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Le culte d'osiris au [] millenaire av. j.-c.: decouverts et travaux rercents.

Le culte d'Osiris au [] millenaire ay. J.-C.: Decouverts et travaux recents. Edited by LAURENT COU-LON. Bibliotheque d'Etude, vol. 153. Cairo: INSTITUT FRAKAIS D'ARCHEOLOGIE ORIENTALE, 2010. Pp. x + 322. illus. (paper).

This volume consists of an introductory essay followed by twelve papers presented at a workshop in Lyon in 2005. The introduction by the editor, Laurent Coulon (pp. 1-17), reminds the reader that the Osiris of this period is primarily the product of a reading of the Khoiak Festival texts and Plutarch's reconstruction of the myth. His review of both written and archaeological sources clarifies this volume's contribution to a view of Osiris in the first millennium B.C. as a multifaceted divinity.

In the first article Quack covers the evidence of the "Book of the Temple- (pp. 23-30). Best preserved in Late Period copies, this temple manual describes the cult of Osiris in terms of specific places in the temple, its staff, and their duties. A sacred mound and lake are the burial place of Osiris and the site of his "divine substance" (112t ntr). References to temple staff include chief ritualists (lpy-sk3) and purifiers of the god (rbw ntr), as well as the more enigmatic rl.c. w "qui entrent librement." The ritual of the divine substance, part of the Festival of Heaven and Earth, and execration rituals to vanquish the enemies of Osiris are components of the cult. This detailed handbook provides an outline of the cult's ritual service.

Yoyotte (pp. 33-38) connects evidence from Alexandria, Canopus, and Heracleion in describing the Hellenistic Osiris of the Delta. The author brings together the remains of the temple of Amun of Gereb at Heracleion, the water jug form of Osiris found in Kanopos, and the yearly bark procession from Heracleion to Kanopos that marked the Kikellia Festival, a Ptolemaic celebration of Isis, commemorating the death of Osiris. To these interconnections is added evidence for rituals involving the burning of incense, libation, and to a lesser degree, food offerings. In addition, finds of small ladles (simpula) link the Kikellia procession with a Dionysian celebration, reflecting the Greco-Egyptian association of the two gods and the ability of the two communities to come together in their differing interpretations of the festivities.

Turning to the topic of regional forms of Osiris, D. Meeks and C. Favard-Meeks (pp. 39-48) describe Lower Egyptian myths regarding the body of Osiris, citing the seventh-century B.C. Papyrus du Delta (Brooklyn 47.218.84). Two topics are intertwined in this article. One is the varied lexicography used for the body of Osiris. The other is the diversity of its mythological expressions found in the Lower Egyptian traditions of the period. This is exemplified by a myth in which the divine child. born from a local goddess, is partially devoured by a lioness, who then hides the remains under a bush. These are retrieved by Thoth and Nephthys, who kill the lioness and use her skin to wrap the child's savaged corpse. The authors relate the myth to the idea of the dead lunar child, found elsewhere in Egyptian mythology.

Devauchelle (pp. 49-62) devotes his study to an examination of Osiris-Apis as a precursor to Sera-pis. He sees the Apis of Amenhotep III's time, depicted carrying the mummy, as combining the living bull and the dead king. From the 26th dynasty, the frame of reference for Apis is expanded, as he is called Osiris-Apis-Atum-Horus, encompassing all the phases of regeneration. A shift in the Late Period narrows the focus to a specifically Memphite integration of Apis and Osiris associated with the area of the Serapeum, the Osiris of Rosteau, and the Anubis of the Anubieion. This connection reflects an Osirian emphasis that the author sees as key to the emergence of Serapis.

Fayumic forms of Osiris are found in the text of the stela of Paesis (Louvre E 25983). Widmer (pp. 63-97) identifies Osiris, the sovereign (ity) who resides in the Land of the Lake, Osiris of the Great Green, and Sokar of the Lake, all of whom appear to have an origin in the Middle Kingdom. A human-headed crocodile with the Two Feather crown, called "Osiris of the many faces (rS3 hr), governor Wry-9 of the living," has the iconography of a sovereign. These Fayumic forms of Osiris are explored in the discussions of architectural remains, decoration, and textual evidence.

"Chapel J" found in the northeastern section of the Great Temple enclosure at Karnak is discussed in two contributions. Perdu (pp. 101-21) describes its two rooms as individually dedicated to Osiris, who "inaugurates" the Ished-Tree (wp iScl) and Isis of the Great Mound (I.nyt-lb ft wrt). The latter, better preserved, includes scenes similar to those of the mammisi. The coronation of Horus is implied with jubilant processional scenes. Perdu cites evidence for a 22nd-dynasty date.

Coulon and Masson (pp. 123-54) turn to the same chapel in a discussion of the Herakleopolitan Osiris Naref, a variation of the Osiris wp Li'd found in Chapel J, both of which are connected to Isis of the Great Mound. The presence of Hathor of Heracleopolis among the seven Hathors in the possible coronation procession is also noted. The authors build an argument for the introduction of Osiris Naref in the 22nd dynasty and for a renewed interest in this form in the Late Period as an expression of the strong political role played by Herakleopolis during that period.

Traunecker (pp. 155-94) treats Osiris Lord of the Neheh-eternity, whose Karnak chapel was erected in the late 26th dynasty. This aspect of Osiris, belonging to the world of the living rather than that of the dead, emphasizes the changing orientation that obscured the difference between Osiris and the solar deity. One of the two hymns engraved on the facade reflects this fusion, as Osiris nb nly13 is called -the one who makes light in the belly of his mother."

Laroze (pp. 219-38) discusses the Osirian elements of the Karnak temple of Opet, regarded as the mythical birthplace of Osiris at Thebes. A correlation between the temple's theological program, representing the birth and resurrection of Osiris, and its architecture is outlined. With a mound-like foundation, an upper and lower realm is evident in the mound "reliquary" for the divine mummy and the temple house in which the god is engendered and reborn. A staircase creates an interconnection between "heaven" and "earth." This thematic duality is also found in the two sanctuaries, the one devoted to the resurrection of Osiris and the other to Isis' presentation of Horus. The goddess Opet has the role of intermediary between the two realms and the two generations.

Labrique (pp. 195-215), examining the propylon of the temple of Khonsu at Thebes, sees further examples of the union of the two complementary aspects of the regeneration of Osiris in three pairs of scenes. One pair contrasts Thebes and the burial place of the Ennead. Medinet Habu (Djeme). A second pair refers to the annual birth of Osiris during the epagomenal days and the cyclical rebirth referred to during the Khoiak Festival. A final complementarity is found in the reconstitution of the corpse of Sokar-Osiris in the Opet temple and the rebirth of Osiris Merty in the temple of Khonsu. All three pairs of scenes offer a dual perspective on eternal regeneration.

Leclere (pp. 239-68) presents an analysis of "le guarder de l'Osireion de Karnak," an area found to the south of the small cluster of chapels that includes the chapel of Osiris wp id. Excavations revealed First Intermediate Period domestic remains, covered by a "primitive" cemetery, most likely of Third Intermediate Period date. Possibly contemporary is a low brick structure similar to the brick "platforms" found at Deir el-Ballas and Ezbet Helmi (Tell el-Dab'a). By the 26th dynasty, a "tomb" of Osiris, somewhat higher than the Osirian chapels and only partially buried, provided a focal point. Burial pits and Ptolemaic catacombs, with a scattering of bronze Osiris figures were also found.

In the final article, Amer (pp. 269-82) takes the reader to Oxyrhynchos and the Per-khefa, a New Kingdom and Saite cemetery site as well as the location of an Osireion, where a recumbent statue of the god was kept and niches for the yearly deposition of Osiris figures extended the dating to Roman times. Some 1.5 kilometers away at the desert's edge is the Abaton, a mound upon which is a brick structure, surrounded by a low brick wall. Also excavated was a basin, perhaps for ritual navigation.

Each article here presents new evidence, often combining the textual and archaeological. Each contribution displays a mastery of both the details of the material and their broader context. The resulting interpretations, the details of which are far beyond the scope of this review, significantly expand our access to the cult of Osiris during this period. With generous illustrations and a series of user-friendly indices, concluding with abstracts in both French and English, this compilation of papers presents not only insights into the meaning of essentially new material but also provides the means whereby it can be easily incorporated into coming research.

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Author:Troy, Lana
Publication:The Journal of the American Oriental Society
Article Type:Book review
Date:Oct 1, 2013
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