BMCR 2020.03.10

Von Elephantine bis zu den Küsten des Meeres

Aiman Ashmawy, Dietrich Raue, Daniel von Recklinghausen, Von Elephantine bis zu den Küsten des Meeres. Die Kulttopographie Ägyptens nach den Gauprozessionen der Spätzeit und der frühptolemäischen Epoche. Studien zur spätägyptischen Religion, 24. Wiesbaden: Otto Harrassowitz, 2019. 420 p.. ISBN 9783447111140 €98,00.

The publication combines three independent studies devoted to specific aspects of the Egyp­tian cult topography during the Late and early Ptolemaic Period. The topic of all three sub-studies consists of inscriptions that were added to the processions of offering bringers in the decoration of the base area of the late temples. In the following, the contributions are subjected to separate consideration. The contributions are each accompanied by bibliography and plates.

I.

Stephanie Blaschta examines the geographic procession in the temple of Nectanebos I at Heliopolis. The work is based on relief basalt blocks having been detected in 2015/2016 at Heliopolis. The temple itself is located in the temenos of the town (6).  A short introduction to geographic processions is given, which are mostly led by the king, showing an orderly line of nome personifications (7). The oldest attestation of a nome procession is documented in Snefru’s valley temple at Dashur from the 4th dynasty (7). The oldest complete list with 22 Upper Egyptian and 16 Lower Egyptian nomes goes back to the time of Senusret I (8). In the 1st millennium BC a new type of nome procession appeared, the text of which was divided into the following parts: a) initiating formula, b) offering with products of the nome, c) gift in return from the deity (8).

In the next chapter Blaschta describes the procession of Heliopolis. 15 blocks have been uncovered, 10 of which can be assigned to the 1st-6th and 20th-22th Upper Egyptian nomes (9). The attribution of the remainder must remain uncertain. The maximum height of the blocks measures 83 cm, while the width of the complete blocks varies between 80 and 109cm and the depth between 45 and 50 cm (9). The snake-like hieroglyph after the word “mw” “water” in the text of the 1stUpper Egyptian nome is as a new sign convincingly read “qrr.ti” “caves/caverns” (15).

Blaschta performs her analysis of the texts in the next chapter, showing that the linguistic form of the texts falls back mainly on so-called “Late Middle Egyptian” (41). The texts of Heliopolis belong to a special type used in periods from the reign of Sheshonq I to Ptolemy XII (43). The same structure and form of all these texts could hint at a common template.

Final conclusion: The author’s views appear at times to be arbitrary, which can be shown in the following two cases. The color of the black basalt blocks is, for example, linked to the silt of the Abyssinian highlands as fertile dark mud (10), a connection that prompts more critical examination. The phrase “…on the hands…” is used as marker for the reconstruction of single nome texts (37), which seems to be rather questionable.

II.

Francois Ghiringhelli investigates the “Ritual for the Offering of the Lands”, whose form has been handed down in 15 versions. The first part of the study deals with the geographic processions and pre-Ptolemaic form. The processions are listed with information about the respective kings and places of attachment. The first group of the procession consists only of male genii, while in the second group male and female personifications are found. The second part is reserved for the translation and commentary of the inscriptions. The 22 Upper Egyptian and 20 Lower Egyptian inscriptions are—with the exception of the 14th Lower Egyptian nome—presented in ascending order.

The third part refers specifically to the form. The special interest of the form is based on the fact that it is the oldest example, which assigns a particular mythological or theological content to the single nomes (153). The offering formula is always initiated by the verb “ini” “to bring” which can be encountered in different constructions (156). The preserved versions of the form can be traced back to a common archetype (160). In the synopsis, the 15 versions of the ritual are juxtaposed, their time frame ranging from Sheshonq I to Ptolemy XII.

Final conclusion: The reproduction of the texts in transcription is unfortunately missing. The translation is mostly correct, but its nested character is a bit confusing. The author’s habit of referring only to the Wörterbuch often seems inadequate.

III.

Daniel von Recklinghausen introduces the base areas in the Amun-temple at Naukratis. The work material is formed by two relief fragments of basalt, which are kept in the Museum August Kestner Hannover (Inv.-Nr. 1970.38/39) today. The objects can be dated in the time of Ptolemy I. The two fragments show a sequence of male and female personifications, each accompanied by six columns of text (272). The provenance is not apparent from the pieces themselves, but can be deduced from a stylistically similar relief, which was found in 1914 at Kom Geif and apparently belongs to the same nome procession (275). The series of comparison objects is supplemented by a fragment from Nobeireh that evidently originates from the same nome procession (275). The procession from Naucratis is one of the four-part nome processions, in which three additional genii are following the personification of the nome (277). The blocks from Naucratis already prove the standard text schema (which should be typical for the late-Ptolemaic period) for the early Ptolemaic time (284). The historical beginnings reach back to the New Kingdom. The texts of Naucratis possess literal parallels in the soubassements of the Upper Egyptian temples (288). The relief fragments entail inscriptions to the agricultural units of the 11th and 14th Lower Egyptian nome (289). The parallels in Naucratis and Edfu hint at a common template in the temple decoration (300). The texts at Naucratis show a local writing style, which becomes manifest by the preference for alphabetical and playful spellings, the abundant determination and the reproduction of the plural by three determinatives (301-302). The writing “ii.n(=i)” “I have come” is distinguished by a very detailed character (304). The available evidence suggests that in Naucratis since the Late period an Egyptian population lived alongside the Greek (316).

In II, the hieroglyphic soubassement texts at Naucratis are delivered. In III, the translation and commentary on the texts is offered.

Final conclusion: The translation is accurate and the commentary includes the most important facts. The German text shows some unnecessary redundancies, e.g., the double hint at the text transmission from Philae to Kalabscha (297-298) and the Edfu references for the gift of bread by the nurse (348-349). The reason for the separation of II and III is not really clear.

Overall, the book can be judged positively. The smaller weaknesses were already mentioned in the discussion of the individual contributions.