Study Guide

Thoth Sightings

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Jan 1, 1970 - Dec 20, 2019


Khmun, the ancient Egyptian word for the number "eight," was the city of Thoth from the oldest times. There were eight very important gods in town, and Thoth was the boss of the Eight Gods, also called the Ogdoad. Later, the Greeks would call this town Hermopolis Magna, or "the Great City of Hermes." Modern Egyptians call it Ashmunein, from the Arabic version of Khmun. It was a huge city, almost as big as Thebes (modern Luxor), and Thoth taught its citizens well. In 200 CE, it had seven-story buildings, but most of them are gone today, after being destroyed so their stones could be re-used.

Dec 21, 2019

Coffin Texts of Thoth

A number of scribes and government workers were buried at Deir el-Bersheh, near Hermopolis. They took Thoth's holy writing with them to their graves in the form of beautiful coffins inscribed with magical texts and hymns. These "Coffin Texts" are the older versions of the more famous "Book of the Dead." A Belgian team is currently studying these tombs. Their reports and their dig website must make the god pretty happy.

Dec 20, 2019

King of Egypt

A mysterious Second Intermediate Period pharaoh named himself Djehuty, the ancient Egyptian form of the Greek god-name Thoth. Very little is known about Pharaoh Djehuty, except his important name, and the name of his wife, Queen Montuhotep. Perhaps we should ask the king's namesake for more information?

Dec 20, 2019

Taking Seth's Place

Before the New Kingdom (starting in Dynasty 17), images of pharaohs being blessed by Horus the Younger and Seth, together as the lords of the Two Lands, were very common. After the Second Intermediate Period, Seth started disappearing from official images. Since the foreign rulers of that time favored Seth as their personal god, the later Egyptians decided they didn't want to be reminded of that time. Plus, Seth was a murderer. What to do? They replaced Seth on these images with Thoth, and so the blessing scenes continue, but with Thoth in Seth's place.

Dec 20, 2019

Ptah's Tongue

The Memphite Theology, carved on the Shabaka Stone (a giant stone inscribed at the command of the 25th Dynasty pharaoh Shabaka), says that when Ptah created the universe, he did it by using his heart (which is named Horus the Younger), and his tongue (which is named Thoth). By this creation story, Thoth is the guy who created everything by speaking its names. Guess that really does mean that bird is the word?

Dec 20, 2019

Thoth's Emerald Tablets, and Other Prophecies of the Hermetica

Thoth is an important character in the collection of religious and magic texts called Hermetica. In these texts, Thoth (who is called Thoth-Hermes) teaches wisdom and alchemy, and shares prophecies about many things. Most smart Greeks read the Hermetica, because they thought Egypt was cool, and they wanted to be smart like Thoth.

Dec 20, 2019

Blessing a New Library

Thoth's image is sculpted in bronze on the doors of the Library of Congress. Good place for him!

Dec 20, 2019

Conan: The Book of Thoth

The sorcerer-slave from Robert E. Howard's Conan books gets his own comic book series Thoth-Amon. For sure, he belongs in Slytherin.

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