Earthpages.ca

Think Free


Leave a comment

The Rosetta Stone – An important key to understanding the ancient world

The Rosetta Stone

Image via Flickr

The Rosetta Stone is a large gray stele naturally tinted blue and pink measuring almost four feet high, over two feet wide and almost a foot thick.

It is a fragment of a larger, original stone, and was discovered in 1799 by a captain of Napoleon’s army, Pierre-François Bouchard, near Alexandria in the proximity of Rashid (Rosetta) in the Nile Delta.

The stone is inscribed with an order issued at Memphis, Egypt, in 196 BC by King Ptolemy V. The top and middle texts are in Ancient Egyptian using hieroglyphic and Demotic scripts; the bottom is in Ancient Greek.

Ptolemy’s decree is mostly the same in all three languages, so the Rosetta Stone was used to decipher the Egyptian hieroglyphs. Before the discovery of the stone, the hieroglyphs had been undecipherable.¹

The English scientist, physician and Egyptologist Thomas Young – famous for his double slit experiment – helped to decipher the Rosetta Stone.

Report of the arrival of the Rosetta Stone in England in The Gentleman’s Magazine, 1802 – Wikipedia

The stone was probably first displayed in a temple.  One theory suggests it was moved sometime between early Christian and medieval times, and later used as building material for Fort Julien near Rashid (Rosetta).

Today it sits in the British Museum, along with a replica in the BM’s King’s Library.

Not surprisingly, a contemporary language education tool is called Rosetta Stone.

A crowd of visitors examining the Rosetta Stone at the British Museum – Wikipedia

¹ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rosetta_Stone

 Alleged Louvre attacker’s father says son is not a terrorist (kron4.com)

 Hieroglyphs of Blood and Bone Paperback on Amazon (griffinwords.com)


Leave a comment

Aton (and Akhenaton)

aten_disk.jpg

The Aton Disc

Aton (also Aten) is an important but short-lived Egyptian sun god, established under the reign of king Amenhotep IV (1350-1334 B.C). Aton, originally the term for the sun’s disc, came to be the name for the new sun-god.

In a bold step, King Amenhotep IV re-named himself Akhenaton and introduced his new monotheistic religion based on the sun’s rising and setting. However, archaeological evidence suggests that most of the Egyptian populace continued to secretly worship the old gods, despite Akhenaton’s decree that all must accept his new religion.

The pioneering psychologist Sigmund Freud thought it noteworthy that Aton was the first monotheistic deity and compared him to the God of the Old Testament (Yahweh).

For all his smarts, Freud clearly was way off the mark here. The celebrated Religious Studies professor Houston Smith (and many other thinkers) realize that a mere sun god differs quite dramatically from a Jewish God who creates not only the sun but the entire universe.

After Akhenaton’s death, the puppet-King Tutankhamen (Tut) at age 12-years was quickly restored polytheism in Egypt. Most likely the boy was coached, to put it nicely, by temple priests and scribes of the old polytheistic system who wanted to restore their much coveted power, prestige and privilege.

 


Leave a comment

Amenhotep III

English: The eastern figure of the Colossi of ...

The eastern figure of the Colossi of Memnon, two massive stone statues of Pharaoh Amenhotep III, across the Nile from Luxor. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Amenhotep III (c. 1411–1375 BCE) was an Egyptian Pharaoh of the 18th dynasty.

Amenhotep III ruled peacefully at home, advancing culture and art, while securing Egyptian power in Babylonia and Assyria. During his reign he rebuilt the ancient capital of Thebes, with stunning architecture like the Colossi of Memnon, the temple at Luxor and the Karnak pylon.

He has over 250 surviving statues, a number greater than any other Egyptian ruler.

From his mummified remains archaeologists can see that he had worn teeth and many dental cavities. And he invoked the goddess Ishtar (who figures in the Babylonian epic of Gilgamesh) to heal several illnesses, including his dental pain.

His son was Amenhotep IV, who renamed himself Akhenaten, fashioning after himself a solar-based monotheism.


1 Comment

Amenhotep

Amenhotep, Son of Hapu, Luxor Museum

Amenhotep, Son of Hapu, Luxor Museum (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Amenhotep (14th-century BCE) was an Egyptian scribe and minister of Amenhotep III (1417-1379 BCE). Amenhotep was respected as a philosopher or, perhaps, deep thinker and worshipped in Thebes as a healer. He was also celebrated for the magnificent temples erected under his commission.

In Egyptian art he’s usually depicted as a scribe with a papyrus scroll on his lap. Amenhotep was revered to the extent of becoming deified.

Amenhotep was greatly revered by posterity, as indicated by the reinscription of the donation decree for his mortuary establishment in the 21st dynasty (1075–c. 950 BCE) and his divine association with Asclepius, the Greek god of healing, during the Ptolemaic period.¹

¹ See “Amenhotep, son of Hapu.Britannica Concise Encyclopedia. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 2013. Web. 21 Oct. 2013. <http://geoanalyzer.britannica.com/ebc/article-9006081>.


Leave a comment

Alexander the Great

Alexander the Great by Stavros Markopoulos via Flickr

Alexander The Great (356-323 BCE) was the third Macedonian king from 336-323 BCE. Born in Pella as the son of Philip II, he became the undefeated conqueror of one of the largest empires of the ancient world, including Egypt and Greece.

Tutored by the Greek philosopher Aristotle, in Egypt Alexander founded the port city of Alexandria, a bustling place with a university after that of Athens and a library containing 400,000 to 900,000 books and scrolls.

After consulting an oracle of Ammon, Alexander was convinced that his formidable abilities came from divine power—that is, he believed he was chosen. After seizing the capitals of Babylon, Susa, Persepolis and Ecbatana, in the following three years he took the eastern part of the empire and in 327 BCE set his sights on India. He took the Punjab but his overburdened troops mutinied, leaving him no choice but to retreat. Soon after he died in Babylon.

At the height of his fame, Alexander rose in popularity to the point of nearly being deified.


Leave a comment

Akhenaton

Amenhotep IV – Akhenaten by kairoinfo4u via Flickr

Akhenaton was the first ruler in recorded history to advocate a type of monotheism. Originally Amenhotep IV, this 18th dynasty Egyptian King changed his title to Akhenaton (“it is well with Aton”) and reigned from 1350-1334 BCE.

Akhenaton replaced the many Egyptian deities, particularly Amun, with the sun god Aton. While this was a type of monotheism, worshipping a solar deity clearly differs from worshipping a wholly-other creator God. Along these lines, Sigmund Freud, in perhaps his weakest writings, compared Akhenaton to the Jewish prophet Moses.

The debate continues, however, as to what the ancient depictions of Aton actually depicted. Some scholars adhere to the limited solar cosmology while others, mostly New Age enthusiasts and so-called fringe theorists, suggest a more universal conception of the godhead. This debate calls to mind R. C. Zaehner’s distinction between theism and pantheism, a distinction he’s not alone in making, but one which still eludes many thinkers who lump all things and all paths into one gelatinous whole.

Akhenaton, himself, became self-aggrandized to the point of proclaiming himself as the only true mediator of Aton. This is surprising because a good number of artistic depictions of Akhenaton from this period learn toward realism, stressing human detail rather than godlike or saintly gloss. Prior to Akhenaton, Egyptian rulers were depicted in stylized, refined forms. Akhenaton, however, is sometimes visibly unattractive, marking a first for Egyptian art and influencing realism in general.

Musee national - alexandrie akhenaton

Musee national – alexandrie akhenaton (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Akhenaton’s most well-known wife was Nefertiti. Together they rode in grand and imposing public processions, demanding servility and worship as their carriages passed by onlookers.

But for all his grandiose pretensions, Akhenaton had little interest in international politics. Eerdmans Bible Dictionary points out that “during his reign Egypt lost control of its provinces in Syria and Palestine.”¹ And the Amarna letters (inscribed tablets showing diplomatic records) tell us that he was preoccupied with domestic affairs and neglected the city-states of Palestine, leaving them in chaos, a chaos marked by conflict among local chieftains, turmoil and open rebellion.

¹ Eerdmans Bible Dictionary, ed. Allen C. Myers, 1987, p. 35, 46.


3 Comments

Dismemberment

Mourner. Could be Isis mourning Osiris

Mourner (could be Isis mourning Osiris) via Wikipedia

Dismemberment has been a cruel form of capital punishment in both Asian and European history. And the ugly practice came to North American shores, legitimized under the belief in manifest destiny.¹

The theme of dismemberment occurs throughout comparative mythology.

In the Hindu Artharva Veda the world is created from the sacrifice and dismemberment of the “cosmic man” (Skt. purusa). This has been interpreted as a universal self that we ultimately return to, past the fragmented splinters of false and deceptive personalities and personas.

In Egyptian mythology Osiris is dismembered by the demon Set. His sister-wife Isis, with the help of Nephthys and Anubis, restores him fully with only his nose to work on, a tale arguably prefiguring the 21C realities of cloning.

Wikipedia lists these additional examples:

The Dismemberment Plan

The Dismemberment Plan (Photo credit: mehan)

The theme of dismemberment usually fits, either closely or indirectly, within the larger mythic cycle of death and resurrection because dismembered characters in myth often come back in some kind of new, transformed state.

The theme of dismemberment crops up in B-movies, video games, anime, and rock music. And in literature, Dante’s Divine Comedy has recurring cycles of dismemberment and healing as a form of punishment for falsifiers.

¹ Theodore Roosevelt condoned the dismemberment of Native American Indian women and children in Colorado as a “righteous and beneficial a deed as ever took place on the continent.” http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=8&cad=rja&ved=0CGgQFjAH&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.apaonline.org%2FCMDownload.aspx%3FContentKey%3D5f847188-8a3d-4b90-a678-8f7cf9387122%26ContentItemKey%3D49ac4888-2f0c-4a87-b688-c0f5f1b03f61&ei=mY4zUJK-Jaf00gHK84GADw&usg=AFQjCNERU8qo_OtrQ5FXQTMMUGqC3LaUOw

² http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dismemberment#Folklore