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Unformatted text preview: and elsewhere, Ramses II left textual and piconly a small fraction of this enormous literature has survived, torial accounts of his battle in 1285 B.C.E. against the Hitand many texts are incomplete. Though they surely existed, tites at Kadesh on the Orontes in Syria. Sixteen years later, we have no epics or dramas from ancient Egypt. Such nonlitthe Egyptians and Hittites signed a formal peace treaty, forgerary documents as lists of kings, autobiographies in tombs, ing an alliance against an increasingly volatile political situawine jar labels, judicial records, astronomical observations, tion in the Middle East and the eastern Mediterranean durand medical and other scientific texts are invaluable for our ing the thirteenth century B.C.E. understanding of Egyptian history and civilization. See the Map Egypt in the New Kingdom at CRAIMC01_001-039hr.qxp 8/12/10 3:57 PM Page 19 Chapter 1 The Birth of Civilization 19 Scene from the Book of the Dead. The Egyptians believed in the possibility of life after death through the god Osiris. Before the person could be presented to Osiris, forty-two assessor-gods tested aspects of the person’s life. In this scene from a papyrus manuscript of the Book of the Dead, the deceased and his wife (on the left) watch the scales of justice weighing his heart (on the left side of the scales) against the feather of truth. The jackalheaded god Anubis also watches the scales, while the ibis-headed god Thoth keeps the record. British Museum, View the Image London/The Bridgeman Art Library International Ltd. Egyptian Relief of Anubis at Religion: Gods and Temples Egyptian religion encompasses a multitude of concepts that often seem mutually contradictory to us. The Egyptian gods, or pantheon, defy neat categorization, in part because of the common tendency to combine the character and function of one or more gods. Amun, one of the eight entities in the Hermopolitan cosmogony, provides a good example. Thebes, Amun’s cult center, rose to prominence in the Middle Kingdom. In the New Kingdom, Amun was elevated above his seven cohorts and took on aspects of the sun god Re to become Amun-Re. Not surprisingly in a nearly rainless land, solar cults and mythologies were highly developed. Much thought was devoted to conceptualizing what happened as the sun god made his perilous way through the underworld in the night hours between sunset and sunrise. Three long texts trace Re’s journey as he vanquishes immense snakes and other foes. The Eighteenth Dynasty was one of several periods during which solar cults were in ascendancy. Early in his reign, Amunhotep IV promoted a single, previously minor aspect of the sun, the Aten (“disc”) above Re himself and the rest of the gods. He declared that the Aten was the creator god who brought life to humankind and all living beings, with himself and his queen Nefertiti the sole mediators between the Aten and the people. He went further, changing his name to Akhenaten (“the effective spirit of the Aten”), building a new capital called Akhetate...
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This document was uploaded on 04/03/2014.

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