JACQUES-EDOUARD BERGER FOUNDATION: World Art Treasures

Glossary


Amon

The King of the Gods is represented as a human being (at times ithyphallic), wearing a mortarboard crowned with two plumes or, at times, with a ram's head, the animal dedicated to him. With the goddess Mut and the god Khonsu, they formed the Theban Triad. He was also identified with the god Re and venerated under the name of Amon-Re. The cult's principal location was in Thebes.


Anubis

A jackal-headed god who presided over mummification and accompanied the dead to the hereafter.


Atef

One of Osiris' characteristic hats, made up of a miter crowned with a solar disk flanked by two ostrich plumes.


Bousiris

From the Egytian, meaning "City of Osiris". A city in Lower Egypt where the worship of Osiris was born.


Canopic urns

These four urns contained the liver, lungs, stomach and intestines extracted from the body during mummification.


Cartouche

A loop of cord with a knot at its base, in the side of which the Pharaoh's name was written. The cartouche, the symbol of the Sun God's universal power - and thus the Pharaoh's - was reserved for the Pharaoh's nomen and pronomen.


Castles for millions of years

On Thebes' west bank, the Pharaohs of the 18th, 19th and 20th Dynasties had large religious monuments built, which were improperly called "funerary temples". In reality, they used them, during their liftime, to worship the deified pharaoh associated with Amon, the main Theban deity.
The ancient Egyptians rightly preferred the term "Castles for millions of years".


The dead (Occident)

The Land of the Setting Sun: this is the Kingdom of the Dead (the souls of the dead go to the Land of the Setting Sun).


Dendera

Dendera was the capital of the sixth nome of Upper Egypt, and its necropolis contains tombs dug betweenthe Predynastic period and the end of the Old Kingdom. This site's renown is due to the famous Temple of Hathor, which dates back to the Greco-Roman period. Dendera was dedicated to Hathor, one of the oldest Egyptian deities, represented as a cow or a woman with cow's ears.


Djed

A pillar, symbol of stability and duration; it represents Osiris' spinal column. It is also a protective amulet.


Hator

This cow-headed deity (sometimes depicted as a woman with cow's ears) protected women and the dead, as she was likened to the Goddess of the Kingdom of the Dea; she was also goddess of music.


Horus

God of the sky and protector of the pharaoh who was likened to him, Horus could either be depicted as a falcon-headed man. As the son of Osiris and Isis, he was often represented as infant (Harpocrates) with a finger held to his lips


Ma'at

Divine personification of the cosmic order, secondarily connected to the concepts of truth and justice. She wears an ostrich plume on her head, the transcription of her name.


Mut

The wife of Amon, she was venerated in Thebes. Originally depicted as a vulture, she later took on a human form.


Naos

A small chapel of stone or wood inside the sanctuary, in which the god's effigy was kept.


Neter

God or the Divine.


Nome

A word of Greek origin, designating administrative provinces (depending on the period, there were between 38 and 42).


Osiris

Isis' husband; after having been killed by his brother, Seth, he fathered a son, Horus, who, grown to adulthood, avenged him. He is represented with his crown, Atef, his scepter, bequa and his flail, nekhekh.


Ptah

The God of Memphis, where he was believed to have brought the universe into being; the husband of the Lion Goddess, Sekhmet, he was depicted wearing a mummy's shroud, holding in his hand the scepter. He was later likened to another Memphis god of death, Sokaris, and was worshipped in his syncretic form of Ptah-Sokaris.


Pylon

A monumental temple entrance, consisting of a portal between two enormous trapezoidal monoliths .


Sekhmet

Lion-headed goddess, sometimes crowned with the solar disk. She protected the royal power; she can be likened to Hator, Bastet and Isis.


Thebes

During the 18th Dynasty (ca. 1550 - 1295 B.C.), the city of Weset was founded by Amenhotep I; better known by its Greek name, Thebes, it became the heart of the country. It was at this time that the Great Temple of Amon in Karnak became the country's most important religious center and the royal necropolises were excavated in he Valley of the Kings and the Valley of the Queens.


This

In the beginning of what is known as the Predynastic period (3300 - 2920 B.C.), the population had gathered in two centers: one in the North, in the Delta region and the other in the South, in Hierakonopolis, where we know of sovereigns such as King Scorpion and Narmer. The last King of the Predynastic period, he conquered Lower Egypt and unified the country, no doubt after several wars. His successor, Aha - who can probably be identified with the legendary Menes - founded the 1st Dynasty (from the Greek: dynam(is) = power). The two first Dynasties were called Thinite because, according to the Greek historian, Manethon - to whom we owe a list of all thirty lineages of the Egyptian sovereigns - the pharaohs of this period came from the city of This, of which no trace was ever found, but which must have been located in the Abydos area.


Wadj

A scepter in the form of a papyrus stalk, it was characteristic of female deities.


Was

A scepter characteristic of male deities.