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The cult of the God Re in the Old Kingdom

 
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anneke
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 24, 2005 10:38 pm    Post subject: The cult of the God Re in the Old Kingdom Reply with quote

The fifth dynasty saw the rise of special sun temples built in addition to the pyramid complexes. These sun temples were dedicated to the sun god Re.
From what I’ve read these sun temples were located near the pyramid complexes, but were separate. This temple consisted of a valley temple (near the water) linked by a causeway to an upper temple where a huge obelisk called the benben was located. (The benben was located roughly where, in the pyramid complex, we would find the pyramid.)

I know that Re was worshipped before that, but did this god become more important?
Anyone know anything more about the increased worship of Re?

I did notice that in the 6th dynasty the famous Viziers Mereruka and Kagemni were also high priests of Re. Pepy I changed his name from Nefersahor to Meryre.
Evidence of more changes in power wrt the priesthood????
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 25, 2005 2:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The sun god Re was the preeminent diety of the Old Kingdom. Naturally he remained one of the greatest gods throughout the Egyptian civilization, but the rise of the cult of Osiris beginning in the First Intermediate Period gave Re a real competitor. Re was indicative of nobility and royalty, and therefore of paramount importance in the worship practiced by king and court, but I don't see him functioning at the same level of importance to the common man.

An interesting theory about the development of the sun temples of the 5th and 6th dynasties relates to the locations where the pharaohs who built them had to raise their pyramids. Older pyramids (though not universally so) were erected within line of sight of the great Heliopolis temple district, the focus of the worship of Re. Known as Iunu by the Egyptians, this was the most important temple throughout the entire Old Kingdom, and it is felt pyramids were associated with this temple precinct. The massive obelisks of the later sun temples, so the theory goes, figuratively associated these sites (and the kings who built them) with Heliopolis--Egyptologists believe the temple at Heliopolis was focused around a similar obelisk topped by a golden or gold-plated benben. It's hard to be certain because almost nothing of the great Iunu temple survives, buried as it is under the outskirts of modern Cairo.

You provided examples of royal and court names incorporating Re; this always lends strong evidence to the cult of the sun god. We can go all the way back to the 2nd Dynasty and find the first pharaoh including Re in his name: Nebre ("Lord of Re" or "Re Is Lord"). The eldest son of Khufu, the 4th Dyansty Djedefre, was the first pharaoh to use the term s3-r' ("son of Re") in his royal titles, a convention that would soon catch on and be followed by most pharaohs throughout the dynastic period.

Re's heyday was the Old Kingdom. He would always be very important in the Egyptian pantheon of gods and goddesses, but other gods like Osiris and Amun would detract from his status later on.
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anneke
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 25, 2005 3:02 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

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An interesting theory about the development of the sun temples of the 5th and 6th dynasties relates to the locations where the pharaohs who built them had to raise their pyramids. Older pyramids (though not universally so) were erected within line of sight of the great Heliopolis temple district, the focus of the worship of Re. Known as Iunu by the Egyptians, this was the most important temple throughout the entire Old Kingdom, and it is felt pyramids were associated with this temple precinct. The massive obelisks of the later sun temples, so the theory goes, figuratively associated these sites (and the kings who built them) with Heliopolis--Egyptologists believe the temple at Heliopolis was focused around a similar obelisk topped by a golden or gold-plated benben.


That's an interesting theory. Somehow makes sense too.

I did find it interesting that the sun temples I saw on a map were lined up somewhat down river (or up river, don't know which way the river went) from the pyramid complexes.

Although one might expect that one new suntemple, maybe expanded and kept up by others, would be enough to associate the burial sites with the worship of Re.

I read that there were a total of at least 5 of these temples built, although not all of these have been found.
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 25, 2005 3:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

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Although one might expect that one new suntemple, maybe expanded and kept up by others, would be enough to associate the burial sites with the worship of Re.


These were essentially extensions of each pharaoh's mortuary cult, traditionally practiced before in the temples attached to the pyramids. So it makes sense that each of these kings erected a sun temple for himself, because each wanted to be remembered as greater than the one before! A lot of valuable stuff has been excavated from the ruins of two sun temples that provides crucial information on the day-to-day activities in the mortuary cults.

Texts of the Old Kingdom tell us there were at least six sun temples, but to my knowledge only two have actually been found: that of Userkaf's near Abusir, and Niuserre's at Abu Ghurob (the better surviving of the two).
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 25, 2005 3:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

There's not too much left of these sun temples. My book about temples has a plan of the temple complex.

I just noticed that a solar boat is indicated on the south side of the temple. Did they actually bury a boat there, like with the pyramid in Giza?

There are also slaughterhouses indicated. Did they sacrifice animals? And raise them on the grounds of the complex?
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 26, 2005 6:05 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

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I just noticed that a solar boat is indicated on the south side of the temple. Did they actually bury a boat there, like with the pyramid in Giza?

There are also slaughterhouses indicated. Did they sacrifice animals? And raise them on the grounds of the complex?


I don't know of any boat ever excavated at the two existing ruins of sun temples. However, the simulacrum (fascimile) of a solar barque was positioned just to the south of the sun temple of Niuserre.

As for the slaughterhouse, Lehner strongly believes one must have existed in the sun temple of Userkaf. There was definitely such a feature--called the Sanctuary of the Knife--in the unfinished pyramid complex of Raneferef, and in his book The Complete Pyramids Lehner explains the similarities in certain designs with Userkaf's sun temple.

Though only two of at least six sun temples have been found, from period texts and reliefs we know they all existed and we even have names for them. Sahure's sun temple was called "Field of Re," Neferirkare's was called "Place of Re's Pleasure" (one can't help but rename it "Re's Pleasure Palace" Laughing ), Raneferef's was "Re's Offering Table," Menkauhor's was "The Horizon of Re," Userkaf's was "Stronghold of Re," and Niuserre's was called "Delight of Re." If nothing else these names bring us back to the reason you began this thread: the clear prominence of the sun god Re in the Old Kingdom.
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 26, 2005 3:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
I don't know of any boat ever excavated at the two existing ruins of sun temples. However, the simulacrum (fascimile) of a solar barque was positioned just to the south of the sun temple of Niuserre.


That must be the structure on the map I saw then. It was a fair size structure. Any idea how it was used?
My guess would be that they used it in processions and rituals?

Quote:
As for the slaughterhouse, Lehner strongly believes one must have existed in the sun temple of Userkaf. There was definitely such a feature--called the Sanctuary of the Knife--in the unfinished pyramid complex of Raneferef, and in his book The Complete Pyramids Lehner explains the similarities in certain designs with Userkaf's sun temple.

Should we picture a type of kitchen here, or a place where sacrifices were held?

That just made me wonder. These temples were fairly self reliant weren't they? There must have been things like a kitchen and sleeping quarters? Or did the priests live somewhere nearby?

Quote:
Neferirkare's was called "Place of Re's Pleasure" (one can't help but rename it "Re's Pleasure Palace" Laughing )

LOL You really shouln't plant ideas like that in my poor little brain....
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 27, 2005 12:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

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That must be the structure on the map I saw then. It was a fair size structure. Any idea how it was used?
My guess would be that they used it in processions and rituals?


I don't think this feature was at all mobile. I think it was more like you said: it was ritual in nature. In that regard it served the same purpose of, say, the real boats buried at Giza or Abydos, to allow the royals to accompany Re in his procession as he towed the sun through the sky.

Quote:
That just made me wonder. These temples were fairly self reliant weren't they? There must have been things like a kitchen and sleeping quarters? Or did the priests live somewhere nearby?


I don't think anyone actually lived within these temples, not like in New Kingdom times with their massive temple precincts. As for the sacrifices, most likely there was a separate area for the slaughtering, and then the sacrifices could be brought to the place of offering; the former would not have been considered ritually pure, while the latter was the sacrosanct location for the performance of ritual.

Quote:
LOL You really shouln't plant ideas like that in my poor little brain....


What else am I to do? They're already in my brain, and I need some kind of outlet! Surprised
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 28, 2005 12:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
I don't think this feature was at all mobile. I think it was more like you said: it was ritual in nature. In that regard it served the same purpose of, say, the real boats buried at Giza or Abydos, to allow the royals to accompany Re in his procession as he towed the sun through the sky.


I was thinking of a small boat stored at the site that would be carried around in processions. Or from that site to the main temple on certain days. I'm just guessing Very Happy
But your idea could just as easily be true.

Quote:
I don't think anyone actually lived within these temples, not like in New Kingdom times with their massive temple precincts.

Then there shouls be villages / cities nearby. I did read something about cities like that somewhere. The 'recall' button on my brain doesn't work right now Confused Can't remember where I saw that.
There was a description of such a town including some descriptions of nice villas they found.
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 28, 2005 2:18 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I don't recall the specific names of the towns, but they tended to rise up around pyramid or temple sites. The people who worked at the temples lived in these settlements, as did the people who supported the logistics of the temples. There's a great deal of excavation yet to be done in this regard. After all, it was only relatively recently that archaeologists began finding traces of the villages that grew around the pyramids and temples of the Giza Plateau.
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