Waking Karnak

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Morning Hymns in various forms are found across the entire time-span of Egyptian religious writing – from Old Kingdom pyramids to Roman temples and papyri. Deities, insignia, architectural elements, spirits in the afterlife, and more were awakened using these hymns – sometimes quite briefly and sometimes in elaborately structured litanies. The longevity and diversity of these texts fascinate me and I’ve discussed them here and  even written one here previously.

The focus for this post is a version found in the daily Temple Statue Ritual conducted in Temples (pBerlin 3055, Episode 6. The classic treatment of the Temple Statue Ritual found in Moret, Alexandre Le Rituel du Culte Divin Journalier en Égypte d’Après les Papyrus Berlin et du Temple de Séti Ier, à Abydos, 1902 is now outdated. A more recent treatment is Braun, Nadja, Pharao und Priester – Sakrale Affirmation von Herrschaft durch Kultvollzug: Das Tägliche Kultbildritual im Neuen Reich und der Dritten Zwischenzeit, 2013. I have relied on this text for transliteration and to some extent translation below, while using Moret for his hieroglyphic transcription). It is unique, as far as I know, in that the Deity addressed in the initial stanza (with the pride of place that signifies) is the Goddess who _is_ the Karnak Temple Complex itself (herself!).

We have evidence from the hymn’s position in this papyrus, as well as the locations of examples found in later temples, that the morning hymns were chanted or sung near the beginning of the day’s rituals, close to dawn. We cannot be precisely sure of the sequence of events, which could have varied by circumstance, period, and local custom, but in this case it is placed after “Stepping to the Sacred Place” and before the beginning of the sanctuary entry sequence itself (cutting the papyrus cord of the door seal). Similarly, the elaborate examples at Edfu and Dendera are carved on the outer façade of the Barque Sanctuaries of these temples on either side of the doors, an appropriate place if the hymns were sung before or as the doors of the Sanctuaries were opened in the morning.

In our case the Temple as the Goddess Ipet-Sut (the well-known name of Karnak – “Most Select of Places”) is awakened first, followed by the Shrines and Gods and Goddesses within her. Then widening spheres of deities in various cities, sky, earth, and the four directions follow. Finally, the royal ancestors and their children (presumably the statues of previous Kings and Royal personages who received offerings each day) are wakened.

An interesting aspect of this hymn – in contrast to those at Edfu, Dendara, the Pyramid Texts, and various papyri – is its focus on awakening collectives of Deities. The one individual here is Karnak herself, who is given the epithet “Mistress of the Temples and the Gods and Goddesses within her”. We see the awakening formulas for Amun-Ra (the presiding God of Karnak) as an individual embedded in larger hymns in Episodes 37, 38, and 39 later in the text. (The sequential placement of the episodes in that section of the papyrus is problematic. A number of them are reiterations of earlier episodes while others have titles stating that they were for festival use. Some scholars title this entire section ‘the Re-entry’ but it seems unsatisfying that the sanctuary entry sequence was simply repeated for no special reason. (There is evidence that by Greek times, the entry sequence was repeated twice – once at the doors to the Sanctuary, and once again before the Kar shrine containing the sacred images). Perhaps that was already occurring at Karnak in the 22nd Dynasty, perhaps there were shrines that were only opened during festivals, perhaps parts of the sequence actually occurred simultaneously in two (or more) different sanctuaries – for example in the Barque Sanctuary and in the Per Wer (“Great House”) deeper in the Temple. It is even possible that there could be combination scenarios – where simultaneous opening of the Per Wer and the Barque Shrine was only done during festivals. For the moment though, it is safe to assume these individually addressed wakening hymns for Amun occurred in close contiguity to the opening of the doors of shrines of Amun – and close in time to the initial hymn for the Temple Goddess).

Another interesting tidbit is the sequence of directions in the hymn: South, then North, then West, then East. This is the sequence generally followed in Egypt and is distinctly different from the ‘circular’ listing often seen in other cultures. Here, the directions appear as two complementary pairs creating two axes that all together create the concept of ‘everywhere’. This way of dividing the universe into dynamic complementary (or conflicting) pairs to express totalities is a prevalent method of conceptualizing reality for the Egyptians – be it Djet/Neheh time, Ra/Osiris, Horus/Set, Upper/Lower Egypt, the Black Land/the Red Land, or Hu/Sia. In fact, it appears that the way to express ‘The totality of what is conceivable’ in Egyptian is “The existent (and) the non-existent” (ntt iwtt – see Erik Hornung’s Conceptions of God in Ancient Egypt: The One and the Many for more on this tendency. The specific quote on ntt iwtt is found on page 176, but the topic is discussed in several places).

So with some background established, here is the hymn in translation, followed by a reconstructed vocalization of the Egyptian version. Next time you are in Luxor, try to visit Karnak early in the morning (it opens quite early – before dawn during the winter) and if you are so moved, say or sing this hymn to Her. She will appreciate at, and so will the many, many Gods and Goddesses of the complex!

Special thanks to Don Frew for the photo accompanying this post. It was taken before dawn at Karnak Temple on Jan 12, 2016.

Translation of Episode 6, pBerlin 3055:

Title: Another Utterance

May you awake beautifully in peace, oh Karnak!

Mistress of the Temples and the Gods and Goddesses within you (lit. ‘her’)!

Gods and Goddesses who are in Karnak,

Gods and Goddesses who are in Thebes,

Gods and Goddesses who are in Heliopolis,

Gods and Goddesses who are in Memphis,

Gods and Goddesses who are in the Sky,

Gods and Goddesses who are in the Earth,

Gods and Goddesses who are in the South, the North, The West (and) the East,

Kings of Upper and Lower Egypt,

Children of a King who have received the White Crown

Makers of monuments for Amun in Karnak:

May you (pl.) awake! May you (pl.) be at peace!

May you (pl.) awake beautifully in peace!

 

Reconstructed vocalization:

(You can find a key to pronouncing the sounds here)

káy rá’

Rassáṯ náfrat(1) ma ḥátap ’apit-sí:t(2)

ḥanúwat ra’u-pírya:t(3) naṯúru naṯára:t amí:yu:s

naṯúru naṯára:t amí:yu ’apit-sí:t

naṯúru naṯára:t amí:yu ’awánu

naṯúru naṯára:t amí:yu ḥwit-ka’-pitáḥ

naṯúru naṯára:t amí:yu pú’at

naṯúru naṯára:t amí:yu tá’

naṯúru naṯára:t amí:yu rú:si: maḥí:ti: ’amínti:t ’a’íbti:t

na insí:u-bi’ítiu(4)

masíyu(5) ínsaw šáspu(6) ḥí:ḏat

áriu: ma:nu ni ’amá:nu ma ’apit-sí:t

rassáṯunu(7) ḥatpáṯunu

rassáṯunu náfir ma ḥátap

 

Notes:

  1. The text shows the masculine form nfr. Adding the feminine -t
  2. I have not found a reconstruction of ipt-swt so far in the literature. This reconstruction takes ipt as a feminine passive participle vocalized using the pattern CaCíC (per John D. Ray, “The Vocalisation of Middle Egyptian: A Survey”. Lingua Aegyptia 12 (2004), 143-155) and the plural form of s.t (reconstructed as “sít” per Jürgen Osing, Die Nominalbildung des Ägyptischen. Mainz 1976, 324) to be sí:t by vowel lengthening (cf. Werning, Daniel A., “Hypotheses on Glides and Matres Lectionis in Earlier Egyptian Orthographies” in Coping With Obscurity: The Brown Workshop on Earlier Egyptian Grammar. Lockwood Press 2016. 30-44; and Wolfgang Schenkel, Aus der Arbeit an einer Konkordanz zu den altägyptischen Sargtexten. Teil 2. Zur Pluralbildung des Ägyptischen. Göttinger Orientforschungen : Reihe 4, Ägypten ; Band 12. Harrassowitz, 1983, 208-209). The stress is dropped in apít since it is the first element in the compound, by what appears to be the usual rule in Egyptian compound nouns – the stress is retained in the second element (there are exceptions to this, of course).
  3. The reconstruction of this plural compound noun, usually transliterated rꜢ.w-pr.w,  is rather difficult. Osing Nominalbildung shows the singular (rꜢ-pr) to be rá’-pé/iry˘t (which simplified and fleshed out for our purposes becomes rá’-píryat), taking the second member of the compound to be a feminine singular collective noun ‘Houses’ on the basis of the Coptic reflexes, themselves sub-components embedded in larger compound nouns. This etymology however does not seem to match the New Kingdom writings, where the feminine -t ending is not found in either singular or plural writings I am aware of. The New Kingdom scribes write the compound as though it is a simple joining of two masculine nouns, and felt them to be distinct enough to give both nouns plural strokes when referring to more than one temple. Here, with reservations, I am following Osing and reconstructing the plural as “ra’u-pírya:t” with vowel lengthening for the plural of píryat (cf. Werning, Daniel A., “Hypotheses on Glides and Matres Lectionis in Earlier Egyptian Orthographies” in Coping With Obscurity: The Brown Workshop on Earlier Egyptian Grammar. Lockwood Press 2016. 30-44; and Wolfgang Schenkel, Aus der Arbeit an einer Konkordanz zu den altägyptischen Sargtexten. Teil 2. Zur Pluralbildung des Ägyptischen. Göttinger Orientforschungen : Reihe 4, Ägypten ; Band 12. Harrassowitz, 1983, 208-209.
  4. I have found no direct reconstruction of the plural of the compound noun ‘Kings of Upper and Lower Egypt’ in the literature. The singular of nswt (perhaps more properly nsw – see below) ‘King of Upper Egypt’ is reconstructed as ‘jíns˘w or very similar by a number of authors on the basis of Akkadian transcriptions from the New Kingdom. The singular of nswt-bit(i) is also attested in Akkadian as in-si/e-i/eb-ia – corresponding to Egyptian *insí/ebia in the time of Ramses II (cf. Jürgen Osing. Die Nominalbildung des Ägyptischen. Mainz 1976. 370, 478). Osing (op. cit. 313) also gives b˘jí:t˘j for the singular of biti (King of Lower Egypt). Recent work on nswt has apparently been gravitating to amending the transliteration for the word from nswt to simply nsw (see Schenkel, Wolfgang. “Grenzen und Chancen bei der Erschliessung der älteren Ägyptisch” in Coping With Obscurity: The Brown Workshop on Earlier Egyptian Grammar. Lockwood Press 2016, 8). For that reason, I am not reconstructing a „t“ in the compound noun here. For the plural, I am using the standard plural forms -u(:) and -ti:u for the components, with stress shift to the penult for the plural of nsw by Zweisilbengesetz. In this case I am retaining the stress in both elements of the compound noun.
  5. Taking as plural masculine perfective passive participle vocalized using the pattern CaCíC (per John D. Ray, “The Vocalisation of Middle Egyptian: A Survey”. Lingua Aegyptia 12 (2004), 143-155), with the addition of the masculine plural affix -u(:).
  6. Taking as plural perfective active participle.
  7. 2nd person plural subjunctive sḏm.f used optatively. For the vocalization of the stem of this form as CaCCá-, see (among others): Andréas Stauder, “Interpreting written morphology: the sḏm.n=f in the Pyramid Texts”. In: Journal of Near Eastern Studies 73,2 (2014), 253-271.

 

© Matthew Whealton, 2017

Names of Gods, Names of Goddesses

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One of my passions when it comes to things Kemetic is the sounds of the language used in ritual… So I comb through the linguistic Egyptological literature looking out for reconstructed vocalizations, especially those relevant to Earlier Egyptian (Old Egyptian + Middle Egyptian). Among those, the reconstructions of names of Gods and Goddesses are important since they impact ritual so directly. They also differ from the forms known to us all, since most of the names we use today are a) Greek or Coptic forms that had undergone a number of sound shifts and translation into an entirely different language (in the case of Greek names) by the time they were written or b) pronunciations according to the intentionally artificial system Egyptologists use for Egyptian words or c) hybrids of a) and b). The reconstructed vocalizations scholars have and are developing work with various kinds of evidence (including the Greek and Coptic versions of words) to arrive at form that better reflects the sounds earlier in Egyptian history. This is often a fuzzy target, but sometimes we can recover a series of stages as a word changed over time. Scholars (and whole schools of scholars) vary in their approaches to this, of course. There are many open questions as to what can and cannot be safely inferred and how the writing system can be used to recover vowels (or not). Many of the reconstructions in the literature are incomplete in the sense that certain vowels (and sometimes consonants) are left unspecified when we do not have adequate evidence to define them. Other times reconstructions contain vowels that had already transformed historically and so represent a later historical period than Earlier Egyptian (1). The field is quite a live one in Egyptology though now, after a period of around 50 years in the latter part of the twentieth century when syntactic arguments dominated the field and morphology and phonology was distinctly less emphasized.

 

So I face a conundrum in trying to fully pronounce a word or name for singing or recitation – I can’t rely on complete data all the time. In those cases, I will do my best to pick the sound that best fits known patterns (there are many well documented patterns for nouns, and some for verb forms too) or that sounds best to me. I do confess I rely on Arabic in this process sometimes, which shares kinship and many phonological and morphological similarities with Egyptian. That way I can use the names and words now, to deepen practice and get closer to the poetics and rhythms of the language, which we know were very important to how ritual speech worked in Egypt. This is something I will return to again and again in these postings, so bear with me if I leave details aside for now. My hope, of course, is that new evidence and/or theoretical progress will arise to fill in some of these gaps. But we will always be using vocalizations that are partially synthesized and simplified from the actual speech situation at any particular time among any particular speech community from Ancient Egypt. We will never achieve perfection in this. But I believe it is an honorable goal to attempt to get as close as possible as way to deepen our appreciation of the art, the magic, and the power of these words.

 

With that said, here are some names of Gods and Goddesses in a form closer to how they sounded in the early New Kingdom Temples (2). They will undoubtedly change over time as more information is gathered, and I’ll try to post those updates as they come along. Please know that they are presented here not to say that you have to use them or to disparage the names you already use for the Gods and Goddesses. Use them if and as you like – for experimenting in your own practice, or to help you understand the rhythmic structure and word plays found in the ritual texts (refer to slide 19 in Weaving the Cloth of Reality: Word and Sound in Egyptian Ritual).

 

(1) This often results in originally different vowels being combined into a neutral schwa-like sound, or ‘e’ (written in Coptic with the Greek letter epsilon) or long stressed e (represented in Coptic by the Greek letter eta). For example, stressed e results from earlier stressed i or stressed u (the two shifts happening sequentially).  So, in a word that survives in Coptic with eta, we can only say the vowel was likely í: or ú: originally.

(2) An asterisk will indicate names where I have supplied a vowel. A double asterisk will indicate a name I have reconstructed myself, using vowel transformation rules, survivals in Coptic and Greek, and other evidence in the literature.

 

Name List

Amun amá:nu [amána / amánu (Schenkel shows iamá:nuw). “Hidden One” NK Cun. a-ma-na ~ ‘amánə > ~ amáne (LE) (Peust)] Allen AEL 2013, 24; Schenkel EAS 1990, 89 ; Peust Hiero 2001, 117

 

Anubis ** aná:pu [mjw *aná:pu (on basis of Coptic survival panub ~ Arabic banu:b and the similarly patterned names imn, itm, which see for more bibliography].

 

Atum  *atá:mu [ia:tāmuw = mjw: ‘atámu >~ atʰám (LE) (Peust)] Schenkel LingAeg 2005, 147; Peust Hiero 2001, 117

 

Bastet *bu’ísti:t [buʔísti:t or buʔístiat > béstʰe (LE) (Peust) > ubísti (late); buʔísti:t or buʔístiat > béstʰe (LE) (Peust) > ubísti (late) (Osing : b(u)Ꜣést˘t) > Copt F. ubesti; mjw preferred form buʔísti:t according to feminine singular nisbe ending for f. nouns ult-t ‘-ti:t’ from Werning]  Allen AEL 2013, 74; Osing NB 1976, 310, 855-856; Peust Hiero 2001, 117; Werning Glides 2016, 33, 37, 38

 

Hathor  ** ḥatḥáru or (possibly?) ḥatḥára [*mjw ḥatḥáru or ḥatḥára > ~ ḥatḥáre (LE) (Peust)] Peust Hiero 2001, 117

 

Horus ḥára or ḥáru [ḥára (Allen)] [ḥá:ruw > ḥó:rə after Ramses II c. 1200 BCE (Loprieno, Schenkel)] [ḥá:ruw > ḥá:rə ~ NK Cun. ḫa-a-ra  > ḥó:rə after Ramses II c. 1200 BCE. (Loprieno, Schenkel) ~ Akk Neo-Assyrian -ḫuru- >~ (LE) Háre (Peust) > Copt. S hōr] Allen AE 2013, 25; Loprieno AE 1995, 38, 55; Schenkel EAS 1990, 61, 70, 88; Peust Hiero 2001, 117

 

Isis úsit [úsit ~ Meroitic Wos (*usa) (Schenkel Meroitic Woš /wusa/) > (Peust LE úse) > Assyrian (8th C. BCE) ešu > Copt S e:se B, A e:si]  Allen LingAeg 2013b; Schenkel EAS 1990, 90; Peust Hiero 2001, 117

 

Khonsu ḫánsu [ḫánsu (Osing shows ḫánz˘w). in Cun. compound U-ṣi-xa-an-ša (probably for wḏꜢ-ḫnsw) > (LE) chánse (Peust)] Osing 1976, 166; Vycichl Vocalisation 1990, 180; Peust Hiero 2001, 117

 

Maat  mú’Ꜥat [múʔʕa (Allen) / (múʀʕat Lop.) / (múꜢ`at Ray) (múꜢꜤ˘t > múꜢꜤə Schenkel)] Allen AEL 2013, 25; Loprieno AE 1995, 39; Ray LingAeg 1999, 134; Schenkel EAS 1990, 88

 

Mehit *maḥú:yat [maḥú:jvt > məḥú:ʔ]  Loprieno AE 1995, 39

 

Min mínu [mínu (Allen) >~ (LE) mín (Peust)] Allen AEL 2013, 82; Peust Hiero 2001, 117

 

Montu ** mánṯu [*mjw mánṯu >~ mántʰe (LE) (Peust); mjw: using ṯ instead of t on basis of OE attestations, all of which use the spelling mnṯw (see Hannig)] Peust Hiero 2001, 117; Hannig WAR 2003, 1594

 

Mut  ** mí’wat [*mjw mí’wat < meʔwat (Loprieno) > méwtʰ (LE) (Peust)] Loprieno AE 1995, 245; Peust Hiero, 117

 

Neith ní:yit [nīrit / nīyit (Ray) > néjtʰ (LE) (Peust)] Ray LingAeg 2004, 153; Peust Hiero 2001, 117

 

Nephthys ** nibatḥáwt [*mjw nibatḥáwt  > ~nebtʰḥá (LE) (Peust)] Peust Hiero 2001, 117

 

Osiris usúri [usúri  > (by 8th c. BCE) uséri  Meroitic: Asori (*usúri) (Schenkel shows /(a)sure/ for the Meroitic) > wsíre (LE) (Peust); Coptic Ousiri, Ousire] Allen LingAeg 2013b; Schenkel EAS 1990, 90 ; Peust Hiero 2001, 117

 

Ptah pitáḥ [pitáḥ > ~ pʰtʰáH (LE) (Peust)] Loprieno AE 1995, 34; Peust Hiero 2001, 117

 

Ra rí:Ꜥu [rí:ʕuw/rí:ʕu > (*LE) ré:ʕə >~ (LE) pʰe-rí* (Peust; note: for pʰe-ríʕ) ~Akk -ri-ia, -re-e in ša-ti/e-i/ep-na ri-a = stp.n rꜤw ? > Copt. S, B, Sub-A rē, A ri; but F, M re] Loprieno AE 1995, 39, 62; Gundacker LingAeg 2011, 59; Schenkel EAS 1990, 89; Peust Hiero 2001, 117

 

Sekhmet ** síḫmat or **sáḫmit [**mjw síḫmat < sí:ḫimat < si:ḫimat (Ray) > (LE) séchme (Peust; note: for séḫme)] Ray LingAeg 1999, 126, 130; Peust Hiero 2001, 117 (Note: I am not convinced of this reconstruction. It seems **sáḫmit fits the Greek evidence at least as well).

 

Seshemtet saší:mti:t [*mjw saší:mti:t ~ sašîmtiyat/sašîmtiyit (*mjw frrom general discussion in Ray); with feminine singular nisbe ending for f. nouns ult-t ‘-ti:t’ from Werning] Ray LingAeg 2004, 152; Werning Glides 2016, 33, 37, 38

 

Set sútḫ [sútḫ ~ sútʰch (LE) Peust)] Peust Hiero 2001, 117 (this needs more work, to confirm the antecedent to Peust’s LE reconstruction)

 

Shu šáw [šáw] Osing NB 1976, 45, 511-512

 

Tefnut * tifú:nat [t^(f)fûnat] Ray LingAeg 2004, 150 (For those with sharp eyes, you may notice that this vocalization is different from the one used in the Weaving the Cloth presentation at Pantheacon. My bad there, I simply did not cross check with my database, and substituted the pattern found in the name of Wadjet erroneously).

 

Thoth  ** ḏaḥáwti: or ḏaḥú:ti: [*mjw ḏaḥáwti or ḏaḥú:ti < tḥáwtʰe (LE – Peust)] Peust Hiero 2001, 117

 

Wadjet *wa’ḏá:wat [*mjw wa’ḏá:wat  ~ Osing: waꜢḏá:w˘t (OK) (Noun pattern VI , f.)] Osing NB 1976, 168, 669 (Note 736), 758-760 (Note 919), 791 (Note 993)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Key:

Key to pronunciations of Egyptian words in the God Names in this post. Note that the explanatory text in square brackets [], contains other characters as well, since I have tried to stick as closely as I can to the various authors’ usages. WordPress also limits posts to one very limited font, so I have had to expunge text in Coptic and Greek (mostly) and convert some characters to reasonable equivalents for the Blog.

a, i, u = short pure vowels: the ‘a’ of “father”, ‘ee’ of “beet”, ‘u’ of “Luke” but short in duration.

´ = primary syllable stress, no vowel quality change, though perhaps a bit longer in duration

: = long vowel duration, hold the vowel preceding the colon longer – about twice as long

’ = glottal stop, a catch in the throat that stops the sound momentarily, like the transition between the two syllables of English “Uh-oh” or the way a person speaking British Cockney slang would say the two ‘tt’ in “bottle”

Ꜥ = a consonant with the sound of the Arabic letter `ain – not present in English or related languages. It is common in languages of the Afro-Asiatic language phylum, to which Egyptian, Arabic, Aramaic, Syriac, Somali, and many others belong. It is made by constricting the throat and forcing air past the blockage. To give a rough idea of the sound, try saying ‘ah’ and slowly (carefully!) pushing your throat just above the Adam’s apple with your fingers to restrict the airflow. Here is a video which may help: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y0ro6b50-Lk

ḥ = an h stronger than English, sort of like a cat or iguana hissing, similar to the strong ‘j’ in Latin American Spanish “Juan”

ḫ = like ‘ch’ in German “Ach”, Scottish “Loch”, or Hebrew “la-Chayim”

ẖ = a soft ch sound – like the ‘ch’ in southern German “ich

ḳ = a sound like English ‘k’ but further back in the throat.

ḏ = dj like English “just”

ṯ = ch like English “chip”

 

 

Bibliography of books and articles cited:

 

Allen AEL 2013:

James P. Allen. The Ancient Egyptian Language: an historical study. Cambridge University Press, 2013.

 

Allen LingAeg 2013b:

James P. Allen. The Name of Osiris (and Isis). In: Lingua Aegyptia 21 (2013), 9–14

 

Gundacker LingAeg 2011:

Roman Gundacker. On the Etymology of the Egyptian Crown Name mrsw.t. In: Lingua Aegyptia 19 (2011), 37-86

 

Hannig WAR 2003:

Rainer Hannig. Ägyptisches Wörterbuch 1. Altes Reich und Erste Zwischenzeit. Zabern,  2003

 

Loprieno AE 1995:

Loprieno, Antonio. Ancient Egyptian: a linguistic introduction. Cambridge University Press, 1995.

 

Osing NB 1976:

Jürgen Osing. Die Nominalbildung des Ägyptischen. Mainz 1976

 

Peust Hiero 2001:

Peust, Carsten. Hieroglyphisch Wort für Wort. Reise Know-How Verlag, Bielefeld 2011

Note: Peust here uses an aspirated/unaspirated opposition for the sounds represented by graphemes t (Gardiner X1, bread loaf) and d (Gardiner D46, hand), instead of the more typical unvoiced/voiced opposition. But cf. his paper: Peust, Carsten 2008. On consonant frequency in Egyptian and other languages. Lingua Aegyptia 16, 105-134, where he revises this view in favor of an unvoiced/emphatic (not voiced) opposition. All reconstructions are noted here as published in Peust Hiero 2001.

 

Ray LingAeg 1999:

John D. Ray. The Vocalisation of Adjectives in Egyptian in: Lingua Aegyptia 6, 1999. 119-140.

Transcription conventions:

Note: â = long, stressed; á = short, stressed; ā = long; e = reduced unaccented vowel, perhaps but not necessarily similar to Hebrew shewa. Coptic and Later Greek equivalents: short a > Coptic o; long i: and u: to Coptic long e:; long a: to Coptic long o: .

 

Ray LingAeg 2004:

John D. Ray. “The Vocalisation of Middle Egyptian: A Survey”. Lingua Aegyptia 12 (2004), 143-155.

 

Schenkel EAS 1990:

Wolfgang Schenkel. Einführung in die altägyptische Sprachwissenschaft. Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, Darmstadt 1990.

 

Schenkel LingAeg 2005:

Wolfgang Schenkel. Die ägyptische Nominalbildungslehre und die Realität der hieroglyphischen Graphien der Sargtexte. Die Nominalbildungsklassen A I 5 und A I 6. In Lingua Aegyptia 13 (2005), 141–171

 

Vycichl Vocalisation 1990:

Werner Vycichl. La Vocalisation de la Langue Égyptienne. Institute Français d’Archéologie Orientale du Caire, Le Caire, 1990

 

Werning Glides 2016:

Werning, Daniel A. . “Hypotheses on Glides and Matres Lectionis in Earlier Egyptian Orthographies” in Coping Wit Obscurity: The Brown Workshop on Earlier Egyptian Grammar. Lockwood Press 2016

 

Djeser Djeseru (Revised)

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This piece is a kind of poetic experiment. It is two independent texts (one composed by me in English, one transcribed from Egyptian) constructed and interleaved in a way that allows them to be read as one continuous poem, individually, or in a combination of languages.  So at least three readings are possible (more if there are two or three readers and/or the texts are read in A, B, and A+B sequence in both languages). The inspiration comes from a moment just at dawn in January 2016, when hundreds of birds appeared seemingly from nowhere above the great Deir el Bahari Temple of Hatshepsut. The Temple’s proper name is Djeser Djeseru, which forms the title.

 

Djeser Djeseru

Djeser Djeseru Title Glyphs

(ḏá:sir ḏasú:ru)

Dawn light and cliff glow

Bathe stone walls and altar –

White, orpiment, and umber

Blend to gold. There are birds, birds –

Djeser Djeseru Line 1 Glyphs

(wannaná nan apúdyu ḥarúsin ma rámaṯ ḳádsin ma apúdyu)#

(How these birds exist is with their faces as people and their nature as birds,)*

 

Banking and turning above, like waves against the cliffs, not touching, not crashing,

In conscious flow they call through the rock cove – Living, living.

Djeser Djeseru Line 2 Glyphs

(wúꜤꜤu amá madwáf ḫíft sanúwif ma mádu ramí:wat)

(One of them speaking to the other with the speech of crying.)

 

Crying like the Ba of Shu, a wind of souls,

They greet the shining sun who woke them

From dark caves beyond the mountain.

From lament to joy, their songs cheer – healing, healing,

Djeser Djeseru Line 3 Glyphs

(ará ma-ḫít iwásin ar wanmá sí:mu ar saḏfá’ ma kú:mat)

(After they come to eat plants and get nourished in the Black Land,)

 

As their waves subside. Dry rock silence replaces echoes of voices

And they descend to lush fields of birsim and sesame, cabbage and cane. Flying, flying,

Djeser Djeseru Line 4 Glyphs

(ḫanyásin ẖur ḥíḏwat nit pú’at)

(alighting under the brightness of the sky,)

 

They move to broader day. New light subsumes old thoughts.

Across flat rich land and canals,

The spectrum widens in greens and metal-shine,

Yet with old rhythms still sounding, sounding –

Djeser Djeseru Line 5 Glyphs

(ḫaparḫarásin ma ḳádsin (ni) apúdyu)

(then they change into their nature of birds.)

 

In their separated hearts, now just people, now just birds,

Echoes linger of Gods they praised in Most Sacred of Sacred Places:

Blessing, blessing.

Matt Whealton, May 2016, May 2017, January 2018

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Notes:

Djeser Djeseru is the Egyptian name of the Temple of Hatshepsut at Deir el Bahri. The Name is often translated as ‘Holy of Holies’. Here I translate as “Most Sacred of Sacred Places”, since Holy of Holies carries some confusing connotations from usage in other religious traditions. Djeser Djseru is the proper name of the Temple here. The central, most sacred shrine in a temple is usually called Per-Wer (pr-wr) ‘Great House’, or sometimes Set-Weret (s.t-wr.t) ‘Great Seat/Throne’.

#Burgundy italic reconstructed vocalizations are my own work.

*Black italic text in parentheses are from an inscription in the Cenotaph of Seti I at Abydos. Translation by James P. Allen. Genesis in Egypt: The Philosophy of Ancient Egyptian Creation Accounts. Yale Egyptological Studies 2, 1988: 1. Hieroglyphic text was transcribed from von Lieven, Alexandra. Grundriss des Laufes der Sterne: das sogenannte Nutbuch. Vol. 31. Museum Tusculanum Press, 2007, 408-409.

 

© Matthew J. Whealton, May 2016, 2017, 2018