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  • Der Tempelbezirk von Dime
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Lehrstuhl für Ägyptologie

Apotropaic Rituals

The subproject on apotropaic rituals in Edfu is part of the Egyptological contribution to the Centre of Advanced Studies MagEIA. In the first funding phase, the Egyptology team will deal with royal apotropaic texts. Texts of this genre are attested in clusters mainly from three sites: the papyri from the temple libraries of Elephantine and Tebtynis, and the inscriptions from the temple of Edfu. The situation of the Edfu inscriptions is unique in that the texts are fully preserved in their original context, i.e. along with other texts that shed light on the varying use of protection and destruction rituals for the king that were partially adapted for Horus.

The inscriptions cover the inside of the enclosure wall of the temple of Edfu, where they were carved in the reign of Ptolemy IX Philometor Soter. In the second register of the northern wall are inscribed two apotropaic rituals, the book sꜣ pr "Protection of the House" in the western half and, in the eastern half, the book mk.t ḥꜥ.w "Guarding the Body." The prescriptive parts of the rituals were embedded in descriptions of ritual actions, including a reference to the recitation of spells against the Evil Eye. In addition, the Edfu inscriptions are in close proximity to ritual scenes that cite the use of spells against the Evil Eye, recitations against the dangers of the New Year, the Litany for the Good (New) Year, the famous Great Horus Myth of Edfu, and other pertinent texts. Although the Edfu texts were fully transliterated and translated as recently as 2014, an analytical commentary comparing the Edfu versions with the evidence from the papyri as found, e.g., in the temple libraries of Elephantine and Tebtunis is lacking. In addition, a comprehensive epigraphic documentation is lacking. Thus, the complex interplay of image and hieroglyphic text characteristic of Egyptian temple decoration is inadequately captured in the publications.

Stadler will address these desiderata within the framework of MagEIA by providing for the first time a comprehensive epigraphic documentation and analysis of these texts. The work program is divided into four steps: (1) The texts and images of the wall will be documented photographically and by drawing according to the established Würzburg epigraphic standards. This forms the basis for a comprehensive evaluation of the context. (2) An in-depth reading of the papyrus sources from other sites (especially Elephantine and Tebtunis), which contain apotropaic rituals against demons, but also concrete physical threats, such as poisonous animals, will form the basis for (3) the analysis of the methods of transmission, adaptation, and reinterpretation. This will contribute to a better understanding of the nature of Egyptian magic and provide insight into the evolving attitudes of ancient Egyptians toward magical ritual. (4) The study will go far beyond the traditional Egyptological approach by analyzing the evidence within the comparative approach that forms the core of MagEIA, thus highlighting the distinctive and common features of rituals for the protection of the Egyptian king in a broader ancient Near Eastern context.