century after Breasted's first copy), one of the two lights place above the stone was found flickering, making it impossible to copy the text properl This was switched off by the Curator, placing the left half of the first two lines in th shadow of the wooden light-fixture placed above the stone. In 2004, both lights we turned off and now this shadow covers the complete titulary & colophon. Only b manipulating my digital pictures, was it possible to eliminate this dark rim. The te provided by the museum begins with the words : "This text, known as the Shabaq Stone, etc ..." ! Breasted complaints are apparently still valid today. This "mo remarkable monument of Egyptian thought which we possess" is still placed out focus and neglected (while the Rosetta Stone is commercially exploited to the point frenzy - cf. the Rosetta key ring and the Rosetta mug !). the spatial semantics the inscription Certain special spatial features (i.e. a particular use of writable spac deliberately :

create exceptions to the general rule of disposition, calling for a reversal of the ord in which the columns have to be read (here from left to right), although th individual hieroglyphs remain facing the right, as in LINES 1, 2 & 48 and

introduce visual units which should be taken into account to grasp the composition intent of the inscription, as in certain scribal voids (LINE 5), dispositions of title (LINES 3 - 7), responsive, dramatical speech-structures (LINES 10 - 35b) headings (LINE 48).

Let us turn to the inscription and study each case separately. LINE 1 (horizontal) Shabaka's titulary, with its (as usual) fivefold royal names, except for the surgic erasure of the final, "nomen" name in the last cartouche ("Shebek", an Egyptianize form of the Nubian "Shabaka" or "Shabaqo" - "Sebaq-tawy" probably means : "H who blesses the Two Lands"). Indeed, as such, the name "Shabaka" can not be foun on the stone, although we can read his prenomen : Neferkare.

Shabaka Stone : LINE : "Neferkare (prenomen), son of Re, (reconstruction of erased nomen name

LINE 1 (TITULARY) is larger than any other line on the stone and written in almo symmetrical (mirror) script, centered on the hieroglyph "life", and reading o therefrom, to both left & right.

Shabaka Stone : LINE 1 : "living Horus : excellent Two Lands" - mirror script centered on "life"

"The living Horus : excellent Two Lands ; the Two Ladies : excellent Two Lands ; th Golden Horus : excellent Two Lands ; King of Upper and Lower Egypt : Neferkare, th son of Re, [Shabaka], beloved of Ptah-South-of-his-Wall, who lives like R forever." Shabaka Stone, lines 1 (horizontal), titulary. LINE 2 (COLOPHON), the secon largest line, is the story of how Pharaoh Shabaka found "in the House of his fath Ptah" a worm-eaten ancient (papyrus ?) text of which he made a new & better cop the lasting Shabaka Stone. Here too, the Nubian nomen name or "Shabaka" has bee removed. This line reads from left to right, i.e. in the regular way, which is a exception here. "This writing was copied out anew by his majesty in the House of h father Ptah-South-of-his-Wall, for his majesty found it to be a work of the ancesto which was worm-eaten, so that it could not be understood from the beginning to th

end. His majesty copied it anew so that it became better than it had been before, order that his name might endure and his monument last in the House of his fath Ptah-South-of-his-Wall throughout eternity, as a work done by the son of R [Shabaka] for his father Ptah-Tenen, so that he might live forever." Shabaka Stone, line
(horizontal), colophon.

Shabaka Stone : void between the first 2 horizontals & the 61 columns

LINE 1 and 2 are followed by a void horizontal space, reaffirming the first two line form a whole, namely the "general heading". This consists of the titulary followed b the colophon. Right at the beginning, the mirror-script used in LINE 1 points to visu semantics reminiscent of Egyptian art. The retrograde script of the columns, startin with LINE 3, contrasts with the colophon, as it were placing it outside the context the inscription. "(3) He is this Ptah who proclaims by the great name : Tenen. (4) H who united this land of the South as King of Upper Egypt and this land of the Delta a King of Lower Egypt." Shabaka Stone, lines 3 & 4

Shabaka Stone : (left) first 5 columns contain voids with 5 completely void. (right) : detail of the inscribed surface of these lines.

"(5) void, no inscription (6) He indeed begat Atum who gave birth to the Ennead. ( Geb commanded that the Ennead gather to him. He judged between Horus an Seth ..." Shabaka Stone, lines 5 - 7 The 61 columns have to be read from left to right an from top to bottom. The first five are only inscribed in the middle, except for column For the rest they are empty above and below this written area. Column 5 is complete empty. LINE 3 works as a "general preface". Ptah proclaims by his great name of "t Tenen", i.e. the "risen land" of the first moment of creation. The use of "maT (proclaim, declare) points to the oratoric nature of the composition, both as initiat drama, theology & proto-rational "logos" philosophy avant la lettre ... LINE confirms the political power of Ptah. He is the uniter of Upper and Lower Egypt, an so only Ptah is Pharaoh. Above (celestial, realm of deities) as well as belo (terrestrial, regarding creation, realm of humans) is Ptah's great name in charge. LINE 6 is the "preface" to the mystery-drama of succession itself. In it, other deitie will be invoked. Hence, the author makes sure to mention Ptah is the father of Atum the creator-god of myth and pre-rationality, who created himself and all the res Hence, Ptah is before Atum. This idea of firstness is repeated in LINE 48, the headin of the lines introducing the theology of Memphis & the political unity of the roy Residence. However, because Ptah begat the Heliopolitan creator-god Atum, h name is greater than Atum's, although the latter gave birth to the Ennead, i.e. to a

gods & goddesses. Hence, Ptah's all-encompassing nature is put into evidence. Th supremacy of Ptah over Atum is the core of this theology. Hence, LINES 3 - 6 conta the summary of Ptah's claims to suprimacy over the eternal and temporal orders being. LINE 7 : here the actual political mystery-drama starts. Lines 10 to 35 a responsive. When the gods are speaking to each other, their hieroglyphs face eac other, suggestive of Egyptian pictoral composition. This spatial syntax is als reminiscent of ritual "rubrics" and the stage-work of mystery-plays & sacred festival Unfortunately, these lines are very worn and so the complete drama is lost.

Shabaka Stone : LINES 15a - 17a : "Geb's words to the nine gods :" Notice how the flagpoles are reversed, pointing to the Geb-goose, as in direct speech.

"(10a) Geb's words to Seth : "Go to the place in which you were born." (10b) Seth Upper Egypt. (11a) Geb's words to Horus : "Go to the place in which your father wa drowned." (11b) Horus : Lower Egypt. (12a) Geb's words to Horus and Seth : "I hav separated you." (12b) Lower and Upper Egypt. (10c, 11c, 12c) Then it seemed wron to Geb that the portion of Horus was like the portion of Seth. So Geb gave Horus h inheritance, for he is the son of his firstborn son. (13a) Geb's words to the Ennead : have appointed (13b) Horus, the firstborn." (14a) Geb's words to the Ennead : "Hi alone, (14b) Horus, the inheritance." (15a) Geb's words to the Ennead : "To h heir, (15b) Horus, my inheritance." (16a) Geb's words to the Ennead : "To the son my son, (16b) Horus, the Jackal of Upper Egypt --- (17a) Geb's words to th Ennead : "The firstborn, (17b) Horus, the Opener-of-the-ways." (18a) Geb's words the Ennead : "The son who was born --- (18b) Horus, on the birthday of the Opene of-the-ways." > (13c) Then Horus stood over the land. He is the uniter of this lan proclaimed in the great name : Tenen, South-of-his-Wall, Lord of Eternity. The sprouted (14c) the two Great in Magic upon his head. He is Horus who arose as Kin of Upper and Lower Egypt, who united the Two Lands in the Nome of the (Whit Wall, the place in which the Two Lands were united. (15c) Reed (heraldic plant f Upper Egypt) and papyrus (heraldic plant for Lower Egypt) were placed on the doub

door of the House of Ptah. That means : Horus and Seth, pacified and united. The fraternized so as to cease quarreling (16c) wherever they may be, being united in th House of Ptah, the "Balance of the Two Lands" in which Upper and Lower Egypt ha been weighed. This is the land > (17c) --- the burial of Horus in the House Sokar. (18c) --- Isis and Nephthys without delay, (19) for Horus had drowned in h water. Isis [and Nephthys] looked out. (20a) Horus speaks to Isis and Nephthys "Hurry, grasp him ---." (21a) Isis and Nephthys speak to Horus : "We come, we tak you ---." (20b) --- and brought him to (21b) --- the earth (22) at the royal fortress, to th North of ---. (23) There was built the royal fortress ---. (24a) Geb speaks to Tehuti : (25ab - 30a) --- (31a - 35a) --- (27b) [Geb] speaks to Isis : --- (28b) Isis cause [Horus and Seth] to come. (29b) Isis speaks to Horus and Seth : "---." (30b) Is speaks to Horus and Seth : "Make peace ---." (31b) Isis speaks to Horus and Seth "Life will be pleasant for you when ---." (32b) Isis speaks to Horus and Seth : "It is h who dries your tears ---." (33b - 35b) Isis speaks to ---. (36 - 47) ---" Shabaka Stone line 10a - 49 : the dramatical mystery-play Whether this mystery-play stopped before LIN 48 is unknown (it certainly runs to LINE 35b). So it is possible there were of few line joining the two major parts of the inscription (LINES 36 - 47), but this is in no wa certain.

Shabaka Stone : LINE 48 : "the gods who manifest in Ptah" retrograde and horizontal (left to right

LINE 48 has a unique spatial disposition : retrograde and horizontal. It is intended a the heading for the text below, which introduces the epiphanies of Ptah, i.e. h Ennead. The position of LINE 48 indicates the text which follows is of a differe nature than the dramatical, responsive justification of the throne of Horus. The uniqu spatial disposition of LINE 48 coordinates this brief horizontal with the vertical tex directly beneath it. This because it is the heading for the inscription below, introducin the theology of Ptah of Memphis.

The inscriptions in LINES 49a are each followed by a spe determinative showing iconographic form of Ptah standing a shrine. Underneath, In LINES 49 52b further specificati follow : "(48) The gods who mani in Ptah : (49a) Ptah-on-the-Gre Throne, --- (49b) [Ptah] --- who b the gods. (50a) Ptah-Nun, the fat who gave birth to Atum. (50b) [Pta -- who bore the gods. (51a) Pt Naunet, the mother who b Atum ; (51b) [Ptah] --- (52a) Pt the-Great, heart and tongue of Ennead ; (52b) [Ptah] --- Nefer-T at the nose of Re every day."

Shabaka Stone : LINES 48-52 - notice mummiform Ptah with skull cap & was-scepter standing in a shrine.

After the divine speech of the deities in the dramatical section (LINES 7 - 35b), LINE 48 - 52 reiterate the unique nature of Ptah, who created all (cf. LINE 6). In this wa the divine comedy is flanked on two sides by the articulation of divine unit Furthermore, by placing Ptah in a shrine, Shabaka's scribe no doubt wanted to dire the reader's attention to what followed, namely the "core" of the inscription, th theology of Ptah of Memphis. Good fortune has kept it intact despite the ignorance those who used the stone for its shape and weight ! In LINE 53, "Ptah-the-Great"

invoked. The greatness of Ptah and the superiority of his theology is directly related the "heart and tongue of the Ennead" (LINE 52a) and the whole theology of Memph is a justification of Ptah's exclusiveness (the "very great") on the basis of an origin redefinition of the concepts "heart" & "thought", thereby articulating the earliest know (proto-rational) "logos"-philosophy. Although gods & goddesses are mentioned, it stressed they came into being "in" Ptah, in his heart and by his tongue. After Ptah epiphanies (LINES 48 - 52), the "Memphis Theology" (LINES 53 - 61) follows. Bo LINES 53 & 54 are introduced using parallel script, whereby a doubling occurs an two lines are pressed into one. The end of LINE 53 contains a large scribal voi showing the intent was to place two of these parallel inscriptions next to each othe For only in this configuration is the central verb "to come into being" (the scara repeated four times in a row, aligning this hieroglyph with the same verb in LINE 4 were Ptah's creation of the gods is mentioned (in the Pyramid Texts, four repetition point to the four quaters of the horizon).

Shabaka Stone : line 48-54 : notice how last two colums are doubled

LINES 53 - 61 are studied in a paper on the Memphis Theology. "(53) There come into being in the heart ; there comes into being by the tongue as the image Atum ! Ptah is the very great, who gives life to all the gods and their kas. Lo, throug this heart and by this tongue. (54) Horus came into being in him ; Thoth came in being in him as Ptah. Life power came into being in the heart and by the tongue and all limbs, in accordance with the teaching that it (the heart) is in all bodies and it (th tongue) is in every mouth of all gods, all men, all flocks, all creeping things an whatever lives ; thinking whatever the heart wishes and commanding whatever th tongue wishes ! (55) His (Ptah's) Ennead is before him as heart, authoritativ utterance, teeth, semen, lips and hands of Atum. This Ennead of Atum came in being through his semen and through his fingers. Surely, this Ennead (of Ptah) is th teeth and the lips in the mouth, proclaiming the names of all things, from which Sh and Tefnut came forth as him, and (56) which gave birth to the Ennead (of Ptah). Th sight of the eyes, the hearing of the ears, and the breathing of air through the nos they transmit to the heart, which brings forth every decision. Indeed, the tongu thence repeats what is in front of the heart. Thus was given birth to all the gods. H

(Ptah's) Ennead was completed. Lo, every word of the god came into being throug the thoughts in (57) the heart & the command by the tongue. Thus all witnessin faculties were made and all qualities determined, they that make all foods and a provisions, through this word. {Justice} is done to him who does what is loved, {an punishment} to him who does what is hated. Thus life is given to the peaceful an death is given to the criminal. Thus were made all labor, all crafts, the action of th arms, the motion of the legs, (58) the movements of all the limbs, according to th word which is devised by the heart and comes forth by the tongue and creates th performance of everything. > There came the saying that Atum, who created th gods, said concerning Ptah-Tenen : "He gave birth to the gods." From him every thin came forth : foods, provisions, (59) divine offerings, all good things. Thus Thoth kne and recorded that he is the mightiest of the gods. Thus Ptah was satisfied after he ha made all things and all divine words. He gave birth to the gods, he made the town he established the nomes, he placed the gods in their (60) shrines, he settled the offerings, he established their shrines, he made their bodies according to their wishe Thus the gods entered into their bodies of every kind of wood, of every kind of ston of every kind of clay, in every kind of thing that grows upon him (61) in which the came to be. Thus all the gods and their kas were gathered to him, content and unite with the Lord of the Two Lands. > The Great Throne (Memphis) that gives joy to th heart of the gods in the House of Ptah is the granary of Tenen, the mistress of all lif through which the sustenance of the Two Lands is provided, (62) owing to the fa that Horus was drowned in his water. Isis and Nephthys looked out, beheld him, an attended to him. Horus quickly commanded Isis and Nephthys to grasp Horus an prevent his drowning. (63) They heeded in time and brought him to land. He entere the secret portals in the glory of the Lords of Eternity, in the steps of him who rises the horizon, on the ways of Re at the Great Throne. (64) He entered the palace an joined the gods of Tenen Ptah, Lord of Years. Thus Horus came into the earth at th Royal Fortress, to the North of this land to which he had come. His son Horus aros as King of Upper Egypt, arose as King of Lower Egypt, in the embrace of his fath Horus and of the gods in front of him and behind him." Shabaka Stone : line 53-64 : th theology of Memphis (53 - 61) and the royal residence (61 - 64) 1.3 Contents of the inscriptio on the Shabaka Stone. The table of contents of the inscription has 6 sections : LINES 1 - 2 : heading (titulary, colophon) : general information about the stela editorial remarks concerning its composition ;

LINES 3 - 6 : prefaces : LINES 3 - 4 : general declaration of Ptah's supremacy a proclaimer of the great name of "Tenen" and as Pharaoh and LINE 6 introduction of the mystery-drama of the deities created by Atum who is beg by Ptah ;

LINES 7 - 35b : the mystery-drama : here the division (decided by Geb) of the rule Egypt between Horus and Seth is narrated and enacted. This settlement replaced by the union of the Two Lands under the sole rule of Horus, who is manifestation of Ptah. LINES 48 - 52 : new heading & Ptah's epiphanies : reaffirmation that all deities a manifestations in Ptah, to whom Ptah gave birth ; LINES 53 - 61 : the theology of Memphis ; LINES 61 - 64 : the royal residence : Memphis is the city of Ptah-Tenen. Section V, the theology of Memphis, has three subdivisions :

LINES 53 - 57 : logoism : the description of the logoic process with which Pta created everything, including all possible deities and the reason why th Memphite theology supercedes the Heliopolitan one of Atum. Rudiments of a epistemology are given ; LINES 57 - 58 : natural philosophy : and a holistic philosophy of nature ;

LINES 58 - 61 : pan-en-theism : poetical affirmation that Ptah is everywhere everything and that all is in Ptah. Ptah is above (celestial) as well as belo (terrestrial).

2 The age of the inscription and its hermeneutical levels.

2.1 Extant text, original documents and original idea. Breasted concluded the origin text used to compose the Shabaka inscription was probably written in the XVIII Dynasty (ca. 1539 - 1292 BCE), i.e. at the beginning of the New Kingdom. The wo of later investigators (Erman, Sethe, Junker, Frankfort) abandoned Breasted's justifie caution and carelessly dated the original text between the Ith and the Vth Dynas (ca.3000 - ca.2348 BCE) ! Even Frankfort claimed : "The Memphite Theolog presents the religious teaching for Menes' new capital. It combines views which w can recognize as new, since they concern the new foundation ; others which w suspect to be new because they run counter to common Egyptian beliefs and cou hardly have gained acceptance it they had not been part of the great movement at th dawn of history. Other doctrines again seem to be rooted in Egyptian, or even Africa traditions of the greatest antiquity." Frankfort, 1978, p.24. At present, Grimal is the on egyptologist who continues to propose Old Kingdom dates for the lost origin mentioned in LINE 2. "Ce texte date manifestement de l'Ancient Empire, priode o Memphis joua le premier rle national, et sans doute mme de la Ve dynastie, c'est-

dire de l'poque o la doctrine hliopolitaine l'a dfinitivement emport." Grimal, 198 p.57, my italics. However, for Friedrich Junge (1973), there are no philological ground to ascribe the text to the Old Kingdom. As Breasted, he returned to the New Kingdo to find the source(s) used by Shabaka's scribe. He thinks an original compendium texts was transformed in a free and adaptive way, shaping a new and more comple configuration. The original compendium might date back as far as the Ramessid period, the late New Kingdom, a period of intensive religious speculation (XX Dynasty - ca. 1188 - 1075 BCE - cf. the Hymns to Amun). Indeed, after Amarna (c 1336 BCE), Ptah & Memphis were important again. Hornung (1989) also rejects a Old Kingdom date for the original text and accepts a late New Kingdom date. Thes considerations lead me to propose the following historical path : extant text : ca. 710 BCE (XXVth Dynasty) - end of the Third Intermediate Period ; original text : ca. 1188 - 1075 BCE (XXth Dynasty) - late New Kingdom ; ... lost texts ... other texts ... sapiental literature and Coffin Texts of Middle Kingdom ... original idea : "Sia" & "Hu" in the Pyramid Texts or (late Vth & VIth Dynasties (ca.2378 - 2205) - Old Kingdom (see my The Creative Verb in Kemet).

2.2 Worm-eaten documents of the late New Kingdom. If the original, worm-eate compendium found by Pharaoh Shabaka was written in the late New Kingdom (whic is very likely), and the hermeneutical form of these New Kingdom originals wa canonical, i.e. defining a well-defined cultural identity or symbolic form (concernin Ptah of Memphis), implying these documents were the culmination of the evolutiona process of the form of the thoughts in question and not just the whimsical invention the Memphite theologians of the New Kingdom, then clearly the origin of these idea (perhaps not documented as such) could bring us back to earlier periods. Th proposed original text could then be regarded as a summary or canon of an old tradition, with an even more remote historical origin, going back to the moment whe these ideas actually emerged for the first time (likely in much cruder and less cohere forms). Why not as far back as the Old Kingdom, when -although the Heliopolita view predominated- the role of Ptah of Memphis is attested ? He was the guardian the union of the Two Lands (cf. Menes). At Memphis, Pharaoh was enthroned, and s the "Walls" was the dynastic city par excellence. Through his Great Word, Pharao established Maat. His tongue was the pilot in charge of the bark of righteousness an truth. Given the important theological crisis at hand after Amenhotep IV (Akhenaton namely the restoration of the "true religion" and the (incomplete) destruction of th

rejected influence of the culture of Amarna and the theology of Akhenaten, a return Ptah of Memphis could be argued as inevitable and rewarding to seal the completio of the restoration. The all-comprehensive nature of Ptah's creative thoughts is als suggestive of the New Solar Theology and the conceptual revolutions brought abo by Amarna theology (like the rejection of the plural for the word "god"). Hence, as wa also the case in art, all traces of the changes Amarna had brought, were n eradicated. Moreover, does the strong "political" message of the original text not poi to the restored post-Amarna context (for example early XIXth Dynasty under Seti I Ramesses II) ? Even during the wildest days of Akhenaten, not all ancient cults ha stopped and nobody knows how many gods & goddesses had been worshipped secret. After the death of Akhenaten, the capital remained only two years in a Amarna before it moved (under Tutankhamun) to Memphis. In the period restoration which followed his reign, the main goal was to maintain the unity of th Two Lands by allowing Pharaoh to make strong political statements of monument proportions (cf. Seti I, Ramesses II). The choice of Ptah can thus also be attributed the theo-political importance of Memphis as the place of coronation of the living go on Earth, who again properly invited the deities who had left Egypt and who heade the temple cults of the old pantheon. In the Ramesside period, the thirteenth son Ramesses II, Merneptah, erected an important palace complex near the temple Ptah and the old capital city of Memphis rose to renewed splendor with his aid. Wa the original text of the inscription on the Shabaka Stone written under his reign (c 1210 BCE) ? It is likely the alleged New Kingdom authors who wrote the original te (the text found by Pharaoh Shabaka) used lost originals, i.e. older sources. We kno both major themes of the inscription (the unity of the Two Lands and the creation the Ennead and the world through "divine words") are present in the literature of th Old and Middle Kingdoms (cf. The Creative Verb in Kemet). Perhaps our Ne Kingdom scribes found or were given access to libraries, worm-eaten documents bits and pieces of the former cults of Ptah at Memphis. With this in hand, they wro their XIXth Dynasty original, worm-eaten by the time of Pharaoh Shabaka (ca. centuries later). They too were confronted with an older language and had to rewo the material to honor the cult of Ptah (as did Shabaka's scribe after them). 2.3 A ne composition of the Late Period. The egyptologists of the British Museum right assume the Shabaka inscription itself is a compilation, reproducing the layout earlier documents and introducing a number of archaisms (older spellings grammatical usages) to lend the piece an air of antiquity. That Shabaka's scrib succeeded, may explain why it took egyptologists so long to correctly date th original text mentioned in the colophon. Junge points out Shabaka's claim may well b true in a literal sense, i.e. Shabaka's rescue made the text indeed "better than it ha been before", because he had arrived at a superior, more complex and advance conceptual configuration than what had been available to him in the original, worm

eaten documents. Let us conclude the inscription on the Shabaka Stone is a XXV dynasty (early 8th century BCE) canon of the spirito-political unity represented b Ptah. Shabaka does not forget to mention he made use of earlier canonic compendia, allowing him to stay "in line" with the traditional tenets of the canon. H stone will eternalize the great mystery of Ptah. But the language must sound old, s that the Nubian may win the favor of the spirits of old ...

3 The spirito-political schemes of Pharaoh Shabaka.

3.1 Historic circumstances regarding the kingdom of Kush. The Kushite Pharaohs from Nub constitute the "XXVth Dynasty", also called "Napatan", from the city of Napata nea the 4th cataract of the Nile (one of the Kushite kingdom's principal cities). For th Israelite prophet Isaiah, it was "a land shadowing with wings beyond the rivers Kush", for the Assyrians, Kush was a "far and inapproachable region". The southe limits of Kush were regarded by the Egyptians themselves as the "horn of the earth (i.e. the outer limits). "This image of a remote and exotic land, the source of ivor gold, incense and slaves, was perpetuated through Greek and Roman literature in the writing of modern Egyptology." Morkot, 2000, p.1. The conquest of Egypt by th Kushite kings in the 8th century BCE was portrayed as an unexpected event (cf. th Victory Stela of Piye), with no prologue. However, the tradition of rulership in Nub extends back as far as two thousand years before the emergence of the Napata state. This continued under Egyptian rule and was influenced by the Egyptian style kingship. To understand the period the Kushites dominate Egypt, we must look bac at the development of states and rulerships within Nubia, from Predynastic Egypt u to the 8th century. Let us trace these important steps. Nubia in Egypt Predynastic times : The southern boundary of the Predynastic kingdom of Nekhe (Hierakonpolis) was Gebel Silsila, the narrowest point on the Nile and the northe limit of Nubia. Its main trading centre was probably the island of Abu (Elephantine), the foot of the 1th cataract, reflecting the importance of ivory as one of the mo important southern commodities (along with ebony, incense, vegetable oils & anim skins). Wine, beer, oil and perhaps wheat and barley were also exchanged for th valuable raw materials. Rock-drawings of boats of Predynastic type have been foun as far South as Sabu at the 2th cataract. The rapid development of strong state around 3100 BCE was not confined to (Upper) Egypt. Rather, there existed a mutu influence. Nubia at the start of the Pharaonic age : Climatic changes an variations in the flood levels alone do not explain how the people of Nubia and i powerful kingdoms came to their end. The depopulation of Lower Nubia during th period of the Old Kingdom went hand in hand with the rise of the Pharaonic state. Th Egyptian Pharoah was no longer content to exchange goods but desired to ga

control of the Nile route to the South, exploiting Nubia's natural resources directl Ruthless interventions through military actions crushed the local powers, realized b the reign of Djer (early Ith Dynasty). The surviving Nubians were driven into th regions flanking the Nubian Nile valley (possible the more fertile eastern hills wadis). The Egyptians exploited Nubia's resources. The largest settlement in Nub was at Buhen, at the foot of the 2th cataract (founded early IIth Dynasty). Djedkara Isesi is the last Old Kingdom Pharaoh attested in Nubia. These kings relied o Egyptian rather than local labour. Nubia at the end of the Old Kingdom : In th later Old Kingdom, the climate deteriorated throughout North-East Africa, resulting the VIth Dynasty in conditions similar to those of the present-day. Rhinocero elephant and giraffe which had existed much earlier in Egypt and Lower Nubia ha dissapeared and could only be found in Upper Nubia and further South. A new cultu emerged in Nubia. This "C-group" is in many ways so similar to that of the Nubians the A-group (of Egypt's Predynastic times) that scholars agree its people descende from it. By the VIth Dynasty, Pharaoh did no longer control Lower Nubia. To acqui goods from the South, he had to negotiate with Nubian rulers again. Hence, the O Kingdom Pharaoh's had not been able to eradicate the Nubians. Nubia in the Fir Intermediate Period : At the end of the reign of Pharaoh Pepi II, the local elites Egypt (the "nomarchs" or local officials of the districts, the "nomes") gained mor power. In the decades following his death, a breakdown of centralized governme ensued. There had already been famines in the Vth Dynasty, and this proble recurred. At first, the local officials acknowledged the Memphite kings as the source legitimate divine & political power. Then, they arrogated many of the royal epithet Eventually, they forgot about their allegiance to Memphis and assumed royal title Two major nomes emerged : "Nen-nesut" (Herakleopolis), south of Memphis an "Waset" (Thebes), in Upper Egypt. Lower & Upper Nubia were affected by thes changes. Trade was disrupted but did not cease. Local armies included contingen from Nubia. With the expansion of Theban power, interaction with Nubia becam inevitable. Nubian mercenaries lived and worked in Upper Egypt, and these soldie had Egyptian servants, suggestive of their high status. Texts record how the Theba rulers lead their armies into the northern part of Nubia. Nubia in the Midd Kingdom : When Pharaoh Nebhepetre Menthuhotep II reunited Egypt (ca. 204 BCE), a new period of stability was inaugurated. The prominence of Nubian militia Upper Egypt during the ascendancy of the Theban princes may have lead to marriag alliances between, on the one hand, the ruling families of Nubia and the Easte desert, and, on the other hand, Theban rulers. Some have speculated that the fo consorts of Menthuhotep II were of Kushite origin, if not Pharaoh himself. In th Prophecies of Neferti, we read : "Ameny, the justified, by name, son of a woman 'Ta-Seti', a child of Upper Egypt." "Ta-Seti" or "Bow-Land" was the name for the 1 nome of Upper Egypt (from Elephantine to Edfu) as well as for Nubia. Pharao

Amenemhat I, who was assassinated, may have had some Kushite blood. By th time of the latter's coronation, Nubia had regained its independence and was ruled b local kings who adopted the style of Pharaohs ... However, by the time of the XII Dynasty expansion, the united kingdom of Lower Nubia was a formidable obstacl Intense Egyptian military activity ensued. After a series of major campaigns (taking full century), Nubia was subdued. But, once the trade routes had been secured, n attempt was made to integrate the Nubians of the "C-group". The Egyptians built number of forts to protect access to gold-mining regions (cf. the Middle Kingdo fortress of Buhen, well under way by year 5 of Senwosret I - ca. 1923 BCE). Th Lower Nubian kings posed no threat and payed their "inu"-tribute, evidence of a alliance with Pharaoh. In Upper Nubia, the kingdom of Kerma (on the East ban South of the 3th cataract) flourished (Kush was based upon Kerma). The rulers Kerma acted as the main intermediaries for the transmission of goods from the sou to Egypt. Initially, Kerma-culture (which seem to develop about the time of the Fir Intermediate Period) was supported by the Egyptians of the Middle Kingdom. I power climaxed in the late Second Intermediate Period. The kingdom was cour based and wealthy. Nubia in the Second Intermediate Period : At the beginnin of the XIIIth Dynasty, Egypt withdrew from Nubia and entered a period of gre confusion. Kush (founded on Kerma) becomes the most important state in Nubia. Th Kushite expansion into Lower Nubia & beyond begins. They managed to penetra the outer defences of Buhen and capture & burn the inner fort. Extensive destructio followed. In Lower Nubia, C-group culture continued to flourish. It reached its pea although under the political rule of the Kushite kings. Those in command gave th Kushite kings access to both the desert roads and the river route to Upper Egyp They traded directly with the new rulers of the Delta, the Hyksos kings of Avar (Lower Egypt). The presence of Egyptians at Buhen and other forts points to considerable egyptianization of Kerma culture. The Theban princes, trapped betwee the Hyksos and the Kushite -who seek alliances against Thebes- move to reuni Egypt under their own rule. Kamose (Wadjkheperre), with whom the Secon Intermediate Period ends (ca. 1539 BCE), regained control over the 2th cataract an reoccupied the fortress at Buhen. His brother Pharaoh Ahmose (Nebpehtire, ca.1539 1514 BCE) was victorious against both the Hyksos and the Kushites and initiates th XVIIIth Dynasty and with it the "imperial age" of Egypt. Nubia in the Ne Kingdom : While engaged with the Hyksos, Buhen had been under attack by th Kushites. For the Egyptians, the Kushite kingdom thus remained a threat. In regn year 2, Pharaoh Tuthmosis I (Akheperkare - ca.1493 - 1482 BCE) inflicted a maj defeat on the Kushite state, with the attack of Kerma itself. The city recovered quickl The Egyptians withdrew and established their southern border at the 2th catara (Lower Nubia had been incorporated into Egypt). The resistance was however n broken and conflicts in Lower Nubia were more than likely. Pharaoh Tuthmosis

(Menkheperre - ca. 1479 - 1426 BCE) made the Kushites finally bow to the Egyptia rule. Pharaoh drew the official border at the 4th cataract, erected the fortress Napata called "Semakhasetiu" or "Hacking up the Foreign Lands" and named th mountain Gebel Barkal : "Throne of the Two Lands". But Egypt's influence stretche much farther. Indeed, Pharoah had reached the land of Miu (central Sudan) where th rhinoceros was captured. Tax & tribute of Upper Nubia flowed into Pharaoh treasury. In the reign of Pharaohs Amenhotep II or Tuthmosis IV, 150 years aft Egyptian rule in Nubia, the administration of the whole region was reorganized alon Egyptian lines : the Viceregal system. Two provinces were created : "Wawat" (Low Nubia) and "Kush" (Upper Nubia). A Viceroy ruled Nubia as a whole (from Nekhen the 4th cataract). Each province came under the control of an official direct responsible to the Viceroy (just as the Viziers were subordinate to Pharaoh). In retu of the goods of the South, these officials would receive Egyptian foodstuffs, clot manifactured objects, military and political support. As there are no records of tradin expeditions, we may assume that the provincial governors were Kushites. Onc absorbed into the Egyptian system, the Kushites were depicted as Egyptians. Th education of Kushite princes at the Egyptian courts assisted the assimilation Kushite culture into the Egyptian imperial civilization of the Ne Kingdom. Ambassadors of Lybia (stretching along the Meditarranean littoral as far a Cyrenaica) visited the court of Akhenaten. But with the reign of Pharaoh Horemha (ca.1319 - 1292 BCE), the Libyans are recorded as enemies of Egypt. They invade the Delta on a massive scale. Libyans and Kushites are said to have planned a unsuccesful joint attack on Egypt. Ramesses III (ca. 1186 - 1155 BCE) was the la Pharaoh able to counter the Libyan invasions. Nubia in the Third Intermedia Period : At the end of the New Kingdom (ca. 1075 BCE), the power of Pharaoh ha weakened. In the period which followed, the Third Intermediate Period, Nubia and th eastern desert were lost again (as well as the "Asiatic" regions). The title "Viceroy Kush" becomes extinct. With Pharaoh Shoshenq I (945- 924 BCE) the Lybian trib chieftains of the Delta rise to the throne of Egypt. By that time, they too had bee assimilating Egyptian culture & customs for several generations, and seemed n essentially different, although Thebes hesitated. By the time of the Kushite invasion there were four Pharaohs ruling in different parts of Egypt. In the middle of the 8 century BCE, a new political power appeared in the extreme South. It had for som generations been building up an important kingdom from their center at Napata at th 4th cataract. They felt to be Egyptians in culture and religion (Amun). The first king this Kushite kingdom was Kashta. With Piye (740 - 713 BCE), probably his eldest so we draw nearer to Pharaoh Shabaka. the enigmatic Piye Piye himself wa crowned in the temple of Amun at Gebel Barkal, as "Horus, Mighty Bull, arising Napata". He went to Thebes to be acknowledged there. After having consolidated h position in Upper Egypt, Piye returned to Napata (cf. "Victory Stela" at Gebel Barka

In Lower Egypt, a future opponent, Tefnakht ruled the western Delta, with as capit Sais (city of the goddess Neith, one of the patrons of kingship). Near Sais were als the cities of Pe and Dep (Buto), of importance in the earliest periods of Egyptia history, and cult centre of the serpent goddess Wadjet, the urus protectin Pharaoh's forehead (the raging Eye transformed and symbol of Pharaoh's assimilatio of the Great Goddess of the sacred of predynastic times - cf. To Become a Magician When the rulers of Thebes asked for help, Piye's armies moved northwards. When h sent messengers ahead to Memphis with offers of peace, they closed the gates f him and sent out an army against him. But with no avail. Piye returned victoriously Napata and never went to Egypt again. 3.2 The intent of Pharaoh Shabaka. th restoration of the power of the Memphite Residence Pharaoh Shabaka, this blac African "Ethiopian", was the first Kushite king to reunite Egypt by defeating th monarchy of Sais and establishing himself in Egypt. Piye before him had defeated th Egyptian dynasts, but had victoriously returned to Napata. Shabaka, who figures Graeco-Roman sources as a semi-legendary figure, settled the renewed conflic between Kush and Sais and was Pharaoh in Egypt, with his Residence and new se of government in Memphis (cf. Frankfort on the importance of Memphis). Indee Pharaoh Shabaka modelled his reign upon the Old Kingdom Pharaohs. Memphis : the city of the coronation of the Pharaohs "Men-nefer" or "Memphis" wa the capital of the first nome of Lower Egypt. It was called "horizon of the Two Lands "city of walls", "the balance of the Two Lands". In the city or its neighbourhood we the temples of Ptah, Sekhet, Bast, Hathor, Osiris, Seker and of course Re. The temp of Ptah was on the eastern side. In the Old Kingdom, Memphis was the place wer Pharaoh was coronated in the definitive ceremony of succession. Pharaoh Shabak residing at Memphis was the political proof Egypt had been reunited. propagatin the consolidation of Kushite rule in Egypt The Shabaka Stone, with its Pyramid Tex styled language & archaism, was originally set up in the temple of Ptah at Memphis, which both Piye and Shabaka had added structures. It is clear this stone had to prov the legitimacy of the power of the Nubians and the Nubio-Sudanese Kushite Dynas (Egypt and the whole of Nubia unified). The Shabaka Stone proved Pharaoh Memphis was again the sole ruler uniting the "Two Lands" ... Shabaka consolidate Kushite supremacy and his reign saw the first major building works of the Kushites Egypt. In the Theban region the temple of "Ptah-South-of-his-Wall" was enlarged. Th shrine of Amun at Thebes and Hathor at Dendera proved his concern for the temple throughout Egypt. His constructions at Thebes are best preserved. However, th "Ethiopian" Dynasty did not stop the further decay of Egyptian autonomy and unit Thebes was sacked under the Assyrian occupation (671 - 664 BCE) and althoug Psammetikus I (Wahibre) expelled the Assyrians, Psammetikus III (Ankhkaenre) wa kept in power by the Persians but commited suicide (end of the XXVIth "Saite Dynasty, marked by a resurgence of the arts, based on the classical forms of the O

and Middle Kingdom). 3.3 Political mystery-play at Memphis. On the large roll papyrus, discussed in the second part of Sethe's Dramatische Texte, is found th accession script of the "mystery play of the succession" (Frankfort) of Pharao Senwosret I (Middle Kingdom), probably containing elements antedating the Midd Kingdom. It seems this play was performed during the transition after the death Pharaoh's predecessor but before his coronation at Memphis and this seemingly several cities throughout the land (the god receiving the offerings is indicated by generic term only). It was necessary of Pharaoh to pass through these repeate ceremonies at the various cities to establish the necessary politico-religious ties to h "Great Throne" at Memphis (compare this with his circumambulations of the "He Sed" court during the Sed-festival). During the mystery play, Pharaoh remained o board of the royal barge, serving as his quarters during travel. In the mystery-dram on the Shabaka Stone, the succession-drama is intra-divine, for Ptah as Horus Pharaoh of the Two Lands. As had been the case in Old Kingdom ritualism, th deities only conversed with the other deities. There was no mediator between the sk and the Earth, except Pharaoh, who was the only son of the deities who's Akh or spi really existed on Earth. He was the only god with a human form who actually lived o Earth (while the other deities could be invited to dwell here by offering to their double and souls but in essence or spirit lived as Akhs in the starry sky). In the theology Memphis, Ptah is more than just another god or goddess. The deities and the who of creation are all "in" Ptah and Ptah is the "very great" who encompasses all possib states of existence. A higher level of proto-rational theological discourse is reache while the old pantheon is not relinquished. Did the Kushite Ptah of Pharaoh Shabak not resemble the Ramesside Amun-Re ? Yes, for the latter was also essentially on hidden ("Tenen" as "hidden one, whose eternal form is unknown") and pluri-for (millions). No, for Ptah created the All with what he thought and what he said (cf. Th Created Verb in Kemet).

--------------------------------------------------http://www.reshafim.org.il/ad/egypt/texts/shabaka_stone.htm

The Shabaka Stone

The living Horus; Who prospers the Two Lands; the Two Ladies: Who prospers the Two Lands; the Golden Horus: Who prospers the Two Lands; King of Upper and Lower Egypt: Neferkare; the Son of Re: Sha[baka], beloved of Ptah-South-of-his-Wall, who lives like Re forever. This writing was copied out anew by his majesty in the house of his father Ptah-Southof-his-Wall, for his majesty found it to be a work of the ancestors which was worm-eaten, so that it could not be understood from the beginning to end. His majesty copied it anew so that it became better than it had been before, in order that his name might endure and his monument last in the House of his father Ptah-South-of-his-Wall throughout eternity, as a work done by the son of Re [Shabaka] for his father Ptah-Tatenen, so that he might live forever. The Shabaka Stone was dedicated by the Kushite pharaoh Neferkare, i.e. Shabaka
(711-697). The stela is 92 x 138 cm in size. The text is arranged in 62 vertical columns and 2 horizontal rows across the top. Twenty-three of the columns have been worn away. The text is much older than this stone version, probably dating to th New Kingdom. The centre of the Ptah worship was at Memphis, hence this mythology is referred to as Memphite mythology. /// [King of Upper and Lower Egypt] is this Ptah, who is called the great

name: [Ta-te]nen [South-of-his-Wall, Lord of eternity] ///. /// [the joiner] of Upper and Lower Egypt is he, this uniter who arose as king of Upper Egypt and arose as king of Lower Egypt. /// /// "self-begotten," so says Atum: "who created the Nine Gods." [Geb, lord of the gods, commanded] that the Nine Gods gather to him. He judged between Horus and Seth; he ended their quarrel. He made Seth the king of Upper Egypt in the land of Upper Egypt, up to the place in which he was born, which is Su. And Geb made Horus King of Lower Egypt in the land of Lower Egypt, up to the place in which his father was drowned which is "Division-of-the-Two-Lands." Thus Horus stood over one region, and Seth stood over one region. They made peace over the Two Lands at Ayan. That was the division of the Two Lands. The Heliopolitan Ennead

his father: i.e. Horus's father, Osiris

Geb's words to Seth: "Go to the place in which you were born." Seth: Upper Egypt. Geb's words to Horus: "Go to the place in which your father was drowned." Horus: Lower Egypt. Geb's words to Horus and Seth: "I have separated you." /// Lower and Upper Egypt. Then it seemed wrong to Geb that the portion of Horus was like the portion of Seth. So Geb gave Horus his inheritance, for he is the son of his firstborn son.

Geb's words to the Nine Gods: "I have appointed Horus, the firstborn." Geb's words to the Nine Gods: "Him alone, Horus, the inheritance." Geb's words to the Nine Gods: "To his heir, Horus, my inheritance." Geb's words to the Nine Gods: "To the son of my son, Horus, the Jackal of Upper Egypt /// Geb's words to the Nine Gods: "The firstborn, Horus, the Opener-of-the-ways." Geb's words to the Nine Gods: "The son who was born /// Horus, on the Birthday of the Opener-of-the-ways." Then it seemed wrong to Geb... : The tribulations of the gods about the
inheritance of Osiris are described with great gusto in the Contendings of Horus and Seth.

Then Horus stood over the land. He is the uniter of this land, proclaimed in the great name: Ta-tenen, South-of-his-Wall, Lord of Eternity. Then sprouted the two Great Magicians upon his head. He is Horus who arose as king of Upper and Lower Egypt, who united the Two Lands in the Nome of the Wall, the place in which the Two Lands were united. Reed and papyrus were placed on the double door of the House of Ptah. That means Horus and Seth, pacified and united. They fraternized so as to cease quarrelling in whatever place they might be, being united in the House of Ptah, the "Balance of the Two Lands" in which Upper and Lower Egypt had been weighed. Ta-tenen: Father of the gods,
an aspect of Geb, often identified with Ptah, the Memphite creator god. the two Great Magicians: Lichtheim: The crowns of Upper and Lower Egypt the Wall: Memphis Reed and papyrus: Symbolizing Upper and Lower Egypt Balance of the Two Lands: Memphis is the southernmost city of Lower Egypt, on the border between Lower and Upper Egypt.

This is the land ////// the burial of Osiris in the House of Sokar. ////// Isis and Nephthys without delay, for Osiris had drowned in his water. Isis [and Nephthys] looked out, [beheld him and attended to him]. Horus speaks to Isis and Nephthys: "Hurry, grasp him ///." Isis and Nephthys speak to Osiris: "We come, we take you ///." ////// [They heeded in time] and brought him to [land. He entered the hidden portals in the glory of the lords of eternity]. //////. [Thus Osiris came into] the earth at the royal fortress, to the north of [the land to which he had come. And his son Horus arose as king of Upper Egypt, arose as king of Lower Egypt, in the embrace of his father Osiris and of the gods in front of him and behind him.] There was built the royal fortress [at the command of Geb ///]. Geb speaks to Thoth: ////// Geb speaks to Thoth: //////. //////. [Geb] speaks to Isis: ////// Isis causes Horus and Seth to come. Isis speaks to Horus and Seth: "[Come] /////////." Isis speaks to Horus and Seth: "Make peace //////." Isis speaks to Horus and Seth: "Life will be pleasant for you when //////." Isis speaks to Horus and Seth: "It is he who dries your tears //////." //////. //////. The Gods who came into being in Ptah: Ptah-on-the-great-throne //////. Ptah-Nun, the father who [made] Atum. Ptah-Naunet, the mother who bore Atum. Ptah-the-Great is heart and tongue of the Nine [Gods]. [Ptah] ///////// who bore the gods.

[Ptah] ///////// who bore the gods. [Ptah] /////////. [Ptah] ///////// Nefertem at the nose of Re every day.
necropoleis of the region of Memphis.

Sokar: Falon headed god of the

Sokar and Seti I Source: Wilkinson, The Complete Gods and Goddesses of Egypt

the royal fortress: Memphis Nun personified the primordial waters, Naunet was his female counterpart

Nun supporting the Solar Barque Source: Wilkinson, The Complete Gods and Goddesses of Ancient Egypt

Nefertem: Identified with the blue lotus and the sun god rising from it. At Memphis he was associated with Ptah and his consort Sekhmet.

There took shape in the heart, there took shape on the tongue the form of Atum. For the very great one is Ptah, who gave [life] to all the gods and their kas through this heart and through this tongue, in which Horus had taken shape as Ptah, in which Thoth had taken shape as Ptah. Thus heart and tongue rule over all the limbs in accordance with the teaching that it (the heart, or: he, Ptah) is in every body and it (the tongue, or: he Ptah) is in every mouth of all gods, all men, all cattle, all creeping things, whatever lives, thinking whatever it (or:he) wishes and commanding whatever it (or:he) wishes. His (Ptah's) Ennead is before him as teeth and lips. They are the semen and the hands of Atum. For the Ennead of Atum came into being through his semen and his fingers. But the Ennead is the teeth and the lips in this mouth which pronounced the name of every thing, from which Shu and Tefnut came forth, and which gave birth to the Ennead. An
alternative reading of this paragraph: Heart took shape in the form of Atum. Tongue took shape in the form

of Atum. It is Ptah, the very great, who has given [life] to all the gods and their kas through this heart and through this tongue, from which Horus had come forth as Ptah, from which Thoth had come forth as Ptah. came into being through his semen and his fingers: Atem fertilized himself by masturbation. this mouth which pronounced the name of every thing: M. Lichtheim: Though not phrased as an outright repudiation of the Heliopolitan doctrine, according to which Atum created the gods through onanism, the Memphite theology attempts to supersede it by teaching that Ptah created the gods through commanding speech

Sight, hearing, breathing - they report to the heart, and it makes every understanding come forth. As to the tongue, it repeats what the heart has devised. Thus all the gods were born and his Ennead was completed. For every word of the god came about through what the heart devised and the tongue commanded. Thus all the faculties were made and all the qualities determined, they that make all foods and all provisions, through this word, to him who does what is loved, to him who does what is hated. Thus life is given to the peaceful and death is given to the criminal. Thus all labor, all crafts are made, the action of the hands, the motion of the legs, the movements of all the limbs, according to this command which is devised by the heart and comes forth on the tongue and creates the performance of every thing. Thus it is said of Ptah: "He who made all and created the gods." And he is Ta-tenen, who gave birth to the gods, and from whom everything came forth, foods, provisions, divine offerings, all good things. Thus is recognized and understood that he is the mightiest of the gods. Thus Ptah was satisfied after he had made all things and all divine words. life is given to the peaceful and death is given to the criminal: In the
judgment of the dead the heart of the deceased is weighed against the feather of Maat, the goddess of the right world order. If found too heavy, the sinner's heart is devoured by the demon Ammut.

He gave birth to the gods, He made the towns, He established the nomes, He placed the gods in their shrines, He settled their offerings, He established their shrines, He made their bodies according to their wishes. Thus the gods entered into their bodies, Of every wood, every stone, every clay, Every thing that grows upon him In which they came to be. Thus were gathered to him all the gods and their kas, Content, united with the Lord of the Two Lands. The Great Throne that gives joy to the heart of the gods in the House of Ptah is the granary of Ta-tenen, the mistress of all life, through which the sustenance of the Two Lands is provided, owing to the fact that Osiris was drowned in his water. Isis and Nephthys looked out, beheld him, and attended to him. Horus quickly commanded Isis and Nephthys to grasp Osiris and prevent his drowning (i.e., submerging). They heeded in time and brought him to land. He entered the hidden portals in the glory of the lords of eternity, in the steps of him who rises in the horizon, on the ways of Re the Great Throne. He entered the palace and joined the gods of Ta-tenen Ptah, lord of years. Thus Osiris came into the earth at the Royal Fortress, to the north of the land to which he had come. His son Horus arose as king of Upper Egypt, arose as king of Lower Egypt,

in the embrace of his father Osiris and of the gods in front of him and behind him.
M. Lichtheim: Ancient Egyptian Literature, Vol.1, pp.51-55

Osiris was originally a corn god. Little earthen statuettes were made which contained grains of corn which sprouted and covered the statuette with their greenery. ... attended to him: He was brought back to life by the magic of Isis.

Shabaka Stone Source: Wilkinson, The Complete Gods and Goddesses of Ancient Egypt

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The Memphite Theology

illustration from

Egyptian Mysteries; p.10 (Thames & Hudson, Art and Imagination Series)

The Memphis theology is based around Ptah (equivalent to the Greek Hephaistos, the divine blacksmith), (shown above on the left), who himself becomes the primordial fire and gives it substance. This cosmological system was developed at Memphis, when it became the capital city of the kings of Egypt. Ptah is the creator-god of Memphis, and during the long period the city served as the capital of Egypt it was known as Het-ka-Ptah or "House of the Soul of Ptah". Ptah is one of several Egyptian deities attributed with a myth about fashioning creation. Ptah, as the god Ta-tenen (the primordial mound), creates in the so-called "Memphite Theology" the world, its inhabitants, and the kas of the other gods. Reference is again made to the Ennead, this time with Ptah at its head. The whole Memphite theology is preserved on a slab of basalt now exhibited in the Egyptian Sculpture Gallery. It was composed at a very early date, and committed to stone during the Twenty-fifth Dynasty by the order of the Nubian king Shabaka. The Shabaka Text (c. 710 BC) which was intended to preserve "a work of the ancestors," this text is alternatively known as The Memphite Theology, and based upon the generative power of God's thought and speech. The Shabaka Text is perhaps the earliest record of theistic

creation in existence. Unfortunately, this Shabaka Stone was subsequently used as a nether mill-stone and much of the text has been lost. The document known as the Bremner-Rhind Papyrus includes, among other religious texts, two monologues of the sun-god describing how he created all things. As with all the Egyptian theologies, the Memphite religion was also political, justifying the primary status of the new capital. Ptah, the principal god of Memphis, had to be shown to be the great creator-god, and a new legend about creation was coined. But it was also important to organize the new cosmogony so that a direct breach with the priests of Heliopolis might be avoided. Ptah was the great creator-god, but eight other gods were held to be contained within him, including some of the Heliopolitan Ennead and the Hermopolitan Ogdoad. The Heliopolitan Atum held a central position, and the Hermopolitan Nun and Naunet were also included. The Shabaka Text enumerates Ptah's eight hypostases or qualities as "the Neterw who have come into existence in Ptah". Ptah himself incarnates the primordial Eight, and then becomes Tatenenn, 'the earth which rises up', an evocation of the primordial hill. "He who manifested himself as heart, he who manifested himself as tongue, in the likeness of Atum, is Ptah, the very ancient, who gave life to all the Neterw." Tongue means speech, or in later philosophical idiom the logos. Ptah conceived the world intellectually before creating it 'by his own word'. The heart and the tongue 'have power over' all the other members, since the tongue describes what the heart conceives. Thus Ptah re-creates the Great Ennead, and gives rise to all the qualities of things, through the Desire of his heart and the Word of his tongue. Ptah's name means "Creator". He is depicted as a mummified man with only his hands free to grasp a sceptre composed of the symbols of life (ankh), power (was), and stability (djed). He is also typically shown wearing a skullcap and standing on the plinth-shaped hieroglyph that is part of the name for Ma'at, the goddess of fundamental truth. The Memphite theology, like the Theban religion, is based on a primordial triad of deities. In this case we have Ptah who is accompanied by Sekhmet, the great lioness whose name means 'the powerful', and Nefertum, 'the accomplishment of Atum', thus making up the first causal triad. There are also interesting parallels here with the Hindu trinity, viz. Ptah - creator (Brahman) Sehkmet - destroyer (Shiva) Nefertum - preserver (Vishnu) In another, although related context, Sehkmet has always seemed to me quite a bit like Kali. Ptah therefore would have a connection with Shiva (as the spouse of Kali). The monotheistic element is interesting here as well. In the Memphite Theology it is said of Ptah: 'He who made all and created the gods.' And he is Ta-tenen, who gave birth to the gods,

and from whom every thing came forth, foods, provisions, divine offerings, all good things. Thus it is recognized and understood that he is the mightiest of the gods. Thus Ptah was satisfied after he had made all things and all divine words.
(Ancient Egyptian Literature, Volume I: The Old and Middle Kingdom translated by Miriam Lichtheim)

We have here a strongly developed theism, which gives the lie to the oft-asserted statement that Akhenaten was the first monotheist. Ptah constitutes a creator figure, in contrast to Atum is more of an Emanator. Yet this was still within the same overall tradition (albeit with a different deity). There was no cultural break such as Akhenaten attempted. An analogy could be made between, say Kashmir Shaivism (emanationist) and the Vaishvanite (which is more dualistic and devotional). Or like the difference between the God of Mystical vs Legalistic Judaism. Emanationism is more prone to a philosophical based mysticism in which human growth is the key issue, while creation based is more on a creator who gives laws that you must follow. The Hermopolic creation story (in which everything emerges from the primordial Eight or the Nun) is more prone to left-hand path belief systems since there is no pre-existent God, and the Theban seems like it would be purely mystical, with it's abstract symbolism. Ptah as the divine craftsman also recalls Judaeo-Christian themes of God fashioning the world, making Adam out of clay, etc. I leave it to the reader to decide whether this similarity is due to diffusion (the Memphite ideas filtering through to the rest of the Mediterranean world) or archetypal convergence (the same symbol or motif reappearing)