121. Ancient Egyptian Onomastics

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121. Ancient Egyptian Onomastics841121.Ancient Egyptian Onomastics1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. Introduction Research on Egyptian Onomastics Toponyms Anthroponyms Divine Names Other Names Transliterating Names The Names as Source Material for Other Disciplines Selected Bibliography1.IntroductionThe study of names marked the beginning of scientific Egyptology. The Macedonian royal names P tolemaios and Cleopatra on the Rosetta Stone and further the names of the pharaohs Tuthmosis and Ra


121. Ancient Egyptian Onomastics


121.Ancient Egyptian Onomastics1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. Introduction Research on Egyptian Onomastics Toponyms Anthroponyms Divine Names Other Names Transliterating Names The Names as Source Material for Other Disciplines Selected Bibliography



The study of names marked the beginning of scientific Egyptology. The Macedonian royal names P tolemaios and Cleopatra on the Rosetta Stone and further the names of the pharaohs Tuthmosis and Ramesses were the key to the decipherment of hieroglyphs by Champollion (1822). Ever since, scholars examined the multitudinous Egyptian sources: texts on papyri and inscriptions on temples, in graves and on stones. They cover almost 3800 years of history: Early Dynastic P eriod (31002686 BC), Old Kingdom (26862181 BC), 1st Intermediate P eriod, Middle Kingdom and 2nd Intermediate P eriod (21811558 BC), New Kingdom (15581085 BC), 3rd Intermediate and Late P eriod (1085304 BC), the Greek or P tolemaic Era (30430 BC), the Roman and Byzantine Times (30 BC641). In 641 the Arabs conquered Egypt. Various language stages and scripts are to be distinguished. From the dawn of Egyptian history h i e r o g l y p h s were inscribed or painted on walls. H i e r a t i c is a simplified derivation of hieroglyphs, used for book writing and administration. It can be written more quickly, but it still has clearly recognizable signs. The administrative writing, however, became gradually more cursive and developed into d e m o t i c: this very cursive writing came into vogue from about 650 BC onwards. In the P tolemaic, Roman and Byzantine period, the G r e e k l a n g u a g e, used by the Greeks and in the Greek administration, coexisted with hieroglyphs (for inscriptions, till 3th century AD), hieratic (for sacred writings, till 4th century AD) and demotic (mainly for temple administration, till 5th century AD). About 250 AD a new Egyptian writing came into existence: C o p t i c, which is still used nowadays in liturgical works. This stage of the Egyptian language is written with Greek characters, to which are added a few signs rendering typical Egyptian consonants.

has been written down by scholars: Yoyotte (1972) discussed the toponyms, Lddeckens (1972) the anthroponyms. General introductions are, for the toponyms, the study by Zibelius (1982) and the series of papers by Sauneron (1983), for the anthroponyms, the articles by Quaegebeur (1974) and Vernus (1982). Bibliographical information concerning Egyptian onomastics can be found in the periodical Onoma (1950 ), subsection Egyptian (by K. Vandorpe since 1990), and in the onomastic sections of the bibliography in the periodical Aegyptus (1920 ) and in the Annual Egyptological Bibliography (1948 ) and the P reliminary Egyptological Bibliography (1983 ).



(place names, names of temples, pyramids, domains, royal foundations, channels etc.) 3.1.Structure and Sense As to their form, toponyms (TN) can be divided into two groups: sentence- and wordnames. TN composed of a sentence are rather rare. They usually refer to pyramids (Mycerinus is divine), domains (Sokar wishes that Ounas lives) or temple buildings. Most TN are, however, word-names, composed of one word (Iwn, pillar) or of a substantive defined by a genitive (Iw-Snfr, Island of Snofru) or by an adjective (Inb.w-), The white walls, i. e. Memphis). As to their sense, a distinction can be made between (a) city-names, compounded with terms such as niw.t (city), dmi (town), grg (foundation), c.wy (house, hence hamlet). (b) TN adapted from a geographical reality, related to the soil (m3y, newly gained land; t3, wood; 3, field; c, sand), the water (itrwc3, great river; r3, mouth of a water branch) or constructions such as temples (pr), stables (ihy). Within this group a major problem arises: how can one distinguish a real proper name (e. g., name of a city) from a common name, i. e. the name of the geographical reality itself (e. g., name of a field or a temple, which can become the name of its city later on)? Temples, pyramids and cities have their own determinative ( , , respectively). Unfortunately, the determinative is sometimes lacking and the context cannot always give a decisive answer.


Research on Egyptian Onomastics

The history of the study of Egyptian names


VIII. Historische Entwicklung der Namen

(c) The two preceding items can be defined by, for instance, adjectives (w.t-wr.t, The great palace), names of gods (Niw.t-Imn, The city of Amun), or royal names (Pr-Rc-ms-swmry-Imn, P iramesse, House of Ramesses, beloved by Amun). There are no general studies on the structure and sense of the TN. There exist, however, partial studies: Zibelius (1979) discussed the TN of the Old Kingdom, Jacquet-Gordon (1962) gathered all the domains of the Old Kingdom and Helck (1984) the pyramid names. There are articles about particular composing elements: ihy (Yoyotte 1958, 418 419), m3y (Yoyotte 196162a), t3 (Vernus 1977), itrw-c3 (Quaegebeur 1982), cy (Vandorpe 1991). There are of course also many articles on specific TN (e. g., Yoyotte 1957 60, on Bousiris). 3.2.History A complete study of the changes within toponymy is not available. Sentence-names (cf. 3.1.) rarely outlive the Middle Kingdom. Old word-names are often simplified or disappear in the course of ages. Some of them survive, even though the etymology is not clear any more (Imwr < Iw-m-itrw, island in the river). In their stead new types of TN come into existence. For instance, TN composed of Pr (temple-domain) + main local god, or of Prnb(.t) (temple-domain of the master/mistress) + old name of the city, are current from the New Kingdom onwards (M3dw, Medamud, later Pr-Mnw-nb-M3tn, Temple-domain of Montu, Lord of Medamud; see Zibelius 1977). M3y (newly gained land), attested from the New Kingdom onwards, is often used in TN in the New Kingdom and later (Yoyotte 196162a). The Semitic loanword mktr (fortification) emerges in the New Kingdom as a composing element for TN at the eastern border of the Delta. In the 3rd Intermediate P eriod TN appear which are compounded with sbt, strongholds founded by local kings in those turbulent times (Yoyotte 1963). The Libyan period (3rd Intermediate P eriod) produces a lot of TN consisting of grg (foundation) + name of a god (Yoyotte 1962b). In the Greco-Roman and Byzantine times, every major city has a Greek name next to the Egyptian name. The Greeks transliterate the Egyptian TN (P3-mwy, The storehouse = ), or translate them (Niw.t-Imn, The city of Amon = , The city of Zeus). Sometimes both possibilities are attested (Pr-w.-t-r, Temple-domain of

Hathor = or , The city of Aphrodite) or a totally new name is given to the city (Pr-Mnw-nb-M3tn, Templedomain of Montu, Lord of Medamud, Greek ). Another phenomenon worth mentioning, is that of cities having several names, i. e. an administrative (Edfu: b3, Coptic , Arabic Tell Edfu, Greek ) and a religious name (Edfu: Bdt, Greek ). The Coptic TN are usually based on the older Egyptian names, not on the Greek translations or Greek new names (Pr-M3, Greek , Coptic ). Many of the Egyptian TN even survive in Arabic times (Pr-B3st.t, Temple-domain of the goddess Bastet = Arabic Basta, see TAVO B41). For Ancient Egyptian and Coptic elements in the toponymy of modern Egypt, see Czapkiewicz (1971) and Kosack (1971); both studies are to be consulted with caution. 3.3.Onomastica and Topographical Lists The so-called instructions for the training of Egyptian scribes are lists of words or names on several subjects, such as fauna, flora, occupations, TN. The TN are usually classified from south to north, the Delta-TN from west to east. Well-known examples of such onomastica are the Ramesseum-onomasticon from the Middle Kingdom as well as the Amenope-onomasticon and P apyrus Hood from the New Kingdom, all published by Gardiner (1947). A late-hieratic onomasticon from Tebtunis from about 100 AD is examined by Osing (1989), a demotic onomasticon among the Cairo-papyri by Zauzich (1987). Alongside the onomastica, the Egyptians drew up topographical lists for administrative purposes (Schlott-Schwab 1981), the oldest one being the list on the kiosk of Sesostris I in Karnak (Middle Kingdom). Among the later lists, the hieratic geographical P apyrus Tanis no. 1 and the lists of the nome-processions on temples, such as the one in Edfu, are worth mentioning (Beinlich 1980). 3.4.Repertoria Brugsch already collected the hieroglyphic and hieratic TN in his Gographie of 1857, on which a supplement was published in 1880. Somewhat more recent, but also outdated now, is the Dictionnaire des noms gographiques, compiled by Gauthier (192531). In the series of the Tbinger Atlas des Vorderen Orients, Beihefte, the Egyptian TN are now recollected in chronological order: The TN of

121. Ancient Egyptian Onomastics


the Old Kingdom (TAVO B19 by Zibelius), 1st Intermediate P eriod (TAVO B27 by Goma), Middle Kingdom (TAVO B66 by Goma) and the Libyan kingdoms in the Delta during the 2226 dynasties (TAVO B6 by Goma) have already been published. Within the volumes an alphabetical or a topographical order (by nome) is maintained. The name and the location of each TN are discussed. For the nomes, a separate study can be consulted (TAVO B5 by Helck). A dictionary of the demotic TN is being prepared in Wrzburg (Cheshire 1987). Some TN are integrated in the demotic Glossar of Erichsen (1954). The Egyptian TN in Greek texts have been listed in the six volumes of the Dizionario by Calderini, Daris (1935 88). For the Coptic TN, the only available dictionary is still the old Gographie de lgypte lpoque copte, by Amlineau (1893 = 1973). Besides, one can consult the list, made by Roquet (1973), of TN mentioned in the Coptic dictionary of Crum. Finally, the Arabic TN of Egypt with refere