King Taharqo’s plead after the Assyrians under Esarhaddon sacked Memphis and captured the royal family in 671 BCE:
“O Amun…Let my children live. Turn death away from them for me.” --from the peristyle court north of Pylon VI of the Amun Temple, Karnak.
As many of you already know, Taharqo is amongst my favorite historical figures…so I have a tendency to empathize with him no matter what. But this excerpt is particularly striking. Each time I come across this line, I am reminded of the humanity residing within these ancient pharaohs. Amongst the grandiose inscriptions and titles, it is easy to lose oneself in the greatness of this amazing empire. But as I’m sure any of you historians out there understand–it is sources like these that truly allow you to connect with the people whom you study. And that is one of the greatest feelings, at least for me :)
The Osirerion, located in Abydos, is a physical embodiment of crucial elements of Egyptian religion: creation and the rebirth of Osiris. As demonstrated in the images above, a central floor was raised above its surrounding area. This floor was built below the water table in order to convey themes of creation and regeneration. The elevated ground represents the “Primeval Mound” from which the creator-god Re-Atum arose at the beginning of time. The mound from which Re-Atum emerged was said to have been surrounded by Nun’s waters of chaos (as signified by the floor’s position under the water table).
Unsurprisingly, the Osirerion is most closely connected with the god Osiris. It was most likely constructed by Seti I as a symbolic tomb for Osiris. As Osiris was also associated with the renewal of creation, a tomb of this design would have symbolized not only the god’s regeneration, but also that of the Egyptian world–and of Seti’s royal line. The sunken rectangular area may have included a mummiform rendering of Osiris to further enhance the tomb’s meaning.