Talk:Seshat

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Star, cannabis, papyrus, both, all of them, or what?[edit]

Luxor temple 16.jpg

It looks like a cannabis leaf above her head to me. See

Cannabis was certainly known in ancient Egypt. From

"Cannabis is mentioned as a medication in the following ancient Egyptian medical texts: Ramesseum III Papyrus (1700 B.C.E.), Eber’s Papyrus (1600 B.C.E.), the Berlin Papyrus (1300 B.C.E.), and the Chester Beatty VI Papyrus (1300 B.C.E.). The Eber’s Papyrus is the oldest known complete medical textbook in existence. Most scholars believe that it is copy of a much earlier text, probably from around 3100 B.C.E."

The linked web page may not be good enough for a Wikipedia reference though.

When I look at papyrus plants they don't look like what is above her head. See:

So, are there any ancient Egyptian texts or carvings that say that the leaf above her head is supposed to be papyrus? Or is it only the best guess of scholars? That needs to be referenced in the article. Here is something found from a Google Books search. It says it is not known what is represented by what is above her head. --Timeshifter (talk) 21:38, 29 December 2010 (UTC)

In chapter 7 it says, "The sign held by Seshat over her head has given rise to many attempts to offer an explanation for this rare feature, but none has yielded a definitive conclusion."
Book: In Search of Cosmic Order: Selected Essays on Egyptian Archaeoastronomy. Editors: Juan Antonio Belmonte, Mosalam Shaltout. Contributor: Zahi Hawass. Publisher: American University in Cairo Press, 2010. ISBN 9789774794834.
The papyrus claim in the Wikipedia article is original research trying to combine the history of papyrus with Seshat.
One of the references in the Wikipedia article says, "She was depicted as a woman wearing a panther-skin dress (the garb of the funerary stm priests) and a headdress that was also her hieroglyph - Seshat determinative - which may represent either a stylized flower or seven pointed star on a standard that is beneath a set of down-turned horns. (The horns may have originally been a crescent, linking Seshat to the moon and hence to her spouse, the moon god of writing and knowledge, Thoth.)"
Papyrus is not what is represented by the symbol. At least not according to the sources I have seen so far. --Timeshifter (talk) 02:22, 18 February 2011 (UTC)
my first impression when looking at it as a layman was that it was a marijuana leaf and its aroma cloud. similar to the lightbulb lotus and that was before i even saw this section. but i am no egyptologist and it's all conjecture coming from me. 76.24.47.98 (talk) —Preceding undated comment added 00:39, 26 November 2011 (UTC).
..not just a cannabis plant, but also a very obvious liberty cap mushroom? — Preceding unsigned comment added by 86.176.185.109 (talk) 05:19, 11 November 2014 (UTC)
I'm not sure why all the conflict among scholars. Take it from the most obvious. My first impression was of an "umbrella palm." Looking up umbrella palm showed that the umbrella palm is also the papyrus. Looking at stylized representations of papyrus, they almost all show this umbrella or dome-like quality over the palm fronds. Papyrus makes so much sense if she's Thoth's feminine counterpart, the progenitor of the alphabet, and a scribe. Sometimes people make things far more difficult than they need to be.DGreene14 (talk) 17:45, 30 December 2014 (UTC)
One of the references in the Wikipedia article: Seshat and her tools. H. Peter Aleff. From his article:
Many Egyptologists have long speculated about the emblem which Seshat wore as her head dress. Sir Alan Gardiner described it in his still category-leading “Egyptian Grammar” as a “conventionalized flower (?) surmounted by horns”. His question mark after “flower” reflects the fact that there is no likely flower which resembles this design. Others have called it a “star surmounted by a bow”, but stars in the ancient Egyptian convention had five points, not seven like the image in Seshat's emblem. This number was so important that it caused king Tuthmosis III (1479 to 1425 BCE) to call this goddess Sefkhet-Abwy, or "She of the seven points".
--Timeshifter (talk) 19:20, 31 December 2014 (UTC)

Shabti box[edit]

I have just removed an image of a shabti box which claimed to contain an image of the hieroglyph which represents Seshat (Gardiner sign list reference R20 and R21).

In actual fact it is the hieroglyph of a sail (Gardiner sign list reference P5) and it is part of the name of the owner of the shabti : Henut Mehyt Tjaw ("Mistress of the North Wind").

Yaqubhor (talk) 22:01, 17 February 2011 (UTC)

Thanks. Dougweller (talk) 15:38, 20 February 2011 (UTC)

Sefkhet-Abwy, knotted cord, notched palm branch, merkhet, and door of heaven[edit]

Seshat in Luxor.jpg
In Egyptian mythology, Huh (also Heh, Hah, Hauh, Huah, Hahuh) was the deification of eternity in the Ogdoad, his name itself meaning endlessness. As a concept, he was androgynous, his female form being known as Hauhet, which is simply the feminine form of his name.

From http://wikoweedia.com/seshat.html is this:

"The ancient Egyptian goddess Seshat (above in her role as the Goddess who measures) is depicted with a hemp leaf in her head dress. Pharaoh Tuthmosis III (1479 to 1425 B.C.E.) called her Sefkhet-Abwy (She of the seven points). Hemp was used to make measuring cords. Seshat was the goddess of libraries, knowledge, and geomancy, among other things. Spell 10 of the Coffin text states “Seshat opens the door of heaven for you”. Cannabis pollen was found on the mummy of Ramses II (nineteenth dynasty). Initially scholars debated as to whether the cannabis pollen was ancient or modern contamination. Additional research showed cannabis pollen in all known royal mummies. No known ancient Egyptian mummies were wrapped in hemp cloth.

I need to find the original sources for this info. But it looks less and less to me like we are talking about papyrus above her head. I have yet to find a source for it being papyrus.

From http://www.touregypt.net/godsofegypt/sefkhetabwy.htm is this:

Sefkhet-Abwy was a goddess of writing, as well as temple libraries, of which there were many in ancient Egypt. Her name means the seven-horned and she wears on her head the symbol of a seven-pointed star below an indented arc which could represent a bow. She first appears during the reign of Tuthmosis III during Egypt's 18th Dynasty, and seems to have been little more than a version of Seshat. her role was to be present at the temple foundation ceremony of "stretching the cord", where the monarch (theoretically) measures out the extent of the precinct. The goddess also figures among the deities responsible for writing the name of the pharaoh on the leaves of the sacred tree.

Again, a cord, not a papyrus reed. Why would one write on a cord or reed? It looks more like she is counting the number of knots in a cord in some type of measuring and/or ceremony. See: knotted cord and rope stretcher.

From the 2005 book The Egyptian Revival: Ancient Egypt as the Inspiration for Design Motifs in the West is this:

She was shown holding a notched palm branch (suggesting years or the measurement of time), and she had responsibility for recording all sorts of data.

From Huh (god):

The other common representation depicts him crouching, holding a palm stem in each hand (or just one), sometimes with a palm stem in his hair, as palm stems represented long life to the Egyptians, the years being represented by notches on it. Depictions of this form also had a shen ring at the base of each palm stem, which represented infinity. Depictions of Huh were also used in hieroglyphs to represent one million, which was essentially considered equivalent to infinity in Egyptian mathematics. Thus this deity is also known as the 'god of millions of years'."

From http://www.touregypt.net/featurestories/foundation.htm - Egypt: The Foundation Ceremony For Ancient Egyptian Religious Buildings.

The first of these rituals became, over time, the most important. Known as pedj-shes, or "stretching the cord", it was of such importance that the whole ceremony, or at least that section leading up to actual construction, was called by the same name. The reason this rite was so important was that it aligned the whole temple by careful astronomical observation and measurement. This was probably done by sighting northern circumpolar stars through a notched stick called a merkhet.

From Palm branch (symbol)

Palm stems represented long life to the Ancient Egyptians, and the god Huh was often shown holding a palm stem in one or both hands.

From Ancient Egypt; Foundation Rituals. Stretching the cord:

"Stretching the cord" ("pedj-shes") was one of the most important elements of the whole foundation ritual. Its importance was such that in later times the entire ritual up to the point of construction was known as "pedj-shes". From as early as the Second dynasty the ceremony was closely associated with the goddess Seshat, "Mistress of the House of Architects". The "cord" in question is the mason´s line which was used to measure out the dimensions of the building and align the building with the stars or points of the compass.
This stage ritual had three distinct phases; marking out the four corners of the building (at night), "stretching the cord" (driving stakes into the four corners and tying the cord to link them), loosening the cord (so that it slipped down the stakes and lay on the ground marking the limits of the building)
It is often noted that the Ancient Egyptians were incredibly accurate in the laying of foundations and the orientation of their buildings. It is thought that they used a tool known as a "merket", a notched stick though which the constellation of the Great Bear could be viewed to enable the builders to calculate the position of true north and so to align their buildings accurately.
"I hold the peg. I grasp the handle of the club and grip the measuring cord with Seshat. I turn my eyes to the movements of the stars. I send forth my gaze to the Bull´s thigh (the Great Bear). I count off time, I watch the clock, I establish the four corners of your temple."
- Words spoken by the Pharaoh, from an inscription at Edfu temple

The Temple of Edfu was built between between 237 and 57 BCE. This was long after Pharaoh Tuthmosis III (1479 to 1425 B.C.E.) and his name for Seshat: Sefkhet-Abwy. See farther up in this talk section.

Claims of Seshat having a papyrus plant above her head are questionable. I think it is more likely that the stretching of the cord, was based on a knotted hemp cord. That knotted cord looks like its knots were incorporated into the merkhet in the Seshat sculpture. That became symbolic of measurement in general including measuring time, years of the Pharaoh, eternity, heaven, etc.. --Timeshifter (talk) 10:40, 3 November 2011 (UTC)

The only reference that I can find on this subject indicates that the emblem's identity is unknown. I changed the article to reflect that. Until somebody can find a reliable source that identifies it, all this is speculation. (The only detailed source I know on Seshat, by the way, is Die Goettin Seschat, Wodtke und Stegbauer, by Dagmar Budde. Anybody around here read German?) A. Parrot (talk) 18:03, 3 November 2011 (UTC)

(unindent). From http://www.recoveredscience.com/const201seshathempmath.htm is this:

Many Egyptologists have long speculated about the emblem which Seshat wore as her head dress. Sir Alan Gardiner described it in his still category-leading “Egyptian Grammar as a “conventionalized flower (?) surmounted by horns”. His question mark after “flower” reflects the fact that there is no likely flower which resembles this design. Others have called it a “star surmounted by a bow”, but stars in the ancient Egyptian convention had five points, not seven like the image in Seshat's emblem. This number was so important that it caused king Tuthmosis III (1479 to 1425 BCE) to call this goddess Sefkhet-Abwy, or "She of the seven points". Also, in some detailed pictures of Seshat the canopy above that seven-pointed "flower?" does not at all resemble "horns" or a "bow". There is no need for such groping speculations because the various elements in Seshat's emblem simply depict the tools of her geometer's trade in the hieroglyphic manner. Her seven- pointed “flower” or “star” is an accurate image of a hemp leaf. This leaf is typically made up of seven pointed leaf parts that are arranged in the same pattern as the most prominent sign in Seshat's emblem. Hemp is, and has long been, an excellent material for making ropes with the low- stretch quality required for measuring cords, particularly when these are greased to reduce variations in their moisture content which would influence elongation. The characteristic leaf of the plant used in making these ropes was thus a logical choice for the emblem designer who wanted an easily recognized reference to Seshat's job. This leaf is so unique that it is hard to confuse with other plants.

--Timeshifter (talk) 05:15, 21 May 2012 (UTC)

Hemp, cannabis, and medical cannabis in Egypt[edit]

Emphasis added to quotes.

From Ethan B. Russo, "History of Cannabis and Its Preparations in Saga, Science, and Sobriquet," Chemistry & Biodiversity 4, issue 8 (2007): 1614-1648:

Hemp fibers were found in the tomb of Amenophis IV (Akhenaten) at El-@Amarna, ca. 1350 b.c. and confirmed in two separate scientific analyses [95]. Cannabis pollen has also been identified from mid-third-millennium b.c. soil samples from Nagada [96] and in geological strata of similar vintage in the eastern Nile Delta [97]. More convincing yet is the finding of several pollen grains inside the mummy of Rameses II, who died ca. 1213 b.c. [98]. A photomicrograph (p. 163) seems to confirm this assignation, and not that of hops, Humulus lupulus, a European species not identified in Ancient Egypt. Samples containing cannabis pollen from another mummy has also been documented [99], ca. 100 b.c., during the Ptolemaic era.

Cannabis was used medicinally starting much earlier in Egypt. See the original Egyptian documents and translations:

"Cannabis is mentioned as a medication in the following ancient Egyptian medical texts: Ramesseum III Papyrus (1700 B.C.E.), Eber’s Papyrus (1600 B.C.E.), the Berlin Papyrus (1300 B.C.E.), and the Chester Beatty VI Papyrus (1300 B.C.E.). The Eber’s Papyrus is the oldest known complete medical textbook in existence. Most scholars believe that it is copy of a much earlier text, probably from around 3100 B.C.E."

From History of Cannabis. Ancient Egypt is this:

According to Lise Manniche [3] (a more modern-day Egyptologist) the following Egyptian hieroglyphs [renderings of hieroglyphs] pronounced "shm-shm-tu" or shum-shum-met or "sm-sm-t" [4] literally translates into "The Medical Marihuana Plant." Mention of this medicine is made in the following Egyptian medical texts:
  • The Ramesseum III Papyrus (1700 BC) ; British Museum of London - Plate A26
  • The Eber’s Papyrus (1600 BC) ; "University of Lepzia" Plates XCVI , LXXVIII
  • The Chester-Beatty VI (Medical) Papyrus (1300 BC): (British Museum 10686 sheets 6, 7)
  • The Berlin Papyrus (1300 BC) Sheet 7
  • The Hearst Papyrus (1,550 BC) ; University of California Berkeley Plate XII
  • The Vienna Papyrus 6257 (200 AD) Columns IX and XIV
  • And others

--Timeshifter (talk) 19:04, 30 May 2012 (UTC)

If the Egyptians cultivated cannabis, as Manniche indicates, then it seems plausible to me that Seshat's emblem is a cannabis leaf. But out of the sources you've listed, the ones that connect Seshat with cannabis do not look like reliable sources. I still don't know of a reliable source that makes the connection. Do you? A. Parrot (talk) 22:15, 30 May 2012 (UTC)
Not so far. --Timeshifter (talk) 07:27, 31 May 2012 (UTC)
The earliest attestations of Seshat's symbol (that I'm aware of) are from Djoser's pyramid, that is c. 2700 BC. But all that evidence of Egyptian cannabis knowledge seems to be of much later date (late Middle Kingdom/New Kingdom). Is there any evidence which would prove that the Egyptians were utilizing cannabis plant in Old Kingdom or earlier? --WANAX (talk) 22:26, 31 December 2014 (UTC)
From http://www.prntrkmt.org/herbs/cannabis.html is this:
"Cannabis is mentioned as a medication in the following ancient Egyptian medical texts: Ramesseum III Papyrus (1700 B.C.E.), Eber’s Papyrus (1600 B.C.E.), the Berlin Papyrus (1300 B.C.E.), and the Chester Beatty VI Papyrus (1300 B.C.E.). The Eber’s Papyrus is the oldest known complete medical textbook in existence. Most scholars believe that it is copy of a much earlier text, probably from around 3100 B.C.E." --Timeshifter (talk) 10:12, 1 January 2015 (UTC)