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Ancient Egyptian deities: The Triad of Memphis: Ptah, Sekhmet, Nefertem
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The Triad of Memphis:
Ptah, Sekhmet and Nefertem

I (Ramses III) made for thee (Ptah) a mysterious shrine of Elephantine granite, established with work forever, of a single block, having double doors of bronze, of a mixture of six (parts), engraved with thy august name, forever. Ptah, Sekhmet, and Nefertem rest in it, while statues of the king are by their side, to present offerings before them.
Restoration of Hat-ke-ptah, the House of the ka of Ptah at Memphis
Papyrus Harris
J. H.Breasted, Ancient Records of Egypt, Part Four, § 320

Ptah, the Creator

ptah     In Egyptian mythology, Ptah was the chief god of Memphis, who created the Moon, the Sun, and the Earth. One tradition held that he had created all things from mud; another, that he spoke the names of all things and his will created them from his words.

[King of Upper and Lower Egypt] is this Ptah, who is called the great name: [Ta-te]nen [South-of-his-Wall, Lord of eternity] ///. /// [the joiner] of Upper and Lower Egypt is he, this uniter who arose as king of Upper Egypt and arose as king of Lower Egypt. /// /// "self-begotten," so says Atum: "who created the Nine Gods."
    His soul (or alternatively the soul of Osiris) was incarnated in Apis, the sacred bull of Memphis, believed to have been conceived by lightning on a moonbeam. Apis was worshipped as Serapis, who merged Osiris and Apis, by the Greeks and Romans. Ptah was the patron of artisans and was identified by the Greeks with the god Hephaestos.
    Associated with Ptah was Sedjem, the god of Hearing. With his powers Ptah could react, when humans appealed to him.

    Outside the modern village of Mitrahine lie a few traces of the once vast Temple of Ptah (begun c.3000 BC), built to honor the primary deity of Memphis.

    By the Late Period Ptah had acquired a son who had been born an ordinary mortal, the Old Kingdom official Imhotep. Taimhotep who lived during the reign of Ptolemy XII and had married Psherenptah, the high priest of Ptah at Memphis, wrote on her stela:
I prayed together with the high priest to the majesty of the god great in wonders, effective in deeds, who gives a son to him who has none: Imhotep Son of Ptah....
...In return he (the god) made me conceive a male child.
M.Lichtheim, Ancient Egyptian Literature, Vol.3, p.62
Associated with Ptah was Sedjem, the god of Hearing. With his powers Ptah could react, when humans appealed to him.
    Ptah is depicted in human form, his head covered, possibly, by very short hair or, more probably, by a tight fitting cap of the kind often shown in Old Kingdom depictions of craftsmen. Beardless in Old Kingdom pictures, his chin beard is in later times straight and substantial. His body is tightly wrapped in some garment, looking like a mummy, but his underarms and hands stick out, often holding a was-sceptre and at times other paraphernalia of power.


(Sakhmet, Sachmet)
sekhmet     A goddess of war, love and protection, the consort of Ptah was sometimes called the Lady of the Place of the Beginning of Time, the Lady of Pestilence and Goddess of Vengeance. She was rich in magic and the healers tried to enlist her in their fight against disease. She is depicted as a lioness and often holds an ankh or a sistrum, a musical instrument dedicated to Hathor.
    The destruction myth told in The Book of the Cow of Heaven equates Hathor with Sekhmet: Re had grown angry with mankind. He tore out one of his eyes, threw it as Hathor down to earth, ordering her to destroy mankind. The goddess in the shape of a lioness, Sekhmet, was so successful at this that Re grew alarmed and decided to put an end to the slaughter.
    Sekhmet spread fear everywhere. In the Tale of Sinuhe king Sehetepibre was described as fear of whom was throughout the lands like Sakhmet in a year of plague. Even the followers of Seth and the serpent Apophis could not withstand her. The hot desert winds were her fiery breath. She was the protectress of the king, often called his mother, and connected with the fire-spitting ureaus and the Eye of Re. Senusret III was likened to the goddess in one of his hymns as one who shoots the arrow as does Sakhmet.
    In the New Kingdom she was often identified with Amen's consort Mut.


Nefertem Nefertem sitting on a lotus flower
H. G. Gundel, Antike Papyri in Giessen
Kurzberichte aus den Papyrussammlungen #14, 1963, Universitätsbibliothek Giessen

    Nefertem was the son of Sekhmet and Ptah. A leonine god he was called defender of the two lands, and protector of the two lands. When depicted in human form he often wore a lotus blossom on his head. The Shabaka Stone speaks of him as Nefertem at the nose of Re every day, the sweet smelling flower gods love so much.
    Papyrus Harris 500 describes the triad - and an unknown deity Iadet
Its rushes are Ptah,
Sakhmet is its foliage,
Iadet its buds,
Nefertem its lotus blossoms.
M.Lichtheim, Ancient Egyptian Literature, Vol.2, p.189
    Nefertem was the protective deity of the perfumers.

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