III. G. Jebel Barkal in the Book of the Dead
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The evidence, presented above, that the Jebel Barkal pinnacle was perceived as a gigantic natural “statue” containing many “hidden” divine aspects, derives strong corroboration from Spells 162-165 of the Book of the Dead - the so-called “Nubian Chapters” - which date from the New Kingdom and continued in use well into the Ptolemaic era (Lesko 2002, 2006).  These texts are easily recognized as Nubian, first, since Spell 163 makes a rare explicit reference to Jebel Barkal as “the Ipet, mountain <of Napata> of Nubia,” second, since they employ untranslatable names and words, which Spell 164 specifically identifies as of “the speech of the tribesmen of Nubia,” and third, since Amun with the characterisitics of Kamutef is the main god invoked.  These texts all seem to be describing a mysterious, not-quite-perceptible deity, combining Osiris, Re, Atum, Amun-Kamutef and other gods, sometimes with several goddesses, and it is difficult not to believe that we have before us a series of graphic ancient descriptions of the deified Jebel Barkal pinnacle.  The vignettes accompanying these texts even picture this strange polymorphic god.

Spell 162 invokes a god that seems to be Amun, although he is not explicitly named.  He is a solar god; he is said to be the father of Re (hence an aspect of the primeval sun god Atum); he is said to wear Amun’s “double plumes;" he is called by Amun’s familiar epithet “swift of step” and he is recognized by his invocation, in the colophon, as “Father, Most Hidden of the Hidden.”  In the text, however, he is called “Lion of Might”, which recalls not only Amun’s familiar epithet from Kawa, “Lion over the South Country,” or his half-ram, half-lion form at Pnubs, but also his appearance as a lion-headed man in the western rooms of the Temple of Ramses III at Medinet Habu (fig. 69), where he appears with other primeval forms of the god, who are all similarly represented at Jebel Barkal  (Epigraphic Survey 1964, pl. 512) (See below, III, I).  Otherwise, the text seems to be describing a figure concealed within an Eye/Uraeus (=Pinnacle?).  He is called “lord of the White Crown, who is equipped with the flail… lord of the phallus…. lord of forms, numerous of aspects, who conceals himself in the Eye (udjat) from his children.”  The text seems to be telling us that an Eye/Uraeus (Pinnacle?) conceals a hidden image of Amun as Lion-Kamutef, whose only clearly visible attributes are his White Crown and phallus!  (Allen 1974, 157-58; Verhoeven 1993).

Fig.69:  Ramses III, “beloved of Min-Kamutef,” offering incense and libations to Amun “Great of Dignity”, represented as a lion, followed by Amunet.  From the western chambers at Medinet Habu.  (Epigraphic Survey 1964, pl. 512)

In Spell 162 Variant, the deceased, as Osiris, prays to the same lion god with the same attributes, who is further identified as the “beautiful one who dawns in the disk of Re.” Halfway through the spell, however, the deceased suddenly addresses Osiris, who “dawns as the Moon.”  Here the text presents the two gods (surely Re and Osiris) as day and night aspects of the same being, manifested as the Sun and Moon – which reminds us that the “two Eyes/Uraei of god” (i.e. Sun and Moon) were present in the right and left sides of the pinnacle (see above, III, B) (cf. Parker, Leclant, and Goyon 1979, 73-74; Assmann 1995, 180-181, 184-185) (See also fig. 75). From this point the spell continues much like the Osiris-hymn in B 700:  “You renew your youth…forever and ever in your rejuventation…Osiris in the sky…You come as the inundation that waters, you provide for the fields (and) all the flowers…”  Then it abruptly says of Osiris: “Your ka is enduring and your phallus is within the maidens…You are lord of the Uraeus (i’ret) … King of the Gods.  You are youthful forever and ever” (Allen 1974, 158).  Obviously if the text is speaking of the Jebel Barkal pinnacle, Osiris manifests himself in the rock not only as the eternal essence of kingship (ka), but also as the phallus “within the maidens” (=uraeus goddesses) – and as the uraeus itself!  

Spell 163 begins with a series of obscure references to the ba of a deceased or unborn solar god (the unnamed Re, or Amun-Re) in the Underworld, who is said to rest in the “great corpse” of an unnamed god (Osiris), who is immersed in the waters of a marsh (See fig. 75).  (This seems to be a discreetly worded refrence to the culminating point of the Underworld journey of the Sun God, in which the ba of Re unites with Osiris in order to be reborn as Khepri.  This merging of the two gods recalls and repeats the moment of creation, when they were One , the water:  "Venerable ba who came forth from the Nun, Primeval One who emerged in the beginning": Assmann 1995, 135). The deceased in the spell, who also rests in the corpse of Osiris, then makes a wish to merge with the Sun’s ba and to protect him from danger.  At this point the god’s fire becomes "kindled within the water" (possibly an allusion to the red color of the Nile reflecting the first glow of dawn when seen from the summit of Jebel Barkal [see next]), and the deceased begs the Sun God to protect him for eternity with his flaming breath (uraeus?).  He then says of the god: “The limits of heaven are under your ba, and this land is under your statue (seshem).”  How can we come to any other conclusion but that this "statue" is the pinnacle?

The spell then says of the deceased (“Osiris”):  “His ba enters into his corpse and vice versa.  He is one hidden within the pupil of the Eye (udjat).” The comment suggests that he has become one with the sun by merging with the pinnacle/Eye/Uraeus.  In the next sentence we are told that the deceased, now a solar ba himself, “sets northwest of the Ipet, mountain (ta/dehenet) <of Napata> of Nubia, without journeying to the east” - a reference which places us squarely at Jebel Barkal (Adrom 2004, 12)!

The comment that the deceased sets behind the mountain “without journeying to the east” is puzzling, but it must be an allusion to the local reversal of river directions caused by the great bend of the Nile, where the traditional “west” (left) bank in Egypt (i.e. the symbolic land of the dead) becomes the “east” bank at Napata (i.e. the symbolic land of the resurrected), and where the “west” (right) bank at Napata (home of the primeval demiurge, resident within Jebel Barkal) becomes the “east” bank in Egypt (home of the reborn universal god, resident within Karnak).  The text may imply that any solar rising at Napata would occur on the left bank, which is river “west,” thus making it impossible to”journey to the east.”  Since both banks are “west,” we seem to be completely in the Underworld here.  On the other hand, sunrise does occur, which indicates that solar rebirth takes place in the realm of Osiris, which is precisely what happens in the great New Kingdom royal mortuary texts:  the Book of the Amduat, the Book of Gates, and the Book of Caverns, etc. (Piankoff 1954).  Do these texts, thus, mean to tell us that the sun was reborn in Nubia, at Napata?   Taharqo certainly believed so, for it was  such knowledge that prompted him to locate his pyramid at Nuri – on the river “west” bank, which lies in the place of sunrise on New Year's Day when viewed from the summit of Jebel Barkal (see III, F).  As this sunrise marked the day of the anniversary of Creation, the king could be reborn as Osiris with the rising Nile every year for "millions of years."

After the solar ba "sets behind the Ipet, mountain of Napata in Nubia," Spell 163 continues by invoking the god by his different names or aspects:  “O Amun, Ka (=bull= phallus=essence of kingship), Khepri, lord of the two Eyes/Uraei, Fierce of Pupil is your name; Osiris [i.e. the deceased] is the support of your two Eyes/Uraei; Shersher is the name of one; Shep netjerwy who creates the ka, is the name of the other….Atum, who illumines for himself the Two Lands, is his true, true name…”  Here, it seems, the text is telling us that the pinnacle is Amun, as well as his ka (the king) and phallus (thus Amun Kamutef); it is all aspects of the sun; it is both Eyes/Uraei; it is the place where the ka is created; it is all goddesses; it is the image of Osiris and the personification of kingship past; and it is Atum, personification of Creation, the totality, and of kingship present and eternal!   

Differing from the other spells, Spell 164 seems to be making allusions to the pinnacle as the leonine goddess Sekhmet-Bastet, “Eye of Re,” who later in the text is identified as Mut and Weret-Hekau.  (The latter goddesses, it will be remembered, are those at Jebel Barkal who occupy B 300 and B 1100[?], respectively).   She is also called “royal wife of the lion god Heq,” which is the Amun-aspect described in Spells 162 and 162 Variant.  In 162, the god is called “He of Heqheqed…Embracer of the Great Goddess.”  Obviously, if the god and goddess were manifested in the pinnacle simultaneously, then they would be in a state of permanent “embrace,” which means that their identities – and sexes – would be merged, like the strange detiy pictured in the Khonsu Temple at Thebes (cf. fig. 57) (Allen 1974, 160, n 63).

Finally Spell 165 is addressed directly to Amun:  “O you towering one, towering one (bekhenu)!   The eldest, eldest!  Amun, Amun! The lion, Magician, eldest of the gods of the east of the sky…hidden of aspect, mysterious of form, lord of the two horns… Amun of the Pillars …O Amun, I ask of you, for I know your name; your forms (kheperu) are in my mouth, and your outward aspect (inu) is in my eyes.  Come to your heir, your image (seshem="statue"), Osiris [So-and-so (name of the deceased)]… Your name is Hidden One” (Allen 1974, 161).

It would be hard to imagine a more a direct and poetic description of the Jebel Barkal pinnacle than this!  And once again we find the god’s name linked to the word “Pillar” (iun) here in the plural (iunu), reminding us again of the relationship between Heliopolis (Iunu: “Pillar Town”) and Jebel Barkal, and suggesting perhaps that all four of the projections on the mountain’s cliff face were conceived as divine images (Kendall 2004, 2-8, 41).   Was it these pseudo-“statues,” each standing about 70-75 m high, which inspired Ramses II to carve his own colossal ka statues, about one quarter the height of the former, in the living rock fronting his temples at Abu Simbel (figs. 70)?

Fig. 70:  The façade of the Great Temple of Ramses II at Abu Simbel, carved with four seated statues of the king’s ka, each 20 m in height (cf. figs. 60-62).  (Photo:  T. Kendall).

If these spells cryptically describe Jebel Barkal and the gods manifested in its pinnacle, their vignettes also seem to picture them.  For example, the most basic illustration of Spell 163 is an arching snake with two legs (fig. 71) (Faulkner 2005, 180).  The sideways-S shape of the serpent’s body is the same as that of the snake of Taharqo’s strange uraeus statue of Kamutef from Luxor, which - equally cryptically - references Jebel Barkal (fig. 72).  This snake appears again with added detail in more elaborate versions of the vignette (fig. 73), and the spell itself provides the following instructions for drawing it:

“To be said over (the image of) a snake possessing two feet and wearing disk and horns, while two udjat eyes are provided with feet and wings.  What is in the pupil of one is the image of a (deity) with upraised arm and the face of (Bes) wearing twin plumes, its back being (that of) a falcon.  What is in the pupil of the other is the image of (a deity) with upraised arm and the face of (the goddess) Neith wearing twin plumes, its back being (that of) a falcon  (Allen 1974, 159-160).

Fig. 71:  The simplest vignette of Spell 163 pictured a two-legged snake in the form of a sideways S.  A similar vignette illustrated Spell 87, which revealed that the animal was from “the limits of the earth” and that it symbolized daily rebirth:  “I pass the night and am reborn, renewed and rejuvenated every day.” (Faulkner 2005, 98).

Fig. 72:  Statue of Kamutef as a uraeus, dedicated by Taharqo to the god of Luxor Temple, who seems to have been an avatar of the Amun of Jebel Barkal.  The uraeus shape not only evokes the pinnacle, but also the serpent illustrated in Spells 87 and 163 of the Book of the Dead (fig. 71). Courtesy of the Luxor Museum.

Fig. 73:  Vignette illustrating Spells 163 and 164 of the Book of the Dead.  Present again is the S-shaped serpent, here wearing the crown of Re as the nocturnal solar ba (Osiris/Re) (see figs. 74, 75), and personifying the place of solar rebirth.  The two eyes with legs symbolize the “Two Eyes of God” – the royal and divine uraei, manifested in the Jebel Barkal pinnacle.  The ithyphallic goddess and dwarf Kamutefs illustrate the numerous deities of both sexes present within the rock.  (Papyrus BM 10257, Faulkner 1972, 163).

From this we learn that the two-legged snake could also be pictured wearing a disk and horns, which identifies him as the form of the sun god (solar ba) who travels on his bark through the Underworld by night (fig. 74).  A painting in the tomb of Nofretari informs us that the god, thus crowned, was the sun god of the Underworld in whom resided both Osiris and Re (fig. 75).  The horizontal horns he wears were those of the male of the sheep species Ovis longipes palaeoaegypticus, which when pictured as a hieroglyph had the phonetic value “ba,” a sound imitating the animal’s bleat (Richter 2008, 77).  The horizontal horns, in other words, indicated that the god who wore them was a ba – that is, the eternally living solar aspect of the deceased Osiris, who renewed himself daily as Re by uniting with Osiris’ corpse or mummy in the Netherworld.

Fig. 74: The Sun God (as ba of Osiris) traversing the Underworld in his night-bark, enveloped by the arching protective serpent Mehen, who also symbolizes the place and event of the sun’s transformation in the Underworld (See below, III, I)


Fig. 75:  The goddesses Nephthys and Isis tend the mummy of the god Re, in whom the ba’s of both Re and Osiris reside.  It is this form of the sun which travels the Underworld by night and merged with Osiris in order to be resurrected at dawn as a newborn sun. The text at lower left reads:  “Osiris rests in Re.”  The text at right reads:  “This Re rests in Osiris.”  From the tomb of Nofretari.  (Thausing and Goedicke 1971, pl. 41)

The full vignette of Spell 163 (fig. 73) included two udjat eyes with legs - appearently symbolizing the two Eyes/Uraei envisioned within the pinnacle.  The text called for a pair of additional Kamutef figures, one with a male and the other a female head – again recalling the dual-sexed nature of both the god and the pinnacle.  In fig. 73, the latter two beings are not shown as described, but versions of them figure in the vignette of Spell 164, the instructions for which called for an image of an ithyphallic goddess with multiple heads - representing at once Kamutef and each of the select female deities embodied in the royal and divine uraei – and pinnacle:

“To be said over (an image of) Mut having 3 faces – one, the face of Pekhat (“Revealed One”=a lioness) wearing twin plumes, another, a human face wearing the White and Red Crowns, another, a vulture’s face (i.e. Nekhbet) wearing twin plumes – and having a phallus, wings, and lion’s claws…with one dwarf standing before her and (one) behind her, facing her, wearing twin plumes and with upraised arm, having two faces, one like a falcon, the other like a human face …”  (Allen 1974, 160-161).

Very similar dwarf figures, human and ram-headed, combined with leonine goddesses (Eye of Re/Horus) and udjat eyes, and figures of Re with two heads comprise most of the amulet types found at el-Kurru (Dunham, RCK I, pls. 50-54).

In a variant of these vignettes, from a papyrus in Brooklyn (fig. 76), the two-legged serpent is now identified as “Atum, Lord of Pillar-town (=Heliopolis), Lord of the Two Lands, Lord of Pillar-town (sic!),” who holds before him a solar disk containing the image of a child king.  Atum, of course, was the god of sunset, primeval time and original kingship, but what he holds in his hands symbolizes sunrise, rebirth, and renewed kingship.  The sideways-S-shaped form of the serpent, therefore, like the snake in fig. 71, was a symbol of resurrection and the nightly renewal of the sun.  This Atum serpent stands in front of a fantastic composite deity, surrounded by fire hieroglyphs.  He is plainly a form of Kamutef – ithyphallic, with upraised arm - who nevertheless manifests many other gods, indicated by their stack of heads:   Bes, Horus/Re, Amun (ram-headed), Lion, Serpent, and Anubis. The figure is crowned by Heh, who symbolizes “millions of years.”  In this and the figure of the ithyphallic goddess in fig. 73 we perhaps see visualized in two ways the towering rock at Jebel Barkal, in which all aspects of the Creator were thought to be manifested – keeping in mind the statement in BD 163 that “Atum, who illumines for himself the Two Lands, is his true, true name.”  Such iconography, of course, was transferred and applied to all other Creation sites in Egypt, so that, in time, it probably became a general symbol for "Heliopolises" everywhere.  By the Late Period, as manifested in such monuments as the Metternich Stela, every religious site in Egypt, it seems, had its own unique heraldic symbol of this type, which alluded to its local myth (Allen 2005, 50-54).

Fig. 76:  Alternate vignette of Spell 163:  The god Atum “of Heliopolis” takes the form of the serpent of cyclical solar and royal decline and rebirth.  The composite deity he faces is Kamutef transforming into many gods.  The text written beside the latter describes him as both the “eldest” and also “Khepri (the new born sun) rising.”  The images would seem to be secretive renderings of Napata and its god.  (Mysliwiec 1978, fig. 62)

The Nubian Spells of the Book of the Dead reveal to us that the Egyptians believed that a mysterious Creator God, having and uniting many forms, resided far to the south of their own country – in a land that was a kind of Underworld - where they believed the Sun was born, where time began, where kingship emerged, where Osiris dwelt, from which the Nile inundation emanated each year, and to which the sun traveled each night for his daily rebirth. The spells provide clues that this place was Napata.  Taharqo, too, believed that this place was Napata – the mid-point of the great bend of the Nile, where the riverbanks had exactly the opposite symbolic meanings they had in Egypt - where river “west” became east, and where, thus, “death” became “life.”  He built his tomb northeast of Jebel Barkal, on the “west” bank, to ensure his own (and the god’s) resurrection.  

Since in all these aspects Jebel Barkal (southern Ipet-Sut) appears to have had the same god and ritual significance as Luxor Temple (Ipet-resyt: “Southern Ipet”) at Thebes, we must now revisit the theory, first seriously proposed by Pamminger (1992), that Luxor Temple was built by the Egyptians as a way of housing locally the primeval Nubian god, recognized to dwell at the Nile headwaters in Kush, so that the kings could conveniently visit him at Thebes without the necessity of having to make the arduous journey to his “real home” at Jebel Barkal,  approximately 1250 kilometers upriver.

the Underworld (See below, III, I.  Credit needed).

Fig. 75:  The goddesses Nephthys and Isis tend the mummy of Re in whom the ba’s of both Re and Osiris reside.  It is this form of the sun which travels the Underworld by night and which united with Osiris in order to be resurrected at dawn as a newborn sun. The text at lower left reads:  “Osiris rests in Re.”  The text at right reads:  “This Re rests in Osiris.”  From the tomb of Nofretari.  (credit needed)