Hierakonpolis: the Shrine of the South
Not until the Early Dynastic Period, however, do we gain a fairly clear picture of what these earliest temples may have looked like. The first example of a cult temple of this period known to us is that of Nekhen or Hierakonpolis – ‘city of the falcon’ as the Greek called it – in southern Egypt (Kom El Ahmar). Recent excavations in this area indicate that by 3500 BCE Hierakonpolis was perhaps the most important settlement in the Nile valley and may have acted as a kind of national shrine for Upper Egypt in this early period.
Archaeological evidence uncovered since 1985 shows that the earliest temple complex at the site consisted of a large, parabolic-shaped court over 32 m (105 ft) long and some 13 m (43 ft) wide. The court was bounded by a mud-covered reed fence and contained a large mound of sand and, near the court’s apex, a tall pole which, judging by later representational evidence bore a flag or totem, possibly an image of the falcon form deity of Hierakonpolis. On the north side of the court were a gateway and a number of small rectangular buildings – evidently workshops associated with the cult – while on the court’s south side stood the shrine itself.
From the evidence of the excavated post holes and trenches, combined with early representations of the shrine of surviving seal impressions, we know that it was a rectangular structure fronted by huge wooden pillars 1-1.5 m (3 ft 3 in-4 ft 11 in) in diameter and as much as 12 m (39 ft 4 in) high. The curved roof rose to the front of the structure, giving it a form sometimes said to resemble of a crouching animal but also not unlike the shape of the archaic fetish represented as a bandage-wrapped bird of prey and later used as a determinative in writing the words akhem ‘divine image’ and Nekheny ‘(the god) of Nekhen [i.e., Hierakonpolis]. This latter similarity should be considered seriously because it appears that it was the falcon god assimilated with Horus, the patron god of kingship – as depicted on the Narmer Palette and other artifacts found at this site – which was worshipped here. In any event, the sloping roofline of the shrine may possibly be reflected in the gradually lowering levels – front to back – of the later Egyptian temple. …
From his arrival had dated the sense of social inferiority which more than natural gifts had been the driving force of his ambition and which had spurred him on through failures that would have daunted a more talented man.
Tom Sharpe, Porterhouse Blue (1974)
Hatshepsut was the first female pharaoh of Ancient Egypt in 1500 BC. It is believed she was the first to try to conquer other lands such as Punt. She governed for 20 years in a period of peace and prosperity. She wore male clothing and a beard to try to hide her femininity, as well as cutting off her hair. After her death, her statues were desecrated and removed from official history.
Before she was queen, Hatshepsut married her half-brother to preserve the royal blood. Soon after her half-brother’s coronation, he fell ill and died. Her step-son was too young to become Pharaoh and she became regent, a Pharaoh on behalf of her step-son. A naval excursion would exert her power over Egypt, as well as possibly bringing back gifts to appease the priests.
There are quite a few errors in this. To start with, Hatshepsut was not a “pharaoh”, but a king. The term “pharaoh” only began to refer to the king during the sole reign of Hatshepsut’s co-regent and later successor, Thutmosis III. Second, Hatshepsut was not the first female king; Sobekneferu at the end of the Twelfth Dynasty ruled for four years (c. 1806-1802 BC), and is the first known female king of Egypt. Hatshepsut’s expedition to Punt was a trade expedition not a conquest, and she certainly was not the first Egyptian ruler to attempt to rule other lands. The founder of the Eighteenth Dynasty, Nebpehtyre Ahmose, conducted foreign campaigns in the Levant and Nubia, and this must mark the beginning of Egyptian imperialism (though even in the Middle and Old Kingdoms, foreign campaigns to establish Egyptian hegemony were not infrequent). As for trying to hide her femininity, Hatshepsut is represented in male clothes and wearing a beard; there is no evidence she wore this on a day to day basis, and she also used female iconography at times; this probably represents the ideologically problematic nature of a woman holding a role seen by the culture as exclusively male. Her image was removed from the official record, but only some thirty years later, toward the end of her successor Thutmosis III’s reign. The reason for such an obliteration, thirty years after her death, remains contested.
Far from dying shortly after the start of his reign, Hatshepsut’s husband, Thutmosis II, reigned at least three years. Although they were married, Thutmosis had other wives as well, and bore his son by Iset, a secondary wife. Thutmosis III succeeded his father as king, with his mother only assuming the titles of a king as his co-regent over time: she first appears with the titles of a king on a stamp on a jar in the tomb of Ramose and Hatnefer, dated to regnal year 7.
I hope this is helpful. :)
“I am the lord of fire, who lives on truth,
the lord of eternity and the maker of joy;
the snakes of the netherworld have not rebelled against me.”
~ Coffin Text 1130.
The ‘Lord of All’ describes himself.
Deus, Deus meus (ps. 22), plainchant.
O God, my God, answer me: Why have you forsaken me?
[Why are you so] Far from the words of my supplication?
My God, I shall cry out and you do not hear…
One of the (many) things that annoys me about popular culture and its interaction with music and with religion is the idea that ‘Latin chanting’ is ‘ominous’. Much like Toccata and Fugue being ‘scary’, this seems to me a received opinion which can only be assented to by switching off your critical faculties. Permanently.
The above is not ‘ominous’. Its subject is heavy, yes, but its timbre is consoling. The idea of ‘ominous Latin chanting’ is idiot. It presupposes a kind of nonsense worldview where inquisitors roamed the land, announcing their presence by chanting meaningless drivel to terrify the peasants (inquisitions are too large a topic to cover here, but suffice to say that the popular image of the inquisition is best contradicted by pointng out that they were generally staffed by lawyers, not illiterate fanatics.)
When, in the Middle Ages, would an ordinary person have heard chanted Latin? Most likely, every week, at Church on a Sunday. (The medieval obligation for Church on a Sunday usually included Matins and Vespers as well as Mass).
What was this chanting for? To praise God. Who would have chanted? Mainly, bishops, priests, and monks, but for much of the Mass and the Office, anyone who knew the chant was probably expected to join in. (That this gradually stopped being the case likely has more to do with the development of polyphonic, choral settings of the Ordinary, and a reaction to the Reformation and its emphasis on popular participation.)
The idea that the sound of brief respite from work, the sound of engaging in the public religion, and in likely the only arstistic experience you might ever be involved in was “ominous” is… beyond stupid. But it betrays (a) the popular and arrogant assumption of knowledge on the basis of ego, and (b) the extent to which popular impressions are badly distorted.
The old tradition of Christendom was that the highest form of faith was doubt. It was the doubt of a man about his soul. It was admirably expressed to me by Mr Yeats, who is no champion of Catholic orthodoxy, in stating his preference for medieval Catholicism as compared with modern humanitarianism: “Men were thinking then about their own sins, and now they are always thinking about other peoples.
G. K. Chesterton, Irish Impressions, 121. (via thirstygargoyle)
My attempt at a sb3yt, which I wrote the other day when I was bored.
Psalm 43, vv. 1-5.
Full text:Judica me, Deus, et discerne causam meam de gente non sancta:
ab homine iniquo et doloso erue me.
Quia tu es, Deus, fortitudo mea: quare me repulisti?
et quare tristis incedo, dum affligit me inimicus?
Emitte lucem tuam et veritatem tuam:
ipsa me deduxerunt, et adduxerunt
in montem sanctum tuum, et in tabernacula tua.
Et introibo ad altare Dei,
ad Deum qui lætificat juventutem meam.
Confitebor tibi in cithara, Deus, Deus meus.
Quare tristis es, anima mea?
et quare conturbas me?
Spera in Deo, quoniam adhuc confitebor illi,
salutare vultus mei, et Deus meus.
“Judge me, O God, and discern my cause from an unholy nation: from the unjust and deceitful man rescue me.
For you, O God, are my strength: why have you rejected me? And why do I go about unhappy, while the enemy afflicts me?
Send forth your light and your truth: They shall lead me, and bring me to your holy mountain, and into your holy places.
And I shall go to the alter of God, to God who makes my youth joyful.
I will confess you on the harp, O God, my God.
Why are you downcast, my soul? And why have you disquieted me?
Hope in God, since I shall trust in him still, the salvation of my countenance, and my God.”
Until 1970, this psalm was read quietly by the priest at the beginning of every Mass. It’s also relatively short, which is why it seemed like a good choice to practice writing with.