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The enigmatic netherworld books of the solar-osirian unity : cryptographic compositions in the tombs of Tutankhamun, Ramesses VI and Ramesses IX


Darnell, John Coleman (2004). The enigmatic netherworld books of the solar-osirian unity : cryptographic compositions in the tombs of Tutankhamun, Ramesses VI and Ramesses IX. Fribourg, Switzerland / Göttingen, Germany: Academic Press / Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht.

Abstract

The ancient Egyptians at times employed a non-standard list of signs and phonetic values, and the resulting texts may be termed “cryptographic” or “enigmatic”. Inscriptions based on these alternate sign lists, attested already during the Old and Middle Kingdoms, proliferate during the New Kingdom. By the Ptolemaic period, many of the formerly enigmatic signs and values had become part of standard hieroglyphic texts of the time. The exact principles behind Egyptian cryptography have remained obscure, and the debate, often vitriolic, has centered around the “normalized” cryptography of the Graeco-Roman temple inscriptions. Curiously, the earlier enigmatic texts, those which one might reasonably see as the progenitors of the later cryptography hieroglyphic system, have not entered significantly into the discussion. The present work demonstrates that the principle of acrophony, as understood by É. Drioton, played virtually no role in the derivation of cryptographic values in enigmatic texts of the New Kingdom.
Some of the most lengthy enigmatic inscriptions of the New Kingdom occur in the royal tombs. The three most extensive occurences of enigmatic writing appear on the Second Shrine of Tutankhamun, on the ceiling of Corridor G in the tomb of Ramesses VI, and on the “Enigmatic Wall” in the tomb of Ramesses IX. This study is the first detailed examination of the texts on the Tutankhamun shrine and in the tomb of Ramesses IX and contains the first treatment of much of the Ramesses VI Corridor G inscriptions. The present investigation has found these three enigmatic texts to be related common template, incorporating enigmatic texts, Book of the Dead extracts, and a figure of the giant unified Re-Osiris. Together they bay be called the Book of the Solar-Osirian Unity.
The treatises focus on the root of the eastern horizon, the place of the unification of Re and Osiris, the final triumph of the nocturnal sun and the lord of the dead, the place of the firey birth of the newborn sun and the final destruction of the damned. All of the enigmatic texts describe and complement the accompanying depictions and often deal with obscure religious concepts. Among these otherwise shadowy beliefs are the inverted entry of the blessed dead into the Netherworld and their subsequent righting; the headless form of the blessed dead – akephalios – whose head journeys with the bark of the sun until it is reattached to the mummy at the eastern end of the Netherworld; the physically giant form of Osiris and the blessed dead at the eastern horizon, linking and filling heaven and hell. The Ramesses VI version of the treatise depicts and describes the pharaonic ancestor of the Helleno-Egyptian magical being Abrasax/Abraxas, the giant, omnipresent personification of the blasting and avenging power of the sun.
When these treatises are compared with other examples of cryptography of New Kingdom date, one may say that New Kingdom cryptography has strong solar associations. The enigmatic texts of the New Kingdom are associated with the liminal area of the eastern horizon, and their cryptography may serve – like the flagmasts before the pylons of Egypt’s temples – to warn the reader that the text he is reading deals in some way with the dangerous and awesome land which Osiris and Re, yesterday and tomorrow, become one at the time of the solar resurrection.

Abstract

The ancient Egyptians at times employed a non-standard list of signs and phonetic values, and the resulting texts may be termed “cryptographic” or “enigmatic”. Inscriptions based on these alternate sign lists, attested already during the Old and Middle Kingdoms, proliferate during the New Kingdom. By the Ptolemaic period, many of the formerly enigmatic signs and values had become part of standard hieroglyphic texts of the time. The exact principles behind Egyptian cryptography have remained obscure, and the debate, often vitriolic, has centered around the “normalized” cryptography of the Graeco-Roman temple inscriptions. Curiously, the earlier enigmatic texts, those which one might reasonably see as the progenitors of the later cryptography hieroglyphic system, have not entered significantly into the discussion. The present work demonstrates that the principle of acrophony, as understood by É. Drioton, played virtually no role in the derivation of cryptographic values in enigmatic texts of the New Kingdom.
Some of the most lengthy enigmatic inscriptions of the New Kingdom occur in the royal tombs. The three most extensive occurences of enigmatic writing appear on the Second Shrine of Tutankhamun, on the ceiling of Corridor G in the tomb of Ramesses VI, and on the “Enigmatic Wall” in the tomb of Ramesses IX. This study is the first detailed examination of the texts on the Tutankhamun shrine and in the tomb of Ramesses IX and contains the first treatment of much of the Ramesses VI Corridor G inscriptions. The present investigation has found these three enigmatic texts to be related common template, incorporating enigmatic texts, Book of the Dead extracts, and a figure of the giant unified Re-Osiris. Together they bay be called the Book of the Solar-Osirian Unity.
The treatises focus on the root of the eastern horizon, the place of the unification of Re and Osiris, the final triumph of the nocturnal sun and the lord of the dead, the place of the firey birth of the newborn sun and the final destruction of the damned. All of the enigmatic texts describe and complement the accompanying depictions and often deal with obscure religious concepts. Among these otherwise shadowy beliefs are the inverted entry of the blessed dead into the Netherworld and their subsequent righting; the headless form of the blessed dead – akephalios – whose head journeys with the bark of the sun until it is reattached to the mummy at the eastern end of the Netherworld; the physically giant form of Osiris and the blessed dead at the eastern horizon, linking and filling heaven and hell. The Ramesses VI version of the treatise depicts and describes the pharaonic ancestor of the Helleno-Egyptian magical being Abrasax/Abraxas, the giant, omnipresent personification of the blasting and avenging power of the sun.
When these treatises are compared with other examples of cryptography of New Kingdom date, one may say that New Kingdom cryptography has strong solar associations. The enigmatic texts of the New Kingdom are associated with the liminal area of the eastern horizon, and their cryptography may serve – like the flagmasts before the pylons of Egypt’s temples – to warn the reader that the text he is reading deals in some way with the dangerous and awesome land which Osiris and Re, yesterday and tomorrow, become one at the time of the solar resurrection.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Monograph
Communities & Collections:Special Collections > Orbis Biblicus et Orientalis
Dewey Decimal Classification:200 Religion
290 Other religions
930 History of ancient world (to ca. 499)
Language:English
Date:2004
Deposited On:08 Aug 2018 13:25
Last Modified:09 Aug 2018 07:18
Publisher:Academic Press / Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht
Series Name:Orbis Biblicus et Orientalis
Volume:198
Number of Pages:640
ISBN:3-7278-1469-1
Additional Information:Digitalisat erstellt durch Florina Tischhauser, Religionswissenschaftliches Seminar, Universität Zürich
OA Status:Green
Related URLs:https://www.zora.uzh.ch/id/eprint/54117/
https://www.recherche-portal.ch/primo-explore/fulldisplay?docid=ebi01_prod004751186&context=L&vid=ZAD&search_scope=default_scope&tab=default_tab&lang=de_DE (Library Catalogue)

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