Glossary

Akkadian: Semitic language that appeared in northern Mesopotamia in the third millennium B.C., and later became the general official language for all Mesopotamia and the Levant during the second millennium, before being replaced by Aramaic from the ninth century B.C.

Amun: The god of Thebes and one of the most important deities of Egypt, whose temple at Karnak is the best surviving religious complex in Egypt.

Aramaic: The language used in the Levant from the ninth century B.C., and in Palestine in the early part of the first century A.D.

Ben-ben stone: Sacred stone at Heliopolis that symbolized the sun-god Ra. It served as the earliest prototype for the pyramid or the obelisk.

Copt: The name the Arabs called Egyptians, following the Greek name "Egyptos."

Gnostic: Those Christians who seek to gain spiritual knowledge through mysteries and the attempt to know oneself, and interpret the Scriptures allegorically.

Hathor: A goddess in the form of a cow, the nurse of the King of Egypt as well as the goddess of gold. Hermes Trismegistus: Thoth, the ancient Egyptian god of writing, became identified with the Greek god Hermes. Hermes Trismegistus means Hermes the Thrice-greatest.

Hermetic: Hermetic literature, a collection of treatises and dialogues dating from the Roman period in Egypt and purporting to be revelations of Hermes Trismegistus. They deal with questions of religious philosophy, astrology, magic and alchemy.

Hittite: Asiatic people who settled in Anatolia in the third millennium B.C., and spoke an Indo-European language.

Horus: Falcon-god usually depicted as a hawk. He was a god of the sky as well as being the embodiment of divine kingship, protector of the reigning king.

Another Horus was the son of Isis and Osiris, who was engaged in a long struggle with Set to avenge the killing of his father.

Hyksos: Foreign rulers, who included Semitic and Human elements, who subdued and ruled Egypt for about 108 years between the mid-seventeenth and the mid-sixteenth century B.C.

Hypostyle hall: Large temple court filled with columns, forming an essential element in Egyptian religious architecture.

Isis: Goddess who encapsulated the virtues of the archetypal Egyptian wife and mother. She was the sister-wife of Osiris and mother of Horus. She is best known mythologically as the devoted wife of Osiris, whose body she sought after his murder by Set.

Ka: A term used by the Egyptians to describe the creative life-force.

Maat: Goddess personifying truth, justice and the essential harmony of the universe, who was usually portrayed as a seated woman wearing an ostrich feather.

Masoratic: The Masoratic Text of the Old Testament is the Hebrew text supplied with diacritical marks in the tenth century a.d. to enable correct pronunciation.

Min: God of fertility and ancestor worship; often shown in ithyphallic form.

Muntu: The falcon-headed god of war, who belongs to Thebes.

Mut: The vulture-goddess consort of Amun.

Neo-Platonists: The Alexandrian philosophers who followed the same philosophy as the Athenian Plato, of whom Plotinus of the third century A.D. is the most celebrated.

Nomen: The name given to the king at his birth.

254 Glossary

Nomes: Territorial divisions in Ancient Egypt, which were 36 in total.

Osiris: The Egyptian god of the underworld and judge of the dead. He is associated with death, resurrection and the judgment of the dead.

Ostracon: Term used by archaeologists to refer to shards of pottery or flakes of limestone bearing texts and drawings.

Pranomen: The name that the king receives on his coronation.

Ptah: God of Memphis associated with creation.

Ra: Heliopolitan sun-god whose cult is first attested in the name of the Second Dynasty King Reneb (c. 2865 B.C.).

Sea People: A coalition of sea-roving peoples, who came from the Aegean and the Ionian coast of Asia Minor, and attacked western Asia and Egypt during the period c. 1220-1190 B.C.

Septuagint: The earliest extant Greek translation of the Old Testament from Hebrew. It was made in Alexandria by 70 Jewish scribes in the third century B.C. during the reign of Ptolemy II.

Set: God of chaos and confusion, who is said to have murdered his brother Osiris and then engaged in a long and violent contest with his nephew Horus, who sought to avenge the death of his father.

Shu: God of atmosphere and air, son of Atum, the creator, and father of Geb, the "earth," and Nut, the "sky."

Talmud: The most important work of religious law in post-biblical Judaism, composed in Babylon and Palestine between the first and fifth centuries A.D.

Thomas (Gospel of): One of the Coptic gospels found in Nag Hammadi, which includes many previously unknown sayings of Christ.

Thoth: The scribe god, associated with wisdom, learning, writing and the arts.

Uraeus: Type of snake that served as the sacred image of Wa'zet, patron deity of the town of Buto in the Delta, who represented Lower Egypt, in contrast to the Upper Egyptian vulture-goddess Nekhbet.

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