Volume 2 (2014)

First page of the paper.

Proceedings of the first egyptological conference of the Patriarchate of Alexandria

The Naos of the Decades and the Astral Aspects of Divine Judgement

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.


von Bomhard, A.S. 2014. «The Naos of the Decades and the Astral Aspects of Divine Judgement», JHIE 2: 163–179



Language: en


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