Ancient Egypt: Its History and Culture
Ancient Egyptian deities: Astarte

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Ancient Egyptian gods: Astarte

    Astarte, Egyptian Astarte,[1] was originally from the Near East and predominantly a war-goddess, though she also displayed aspects of a goddess of love and fertility.[11] She entered the Egyptian pantheon during the New Kingdom, probably under the 18th Dynasty.[2] At Byblos, a city which from earliest times had close connections with Egypt, she was known as Baalat Gebal, Lady of Byblos, and was worshiped in the so-called Obelisk Temple, where one of the obelisks was inscribed with hieroglyphs.[3]
Astarte
Astarte of Peru-nefer.[7]
Stela cut into the rock at Tura.

    As a war deity she was often called upon to provide protection, but her closest military association was with the most offensive weapon the Egyptians knew, the war chariot drawn by horses—a nobleman's equipment technologically intricate which took some getting used to:
Then the king's son was told to look after some horses of the king's stable. He did what he was told, and Reshef and Astarte rejoiced over him as he did all that his heart desired.
The Great Sphinx Stela of Amenhotep II at Giza [10]

Syncretisms, relationships

    Astarte was often identified with Hathor, and she is frequently mentioned in conjunction with another Middle Eastern goddess, Anat, who like her was, according to The Contendings of Horus and Seth, a daughter of Re:
The Universal Lord, the Bull who resides in Heliopolis, ought to be told: Enrich Seth in his possessions. Give him Anath and Astarte, your two daughters, and install Horus in the position of his father Osiris.
Similarly at Medinet Habu they are mentioned in the same breath by Ramses III:
Montu and Sutekh are with [him in] every fray, Anat and Astarte are his shield.
Inscriptions of Ramses III concerning the Second Libyan war [8]
    The Legend of Astarte on the other hand refers to Astarte as the daughter of Ptah.[4] The precise relationship between these two goddesses remains unclear and becomes even more mysterious, when one reads a magical spell, according to which both goddesses were at one time pregnant and could not give birth:
You, who are immersed cannot emerge, for you are sealed at your mouth. You are closed at your mouth just as the window of Busiris is being closed, when it gets bright at Abydos, just as the womb of Anat and Astarte were closed, the two great goddesses who became pregnant without being unable to give birth.
P. mag. Harris 501 [5]
    Another originally Middle Eastern deity, the goddess of love and sex Kadesh, was also often identified with Astarte.
    Astarte's consort was Seth. According to Canaanite mythology Hauron, who was also introduced into the Egyptian pantheon during the New Kingdom, was her son.[13]

Iconography

    Astarte is represented as a young woman, often naked and, as mistress of horses, on horseback.[2] On her head she wears the atef-crown.[11] Sometimes her shape is androgynous.[9]

Cult

    Although Astarte and Anat were often mentioned together, their cults were separate.[12] The Hyksos were apparently the first people to venerate Astarte on Egyptian soil. After their expulsion it was above all the Ramessids who worshiped her, as they did other gods who had been popular with the Hyksos, such as Seth, and there was a substantial temple in her honour in the eastern Delta at Pi-Ramesse. At Tanis Astarte was part of a cult which included also Mut and Khonsu. As goddess protecting the king she had entered the official temple religion, scarabs and ostraca bearing her image or name may indicate that she had been accepted by the people as well.[11]

Other Middle Eastern deities worshipped in Egypt:
Anat
Baal
Hauron
Kadesh
Reshef

Footnotes:
[1] MdC transliteration aztr.t, Wb 1, 227.3; LGG II, 212
[2] Shaw 1995, p.42
[3] Shaw 1995, p.57
[4] Thesaurus Linguae Aegyptiae: Altägyptisches Wörterbuch, Sächsische Akademie der Wissenschaften zu Leipzig => Literarische Texte => 1. Erzählungen => Neuägyptische Erzählungen => Die Götter und das Meer ("Astartelegende") => pBN 202 + pAmherst 9 => Die Götter und das Meer ("Astartelegende")
[5] Thesaurus Linguae Aegyptiae: Projekt "Digital Heka", Universität Leipzig => Magische Papyri Neues Reich => Komplette Handschriften => P. mag. Harris 501 / pBM EA 10042 => P. BM EA 10042, rt. 3,5-3,10
[6]
[7] excerpt from image in Zivie-Coche 2011
[8] Breasted 1905, Part Four, § 105
[9] Zivie-Coche 2011
[10] Lichtheim 1976, p.42
[11] Wilkinson p.138
[12] Wilkinson p.137
[13] Wilkinson p.108
 
Bibliography:
  • William Foxwell Albright, Yahweh and the gods of Canaan: a historical analysis of two contrasting faiths, Eisenbrauns, 1968
  • Kathryn A. Bard, Steven Blake Shubert, Encyclopedia of the archaeology of ancient Egypt,Routledge, 1999
  • Benedict G. Davies, "Egyptian historical inscriptions of the nineteenth dynasty" in Volume 2 of Documenta Mundi, Aegyptiaca , No 2, Paul Aströms förlag, 1997
  • James Henry Breasted, Ancient Records of Egypt, Chicago 1905
  • Christian Leitz (ed.), Lexikon der ägyptischen Götter und Götterbezeichnungen, Volume 5, Orientalia Lovaniensia analecta ; 110-116, 129, Peeters Publishers, 2002
  • Miriam Lichtheim, Ancient Egyptian Literature, Vol.2, University of California Press 1976
  • Geraldine Pinch, Egyptian Mythology: A Guide to the Gods, Goddesses, and Traditions of Ancient Egypt, Oxford University Press US, 2004
  • Ian Shaw, The Oxford history of ancient Egypt.Oxford University Press, 2003
  • Christiane Zivie-Coche, 2011, "Foreign Deities in Egypt" in Jacco Dieleman, Willeke Wendrich (eds.), UCLA Encyclopedia of Egyptology, Los Angeles. http://digital2.library.ucla.edu/viewItem.do?ark=21198/zz0027fcpg,
 

 

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