Full issue of JHIE 2.
The ancient Egyptian religion consists of a multi–dimensional meta–physical system, whose Kernel and real essence might easily escape the layperson. What was the true essence of the ancient Egyptian religion? Was it polytheistic or heathen (considered through the Christian forma mentis)? Was it henotheistic, monotheistic or something more? What are the common points —if any— between this ancient way of approaching the Divine and Christianity? What were the inﬂuences from the old Egyptian religion to Christianity? What was the role of the ancient Egyptian priests? Did they have any common habits compared to modern priests and pastors? Which were the most important expressions of the ancient Egyptian piety? Was there a popular cult walking parallel to the ofﬁcial state religion? Was the conception of the Divine in the ancient Egyptian minds a multi–spectral approach of the ONE, expressing the Oneness of GOD (~ in Pluribus Unum)? Why some Old Kingdom wise priests–philosophers insisted in using deliberately the word god explicitly only in singular in their texts? What are the main misunderstandings of the modern (broader) public about Egypt and the ancient religion, fed by the superstition, mass media’s mis–information, esoterism and human weakness? In our paper we are also going to discuss Sauneron’s opinions about the ancient Egyptian priesthood [Sauneron, 32000] and Derchain’s [Derchain, 1965] and Hornung’s [Hornung, 21996] bright insights on the comparisons of the Egyptian divinities to the quantum–mechanical orbitals. We are going to extend and discuss thoroughly these virtual although intriguing comparisons, by adding references to Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle, to Schrödinger’s black–box/cat probability system, the de Broglie duality of the wave–particle dual nature of quantum mechanical systems and their tempting virtual comparison to the free will of humans, the possibility of miracles, not forgetting ﬁnally to mention the cosmological Anthropic Principle and the Big Bang theory alluding to The Creation of the Universe at t = 0 (or perhaps at log10t = ∞), the GUTs, entropy, and the concomitant Christian beliefs. Maybe the Egyptians of Antiquity (unlike the ancient Hellēnes) were never prone to create Science per se, however the fact that today we can —mutatis mutandis— compare their theological allegories to modern scientiﬁc notions proves unequivocally that their Einfühlung was indeed deep and their cosmovisional and theological metaphors might disclose more basic knowledge of both Physics and Meta–Physics than one could actually expect … We also conclude that some of the actual and most antique origins of Christianity (in particular) and Monotheism (in general) should be sought for not only in Judaism, but also in the ancient Egyptian religion and the related wisdom and funerary texts.
L' Égypte du Début de l'Ancien Empire à la Fin de la Deuxième Période Ιntermédiaire: Bilan Historique et Scientifique
L’histoire de l’Égypte ancienne alterne des périodes florissantes (Ancien Empire, Moyen Empire, Nouvel Empire), et des périodes troublées, qualifiées de «périodes intermédiaires». La fin de la Deuxième Période intermédiaire marque cependant une rupture. À partir de là, en effet, l’Égypte prendra dans le monde une place nouvelle et sera davantage liée à l’histoire du Proche–Orient à l’est, de la Nubie au sud. Un bilan de l’histoire, de l’art et —certes— de la pensée scientifique et de la religion à la veille du Nouvel Empire présente donc un intérêt très particulier.
This research aims to demonstrate that the ancient Egyptians had a profound understanding of abstract, philosophical concepts rather than a mere collection of primitive beliefs, founded in mytho–religion. In order to achieve this, we compare some ancient Egyptian Cosmogonies and Aristotle’s (fundamental) metaphysical concepts of causality, actuality and potentiality. We are very cautious not to force a Western framework upon an ancient culture, nor do we attempt the paradoxical quest to find an origin of Aristotelian metaphysics in ancient Egypt. On the contrary, by comparing fundamental, religious texts from ancient Egypt with fundamental, philosophical works of ancient Hellas, we attempt to highlight similar, abstract thought processes in both cultures. Part one explains the ancient Hellenic separation of mytho–religion and rational Philosophy, and the reasons why this cut did not occur in ancient Egypt. We find the latter in the crucial obligation of maintaining Macat in daily —continuous and nearly identical ways— to which the ancient Egyptians had to adapt their Sciences and Philosophies, instead of separating religion and reason. Part two, then, compares in detail the above mentioned famous Aristotelian concepts with the Heliopolitan, Hermopolitan and Memphite Cosmogonies. This comparison touches —among others— upon the important religious–philosophical concepts of Creation, the origin of Death and introduction of Evil in the ordered world. It furthermore explains why the rather obscure concept of Aristotelian Prima Materia, which causes an unexpressed, but obvious «Duality» between Aristotle’s Prime Mover and Prime Matter (eternal Actuality and Potentiality) does not create any problems in the metaphysical nature of (the primeval god of the watery Abyss) Nūn. Based on the latter, we conclude (by introducing our current research) on how the old Egyptological problem (of whether Evil in ancient Egypt was perceived as being contingent or present since Creation) appears to have been metaphysically circumvented altogether by the ancient Egyptians themselves.
von Bomhard, Anne–Sophie:
The Naos of the Decades is a remarkable monument due to the originality of its decoration and the unusual history of its discovery. Its reconstruction is the result of a veritable puzzle of archæological history: the roof of the chapel, which is exhibited in the Louvre ever since 1817, was discovered on land and has never been under water. Its base and rear were brought to light in 1940 during underwater excavations carried out by Prince ῾Omar Toussoun. And finally, several slabs of its lateral walls (major fragments of both side walls of the Naos) were discovered under water, in Abukir Bay, by the European Institute for Underwater Archæology (IEASM) in collaboration with the Department of Underwater Archæology of the Egyptian Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA). One of these recently discovered slabs revealed a mythological text about the creation of the decanal stars, of which there exists no other known version! This contains an original Cosmogony which throws an entirely new light on the mythological functions which the Egyptians attributed to these stars ever since the most ancient time. The Book of Nūt, whose oldest currently known version dates back to the New Kingdom, explains in detail the course of the decanal stars and the Sun, but it was demonstrated that it goes back at the very least to the Middle Kingdom. Its data allow establishing a connection between the five figures engraved in each frame of the decades on the Naos and the various stages of the decanal stars during their annual and daily trajectories. Hence, we also present here a new astronomical and mythological interpretation of the Naos of the Decades in the light of the astronomical text of the Book of Nūt. On the Naos of the Decades, Rēc issued a decree attributing the power of life and death to the decanal stars. It further specifies that the god Shū stands at their head. This outstanding monument displays frames containing five figures surrounded by legends. Each frame is attributed to one decade and contains an astrological text aiming at the destruction of the enemies of Egypt. The actions of these decanal stars depend on the hour of day or night, according to the Sun’s position in the sky relative to them. Decisions on life and death are not accidental, but are determined by the «Books», i.e.: by the results of the divine judgements. The Naos itself appears to be one of them, a Book of Shū entrusted by this god to Sekhmet/Sirius, regent of the decans, to have these judgements carried out by the decans in her retinue.
In 1999, underwater excavation by the European Institute of Underwater Archæology (IEASM), in the Bay of Abukir, brought to light new fragments of a naos known since the early 19th century as The Louvre Calendar. It was later called The Naos of the Decades because of the very particular decoration of its outside surfaces which were separated into frames, one for each group of ten days of the ancient Egyptian year. This new discovery was the third one in the series of archæological episodes which allowed in the course of over two centuries to nearly complete the reconstitution of the monument: the roof of this naos was found in 1777 on land and belongs to the Louvre Museum; the base and the rear wall were found in 1940 under water in the Bay of Abukir, and our newly found items complete the major part of the lateral surfaces. Despite their stay of over one thousand years in salty water, the inscriptions preserved fairly well on the new items contradict the previously assumed distribution of the decades on the walls, and above all, shed an entirely new light on the interpretation of this important monument.
Turquoise was mined mainly in Sinai, at Maghara and at Serabit ᾽el-Khadim. Before the ancient Egyptian miners started their mining work, they would seek the permission of the relevant divinity, in order to proceed, i.e.: of Hathor (lady of turquoise / nbt-mfkAt). This permission could be obtained either by retrieving the mined minerals, or by praising the divinity, or by performing a special cult ritual celebrating the opening ceremony. Factors such as the divine control over the mineral Universe could easily raise the question: opening a turquoise gallery was a divine gift at first; then a scientific experience at second. In this paper we shall try to shed light on the efforts of the ancient Egyptian miners in the turquoise mines in Sinai as well as to their veneration of divinities.
It was not by accident or by try–and–error methods that ancient Egyptians had built those magniﬁcent monuments which started with the pyramids ﬁve thousand years ago. It is by profound scientiﬁc knowledge, a fact which has good evidence in the various mathematical papyri that were discovered, which reﬂect the deep knowledge in Mathematics, Geometry and calculations. When one investigates the way the ancient Egyptians manipulated their Mathematics, one gets surprised by the virtual similarity between the Mathematics that were used at the time of the pharaohs and the ones used by computer systems today. We have only uncovered six principal papyri addressing Mathematics from the pharaonic era until now: the Reisner Papyrus, the Moscow Mathematical Papyrus (MMP), the Kahūn Papyrus, the Egyptian Mathematical Leather Roll (EMLR), the Rhind Mathematical Papyrus (RMP), and the Berlin Papyrus. Each of the above sources contains a series of problems and their solutions. The most known papyrus of them all is the Rhind Mathematical Papyrus which is now on display at the British Museum. It contains 87 problems in addition to a table for the decomposition of two over odd numbers into unit fractions, which we are going to investigate in detail. We are also going to present brieﬂy some hints concerning the interrelations between Mathematics and the ancient Egyptian religious symbols (mainly the apotropaic sound Eye of Horus).
In the first half of the fourth century BC Hellenic Astronomy began to move from the stage of contemplative philosophical thought to a new phase of experimentation and practice. Features of this stage became obvious with the contributions of the Hellenic Astronomer Eudoxos, who visited Egypt during the fourth century BC, and probably benefited from its Sciences before the founding of Alexandria. Perhaps the time he spent in Egypt represents one stage of the transmission of Egyptian knowledge to Hellenic Science, which was really developed in Alexandria some decades later. This paper deals with two main debated issues: The first is the exact date Eudoxos visited Egypt; and the second is the kind of knowledge Eudoxos received from learning Egyptian Astronomy and to what extent the late Egyptian Astronomy of his time may had influenced the Hellenic.
Hanna, Atif Naguib:
One of the many significant original achievements of Abba Dēmētrios I (12th Patriarch of the See of Saint Mark in Alexandria: 189-231 AD) was the method he devised for calculating the Date of Easter so that it would always follow the Passover, just like the Rest Easter Sunday, according to the historical biblical events. This method is known as the Epact, and to this day it is followed by all Eastern Orthodox Churches in determining their Easter date very many years in advance. It involved making a correlation between the lunar (Semitic) year and the solar (Egyptian) year. This was necessary because the lunar year is shorter than the solar year by eleven days, and a fixed date in it can fall in any season as the years go by, and would deviate Easter from the Passover. When Abba Dēmētrios performed the Epact Computation, he convoked the Holy Synod, and explained it to its Members. They approved it and decided to abide by it. Many years later, in 325 AD, when the 1st Œcumenical Council of Nikaia met, this computation was submitted to it, and was again unanimously accepted. It continued to be followed by all Christian Churches until 1582 AD, when the calendar was changed by Pope Gregorius XIII of Rome. Since then the Western Churches departed from it, and now they observe Easter on the first Sunday after the Full Moon following the Vernal Equinox, regardless of the Passover. All the Eastern Churches, however, still adhere to this old computation (Computus), hence the divergence between the Eastern and Western Churches on the Date of Easter celebration persists.
Geroulanos, Stephanos; Maravelia, Alicia:
A major step in the evolution of Hellenistic Medicine and Surgery resulted from the victories of Alexander the Great (356-323 BC), who conquered —more or less— the whole Eastern World, including today’s Turkey, the Middle East, Iraq, Persia, Afghanistan and Pakistan, as also Egypt, Sudan and Libya. With the founding of new cities, Hellenic Science and Culture were firmly implanted in these countries with their ancient civilizations. In the same time scholars were able to collect the preexisting knowledge from the newly embodied or surrounding countries. An impressive cross–fertilisation took place, which became even more profound as all the gold and silver found in the cellars of the palaces of the Great Kings of Persia and Egypt, as also of all local kings, were struck into coins. This immense amount of money was thrown into the Economy and major new cities were erected. By founding all these new towns (for example at least 22 towns named Alexandria were erected), huge amounts of money were released into the circulation and finally reached every citizen. This caused an impressive expansion and flourishing of the Economy and even more. Poor people, who were unable before to reach a physician or a «Medical Centre», were now able to choose the best–ones. This resulted in a concentration of patients in major «Medical Centres/Schools» called Asklēpieia, causing an excessive accumulation of medical experience and knowledge. At least 400 temples of god Asklēpios, called also Asklēpieia, have been excavated; from Spain to the Himalayas and from Danube down to Ethiopia. The most important place of medical thought and practice became very early the famous Centre of Hellenic knowledge, the city of Alexandria in Egypt (Alexandria ad Aegyptum). Alexandria, founded personally by Alexander the Great in 331 BC, became very quickly the most important city. It was governed by a Dynasty which descended from Alexander’s General Ptolemaios I, surnamed Laghos or Sōtēr (305-284 BC) and his successors Ptolemaios II and III. These three Kings founded and tremendously promoted both Arts and Science. They even built a Botanical and Zoological Garden, a so–called Mouseion, a Museum, which however served all Nine Muses, as also Medicine, and a Serapeion, a temple of the supreme syncretistic god of that era (bearing traits of Osiris, Ploutōn, Zeus et al.). Each of them was adorned with a vast library. The Library of the Mouseion, well known as the Alexandrian Library, became the biggest library of the whole Antiquity. This library was for more than 600 years (300 BC-342 AD) the true Centre of Knowledge of the whole Antique World and included about 900,000 book–scrolls. There most renowned Scholars, Scientists, Writers and Physicians of all possible cultural backgrounds could assemble to study and to teach. The prestige of having studied in Alexandria concentrated numerous scholars, teachers and students, making of Alexandria the greatest city of the Hellenistic World. A contemporary rival centre of learning existed in Perghamos of Asia Minor, though only after 250 BC, during the reign of Eumenēs I. However, the Ptolemaic Pharaoh jealously guarded the supremacy of Alexandria by forbidding the export of the papyrus plant or its products. It is said that because of this forced shortage of papyrus Perghamos developed a material derived from animal skin, subsequently called Perghamēnē, i. e.: parchment. Medicine flourished extremely well both in Perghamos (mainly due to its famous Asklēpieion) and of course in Alexandria, due firstly to the Mouseion and the consecutive concentration of knowledge, and secondly due to the possibility of dissecting human corpses. As mummification of the dead bodies was practiced for centuries in Egypt it was easy to extend dissection as a post mortem examination. Anatomy and Surgery prospered enormously from these dissections, reaching their peaks with Galēnos of Perghamos, better known in the West as Galen (c. 130-200 AD) some centuries later. His treatises became the basis of medical knowledge for more than 1300 years. In our study we are going to examine thoroughly the principal Medical and Surgical Schools of Alexandria, with emphasis on the work of Celsus (Kelsos), Paulos of Aighina, Dēmētrios, Hērophilos, Erasistratos, Galēnos et al.