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What is the ancient Egyptian word for "sphinx"?
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Lavender
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 05, 2012 9:27 pm    Post subject: What is the ancient Egyptian word for "sphinx"? Reply with quote

Hello, I'm still rather new to the forum here. Those of you who saw my introductory post know that I am a historical novelist. I joined up to gather research for the series of Egyptian novels I'm working on. In my books, I try to stick to authentic words whenever possible, and since I'm currently writing in the 18th Dynasty, Greek words won't do.

I've been searching all over the place but haven't come up with an ancient Egyptian word for that lion-bodied, human-headed critter we know as the sphinx. I did find that sphinx statues were referred to as "shesepankh," but am I correct in assuming that this word refers to the style of sculpture (carved from stone native to the site, and not imported/quarried stone) and not to the sphinx itself?

This one's a stumper for me. Can anybody help me out? What would an 18th-Dynasty Egyptian call a sphinx?

Thanks!
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 06, 2012 3:11 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hor-em-Akhet (Horus-in-the-Horizon), according to the Dream Stele.
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 06, 2012 1:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well, that would be for that particular sphinx (the Great Sphinx at Giza).

As for a generic word for 'sphinx', as in the avenue of sphinxes leading to Luxor temple... good question! I'll look it up to see if I can find something, but I'll bet someone here will beat me to it. Very Happy
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 06, 2012 2:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Lavender wrote:
... searching ... an ancient Egyptian word for that lion-bodied, human-headed critter we know as the sphinx. I did find that sphinx statues were referred to as "shesepankh," but am I correct in assuming that this word refers to the style of sculpture (carved from stone native to the site, and not imported/quarried stone) and not to the sphinx itself? ... What would an 18th-Dynasty Egyptian call a sphinx? ...

An ancient Egyptian word that only refers to this special type of statue seems not to exist. But this is not really surprising since the resulting statues always a certain person represent (queen, king or god) and then carry her name. "mait" can mean lion sculpture but also picture of the king in form of a lion (sphinx). "schesp / w" means statue or picture, but also sphinx statue (taken from Rainer Hannig : Großes Handwörterbuch Ägyptisch-Deutsch, 2006).

Lavender wrote:
... What would an 18th-Dynasty Egyptian call a sphinx? ...

"A" or "The" sphinx? For "A" see above, for "The" the following...

Interestingly we do not know the ancient Egyptian name for the Great Sphinx at Gizeh during the Old and the Middle Kingdom. That is one of the reasons for different interpretations whom the statue is originally showing (a king, a divine aspect of the king or a god). The so-called Sphinx-Temple can be interpreted as a sun temple (2 x 12 columns for the hours of the day and night and 2 sanctuaries, one in the east and one to the west). But without epigraphic evidence, this remains pure speculation. Whether the temple was ever used is unclear. Priestly titles which clearly refer to this shrine, are not known.

From the reign of Amenhotep I on we know the Great Sphinx under the name "hor-m-achet" (Horus in the Horizon). He can stay for the special god the sphinx from Gizeh is representing. But "hor" can also refer to the king, "horizon" can also mean the burial place Gizeh (the pyramid complexes there have the names "Horizon of Chufu", "Horizon of Chephren", etc.). A nationwide cult of the deity Horemachet is not occupied, he is confined to the statue and the place Gizeh. Other names can be "Hauron" also in combination "Hauron-Horemachet" or also simple "hw / r" (Hor, Horus?).

See Mark Edward Lehner : Archaeology of an Image - The Great Sphinx of Giza. - [New Haven, Conn., Yale Univ., Diss., 1991]. - Ann Arbor : UMI, 1991. - XVII, 420 p., [47] pl.

Greetings, Lutz.
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Lavender
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 07, 2012 1:59 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thank you both for your help! I was looking for the word for "a" sphinx (and in fact it was the Avenue of Sphinxes I was trying to describe!) I might go with mait, though I'm open to more suggestions. Thanks!
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 07, 2012 3:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Here the relevant entrys from Hannig 1 (2006)...



Page 343: "ta-mjt-rhnj" = "Widdersphinxallee" = Ram Sphinx Avenue.

Page 369: "mrrt (mrt)" = "Allee (mit Statuen gesäumt)" = Avenue (lined with statues).

Page 885: "smt [schemet]" = "Statuenallee (zum Tempel gehörig)" = Statue Avenue (belonging to the temple).


Maybe also of interest for you...



Page 1215: "Achsu" = "heiliger Baum von der Widderallee in Theben" = "Sacred Tree of the Ram Sphinx Avenue in Thebes".

Greetings, Lutz.
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 08, 2012 2:27 am    Post subject: Re: What is the ancient Egyptian word for "sphinx" Reply with quote

Lavender wrote:
What would an 18th-Dynasty Egyptian call a sphinx?

@Lutz: pharaohthumb

sSp - 'seshep'

Example: Barberinus Obelisk (Rome, Italy)



Dynasty 18-20 see TLA, Arrow DZA 29.586.830

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PostPosted: Fri Nov 09, 2012 3:07 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thank you so much! Very helpful. Smile
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PostPosted: Sun Nov 11, 2012 7:55 pm    Post subject: The AE name for Sphinx Reply with quote

Hello Everyone,

I agree with the post where a sphinx was named after the person or god it related to. But the word 'Sphinx' does have an Egyptian origin. Actually the first sphinxes were Anubises found for instance in Tutankhamon's grave. Robert Temple wrote a book named 'the Sphinx mystery'. He states that the Great Sphinx is an ancient Anubis with the head of a later pharaoh. He also writes that it is never mentioned by any of the anient Greek authors. That the Great Sphinx was mentioned first by a Roman author. However I disagree with him. The ancient Greek did write about the Sphinx, but not in a historical correct manner and neither using the word 'sphinx', but in a mythological manner. They called it Cerberus. Cerberus comes from the word 'cherub' meaning 'guardian'. That is what a sphinx does: guarding in its typical seated position. Cerberus guarded the gates of hell or the underworld. And that is exactly what the Great Sphinx is doing for the necropolis of GIza. In fact, if we look at Giza from the east, we see the ancient Greek mythology of Cerberus in stone. What Robert Temple didn't write, but what I found out is the following:

The word 'sphinx' is an anagram for Anubis, but the Greek X must be replaced by an A. And typically the Hebrew alef (a) can almost exactly be written like the Greek X. Being an anagram can have something to do with Hebrew being written from right to left and Greek vice versa. Ankh could then be an-ah (NH), eternal el an-ah becoming an-g-el in European languages and an-ah-ba (ba being the soul in Egyptian). Inpu or Anahba would then be his Egyptian name. The Hebrew word NPS (nun-pe-shin) means 'soul'. My best guess would be that the ancient Egyptians called the Great Sphinx: Anahba, which the Hebrew writers would write backwards and this Hebrew name was then translated to Greek forming the new word 'sphinx' by reading it from left to right with one error a Greek X in place of the Hebrew alef (a). Unfortunately we can't yet travel through time to hear an 18th dynasty Egyptian speak and check whether my explanation is correct.
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PostPosted: Sun Nov 11, 2012 8:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ooooh, the theories in the occult books!
"Anubis" is a grecized version for the name of an Ancient Egyptian deity called Jnpw, a name which actual spelling the scholars are not sure of how it was.
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 12, 2012 2:17 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yes, I am only looking for likely words for the object from the New Kingdom era (pre-Greek). "Sphinx" won't do -- it is clearly Greek, and no Egyptian during the 18th Dynasty would have called such a statue a sphinx.

I've settled on "seshep," for the curious. I think it flows well in the text and it's allowing me to keep up the correct historical atmosphere.

Thanks again to all who helped with my question!
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 12, 2012 2:19 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Er -- I meant to add (but couldn't find an edit button for my last post, if one exists!) that my decision to eradicate most Greek words from the book has been somewhat frustrating! Most of the gods' names are so familiar to modern readers in their Greek form. Anubis became Anupu for the purposes of my books. Jnpw would probably give them all fits. Wink
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 30, 2013 7:35 pm    Post subject: Any Sphinx is an Anubis Reply with quote

It's funny that one of the replies calls my explanation one from the occult books. But the last part is my own interpretation. And I myself am working on a book as well about de-occulting Egypt.

Seshep Nh (or as you write it Seshep Ank) is an anagram for Anubis. If you read it backwards it says HN-PEHSES. Let's not forget that the occult Egyptian priests reanimated statues by well how should I say it, giving them a spirit. So spirits and statues are connected in rituals. Any Egyptologist will tell you this is correct. So from this point of view a statue that was given a spirit could also be named 'spirit'. Add this to the ancient Semitic snake spells found as far back as Unas in his own pyramid, show there could be a link to the Hebrew word for spirit being 'NPS'. The resemblance to Inpu(s) or Anubis is no coincidence. Neither is the resemblance to both 'Sphinx' and 'Shesep-Ank'. It depends on your direction of reading. Seshep ank is Sshp-nh, which with other vowels becomes Sphinx.

Another indicator that the ram sphinxes also represent spirits, can be found in the ambiguous use of the AE word for 'ram'. It was 'ba', which also means 'spirit'. So there is nothing occult about this all, if you understand phonetics, etymology and word play.

To get back to the question on this topic;
Inpu, the ancient name for Anubis is formed from NH-BA (eternal spirit) or (eternal soul). And that was what the Great Sphinx Anubis and later on all Sphinxes in its image were supposed to become; Eternal spirits or if you want 'living images' of the entity/person the statue was associated with.

If correct, the Giza plateau contains the living image and the dead image:
-The Living Image (Seshep Ank) of the Great Sphinx Anubis, is spirit in both word and image (the form of an animal, for anima, spirit).
-The Dead Image are the pyramids. (house of the dead is a construction of AE per meaning 'house' and 'mut' Semitic for 'dead'. Per-mut may attest for the Greek word pyramid. The three pyramids at Giza according to Robert Bauval form a projection of the belt of Osiris-Orion.

What we are seeing is Anubis with Osiris, an image common in Egyptian art. Except this time it is not in art, but in architecture.

The Sphinx in relation to the Orion Pyramids is positioned, where in the sky the Orion Nebula can be seen. This nebula is the closest massive star forming nebula to earth. In a stellar religion system, this would be a place for pharoah's to become Horuses. The spirit had to be able to enter the missing organ (occult organ) of Osiris built by Isis in the myth of Isis and Osiris. PH-NH means 'opening eternal'. Anubis NH-PH as Upuat is the opener of ways and the PH-NH may well be the root for the English word of the missing organ of Osiris, which I am not allowed to mention here by name.

Is Giza the place where Atum-Ank (breathe eternal), the gas-ghost of the pharaoh was believed to unite with his anagram Kenemet (heavenly mother cow) are joined? Kenemet in the Dendera Zodiac is a cow where we now would expect Canis Major with Sirius, the constellation and star associated with Isis.

In my view there is nothing occult about this, if you are willing to belief that occultism was the intention of the ancient Egyptian priests (or Semitic snake spell priests). Now I am not ruling that option out!
Why not? Here is an example of occultism in Hebrew:

אנאגראם הטפ פטה מורגנה ANAGRAM HTF FTH MORGANA
If vowels were not used in ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs we would get
NGRM HTF FTH MRGN; a fluent anagramic sentence.
The meaning: 'Fata morgana, preach anagram
What does this mean?
Upuat/Ptah -M-Rucha-NH
Ptah is associated with Osiris and Sokar as Ptah-Sokar-Osiris in later dynasties. Upuat is Anubis in his canine form. Both related to Giza and the underworld. m-rucha is Hebrew for 'from the spirit' and NH is AE for eternal. A fata morgana is seeing something that isn't there, but is there. So Upuat or Ptah from the eternal spirit preach anagram.
A direct hint to how the ancient pyramids were towers of Babylon (towers of the word) where sem priests (sem means word in Hebrew) performed the rituals in the name (word) and (image) of their god(s).

So in the ancient Egyptian spirit, whatever word you or the 18th dynasty Egyptians used for the sphinx statue is of no importance, as long as you communicate its essence. And by our compart-mentalized modern culture we aren't used to seeing harmony. We only see contradictions in each others theories about ancient Egypt, while the essence is lost in discussion. I wish this was a dialog board, instead of a discussion board. We wouldn't fall over 'occult' explanations and regard them as part of ancient Egyptian life. Just as David Copperfield is called a magician as long as his tricks aren't discovered. If the ancient Egyptian tricks in sacred writing (hieroglyphs) aren't understood properly, we are in the labyrinth of ignorance.
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 30, 2013 8:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

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PostPosted: Tue Feb 03, 2015 6:25 am    Post subject: Re: Any Sphinx is an Anubis Reply with quote

EgyptianDragon wrote:
It's funny that one of the replies calls my explanation one from the occult books. But the last part is my own interpretation. And I myself am working on a book as well about de-occulting Egypt.

Seshep Nh (or as you write it Seshep Ank) is an anagram for Anubis. If you read it backwards it says HN-PEHSES. Let's not forget that the occult Egyptian priests reanimated statues by well how should I say it, giving them a spirit. So spirits and statues are connected in rituals. Any Egyptologist will tell you this is correct. So from this point of view a statue that was given a spirit could also be named 'spirit'. Add this to the ancient Semitic snake spells found as far back as Unas in his own pyramid, show there could be a link to the Hebrew word for spirit being 'NPS'. The resemblance to Inpu(s) or Anubis is no coincidence. Neither is the resemblance to both 'Sphinx' and 'Shesep-Ank'. It depends on your direction of reading. Seshep ank is Sshp-nh, which with other vowels becomes Sphinx.

Another indicator that the ram sphinxes also represent spirits, can be found in the ambiguous use of the AE word for 'ram'. It was 'ba', which also means 'spirit'. So there is nothing occult about this all, if you understand phonetics, etymology and word play.

To get back to the question on this topic;
Inpu, the ancient name for Anubis is formed from NH-BA (eternal spirit) or (eternal soul). And that was what the Great Sphinx Anubis and later on all Sphinxes in its image were supposed to become; Eternal spirits or if you want 'living images' of the entity/person the statue was associated with.

If correct, the Giza plateau contains the living image and the dead image:
-The Living Image (Seshep Ank) of the Great Sphinx Anubis, is spirit in both word and image (the form of an animal, for anima, spirit).
-The Dead Image are the pyramids. (house of the dead is a construction of AE per meaning 'house' and 'mut' Semitic for 'dead'. Per-mut may attest for the Greek word pyramid. The three pyramids at Giza according to Robert Bauval form a projection of the belt of Osiris-Orion.

What we are seeing is Anubis with Osiris, an image common in Egyptian art. Except this time it is not in art, but in architecture.

The Sphinx in relation to the Orion Pyramids is positioned, where in the sky the Orion Nebula can be seen. This nebula is the closest massive star forming nebula to earth. In a stellar religion system, this would be a place for pharoah's to become Horuses. The spirit had to be able to enter the missing organ (occult organ) of Osiris built by Isis in the myth of Isis and Osiris. PH-NH means 'opening eternal'. Anubis NH-PH as Upuat is the opener of ways and the PH-NH may well be the root for the English word of the missing organ of Osiris, which I am not allowed to mention here by name.

Is Giza the place where Atum-Ank (breathe eternal), the gas-ghost of the pharaoh was believed to unite with his anagram Kenemet (heavenly mother cow) are joined? Kenemet in the Dendera Zodiac is a cow where we now would expect Canis Major with Sirius, the constellation and star associated with Isis.

In my view there is nothing occult about this, if you are willing to belief that occultism was the intention of the ancient Egyptian priests (or Semitic snake spell priests). Now I am not ruling that option out!
Why not? Here is an example of occultism in Hebrew:

אנאגראם הטפ פטה מורגנה ANAGRAM HTF FTH MORGANA
If vowels were not used in ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs we would get
NGRM HTF FTH MRGN; a fluent anagramic sentence.
The meaning: 'Fata morgana, preach anagram
What does this mean?
Upuat/Ptah -M-Rucha-NH
Ptah is associated with Osiris and Sokar as Ptah-Sokar-Osiris in later dynasties. Upuat is Anubis in his canine form. Both related to Giza and the underworld. m-rucha is Hebrew for 'from the spirit' and NH is AE for eternal. A fata morgana is seeing something that isn't there, but is there. So Upuat or Ptah from the eternal spirit preach anagram.
A direct hint to how the ancient pyramids were towers of Babylon (towers of the word) where sem priests (sem means word in Hebrew) performed the rituals in the name (word) and (image) of their god(s).

So in the ancient Egyptian spirit, whatever word you or the 18th dynasty Egyptians used for the sphinx statue is of no importance, as long as you communicate its essence. And by our compart-mentalized modern culture we aren't used to seeing harmony. We only see contradictions in each others theories about ancient Egypt, while the essence is lost in discussion. I wish this was a dialog board, instead of a discussion board. We wouldn't fall over 'occult' explanations and regard them as part of ancient Egyptian life. Just as David Copperfield is called a magician as long as his tricks aren't discovered. If the ancient Egyptian tricks in sacred writing (hieroglyphs) aren't understood properly, we are in the labyrinth of ignorance.


You may be right in some aspects. I don't know much about Anubis or Ptah and their history, but I understand 'Ssp' as the verb/adjective white or bright; and as a noun it takes on the meaning of dawn or light, as well as a statue or an image. 'Sspw' is referred to as 'Sphinx' and the ending may have represented a participle, so technically the literal translation would be 'that which is bright/that which is of light'. There is another word which a Middle Egyptian dictionary I have has as the meaning of Sphinx, 'sspw' probably a variation of 'Sspw'. These words probably are referring to the statue itself and not of the 'fantasy animal of the Sphinx'. Logically speaking the statue was probably created by a pharaoh trying to represent his legacy by building this statue of a lion with a man's head very early on in Egyptian history, and the original story behind it got lost through the ages where the statue became a type of legend simply just referring to the specific Sphinx at Giza as 'the (bright) statue/image' Though there seems to be drawings of more sphinxes in the pyramids and papyruses, but there probably wasn't an actual name for the creature up until the Greeks and Romans gave a name to the creature rather than just to the specific statue.
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