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Ancient Egyptian deities: Pakhet
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also Pachet, Pakht, Pekhert

    Pakhet, pAx.t, [1] was an ancient goddess, popular in Middle Egypt for a lengthy period of time.[11] She is first known from the Coffin Texts, where she appears as a night huntress.[2] Like other war-like deities she was a lion or panther goddess. She could also take on the shape of a spitting cobra. The barque of Pakhet sported the head of a lioness and accompanied Re's solar barque.[3]

Speos Artemidos The Speos Artemidos (Cave of Artemis) built by Hatshepsut at Beni Hasan
Source: Einsamer Schütze on Wikimedia.
License: GNU Free Documentation License

    In a temple cut into the rock at Beni Hasan dedicated to her and known as the Speos Artemidos, there is an inscription by Sethi I in which he asserts his divine origin: [4]
the egg (i.e. the son) of Re, whom Pakhet has given birth to, whom the One Great in Magic has made come into being.


    Depictions of the goddess are rare. She is generally shown as a woman with the head of a lioness and has no special attributes.[5]


    She was referred to as Goddess at the Entrance of the Wadi[5] and nb. sr.t, Lady of the Speos Artemidos. Her cult at Beni Hassan seems to have begun during the New Kingdom.[2] Evidence for worship in earlier times is missing, though it is supposed that she was worshiped locally as early as the Middle Kingdom. A burial ground for sacred cats in this region, used well into the Late Period, is dedicated to Pakhet.[5][8]

    Hatshepsut, who founded Pakhet's sanctuary at Beni Hasan, described the temple as follows:
Pakht, the great, who traverses the valleys in the midst of the eastland, whose ways are [storm-beaten]....... I made her temple with that which was due to her ennead of gods. The doors were of acacia wood, fitted with bronze, //////////////// at the seasons. The priests knew this; her city [/// /// ///] ////////////// I made divine their temples, furnished with that which comes forth [///] ///////////////// ......... the offering table [was wrought] with silver and gold, chests of linen, every vessel that abides in the place...........
Speos Artemidos [12]
Seti I erased Hatshepsut's name, inserted his own and claimed:
Seti I; he made (it) as his monument for his mother. Pakhet, the great, mistress of Benihasan, in her temple in the secret valley, the [cleft] of the cliff.
Speos Artemidos [13]

    Pakhet amulets were hoped to confer protection and fecundity.[5] Claw amulets worn by female royals may have invoked Pakhet's protection.[3] The goddess guarded the royal residence [6] and, merging with Mut and Nekhbet into a three-headed deity, kept the deceased from coming to harm.[7][9]

Syncretisms, relationships

    She was at times identified with Pasht (Bastet), Sekhmet and Isis. At Beni Hasan Pakhet represented the dangerous aspects of Hathor..[10] Her consort was Horus in one of his many forms.[5] The Greeks equated her with Artemis.
James Henry Breasted, Ancient Records of Egypt, Chicago 1905
Margaret R. Bunson, Encyclopedia of Ancient Egypt, FactsonFile Inc, 2002
Raymond O. Faulkner, Carol Andrews, James Wasserman, The Egyptian Book of the Dead: The Book of Going Forth by Day, Chronicle Books, 2008
Barbara S. Lesko, The great goddesses of Egypt, University of Oklahoma Press, 1999
Jaromir Malek, The Cat in Ancient Egypt, British Museum Press, 1993
Original from Pennsylvania State University Geraldine Pinch, Handbook of Egyptian Mythology, ABC-Clio 2002
Ian Shaw & Paul Nicholson, Dictionary of Ancient Egypt, British Museum Press 1995
Ruth Schumann-Antelme, Stéphane Rossini, Becoming Osiris: the ancient Egyptian death experience, Bear & Company, 1998
Richard H. Wilkinson, The Complete Gods and Goddesses of Ancient Egypt, Thames and Hudson 2003
[1] pAx.t, Wb 1, 498.14-15 from pAx, translit. pAx, to scratch out or tear apart (Pinch 2002, p.180)
[2] Shaw & Nicholson 1995, p.276
[3] Pinch 2002, p.134
[4] Thesaurus Linguae Aegyptiae website: Altägyptisches Wörterbuch, Berlin-Brandenburgische Akademie der Wissenschaften => Historisch-rhetorische Königstexte (19.Dynastie) => Beni Hassan => Speos Artemidos (Felstempel der Pachet) => Eingang-Ostseite => Widmungsinschrift Sethos I.
[5] Wilkinson 2003, p.180
[6] Bunson 2002, p.294
[7] Shumann & Rossini 1998, p.98
[8] Malek 1993, p.126
[9] Faulkner et al. 2008, p.125
[10] Lesko 1999, p.96
[11] Lesko 1999, p.151
[12] Breasted 1905, Part Two, § 301
[13] Breasted 1905, Part Three, § 249

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