The Egyptian Throne

Klaus P. Kuhlmann has just published the entry “Throne” for the UCLA Encyclopedia of Egyptology on eScholarship. Here’s the abstract,

By today’s definition, a “throne” is the seat of a king or sovereign. In ancient Egypt, a plethora of terms referred to the throne, but none apparently carried this specific connotation. Explicit reference to the seat of a king or god was made by addressing the latter’s “elevated” position (wrr, ‛3). There were two major types of thrones: a basic (“sacred”) one of the gods and of pharaoh as their heir and successor that had the shape of a square box (block-throne) and a “secular” one that incorporated a pair of lions into a stool or chair (lion-throne) and depicted pharaoh as powerful ruler of the world. Thrones usually stood on a dais inside a kiosk, elevating the ruler well above his subjects and displaying his supreme social rank. At the same time, the arrangement was meant to evoke a comparison with the sun god resting on the primordial hill at the moment of creating the world. The enthronization of pharaoh was thought to be a perpetuation of this cosmogonic act, which was referred to as “the first time” (zp tpj). As an object, which could be desecrated (for example, by usurpation), the Egyptian throne underwent purification rites. There is no evidence, however, of it ever having received cultic reverence or having been deified (as the goddess Isis).

Take a look.

3 thoughts on “The Egyptian Throne”

  1. “As an object, which could be desecrated (for example, by usurpation), the Egyptian throne underwent purification rites. There is no evidence, however, of it ever having received cultic reverence or having been deified (as the goddess Isis).”
    What?? On what basis does he feel justified to even make the distinction between reverence towards a goddess-as-throne as opposed to throne-as-goddess? I nearly fell off my throne, so to speak. ;o)
    Now did I understand this correctly? The throne cult was simultaneously present in Hattian, Hittite, Minoan, Etruscan and Punic cultures too so there was nothing distinctly Egyptian about this cult.
    For starters, I point readers to the Hattic goddess Halmasuit. This will supply a broader context of this particular religious thread that we wouldn’t expect an overspecialized Egyptologist to provide us. Kuhlmann seems more concerned about minor details about Egyptian thrones themselves rather than the bigger picture.

  2. “The first time” or “beginning” is interesting. Text R in The Eloquent Peasant inserts at the beginning of the peasants first speech, sp tpy, “the first time.” Tpy is an adjective form of tp, “head.” This usage is not surprising, but it is interesting, and Hebrew with its adjective form (rishon) from “head” is used in the same way.

  3. Babylonians described the beginning of the year as the “head” of the year (as do Hebrew-speaking people today). One might wonder then if the idea of cyclical creation-destruction is seeded within a phrase like *zāpa tapī. It’s present later in the Etruscan world-view which I now strongly believe to have been built to a large degree on Egyptian faith.
    Egyptian ideas about creation and the remote past are always described in literature but I’ve yet to come across an explanation of the ancient Egyptian’s view of the far future and the fate, if any, of the cosmos. Surely they had some thoughts on this, no? Am I just ignorant on this? Is there an article to read on that?

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