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A good example of why the study of art is so crucial when attempting to gain insight into past (and present) cultures.

Shown here is a small wooden dish from ancient Egypt, dated to ca.1390-1352 BC, depicting a bound oryx. On the surface level one might admire the craftsmanship of the work, and enjoy it simply for its visual appeal. It would perhaps be surprising to many how much this small piece reflects the complex belief system and world view of the Egyptians. The Brooklyn Museum elaborates:

The Egyptians’ concept of universal order stressed the difference between the fertile Nile Valley and the barren expanse of desert flanking civilized life. The desert sheltered the hostile forces of chaos, including the god Seth and his malevolent agents, often represented in animal form.

The oryx, a desert antelope, was seen as an incarnation of the evil threatening to destroy Ma'at [truth/ order/ justice, a complex but integral Egyptian concept]. Thus the motif of the bound oryx symbolized the Egyptians’ persistent need to hold the forces of disorder in check.

Artefact courtesy of the brooklynmuseum. Via their online collections49.54.

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Extremely Rare Royal Egyptian Silver Diadem, 17th Dynasty c. 1580-1550 BC

This is one of only two known silver Egyptian diadems! It was found at Thebes in the 1820s and is associated with the tomb of Nubkheperre Intef. Both known diadems date to the 17th Dynasty and bear many similarities, not only in terms of material but also in design and manufacture, and were both likely made for a royal personage.

The double uraei – the stylized representation of two sacred cobras, protectors of the royal power in ancient Egyptian art – suggest that the diadem offered here was originally the property of an Egyptian queen: the motif is seen in the early 18th Dynasty Theban tomb of Tetiky, where it appears on the accoutrements of Queen Ahmose-Nefertari. It is also seen in images of Amenhotep III’s queen, Tiye, Akhenaten’s consort, Nefertiti, and Nefertari, wife of Ramesses II. The present diadem, predating these known examples, demonstrates that this tradition was already established in the Second Intermediate Period.

Silver was accessible only to the highest echelons of Egyptian society. Due to the lack of an abundant local source, it was both rarer and more costly, and thus held in higher esteem, than gold. It is likely that the silver used for this extraordinary royal diadem was sourced from beyond the boundaries of the Egyptian world, from the spoils of war or commerce.

Al Nitak points to the Great Pyramid.

The gods left many signs using mathematics and astronomy, especially those signs built into the Great Pyramid. Robert Bauval discovered that the three enigmatic Giza pyramids are aligned the same as the three stars forming the belt of the constellation of Orion, the sign of Osiris, the most important of the early Egyptian gods. Ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics record the extensive preparations for the Pharaohs to make the dangerous journey to join Osiris in Orion. The illustration shows that Al Nitak corresponds to the Great Pyramid. The Egyptian god Thoth taught that as in heaven, so on earth. The gods are pointing to Al Nitak and Sirius for reasons now known only by the gods.

Using Archaeoastronomy, Bauval calculates that 10,450BC is the time when the Orion belt and Al Nitak are lowest on the horizon. That is also the date with the best match between the orientation of the Giza Pyramids and the Orion belt, and start of the Mayan Third Age of Man as one of the last three times the gods have visited Earth in mass. Plato and Cayce recorded that 10.500 BC is one of the date of the destruction of Atlantis. Physical and mythical signs show that extraterrestrial gods periodically intervene in human physical and cultural evolution.

Greco-Egyptian Glass Phallic Amulet, Ptolemaic, c. 305-30 BC

In Greek mythology Priapus is a god of fertility whose symbol was an exaggerated phallus. The son of Aphrodite and either Dionysus or Adonis, according to different forms of the original myth, he is the protector of livestock, fruit plants, gardens, and male genitalia. His name is the origin of the medical term priapism.

The phallus played a role in the cult of Osiris in ancient Egyptian religion as well. When Osiris’ body was cut in 14 pieces, Set scattered them all over Egypt and his wife Isis retrieved all of them except one, his penis, which was swallowed by a fish; supposedly, Isis made a wooden replacement. The phallus was a symbol of fertility, and the god Min was often depicted as ithyphallic, that is, with an erect penis.