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SC: One thing that I haven't touched upon though is your question re the Thoth/Moon association. Thoth was, of course, the 'Keeper of Time', the God of wisdom. It is also said that the connection of Thoth as the Ibis depicting the moon is the crescent-shaped bill of the ibis being similar to a crescent moon.
Byrd: Agreed... but those were later interpretations of him, after he had essentially gained more power and respect. Initially he's the moon god, though …
”Thoth was to be his vicar, to fill his place, and ‘Place of Ra’ was to be his name. He gave him power to send out a messenger (hab), so the Ibis (habi) came into being. All that Thoth would do would be good (khen), therefore the Tekni bird of Thoth came into being. He gave Thoth power to embrace (anh) the heavens, therefore the Moon-god (Aah) came into being. He gave Thoth power to turn back (anan) the Northern Peoples, therefore the dog-headed ape of Thoth came into being. Finally Ra told Thoth that he would take his place in sight of all those who were wont to worship Ra and that all should praise him as God. Thus the abdication of Ra was complete.” - E. A. Wallis Budge, ‘Legends of the Gods: The Egyptian Texts’, p.xxxii
Byrd: …and there is no association of him with a flood.
“Then Thoth, being the tongue of the Great God declares that, acting for the Lord Tem, he is going to make a Flood. He says: ‘I am going to blot out everything that I have made. This Earth shall enter into (i.e. be absorbed in) the watery abyss of Nu (or Nunu) by means of a raging flood, and will become even as it was in primeval time. I myself shall remain together with Osiris, but I shall transform myself into a small serpent, which can be neither comprehended nor seen; one day the Nile will rise and cover all Egypt with water, and drown the whole country; then, as in the beginning, there will be nothing to be seen except water.’ - Budge W. E. A., 'From Fetish to God in Ancient Egypt', (Oxford University Press, 1934), p.198.
Byrd: In checking on the "migration of ibises" idea, I don't find any support for it. They migrate in February and the rising of the Nile is in August. Unlike the rising of Sirius, the migration event varies depending on the weather... so it would be a rather loose association with these birds. Priests were assigned to look for the rising of Sirius, but no priests seem to have been assigned to announce the arrival of the birds.
At least, none that I find. Do you have links to a source?
”People knew from long experience that this was about the time for the level of the Nile to start rising. Just before this, flocks of white ibises would have appeared on the fields as they returned from the south. If they came late or not at all, farmers would see this as a bad omen foreshadowing low floods and a poor harvest. So they regarded the wise bird that knew the secret of this vital phenomenon as an embodiment of the learned god Thoth”. (From here).
“In Ancient Egypt, sacred ibis were heralds of the flood, and symbolised the god Thoth, god of wisdom and master of time. They were also of practical use to the villagers, making pools safe to bathe by feeding on the water snails that carried the bilharzias liver parasite.” (From here).
“In Africa also we meet with the great Ibis (Tantalus ibis, fig.30), and the sacred ibis (I. religiosa), which is venerated in Egypt as the harbinger of the annual Inundation of the Nile, and was frequently embalmed and mummified.” (From here).
SC: The crested ibis logogram is not, however, part of the AE phonetic alphabet and so does not require the vertical stroke.
Byrd: I'm not sure where you're getting your sign list from, but it may be outdated. The ibis is G25 (ancientegyptonline.co.uk...) -- N15 is the logogram for the underworld (ancientegyptonline.co.uk...)
SC: Logograms (or ideograms) typically offer a single sign that represents a complete word or even an idea. In the example above it is my contention that the Ibis symbolises the god Thoth and also the idea of ‘harbinger of the flood’. Combine them and the idea of the Ibis in the term ‘Akhet Khufu’ is to convey the idea ’harbinger of the flood of Thoth’.
Byrd: There's a grammatical problem with this -- the logogram (and determinative) always appears AFTER the word it refers to... not before. Therefore the ibis, if a logogram, would refer to whatever the bird faced... not to what follows it. Remember that some of the textual rules changed over the 3,000 years of Egyptian history.
SC: It ‘knew’ when the Nile was about to flood, hence why the ancient Egyptians regarded this as a sacred bird that ‘heralded the Nile inundation’ i.e. the Akhet or rebirth of the Nile (hence the flood season of ‘Akhet’ or rebirth of the Nile).
Byrd: As a hobbyist birder, I'm gonna disagree completely. Migratory birds don't have a very regular schedule (unlike the star, Sirius.) As any birder can tell you, the date of migration varies wildly -- by weeks in some cases. Although they return to nesting colonies (which makes finding them easier in breeding season) the arrival and breeding involves a range of dates (March through August.)
In addition, they begin breeding AFTER the rains, not before them. So the rains and early flood show up and then the birds show up and begin breeding. (see eol.org...)
Byrd: The Nile inundation is reliably tied to the appearance of Sirius in many texts, but nothing is said about birds.
SC:“Then Thoth, being the tongue of the Great God declares that, acting for the Lord Tem, he is going to make a Flood. He says: ‘I am going to blot out everything that I have made. This Earth shall enter into (i.e. be absorbed in) the watery abyss of Nu (or Nunu) by means of a raging flood, and will become even as it was in primeval time. I myself shall remain together with Osiris, but I shall transform myself into a small serpent, which can be neither comprehended nor seen; one day the Nile will rise and cover all Egypt with water, and drown the whole country; then, as in the beginning, there will be nothing to be seen except water.’
Byrd: This is a problematic text for you, because the chapter that Budge cites this from (the Chapter of Not Dying A Second Time -- Budge says this appears in the Papyrus of Ani) actually says something very different: www.touregypt.net... -- as multiple sources confirm.
In addition, the Budge book that you cite says (just two pages before that quote you've used) that the flood is associated with Osiris -- not Thoth.
Byrd: Curiously, Budge himself disagrees with his own translation, giving something quite different for the Papyrus of Ani: www.africa.upenn.edu... I'm not sure where Budge derived the quote from, but he later makes no reference to it -- and if you look at the sourcebook, Budge has made some pretty horrendous assumptions (Apep as the Devil, for one) that really didn't hold up
4. Chapter 175 of the Book of the Dead and parallel :
Although this text and the other we will now discuss are funerary texts, it seemed better not to include them in the previous section. In fact these texts have a different nature than the previous group of texts we examined: the end of the world is announced here by the creator-god himself.** We will reproduce only the portion that interests us from the long Chapter 175 :
(The deceased asks Atum) : "What will be the duration of my life" – so said he. Atum:
"You shall be for millions on millions of years, a lifetime of millions of years. I will dispatch the Elders and destroy all that I have made; the earth shall return to the Abyss, to the surging flood, as in its original state. But I will remain with Osiris, I will transform myself into something else, namely a serpent, without men knowing or the gods seeing. " (Paper Ref: Faulkner. BD. spell 175, p.175; Barguet, p.261; Naville. pl.CXCVIII; Lesko, in Shafer. Religion, p.114.)
A parallel text in the hymn to Osiris (Temple of Opet at Karnak, from the time of Ptolemy VIII, Evergetes II) reproduces the same image:
He (Osiris) is the unique, who remains together with the majesty of Re, while the land is Nun (< from ? > which flows forth ?) the flood as in its first time and (while) there is no god, there is no goddess, who will herself into another snake. " Paper Ref: E. Otto, Zwei Parallet Zu TB 175, CdE 37 (1962). p.251-3; Morenz. Religion, p. 169)
As we see in the first text, Atum predicts the destruction of the world by his own hand. He does this after a promise made to the deceased of a long duration of life. This seemed paradoxical to many scholars. They wondered whether the deceased is supposed to survive this destruction by means of some unification with Osiris, the god of the dead and the only one rescued from the world annihilation. The title of Chapter 175 is, after ail, "a spell for not dying again", and we know how much a "second death" was feared by the ancient Egyptians. Yet the god Atum himself makes it clear that everything will return to "its original state" and it is obvious from the utterance of the Pyramid Texts that we quoted before (see p.17) the original state did not include death and logically enough did not include those who experienced it, Le. the deceased. it is more likely that victory over death is "here and now" in this world. Then after an undetermined span of time, everything should return to the Abyss.
In the story of the Shipwrecked Sailor, the serpent-god of the island predicts the vanishing of the isle under the waves: "You will never see this island, which will become as water. (70) "We know that in Egypt we do not find an elaborate flood myth like the Babylonian, Sumerian, Jewish, or other narratives of a great flood. But this must not lead us to the belief that the ancient Egyptians were accustomed to the annual flood of the Nile and that that flood was so beneficial that it would not represent any threat to the existence of the world. In fact, an inscription of the time of Osorkon III from the temple of Luxor, shows us how an abnormally high inundation was described as "Nun" and was regarded as a return to the "original state" of creation:
"Nun came forth from ...[ and covered] this land to its limits. It stretched to the two borders (of the land) as in the first time ... this land was given to its power as (to) the sea.” Source.
Originally posted by Harte
As you can see, the iron plate is a questionable find, and much of the stuff you read about it is quite out of date now.