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Sphinx head only...
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 09, 2009 6:29 am    Post subject: Sphinx head only... Reply with quote

Please allow me to tread very tenderly with this post, I do not want you to think that I am coming from a (word that I see posted regularly on this site) 'fringe' perspective

I simply wish to offer an idea I have been playing around in my head for a long time now with repect to the 'sphinx' and I would ask that you respond with an open mind and correct me where I am off-base

Here is what I am NOT intending doing with the post:

i) examining the age of the monument
ii) examining the portrature of the monument
iii) looking for hidden tunnels or chambers

What I want to suggest is the possibility that the 'sphinx' was orginally intended as a head only. No body, no cat, dog or lion representation, simply a head above ground. I am not even touching the subject of that head being who or what, simply that it was a head only and no body was extant

We know there is a 'body' extant now, we know that at various periods, if not all, up to the middle kingdom the 'body' was entirely covered with sand, debris and rock. We know the body and head have been subject to repair and reconstruction since the middle kingdom through to recent times

Is it possible that these 'repairs' could have actually created the body shape we 'wanted' to see? to such an extent that we have created a NEW monument? - where once a head only existed, now an entire beast can be found?

I understand that the monument was percieved as a representation of Ra-Horahkty... at least during the middle kingdom. Ra-Horahkty was perceived as horus of the two horizons; sunrise and sunset, where the sun was not fully viewable and perhaps seen as 'touching' the land in the east and west?

(I should have a lot of question marks here and through the post BTW)

Is any of this making any sense? - I can go on, what would be the purpose of a head only? - but maybe best if I provoke a response or two first? - re; the head only concept?
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 09, 2009 11:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

what makes you think it was just a head? it is an interesting theory.
i think regardless of what it was intended to look like, it was supposed to be a portrait. of a god or phaoah who knows? but i wouldn't mind hearing more of this theory!!
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 09, 2009 10:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I don't think there are other examples from that time period (or other periods in Egyptian history) consisting of a disembodied head.
For that reason I somehow doubt it.

The only thing even coming close to the seperate head idea are the reserve heads found in the mastabas at Giza, and their purpose is not entirely clear. But depictions of the king are always the full body. I think the belief in magic may have been too strong to have depictions of just body parts?

Unless you think it may have started out as a seated or standing image of the king or a god? Then modified while constructed?
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 10, 2009 5:07 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ok, as I mentioned above, please allow me to approach this gently - it is a kinda 'fringe' type of thinking, but hey! - if we don't voice it, or investigate the absurd how do we move forward, well that's my thinking...

The head... ok, the 'sphinx' just possibly, just perhaps, could have been just a head - what we see today as the moat surrounding it covered fully and deliberately with soil, rocks etc... remember this would actually allow for the artificial creation of 'subteranian chambers' with simply a head showing...

Or perhaps more likely the head was showing but the 'moat' had an artificial fourth wall constucted (pretty easy) and was then filled with water, the reflective qualities being important

The head could have been the 'completion' of the greater Giza complex

Ok, hold with me now...

We are all familiar with the above/below thinking and specifically the theories promulgated by some that the three main pyramids at Giza are an earthbound facsimile reflection of Orion's (Osiris) belt. We can also observe in the night sky the shoulders, the legs and so on... but where be the head? - I for one, cannot identify a connected star grouping that works. I have even gotten hold of a free copy of Skyglobe3 from the web and have played for hours to try to make an identification, but no head

Now don't let me take this discussion into the realms of the purpose of the great pyramid or the complex, I am simply pursuing a specific thought... that the sphinx, or to be more specific, the sphinx's head might be perceived of as the head of Osiris

Let me jump to another but related subject... some of the texts (spells) from the Book of Coming Forth by Day. Please can you look these up independantly, I will copy and post them if required but you probably have your own resource.

Invocation/Spell 43:
For preventing a man's decapitation in the realm of the dead

Invocation/Spell 151:
For the head of mystery

Invocation/Spell 166:
For a headrest

There are others and you may well have note of them, but the point I am trying to make is that the head and its continuing connection to the body, albeit after decapitation and placement... the head was very important. Who'se head could be more important than that of Osiris, specifically in and through the king making ceremonies and the giving of understanding to the new king, or raised initiate?

Do you see where I am coming from in all this? - I know it is off the beaten track and kinda borderline, maybe you can add or detract, I wanted to throw the thought into the mix.

Incidently, the problem of the head being at the wrong side... well it was a problem when I was doing my initial mind-farting, is answered by reflection

Osiris was viewed (was he not) as being upon waters, just one look at the base of his throne tells us this, the reflection of his 'belt' would then be shown as East being West or South being North etc., and turned at 45deg. to account for the East to West flow of things

Anyway, enough for now... I await your derision! ha! Laughing
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 16, 2009 2:22 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

It has been pointed out to me in another post that many of the regular users of this discussion site are more focused on an archeological, dig find, textual reference type of interest in things ancient egyptian; certainly a more scholarly and academic (and less holistic) interest than yours truly. I respect this and I have no wish to pollute the great discussions going on here by attracting weirdness, to that end I would like to temper this post, there were no 'takers' in any case, so I will just use this post to clarify my pondering.

The 'head only' subject line is misleading, really it is of little importance to the real central question; the function of the sphinx. I will add however that whilst I might not be persuaded with the media talk about the sphinx being built by aliens or being 30,000 years old and so on... I do not have a problem with 'seeing it' in its original form with the pit filled with water. This feels more of a logical explanation for the 'weathering' than the singular action of precipitation anyway.

The central question that I am asking is about the sphinx forming part of the overall giza ground plan, and I am suggesting (coz I ain't heard it elsewhere) that the sphinx (even in its entirity) could represent the head of Osiris/Horus in the night sky; I am relating it to the greater ground plan; the three pyramids being the belt of Orion and the sphinx being the head

The fact that the sphinx is part below ground-level lends to this duat (underworld), night sky reflection, type of conjecture. So let me temper this whole thread with this being my only posit, conjecture and question

Is it possible that the sphinx forms part of an Osirian allusion by being part of an overall ground plan?
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 16, 2009 3:15 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I don't have any answers for you, just some observations.

In later times the Sphinx was thought of as Re-Harakhty, Horus of the Horizon, the morning sun. (Egyptian gods and myths By Angela P. Thomas)

From what I have read the early sphinxes date to the time of Djedefre. I think one of the oldest sphinxes may be one depicting Queen Hetepheres II.

So I don't know who would have originally been depicted or why.

Later there was a temple dedicated to Re Harakhty nearby, but I have no idea to what time this would date.
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 16, 2009 7:18 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The sphinx as Ra Horakhty might add the Osirian allusion. As I understand Ra Horakhty this was the sun at its time of rising (also setting? - I have also read it referred to as the horus of the two horizons?) - the time of rising would be when the sun was both above and below the horizon, right? (just like the sphinx) - like the first rays of the new day when 'becoming' visable

The cardinal orientation of the sphinx would lend itself to becoming radiant-of-face and basking in the new or rebirthed sun, specifically at this time of sunrise, and specifically at certain times of the year... lending itself to the Osirian allusion. The king is dead, long live the king - the sun is dead, long live the sun! - also for ceremonies for timekeeping (the day book)

It just kinda makes sense in my head, and with the pyramid complex sitting behind, catching and reflecting those same rays and gleaming forth, the priest, the initiate, the new king etc., might have gone from an understanding of Ra in his duat form traversing the night sky as Orion, to seeing the same or similar reflected on the ground (from whatever location[s]) with the new risen sun, birth - death - rebirth

It all feels very powerful for understanding rebirth in the form of allegory - the sphinx representing the head of the arisen Ra or King. I just think it might have been the ancients way of bringing a sense of the eternal to their few (perhaps only kings / chief priests in the begining)

How much more powerful are those who have knowledge of the eternal, whilst still in life? (maybe we call it Faith today [and not specifically in a religious sense]). How much more powerful this knowledge of 'eternal' when the wisdom is being granted to the new king (who was the actualization of the nation) - for the sake of the on-going nation/dynasty/kingship. Death holds no shackles, no fear; even (mere) death is overcome

Whose face it is etc. - no idea?! - could have been more than one even, recarved for each successive king's image (or their father's), just dunno. It might even have been originally female goddess-based, or a representation of your friend Hetepheres II in a kinda Sekhemet role... (pondering)

Is it possible that the sphinx could have been part of the overall ground plan?
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PostPosted: Sat Apr 25, 2009 12:59 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I know I'm coming to this discussion a tad late but I find it interesting. I'd like to contribute to it, if I might.

Those who have specifically studied the geology of the Plateau have argued that by the time of Dynasty 4, when the three big pyramids were constructed there, the Sphinx was probably nothing more than a limestone massif. Some portion of it had always protruded from the floor of the Plateau.

Khufu's quarrying operations extended well to the south, abutting what would become the Sphinx. Probably more of the massif was exposed at that time, but to what extent I don't know.

What is known beyond a doubt is that the large blocks of masonry making up some of the Sphinx temple, came from the enclosure trench surrounding the Sphinx. In other words, when the form of the Sphinx was being cut and shaped, a lot of the stone that was removed from the bedrock went into the construction of the temple in front of it. I know of no evidence that the enclosure was ever meant to contain water. I would have to ask, what would the purpose of that be?

I've also read that some of the exposed core stones within the Great Pyramid, can be chemically linked to the same strata of limestone surrounding the Sphinx. This is further solid evidence that the Sphinx itself does not predate Dynasty 4. To me, though, the association between the blocks of the Sphinx temple and the limestone surrounding the Sphinx, is proof enough.

I'd have to agree with anneke, freeTinker, on the problem with precedent: there is no extant evidence for colossal, disembodied heads in Egyptian statuary (I stress "colossal"). Aside from that there are some other observations, or perhaps words of caution, I would make.

Earlier you cited examples from the Spells of Going Forth by Day (Book of the Dead, in modern parlance). Remember that the earliest spells forming this particular corpus date to shortly before the New Kingdom, a thousand years after the time of the Sphinx. Though many (if not most) of these spells have their origin in the Pyramid Texts, through the Coffin Texts, I would look to the Pyramid Texts for information.

The religion was considerably different to the commoner and king by the dawn of the New Kingdom, and the Book of the Dead served a purpose that would've seemed strikingly odd to the people at the time of the Sphinx (especially, that they, as commoners, were afforded the same afterlife as the ruling class, which was decidedly not the case in the Old Kingdom).

The spells you cited are, I'm sure you know, for the protection against the severing of one's neck. In the Book of the Dead this was a constant danger the wandering spirit faced, at the hands of malevolent demons. These spells are all about the spoken word and served to protect the soul from all dangers--if the ba was to lose his head, then, he would be destroyed in the afterlife. This has nothing to do with the Sphinx.

I would also caution the emphasis on Osiris with the Sphinx. To date the earliest definitive evidence we have for the god Osiris is on an inscribed fragment that dates to the reign of Isesi, late in Dynasty 5. The Sphinx had been carved around 100 years before that. We cannot say that Osiris was unknown in Dynasty 4, of course, but we can say with authority that in Dynasty 4 the primary lords of the afterlife were deities like Anubis, Wepwawet, and Sokar. There is no evidence, in other words, that Osiris played any central role at Giza in Dynasty 4. He had yet to rise to the prominence he would start to experience by late in the Old Kingdom.

These are just some observations I wished to share. It's certainly all right to use one's imagination and creativity to look at things in a new light, which all historians are caused to do, but one must always frame his hypotheses and theories by what the extant evidence tells us. Wink
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PostPosted: Sat Apr 25, 2009 7:01 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

That was a really interesting post kmt_sesh, thank you; and you are right to point out my overactive imaginings. I am pretty new to all this ancient egyptian study... like many, I have been an enthuisatic hobbyist for many years and it is only recently that my thinking about things ancient and egyptian has turned anywhere near what we might call serious.

Visiting this site is really opening my eyes to the enormity of the subject, and doing it in many, many ways. Let me explain...

Like others (and I am sure there are thousands out there) I was introduced to the subject through popular media, ie; like the books we find available for a few bucks sitting on the bargain-counter at Barnes & Noble. Not that I need to tell you, but these books are written to sell, to make money (specifically), and much of the time this can detract from the serious business of Truth.

Folks like me are influenced by popular media, we (or at least I) come to sites like this and we think we know things, the fact is we know very little, even the specialists and experts like you (and others) might be readily found saying how little we all know about the subject. I think perhaps most would agree that the subject is fascinating, and unless politics be involved (which does happen in every field) we are all seeking after Truth.

Imagination can and does play a part, sometimes it can be helpful and other times... well, as you caution - 'tis good advice!

What I have learned since coming here is; number #1 - I need books, real books, good books, well referenced books, information not just lifted off the internet, but soundly-based professionally respected writtings by professionally respected authors. These do not come cheap to the hobbyist like me. Since arriving at Egyptian Dreams my 'request to the bank manager' has developed already to the tune of $500 and that is only three books, a little different from spending $10-20 at Barnes & Noble, but as I mentioned my presense here is serious, at least that is how I wish to develop

The lack of response to my sphinx head chunterings has spoken volumes to me about how seriously the folks here take their interest, science and art. I like this, and please know that it is not my intention to pollute these boards with the weird and wonderful, there are plenty of other message boards out there that cater for such. (this thread aside) I wish to ask questions, I wish to understand, I want to fully understand the workings of the ancient egyptian system(s) of time and measurement, I wish to understand the role of the gods, myth and legend... and I want to get my head around the whole Amarna soup. I have no doubt I will need to learn the writings; to transliterate, interpet and translate, all in time I guess - where do I even start? - there goes anther chunk o' change!

I am happy that your post has allowed me the opportunity to say some of the above, folks can talk to me honestly and call me out when I deserve it! - I like to talk plainly, and I like the same in return

BTW; the purpose of water filling the trench around the sphinx would be one of reflection, to reflect the image of the face upon the surface of the water (in an allusionary sense) to connect the head to Orion (the three pyramids forming the belt behind), here on the ground.

I am also interested in the angle of the three causeways, but I cannot find a map with enough detail to research. I would like to establish if there is a correlation to their angle(s) and cosmic or solar points... in the same way some have researched the angle and 'targetings' of the shafts from Khufu's pyramid. I would also like to find old maps or survey information regarding the historic course of the Nile... as you can see I am unlikely to run out of questions Laughing

Nice to meet you!
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PostPosted: Sat Apr 25, 2009 9:47 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have to agree with both kmt_ssh (or is it ssh n kmt ? Wink) and anneke.
No sphinxes are known prior to Ddf-ra (Redjedef/Didufri).

Science is about observable data. What do we observe in Giza? A sphinx “wearing” a nms, and a pleated nms at that. What does that mean? Pleated nms appeared in the 4th dynasty and typically during the time of xaf-ra (Khafre), NOT prior to this period.

I will come back to this interesting discussion when time allows.
Nice to meet you all,
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PostPosted: Sat Apr 25, 2009 1:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
The lack of response to my sphinx head chunterings has spoken volumes to me about how seriously the folks here take their interest, science and art.


Just as a comment though: Not responding on my part is a matter of being rather overwhelmed with other responsibilities. I find your ideas quite interesting and I wish I had more time to exchange ideas.
I like the fact that you are trying to ground your ideas in solid knowledge.

Sadly I have no idea when I will be able to "come up for air" and have more time Sad
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 27, 2009 5:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

It's a pleasure to have you here, freeTinker. You're very open minded and express yourself very well. You will indeed find that Egyptian Dreams is a conservative forum--the vast majority of us prefer to discuss and debate ancient Egypt based on orthodox historical research and the scientific method. There are numerous forums on the Net that are for debating alternative history, and I belong to one just for the fun of it, but in my opinion no forum on the internet can match ED for the quality of its orthodox discussion and inquiry.

You're hardly alone in having bought those bargain books. That's how a great many of us started. That includes the plethora of books written by Wallis Budge, whose books are dirt cheap but whose material is seriously outdated. Still, he was a good writer and he might be thought of as a suitable starting point, in some respects. And to be perfectly honest, I know I'm not alone in saying that sometimes I still buy those bargain coffee-table books. I mean, they're large and packed with gorgeous photos of Egyptian sites and antiquities. Hard to resist!

Anneke and I and others here have spent a small fortune on our own personal libraries, but that's more or less unavoidable when you're unrepentantly addicted to the study of ancient Egypt. Laughing Still, most public libraries have very good books you can check out, or at least have access to them through a wider library system. Some books can even be downloaded from the internet at certain websites (that's a real treat).

Some websites are very good for research. I've always enjoyed Tour Egypt, which has some excellent feature articles. Another good one is Osirisnet, which provides terrific details on a wide range of Egyptian tombs. My fellow Mod, anneke, has put together an excellent website that's packed with valuable information about monarchs, nobles, and other information.

Also note that in many of the forum categories at ED, there are sticky-posts at the top with recommended books. These are all reliable for furthering one's studies.

Learning hieroglyphs is another matter. That takes many years of study. On and off I've devoted around a decade to the study of hieroglyphs, and I'm far from an expert (I'd say that the most knowledgeable poster here on hieroglyphs is Aset, who has generously helped me many times with the translations I've worked on from artifacts in one of the museums where I work as a docent).

I hope you continue to post, freeTinker. You brought an interesting discussion to the floor, and I'm glad you're here. Wink
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 27, 2009 10:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thank you for the friendly informative post kmt_sesh, and yes, of course I will continue to post! - I am just starting out on my journey of understanding and I know I have a ways to catch up with most of you guys. I have been putting off diving into the Amarna soup, but not for much longer. I enjoy reading all the posts on that specific subject and I have got to say neseret's posts are... well, I just hope she has a book in the making. It seems I was missing an entire king in my bargain-book understanding of the subject! - so this is one area where I want to become involved but I will read more than I post I think

Books from libraries? - yeeeeah... an old habit/obsession of mine, it's just that I like to collect books, keep them for always as reference (I'm sure you know what I mean), some people like to keep bees, I like to keep books, and the loss of a book for me (and it has happened) is like the loss of something far greater, sad huh? - but yes, I guess I might have to make use of Andrew Carniegie and his generosity

Thx!
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 28, 2009 12:28 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Incidently, I did not mean to kill this thread with my previous post, I just wanted to respond. Perhaps to give it a kick into life again... I would add the following thoughts I have about the sphinx:

1. I dunno if it is fair but I think about the sphinx having three ages; a) from creation to Tuthmoses IV (repair etc), b) from Tuthmoses IV through to its subsequent decline (again) all the way to Napoleon et al, and c) from Napoleon and Co, through to its 'modern-day' resurrection and repair/rebuild (again). As I say I don't know if this way of looking at it is fair or right, but these do seem to be defining points in time relative to its existence

2. Outwith the metaphysical and highly imaginative stuff, I am interested in period b)... and as it related to Amarna/Aten

I understand that Tuthmoses IV possibly used his repairs etc. with a political motive to gain or validate his kingship, and that the structure was known as Ra-Horackhty during this 18th Dynasty period, which is interesting enough, but more interesting I find that the Aten (certainly as far as Akhnaton was concerned at an early stage) was derived as an aspect of Ra-Horackhty, I mean this more specifically than Ra... is this factual?

It also makes sense (or at least I find interesting) that there are depictions of Akhnaton as a sphinx making offering to Aten, and then there are the depictions of Tutankhamun stomping on Nubians(?) as a sphinx... seems to have been a lot pf sphinx metaphors going on at this time!

Ra-Horackty = horus of the two horizons (correct?) - I assume that this be East and West, is that correct? - therefore would it be correct to assume that this related to the daytime only, during hours of sunlight only? - soooo... it would be later into Akhnaton's reign that he started further defining Aten as not just the sun disc or its presence, but as the energy of the sun itself, its heat we might say... is this correct?

So, bottom line question... is Aten a development of Ra-Horackhty? - could this have been a change in perception about the sphinx from its original intention or function?
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 28, 2009 5:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
I understand that Tuthmoses IV possibly used his repairs etc. with a political motive to gain or validate his kingship, and that the structure was known as Ra-Horackhty during this 18th Dynasty period, which is interesting enough, but more interesting I find that the Aten (certainly as far as Akhnaton was concerned at an early stage) was derived as an aspect of Ra-Horackhty, I mean this more specifically than Ra... is this factual?


There does seem to be some mystery behind the ascension of Tuthmosis IV to the throne. If I remember correctly, and perhaps anneke can clarify, he was not in direct line to be the next king. There appears to have been a bit of court intrigue going on at that time. It's entirely possible, then, that Tuthmosis IV used the restoration of the Sphinx as one way to legitimize his ascension--that is, "I cleaned and repaired this god, the Sphinx, and he repaid me by making me king."

The Aten goes back considerably farther than Akhenaten. It was a minor manifestation of Re. Amunhotep III showed the Aten considerable personal veneration, which is probably how his son Akhenaten was inspired, but it was Akhenaten who took worship of the Aten to extreme levels.

Quote:
Ra-Horackty = horus of the two horizons (correct?) - I assume that this be East and West, is that correct? - therefore would it be correct to assume that this related to the daytime only, during hours of sunlight only?


The term HrAxty itself means "Horus of the two horizons," yes. I also concur that it refers to east and west. Specifically, this refers to the daily, cyclic journey of the sun and also to life and death--the sun lives in the day but requires regeneration at night, so in a sense it also symbolizes resurrection (the daily rebirth of Re). "Horakhty" represents not so much specific hours or the day but to the powerful symbolism of the two horizons: west is death, east is rebirth.

Quote:
...it would be later into Akhnaton's reign that he started further defining Aten as not just the sun disc or its presence, but as the energy of the sun itself, its heat we might say... is this correct?


I would absolutely agree with that. In one sense the Aten was the physical disk of the sun that we can all see suspended in the sky; however, in a much more meaningful and powerful sense, to Akhenaten and the other followers of his brand of religion, that sun disk represented all of the life-giving properties of the sun. You see this reflected in literature of the Amarna Period, particularly in the Great Hymn to the Aten.

Quote:
So, bottom line question... is Aten a development of Ra-Horackhty? - could this have been a change in perception about the sphinx from its original intention or function?


I don't know if I see a direct connection between Atenism and the Great Sphinx itself. It has been speculated that Amunhotep IV (well before he became Akhenaten) was schooled in the temples of Heliopolis, so he no doubt was personally familiar with the Sphinx at Giza, but the religion he developed as "Atenism" is much broader and more complex than that.

In early symbolism of Atenism the Aten is depicted as Re-Horakhty. At the time it was simply a more conventional and recognizable way to depict the sun disk. I can't say that Atenism grew out of the god Re-Horakhty, though. Again, the Aten as a deity or form of Re had already been around for a long time, and Re-Horakhty was a separate manifestation. Eventually even Re-Horakhty fades away from Akhenaten's repertoire of imagery, and the Aten became simply a disk with streaming rays ending in little hands.
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