Sunday, October 19, 2014

Menés the Law Giver

Alice C. Linsley

The Upper Nile was extremely fertile and had a more diversified population than the Upper Nile region. It was governed by kingdom-building rulers, such as Menés, who is believed to have united the peoples of the Upper and Lower Nile Valley.  If this is so, he was indeed a magnificent ruler, for his kingdom would have stretched from Abydos to the Mediterranean.

Menes (Mena, Min) flourished c. 2925 BC.  He was a descendant of the "Horus-people" or the "Falcon-people" (Horus's aviary totem was the falcon.) Menes consolidated the districts around the First Cataract of Aswan and began the northward movement that led to the unification of the peoples of the Upper and Lower Nile Valley. The Hawk-people had as many as 50 kings, so Menes represents a very ancient royal lineage. To Menes is attributed the oldest legislative system in history:  the law of Tehut. An image of Menes is found on the Supreme Court building in Washington D.C. The South and North wall friezes depict a procession of 18 lawgivers and Menes is the first.

Nekhen (Hierakonpolis) was a prestigious shrine city of the Horus people. Their descendants who were priests are identified in the Bible as Horites (Gen. 36).

Menes has been identified with Narmer or with a Kushite ruler whose Horus name was Ahauiti. The tombs of both rulers have been excavated at Abydos, the largest tombs of that time anywhere in Egypt.

Whether Menes was Narmer or Ahauiti, his unification of the Upper and Lower Nile established him as the founder of a new House/Dynasty. This remained the case even after Mentuhotep II reunited Egypt after the 1st Intermediate Period.  Instead of being recognized as the founder of a new House, Mentuhotep II was considered a ruler of the 11th Dynasty.

The figure below was drawn by Faucher-Gudin after Prisse d'Avenues. The gold medallions engraved with the name of Menés are ancient, perhaps dating to the 20th dynasty. However,  the setting is modern, with the exception of the three oblong pendants of cornelian.

Manetho of Sebennytos, an Egyptian historian, wrote a history for the use of Alexandrine Greeks. Manetho's Aegyptiaca divides ancient Egyptian history into 31 dynasties from Menés to the Macedonian Conquest. All the families inscribed in his lists appear to have ruled in succession, however this has not been fully confirmed by archaeological discoveries. The problem is that Manetho's accounts come from a much later period between 380-343 B.C. and his division is based on historical facts as well as mythology and folklore.

Manetho was a priest during the reigns of Ptolemy I and Ptolemy II who apparently was given the assignment of caring for the royal horses, a high ranking position.  This is indicated by his name - mniw-htr - which means "keeper of the horses."

As a high ranking royal priest, Manetho had access to the temple archives. These included king lists (such as we find in Genesis 4, 5, 11, 22:20-24 and 36). Doubtless there were conflicting claims as rulers vied for acclaim, often introducing mythological accounts to support their authority. 

According to Manetho, Menés reigned 62 years and was killed by a hippopotamus.

Who was Menés?

Some scholars believe that Menés was Ahauiti on the basis of an ivory tablet engraved for a ruler whose Horus name was Ahauiti, the warlike. The actual name that appears on the tablet is Manu. Menés has been various spellings, including Mena, Meni, Manu, Min or simply MN.

According to Manetho, Menes was a native of the Thinite province in Upper Egypt.  Monuments belonging to Narmer and Ahauiti, either of whom may be Menes, have been excavated at Abydos, a royal cemetery in the Thinite nome (Tjenu). The earliest evidence of Tjenu as a ruled territory dates to 4000 B.C. the time when the Horite citadel of Nekhen was thriving. The Narmer palette was unearthed at Nekhen.

The oldest known center of Horite worship is Nekhen. Votive offerings at the Nekhen temple were ten times larger than the normal mace heads and bowls found elsewhere, suggesting that this was a very prestigious shrine. Horite priests placed invocations to Horus at the summit of the fortress as the sun rose.

Whether Menés is Narmer or Ahautit, his tomb lies near the village of Nagadeh, not far from Thebes, while those of his immediate successors are in the cemeteries of Abydos. The Nagadeh tomb is a rectangular brick structure 165 feet long and 84 feet wide.  The external walls were originally ornamented by deep polygonal grooves, resembling those which score the facade of Chaldaean buildings, but the Nagadeh tomb has a second brick wall which hides the primitive decoration of the monument. The building contains twenty-one chambers.

How are we to reconcile the tradition of Menés' Thinite origin with the existence of his tomb in distant Thebes?  It is likely that he maintained two queens in separate palaces. One would have been at the southern boundary of his empire and the other at the northern boundary. This was a characteristic of the marriage and ascendancy pattern of the ancient Horite rulers.

The principal deified ruler of Abydos was called An-hor, which indicates that he was a devotee of Hor/Horus. This is the ruler line from which Abraham's Horite people came.

Related reading: The Writing System of Menes, the First LawgiverA Kindling of Ancient Memory; Abraham's Annu Ancestors; Who Were the Horites?; Ancient Moral Codes

Sunday, September 21, 2014

The Continuing Debate on Child Sacrifice

Here is a recent paper that adds more fuel to the debate.

In reference to Biblical Anthropology, there is little evidence that the ruler priests of the Bible practiced infant or child sacrifice. Child sacrifice developed after Abraham's time because God condemns it between the 8th and 7th centuries BC, about 1200 years after Abraham. The story of the binding of Isaac is not about child sacrifice. At least, most rabbis don't think so.

The author of Hebrews explains that this story is about Abraham's faith that God has the power to raise from the dead.  By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises was offering up his only begotten son; it was he to whom it was said, "In Isaac your descendants shall be called." (Hebrew 11:17,18)

James believes that this act was righteous because it expresses Abraham's faith in God's promises.
Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar? Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect? And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God. Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only. (James 2:21-24)

One thing is fairly certain: Horite rulers, like Abraham and Job, did not practice human sacrifice.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Early Christian Amulet Discovered

A 1,500-year-old papyrus is one of the earliest surviving Christian amulets and was likely worn by an average person. It was re-discovered in the University of Manchester’s John Rylands Library. The text makes reference to the Lord's Supper and was written on the back of a grain tax receipt. Read about the discovery here.

Amulets were worn by early Christians, and this continued a tradition from before the time of Abraham. This article places too much emphasis on the influence of Egyptian magic. Amulets were worn for protection, as Christians today place crosses over doorways and in their cars.

The practice of writing sacred texts on objects was largely a priestly practice. In part, this is because the priests were the only people who knew how to write (scribes). The priests of Abraham's time wrote blessings and curses on the insides of bowls from which they poured out the blessings or curses. This is the significance of the seven bowls of Revelation 16.

This text reflects the Messianic vision and uses a very ancient reference - Christ "our God." The full text of the papyrus reads:

'Fear you all who rule over the earth.

'Know you nations and peoples that Christ is our God.

'For he spoke and they came to being, he commanded and they were created; he put everything under our feet and delivered us from the wish of our enemies.

'Our God prepared a sacred table in the desert for the people and gave manna of the new covenant to eat, the Lord’s immortal body and the blood of Christ poured for us in remission of sins.'

Dr. Tom McCollough of Centre College (Kentucky) has excavated in Galilee and found many amulets that date to Jesus' time and after. His team excavated at Sepphoris, a sprawling site on top of a large hill in Galilee. There was an amphitheater, a synagogue, a rich collection of mosaics and several nearby villages and roads. Sepphoris is located only 5 miles from Nazareth, northwest across the rolling hills. The influence of Egypt is evident in the mosaic floor of the Nile House in Sepphoris (shown below).

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Proto-Saharan Maa Civilization

Dr. Clyde Winters
Here is Dr. Clyde Winters' video on the Proto-Saharan Maa civilization. The images and information are fascinating!

Related reading: Proto-Saharan Pottery Marks; Boats and Cows of the Nilo-Saharans, The Urheimat of the Canaanite Y

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Proto-Saharan Pottery Marks

From archaeological excavations done across the ancient Afro-Asiatic Dominion, it is clear that there existed a form of writing during the Neolithic period based upon the Thinite script of the Nilo-Saharans (5000-3000 BC). This system of writing consisted of marks made on pottery and the symbols are rather uniform from the Nile to Southern India.

Perhaps the world's oldest known from of writing, the pottery marks have been termed of what some "Proto Saharan" but they also could be termed "Old Nubian." 

Sunday, July 6, 2014

African Stone, Shell and Egg Technologies

65,000 year old ostrich egg shells with geometric designs
demonstrate symbolic communication among paleolithic peoples in Africa

Alice C. Linsley

Africa is archaeologically rich. Artifacts abound and the age of settlements in Sudan has been pushed back to 70,000 years ago. Stone, shell and ostrich eggs were widely used for tools, ornaments and utensils. Ostrich eggs were used to carry water and were decorated. A large cache of ostrich eggshells engraved with geometric designs demonstrates symbolic communication among African hunter-gatherers. The decorated ostrich eggs date to 65,000 years. Such eggshells were placed in the graves of children in Sudan.

Ostrich eggs were used in prehistoric times throughout the Nile valley as perfume containers, bowls for oblutions, and as canteens. Ostrich feathers were worn in the hair of warriors and rulers of ancient Egypt, and the Egyptian goddess Ma'at is shown with an ostrich feather in her hair. She weighed the hearts of the dead to determine who would enter eternal life. Painted ostrich eggs have been found in tombs at Hierakonpolis (Nekhen) and in many graves of children in ancient Nubia. The ostrich represents the Winter Solstice. The ostrich is placed between the Bull (symbol of the Autumnal Equinox) and the Griffin Vulture (symbol of the Spring Equinox) in Elihu's discourse on the transcendence of the Creator in the book of Job.

Dating from 82,000 years ago, these beads are thought to be the oldest in the world.
(Credit: Marian Vanhaeren and Francesco d'Errico / 2007

These 82,000 years perforated shell beads were unearthed by archaeologists in the Cave of Pigeons in Taforalt, north-east Morocco. The cache consisted of 13 shells belonging to the species Nassarius gibbosulus.  Some of shell beads are still covered with red ocher.

The stone tools discovered with the shells were sharp biface points typical of Aterian technology in North Africa. They were probably used as spearheads.

1.8 million stone axes

Artifacts from around 75,000 years ago unearthed from Still Bay at Blombos Cave, South Africa.
a) bifacial foliate point, b) bone tool, c) engraved ochre, d) shell beads, e) engraved bone.
Credit: Christopher Henshilwood

Friday, June 6, 2014

The Land of WaWaT

Nubian incense burner (3200-3000 BC)
Discovered at Qustul, Cemetery L, tomb 24

Alice C. Linsley

The Upper Nile appears to be the point of origin of the features of religion that are associated with Moses and his people. This includes animal sacrifice, the burning of incense, circumcision, ruler-priests, the Holy Name YHWH, and the solar imagery of the Habiru/Hebrews.

Of special interest is ancient Nubia between c. 3100 and 2300 B.C. This region was called by different names. The ancient Egyptians called the land south of the first Nile cataract "Ta-neh-su." In Tanehsu, they called the land between the first and second cataracts, Wawat. It was described as a region rich in gold. It may correspond to the Biblical description of the land of Ha-vilah. In 2007, archaeologists from the Oriental Institute discovered a 4000 year gold-processing center along the Nile in the region of Wawat. The site is called Hosh el-Guruf. More than 55 grinding stones made of granite-like gneiss were found at the site. The ore was ground to recover the gold and water from the Nile was used to separate the flakes from the particle residue.

Geoff Emberling, Director of the Oriental Institute Museum and a co-leader of the expedition that discovered the gold working operation at Hosh el-Guruf, reported that his team also discovered a cemetery at nearby al-Widay with high-status pottery vessels that appear to have been made at Kerma, about 225 miles away. Wi means mummy in ancient Egyptian. The earliest mummification took place among the Saharans who discovered that the

The al-Widay cemetery included 90 closely packed stone circles. The covered shafts were circular and lined with stones, a typical feature of the Pan Graves of Proto-Saharan nobility. Pan Grave cemeteries have been found at a number of sites in Sudan, Egypt and Ethiopia. These graves are associated with the Beja, an ancient metal working people of the Sahara. The Egyptians called them "Medja-yu." They brought gold to Egypt from mines deep in the heartland of Nubia. At the Temple at Dendur in Nubia the sons of a local Beja chieftain, Pedisi and Pihor, are honored. Ped-isi refers to Hathor who was later called Isis, and Pi-hor refers to Horus.

Kerma was one of the most important centers of ancient Nubia. In a royal cemetery to the east of Kerma, four massive grave tumuli were discovered. They contained several hundred human remains and were surrounded by thousands of cattle skulls. This was a common burial practice among to the Nilo-Saharan cattle people, often referred to as the C-Group Culture (2300-1550 B.C.). C-Group cemeteries ranged from Heliopolis (Biblical On) to Ethiopia.

Wawat clearly had a long history of occupancy by Nilo-Saharan peoples. It appears to be the region of Nubia's trade with the Upper Nile and the Sahara. They traded incense, copper, gold, shell artifacts, semiprecious stones, and perhaps Nubian beer which was laced with tetracycline.

Wawat and the Pharaohs

In 2300 B.C., the peoples living between the first and second cataracts were under different rulers. The territories were called Irtjet, Setju, Medja, and Wawat. Later all of the land between the first and the second cataracts was called Wawat. The kingdoms of Irtjet and Setju were brought under Wawat's ruler and Wawat became the center of government for that region of the Nile. Under Pepi II, pharaoh of the 6th Dynasty, Pepinakhte Hekiab led a campaign against Wawat and Irtjet, with an army of 20,000 with the determination to "hack up Wawat.” A reported 17,000 prisoners were taken and Pepinakhte compelled the "two rulers of Wawat and Irtjet" to travel to Memphis and pay homage to Pharaoh. From the 12th Dynasty to Ptolemaic times the whole of Lower Nubia was called Wawat.

Old Kingdom texts (2980–2475 B.C.) mention Yam in connection to Wawat. Harkhuf', the governor of Aswan, made several journeys to Yam, according to his autobiography. His journey involved sailing and traveling by donkey, which suggests that Yam was in a more desert area of Upper Nubia, probably toward the hills. On Harhuf's third trip to Yam, three hundred donkeys were brought back to Egypt.The inscription on Harkhuf's tomb explains: "The majesty of Mernere my lord, sent me, together with my father, the sole companion, and ritual priest Iry, to Yam, in order to explore a road to this country. I did it in only seven months."

Harkhuf headed four expeditions to Upper Nubia and Yam in the reigns of Merenre and Pepi II. Harkhuf traveled by land across the hill country of Irtjet northwards, and in his travels he was dependent upon the troops of Yam who accompanied him. On one of these ventures he captured a pygmy, though he is called a "dwarf" in Breasted's translation. An excited young pharaoh promised Harkhuf that he would be greatly rewarded if the pygmy were brought back alive. This letter was preserved as a lengthy inscription on Harkhuf's tomb:

Come northward to the court immediately; [...] thou shalt bring this dwarf with thee, which thou bringest living, prosperous and healthy from the land of spirits, for the dances of the god, to rejoice and [gladden] the heart of the king of Upper and Lower Egypt, Neferkare, who lives forever. When he goes down with thee into the vessel, appoint excellent people, who shall be beside him on each side of the vessel; take care lest he fall into the water. When he sleeps at night appoint excellent people, who shall sleep beside him in his tent, inspect ten times a night. My majesty desires to see this dwarf more than the gifts of Sinai and of Punt. If thou arrivest at court this dwarf being with thee alive, prosperous and healthy, my majesty will do for thee a greater thing than that which was done for the treasurer of the god Burded in the time of Isesi, according to the heart's desire of my majesty to see the dwarf. (James Henry Breasted Ancient Records of Egypt, Part I 328ff)

Yam:  Place of water rituals

Yam's central shrine city was at Kerma on the frontier between Irtjet and Setju. Kerma was likely the location of the "house of the ruler of Irtjet and Setju" mentioned in Harkhuf’s autobiography, and the ruler resided near the temple. Excavations at Kerma have uncovered a walled town surrounding a monumental mud-brick temple. Clearly Kerma was a place of rituals that included water purification and blessings.

The Nile is called yam, meaning "sea" in various Biblical references (Job 41:31; Na 3:8; Isa 18:2). Yam is comprised on two ancient lexemes: Y and M. The Y is the Y solar cradle, indicating divine appointment or anointing by the overshadowing of the sun, Ra's emblem. The form represents the long horns of the Saharo-Nubian cattle. These were venerated as the animal totem of Hathor-Meri, the mother of Horus. She is shown with the Y crown cradling the solar orb. Hathor was venerated at Yam, where her plant totem was the "southern sycamore," a type of fig tree.

The M also represents the concept of water. In ancient Egyptian mw or mu means water. YM suggests a place of anointed waters or a place of water rituals associated with the Horites, devotees of Ra, Horus and Hathor.

3200-3000 B.C. incense burner from Qustul in Wawat. It shows Nilo-Saharan boats, 
a ruler wearing the white crown (Wrrt or Hedjet) of the Upper Nile, and the falcon totem of Horus

W is an ancient lexeme indicating a number of related ideas: Nile waters (wadj - green), purification (w'b.t), priest (wab), waves, effects of sun (w) and moon (warih), wandering or meandering, etc. The T is another ancient lexeme that speaks of crossing from one side to another, the solar arc, and the rising of the sun, or a bnbn, or a sacred pillar. The Egyptian word for the rising sun is wbn. The white crown of the Upper Nile was called the wrrt crown. Wrt means "great one." Wawat suggests a natural place for people to cross the Nile. The region was a place of commerce along ancient trade routes controlled by the authorities of the Nile shrines.

The Divine Name found on the sacrificial altar at the Almaqah temple in the Ethiopian Highlands bears a 7th century B.C. inscription with the name of Yeha (YH).This temple was constructed on the ruins of an earlier Nubian structure. As this was a mountain shrine with an elevation well above the Nile floodplain there is no W as in the Divine Name. The W was a symbol for the Nile waters.

Abraham's Nubian Ancestors

The intermarriage of the Horite ruler-priest lines appears to be unbroken from the Genesis kings to the time of Jesus. This endogamous pattern suggests that the Horites were a caste, rather than an ethnic group. Abraham's Nubian ancestors are called "Kushite" in the Bible. However, the term is anachronistic since many of these ancestors lived before the time of Kush, Noah's grandson.

The  term "Kushite" must be understood to include many peoples: red Nubians, black Nubians, Nilo-Saharan peoples, Bedja, Anu, and Horites. Wenis (who reigned from 2356 to 2323 B.C.) recruited five different Nubian peoples when he assembled Pepi I's army for the military campaign to Canaan.

Archaeological, linguistic, and DNA studies indicate that the Nilo-Saharan peoples dispersed widely, and it is safe to say that many originated in the region of Nekhen (Hierakonpolis) in Sudan and Wawat in Nubia.