Glossary

On this part we composed a brief glossary for You, who has just entered the magical world of the ancient Egypt. We thought about only a brief one that concentrates on the foreign and not widely applied words and expressions we use on our homepage. Though these pages are not for scholars but for "human beings" so we strive to stay within the limits of easy understanding but some of these words and expressions are still unavoidable to use in our compositions. This glossary is intended to help in these cases. If despite you meet any expressions you don't understand do not feel embarrassed to ask it in e-mail on info(a)kemet.hu and we will answer soon. We are here to share information, we are pleased to give you the answer for your questions.

ESzAH
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Abydos City and several times royal residence in Upper Egypt, near Dendarah.
Akhet-Aton, Amarna
(Tell-el-Amarna)
Capital in Middle Egypt, founded by the heretic king, Achenaten (Echanton), the main center for the cult of Aten, the Sphere, and the Amarna reform.
Amarna-reform The religious reform of Achenaten (18th dynasty, 14th century BC) which placed the cult of Aton “The Sphere” into domination and turned it into official religion in the state. This was the only period of the religion-history of Egypt when the official religion moved towards monotheism. The reform was followed by a unique tendency of art. After the death of Achenaten the enemies of the reform restored the old religious order in Egypt.
Aswan
(Elephantine, Syene)
The traditional southern border city of Egypt, below the 1st cataract. Her name is suggested by the elephant-shaped stones that surround the island. Here stood one of the cult centers of god Khnum. (Syene is the Greek name of the city.)
Block statue,
quadratic statue
Statue made upon strict formal requirements. It represents the figure always in tight contraction of the body. The body is not worked out in details as if it was robed, and only the head is separated from the block-shaped body. Its surface was often used to provide free surface for inscriptions. It became popular during the Middle Kingdom.
Cachette A series of hiding places for mummies. They had been placed there during the reign of the 21st dynasty when the Valley of the Kings had been plundered.
Cartouche name ring
Oval-shaped ring in which the birth and coronation names of pharaoh are inscribed. Its function is to magically protect the name of the king. Only royalties were allowed to use it, so if we see a cartouche, we can be sure that it contains the name of a king.
Cataract waterfall
The cataracts of the Nile are numbered from North to South, so the first one is the closest to the Delta (near Aswan).
Chimera Imaginary beast or animal composed by putting different animals' parts together. Most well known examples are the Sphinx and the Griffin.
Demotic A word of Greek origin, meaning “people’s scripts”. It developed from the hieratic during the 8th-7th century BC and soon replaced it. Due to its abbreviations it is very hard to read.
Denderah (Dendarah) City in Upper Egypt, not far from Thebes to the south. One of the main cult-places of goddess Hathor.
Description de l'Égypt The first summarizing monograph about Egypt, prepared by the scientists that followed Napoleon's Egyptian expedition. First edition issued in 1810. It contained nine text volumes and eleven volumes of picture tables.
Diorite Rather hard and solid stone, mined in the Aswan region, used for buildings and statues. One of the best king portrait, "Cephren with Horus" is sculptured to diorite.
Divine Ennead - a group of nine deities. The most important ennead of the Egyptian religion is the Great Ennead of Heliopolis (Iunu). It consists of the first gods of the Creation and forms the family of the creator, Atum. Beside him, the other members are Su, Tefnut, Geb, Nut, Osiris, Isis, Seth and Nephtys. According to the theology Atum alone fathered Su and Tefnut. From their marriage Geb and Nut were born and the four other deities are their children. The brothers and sisters are man and wife too (Osiris-Isis, Seth-Nephtys).
Divine Triad - a group of three deities. There are more "families" in the Egyptian pantheon. Generally a trio consists of a god, a goddess and a devine child but there can be exceptions (e.g. two goddesses and devine child). The three most important trios are the Theben (Amun, Mut and Khonsu), the Elephantian (Khnum, Satet and Anukhet) and the Memphic (Ptah, Sakhmet and Nofertum).
Double Crown Combination of the respective crowns of Upper and Lower Egypt, the symbol of sovereignty over the Two Lands.
Dynasty Original form means a group of rulers of the same lineage, but in Egypt dynasties mean only historic relations. Sometimes rulers of same family are sorted into different dynasties like Huni and Sneferu. In the other hand, some kings of different families are in the same dynasty (like in the hyksos era), according to their political, economical and historical role.
Edfu City in Upper Egypt, one of the most importan cult-places of god Horus.
Ennead see: Divine Ennead
Goshen City in the Easter part on Delta. According to biblical traditions this was the local residence of the jewish workers who were employed at the constructions of Per Rameses.
Heliopolis
(Iunu, On)
Originally one of the most important religious and intellectual center of Egypt, the most sacred place of the sun cult. She is located at the corner of the Delta, not far from Memphis. Unfortunatly nothing has remained of her apart from some stone blocks and fragments.
Hieratic A word of Greek origin, meaning “sacred scripts”. Cursive form of Egyptian script more commonly used for administrative and economic purposes but also for works of literature. Its development ran parallel to that of the monumental hieroglyphic script from the Old Kingdom.
Hieroglyphics
(hieroglyph writing)
A word of Greek origin, meaning ‘holy carvings’. Picture-like writing that was used in Egypt from about 3000 BC, only for religious and royal texts. Jean-Francois Champollion decoded it in 1822 with the help of the famous Rosette-stone.
Hittites Indo-European people who inhabited Anatolia from 1800 to 1200 BC. They created a powerful realm during the 14th century BC ruling over Syria and later Mitanni and became the fiercest competitor of Egypt in the struggle for domination over the Syro-Palestine territory. After heavy fighting the peace treaty was finally secured between Rameses II and Hattusilis III. The Hittite Empire disappeared during the invasion of the Sea People around 1200 BC.
Horus-name see ‘royal titulary
Hyksos Greek word derived from Egyptian hekawet-hasut, which means “lords of the plains”. They came from Asia and infiltrated Lower Egypt during the Middle Kingdom and ruled the country in the Second Intermediate Period.
Hypostyle hall Hall in which the roof is supported by several rows of columns or pillars.
Intermediate periods Times, when the control of the king and the central government over the countries are weakened, and the union of the Two Lands fails. Some times, mainly in the First Intermediate Period, those who are in offices, get more power. This usually involves fights amongst them, and the hierarchic structure of administration collapses.
Ity-tawy "Conqueror of the Two Lands". Capitol of the XII. dynasty (founded by Amenemhet I) during the Middle Kingdom at the entrance of the Fayyum-oasis.
Ka, Ka-soul Part of the soul, which is born with the person but immortal. It can return to the body if it can recognize that. Symbolized with upheld arms (see the link below), even it's hieroglyph is the same. Pictured as a naked twin of the person, a bit smaller, with the ka hieroglyph on the head. Never represented for living person except the kings. Beautiful example is ka-statue of king Hor-Auibre (13th dynasty).
King-lists Written inventory of kings’ names in chronological order with a note on the length of their reign, placed into temples for offering purposes. They are one of the most important – though sometimes not perfectly accurate – sources for reconstructing Egyptian chronology. Four kinglist survived. One on the walls of the Karnak temple, another in the temple of Sethos I. at Abydosz, another in Saqqara and one more on a papirus called the Turin Papyrus.
Kush, Kushite see: Napata
KV- ### Kings' Valley - Royal and noble tombs located in the Valley of the Kings are indicated with this letter-sign which is usually followed by a number after which the tombs are distinguished from each other.
Lower Egypt Northern part of Egypt containing the Delta, down to Memphis. The region provides very rich soil, good source of water but in the early times it was hard to cultivate because of the moorlands.
Manetho’s king-list Manetho was a historian in the 3rd century BC who wrote the history of Egypt and put her kings into chronology for the order of Ptolemy V. Soter. Though his chronology is not perfectly stable he determined the 30 dynasties of the pharaonic age.
Mastaba Arabic word, meaning “bench” used to designate the private tombs of the Old Kingdom whose superstructure bears a bench-like form.
Meidum Site near Fayyum, famous for the Fake Pyramid of Hui (a.k.a. Huni) and Sneferu and several tombs of nobles of 3rd dynasty. Here was Nofermaat's mastaba, where the famous wall painting, the "Geese of Meidum" was discovered.
Memphis City on the border of Upper and Lower Egypt, several times royal residence. Settled by Menes (Horus-Aha), according to the legends. Its signular location gave great importance to the city, time after time. Early name was "Ineb-Hedj" (White Wall), later changed to "Men-nofer-Pepi" (Pepi's Beauty is Great"), after Pepi I's pyramid. This name distorted to Memphis. Nowadays there is a village on it, only few ruins can be seen.
Mitanni An empire in northern Syria, famous of horse-breeding. Played important role in the 2nd millennia, BC.
Moiris, Lake Moiris Lake in the middle of Fayyum depression. It was connected to the Nile by the Joseph Channel (now Bar el Jusuf), and gained water from there. Amenemhet II built dam and water-gates to control the level of the lake and the flood of the Nile. 
Mortuary mask Mask placed on the face part of the mummy. It had to ensure the ka to recognize its body and because of this, represented the face of deceased accurately. Often shows high artistic value.
Mortuary statue Statue of the dead put into the tomb. Its purpose was to preserve the features of the dead for the ka to recognize when it returns to resurrect the body.
Mortuary temple In the early ages a temple built at the pyramid, as part of the pyramid complex. By the New Kingdom it is separate building to accommodate the cult of the deceased.
Mummy, mummification In the very early times, Egyptians tried to preserve their deads. The very idea might come from the natronizing effect of the very dry desert, which led to spontaneous mummification. In different times the methods are different, too, but the way of mummification dates the mummy. The process is described rather accurately by Herodotus. The brain and inner parts were separated, the corpse was processed in a natronizing bath, then covered with protective balms, amulets, finger-pieces, etc., then bandaged to special fabric or sometimes covered with bitumen.
Muwattalis King of the Hittites. Wise warlord, who opposed Rameses II in the Battle of Qadesh.
Napata
(Kush, Kushites)
Ancient state on the territory of the modern Sudan also referred to as Kushite Empire. It developed during the 8th century BC and expanded towards Egypt as a result of which its kings ruled over Egypt for a while (Kushite dynasty).
Naos, sanctuary Sacred central part of the temple where the statue of the god stood. Usually the darkest part of the building, sometimes designed to catch the ray of the sun on a special hour of one special day of the year. Entry was forbidden except the pharaoh, the high priest, and few selected brethren.
Necropolis City of the dead - large burial site. Generally it was located outside the settlement, on the border of the desert and the cultivated area.
Nehen Town in Upper Egypt, halfway between Esna and Kom Ombo. Cultic center of Horus, known even from the Archaic Age. Greek name is Hieraconpolis.
Nomarch Governor or administrator of a nome.
Nome (nome-system) Egyptian province of administrative district. Egypt used to be shared to 42 nomes that created the i.e. nome-system, which developed around the 3rd and 4th dynasties.
Obelisk Vertical stone pillar of needle shape with pyramidion on the top. Its origin ties it to the Egyptian sun cult. They are always carved from a single stone. The tapered top part of them were usually covered with gold or electrum.
Palette Flat slab with round depression to mix ointments or paints. Often decorated with engraved or carved figures, presumably used as propitiatory items. Important sources about the predynastic and archaic ages. Some best pieces are the "Lion hunting" and "Narmer" palettes.
Peristyle yard An inner courtyard surrounded by columns.
Per Ramesses Imperial capitol built by Rameses II in the Delta, on the location of the destroyed Hyksos capitol, Avaris. She was the most pompous city of her age. Her remains are under excavation.
Pharaoh Word transmitted from the Bible, derived from the Egyptian per-aa, which means “the great house”, designating the royal palace and, in the New Kingdom, the master of the palace, i.e. the king.
Pronaos A hall of columns situated in front of the divine sanctuary of a temple.
Ptolemaic Of, or related to the Ptolemies, the Greek rulers, descendants of Alexander the Great, 331 BC - 37 AD.
Pyramid A sacral building in shape of a pyramid, in most cases. It is part of the pharaoh's burial structures, sometimes the resting place itself.
Pyramid complex Group of buildings around the pyramid, containing temples and auxiliary halls, mastabas and festive yards, or some of them. The central part is the pyramid, usually with a mortuary temple just at the foot of that, a pyramid road with a valley temple on the bottom end. Several variations are known.
Pyramid texts Modern name of the religious texts found in the pyramids of the king and queens of the Old Kingdom. The oldest known example is in the burial chambers of the pyramid of Wenis (Unas, 5th dynasty) at Saqqara. (The pyramids of Gizah have no texts!)
QV- ### Queens' Valley - Tombs of nobles and members of royal families, located in the Valley of the Queens, are indicated with this letter-sign which is usually followed by a number after which the tombs are distinguished from each other.
Ramesside Of or related to the age of Rameses', the 19th dynasty - especially Rameses II
Red Crown Red head-dress in the form of a mortar, symbolising the sovereignty of the king over Lower Egypt.
Relief In Egypt you will see low relief (bas-relief) as a decoration of indoor walls and carved relief (relief-en-creux) used on outdoor walls. The ancient Egyptian art did not know the high relief.
Rosette stone A round, black slab found by the French officer Bouchard, in 1799, by the village Rosette. Its bilingual inscriptions were the clues to Champollion to resolve the hieroglyphs. The text were in hieroglyphs, hieratics and in Greek.
Royal titulary The official titles of the Egyptian Pharaoh, includes those of: Horus, Horus of Gold, the Two Ladies, birth and coronation (King of Upper and Lower Egypt, Son of Ra). The last two names are written in cartouches.
Sais City in the Western part of the Delta, the main cult-center of goddess Neith (the Egyiptian name of the city is Per Neith, "The House of Neith") and capitol for the pharaohs of the 26th dynasty.
Sandal-bearer Very high and dignified Egyptian official, one of the first men in the royal court. Practically the personal advisor of the king (bearer of his  sandal = the one who always stands behind him). The origin of the office reaches back to the predynastic ages. The sandal-bearer appears even on the palette of king Narmer and though he is dwarfed by the figure of the pharaoh, the fact itself of his presence on a cult-object that was meant to publish the victory and the glory of the king can tell us more than enough about the importance of this office.
Sarcophagus Coffin usually made of stone or wood, essential element of Egyptian funerary cult and burials.
Serdab A closed room of the tombs of the Old Kingdom where the mortuary statue is located. It is usually separated from the other parts of the tomb completely. The only connection is a small window or just a hole which ensures that the soul can accept the offerings. The word has an Arabic origin and means 'cellar'.
Siwa oasis Hard to visit oasis at the middle of the Lybian Desert. It has very special niche, unique traditions. It had sacred place, temple of Amun, where Alexander The Great was announced to be son of Amun, and legitime heir to the throne of Egypt.
Sea People Collective term for Indo-European people of different ethnic groups, inhabiting the area of the Mediterranean Sea whose migration rearranged the map of the Near East around 1200 BC. Rameses III confronted their invasion successfully to protect Egypt.
Sphinx Lion-bodied and human or ram-headed statue, usually of kings, few times queens' (e.g. Nofertiti). Most famous is the Great Sphinx in Gizah. Sometimes it appears on paintings and relieves, too.
Stela Greek word referring to inscribed slabs of stone generally in the shape of rectangle but rounded at the top. It could bear texts of offering, commemorate a victory or indicate border.
Sun Temple The temples of sun cult that increased during the 5th dynasty. The most famous sun temple was the one of Heliopolis but only the one of Neuserra remained in Abu-Gorab not far from the Giza Plateau.
Tanis City in the Eastern part of the Delta. Her location may cover the former cities of Avaris and Per-Rameses. She served as royal residence from the 20th to the 22nd dynasties.
Thebes Capitol and most important city of Upper Egypt that lived her golden age during the New Kingdom. Here was the center of the Amon cult and she was royal and administratory center, too. Nowadays two towns share her site: Luxor and Karnak.
Thutmosides Of or relating to Thutmosis I and his descendants or their ages, by the early decades of the New Kingdom, ie. 1493 - 1425 BC.
Triad see: Divine Triad
TT- ### Theben Tombs - The noble tombs of the Western bank of Thebes are indicated with this letter-sign which is usually followed by a number after which the tombs are distinguished from each other.
Two Lands Upper and Lower Egypt, especially when unified. In royal tituary, appears as Two Ladies.
Upper Egypt Southern parts of Egypt, consisting the valley of the Nile. Narrow lands between the plateaus of the desert, the soil is just a narrow strip on the river banks. The ancient Upper Egypt goes from Memphis up to the first cataract, but nowadays the part between Cairo and Asyut called Middle Egypt.
Usurpation misappropriation
Some kings ordered to remove the names of the former kings from the buildings and replace them with their own in order to appropriate the monuments to show the people and the gods their greater glory.
Valley Temple Temple built as part of the pyramid complex, on the lower end. Site of worship, supposed to be the starting point of the funeral ceremonies.
Vizier Civilian title and office in the Ancient Egypt, highest rank below the pharaoh in the early Old Kingdom. No military function was assigned.
Western Valley Valley that runs west from the Valley of the Kings and hides some tombs. Most important is Ay's (Tutankhamun's successor's) tomb. Its decoration with the babooins representing the twelve hours inspired the other name of the valley: the Monkeys' Valley.
White Crown Tall conical mitre with a bulbous terminus, symbolising the sovereignty of the king over Upper Egypt.
WV- ### Western Valley - royal and noble tombs in the Western Valley are indicated with this letter-sign which is usually followed by a number after which the tombs are distinguished from each other.

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