OSIRIS AND ISIS
|Dee Finney's blog
start date July 20. 2011
Today's date" June 6. 2012
6-6-12 - MEDITATION DREAM - I was trying to remember the name of a young girl we had in our UFO group in Milwaukee without success, and I knew her best friend was Heidi Hollis, so she was on my mind while i was trying to remember the name of her original website.
I fell into this dream:
I was in my house and a tiny little girl came to my door and said she wanted to help me. I asked her what she wanted to do and she said she wanted to help me pick out some stamps which she indicated were on my living room floor. (I don't keep stamps on my living room floor)
I took the little girl home and she happeend to live with Heidi Hollis and Heidi's male friend/husband, whose name I didn't know.
When we got to Heidi's house, Heidi and her male friend went into his bedroom, after he left an electronic microphone on the edge of the kitchen sink, and I could hear them talking in the bedroom, though not clearly. That made me know that I coulnd't live in Heidi's house because this guy had electronic bugs all over the house and he could hear anything I said in every room.
The little girl said she had to go to the bathroom, so I quickly rushed her there so she could pee and while I was there, her even tinier little brother came into the bathroom crying and picking at his arm. He said it itched really bad.
I told the little boy not to scratch it. It looked like it had bugs crawling on the scratch, so I told him to go tell Heidi about it and ask her if she had any Calamine Lotion to put on the itchy place on his arm.
I no sooner said that when I could see the eyebrow of the man Heidi was with. He had a bushy black eyebrow with bugs crawling in it, and within the eyebrow I could see the word OSIRIS.
That was the answer to why he had bugs all over his house. Everything said in that house was being transmitted back to the planet that OSIRIS was living on.
Here is Heid's personal story: http://www.reptilianagenda.com/cont/co120999a.shtml
Dying Planet Leaks Carbon-Oxygen
A well-known extrasolar planet nicknamed Osiris has surprised astronomers again.
Using the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope, scientists have observed the planet (officially known as HD 209458b) passing in front of its parent star, and found oxygen and carbon surrounding the planet in an extended ellipsoidal envelope - the shape of a rugby-ball. These atoms are swept up from the lower atmosphere with the flow of the escaping atmospheric atomic hydrogen, like dust in a supersonic whirlwind.
The team led by Alfred Vidal-Madjar (Institut d'Astrophysique de Paris, CNRS, France) reports this discovery in a forthcoming issue of Astrophysical Journal Letters. The team observed four transits of the planet in front of the star with Hubble in October and November 2003. The observations of structure and chemical make-up of the atmosphere were made in ultraviolet light, using Hubble's spectrograph STIS. Hubble's position above the atmosphere makes it the only telescope that can currently perform these types of ultraviolet studies.
The planet HD 209458b may sound familiar. It is already an extrasolar planet with an astounding list of firsts: the first extrasolar planet discovered transiting its sun, the first with an atmosphere, the first observed to have an evaporating hydrogen atmosphere (in 2003 by the same team of scientists) and now the first to have an atmosphere containing oxygen and carbon. Furthermore the 'blow-off' effect observed by the team during their October and November 2003 observations with Hubble had never been seen before.
In honor of such a distinguished catalog this extraordinary extrasolar planet has provisionally been dubbed "Osiris". Osiris is the Egyptian god who lost part of his body - like HD 209458b - after his brother killed and cut him into pieces to prevent his return to life.
What, on the other hand was surprising was to find the carbon and oxygen atoms surrounding the planet in an extended envelope. Although carbon and oxygen have been observed on Jupiter and Saturn, it is always in combined form as methane and water deep in the atmosphere. In HD 209458b the chemicals are broken down into the basic elements. But on Jupiter or Saturn, even as elements, they would still remain invisible low in the atmosphere. The fact that they are visible in the upper atmosphere of HD 209458b confirms that atmospheric 'blow off' is occurring.
The scorched Osiris orbits 'only' 7 million kilometers from its yellow Sun-like star and its surface is heated to about 1,000 degrees Celsius.
Whereas hydrogen is a very light element - the lightest in fact - oxygen and carbon are much heavier in comparison. This has enabled scientists to conclude that this phenomenon is more efficient than simple evaporation. The gas is essentially ripped away at a speed of more than 35,000 km/hour. "We speculate that even heavier elements such as iron are blown off at this stage as well" says team member Alain Lecavelier des Etangs (Institut d'Astrophysique de Paris, CNRS, France).
The whole evaporation mechanism is so distinctive that there is reason to propose the existence of a new class of extrasolar planets - the chthonian planets, a reference to the Greek God Khtôn, used for Greek deities from the hot infernal underworld (also used in the French word autochton). The chthonian planets are thought to be the solid remnant cores of 'evaporated gas giants', orbiting even closer to their parent star than Osiris. The detection of these planets should soon be within reach of current telescopes both on the ground and in space.
The discovery of the fierce evaporation process is, according to the
scientists, "highly unusual", but may indirectly confirm theories of our
own Earth's childhood. "This is a unique case in which such a
hydrodynamic escape is directly observed. It has been speculated that
Venus, Earth and Mars may have lost their entire original atmospheres
during the early part of their lives. Their present atmospheres have
their origins in asteroid and cometary impacts and outgassing from the
planet interiors", says Vidal-Madjar.
In December 2001, NASA selected the Kepler Mission, a project based at NASA Ames, as one of the next NASA Discovery missions. The Kepler Mission, scheduled for launch in 2006, will use a spaceborne telescope to search for Earth-like planets around stars beyond our solar system. A key criterion for such suitable planets would be whether they reside in habitable zones, or regions sometimes protected by gas giants but with temperate climates and liquid water.
After Kepler, NASA is considering a 2009 launch for the Space Interferometry Mission (SIM). SIM's primary mission will be to measure distances to stars with 100 times greater precision than currently is possible. This will improve estimates of the size of the universe, and help determine the true brightness of stars, allowing us to learn more about their chemical compositions and evolutions. SIM also will look for Earth-sized planets in the habitable zones around some 200 stars.
SIM will be an interferometer, which means it will combine interacting light waves from three telescopes. This interaction, called interference, makes the individual telescopes act as though they were a single, larger telescope with greater light-gathering ability.
A. Vidal-Madjar, lead author of the discovery paper, J.-M. Désert, A. Lecavelier des Etangs, G. Hébrard (all from Institut d'Astrophysique de Paris, France), G. Ballester (University of Arizona, United States), D. Ehrenreich, R. Ferlet (both from Institut d'Astrophysique de Paris, CNRS, France), J. C. McConnell (York University, Toronto, Canada), M. Mayor (Geneve Observatory, Switzerland) and C.D. Parkinson (Caltech/JPL, USA).
NASA's Astrobiology Magazine
Osiris //; Ancient Greek: Ὄσιρις, also Usiris; the Egyptian language name is variously transliterated Asar, Asari, Aser, Ausar, Ausir, Wesir, Usir, Usire or Ausare) is an Egyptian god, usually identified as the god of the afterlife, the underworld and the dead. He is classically depicted as a green-skinned man with a pharaoh's beard, partially mummy-wrapped at the legs, wearing a distinctive crown with two large ostrich feathers at either side, and holding a symbolic crook and flail.
Osiris is at times considered the oldest son of the Earth god Geb, and the sky goddess Nut, as well as being brother and husband of Isis, with Horus being considered his posthumously begotten son. He is also associated with the epithet Khenti-Amentiu, which means "Foremost of the Westerners" — a reference to his kingship in the land of the dead. As ruler of the dead, Osiris is also sometimes called "king of the living", since the Ancient Egyptians considered the blessed dead "the living ones".
Osiris is first attested in the middle of the Fifth dynasty of Egypt, although it is likely that he is worshipped much earlier; the term Khenti-Amentiu dates to at least the first dynasty, also as a pharaonic title. Most information we have on the myths of Osiris is derived from allusions contained in the Pyramid Texts at the end of the Fifth Dynasty, later New Kingdom source documents such as the Shabaka Stone and the Contending of Horus and Seth, and, much later, in narrative style from the writings of Greek authors including Plutarch and Diodorus Siculus.
Osiris is not only a merciful judge of the dead in the afterlife, but also the underworld agency that granted all life, including sprouting vegetation and the fertile flooding of the Nile River. He is described as the "Lord of love", "He Who is Permanently Benign and Youthful" and the "Lord of Silence". The Kings of Egypt were associated with Osiris in death — as Osiris rose from the dead they would, in union with him, inherit eternal life through a process of imitative magic. By the New Kingdom all people, not just pharaohs, were believed to be associated with Osiris at death if they incurred the costs of the assimilation rituals.
Through the hope of new life after death Osiris began to be associated with the cycles observed in nature, in particular vegetation and the annual flooding of the Nile, through his links with Orion and Sirius at the start of the new year. Osiris was widely worshiped as Lord of the Dead until the suppression of the Egyptian religion during the Christian era.
Osiris is represented in his most developed form of iconography wearing the Atef crown, which is similar to the White crown of Upper Egypt, but with the addition of two curling ostrich feathers at each side (see also Atef crown (hieroglyph)). He also carries the crook and flail. The crook is thought to represent Osiris as a shepherd god. The symbolism of the flail is more uncertain with shepherds whip, fly-whisk, or association with the god Andjety of the ninth nome of Lower Egypt proposed.
He is commonly depicted as a green (the color of rebirth) or black (alluding to the fertility of the Nile floodplain) complexioned pharaoh, in mummiform (wearing the trappings of mummification from chest downward). He is also depicted although quite rarely as a lunar god with a crown encompassing the moon.
The Pyramid Texts describe early conceptions of an afterlife in terms of eternal travelling with the sun god amongst the stars. Amongst these mortuary texts, at the beginning of the 4th dynasty, is found: "An offering the king gives and Anubis". By the end of the 5th dynasty the formula in all tombs becomes "An offering the king gives and Osiris".
Osiris is the mythological father of the god Horus, whose conception is described in the Myth of Osiris and Isis, a central myth in ancient Egyptian belief. The myth described Osiris as having been killed by his brother Set who wanted Osiris' throne. Isis briefly brought Osiris back to life by use of a spell that she learned from her father. This spell gave her time to become pregnant by Osiris before he again died. Isis later gave birth to Horus. As such, since Horus is born after Osiris' resurrection, Horus became thought of as a representation of new beginnings and the vanquisher of the evil Set.
Ptah-Seker (who resulted from the identification of Ptah as Seker), who is god of re-incarnation, thus gradually became identified with Osiris, the two becoming Ptah-Seker-Osiris. As the sun is thought to spend the night in the underworld, and subsequently be re-incarnated, as both king of the underworld, and god of reincarnation,
Ptah-Seker-Osiris is identified.
Osiris' soul, or rather his Ba, is occasionally worshipped in its own right, almost as if it were a distinct god, especially so in the Delta city of Mendes. This aspect of Osiris is referred to as Banebdjedet, which is grammatically feminine (also spelt "Banebded" or "Banebdjed") which literally means The ba of the lord of the djed, which roughly means The soul of the lord of the pillar of stability. The djed, a type of pillar, is usually understood as the backbone of Osiris, and, at the same time, as the Nile, the backbone of Egypt.
The Nile, supplying water, and Osiris (strongly connected to the vegetation) who died only to be resurrected represented continuity and therefore stability. As Banebdjed, Osiris is given epithets such as Lord of the Sky and Life of the (sun god) Ra, since Ra, when he had become identified with Atum, is considered Osiris' ancestor, from whom his regal authority is inherited. Ba does not, however, quite mean soul in the western sense, and also has to do with power, reputation, force of character, especially in the case of a god.
Since the ba is associated with power, and also happened to be a word for ram in Egyptian, Banebdjed is depicted as a ram, or as Ram-headed. A living, sacred ram, is even kept at Mendes and worshipped as the incarnation of the god, and upon death, the rams were mummified and buried in a ram-specific necropolis. Banebdjed is consequently said to be Horus' father, as Banebdjed is an aspect of Osiris.
As regards the association of Osiris with the ram, the god's traditional crook and flail are of course the instruments of the shepherd, which has suggested to some scholars also an origin for Osiris in herding tribes of the upper Nile. The crook and flail were originally symbols of the minor agricultural deity Andjety, and passed to Osiris later. From Osiris, they eventually passed to Egyptian kings in general as symbols of divine authority.
ather of Horus
The cult of Osiris (who is a god chiefly of regeneration and re-birth) had a particularly strong interest toward the concept of immortality. Plutarch recounts one version of the myth in which Set (Osiris' brother), along with the Queen of Ethiopia, conspired with 72 accomplices to plot the assassination of Osiris. Set fooled Osiris into getting into a box, which Set then shut, sealed with lead, and threw into the Nile (sarcophagi were based on the box in this myth). Osiris' wife, Isis, searched for his remains until she finally found him embedded in a tree trunk, which was holding up the roof of a palace in Byblos on the Phoenician coast. She managed to remove the coffin and open it, but Osiris was already dead.
In one version of the myth, she used a spell learned from her father and brought him back to life so he could impregnate her. Afterwards he died again and she hid his body in the desert. Months later, she gave birth to Horus. While she raised Horus, Set was hunting one night and came across the body of Osiris.
Enraged, he tore the body into fourteen pieces and scattered them throughout the land. Isis gathered up all the parts of the body, less the phallus (which was eaten by a catfish) and bandaged them together for a proper burial. The gods were impressed by the devotion of Isis and resurrected Osiris as the god of the underworld. Because of his death and resurrection, Osiris is associated with the flooding and retreating of the Nile and thus with the crops along the Nile valley.
Diodorus Siculus gives another version of the myth in which Osiris is described as an ancient king who taught the Egyptians the arts of civilization, including agriculture. Osiris is murdered by his evil brother Set, whom Diodorus associates with the evil Typhon ("Typhonian Beast") of Greek mythology. Typhon divides the body into twenty six pieces which he distributes amongst his fellow conspirators in order to implicate them in the murder. Isis and Horus avenge the death of Osiris and slay Typhon. Isis recovers all the parts of Osiris body, less the phallus, and secretly buries them. She made replicas of them and distributed them to several locations which then became centres of Osiris worship.
The tale of Osiris becoming fish-like is cognate with the story the Greek shepherd god Pan becoming fish like from the waist down in the same river Nile after being attacked by Typhon (see Capricornus). This attack is part of a generational feud in which both Zeus and Dionysus were dismembered by Typhon, in a similar manner as Osiris is by Set in Egypt.
Plutarch and others have noted that the sacrifices to Osiris were "gloomy, solemn, and mournful..." (Isis and Osiris, 69) and that the great mystery festival, celebrated in two phases, began at Abydos on the 17th of Athyr (November 13) commemorating the death of the god, which is also the same day that grain is planted in the ground. "The death of the grain and the death of the god were one and the same: the cereal is identified with the god who came from heaven; he is the bread by which man lives. The resurrection of the god symbolized the rebirth of the grain." (Larson 17) The annual festival involved the construction of "Osiris Beds" formed in shape of Osiris, filled with soil and sown with seed. The germinating seed symbolized Osiris rising from the dead. An almost pristine example is found in the tomb of Tutankhamun by Howard Carter.
The first phase of the festival is a public drama depicting the murder and dismemberment of Osiris, the search of his body by Isis, his triumphal return as the resurrected god, and the battle in which Horus defeated Set. This is all presented by skilled actors as a literary history, and is the main method of recruiting cult membership. According to Julius Firmicus Maternus of the fourth century, this play is re-enacted each year by worshippers who "beat their breasts and gashed their shoulders.... When they pretend that the mutilated remains of the god have been found and rejoined...they turn from mourning to rejoicing." (De Errore Profanorum).
The passion of Osiris is reflected in his name 'Wenennefer" ("the one who continues to be perfect"), which also alludes to his post mortem power.
Parts of this Osirian mythology have prompted comparisons with later Christian beliefs and practices.
Biblical scholar Bruce M. Metzger notes that in one account of the Osirian cycle he dies on the 17th of the month of Athyr (approximating to a month between October 28 and November 26 in modern calendars), is revivified on the 19th and compares this to Christ rising on the "third day" but he thinks "resurrection" is a questionable description.
Egyptologist Erik Hornung observes that Egyptian Christians continued to mummify corpses (an integral part of the Osirian beliefs) until it finally came to an end with the arrival of Islam and argues for an association between the passion of Jesus and Osirian traditions, particularly in the apocryphal gospel of Nicodemus and Christ's descent into Hades. He concludes that whilst Christianity rejected anything "pagan" it did so only at a superficial level and that early Christianity is "deeply indebted" to Ancient Egypt."
David J. MacLeod argues that the resurrection of Osiris differs from Jesus Christ, saying:
A. J. M. Wedderburn further argues that resurrection in Ancient Egypt differs from the "very negative features" in Judaeo-Christian tradition, as the Ancient Egyptians conceived of the afterlife as entry into the glorious kingdom of Osiris.
Marvin Mayer notes that some scholars regard the idea of dying and rising deities in the mystery religions as being fanciful but suggests this may be motivated by apologetic concerns, attempting to keep Christ's resurrection as a unique event. In contrast he argues that the ancient story of dying and rising in the divine, human and crops, (with Osiris as an example), is vindicated and reaches a conclusion in Christianity.
Much of the extant information about the Passion of Osiris can be found on the Ikhernofret Stela at Abydos erected in the 12th Dynasty by Ikhernofret (also I-Kher-Nefert), possibly a priest of Osiris or other official during the reign of Senwosret III (Pharaoh Sesostris, about 1875 BC). The Passion Plays were held in the last month of the inundation (the annual Nile flood), coinciding with Spring, and held at Abydos/Abedjou which is the traditional place where the body of Osiris/Wesir drifted ashore after having been drowned in the Nile.
The part of the myth recounting the chopping up of the body into 14 pieces by Set is not recounted in this particular stela. Although it is attested to be a part of the rituals by a version of the Papyrus Jumilhac, in which it took Isis 12 days to reassemble the pieces, coinciding with the festival of ploughing. Some elements of the ceremony were held in the temple, while others involved public participation in a form of theatre. The Stela of I-Kher-Nefert recounts the programme of events of the public elements over the five days of the Festival:
Contrasting with the public "theatrical" ceremonies sourced from the I-Kher-Nefert stele, more esoteric ceremonies were performed inside the temples by priests witnessed only by chosen initiates. Plutarch mentions that two days after the beginning of the festival "the priests bring forth sacred chest containing a small golden coffer, into which they pour some potable water...and a great shout arises from the company for joy that Osiris is found (or resurrected). Then they knead some fertile soil with the water...and fashion therefrom a crescent-shaped figure, which they cloth and adorn, this indicating that they regard these gods as the substance of Earth and Water." (Isis and Osiris, 39). Yet even his accounts were still obscure for he also wrote, "I pass over the cutting of the wood" opting not to describe it since he considered it as a most sacred ritual (Ibid. 21).
In the Osirian temple at Denderah, an inscription (translated by Budge, Chapter XV, Osiris and the Egyptian Resurrection) describes in detail the making of wheat paste models of each dismembered piece of Osiris to be sent out to the town where each piece is discovered by Isis. At the temple of Mendes, figures of Osiris are made from wheat and paste placed in a trough on the day of the murder, then water is added for several days, until finally the mixture is kneaded into a mold of Osiris and taken to the temple to be buried (the sacred grain for these cakes were grown only in the temple fields). Molds were made from the wood of a red tree in the forms of the sixteen dismembered parts of Osiris, the cakes of 'divine' bread were made from each mold, placed in a silver chest and set near the head of the god with the inward parts of Osiris as described in the Book of the Dead (XVII).
On the first day of the Festival of Ploughing, where the goddess Isis appears in her shrine where she is stripped naked, paste made from the grain were placed in her bed and moistened with water, representing the fecund earth. All of these sacred rituals were climaxed by the eating of sacramental god, the eucharist by which the celebrants were transformed, in their persuasion, into replicas of their god-man (Larson 20).
Judgment scene from the Book of the Dead. In the three scenes from the Book of the Dead (version from ~1375 B.C.) the dead man (Hunefer) is taken into the judgement hall by the jackal-headed Anubis. The next scene is the weighing of his heart against the feather of Ma'at, with Ammut waiting the result, and Thoth recording. Next, the triumphant Henefer, having passed the test, is presented by the falcon-headed Horus to Osiris, seated in his shrine with Isis and Nephthys. (British Museum)ment
The idea of divine justice being exercised after death for wrong-doing during life is first encountered during the Old Kingdom in a 6th dynasty tomb containing fragments of what would be described later as the Negative Confessions]
With the rise of the cult of Osiris during the Middle Kingdom the “democratization of religion” offered to even his most humblest followers the prospect of eternal life, with moral fitness becoming the dominant factor in determining a person's suitability.
At death a person faced judgment by a tribunal of forty-two divine judges. If they led a life in conformance with the precepts of the Goddess Ma'at, who represented truth and right living, the person is welcomed into the kingdom of Osiris. If found guilty the person is thrown to a "devourer" and didn't share in eternal life.
The person who is taken by the devourer is subject first to terrifying punishment and then annihilated. These depictions of punishment may have influenced medieval perceptions of the inferno in hell via early Christian and Coptic texts.
Purification for those who are considered justified may be found in the descriptions of "Flame Island", where they experience the triumph over evil and rebirth. For the damned complete destruction into a state of non being awaits but there is no suggestion of eternal torture.
Divine pardon at judgement is always a central concern for the Ancient Egyptians.
Eventually, in Egypt, the Hellenic pharaohs decided to produce a deity that would be acceptable to both the local Egyptian population, and the influx of Hellenic visitors, to bring the two groups together, rather than allow a source of rebellion to grow. Thus Osiris is identified explicitly with Apis, really an aspect of Ptah, who had already been identified as Osiris by this point, and a syncretism of the two is created, known as Serapis, and depicted as a standard Greek god.
 Destruction of cultPHILEA, ASWAN, EGYPT IN 2004
The cult of Osiris continued up until the 6th century AD on the
Philae in Upper Nile. The
Theodosian decree (in about 380 AD) to destroy all pagan temples is
not enforced there. The worship of Isis and Osiris is allowed to
continue at Philae until the time of
Justinian. This toleration is due to an old treaty made between the
Diocletian. Every year they visited Elephantine and at certain
intervals took the image of Isis up river to the land of the Blemyes for
oracular purposes before returning it. Justinian would not tolerate
this and sent
to destroy the sanctuaries, with the priests being arrested and the
divine images taken to Constantinople.
Egyptian hieroglyphs // HYR-o-GLIF, //) HY-roh-GLIF) were a formal writing system used by the ancient Egyptians that combined logographic and alphabetic elements. Egyptians used cursive hieroglyphs for religious literature on papyrus and wood. Less formal variations of the script, called hieratic and demotic, are technically not hieroglyphs.
Various scholars believe that Egyptian hieroglyphs "came into existence a little after Sumerian script, and ... probably [were]... invented under the influence of the latter ...", although it is pointed out and held that "the evidence for such direct influence remains flimsy” and that “a very credible argument can also be made for the independent development of writing in Egypt..." (See further History of writing).
The word hieroglyph comes from the Greek adjective ἱερογλυφικός (hieroglyphikos), a compound of ἱερός (hierós 'sacred') and γλύφω (glýphō 'Ι carve, engrave'; see glyph), in turn a loan translation of Egyptian mdw·w-nṯr (medu-netjer) 'god's words'. The glyphs themselves were called τὰ ἱερογλυφικὰ γράμματα (tà hieroglyphikà grámmata) 'the sacred engraved letters'. The word hieroglyph has become a noun in English, standing for an individual hieroglyphic character. As used in the previous sentence, the word hieroglyphic is an adjective, but is often erroneously used as a noun in place of hieroglyph.
Hieroglyphs emerged from the preliterate artistic traditions of Egypt. For example, symbols on Gerzean pottery from ca. 4000 BCE resemble hieroglyphic writing. For many years the earliest known hieroglyphic inscription was the Narmer Palette, found during excavations at Hierakonpolis (modern Kawm al-Ahmar) in the 1890s, which has been dated to ca. 3200 BCE. However, in 1998, a German archaeological team under Günter Dreyer excavating at Abydos (modern Umm el-Qa'ab) uncovered tomb U-j of a Predynastic ruler, and recovered three hundred clay labels inscribed with proto-hieroglyphs, dating to the Naqada IIIA period of the 33rd century BCE. The first full sentence written in hieroglyphs so far discovered was found on a seal impression found in the tomb of Seth-Peribsen at Umm el-Qa'ab, which dates from the Second Dynasty. In the era of the Old Kingdom, the Middle Kingdom and the New Kingdom, about 800 hieroglyphs existed. By the Greco-Roman period, they numbered more than 5,000.
Scholars generally believe that Egyptian hieroglyphs “came into existence a little after Sumerian script, and, probably [were], invented under the influence of the latter ...” For example, it has been stated that it is "probable that the general idea of expressing words of a language in writing was brought to Egypt from Sumerian Mesopotamia.” On the other hand, it has been stated that “the evidence for such direct influence remains flimsy” and that “a very credible argument can also be made for the independent development of writing in Egypt...” Given the lack of direct evidence, “no definitive determination has been made as to the origin of hieroglyphics in ancient Egypt.” In 1999, Archaeology Magazine reported that the earliest Egyptian glyphs date back to 3400 BCE which "...challenge the commonly held belief that early logographs, pictographic symbols representing a specific place, object, or quantity, first evolved into more complex phonetic symbols in Mesopotamia."
Hieroglyphs consist of three kinds of glyphs: phonetic glyphs, including single-consonant characters that function like an alphabet; logographs, representing morphemes; and determinatives, which narrow down the meaning of logographic or phonetic words.
As writing developed and became more widespread among the Egyptian people, simplified glyph forms developed, resulting in the hieratic (priestly) and demotic (popular) scripts. These variants were also more suited than hieroglyphs for use on papyrus. Hieroglyphic writing was not, however, eclipsed, but existed alongside the other forms, especially in monumental and other formal writing. The Rosetta Stone contains three parallel scripts – hieroglyphic, demotic, and Greek.
Hieroglyphs continued to be used under Persian rule (intermittent in the 6th and 5th centuries BCE), and after Alexander the Great's conquest of Egypt, during the ensuing Macedonian and Roman periods. It appears that the misleading quality of comments from Greek and Roman writers about hieroglyphs came about, at least in part, as a response to the changed political situation. Some believe that hieroglyphs may have functioned as a way to distinguish 'true Egyptians' from some of the foreign conquerors. Another reason may be the refusal to tackle a foreign culture on its own terms which characterized Greco-Roman approaches to Egyptian culture generally. Having learned that hieroglyphs were sacred writing, Greco-Roman authors imagined the complex but rational system as an allegorical, even magical, system transmitting secret, mystical knowledge.
By the 4th century, few Egyptians were capable of reading hieroglyphs, and the myth of allegorical hieroglyphs was ascendant. Monumental use of hieroglyphs ceased after the closing of all non-Christian temples in 391 CE by the Roman Emperor Theodosius I; the last known inscription is from Philae, known as The Graffito of Esmet-Akhom, from 394 CE.
Decipherment of Egyptian hieroglyphic writing
As active knowledge of the hieroglyphs and the related scripts disappeared, numerous attempts were made to decipher the hidden meaning of the ubiquitous inscriptions. The best known examples from Antiquity are the Hieroglyphica (dating to about the 5th century) by Horapollo, which offer an explanation of almost 200 glyphs. Horapollo seems to have had access to some genuine knowledge about the hieroglyphs as some words are identified correctly, although the explanations given are invariably wrong (the goose character used to write the word for 'son', z3, for example, is identified correctly, but explained wrongly to have been chosen because the goose loves his offspring the most while the real reason seems to have been purely phonetic). The Hieroglyphica thus represent the start of more than a millennium of (mis)interpreting the hieroglyphs as symbolic rather than phonetic writing.
In the 9th and 10th century CE, Arab historians Dhul-Nun al-Misri and Ibn Wahshiyya offered their interpretation of the hieroglyphs. In his 1806 English translation of Ibn Wahshiyya's work, Joseph Hammer points out that Athanasius Kircher used this along with several other Arabic works in his 17th century attempts at decipherment.
Kircher's interpretation of the hieroglyphs is probably the best known early modern European attempt at 'decipherment', not least for the fantastic nature of his claims. Another early attempt at translation was made by Johannes Goropius Becanus in the 16th century.
Like other interpretations before it, Kircher's 'translations' were hampered by the fundamental notion that hieroglyphs recorded ideas and not the sounds of the language. As no bilingual texts were available, any such symbolic 'translation' could be proposed without the possibility of verification. Kircher further developed the notion that the last stage of Egyptian could be related to the earlier Egyptian stages.
The real breakthrough in decipherment began with the discovery of the Rosetta Stone by Napoleon's troops in 1799 (during Napoleon's Egyptian invasion). As the stone presented a hieroglyphic and a demotic version of the same text in parallel with a Greek translation, plenty of material for falsifiable studies in translation was suddenly available. In the early 19th century, scholars such as Silvestre de Sacy, Johan David Åkerblad, and Thomas Young studied the inscriptions on the stone, and were able to make some headway. Finally, Jean-François Champollion made the complete decipherment by the 1820s:
Hieroglyphs survive today in two forms: directly, through half a dozen Demotic glyphs added to the Greek alphabet when writing Coptic; and indirectly, as the inspiration for the original alphabet that was ancestral to nearly every other alphabet ever used, including the Roman alphabet.
Visually hieroglyphs are all more or less figurative: they represent real or illusional elements, sometimes stylized and simplified, but all generally perfectly recognizable in form. However, the same sign can, according to context, be interpreted in diverse ways: as a phonogram (phonetic reading), as a logogram, or as an ideogram (semagram; "determinative") (semantic reading). The determinative was not read as a phonetic constituent, but facilitated understanding by differentiating the word from its homophones.
Most non-determinative hieroglyphic signs are phonetic in nature, meaning the sign is read independent of its visual characteristics (according to the rebus principle where, for example, the picture of an eye could stand for the English words eye and I [the first person pronoun]). This picture of an eye is called a phonogram of word, 'I'.
Twenty-four uniliteral signs make up the so-called hieroglyphic alphabet. Egyptian hieroglyphic writing does not normally indicate vowels, unlike cuneiform, and for that reason has been labelled by some an abjad alphabet, i.e., an alphabet without vowels.
Thus, hieroglyphic writing representing a pintail duck is read in Egyptian as sꜣ, derived from the main consonants of the Egyptian word for this duck: 's', 'ꜣ' and 't'. (Note that ꜣ (, two half-rings opening to the left), sometimes substituted with the numeral '3', is the Egyptian ayin).
It is also possible to use the hieroglyph of the Pintail Duck without a link to its meaning in order to represent the two phonemes s and ꜣ, independently of any vowels which could accompany these consonants, and in this way write the word: sꜣ, "son," or when complemented by the context other signs detailed further in the text, sꜣ, "keep, watch"; and sꜣṯ.w, "hard ground"
– the character sꜣ as used in the word sꜣw, "keep, watch"
As in the Arabic script, not all vowels were written in Egyptian hieroglyphs; it is debatable whether vowels were written at all. Possibly, as with Arabic, the semivowels /w/ and /j/ (as in English W and Y) could double as the vowels /u/ and /i/. In modern transcriptions, an e is added between consonants to aid in their pronunciation. For example, nfr "good" is typically written nefer. This does not reflect Egyptian vowels, which are obscure, but is merely a modern convention. Likewise, the ꜣ and ʾ are commonly transliterated as a, as in Ra.
Hieroglyphs are written from right to left, from left to right, or from top to bottom, the usual direction being from right to left (although for convenience modern texts are often normalized into left-to-right order). The reader must consider the direction in which the asymmetrical hieroglyphs are turned in order to determine the proper reading order. For example, when human and animal hieroglyphs face to the left (i.e., they look left), they must be read from left to right, and vice versa, the idea being that the hieroglyphs face the beginning of the line.
As in many ancient writing systems, words are not separated by blanks or by punctuation marks. However, certain hieroglyphs appear particularly common only at the end of words making it possible to readily distinguish words.
The Egyptian hieroglyphic script contained 24 uniliterals (symbols that stood for single consonants, much like letters in English). It would have been possible to write all Egyptian words in the manner of these signs, but the Egyptians never did so and never simplified their complex writing into a true alphabet.
Each uniliteral glyph once had a unique reading, but several of these fell together as Old Egyptian developed into Middle Egyptian. For example, the folded-cloth glyph seems to have been originally an /s/ and the door-bolt glyph a /θ/ sound, but these both came to be pronounced /s/, as the /θ/ sound was lost. A few uniliterals first appear in Middle Egyptian texts.
Besides the uniliteral glyphs, there are also the biliteral and triliteral signs, to represent a specific sequence of two or three consonants, consonants and vowels, and a few as vowel combinations only, in the language.
 Phonetic complements
Egyptian writing is often redundant: in fact, it happens very frequently that a word might follow several characters writing the same sounds, in order to guide the reader. For example, the word nfr, "beautiful, good, perfect", was written with a unique triliteral which was read as nfr :
However, it is considerably more common to add, to that triliteral, the uniliterals for f and r. The word can thus be written as nfr+f+r but one reads it merely as nfr. The two alphabetic characters are adding clarity to the spelling of the preceding triliteral hieroglyph.
Redundant characters accompanying biliteral or triliteral signs are called phonetic complements (or complementaries). They can be placed in front of the sign (rarely), after the sign (as a general rule), or even framing it (appearing both before and after). Ancient Egyptian scribes consistently avoided leaving large areas of blank space in their writing, and might add additional phonetic complements or sometimes even invert the order of signs if this would result in a more aesthetically pleasing appearance (good scribes attended to the artistic (and even religious) aspects of the hieroglyphs, and would not simply view them as a communication tool). Various examples of the use of phonetic complements can be seen below:
Finally, it sometimes happens that the pronunciation of words might be changed because of their connection to Ancient Egyptian: in this case, it is not rare for writing to adopt a compromise in notation, the two readings being indicated jointly. For example, the adjective bnj, "sweet" became bnr. Semantic reading
Besides a phonetic interpretation, characters can also be read for their meaning: in this instance logograms are being spoken (or ideograms) and semagrams (the latter are also called determinative).
A hieroglyph used as a logogram defines the object of which it is an image. Logograms are therefore the most frequently used common nouns; they are always accompanied by a mute vertical stroke indicating their status as a logogram (the usage of a vertical stroke is further explained below); in theory, all hieroglyphs would have the ability to be used as logograms. Logograms can be accompanied by phonetic complements.
Those are just a few examples from the nearly 5000 hieroglyphic symbols.
Determinatives or semagrams (semantic symbols specifying meaning) are placed at the end of a word. These mute characters serve to clarify what the word is about, as homophonic glyphs are common. If a similar procedure existed in English, words with the same spelling would be followed by an indicator which would not be read but which would fine-tune the meaning: "retort [chemistry]" and retort [rhetoric]" would thus be distinguished.
A number of determinatives exist: divinities, humans, parts of the human body, animals, plants, etc. Certain determinatives possess a literal and a figurative meaning. For example, a roll of papyrus,
Some signs are the contraction of several others. These signs have, however, a function and existence of their own: for example, a forearm where the hand holds a scepter is used as a determinative for words meaning "to direct, to drive" and their derivatives. Doubling
The doubling of a sign indicates its dual; the tripling of a sign indicates its plural.
Standard orthography—"correct" spelling—in Egyptian is much looser than in modern languages. In fact, one or several variants exist for almost ever
owever, many of these apparent spelling errors constitute an issue of chronology. Spelling and standards have varied over time, so the writing of a word during the Old Kingdom might be considerably different during the New Kingdom. Furthermore, the Egyptians were perfectly content to include older orthography ("historical spelling") alongside newer practices, as though it were acceptable in English to use archaic spellings in modern texts. Most often, ancient "spelling errors" are simply misinterpretations of context. Today, hieroglyphicists use numerous catologuing systems (notably the Manuel de Codage and Gardiner's Sign List) to clarify the presence of determinatives, ideograms, and other ambiguous signs in transliteration.
Here the 'house' glyph stands for the consonants pr. The 'mouth' glyph below it is a phonetic complement: it is read as r, reinforcing the phonetic reading of pr. The third hieroglyph is a determinative: it is an
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