By S. Birch, LL.D.

Read 4th January, 1876.

[Extracted from Transactions of the Society of Biblical Archæology, vol. 5, (1877): 293-302.]

[See plates for full text.]

Amongst the valuable collection of drawings, notes, memoranda, and copies of inscriptions made by the late Mr. Robert Hay, of Linplum, during his journey and stay in Egypt about the years 1828-1832, are some copies that he made of the inscriptions at the temple of Ammon at El-Khargeh, the ancient oasis of Ammon, lying to the west of Egypt, in the Libyan desert, in the 26° N. Lat. This site had been repeatedly visited by travellers in the present century, amongst them M. Cailliaud,1 who published an account of his journey and some of the cartouches or royal names found on the walls; subsequently by Minutoli,2 both of which travellers gave some of the principal representations and some details of the sculptures on the walls. The journey of Sir Archibald Edmonston to the oasis, published at the same time as Cailliaud's,3 gave only plans, views, and a map of the site and principal temples of the locality. Lately a scientific expedition by M.M. Rohlfs and Remele has penetrated again to the oasis, and brought back valuable copies of inscriptions on that site, amongst others of some proving the existence of the names of two monarchs of the Persian dynasty called Darius.4

As the present inscription has no prenomen of Darius, but the name only, it is not possible to determine to which of the Persian dynasties it is to be referred, but possibly to the elder Darius or Hystaspes, who treated the Egyptian [p.294] deities with honour, and endeavoured to attach the Egyptians to his sway by the reverence he showed for the principal deities of the Pantheon. That the Persians did not altogether abhor the Egyptian religion, may be instanced by their removal of statues to Persepolis and elsewhere, and the derivative introduction of Egyptian deities and other emblems into their art. Nor was the Egyptian religion altogether dissimilar, for it exhibited as the Persian the antagonistic powers of nature, the solar light contending with the shades of darkness, and the contest of good and evil. Egyptian mythology, too, had become more eclectic, or less reticent of its esoterism, and the present hymn, one of the most remarkable yet found, addressed to the god at Thebes, the deity of the oasis, identifies Amen with nature itself and all the principal gods of the Egyptian Pantheon. It is the most pantheistic of those yet found, and the nearest approach to the idea of the monotheism of one deity manifested by different types in the chief cities of Egypt, the ultimate or leading first manifestations being that of the god Amen. It is therefore no wonder that the Persians accepted his worship and honoured his fane, the more so as the attempt to reach the oasis by their armies had signally failed under Cambyses. After Alexander the Great had subdued the East, the East conquered him; and fascinated with the splendour of Persian courts and Egyptian myths, he visited the Oasis, and adopted the title of the son of Amen, that used by the ancient Pharaohs to indicate their direct descent from the god of Thebes, subsequently converted into the mystic narrative of the serpent and Olympias, and the magical legend of the descent of the heroic monarch from Nectanebo. It is probable that an allusion to the fountain occurs in this inscription in line 6, where "the young Han" or celestial waters, and "the old man" or liquid element, are mentioned, as they are again at line 30. It will be remembered that Khnum, or Chnumis, was the deity of the water, the ram-headed and demiurgic type of Amen, and as such president over the clement of water, represented in the lists of the four elements by Han or Nut, for some recent discoveries identify the two words as the same in the name of the god of the celestial [p.295] water or ether. The old and young waters may consequently refer to the different temperatures of the celebrated fountain, alluding to the mineral waters discovered on the spot. The oracle at the spot was said to have been often consulted, but finally lost its reputation subsequent to Alexander the Great, although it must have flourished at the time of Darius, who invokes the protection of the god against his enemies. The oracular powers of Amen Ra occasionally are mentioned, and the inscriptions testify to his according power, victory, dominion, long life, and other advantages to his votaries and the monarchs who consulted him.

The inscription, which is inedited, was copied from the south-western wall of the second chamber of the temple. The representations which occur after the first line are those of the four elements divided into the male and female principle, and described by M. Lepsius in a paper written by him for the Berlin Academy.5 They are represented snake-headed and frog-headed, holding their hands up in adoration.

They are as follows:—

Lines 2-4

Nu ... water, male.
Nut .... water, female,
Hehu ... fire, male.
Hehut ... fire, female.
Kakiu ... earth, male.
Kakiut .... earth, female.
Karh .... air, male.
Karht ... air, female.

In tins series they follow the accustomed order, and have their usual names, the only exception being that of instead of the word [glyphs], nau, for ' air,' the inscription of El-Khargeh gives [glyphs] karh. This word has no philological analogy with any of the Egyptian expressive of air. It has been supposed to mean 'care';6 the word nearest to [p.296] it in sound is karh, 'the night.' The inscription consists of forty-six lines, and contains the address of the Elements to the god Amen Ra. It has been numbered in the copy inversely, the 46th being the first line. It is of the nature of some of the hymns already published and relating to that god. It is as follows:—

1. Said by the adorers hi praying to then father Amen Ra. lord of Hab,7 great god, powerful with the scimetar,

5. in his type of Ra8 to self-produced,9 his bones of silver, his skin of gold, his head of real lapis, his joints of turquoise, a perfect god, making his body, giving birth to

6. it. He has not come out of a womb, he has come out of cycles; he has given light to the world [and] the circle of the gods is adoring before him; they proclaim him to the height of heaven, [they] adore the one giving birth to his birth. He has passed

7. the secret places, they rejoice at him under their divine types, they are careful to make their adorations to the bull. We pray to him in [our abodes], we worship his words in their [places]. We adore him

8. in the form of hands. They acknowledge his majesty as their lord, for the greatness of his type is the greatest of all of them. He has had a title of ... . [heaven] earth and waters Amen the firm in all things, that noble

9. god, the earth came from his devices, regulating each for the gods, old age and youth, procession, age, mystical were the causes,10 acute the extended his favours, his limbs in the air of heaven upon his youthful head, the water under his

10. head, a child the water under his feet,11 the plumes of a hawk on his head, he confines the winds under the boat of Manu12 when he goes to the unknown region of the morning. The apes of Thoth13 adore, saying oh


11. the god in the disk concealing himself in his body, the soul gleaming from his two symbolic mortal eyes, the type of types, the honoured, not falling to his enemies, giving light to his transformation, he supports them by the light of his two mystical eyes, unknown is

12. his Hail to thee in the bosom of the heaven, ordering thy divine births, the god Truth is united to thy mystical throne. Honoured has been thy image by thy lovers, thou hast shone, distributing the light

13. in the morning, thou hast circled the two lands in thy gleaming. Thou hast touched at the hill of the land of Akar,14 the types in it adore, the light of the body producing thy beams, has been illumined15 the bosom of the jackals hauling thy boat in the hidden gap

14. of the land of Sesen,16 and the Spirits of the West, adoring thee, they tremble at thee at the light of thy disk. The spirits of the land of Pu17 salute thee at the appearance of thy light. Thou shinest in their faces, thou traversest

15. thy two heavens; annihilated are thy opponents. They open the house of thy majesty; tame are the crocodiles, quiet are the herons in waters the of thy boat; thou hast the fish. Horus has pierced Set, his arrow is in him. He has conquered heaven and earth

16. in his destruction, and his pursuit. Prevailing by over-throwing his opponent, he a sword Akar saves him, he makes his companion hidden he him; his eye

17. gives them light from him, it feeds off flame of fire. Thou hast passed the turns of the river, thou navigatest with a fair wind the city of Mer at rest the which

18. they .... [lacuna] ... the ... [lacuna] ... those never at rest and incorruptible constellations, thou perambulatest the earth justified. Thou joinest to a new skin, thy mother has been embraced


19. thy reception adored by all beings. Thou art at rest in the abode Tuaut18 during the hours of darkness, thou awakest Osiris by thy beams, thou shinest over the heads of those who are in their cells, thou hast traversed

20. their hidden buildings on purpose. Thou hast been typified by thought, thou hast made to be illumined thy own disk, thou hast set up the in their places. Thou hast gone against the chambers

21. in the darkness, thy left eye is in the disk at night, thou shinest in the morning out of the east of the heaven, thou hast been woven in thy disk in Ansatp.19 Thy right eye is in the essence, thou hast made the passage, thy secret

22. is the depths of thy secret waters and unknown. Thou hast come on the road, thou hast given light in the path, thou hast prevailed over difficulties like the mysterious forms, thy type than every god

23. exalted and magnified by the divine circles. Each god has assumed thy skin, without shape is their type compared to thy form. Thou art the majesty which is, thou hast ruled, lord; heaven and earth, under thy plumes, the gods

24. under thy hands, men under thy legs; where is a god like thee. Thou art the Sun over the gods, crowned sweet and delightful, oh soul strong in by terrors

25. of the disk, thy uraei are tall, thy horns are pointed, twisted are the horns, lamps are the light of the two symbolic eyes, gold and crystal are the decorations, turquoise the face,

26. gilded are the limbs. Thou hast placed thy throne wherever thou delightest to multiply thy name, places and districts carrying thy beauty. Corn has never failed to be tall under thy form. Thy place is arranged, in the time of a division

27. of an hour thou traversest the earth from the Manu.20 Thou risest from the waters as the hidden egg, the [p.299] female Amen is in thy company. Thou hast rested in the cow, thou seizest the horns, thou hast been immersed in

28. the cow Mehur. No germ grows, rising from its entirety to earth from the ether, sound in the roots. Thou perambulatest the earth to the district of Sutenkhen.21 Thou hast gone there to its confines.

29. Thy likeness is there as the one of terrible face. Thy great soul is in the nome of Lycopolis at rest among the ten thousands and thousands of gods which come out of it. Thy fluid is Su,22 thy drop is Tefnut.23 Thou hast made to grow

30. the nine gods at the first of typification. Thou art the lion of the double lions, thou hast tied the bellies of the circle of the gods, thou hast extended the earth under their power. They make festivals to thee in their temples. Thy soul24 is in

31. Tattu25 altogether, the four gods in Ansatp engendering, lord of the gods, bull of his mother, rejoicing in the cow, her husband, engendering with his beautiful generation. Thou passest to the place thou choosest to thy

32. hall of the Saite nome. Thy form is at rest in the temple of Lower Egypt, in the nest of the lord26 of Sais. Thy mother Neith has been pleased by her son tenderly beloved, binding him all the limbs in the region of the South and North, thy

33 on the arms of the crocodiles. Thou hast opened the nest, thou restest on the lower country. Thy heart rests in the roads of Hai,27 making Buto to rejoice in a moment, and Mehenu28

34. to follow thee. Thou hast come in the heart of Nausaas. Thy soul is at rest in Hetep.29 Thou art [p.300] the youthful water and the old water Hidden amongst those of the temple in the great house of An.30 Thou goest in [peace]

35. the uraeus on thy head; in a moment thou hast united the two countries under the sides of thy throne. Thou art the place of Sebennytus, thy place is pure in the town of the abode of the Sycamore.31 Thy abode is in Khent-ta-net, thy dominions in Memphis, gods and goddesses

36. above in the rays of An to spie thy form in Menkat.32 Thou hast presented the peace of the hidden places. Thy births have gone round the gods who are demiurges

37. the cycle of them thou hawk of the nome of Heliopolis, thy temple sacred is in the city of Kar,33 thy first birth is established in the face of the darkness.

38. Thy second birth thou hast appointed there after thee to overthrow thy enemies at their rising. Thou hast gone opposite to the court-yard to the South, a demiurge to elevate the youthful waters34

39. in his bed. Thou hast made the two countries in the town of the White Wall35 as Ptah, chief essence to .... Thou hast placed thy throne in the life of the two countries as Amen Ra. Thy soul is the ark and four pillars of the two heavens.

40. Thy form emanated at first while thou shinest as Amen Ra and Ptah. Thy heart is at rest in thy city of Uas.36 Thy two uraei, thy eyes, thy sceptre, thy whip open the doors of the heaven in

41. Thebes. Shu, Tefnu, Mut and Khons are thy form dwelling in thy shrine under the types of the god Khem, raising his tall plumes, king of the gods, lifting the hand, lord of the crown,

42. powerful by it, all fear emanates from the fear of him the Kamutf who resides in his fields, horned in all his beauty, engendering the depths. Black and crystal [p.301] the faces of those attached to him, the two mystical eyes, the decorations of

43. Hor-ti37 dwelling in the nome Pe38 over his strong house. Tum the great lord of created beings He is the hawk39 created at first, Mentu Ra in Uas.40 The powerful bull, he is the arm striking

44. the cowards of Nahi, Ptah in Uas, the luminous body ever golden for an age and ever. Thou art Sekar, thy transformations are in to the Nile, the person greater than the other gods. Thou art youthful water and old water.41

45. They repose in the merits of thee. Thou givest life to the earth by thy stream. Thou art heaven, thou art earth, thou art fire, thou art water, thou art air in the midst of them. Thou hast hailed at things to be done of him who is indefatigable, the orderer of the visible and invisible.42

46. Thou givest life to them as thou increasest them, thy soul prepares them under thy type of Amen Ra, lord of all existences, thy heart is strong, thy body makes festive, thou increasest thy son who is on thy throne, thou makest young his limbs up-

47. on earth. Thou honourest him, thou crownest him with thy title, thy gracious form thou makest to shine as the Sun, thy son, the beautiful face43 doing all thy wish, thou findest for him victory to his hands, the king of the Upper and Lower Country, the Son of the Sun.

48. Ntariush44 the ever living, born of the Sun, the support of those who are in Uas, the Son of the Sun Ntaruish the assistant, his attached fourfold of Amen Ra, lord of the thrones of the world, resident in Thebes, powerful with the scimetar

49. Son of the Sun Ntariush, Horus, son of Isis, son of Osiris, beloved of Amen, save thou the Son of the Sun Ntariush [p.302] the ever living, from every sword, every arrow; may the terror of him, the fear of him, the victorious power of him, be in the hearts of all men and every land, like thy victory thy fears and thy terrors in the hearts of gods and men.

[The notes and commentary on this text will appear in the next part.]


1 "Voyage a l'oasis de Thebes. Paris, 1822.

2 Reise zum Temple d. Jupiter Amnion in der libyschen Wuste. Berlin, 1834.

3 A Journey to two of the Oases. London, 1822.

4 Prof. Lepsius, Zeitschrift fur. agypt. Spr., 1874, s. 73.

5 Ueber die Gotter d. vier Elementen, in the Abhandlungen. d. K. Akad. d. Wissenck. Berlin. 4to, 1856.

6 Pleyte, Etudes Egyptiennes, p. 113.

7 The Oasis.

8 The Sun.

9 Grebaut, Hymne a Ammon, p. xiii, "self-transformed."

10 Heads.

11 Uncertain phrase.

12 Ocean.

13 Sesenu.

14 A region of Hades.

15 Or received.

16 Hermopolis.

17 Buto or the North.

18 Morning.

19 Or Anep, Mendes.

20 Ocean.

21 Herakleopolis.

22 Solar deity, one of the constellations, Gemini.

23 Solar deity, sister of Su, and the other person of the constellation Gemini.

24 Or Bull.

25 Busiris or Abusir.

26 Or Lady "Neith."

27 Or the papyrus, the Lower Country.

28 The uraeus on the diadem of the Sun.

29 Place of pools in Elysium.

30 Heliopolis.

31 Arsinoe.

32 Unknown site.

33 Babylon.

34 kan ser.

35 Memphis.

36 Thebes.

37 The Coptites nome.

38 Buto.

39 χeprr, same as the scarabaeus.

40 Thebaid.

41 Or the Hannu or Ether.

42 Existent and non-existent.

43 Title also of Ptah.

44 Darius.