Guide Wine and Wine Offering in the Religion of Ancient Egypt

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Certain deities might have some particular connections with a particular offering, as we shall see below. Yet as far as we can tell, there could be multiple recipients for the same kind of offering, and a particular deity could receive multiple offerings at different times. The offering of water, on the other hand, was paired with the offering of bread and beer, which suggests that water, bread, and beer were endowed with the power of sustenance.

Perhaps this need not be surprising, since all the offering-liquids were, in a sense, nutrients that could be used by the human or divine body, and could thus be considered sources of rejuvenation. In the case of beer, the absence of specific allusions to the intoxicating power of alcohol and the mythological stories of Hathor-Sakhmet or Hathor-Tefnut in the offering liturgies remains unexplained. From as early as the Old Kingdom, wine was regularly mentioned in offering lists as part of the funerary establishment. In temple rituals, wine was also often offered to various deities.

Drink Like an Egyptian | archaeology tau

Sahura, for example, the king was shown offering wine to the goddess Sakhmet. Besides its general significance as an item that pleased the deities, the offering of wine took on certain specific religious and mythological associations. The Wag Festival was celebrated at the beginning of the inundation, on the 17th, 18th, or 19th of Thoth, the first month of inundation.

The festival itself was a funerary feast that was probably aimed at the celebration of the resurrection of life that the inundation brought. Since Osiris epitomized resurrection, there may be a certain connection between Osiris as the god of vegetation and rejuvenation and the symbolic coming to life of the grapevine. The fact that wine production depended upon the coming of the inundation might therefore have fostered the meaning of wine as a symbol of life and rejuvenation. It bears fruit with more grapes than [the sand of] the riverbanks. They [the grapes] are made into wine for your storage.

Thus the relationship between the inundation and the production of wine is clearly stated. Although beer was featured in the story, the effect of alcoholic drink in general was probably what made wine and beer an important temple offering, particularly in connection with the honoring of the goddess Hathor-Sakhmet. Parallel to the story of the Destruction of Mankind, Thoth and Shu were assigned the mission.


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After Hathor was brought back to Egypt, her wild and bloodthirsty nature needed to be appeased with dance and music, and the offering of wine. As Greek and Roman authors noted, the Nile water turned red during the inundation, which suggests the color of wine. The religious meaning of wine, moreover, was not limited to the allusions to the mythological stories related to Hathor, or to its intoxicating nature, important as it was in many ancient cultures, but had wider significance.

The color of wine, when it was red, and even disregarding its association with the mythological story, already suggested an association with blood and the life-giving force of nature. As this association was not limited to ancient Egyptian culture, it is all the more possible to believe that the symbolic association of wine and blood did exist in Egypt.

It is reasonable to suspect here an allusion to the grape juice being pressed from the winepress. May your ka be filled with what is created for you Your wedjat-eye is sound and supplied with provision; secure it for yourself from Seth. May you be powerful by means of it. The brewing of beer involves the fermentation of cereals, and, as studies of beer residues show, the brewing of beer in general comprises several steps. First, a batch of grain was allowed to sprout, thereby producing an enzyme. Then another batch of grain was cooked in water to disperse the starch naturally contained within it.

The two batches were subsequently combined, causing sugar to be produced, and then sieved. Finally, the sugar-rich liquid was mixed with yeast, which fermented the sugar into alcohol. How sweet is its taste, how sweet is its smell!. How beautiful are these beer jars, which are brewed at the correct time, which fill your ka at the time of your wish.

May your heart be joyful daily. Take for yourself the wonderful beer, which the noble one has brewed with her hands, with the beautiful plant from Geb and myrrh from Nepy. Here the whiteness of milk is clearly referenced, thus indicating milk as a liquid of purification. These general religious significations aside, there seem to be no further mythological or theological allusions that can be connected to milk.

The priest, the temple grounds, and even the libation jars needed to be purified before any ritual offerings to the deities were performed. My arms are given the water [lit. It is pure. Purification with the four jars of water: take the Eye of Horus, as it purifies your body. Oh water, may you purge all impurity and evil from the daughter of the Creator, oh Nun, may you purify her face. In a papyrus found in the Roman Period temple at Tebtunis, no less than six libation rituals were included in the daily temple ritual program.

Words spoken: May this water rejuvenate your body, may your majesty drink from the water.

The Destruction of Mankind

Offering libation. Words spoken: This libation is brought from Abydos, it came from the region of the Sea of Horus. May you drink it, may you live by means of it, may your heart be sound by means of it, the divine water to [fill? Spell for presenting libation. Words spoken: Hail to you, Nun in your name of Nun. Hail to you, Inundation in your name of Inundation.

Winemaking in Ancient Egypt

Pouring libation to the altar. Words spoken: Hail to you, the Powerful, take to yourself the libation, which begot everything living. I have come to you, the vases are inundated, the jars filled with the flood, and the vases filled with the inundation for your Majesty. You have your water, you have your flood, you have your efflux that issued from Osiris. Whether the water was poured before the deities, or on the statues of the deities as an ablution, or drunk by the deities as a libation, merely expressed a variation of the same idea.

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Most of this violence, however, was enacted against animals or inanimate objects. In these rituals, t he animals or objects were often seen as substitutes for humans. Sometimes the objects were anthropomorphic in form, as with the many clay, stone, and wax figures used in execration rituals.

During the ceremonies, these figures were smashed, decapitated, mutilated, stabbed, speared, burned, and buried. Violence against mortals and against preternatural enemies was often combined in the rites. At least two execration rituals, one at Mirgissa during the Middle Kingdom and one at Avaris during the early 18th Dynasty, almost certainly used humans as the objects of the ritual. Some form of ritual violence continued throughout Egyptian history, for such early iconographic evidence is matched by later philological evidence.

The language used to describe several sanctioned killings implies that they took place in a ritual context, while other texts are explicit about the ritual nature of the slaying. In all of these cases ritual language is employed to describe the killings. Undoubtedly Amenhotep II smote captives as part of his coronation ritual. Several late New Kingdom non-royal stelae represent the king smiting prisoners within temple grounds, perhaps indicating that the owner of the stela had witnessed the ritual.

Moreover, a number of specialized a nd individualized smiting scenes imply that these were based on real events, such as the depiction of a man with a unique physical deformity being struck by the king. While we cannot be sure, it is quite likely that smiting enemies was a royal ritual. In B.

Herodotus wrote that Egyptians were forbidden to sacrifice animals except pigs, bulls and bull-calves, if they are unblemished, and geese. Now in their painting and sculpture, the image of Pan is made with the head and the legs of a goat, as among the Greeks; not that he is thought to be in fact such, or unlike other gods; but why they represent him so, I have no wish to say. The Mendesians consider all goats sacred, the male even more than the female, and goatherds are held in special estimation: one he-goat is most sacred of all; when he dies, it is ordained that there should be great mourning in all the Mendesian district.

In the Egyptian language Mendes is the name both for the he-goat and for Pan. In my lifetime a strange thing occurred in this district: a he-goat had intercourse openly with a woman.

wine and wine offerings in ancient egypt

This came to be publicly known. Harvard University Press. For no gods are worshipped by all Egyptians in common except Isis and Osiris, who they say is Dionysus; these are worshipped by all alike. Those who have a temple of Mendes or are of the Mendesian district sacrifice sheep, but will not touch goats.


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The Thebans, and those who by the Theban example will not touch sheep, give the following reason for their ordinance: they say that Heracles wanted very much to see Zeus and that Zeus did not want to be seen by him, but that finally, when Heracles prayed, Zeus contrived to show himself displaying the head and wearing the fleece of a ram which he had flayed and beheaded. It is from this that the Egyptian images of Zeus have a ram's head; and in this, the Egyptians are imitated by the Ammonians, who are colonists from Egypt and Ethiopia and speak a language compounded of the tongues of both countries.

The Thebans, then, consider rams sacred for this reason, and do not sacrifice them.

But one day a year, at the festival of Zeus, they cut in pieces and flay a single ram and put the fleece on the image of Zeus, as in the story; then they bring an image of Heracles near it.