Following Osiris: New Perspectives for the Twenty-First Century
As we near the end of the second decade of the twenty-first century, the god Osiris continues to attract scholarly interest and attention, and research on him, as well as on other Egyptian deities and Egyptian religion more generally, continues to flourish. Not only are significant new texts pertaining to Osiris being discovered and published, recent and ongoing fieldwork in Egypt has revealed important new evidence relating to the god and his cult as well. This talk will explore what paths research on Osiris might take in the coming decades, identifying priorities and areas particularly deserving of study, and paying particular attention to approaches which combine textual and other forms of evidence.
The American University in Cairo
Expressions of the Osirian Myth in the Opening of the Mouth Ritual
Keywords: Opening of the Mouth; mortuary rituals
The Opening of the Mouth Ritual (OMR) is perhaps the most widely attested Egyptian ritual, occurring in both cultic and funerary contexts. In a funerary context, the OMR aims at the reanimation of the mummy. Using various instruments to touch the deceased’s mouth, nose, eyes and ears, the deceased’s senses are magically restored, enabling him/her to eat, breathe, see and hear again. While in a funerary context the deceased is typically identified with Osiris, OMR episodes only obliquely evoke the Osirian myth. Rather than focusing on Osiris, these scenes emphasize the agony of Isis and the role of Horus in seeking out and protecting (the corpse of) his father. This paper examines the mythic references to Osiris in the OMR scenes and expounds on their ritualistic and performative aspects.
Miroslav Bárta – Veronika Dulíková
Charles University, Czech Institute of Egyptology
New archaeological evidence for the cult of Osiris from the Fifth Dynasty
Keywords: Abusir - 5 Dynasty - tombs - "mud" burials.
The appearance of Osiris during the Fifth Dynasty - most probably during the ground-breaking reign of Nyuserra (first attestations from the royal sphere are linked with the reign of Djedkara), still poses several important questions. Above all it is the degree of dependence on the royal dogma and its association with the non-royal elite of the society of the day.
Roughly 60 people who mention Osiris in their tombs during the Fifth Dynasty are known. The scrutiny of the titles of the people who invoked Osiris on their monuments during the Fifth Dynasty indicates that most of them were non-royal individuals (57 individuals), with female members of royal family forming a minority (3 individuals). All the men occupied important posts not only within the state administration but also in the spheres which were connected with activities in the close proximity of the king.
Recent results of archaeological explorations at Abusir South have brought to light several unique burials of mid- and high-ranking officials dating to the Fifth Dynasty (r. of Nyuserra). These “mud” burials feature several elements which allow to link them with the Osiris cult – intentionally deposited mud layers connected with the interment or clay paraphernalia such as ears or chin. This also indicates that the cult of Osiris found in particular expressions in the burial rites of the period and perhaps more widespread than originally supposed.
The above evidence suggests that the concept of the Osirian cult was formed exclusively in the capital. Prior to the Sixth Dynasty there is no evidence for Osiris outside the Memphite region. It also appears that the cult of Osiris started to spread among privileged individuals holding the highest posts in the administration and/or working in the close proximity of the king during the reign of Nyuserra at the latest.
Department of Theology, Uppsala University, Sweden
The king and Osiris in the pyramid of Pepy I
Keywords: Pepy I, ritual structure, corpus, substitute
In his recent study on the god Osiris (Following Osiris, Oxford 2017), Mark Smith questions the existence of a limited access to the Pyramid Texts for non-royals. Since the act of recitation of transfigurations, sakhu, has been documented in murals of private tombs a couple of centuries before the inscribed pyramid of Unis, there is, in his view, no reason to suppose that these recited texts would have belonged to any other genre than the ones documented in the epigraphic pyramids. Moreover, the association of the tomb-owner with Osiris appears more or less concurrently in the pyramids and private tombs at the end of the fifth dynasty.
But apart from the texts connected with the offering ritual, any safely identified Pyramid Texts remain to be found in the private funerary domain during the Old Kingdom. Furthermore, while the texts of the officials connect Osiris to the idea of guaranteed provision, the deity in the Pyramid Texts is actually incorporated into a complex ritual structure.
In the present paper, I will venture to demonstrate how the comprehensive role of Osiris is first fully assessed in the pyramid of Pepy I. The highly enlarged corpus of this king, in whose tomb all areas in the end became inscribed, allows us to observe cardinal traits in his personal relation with the god, an interplay not least dictated by ritual properties linked to its different architectural parts.
The discussion shall also shed light upon another issue brought up by Smith in the same study: was the king’s identification with the god considered temporary or lasting to the effect of the ritual? It will be clearly demonstrated how the lord of the tomb, through the physical presence of the texts, redundantly was assigned different roles in reference to the paragon of the Osirian myth.
University of Buenos Aires
An Osiris new solar epithet in TT 49?
Considerations about the nocturnal sun in the chapel
Keywords: TT 49 - Post-amarnian religion - epigraphy
The preliminary results of the study of the iconographic program of TT49, as well as the reconstruction of the funerary ritual are being analyzed. The activities developed in the project are founded on documentation (photographic and graphic) of the chapel (pillars, niche of statues, pilaster, walls), digital drawing of epigraphy preserved on decorated surfaces, and primary study of hieroglyphic inscriptions and comparative analysis of iconography in situ. These materials were processing to create an exhaustive documentary base for the study of scenes from a comparative point of view. This includes the inscriptions that were copied and partially published by the Egyptian Expedition of the Metropolitan Museum of New York at the beginning of the twenty century. It was also made the translation of unpublished inscriptions, when they were legible enough. In this context, the cleansing of the face (b) of the Southwest pillar has shown an osirian new epithet -HkA THn-, an hápax which could be explain since a combination of 1) the relationship between Re and Osiris, 2) a history of Egyptian religious ideas, and finally 3) the dynamism of the New Kingdom Books of the Underworld.
Israel Santamaría Canales
University of Cádiz (Spain)
Osiris, the Lord of the River: An approach to the aquatic aspects of the Egyptian God
Keywords: Osiris, Ancient Egypt, Religion, Myths, River Nile
One of the lesser-known characteristics of Osiris, husband-brother of Isis, father-uncle of Horus and supreme chief of the underworld, is his role as a river divinity. Although his relation with the seas, the sailors and the navigation will never be as strong as the one that Isis will show in Hellenistic and Roman times, for centuries Osiris was the center of a devotion, intimately related to the Nile River as a generator of life in the Egyptian country. Yes, even long before his wife had the least contact with this characteristic area of what we could call maritime religion.
Another favorable point would be the festival of the Kikellia, that authors like Merkelbach consider a direct antecedent of the Navigium Isidis, in spite of being consecrated to Osiris, not to Isis. Even in Ptolemaic times we still have testimonies that show Osiris as inventor of navigation, instead of Isis. A very illustrative example is a poem from Thessalonica, dated around 120 BC, which states that Osiris was the undisputed inventor of nautical science, as well as the first to sail. And we must also consider the possible connections between Osiris, Serapis (his Hellenistic alter ego, if we could say that) and the field of navigation in the Roman Empire.
In short, this paper aims to offer an overview of everything that refers to the image of Osiris as the god of navigators, even if this is not one of his most well-known or important functions of this Egyptian deity. Is not that one of main the objectives of rethinking Osiris?
Osiris, the Aramaeans... and the Water - A well-known connection from a different point of view
Keywords: Aramaeans - Water - Funerary stelae - Osiris
The funerary objects with Aramaic inscriptions from the Memphis area constitute a relatively small, but extremely interesting corpus. The inscriptions on coffins and mummy labels simply mention the name of the deceased and the related patronymic, whereas the texts on stelae and burial markers mainly follow the structure: “Blessed be N son/daughter of N in front of the god Osiris”. Only few stelae show longer and more elaborate inscriptions. Among the latter, two contain a clear request for the water the deceased must be provided with. Moreover, a third object must be taken into account: an offering table presumably destined to water libations (and inscribed with an Aramaic text too). In such a small group, it is noteworthy a so strong presence of the water in connection with Osiris.
As a consequence, if the desire of the Aramaic-speaking foreigners to adopt the Egyptian funerary practices appears evident as well as their faith in the god Osiris, the apparently relevant role played by the water in this context has to be highlighted and more deeply investigated. In addition, some scholars have highlighted the similarity of the above-mentioned texts with a number of funerary stelae from Alexandria with Greek inscriptions mentioning Osiris and containing a very similar request for fresh water.
In conclusion, was the water “simply” chosen, among others elements, by Aramaean foreigners as a fundamental provision for the Afterlife, maybe because of its connection with Osiris? Or was the water a fundamental component of some Aramaean rituals, and it was inserted in these texts in order to highlight an element common to both religions? Or to “indirectly” reaffirm the ethnicity (and the provenance from a desert land) of these Aramaic-speaking people?
Università Ca' Foscari, Venezia
Into the Silent Land. Osiris as “Lord of Igeret” and the ambivalence of silence in the ancient Egyptian funerary landscape
Keywords: Osiris, silence, Igeret, Book of the Dead, pessimism
The paper aims to a reassessment of the available evidence of the connection between Osiris and the notion of silence, in particular with regard to the so-called “Silent Land”, or “Igrt”, an appellation referring to both the necropolis and the netherworld. In fact, as the god notoriously bears the titles of “nb sgr”, “xnty tA (I)grt” and related expressions, these designations are only attested from the New Kingdom onwards, along with the name of “Igrt”; conversely, the cognitive association between silence and the abode of the dead had already emerged in the Coffin Texts. Following a discussion on the early Middle Kingdom as a pivotal point of intersection for the aforementioned notions, the focus will be put on selected New Kingdom literary and funerary texts.
Passages from the Book of the Dead, literary works and tomb inscriptions often present the silence of the Duat in a positive light, as the transcendent peace of a faultless realm; but also, at times, they raise the doubt that the hereafter may be a land void of sound, a deaf, mute dimension permanently cutting out any form of communication between the two sides of existence. The paper will explore these conflicting perspectives in relation to the sufferings and triumphs of the Osirian paradigm, discussing the role of quiet as a characterizing element of the domain of this god.
"Sapienza" Università di Roma
Where a god dies: mythical places related to the death of Osiris in Old to New Kingdom sources
Keywords: Death of Osiris; Mythical places
In the construction and development of the Osirian cycle, death is not just a punctual, biographical event but a distinctive marker and an active shaping factor: it defines the god’s character and functions, structures a complex system of mythical constellations (Assmann’s sensu), and also outline a meaningful sacred landscape. Within the realm of such a Jenseitsgeographie, the location of the incident acquires a certain relevance and becomes a recurrent theme in funerary and magical literature. Egyptian tradition – as it developed since Old Kingdom Pyramid texts – mentions Nedit and Gehesty as the mythical places were the murderous death of Osiris took place or where is body was first found, and provides a wide range of references to such a spatial background.
By considering both (1) the lexical, (2) semantic, and (3) contextual aspects of these toponyms, the present paper will investigate how these places were conceived and conceptualized as part of the Osirian imaginary, and an attempt will be made to highlight the network of mythical and symbolic references underlying their mental representation and cultural configuration.
Luc Delvaux - Verly, Georges; Rademakers, Frederik; Auenmüller, Johannes; Josipovic, Ivan; Boone, Matthieu
Royal Museums of Art and History, Brussels
Osirian rite and Archaeometallurgy. About a set of Late Period pottery molds.
Keywords: Excavations - Osirian rituel - Archaeometallurgy
Is the detection of a religious rite by the technical analysis of objects possible? At Qubbet el Hawa has been discovered an outstanding set of Late Period pottery molds, used in the production of bronze artefacts. The μ-CT scans of this set reveal the existence of two radically different techniques. The first concerns the classic production of statuettes of divinities. The second allows to shape statuettes of Osiris the feet of which had been previously broken. Technologically, this production method seems an aberration. Why do metallurgists persist in producing statuettes of Osiris with such structural weakness?
New hypotheses about this technique of manufacture specific to the Late Period, and its possible association with an Osirian ritual, can be examined.
University College, University of Oxford
New perspectives on Osirian ritual texts and their connection to the Khoiak festival
Keywords: Osiris, Khoiak festival, P. BM EA 10252 and 10081
The two British Museum papyri P. BM EA 10252 and P. BM EA 10081, which are dated by a colophon to 307/6 BCE, constitute the focus of the following paper. By examining not only their texts but also their material aspects, it came to light that these papyri originally formed one large papyrus roll, a ritual handbook employed in the cult of the god Osiris in the temple of Karnak at Thebes. At some point, it was adapted by a priest called Pawerem who integrated it into his tomb library. The texts preserved on P. BM EA 10252 + 10081 can be connected and contextualized more closely within the Khoiak festival than previously assumed, and thus this roll can be designated as a handbook for the performance of the Khoiak festival at Karnak in the 4th century BCE. The prime importance of the papyrus is also highlighted by the fact that it is the only hitherto securely attested original temple manuscript from that time from Karnak that shows extensive signs of its being actually used in the temple cult. The paper will, therefore, focus on the original usage of this handbook within such a sacred locality, by not only looking at textual criteria but also material aspects. Finally, it intends to point out what significance it had within the cult of the god Osiris, which role it played exactly in the context of the Khoiak festival, and whether it was employed in actual cultic recitation or rather used as a reference book.
Maria Cristina Guidotti
Egyptian Museum of Florence
Unpublished images of Osiris in the Egyptian Museum of Florence
Keywords: Osiris bed, funerary customs, Florence Museum
The Egyptian Museum of Florence stores more than 14700 items, many of which are still unpublished. In this paper I want to present two particular typologies of objects displayed in the rooms of the Museum, which represent the god Osiris.
The first object is the image of a wooden "Osiris bed", found together with his trapezoidal coffin. The other objects are some little statues that represent Osiris sitting on a throne with a high back, hollow inside.
By presenting these unpublished items, I want to draw attention to the function of the two typologies of objects.
Université Paul-Valéry Montpellier
Osiris and the Heavenly Bodies
Keywords: Benu, Flood, Great Bear, Orion, Osiris Planet, Seth.
Osiris is known as a hidden god living into darkness and silence. However he appears as a celestial body: mainly a constellation (Orion), or identified as Venus, this time depicted as a heron (either benu or bah). These different identifications refer to his fight against Seth: Osiris-Orion / Seth-Mesekhtyw (the Great Bear) and Osiris-Venus / Seth-Mercury. Moreover, according to the myth, as early as the Pyramid texts, Osiris as Orion begets Horus-Sopdu from Isis-Sothis. On the other hand, Osiris as benu-bird is the counterpart of Re, as in Chapter 17 and 100 of the Book of the Dead and, as bah-bird, complementary of Sothis announcing the flood. If we acknowledge that the god can be an embodiment of the waning moon, it is clear that Osiris is in connection with different heavenly bodies. The lecture will attempt to clarify these different aspects and to define their relationships.
Antiquity of Southeastern Europe Research Centre, University of Warsaw
Osirian elements in iconography of 25th -26th Dynasty coffins.
Keywords: coffins, iconography
The decoration of coffins from the 25th-26th Dynasties is based on solar and Osirian elements, however, the scenes and motifs related to the cycle of Osiris myths seem to be dominant.
The decoration, which vary depending on the type, is arranged in horizontal registers covering a wide range of topics connected to resurrection and protection of the Osiris-Deceased. The head end and the foot end can be bearing depictions of winged Isis and Nephthys, symbolizing protection and the mourning upon the mummy of Osiris. The central place of the lid of some anthropoid coffins is occupied by the Judgement scene or the presentation of the deceased to Osiris or Ra. It can be replaced or followed in the register below by the representation of the mummy of Osiris-Deceased on the funerary bier, often accompanied by the Anubis or the ba bird, being an allusion to the embalming performed on the body of Osiris. Legs of the coffin can be occupied by the Abydos-symbol flanked by four Sons of Horus and the back of the mummy supported by the djed pillar, sometimes with human attributes or surrounded by protective symbols.
In this speech I will present the preliminary results of the iconographical analysis conducted on aforementioned scenes and motifs paying special attention to variants of representations which appear on coffins.
Università Ca'Foscari Venezia
The Nubian Osiris: traditions and elaborations of the Osiris’s cult in the Kushite culture
Keywords: Osiris; Nubia; Kush; Napatan gods; Meroitic gods.
While the various forms of representation and speculation on the figure of Osiris in Egypt boast a great tradition of studies, the ways in which his worship can be articulated outside Egypt are often presented as a marginal aspect of the long-lasting and widespread history of his cult.
Kush – the political and geographical entity raised in Nubia at the end of the Egyptian New Kingdom domination – is an intriguing terrain of investigation for divine figures and religious aspects that have undergone processes of assimilation or transformation in the transition from the Egyptian to the local culture.
The kings of dynasty XXV started a process of acculturation combining the Egyptian and Nubian forms of materials, religion and ideology; a process resulting not just into a mere import of ready-made products, but rather into an integration and reinterpretation of the Egyptian models within indigenous traditions and cults. This mixture of elements will persist as a typical trait of the Nubian culture, throughout the Napatan and even more the Meroitic period.
In fact, it is especially from the III century BD onward that we can find interesting solutions which express the conceptualization and representation of Osiris in the Meroitic religious apparatus.
The syncretic phenomena occurring in the temples of Dodekaschoinos between Nubian, Graeco-Roman and Egyptian deities, for instance, give us the opportunity to evaluate new aspects of Osiris, like his association with the Greek Dionysos and, consequently, with the Meroitic Apedemak.
Aim of this paper is to analyze the archaeological and textual evidence related to the elaboration, representation, and contextualization of Osiris in Nubia, with particular attention to the Meroitic and Post-Meroitic record.
Irene Morfini - Milagros Álvarez Sosa
Leiden University/CAMNES, Firenze; Archaeological Museum Canarian Institute of Bioanthropology, Tenerife
A new “Osiris Tomb” in Sheikh Abd el-Qurna - Luxor: from myth to architecture
Keywords: Theban tomb, Osiris, 25th-26th Dynasties.
In 2013, the Canarian-Tuscan Archaeological Mission (Min-Project), in cooperation with the Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities (MoA), obtained the concession to explore two tombs in the area of Sheikh Abd el-Qurna, Luxor: Tomb TT109 (the Tomb of Min) and Tomb Kampp -327-, whose owner is still unknown.
Tomb Kampp -327- concealed a complex and unique structure: a tomb that seems to evoke the legendary Tomb of Osiris, containing elements that can be found in the monumental tombs of the Late Period (Dynasties 25-26), present mainly in the Assasif area of Luxor. The main features of what is considered an “Osiris complex” will be analyzed, and a comparison with similar private funerary structures of the Luxor area will be provided (TT33 Petamenophis, TT34 Montuemhat, TT36 Ibi, TT37 Harwa, TT414 Ankhor in the Assasif, and TT223 Karakhamun in the South Assasif) in order to date the new and uninscribed monument.
Austrian Academy of Sciences, Institute OREA
Origins of Cultic Activities at the “Osiris tomb” in the beginning of the 3rd millennium BC at Umm el-Qaab/Abydos
Keywords: Abydos, tomb of Djer, depositions of 1st Dynasty.
It seems reasonable that the Osiris cult is closely connected with the emergence of kingship in Egypt. But it is still a matter of debate why it was specifically the tomb of king Djer at Abydos from the early 1st Dynasty that was chosen in later periods as the burial place of the god Osiris.
It is also still a riddle why Abydos was eventually chosen as final resting place of the kings of the late Predynastic and for the majority of the Early Dynastic Period. It is however clear, that the Predynastic cemetery U was an eminent elite cemetery of the Naqada period evolving finally into the first royal cemetery. But there existed contemporary elite cemeteries which were at least as important as Abydos in the 4th millennium BC the most prominent of the period being no doubt cemetery HK 6 at Hierakonpolis or the cemetery T of Naqada. For both places, contemporary major cultic centers are attested which is to date not the case for Abydos. So what was the attraction of Abydos?
The excavations carried out by the German Archaeological Institute Cairo brought a vast deposition to light that definitely builds the origins of cultic activities at the tomb of Djer. At the same time this place of offerings seems to have functioned as a focus in the cemetery for the succeeding periods and might thus eventually be regarded as the origin of the forthcoming Osiris cult. The paper will discuss this deposition and present some hypotheses connected with these questions.
Osiris in the iconography of the 21st - early 22nd Dyn. Theban yellow-grounded coffins
Keywords: Osiris, iconography, coffins, 21st Dynasty
The peak of the development of the iconography in ancient Egypt falls on the eleventh and tenth centuries B. C., and coffins are the best known and most numerous bearers of the religious ideas of the period. In the rich iconographic repertoire Osiris plays the leading role. From one side, scenes and individual motives decorating all surfaces of all the parts of coffin-set evoke elements of the Osirian myth, both on the mythological and ritual level of its interpretation, from other side they serve an idea of the posthumous identification of the deceased with the god, both in his Osirian and solar aspects. In the paper a great variety of symbolic figures devoted to Osiris is presented, with accent posed to their chronological development and a multitude of artistic ways of imaging of similar iconographic subjects, possibly corresponding to various workshops active in the Western Thebes.
Charles University, Czech Institute of Egyptology
The Appearance of Osiris: a case of royal patronage or a bottom up process?
Keywords: Osiris, 5th Dynasty, Abusir, Niuserre, Solar Cult.
The origin of Osiris has long been discussed in Egyptology and has still not reached a shared consensus among scholars. Approaches to this issue usually start from analyzing his role in iconographical and textual sources in the Middle and New Kingdom, when the god is widespread and sources are more varied.
However, the analysis of the historical context in which Osiris appears for the first time, i.e. the Fifth Dynasty, seems to show a rather complex process, where elements from the royal and non-royal sphere appear rather intertwined. In fact, the name of the god surfaces for the first time in funerary offering formulas of private mastabas and only in the late Fifth Dynasty, within the Pyramid Texts, in the royal context. While in the former sources the god may appear as an exclusively private deity, in the latter sources Osiris appears as the main reference for the royal afterlife. The key seems thus to investigate how closely religious changes, such as the spread of the cult of Osiris, are connected to the political events of the Fifth Dynasty, especially of its earlier part, and if these religious changes are the result of political events or, conversely, if the other way around process is more suitable: in other words are we dealing with a case of royal patronage in the religious sphere, or with a bottom up process? To shed light on this issue I will concentrate on the time span of the Fifth Dynasty and I will take into account all the available evidences from both the royal and non-royal contexts, including an unpublished false door from Cairo Museum and two false doors from the British and the Louvre Museums, which seem to offer some precise insights into the dating of the appearance of Osiris and its early characteristics.
Institute of Mediterranean and Oriental Cultures, Polish Academy of Sciences
“May Osiris not come in this bad coming of his. Do not open your arms to him…” /PT 534 (P 483)/ – re-thinking Osiris in the Pyramid Texts
Keywords: Osiris, Pyramid Texts, darker side of creation
The Pyramid Texts are considered to be positive in their message. The oldest religious texts demonstrate delight and a lust for life and due to the fact that they were composed in order to assist the pharaoh on his way to the sky, the true existence of the king in the Beyond could never be questioned or endangered, especially as he was assuming the forms of different gods, Osiris and the creator included. Both of them and the pharaoh shall survive the end of the world in the shape of snakes. Although almost always Osiris is linked to revivification, rebirth and body protection, in the Pyramid Texts one can find utterances that seem to be against Osiris and his divine circle. Added to this, the god under discussion appears in various contexts of inimical forces, or perils, which are to be fought off. While reading the Pyramid Texts several vivid questions come to mind. Is Osiris a purely positive divine force? Is he alive or a living god? Or rather is he assuming different manifestations? Finally, what was his role in accomplishing the lot of the pharaoh in the Pyramid Texts?
It is truly spellbinding how the dark side of creation and existence was implemented into the completeness of the created world.
The author of the paper aims to scrutinize, with reference to contextual arguments, the language of the Pyramid Texts, namely the grammar, choice of vocabulary, phraseology to elucidate seeming and complementary paradoxes of the multi-faceted character of Osiris.
University of Szeged
The 104 amulets of Osiris at Dendera
Keywords: amulets; mysteries of Osiris; Dendera; Plutarch.
The 104 amulets of Osiris are only described in the innermost western chapel of the god at Dendera, and their number does not tally with any other listings of funerary amulets. The peculiar number of amulets can be explained if the timeline of the Osiris mysteries is reconstructed from the inscriptions in the roof chapels at Dendera, and from Plutarch’s account of the myth of Osiris. Discussing the agricultural aspect of the myth, Plutarch relates that Osiris comes back to life when the corn sown in the earth begins to sprout on II Akhet 6, which event also signals the conception of Isis from her husband. The Dendera inscriptions, on the other hand, record that the corn specially cultivated for the mysteries is harvested on I Peret 20, thus ending the god’s life in his vegetal manifestation. Exactly 104 days elapse between these two dates, suggesting that the 104 amulets of Osiris at Dendera are intended to transfer the vegetal life force of the sacred corn onto the god’s lifeless, originally verdant, effigy kept for one year in the innermost western room. Since the date of II Akhet 6 also coincided with a significant astronomical event, the disappearance of the moon after the autumnal equinox, in the year when the mysteries best aligned with the overall seasonal changes (52 BCE), the presence of the 104 amulets indicates that the Ptolemaic priests, besides recording ancient traditions, were also enriching the mysteries of Osiris with new details. Their innovative approach provides further proof for the fact that they regarded the myth of Osiris as their own, as an integral part of their culture that was still very much alive and possibly capable of reasserting or strengthening Egyptian identity during foreign rule.
University of Naples "L'Orientale"
Osiris in the Italian peninsula
Keywords: Osiris-water syncretism assimilation refrigerium
In the Roman Period, the Egyptian religious heritage, already widespread throughout the Mediterranean thanks to trade, soon reached Rome. The Osiris cult in Italy was based on Egyptian ideology, but some aspects changed.
Osiris continued to be worshipped as the god of life cycle, and for this reason he was identified with Dionysus, but he was also connected to water. This element was linked to the Occidental idea of refrigerium, which had multiple meanings: as rebirth in the Afterlife; as spiritual renewal in rituals; as the regeneration of Nature.
The association Osiris-water is also showed in the temple complexes. Indeed, the Italian peninsula Osiris was usually worshipped in exedras or nymphaeums, enclosed in Isis temples.
Through the analysis of some finds related to the cult of Osiris and the exams of the contexts where they were found, this speech aims to clarify the way the cult had been assimilated and the value that the god embodied in official as well as popular religion in Italian peninsula between the I century BC and the IV century AD.
The Role of Osiris during the Amarna Age: From Texts to Depictions
Keywords: Amarna, Amarna Age, Akhenaten, Osiris, Religion
The figure of Osiris is one of the most emblematic in the entire ancient Egyptian pantheon.
His role as “keeper” of the Afterlife remained prominent throughout Egyptian history, excluding (maybe) a couple decades: the Amarna Age.
This period was marked by significant changes of State religion, influenced by the rise of Aten as a supreme god. During this Age, death amounted to the absence of light, as both the Short and the Great Hymn to the Aten say. However, with the few information we have about the Afterlife, we can only make assumptions.
The Afterlife was linked to the sunset of Aten: does this imply the Duat as a geographical place disappeared and, consequently, Osiris with it?
Nevertheless, some texts seem to refer to the Duat as a physical region, for instance the Great Hymn to the Aten and the texts on the walls of the tomb of the God’s Father Ay, which contain references to the birthplace of the Nile and to the gates of the Duat.
Does it mean that the role of Osiris persisted? To what extent? Moreover, if the Afterlife was merely the absence of light, what role did the ushabtis have? In fact, not only these figurines continued to exist (and assumed different characteristics, for instance new formulas concerning the Aten), but also Akhenaten himself had his own personal “workers”.
We should also mention the memorial temple of Amenhotep III at Thebes, in which the figure of Amun was ordered by Akhenaten to be erased, but other deities (such as Osiris) were left intact.
Therefore, in order to better understand the presence and, at the same time, the absence of Osiris during the Amarna Age, we have to reconsider Akhenaten’s henoteism and his relationship with the traditional pantheon.
Osiris and the lotus fan: remarks on a rare iconographic association
Keywords: Osiris Iconography, Royal/Funerary context, Symbols
The fan coming out of a shen ring is one of the most ancient symbols associated with the Sed festival, often represented behind the king while he is performing the ritual race (see Kees, Der Opfertanz des ägyptischen Königs, 1912).
Its first recorded occurrence is to be found already in the funerary temple of Sahure, where it appears in the context just above mentioned. From that moment, it becomes a widespread element, not only connected to the jubilee race but present also behind the king as he performs offerings to the gods or other rituals. Many examples are attested from the Middle Kingdom (among these the relief fragment from the temple of Mentuhotep in Deir el-Bahari, MMA 07.230.2) and from the New Kingdom (e.g. it is depicted behind Thutmosis III in the Hathor Chapel now in the Cairo Museum).
During the New Kingdom though, the fan was included also in high-decorum funerary contexts. The occurrences of this element in the decoration are numbered, and are mostly associated with figures of Osiris. Twice it is shown behind Osiris in the tomb of Qenamun, TT93, from the reign of Amenhotep II, and once in the tomb of Nefertari, QV66. In the tomb of Amenhotep III, KV22, it is instead portrayed between Anubis and Hathor – who are the two other most important funerary deities beside Osiris.
The purpose of this paper is to show the birth and the development of the iconographic association with Osiris of an element initially reserved for the king, and linked to the renewal of his strength. The second part of the research will also focus on possible explanations of this shift and of the sign itself, which has no hieroglyphic counterpart, in order to get closer to the meaning of this peculiar emblem.
University of Vienna
Osiris – the mummy par excellence?
Investigating iconography, development, and function of the mummy shape during the Middle Kingdom
Keywords: iconography; mummy shape; Middle Kingdom
It seems a matter of common knowledge in Egyptology that since the Middle Kingdom Osiris was classically depicted in mummiform, wearing a distinctive crown, and holding a crook and fail. It was stated countless times, that the appearance of the deceased was modelled on this specific iconography of Osiris: The mummified dead was equipped with a mummy mask or a mummy shaped coffin in order to give the deceased an ideal form, which was the representation of the mummy as Osiris. Consequently, the mummy was the symbolic identification with (an aspect of) Osiris. However, contrary to what is said in many books the earliest doubtless appearance of Osiris in mummiform dates to the early New Kingdom, whereas mummy shaped objects representing the deceased himself started to come in use already during the 12th dynasty. Moreover, they do not show any sign of acquisition of an Osiris-aspect or even identification with the deity himself at all. These facts bring into focus the contradictory relationship that exists between the mummiform and its interpretation as Osirian form.
In the light of these statements, it is necessary to rethink the correlation. Therefore, in order to understand the background from which Osiris’ iconography arose, it is important to investigate the development of shrouded and mummy shaped representations. The genesis, function, and iconography of the mummy shape per se have never been studied systematically. Thus, the paper will highlight several steps of development and interpretation in order to demonstrate its conceptual complexity and relevance within the iconographical conception of Osiris. The aim is to show when and why such changes happened. The paper will be specifically concerned with the evolving relationship between the mummy (shape), the deceased and Osiris.
LMU-Ludwig Maximilians Universitaet Muenchen
Green Osiris: explaining some aspects of ancient Egyptian medicine
Keywords: Osiris, medicine, plants, religion, Egypt, magic.
Answering the questions proposed can be done by describing how ancient Egyptians understood the efficacy of some plant ingredients in medical prescriptions, justifying those as emanations from Osiris’ body.
We may say then that religion may have served as a support for knowledge, filling the gaps when there were no technical instruments, chemical substances, or electronic media to better observe and explain.
Comparing original textual expressions of ritual nature and medical prescriptions establishes the connection. Studying earlier publications and reports of plant remains from archaeological missions proves those plants existed in the territory and were used either as food or medicine.
My research comprises the study of a specific group of plants, appearing in textual records, where the association with Osiris is a direct one, plants that were used as ingredients for treatment of diseases as described in medical records. The textual association of an arm, a leg, a fluid, a hair or other Osiris’ body part with the appearance of a determined plant is a new angle of study in the Osirian theme.
Risking saying that Egypt did not change that much, by continuing to be a ‘watermark’ of the ancient original culture in the country (a notion given when interviewing locals about how the same plants are used today), we may better understand ancient Egyptians’ knowledge of disease.
Osiris, who gathered epithets such as the god of the dead, and a renewed self, but also a god of agriculture ensuring prosperity both in life and afterlife, is, in the latter, an inspiration that looks forward to proving ancient Egyptian ability to treat disease. Using both physical ingredients and prophylaxis (magic, prayer, liturgies, hymns, spells, coffin and tomb iconography), ancient Egyptians may have used Osiris body parts to acknowledge the efficacy of some medical ingredients.
Sacred Landscape in the Nile Delta and the Worship of Osiris
Osirian and Isiac cults developed rapidly through the Late and Hellenistic Periods to become one of the most important and widespread religions in the Graeco-Roman world. This research demonstrates the articulation of the natural and anthropogenic landscape in the Nile Delta which connected temples including Busiris, Behbeit el-Hagara, Sa El Hagar, and Sebennytus within the ritual cycle associated with the worship of Osiris and Isis and the Nile inundation. We argue that the Deltaic worship of Osiris functioned in parallel to the ritual landscape and ideological authority of Abydos in Upper Egypt and that these sacred landscapes projected a cosmic rationale for the political unity of Egypt and legitimization of the Egyptian and Macedonian dynasties.
Distinct(ive)ly Egyptian: The Pervasive Nature of Pharaonic Osiric Imagery in the Art of Egyptian Cults in Imperial Rome and its Surroundings
Keywords: Harpokrates; Isis; Serapis; aegyptiaca romana
Osiris in his aspect as Serapis is a much-studied aspect of the religious life of Imperial Rome, Benevento, and Tivoli. The Egyptian familial trinity’s adaptability into multi-syncretic deities ensured their pervasive popularity not only on the Italian peninsula, but throughout the entire empire. Within the Egyptian cultic sanctuaries dating from the first and second centuries CE, Isis and Horus adopted many new facets and became so altered that they sometimes shared very little in common with their pharaonic Egyptian aspects. In theory, the same should have occurred with Serapis; he should have also completely occupied the visual and spiritual locus of pharaonic-period Osiris. Instead, Osiris maintained a unique iconographic position within the cult spaces of Isis and Serapis, in conversation rather than in competition with his Ptolemaic-Roman aspect. Physical objects and artistic representations such as the granite columns from the Iseum Campense and Osiris-Canopus jars from Tivoli and Benevento, among others, will demonstrate the distinct(ive)ly enduring nature of Osiris as a separate entity from Serapis – still functioning as a part of the triad, but with his own individual iconography and functions in both art and ritual.
University of Naples "L'Orientale"
Osiris in Byzantine Egypt? Possibly reminiscences of Osiriac themes in pottery decoration from Manqabad monastery (Asyut).
Keywords: Manqabad (Asyut), Byzantine pottery decoration.
In the framework of the documentation and study project of the Byzantine pottery found at Manqabad (Asyut) monastery (field project by University of Naples "L'Orientale" since 2012), the finest painted ceramics have shown some interesting characteristics both regarding types and decoration patterns. Manqabad pottery assemblage analyzed so far has, in fact, many common elements to share with some of the best known Byzantine centers of Middle Egypt, such as Antinoopolis, Amarna (Kom el-Nana), el-Ashmunein and Wadi Sarga. Some painted cups and plates, in particular, present anthropomorphic motifs for painted decoration, quite rare in the Byzantine repertoire of Egypt. The analysis of those representations has led to interpretative suggestions possibly involving reminiscences of a Dyonisiac/Osiriac figurative repertoire, associated with material dated between 6th and 8th century AD through stylistic and typological comparisons.
Institute of Mediterranean and Oriental Cultures - Polish Academy of Sciences
Osirian aspects of oils and linen
Keywords: oils, linen, Osiris, regeneration, transformation
The regenerative and transformative character of oils and linen origins in the myth of Osiris, that set the principles of the Ancient Egyptian funeral practice. Oils are described there as healing products of pleasant scent, while linen as a securing cover for the body, having regenerative effect in the afterlife. They were implemented during the transformation process.
The Osirian notion coded in the idea of oils and linen was widely applied in the Ancient Egyptian iconography and texts. Both oils and linen were used in many rituals where their presence is referred to the Osirian origins. Offerings of oils and/or linen are frequently depicted in the decoration of temples and tombs, in the sequences dedicated to the transformation and regeneration rituals. In religious texts luminosity as characteristics of oils and ointments is emphasized, what can symbolize freshness, brightness, rising sun – generally rebirth. The power of the pleasant scent is broadly highlighted as well. Some of the products, for instance sfṯ oil, were used in the form of resin as an adhesive in the mummification process. Linen was considered to be a protective cover. Its principal role was to secure the body of the deceased, what was helpful in going through the transformation process. Moreover, regenerative and transformative power of linen was expressed through its colour. For instance, red and green were often associated with freshness and life.
The paper examines Osirian aspects of oils and linen in the context of Ancient Egyptian iconography and texts in order to demonstrate thoroughly why they were employed as a regenerative and transformative products.
University of Montpellier 3 - Labex Archimede
Nehebkau, Osiris and the judgment of the Dead
Keywords: PT; CT; BoD; bailiff; judge; executioner ;enemy; snake.
The first image that comes in mind about Osiris is certainly the scene from the Book of the Dead 125: the psychostasia. In fact, Osiris is seen as the god performing the judgment of the dead. However, this god, even as important as he is in the Egyptian theology, is not attested until the 4th or 5th dynasty.
Scholars are aware that other forms of judgment are attested in the Ancient Egypt, especially in the Pyramid Texts. Therefore, we can ask ourselves if there was other forms of judgment pre-existing and what were the relations and appropriations of the Osirian judgment with the other possible judges.
Nehebkau can be found in the chapter 125 of the Book of the Dead among the 42 assessors of Osiris. Moreover, this deity is also attested since the Pyramid Texts in another form of the judgment of the dead. We will focus here on the role of Nehebkau and its further connections with Osiris himself and the osirian justice court.
Carmen Muñoz Perez
Ecole du Louvre / Université Paul-Valéry Montpellier 3
Rethinking amulets: a new approach to Osirian amulets on mummies
Keywords: Amulets, Mummies, Musée du Louvre
This paper discusses the role of Osirian amulets from some examples from the remarkable but partially published collection of the Egyptian Antiquities Department of the Louvre Museum.
Despite their small size, amulets can provide significant information about Egyptian funerary rituals. In fact, these objects were essential for accomplishing the mummification practices in order to guarantee the rebirth of the deceased. For this purpose, their form, their material and even their colour were precisely chosen according to their magical attributes. In others words, the choice of a precise amulet was not due to a pure chance.
Amulets were placed directly on the body between the mummy’s bandages to extend their apotropaic properties to the deceased. As the first mummy, the presence of Osiris was very important to accomplish the mummification process. This is the reason because the Djed pillar, as the representation of Osiris' vertebral column, is one of the most usual amulets found on mummies. However, we can distinguish some particularities concerning their position and also their material aspect.
We have to point out the work of Sir Flinders Petrie, dated in 1914, specifying the typology and the position of a selected group of amulets on Late Period’s mummies, as the reference in this field. Currently, the interdisciplinary examination of mummies has produced different results. Considering several mummies from different sites and periods, we would like to present a new vision of Osirian amulets in the funerary field.