Gods, Demons, Dragons
It was a gradual process, but fortunately, the exploration of Egypt and particularly the pyramids, after the exploits of the earliest antiquarians, took on a more disciplined approach by scholars. The preservation and recording of ancient Egypt by the mid 1800s began to take precedence over the more brutal excavation methods of the early part of the century, which included tomb robbers.
Edward and Alexandria
sail down the Nile during a Royal Visit
Influential scholars such as Auguste Mariette (1821-1881) wrote a series of papers which secured him a post with the Louvre museum. In 1850, that institution sent him to Egypt to buy Coptic manuscripts, but he began excavating instead. During this period, he was responsible for finding and excavating the Serapeum at Saqqara, where the sacred Apis bulls had been buried in a huge catacomb. In 1858, Ferdinand de Lesseps, who was in charge of the Suez Canal project, pressured the ruler of Egypt, Said Pasha, into naming Mariette as the head of all Egyptian antiquities. Thus, Mariette was placed in charge of the new national Antiquities Service.
William Matthew Flinders Petrie (1853-1942), considered one of the greatest of the early Egyptologists, was not just a hard worker in the field. He was a child prodigy. He learned the hieroglyphic alphabet before the age of six and later, encouraged by his father, combined his interests in mathematics and measurement with archaeology.
During the late 1800s, the first pyramid posters and postcards began to appear around the end of the century. A year before the opening of the Suez Canal in 1869, an elevated road was built from Giza to the pyramid plateau to facilitate visits by attending royalty, most notably the Empress Eugenie. At the same time, the Mena House Hotel was developed at the base of the plateau, and a roadway led from the hotel to the foot of the pyramids. Modern tourism was now in full swing.
Discoveries throughout such research and expeditions necessarily included research into Egyptian Gods, Demons, Dragons.
Aker was an ancient Egyptian earth god, the deification of the horizon, where the eastern and western horizons of the Underworld met. He welcome the dead Pharoah into the underworld. Aker aids the forces of light by binding and chaining the serpent when Ra passes through the underworld. In his role as a protective deity, twin lion statues representing Aker were placed at the doors of palaces and tombs to protect against evil spirits, a practice adopted by both the Greeks and Romans.
Apep (also known as Apophis), a terrifying great sea-serpent, is one of Egypt’s most noted dragons. Apep lay in wait in the Egyptian underworld to ambush the sun god, Ra, who had to voyage through it each night ready to rise again. Apep would viciously attack the boat Ra was in as he crossed the sky during the day, and when there was an eclipse, it was believed to be due to Apep swallowing the vessel whole. Despite Apep’s menace, he never gained complete victory over his eternal enemy. However Apep was also never believed to have been fully vanquished. The reddening of the sky at dusk was said to demonstrate that the serpent had been overcome by the sun’s strength.
A serpent god. Afu Ra [the sun god] had his boat pulled by twelve gods through Ankh-neteru’s body, entering the tail and exiting the mouth. This results in Afu Ra being transformed into Khepera, the ancient god associated with the creation of the world.
During the third millennium B.C. he was described as a fiery serpent. He would have caused an inferno that would have destroyed all of the gods had he not been thwarted by the Egyptian King.
A a servant of Ra, Nehebkau was an Egyptian serpent with human arms and legs. It was the great serpent upon which the world rested, and is sometimes represented with a man’s body and holding the eye of Horus. Nehabkau was known to guard the entrance of the Underworld and accompanied the sun god on his nightly journey through it as well. Although Nehebkau began as a mischievous serpent dragon that the gods could not trust, Ra tamed him and he became one of the helpers to the dead. His key role was to protect the Pharaoh in the afterlife.
Ouroboros, a “tail eater” dragon, constantly holds its tail in its mouth. It represents the cycle of life, death and rebirth, leading to immortality symbolizing the cyclic Nature of the Universe – that creation comes forth of destruction, and life out of death First discovered in Egypt as early as 1600 BC, Egyptians worshipped Ouroboros, as Sata, (Satan) or “Tuat”, on whose back the sun god rose through the underworld each night.
In Greece, it is the symbol of the universe and eternity. The serpent biting its tail is found in other mythological cultures as well, including Norse myth, where the serpent’s name is Jormungand.
The Uraeus was the symbol of sovereignty, worn on the royal Egyptian headdress. It is used as a protective symbol, as the Egyptians believed that the cobra would spit fire at any approaching enemies.
An Egyptian serpent guardian sent by Osiris to protect Pharoah and control the Nile. The cobra goddess was the patroness of Lower Egypt. Wadjet was part of the Osirian myths and was always viewed as a protector of Egypt, depicted as a woman with a cobra head or as a cobra about to strike at the nation’s enemies.
Wadjet (Wadjyt, Wadjit, Uto, Uatchet, Edjo, Buto) was one of the oldest Egyptian goddesses. Her worship was established by the Predynastic Period, but did change somewhat as time progressed. She began as the local goddess of Per-Wadjet (Buto) but soon became a patron goddess of Lower Egypt. By the end of the Predynastic Period she was considered to be the personification of Lower Egypt rather than a distinct goddess and almost always appeared with her sister Nekhbet (who represented Upper Egypt). The two combined represented the country as a whole and were represented in the pharaoh s “nebty” name (also known as “the two ladies”) which indicated that the king ruled over both parts of Egypt. The earliest recovered example of the nebty name is from the reign of Anedjib of the First Dynasty.
In the Pyramid Texts it is suggested that she created the first papyrus plant and papyrus swamp. Her link to the papyrus is strengthened by the fact that her name was written using the glyph of a papyrus plant and the same plant was the heraldic plant of Lower Egypt.
~ Ancient Egypt Online
A New English Version
Gilgamesh is considered one of the masterpieces of world literature; this version translator by the acclaimed author of the Tao Te Ching and the Bhagavad Gita. Inscribed on stone tablets a thousand years before the Iliad and the Bible and found in fragments, Gilgamesh describes the journey of the king of the city of Uruk in what is now Iraq. At the start, Gilgamesh is a young giant with gigantic wealth, power and beauty—and a boundless arrogance that leads him to oppress his people. As an answer to their pleas, the gods create Enkidu to be a double for Gilgamesh, a second self. Learning of this huge, wild man who runs with the animals, Gilgamesh dispatches a priestess to find him and tame him by seducing him. Making love with the priestess awakens Enkidu's consciousness of his true identity as a human being rather than as an animal. Enkidu is taken to the city and to Gilgamesh, who falls in love with him as a soul mate.
The Pyramid Builder
Cheops, the Pharaoh Behind the Great Pyramid
Author Christine El-Mahdy is a widely renowned Egyptologist whose interest in the subject started as a child (she taught herself to read hieroglyphics aged nine). She has worked in the Egyptian departments of Bolton Museum and Liverpool University Museum and, in 1988, she founded the British Centre for Egyptian Studies which she now runs. She has previously written three internationally bestselling books on ancient Egypt.
Encyclopedia of Goddesses and Heroines
Previously published as a two-volume set in 2009, this revised paperback edition contains more than 1,000 entries on goddesses and heroines from around the world. The material is divided into geographic sections: “Africa,” “Eastern Mediterranean,” “Asia and Oceania,” “Europe,” and “The Americas.” Europe is treated with the most granularity, with roughly 140 pages divided into eight subsections. The sections and subsections open with a few pages of introduction, followed by entries for each individual goddess or heroine, arranged alphabetically within each region. Entries range from a scant paragraph to nearly a page in length. Each entry has at least one source text, but a significant portion have several (more than 10 in some cases). These sources are listed in a bibliography, which lists for each region both primary sources (indicating “in translation” and “oral” when applicable) and “other sources.” Author Monaghan was a pioneer in contemporary women’s spirituality, and her perspective here has the flavor of radical feminism, where goddesses have been lost to the repressive patriarchy. ~ Booklist
The Gospel According to Yeshua's Cat
C. L. Francisco, PhD
From the Author: Although nothing can compare with the excitement of diving into a new research project, I've always chosen fiction for my downtime reading. My favorites are fantasy, science fiction, and mystery, although I have an inexplicable weakness for several books by Elizabeth Goudge. Fiction sneaks up on me, gets under my guard, and touches my heart in a way that non-fiction just can't. It opens up new possibilities and sets me dreaming. Books that have been life-changing for me have always been fiction, most noticeably books by C.S. Lewis and Charles Williams. That's probably why I chose to write a book like Yeshua's Cat.
Amelia Peabody's Egypt: A Compendium
Crocodile on the Sandbank
(Amelia Peabody, Book 1)
Author Elizabeth Peters is a New York Times best-selling novelist. She also earned a Ph.D. in Egyptology at the University of Chicago, thus the setting of much of this 19-book series: Egypt and the antiquities along the River Nile. Set during the late 1800s the tales start when British Amelia Peabody travels to Egypt to quench her thirst for history.
Later works, such as Tomb of the Golden Bird, have Amelia travelling to Palestine where an English adventurer is planning to excavate Jerusalem's Temple Mount in search of the Ark of the Covenant. Her writing is brilliant and hysterically, ascerbically humorous, which seems somewhat unusual in books including tomb robbers and murderers.
The Cairo Trilogy, Volume 1
Written by the Noble Prize winner Naguib Mahfouz, Palace Walk is the first book in his Cairo Trilogy. Palace Walk is about a merchant living in Cairo, who makes his family follow strict religious social rules while he breaks all of them himself. If you are planning on visiting Egypt, start here.