October 9, 2012

Abydos in Ancient Egypt

Abydos
This was one of the most ancient cities in Egypt, which became the centre of the Osiris God cult. It was believed that here Isis found the head of Osiris, and buried it (though another version of the myth has her finding the whole body at Abydos City with the exception of the phallus which had been eaten by a crocodile).

Abydos
The earliest tombs at Abydos are pre-dynastic (Before Egyptian Dynasties). There are also the royal tombs of the first dynasty. After the fall of the Old Kingdom in ancient Egypt and the rise of the cult of Osiris the dead, the city grew and the solemn annual religious festivals included a passion play, enacted by the priests before multitudes in the manner of the Memphite Drama . It included a ritualistic killing of Osiris by his brother Set, followed by several days of mourning. Funeral wreaths and flowers were placed on the figure of the slain deity as he was borne through the city. The people sang hymns and made offerings and, at a prescribed place in the city, another mock battle took place between the brothers, but this time the murder of Osiris was avenged and a triumphant procession with a risen hero returned to the temple. The whole celebration took 19 days and the crowning scene was the erection of the backbone of Osiris (the Dad fetish) and the placing of his head upon it.

Abydos Wall
In the New Kingdom in ancient Egypt, Abydos Egyptian city became a centre of diverse cults. Ptah of Memphis was worshipped there, along with Harmachis and Amon. Seti I started the construction of a temple of the finest-grain limestone, and decorated it in reliefs that are among the finest productions of Egyptian relief sculpture of any age. The temple was completed by Ramses II Pharaoh . Its plan differs from other great Egyptian temples by having not one sanctuary to a single deity, but seven, dedicated to Osiris, Isis, Horus, Ptah, Harmachis, Amon and the deified king himself.

Ramses II Pharaoh also built a temple at Abydos, dedicated to Osiris. Although largely in ruin, this temple appears to have been more carefully constructed than other buildings raised by this pharaoh. Fine-grained limestone was used, with black and red granite for the doorways, sandstone for the columns, and alabaster for an inner shrine. The reliefs are much more crudely executed than those of the Seti I temple .

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