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Ancient Egypt deities: Aker

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Aker

Aker     Aker was the embodiment of the earth, a chthonic deity, identified with the Underground. Thus Unas was described in his Pyramidtexts as striding through Shu and Aker,[5] and one of the New Kingdom guides to the underworld bears the title of Book of Aker.[9]

Aker, in the shape of two lions, protecting the akhet, the points of the horizon where the sun rises and sets, with which he was identified.
Papyrus of Ani

    Aker carried the sun bark at night after it had left the sky and entered the underworld, the realm of Aker. He is sometimes shown as a serpent [1], but, more often, he is depicted as two guardians in human or lion shape protecting the eastern and western accesses of the underworld.
The bones of Aker, two-headed lion, guardian of the round flat earth's outer rim,
Let Aker's bones be shaken...
Pyramid Text 273 [2]
    Aker was generally a protective god who could heal people bitten by snakes. In the mythology he enclosed the snake Apophis after it was cut to pieces, burying him. When he appeared as Akeru or Akeriu, a plurality of serpent earth-gods more ancient than Geb and described as forebears of Re in the Papyrus of Nu,[7] he had to be warded off by spells.[6] The rising of the akhu was an earth shattering experience, described as a shaking of the bones of Akeru:
The heavens drop water, the stars throb, the archers go round about, the bones of Akeru tremble, and those who are in bondage to them take to flight when they see Unas rise up as a soul...
The Egyptian Book of the Dead [3]
    The lion cult inaugurated at Leontopolis was in honour of Aker [4] and of Shu and Tefnut as a pair of lions.[8]


Footnotes:
[1] Lepsius: Todtenbuch, 108.9: I have removed the Aker-serpent for Re.
[2] Jacob Rabinowitz: Isle of Fire, 2004
[3] E. A. Wallis Budge, The Egyptian Book of the Dead, p. xxix, Courier Dover 1967
[4] Bunson, 1991, p.18
[5] Thesaurus Linguae Aegyptiae: Altägyptisches Wörterbuch, Berlin-Brandenburgische Akademie der Wissenschaften => Pyramidentexte => Unas-Pyramide => Vorkammer => Südwand => PT 261
[6] e.g. PT 703, Thesaurus Linguae Aegyptiae: Altägyptisches Wörterbuch,, Berlin-Brandenburgische Akademie der Wissenschaften => Pyramidentexte => Pyramide Pepis I. => Sargkammer => Südwand => östl. Fläche => PT 703
[7] Thesaurus Linguae Aegyptiae: Totenbuchprojekt, Nordrhein-Westfälische Akademie der Wissenschaften => pLondon BM EA 10477 (pNu) => Tb 153 A
[8] Bard & Shubert 1999, p.965
[9] Bard & Shubert 1999, p.385
 
Sources:
Kathryn A. Bard, Steven Blake Shubert, Encyclopedia of the Archaeology of Ancient Egypt, Routledge, 1999
Manfred Lurker: Lexikon der Götter und Symbole der alten Ägypter, Scherz 1998, p.40
Ian Shaw & Paul Nicholson, Dictionary of Ancient Egypt, British Museum Press 1995, pp.19f.
 

 
© October 2005
Changes:
March 2010

 

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