| Russian Academy of Sciences
Centre for Egyptological Studies, Moscow (CESRAS)
Russian Institute of Egyptology in Cairo (RIEC)
A Puzzle solved: a Unique Unification Symbol on the Funerary Baldachin of Asetemachbjt B
What is it? .....for 130 years egyptologists who know the baldachin have puzzled over this little figure.
Some have suggested that it is some kind of mythical animal, others have suggested some sort of
vegetable. After quite a lot of thought, it became clear to me what it really is and what it means. Here you
will see the solution to the puzzle. Edward Loring/CESRAS/2009
Scroll right and down
Above we see a strange design which is only known to exist on this object
in the row of decorative images on the upper surfaces of the baldachin's
sides. Below it is a cut-out inscription, Isetemkheb's filiation (sAt Hm-nTr tpy n
jmnw raw) and the beginning of her title (wr...) which is continued in the
following vignette. Notice the stiching.
We cut off the inscription which has nothing to do with the figure and enlarged it
slightly to make every detail clear. We see something like a weird creature with two
heads at the top and some fringes at the bottom of what could be as body.
Now let us look at it differently, turned upside down.
Here we can begin to see
that we have a
composition of elements
Starting with the fringe
shown here at the top,
we follow the curves of
its outermost elements
downwards . They must
have a meeting place on
the central axis of the
figure. The Ancient
Egyptians were very
partial to axial symmetry.
Following the course stated above, we have found a lotus blossom, standing for Upper Egypt.
This being the case, the papyrus of Lower Egypt can not be far away. Removing the lotus which
we have just cut out and returning the figure to its original upright position we find the
Here we have two papyrus plants joined by a type of clasp
across the central axis through which our lotus passed.
Removing the lower portions of the papyrus plants while
restoring the lotus to its proper place gives us a symmetrical
composition of the blossoming elements of both plants: Upper
and Lower Egypt bound by a clasp of unity.
Artist's graphic renditions of depicted
elements. As all original colours of the
leather pigmentation have mutated during
the past 3000 years and the baldachin
appears to have been seriously mistreated
both in antiquity and by E. Brugsch in 1881,
the colours shown here, interpolated from
test macro photos taken through dirty glass
with minimal ambient light, are for basic
Here we offer a small group of unification symbols
and the scenes where they occur. Click on small
"thumbnails" for full-size original CESRAS images.
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