sisterMAG Issue 2

Page 154

Notion of time in Ancient Egypt

The constant return of the “First Time” One is not disappointed when asking for new beginnings in the land of the Pharaohs. The potential for changes and new beginnings through new dynasties and foreign sovereigns is immense in 5000 years of cultural history with which students and scholars of Egyptology occupy themselves – speaking only of political change. Additionally, there are ritual dynamics, climate changes and natural catastrophes or the use of technical innovations in military and agriculture. The following article does not want to be a dry history lesson with lots of facts but wants to take on the main topic of this sisterMAG’s issue much more centrally: “New beginnings”.

NOTION OF TIME When dealing with breaks and new beginnings one has to know that the ancient Egyptian notion of time differs considerably from ours today. This manifests itself already in the two words for “eternity”: one is Nechech – the cyclical time, and the other Djet – the linear time. Inscriptions for good wishes or invocations to deities attest that wishes were made e.g. for the pharaoh both in the Nechech and the Djet eternity. Even in Christian prayers it is often said “... from eternity to eternity”. How can we imagine these two notions of time?

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