Saturday, September 20, 2014

ECHO QUEEN: Maps & Charts...and a short, unexpected treatise on symbols in ancient Egypt

I just put these little guys together yesterday, and thought I'd share. It gives you a little preview of where the events of Echo Queen take place (entirely in Egypt this time!) and which "Gods of Time"--the direct translation of Netjer-At--might be making an appearance.


A note about symbology and ancient Egypt...

First off, I want to state that I am by no means an expert in Egyptian hieroglyphs--not like Lex--but I know enough to get by. :)

Egypt's ancient history is enormous, spanning thousands of years. As we all know from studying our own modern history in school, so much changes in decades and centuries that the culture--language, religion, technology, politics--of a civilization is often barely recognizable as belonging to the same civilization a couple hundred years down the road. Just look at your own country; whether you live in the US, the UK, South Africa, or pretty much anywhere, if you hopped back a couple hundred years in time, how easily would you fit in?

And when we look at Egypt's sprawling history, we're talking millennia, not centuries. Which brings me to my point: so much changed over those thousands of years, especially with language and religious symbolism and iconography. And, when there's so much time for ideas and symbols to evolve, there's also a pretty good chance that many will come to have multiple meanings...which to those of us living a good 2-5,000 years after they were really used and truly understood, can lead to a lot of confusion.

I think the symbol I chose to use for the goddess Hathor in Lex's world, cow horns cradling a sun disk, is a good example of this:

Recognize it from the cover of Echo Queen?

Here's a couple images from "the most beautiful" Queen Nefertari's tomb (New Kingdom, 13th century BCE) in Deir el-Bahri (Yeah! That's where Queen Hatshepsut's tomb, Djeser-Djeseru, which featured prominently in Echo Queen, is too!):

The woman with the cow horns cradling a red sun disk and a lazily draped snake on top of her head is totally the same lady, right? Right?

Nope. The woman in white is Nefertari, but the horned woman in the image on the left is the goddess Hathor, and the one in the image on the right is the goddess Isis. How can we tell the difference when they're wearing the same (topless) dress and accessories, including the divine adornment on top of their heads? By reading the hieroglyphs, of course!

Over time, the Goddesses Hathor (think of her as the rock star goddess--representing love, drink, dancing, sex, but also fertility and childbirth) and Isis (typically a "mother earth" goddess, representing an ideal mother and wife as well as nature) have often been confused, sometimes been merged, and at points have even become interchangeable. Another goddess, Sekhemet (more of a warrior goddess), often gets tossed into the mix too, just make sure we don't get to comfortable with our understanding of these complex ancient people with their ever-evolving culture.

Alright, so that was a really long-winded and slightly rambly way for me to explain that the symbol I used to represent the goddess Hathor in Lex's world also often represents Isis, as well as Hathor in our world.

What I'd intended to be a quick little post sharing the map and chart from the front of Echo Queen has clearly turned into quite a bit more. Whoopsie! Oh well...I hope you enjoyed it. :)

And keep an eye out for Echo Queen, coming out on September 26, 2014--that's next week!

1 comment:

  1. just blogwalking.. Nice post and have a nice day :)