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March 27, 1898, San Francisco Call San Francisco, California, U.S.A.

Grave of Osiris Discovered: Greatest Classical Find of the Decade

The tomb of Osiris? the tomb of Horus? the tomb of Set? If we are to believe the words of one of the most reliable of European scholars, M. Amelineau, he has discovered the tombs of these Egyptian deities in the sands of Abydos. Abydos is not very far from Thebes, on the river Nile, and was formerly the capital of the Eighth nome or province.

Historians tell us that Abydos was the most sacred spot in Egypt and that every pious Egyptian wished to be buried there near the shrine of Osiris. When the great festivals were celebrated in the Middle Empire, one of the chief days was devoted to Osiris of Abydos; the former battles of this god were represented, and then the pretended body of the god was carried to the shrine and buried.

Who was Osiris? His name appears in the list of the god kings of Egypt immediately preceding Set and Horus, but there are many legends related of him in Egyptian literature. The chief of these is that Qeb, the earth god, married Nut, the goddess of heaven. Four children were born to them, 0siris and Set, Isis and Nephthys. Osiris succeeded his father as Pharaoh of Egypt, marrying his sister, Isis; Set married the other sister, Nephthys after she had borne one son, Anubis, to Osiris.

When Osiris had reigned for a few years Set tried to dethrone him, but failed, and it was only after Osiris had been Pharoah for twenty-eight years that Set laid a plot to kill him. He made a beautiful coffin, just the size of Osiris, and offered to give it to any one whom it would fit. When Osiris got in to try it Set and his friends put on the lid, nailed it fast and poured hot lead all around it. They then threw it into the Nile, which carried box and body to the sea.

Isis, Osiris' widow, went in search of her husband's body, and while living in the marshes of the delta of the Nile Horus was born. Here he grew to manhood, but Isis was still seeking her husband's body. The gods told her that she would now go to Phoenicia, and there at Byblos she found that the Chest containing Osiris' body had been washed up on the shore and inclosed by the trunk of a huge tree. This tree had been cut down by the King of Byblos and now stood as a pillar in his palace. Isis was engaged as a nurse for the king's children, and by restoring one of them to life so gained the king's good will that he gave her the pillar containing the long-sought corpse when she asked for it.

Solar Barque with Re-Horakhty,  the Benu Bird, and four other Deities.

Solar Barque with Re-Horakhty and the Benu Bird.

Isis then hastened to Egypt with the chest, but leaving it to find her son Horus, Set happened to see the coffin. He opened it, cut the body of Osiris to pieces and threw them all over the land of Egypt. Isis set forth to find these scattered members and wherever she found any part she buried it, to be sure that Set would not interfere again. Wherever one of these burials took place a shrine was erected to Osiris, but his chief shrine was in Abydos, where it was said that his head rested in a small chest. The soul of Osiris was transformed into the bird Benu, the phoenix of Greece. As compensation for his sufferings and reward for Isis' long years of devotion, Osiris became the King of the Dead, or the supreme judge in the "Tribunal of Amenti," where he weighed the heart of the deceased in the scales. The heart is placed on one side, the symbol for truth on the other.

But the legend is not complete without the rest of the adventures of Set and Horis. After Set's crowning barbarity of scattering his brother's bones, Horus, the son of Osiris, seeks out othe murderer to be avenged. A terrible conflict ensues, in which Horus loses an eye, but nevertheless makes Set acknowledge him as the true Pharoah. . .

As the reverence for the God-King spread his character was developed in the popular mind. As King he was looked up to for teaching the people how to till the soil, as the great lawgiver and teacher of science... The conflict between Set and Horus then changed to the symholic strife between light and darkness, good and evil.

Egyptologists, like Brugsch, regarded the dynasties of the Egyptian gods as pure myths, comparing these divinities with those of Greece, not hesitating to cite Apollo as the parallel to Horus, for instance. Later historians of Egypt, like Bolko Stern (1896) and Adolf Erman (1885-1895), omit the list of the god kings altogether, notwithstanding the fact that Egyptian sources cite two dynasties of god kings, and then a dynasty of demi-gods before the first human dynasty beginning with Menes. Some have doubled the actuality even of Menes himself, but late researches, especially by Flinders Petrie- and De Morgan, have established the historic character of the first human dynasty.

M. Amelineau has, however, eclipsed all previous discoveries by his excavations at Ul Uxur (ancient Luxor), where he asserts that he has found the actual tombs of Osiris, Set and Huros. The earliest date assigned to Menes is 5702 B. C, but, according to the Egyptian lists of kings, more than 2000 years passed under the divine and semi-divine dynasties, so that this latest find takes us back about 10,000 years ago, the time preceding the earliest of the so-called prehistoric tombs found by De Morgan. M. Amelineau's researches, if confirmed, prove that Osiris, Isis, Set and Horus walked the earth, breathed, married, ruled, fought, died and were buried.

This discovery must affect the history of all nations, more or less, for the same tendency of elevating the king first to the position of a hero-, then of a demi-god and finally of a full and complete divinity has gone on among all the peoples of the earth from China to Scandinavia. The Chinese show us precisely how much of this process of apotheosis must have begun in cult of ancestor worship. Horus avenges the death of his father Osiris by dethroning the usurping Set. The sufferings of the great king who had given Egypt art, science and law made his memory all the more sacred. He is first reverenced and then it is an easy, short step to worship. Isis, his devoted wife, becomes the name for wisdom and faithfulness, and is symbolized by the dog star. Later she is confused with Hathor, until the two goddesses are merged into one- with an infinite variety of names and attributes.

Horus becomes In turn a popular god, being accepted as the chief figure in the widely prevailing worship of the sun. Temples are erected in various cities to Osiris, Isis and Horus, the human quality is lost sight of in the divine, the gods have lost all similarity to human beings. This sketches the progress of the idea of divinity as it must have developed in Egypt, now that the tombs of the god kings have been found. It is a natural and simple process, which explains itself and upsets at a single blow the numerous theories which have been set down as the "science of religion,"' or the development of "religious concepts." Volumes have been written upon this subject, evolved from the inner consciousness of the writers, often regardless of facts. Many of these works have been branded as more fanciful than the myths which they attempted to explain, but nothing could so condemn their fancies as the discovery of the old atone sarcophagi of the godshard facts, too hard to be denied. The a priori savants, who draw their theories as the spider spins his web, from their own inwardness, will be rather tangled up in this web by M. Amelineau's discovery . . . they jumped to the conclusion that all of the traditions were pure myths, based upon nature worship.

. . . They forgot that the great cemeteries, the necropolis at Abydos, for example, had as their ceni trai idea the burial of a great god king, and could not see that there must have been some great facts behind the myths not merely the facts of sun, star and river, but the more concrete facts of a human kins.

Abydos. Egypt's First Pharoahs. David B. O'Connor.

If we could go to Luxor and see the massive ruins of the temple, if we could dig beneath the sands of Abydos and see the hundreds and thousands of tombs of great men and small clustered around the tombs of the god kings, we might be convinced that these kings were once upon the earth. Here are the countless mastababs, or truncated pyramids, built for the reception of the ancient dwellers in Egypt. Some of the less wealthy were satisfied with mere wells, into which their coffins were lowered. Others had their mausoleums built in the shape of grottos, where whole families were buried. In later times the tombs at Abydos took the shape of small pyramids, with a more elaborate interior arrangement. A stele from Abydos, now in the Leyden Museum, belonged to "the hereditary prince, and the prince, the nearest friend of the king, the high priest, with the right to wear the royal apron, the judge and prophet of Ma'at, the great priest of Osiris," buried here near his god.

Valley of the Nile 
The Ruins of the Temple of Seti I. 1844
Prosper Georges Antoine Marilhat

It is rather strange, in the face of such monumental proof as this, to find the learned Wilkinson writing that from the account of Manetho and other writers who mention the rule of the gods, it would seem as if the earliest form of government in Egypt was a hierarchy where the King was priest. He adds:

"The succession of the different gods to the sovereignty of the country would then be explained by that of the respective colleges of priests, though the duration of their reigns is totally inconsistent with truth or probability It is true that infant states are more usually governed by some individual pre-eminent for his abilities either as a statesman or warrior than by a body of persons with equal authority; but as the former opinion appears to be less at variance with what history has imparted to us, it is more reasonable to conclude that Egypt was ruled by a hierarchy."

Fom this it would seem that Wilkinson's historical instinct suggested the truth that the ancient yods were kings, but the rejection of the myths and legends about them by other scholars tempted him to believe that "the story of Osiris' rule in this world is purely allegorical." Now, however, through the latest discovery the true "history is imparted to us," and we know that Osiris was not a "mere allegorical character." Herodotus may have misled many Egyptologists by his statement that the "Egyptians ridiculed the Greeks for pretending to derive their origin from deities." But this is not the first instance of misleading on the part of the "Father of Lies." Of course, Wilkinson is considered antiquated In many respects, but in his view of the god-kings he has had many imitators among the most recent writers on the subject . . .

It has been a favorite idea with some late students of the Old Testament to suggest that such men as Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and the twelve sons of the last patriarch were purely mythical, devised by the fancy of the people many centuries after the date at which they were stated to have lived. But research in Babylonia and Arabia, especially during the last few years, tends in the opposite direction.

The very name Abraham has been found in Assyrian inscriptions, showing that such a name was current at that time. The names of the kings mentioned in Genesis xiv. have been found on the monuments of clay tab lets, all tending to establish much of the truth of the Biblical statements. The discovery of the tombs of the godkings has no direct bearing upon those other questions, but indirectly it must affect the tendency of modern thought on all allied subjects.

M. Amelineau has startled the world by the mere announcement of his discovery. The particulars and subsequent developments will be awaited with interest by every man who would like to know what happened in the world ten thousand years ago, what men and women lived and ruled then and what they did.

A New English Version
Stephen Mitchell
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 HeroinesGoddesses and Heroines.
Patricia Monaghan
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

Literary Fiction

Gospel According to Yeshuas Cat.
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.
Amelia Peabody's Egypt: A CompendiumAmelia Peabodys Egypt.
Elizabeth Peters

Crocodile on the Sandbank.
Crocodile on the Sandbank
(Amelia Peabody, Book 1)
A Mystery Novel set along the Nile.
Author Elizabeth PetersEgypt. 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.

Tomb of the Golden Bird.
Later works, such as Tomb of the Golden BirdTomb 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.

Palace Walk: The Cairo Trilogy, Naguib Mahfouz.Egypt.
Palace Walk
The Cairo Trilogy, Volume 1
The Cairo Trilogy..
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.


The Project

Maritime Nations, Ships, Sea Captains, Merchants, Merchandise, Ship Passengers and VIPs sailing into San Francisco during the 1800s.



Merchant Shipping

Merchant Shipping and Ancient Commerce.  
History of Merchant Shipping and Ancient CommerceMerchant Shipping and Ancient Commerce.
W. S. Lindsay

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Sources: As noted on entries and through research centers including National Archives, San Bruno, California; CDNC: California Digital Newspaper Collection; San Francisco Main Library History Collection; and Maritime Museums and Collections in Australia, China, Denmark, England, Finland, Germany, Ireland, Wales, Norway, Scotland, Spain, Sweden, etc.

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