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Lower as in UNDER-world?

 
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fi11222
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 19, 2013 10:46 pm    Post subject: Lower as in UNDER-world? Reply with quote

This is a question about the pschent (the double crown) and what it represents.

The usual explanation is that the red crown represent lower (northern) Egypt, while the white one represents upper (southern) Egypt.

I wonder whether the "lower" country that is associated with the red crown could not be interpreted in certain cases (originally ?) as refering to the underworld (lower = under ?). The white crown could then be understood to refer to the realm of the living (upper = above ground ?).

This might explain why there are so few traces of a "conquest" of the north by the south at the end of the PD period.

Also, in the pyramid texts there are passages (spells 220, 221) saying that Pharaoh is obeyed both by the living and by the spirits. Apparently, there is some controversy about whether these statements apply to the living Pharaoh or only to the osirified dead one. Apparently, the former interpretation though still held by a minority is currently gaining ground.

Has anyone heard about something along those lines?

Thanks in advance.
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 20, 2013 3:24 pm    Post subject: Re: Lower as in UNDER-world? Reply with quote

fi11222 wrote:
This is a question about the pschent (the double crown) and what it represents.

The usual explanation is that the red crown represent lower (northern) Egypt, while the white one represents upper (southern) Egypt. ...


(Walter Wreszinski : Atlas zur Altaegyptischen Kulturgeschichte 1 - 3. - Leipzig : Hinrichs, 1923-42. - 2: Tf. 184)

This, as you call it, "usual explanation" is justified in an outstanding way (besides countless other illustrations and text sources) in the above drawings of a representation of Ramses II in his temple at Abu Simbel. The representations are located on the inner wall of the exit, the left one on the northern and the right one on the southern side. Note the different representation of the Double Crown: on the northern wall (Lower Egypt) dominates the Red the White, on the southern wall it is just the opposite. The White Crown is drawn over the Red.

fi11222 wrote:
... I wonder whether the "lower" country that is associated with the red crown could not be interpreted in certain cases (originally ?) as refering to the underworld (lower = under ?). The white crown could then be understood to refer to the realm of the living (upper = above ground ?). ...

For such an interpretation lacks to my knowledge any foundation. There is neither pictorial nor in textual documents any hints in this direction. The assignment of the Red Crown to Lower Egypt is, by the way, secondary. Originally it was the crown of the ruler of Nubt / Kom Ombo where her earliest document on a pottery shard from predynastic Naqada-time was found. After the union of two Upper Egyptian domination areas (Nubt and Hieraconpolis) the two crowns come to one Upper Egyptian ruler. Probably (until today) the first time that this crown is connected with Lower Egypt as part of the Double Crown was in the reign of the 5th King of the 1st Dynasty, Dewen (Den). He is the first using the title "nesu-bit" (usually translated as "King of Upper and Lower Egypt") and wearing the Double Crown.

For the meaning of the crowns, especially in the texts for the afterlife (also PT interpretation) see Katja Goebs : Crowns in Egyptian Funerary Literature - Royalty, Rebirth and Destruction. - Oxford : Griffith Institute, 2008.

Greetings, Lutz.
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 20, 2013 7:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Lutz. Thanks a lot for your detailed answer.

As I said in my introductory post, I am new to Egyptology. I guess that I was probably driven to ask this question because of two books I read recently: An history of Ancient Egypt by John Romer and Shamanic Wisdom in the Pyramid Texts by Jeremy Naydler.

I found the first book, in particular, very interesting. It focuses on the early part of Egyptian history (pre-Naqada to the great pyramids) and attempts to reconstruct the process of cultural transformation that led to the emergence of the Pharaonic system.

Apparently, it is not obvious that there ever was a "union of lower and upper Egypt" as traditional egyptology take for granted. There are apparently no archeological traces of such an event and this idea of a "union" seems to be currently losing ground among egyptologists (according to John Romer).

After reading your answer and thinking about it a little, I have the following new questions:
- Is there indubitable textual evidence linking the crowns to their assumed geographical domains? (like a text saying: "this is the crown of the lands laying south of Memphis" written under a picture of the white crown or something similar).
- What is the litteral meaning of "nesu-bit"? Doesn't it mean "Lord of the two lands" ?
- Is it possible that the meaning of the crowns changed over time? For example, in the Old Kingdom they might have had a chiefly religious meaning (land of the living / underworld) while later on the meaning changed to something more political (north / south) ?

One reason I am thinking along those lines is by analogy to the god Set. Apparently, in older periods, his function was mostly religious. He was a god of chaos and illegitimacy, in contrast to Horus, the legitimate ruler who follows Maat. But in later periods he apparently became a god of foreigners, associated with the "easterners" (Canaanites, nomads, ...) apparently because of his earlier association with the desert (desert = chaos). Is it possible that the meaning of the crowns might have undergone a similar evolution?
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 21, 2013 5:15 am    Post subject: Re: Lower as in UNDER-world? Reply with quote

Lutz wrote:
fi11222 wrote:
This is a question about the pschent (the double crown) and what it represents.

The usual explanation is that the red crown represent lower (northern) Egypt, while the white one represents upper (southern) Egypt. ...


(Walter Wreszinski : Atlas zur Altaegyptischen Kulturgeschichte 1 - 3. - Leipzig : Hinrichs, 1923-42. - 2: Tf. 184)
Note the different representation of the Double Crown: on the northern wall (Lower Egypt) dominates the Red the White, on the southern wall it is just the opposite. The White Crown is drawn over the Red.


It's interesting that the daughters are associated to the North and the sons with the South. I winder if there are other symbolic assumptions associated with it.
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 21, 2013 12:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

fi11222 wrote:
... An history of Ancient Egypt by John Romer ... I found the first book, in particular, very interesting. It focuses on the early part of Egyptian history (pre-Naqada to the great pyramids) and attempts to reconstruct the process of cultural transformation that led to the emergence of the Pharaonic system.
Apparently, it is not obvious that there ever was a "union of lower and upper Egypt" as traditional egyptology take for granted. There are apparently no archeological traces of such an event and this idea of a "union" seems to be currently losing ground among egyptologists (according to John Romer). ...

The idea of ​​an association by a sudden conquest probably resulted mainly from the illustrations on the Narmer Palette from Hieraconpolis. This idea has always been controversial, and I personally think the idea of Romer and others is more likely, although the palette clearly shows the duality of the crowns. An organic merging by trade and cultural exchange (also marriage of the elites?) is more likely and corresponds to the archaeological findings.

The conquered enemies of the Narmer Palette seem to belong rather to a hostile Libyan tribe. Thus, we have here perhaps to deal with the defense of an attack (probably more looting?) to lower Egyptian settlements? The red crown of the ruler of Nubt (main cult place for the god Seth) makes also sense in this connection. Here is possibly (next to the pronounced idea of ​​duality in itself in Ancient Egypt) one of the reasons for the subsequent assignment of the Red Crown to Lower Egypt: the delta was vulnerable to attack forces from foreign countries at all times, and had to be defended more than the Valley of the Nile in Upper Egypt, which had by its topography a certain natural protection?

fi11222 wrote:
... - Is there indubitable textual evidence linking the crowns to their assumed geographical domains? ...

Many, for example comes to my mind the inscriptions about the coronation in Karnak and other temples in the Theban area. During at first the Red Crown is placed proclaims the inscription: "We make your dignity as king of Lower Egypt life, you of you appeared on the throne of Horus.". Then the king gets the White Crown : "We make your dignity as king of Upper Egypt life, you of you appeared on the throne of Horus.".

fi11222 wrote:
... - What is the litteral meaning of "nesu-bit"? Doesn't it mean "Lord of the two lands" ? ...

"nesu-bit" or better "nj-sut-bjt" (Beckerath, 1984) means probably "He who belongs to binse (reed rush? have problem to translate...) and to bee". Why the bee Lower Egypt seems assigned is not really clear, but also the binse is not only to found in Upper Egypt... Since the deeper meaning is not really clear to us, the Egyptology chose the description "King of Upper and Lower Egypt". But in front of the first cartouche, the so called throne-name, you see very often a njsut-plant and a bee. Before the second, a dug and the sun disk for "Son of Ra". Inside the second cartouche the birthname, often with epitetha.

fi11222 wrote:
... - Is it possible that the meaning of the crowns changed over time? For example, in the Old Kingdom they might have had a chiefly religious meaning (land of the living / underworld) while later on the meaning changed to something more political (north / south) ? ...

To my knowledge there is no evidence. I personally think this is unlikely. Whether the crowns originally in predynastic time were more priestly or attributes of the leader (or if both, first priest and leader, were very early / always identical?) must ultimately remain open...

For the very complex deity Seth, who was always a "kings-god", see Herman te Velde : Seth - God of Confusion. - Leiden : Brill, 1967. - 168 p., XII pl.

Greetings, Lutz.
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 21, 2013 12:24 pm    Post subject: Re: Lower as in UNDER-world? Reply with quote

Robson wrote:
Lutz wrote:

(Walter Wreszinski : Atlas zur Altaegyptischen Kulturgeschichte 1 - 3. - Leipzig : Hinrichs, 1923-42. - 2: Tf. 184)
Note the different representation of the Double Crown: on the northern wall (Lower Egypt) dominates the Red the White, on the southern wall it is just the opposite. The White Crown is drawn over the Red.

It's interesting that the daughters are associated to the North and the sons with the South. I winder if there are other symbolic assumptions associated with it.

On the pylon decoration in Luxor-Temple are the daughters of Ramses II on the east pylon, the sons on the western tower. In the Ramesseum on the West-Bank I think the sons are on the northern and the daughters on the southern tower (if I remember right, I did not looked again in the literature).

Greetings, Lutz.
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 21, 2013 5:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

It reminds me the Chinese symbolical dialetical duality described by Marcel Granet in La Pensée Chinoise.
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 21, 2013 6:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Lutz wrote:

fi11222 wrote:
... - What is the litteral meaning of "nesu-bit"? Doesn't it mean "Lord of the two lands" ? ...

"nesu-bit" or better "nj-sut-bjt" (Beckerath, 1984) means probably "He who belongs to binse (reed rush? have problem to translate...) and to bee". Why the bee Lower Egypt seems assigned is not really clear, but also the binse is not only to found in Upper Egypt... Since the deeper meaning is not really clear to us, the Egyptology chose the description "King of Upper and Lower Egypt". But in front of the first cartouche, the so called throne-name, you see very often a njsut-plant and a bee. Before the second, a dug and the sun disk for "Son of Ra". Inside the second cartouche the birthname, often with epitetha.


Maybe because the White Crown was made of basket reed and the Red Crown was made of beeswax...?
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 21, 2013 7:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Lutz wrote:
fi11222 wrote:
- What is the litteral meaning of "nesu-bit"? Doesn't it mean "Lord of the two lands" ? ...

"nesu-bit" or better "nj-sut-bjt" (Beckerath, 1984) means probably "He who belongs to binse (reed rush? have problem to translate...) and to bee". Why the bee Lower Egypt seems assigned is not really clear, but also the binse is not only to found in Upper Egypt... Since the deeper meaning is not really clear to us, the Egyptology chose the description "King of Upper and Lower Egypt". But in front of the first cartouche, the so called throne-name, you see very often a njsut-plant and a bee. Before the second, a dug and the sun disk for "Son of Ra". Inside the second cartouche the birthname, often with epitetha.


The title of /nsw(.t)-bit/y/ means, literally, "He/she of the sedge (/swt/-plant) and bee" or the dual-aspect of the King, may have symbolized the dual natures of human and divine resident within the kingship. The /swt/, or sedge plant, Cyperus papyrus, is the source of papyrus, is the symbol of Upper Egypt; the bee serves as the symbol of Lower Egypt, which is more verdant than the southern half, and thus bees are seen more frequently in that half of the country.

On the issue of bees in ancient Egypt and their importance in becoming a symbol of Egypt, I suggest:

Baqué M. L. 2001. Bees and flowers in ancient Egypt: a symbiotic relationship within the mythopoeic concept of light. In S. H. Aufrère, (ed.), Encyclopédie religieuse de l'univers végétal: croyances phytoreligieuses de l'Égypte ancienne , 2: 493-519. Montpellier: Université Paul Valéry-Montpellier III.

Nagy, I. 1974. Du rôle de l'abeille dans les cultes de basse époque. In L. Kákosy, (ed.), Recueil d'études dédiées à Vilmos Wessetzky à l'occasion de son 65e anniversaire: 313-322. Budapest: chaires d'histoire ancienne.

Ransome, H. M. 1937. The sacred bee in ancient times and folklore. London: Allen & Unwin.

Sethe, K. 1892. Über einen vermeintlichen Lautwerth des Zeichens der Biene. Zeitschrift für ägyptische Sprache und Altertumskunde 30: 113-119.

To the contrary view:

Helck, W. 1984. Der "König von Ober- und Unterägypten". In [Junge, Friedrich] (ed.), Studien zu Sprache and Religion Ägyptens: zu Ehren von Wolfhart Westendorf, überreicht von seinen Freunden and Schülern , 1: 251-256. Göttingen: F. Junge. (The author suggests that the common etymological interpretation of nswt-bit as "the one belonging to the swt-plant and the bee" might be incorrect and that nswt as well as bit might have been prehistoric terms for "ruler" in the supposedly non-Egyptian language of the Delta inhabitants, which have been adopted by the rulers of Upper Egypt and which could only imperfectly be expressed in their script.)

Schneider, T. 1993. Zur Etymologie der Bezeichnung "König von Ober- und Unterägypten". Zeitschrift für ägyptische Sprache und Altertumskunde 120: 166-181. (A reconsideration of the etymology of the title of the king of Upper and Lower Egypt, traditionally translated literally as "he who belongs to the sut plant and the bee." First he studies the title of the king of Upper Egypt which is also written with the three alphabetic signs nsw , next to the familiar full writing, which has been argued to stand for ny-swt. Having considered possible Afroasiatic cognates of a Berber root enz "to be first," the author turns to the doubtful equation bjt(j) = battos, the purported Libyan designation for king, according to Herodotus, Histories IV, 155, and, owing to the bee-sign, to the etymology of Egyptian bjt, "bee, honey." The author argues that the consonantal value of the sign may be bta, which covers both "honey" and the semantic field "to be strong, powerful, great" (cf. Sumerian LU.GAL "great man = king"). Finally, some phonological problems including Coptic ebiw, honey and derivatives.

The author hopes to have shown that, if the traditional explanation is rejected, alternatives on the basis of wider Afroasiatic evidence, such as "the first man" and "the great man," are possible.)

Woudhuizen, F. C. 1997. The Bee-Sign (Evans no. 86): An Instance of Egyptian Influence on Cretan Hieroglyphs, Kadmos [Berlin - New York] 36: 97-110. (In the Cretan hieroglyphic script the bee-sign occurs with some frequency, often in combination with a floral design in the form of a flower or branch. The combination is strikingly reminiscent of the Egyptian royal title nswt bity. Most likely, it is a local Cretan variant of the Egyptian title, referring to local Cretan dynasts, not to the Egyptian pharaoh. It would thus have been the equivalent of the later cuneiform LUGAL.GAL "great king", and the royal title "bee" on its own that of LUGAL "king". )

HTH.
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 21, 2013 8:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thank you very much, all of you, for your answers. This is very interesting and I am learning a lot!

Lutz wrote:
fi11222 wrote:
... - Is there indubitable textual evidence linking the crowns to their assumed geographical domains? ...

Many, for example comes to my mind the inscriptions about the coronation in Karnak and other temples in the Theban area. During at first the Red Crown is placed proclaims the inscription: "We make your dignity as king of Lower Egypt life, you of you appeared on the throne of Horus.". Then the king gets the White Crown : "We make your dignity as king of Upper Egypt life, you of you appeared on the throne of Horus.".

Do you have a picture of these inscriptions/scenes, or a link to a place where such a picture can be found? I am particularly interested in the expressions "king of Lower Egypt life" and "king of Upper Egypt life". Do you know where I can find the original hieroglyphs corresponding to them?

Regarding the titles of the Pharaoh, it seems that /nsw(.t)-bit/y/ was the most frequently used but that it was sometimes accompanied by which means "lord of the two lands", like in the title of Amenhotep III below:

Are the two titles above synonymous, to your knowledge?

In any case, what is the relationship of these two titles with the two crowns? Are there inscriptions where the white/red crowns are explicitly associated with the sedge/bee signs of ? Or with the upper and lower "land" hieroglyphs in the sign?

Thanks again case for all your answers.
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 22, 2013 3:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

fi11222 wrote:
Lutz wrote:
fi11222 wrote:
... Is there indubitable textual evidence linking the crowns to their assumed geographical domains? ...

Many, for example comes to my mind the inscriptions about the coronation in Karnak and other temples in the Theban area. During at first the Red Crown is placed proclaims the inscription: "We make your dignity as king of Lower Egypt life, you of you appeared on the throne of Horus.". Then the king gets the White Crown : "We make your dignity as king of Upper Egypt life, you of you appeared on the throne of Horus.".

Do you have a picture of these inscriptions/scenes, or a link to a place where such a picture can be found? I am particularly interested in the expressions "king of Lower Egypt life" and "king of Upper Egypt life". Do you know where I can find the original hieroglyphs corresponding to them? ...

Many of these texts are published in Hieroglyphs and German translation (some also in English, but I have no idea if they are also online) in : "Urkunden des Aegyptischen Altertums". The coronation text of Hatschepsut from the Red Chappel and from the Memorial Temple can be found in "Urkunden der 18. Dynastie, Abt.IV - Bd.1" on pages 241 ff., the German translation in "Urkunden der 18. Dynastie, Abt.IV - Bd.I [Übersetzung zu den Heften 1-4]" on pages 112 ff.

fi11222 wrote:
... Regarding the titles of the Pharaoh, it seems that /nsw(.t)-bit/y/ was the most frequently used but that it was sometimes accompanied by which means "lord of the two lands", like in the title of Amenhotep III below:

Are the two titles above synonymous, to your knowledge? ...

Yes, both can be used together, alone or alternately.

fi11222 wrote:
... In any case, what is the relationship of these two titles with the two crowns? ...

As Neseret these already well presented, the connection of these concepts follows from the in Ancient Egypt extremely pronounced principle of duality: two lands, two crowns, two crown goddesses, two gods who manifest themselves in the person of the king (Horus and Seth) and give him the two crowns and the two lands, and so on... To my knowledge (I am not an expert in language) the Ancient Egyptian grammer is the only (?) with, next to Singular and Plural, a so called "Dual".

Greetings, Lutz.
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 22, 2013 4:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Lutz wrote:
To my knowledge (I am not an expert in language) the Ancient Egyptian grammer is the only (?) with, next to Singular and Plural, a so called "Dual".


Dual grammatical form is also known in other Afroasiatic languages like Arabic and Classical Hebrew, as well in many other linguistic families including, within Indoeuropean, old languages like Ancient Greek Vedic Sanskrit, Avestan and Ancient Irish.
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 22, 2013 5:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Lutz wrote:
fi11222 wrote:
... Regarding the titles of the Pharaoh, it seems that /nsw(.t)-bit/y/ was the most frequently used but that it was sometimes accompanied by which means "lord of the two lands", like in the title of Amenhotep III below:

Are the two titles above synonymous, to your knowledge? ...

Yes, both can be used together, alone or alternately.

All right but do they have the exact same meaning?

What I mean is that, for example, in the early modern period, you could call the king of France, "heir of Hugues Capet" or "Eldest son of the Church". All these titles are synonymous in the sense that they all refer to the king of France but they have not the exact same meaning in the sense that they refer to different episodes or attributes of the French Monarchy.

So my question is: do the "sedge" and the "bee" signs in /nsw(.t)-bit/y/ refer each to one of the "lands" in the title "lord of the two lands" or is the association between the two titles looser?

In the synopsis for Crowns in Egyptian Funerary Literature by Katja Goebs on Amazon.com there is the following sentence: "The author studies textual evidence rather than the often stereotyped iconography, focusing on mentions of the king's White and Red Crowns and demonstrating that they possess a wide-ranging symbolism that transcends the terrestrial sphere to encompass the divine and the cosmos, death and rebirth." I have ordered the book but not read it yet. However, it seems that the meaning of the crowns goes further than the simple geographical dichotomy between southern and northern Egypt.
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 22, 2013 6:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

fi11222 wrote:
Lutz wrote:
fi11222 wrote:
... Are the two titles above synonymous, to your knowledge? ...

Yes, both can be used together, alone or alternately.

All right but do they have the exact same meaning? ...

In the end and as far as I know and if they reffer to the person of the king, I would say yes. "Lord of the Two Lands" can be found also for gods, preferably Amun-Ra, or in the female form ("Mistress of...") for the Queen or a goddess.

fi11222 wrote:
... So my question is: do the "sedge" and the "bee" signs in /nsw(.t)-bit/y/ refer each to one of the "lands" in the title "lord of the two lands" or is the association between the two titles looser? ...

Sedge and Bee refer each to one of the two lands. But this has nothing to do with the titles. As I still said, the titles do not depend on each other and do not form an inseparable pair. Both can be used independently in texts but take respect to the same: Upper and Lower Egypt, The Two Land. That does not change even if you asking 3 times more, sorry... Cool

fi11222 wrote:
... In the synopsis for Crowns in Egyptian Funerary Literature by Katja Goebs on Amazon.com there is the following sentence: "The author studies textual evidence rather than the often stereotyped iconography, focusing on mentions of the king's White and Red Crowns and demonstrating that they possess a wide-ranging symbolism that transcends the terrestrial sphere to encompass the divine and the cosmos, death and rebirth." ... However, it seems that the meaning of the crowns goes further than the simple geographical dichotomy between southern and northern Egypt.

Katja Goebs examines their significance for the other side, in the funerary literature. And here they appear latest from the Middle Kingdom on also for non-royal persons as a symbolic tomb good (for example, in the so-called "Device Frieze", as paintings inside the box coffins). But here they characterize the tomb owner of course not as King of Upper and Lower Egypt. They have magical-apothropeic / mythological functions.

Greetings, Lutz.
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