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Predynastic Egypt: 33 thousand years of hidden history

The pre-dynastic period of Egypt refers to the phase preceding the formation of the unitary Egyptian state. The phase begins in the ancient Neolithic and reaches around 3060 BC; the country is divided into the two kingdoms of Lower Egypt and Upper Egypt.

Predynastic Egypt: 33 thousand years of hidden history
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The Predynastic was preceded by the Badarian Neolithic (4400 BC – 3900 BC) and by other Nilotic cultures including the Nabta Playa culture, the Tasian culture, the Faiyum culture and the Merimde culture.

The capitals are believed to have been Pe, in the Nile Delta (Lower Egypt) and Nekhen, near Edfu, (Upper Egypt).

Little is known about the rulers of this period; the Palermo Stone reports, albeit very fragmentarily, the names of seven sovereigns of Lower Egypt without however citing any facts connected to them.

Ka-Hor had what is now known as the "Palermo Stone": a slab of diorite of which a fragment remains preserved in the Palermo museum. There he has engraved the names of his ancestors, who carved out a dominion around the current Abydos, the names of their mothers (because in the predynastic era power was handed down matriarchally) and the level reached year by year by the floods of the Nile, in order to be able to affirm that the god Nile listens to his prayers and sends ever more fertile harvests. Among these ancestors, after an unnamed king, we read the names of Ny-Hor, Hat-Hor, Pe-Hor, Hedj-Hor and his father Iry-Hor (the so-called "zero dynasty", the last phase of the Predynastic); Hat-Hor would later become the goddess Hathor in the Egyptian Pantheon. Ka-Hor will also remain an indelible memory in Egyptian mythology, because after him "Ka" will become synonymous in Egypt with the vital principle itself, that is, with the soul of man, as he had proclaimed that he possessed "immortal life".

Manetho (priest of Heliopolis of the third century BC) begins his mythological predynastic history of Egypt in 30544 BC, with the dynasty of the gods, which lasts a total of 13,900 years, and of which Osiris is the fifth ruler. Interestingly, Jupiter is also the fifth Olympian lord. Followed by the dynasty of demigods, which lasted 1255 years. A first line of human kings follows, reigning for 1817 years. Thirty other kings, reigning for a total of 1790 years. Then ten other kings reign over Thebes alone for 350 years. Finally, for 5813 years, we have the last predynastic period, that of the "Spirits of the deceased" (or "Spirits of death") which the Turin Papyrus calls "Spirits who were followers of Horus" or "The followers of Horus".

From Upper Egypt we know two names of kings: the first is usually identified with Ka while the second is indicated with the hieroglyph indicating the scorpion. According to some scholars, however, the reading of the name Ka is incorrect and some believe they must identify the two sovereigns in a single person.

The Scorpion King is the first Egyptian ruler about whom some historical facts are known, thanks to the discovery of some fragments of a limestone mace decorated with scenes from his life. He probably tried, and perhaps he was not the first, to conquer Lower Egypt. It is commonly believed that the feat was achieved by his successor Narmer, whose famous slate make-up tablet is engraved with scenes showing the sovereign wearing the two crowns of Lower and Upper Egypt. However, some scholars believe that Narmer and the Scorpion King are the same character. The Scorpion king belongs to the recent predynastic period also called the zero dynasty.

Under him Pharaonic Egypt takes shape.

The Flood: The lineage of the Gods

The Scorpion King, however, is not satisfied with this undertaking: after having actually founded the unitary Egyptian empire, he claims to have dreamed of his father Ka-Hor, guardian of Life in the Underworld, depicted as a white dove perched under a large hand of black stone, the Hand of Destiny that guides every human action. Ka-Hor would have commanded him to set out to conquer the world and unify all the people under the government of his mace. Thus, after leaving the Grand Vizier Sehen to govern the kingdom, in 3163 BC with a large army made up of young people who idolized him and were faithful to him until his death, he crossed the borders of Sinai and conquered Palestine and Syria. Having arrived on the Euphrates, he allies himself with the Semitic ancestors of the Akkadians and with their king Humbaba, of colossal build; with them he invades Mesopotamia defeating the nascent Sumerian cities.

The Palermo's stone
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The Palermo's stone

This will provoke among the Sumerians the memory of a hostile power coming from the West, and Humbaba will be remembered as the guardian monster of the mountains of Syria and the cedars of Lebanon. Skr-Hor and Humbaba razed to the ground the most eminent of the Sumerian cities, Shuruppak, which offered them strenuous resistance, despite the wise Ut-Napishtim advising them to come to terms with the kings of the West to save the city. Accused of treason, Ut-Napishtim is imprisoned with his entire family, but the Scorpion King frees him and orders that he is the only one to be spared from the general massacre of the city, which will result in 10,000 deaths. The wise man, who claims to have listened to the prophecies sent to him by Ea, god of the air, but who is simply gifted with great political pragmatism, becomes the king's court astrologer, and is simply called Ut by the Egyptians; his story generates the legend of the only man saved from the destruction of Shuruppak, and later of the only survivor of the Great Flood (traces of this remain in the Poem of Gilgamesh).

The story of the universal flood is present in the Egyptian tradition as much as in that of any other civilization; and this knowledge cannot therefore be refuted simply by the fact that Egypt was not hit by this catastrophe. Returning to the previous passage of Plato's Timaeus, it is in fact appropriate to report the last fragment:

“Then therefore the inhabitants of the mountains and of the high and arid places die more than those who dwell near the rivers and the sea. And the Nile, as it is our savior in other things, so by spreading it saves us from this calamity. But when the gods, purifying the earth with waters, flood it, the peasants and shepherds who live in the mountains are saved, but the inhabitants of your cities are carried by the rivers into the sea. Now in this region neither then nor ever does water flow from the hills onto the fields, but on the contrary it usually flows from the earth. So therefore for these reasons it is said that the most ancient memories have been preserved here, but in truth in all places, where neither immoderate cold nor heat impedes it, there is always more and less of the human race.”

The priests of Sais are perfectly aware of what happened in other regions, and particularly in Greece; they know the tale of Deucalion and Pyrrha, but maintain that it belongs to a relatively recent era in history.

This flood, according to the registers and annals preserved in the temples of the sacred cities, did not seriously involve that land: Egypt was saved not only by the Nile (like a divinity, perhaps the most important of all in practical life and daily life of those populations), which directs it with regular alternation of high and low levels, but also and above all by the particular and favorable geographical position of the territory ("where neither the immoderate cold nor the heat prevents it").

For this reason, Egypt represents the true cradle of civilization, given that its history is actually much - much - older than one can imagine ("the oldest memories are preserved here"). But then, how much older? How much older were the Egyptians compared to the Greek children and all other races?

A priest of Heliopolis from the 3rd century BC, Manetho, wrote an exhaustive and in-depth history of Egypt which unfortunately has not reached us in complete form, despite having continued to circulate until the 9th (ninth) century AD: in fact some of the papyri of which it was constituted were used in later times by Jewish and Christian authors and chroniclers. An Armenian version of Eusebius of Caesarea's Chronica informs us that he drew from Manetho's History of Egypt, which consisted of three books and dealt with "the gods, demigods, spirits of the dead, and the mortal kings who ruled the Egypt". Eusebius cites the so-called "ennead" of Heliopolis, the lineage of the first nine Gods who governed Egypt in the "Zep Tepi" (the fabulous First Age, similar in every way to the Golden Age of other traditions):

According to Manetho, the Gods maintained sovereign power, transmitting it to each other, for 13,900 years;

  • then the Demigods reigned for 1,255 years;
  • subsequently further lineages of kings alternated, respectively for:- 1,817,- 1,790,- 350 years;
  • then there was the reign of the spirits of the dead for 5,813 years;
  • only at the end of this last period does the dynastic lineage begin (Menes, pharaoh of the 1st dynasty and unifier of the two kingdoms of Upper and Lower Egypt, in 3,100 BC).

Therefore, according to this apparently crazy chronology, starting from the commonly accepted deadline (except for inevitable divergences) of 3,100 BC, as the real beginning not only of the history of Egypt but of the entire human civilization, we would go back to the following dates:

  • 8,913 BC (end of the era of the ten kings and beginning of the reign of the spirits of the dead);
  • 9,263 BC (end of the era of the thirty kings and beginning of the reign of the ten kings);
  • 11,053 BC (end of the era of the first non-divine kings and beginning of the reign of the thirty kings);
  • 12,870 BC (end of the reign of the Demigods and beginning of the reign of the first non-divine kings);
  • 14,125 BC (end of the kingdom of the Gods and beginning of the kingdom of the Demigods);
  • 28,025 BC (Zep Tepi and beginning of the kingdom of the Gods).

The sum of the transition dates previously cited by Manetho's story gives a total of 24,925 years of Egyptian "prehistory":

13,900 + 1,255 + 1,817 + 1,790 +350 + 5,813 = 28,025 – 3,100 = 24,925

At the beginning of the Old Kingdom there were numerous creation myths involving the sun, and as several religious centers had developed in as many cities, the priestly castes of these centers sought to increase their power and status by developing their respective theologies to place their god as creator of the world.

All these numerous traditions are not at all too dissimilar from each other, differing more than anything in certain details and in the composition of the pantheon venerated by them. What actually happens on a large scale among the cultures of all the ancient and modern populations of the entire world is somewhat on a small scale.

Predynastic Egypt: 33 thousand years of hidden history
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As regards the analysis of the mythology present in Egypt, in any case we cannot fail to have as the main point of reference the theology at the time professed by the priests of the city of Heliopolis.

Common tradition speaks of a beginning, a time when no land existed in Egypt and all was darkness; this darkness was a limitless formless ocean, a black and apparently inert primordial soup called Nun. From this enormous expanse of water emerged the sun god (Atum/Ra) manifesting himself as a large shining egg.

However, the version that Ra is a late name, or perhaps even the figure of a later god, although equally identified with the sun, seems more reliable. In any case it is associated with the figure of Atum, perhaps more legitimately as one of his manifestations:

"I am Khepera at dawn, Ra at noon, Tem at evening"

on his journey across the celestial vault (note the analogy with the our conception of the Trinity, of God One and Triune).

This god was extremely powerful, he could take on any type of form and had the gift of creating all things just by naming them: he baptized Shu and there were the winds, Tefnut and the rain fell, Geb and the earth was born, Nut and the arch of the sky, Hapi and the great Nile river began to flow which brought the richness of its fruits. The progenitor named all the things of nature and they grew; until he called humanity and Egypt was populated (remember our: “God said….and…..was”).

By analyzing the myth of creation more deeply, we come across two fundamental elements of the history of Ancient Egypt. The first, as already announced, is Heliopolis (the toponym is the Greek one, but the original Egyptian term is Innw, from which the more modern one of On derives).

Heliopolis was the largest and most ancient religious center in Egypt, whose priestly caste was in possession of all human knowledge, managing to order the numerous myths and also collecting everything in esoteric texts and annals.

The second is represented by the so-called Pyramid Texts, found two centuries ago inside the pyramids of Saqqara (in particular that of Pharaoh Unas of the 5th dynasty). According to this 'text' Atum emerged from Nun as a primordial hill, the first land to appear in the midst of all that nothingness (therefore, a real island); and the priests identified it with the place where their temple stood, as formula 600 of the Pyramid Texts states:

“O Atum! When you came into existence you emerged as a High Hill, you sparkled like the Benben Stone in the Temple of the Phoenix in Heliopolis.”

The Benben stone was the manifested primordial hill. Some say that it was the support of the sun god and that the original stone was preserved in the Hewet-Benben, the Temple of Benben in Heliopolis.

Its summit was believed to be the point struck by the first rays of the sun as it rose, and must have served as an archetype for similar stones believed to have once been placed on the tops of obelisks and pyramids. (Did the habit of creating sites and monuments arise from this particularity in which the sun, at the rising of particular days of the year, equinoxes or solstices, manifests itself in a particular way or causes spectacular effects?)

But the Temple of Benben is often also called the Temple of the Phoenix, or better yet the 'Temple of Bennu': the word Benben derives from the ancient term weben (= 'arise in splendor'), which would lead more or less directly to image of the Phoenix, the mythological bird that is reborn from its ashes.

The Greek myth of the Phoenix was introduced by the historian Herodotus, and tells of an eagle-like bird that every 500 years transports its deceased parent, enclosed in a myrrh egg, from Arabia to Egypt and burns it in the temple of Sun.

However, Herodotus had also stayed in Egypt for a long time, and from dialogues with the priests of Heliopolis he had learned of the myth of the Phoenix, which they called Bennu (unlike the Greek counterpart, identified with a bird similar to an eagle, the Bennu in the Pyramid Texts is depicted as a kind of yellow wagtail and also associated with Atum/Ra): this bird had landed on the Benben to send the message with its song that the age of the gods had begun; he is also reported in the Book of the Dead as a gray heron, symbol of both Ra and Osiris and also appears in funerary rites to ensure that the dead would be reborn in the underworld.

The logical connection deriving from the comparison between the terms Benben and Bennu (the pyramid and the creature) is immediate: both refer to the Semitic root bn (indicating the concept of 'generation') and to its repeated form bnbn or bnn ('to flow', 'flow', but also 'seed');

and the reference to an immortal mental iconography is also evident: the sexual symbolism of the phallus (the column with the Benben, 'Bennu bird'). Atum, on the other hand, had generated himself in nothingness, and always alone, as the Pyramid Texts reveal, he had generated the deities Shu and Tefnut.

Nor should we ignore the possibility that there is a real connection between the Benben stone and the Syrian Baetylos or the black stone venerated in Islam, and therefore - to put it simply - a particular relationship with 'strange signs' and omens rained from the sky.

Now, to conclude this section and give a more direct summary picture, let's see the phases of creation in the myth and in the possible historical evolution of nature:

Approximately 28,025 BC, Zep Tepi and the beginning of the kingdom of the Gods.

Herodotus (Histories, Book II) learns that the Egyptian First Time was a very remote era, and that from there to his days the sun would have moved four times:

"in this period of time the sun deviated four times from its usual course: twice it would have emerged from where it now sets; and where it now rises, there it would twice set."

The poles have reconstituted the ice caps, the sea level drops dramatically, the first lands 'emerge' (first in the form of simple islands), the climate is no longer unsustainably hot, cloud breaks increase, daylight filters in, we see the celestial vault again with its Gods/planets.

In the middle of a world ocean (Nun, primordial water) an island rises: this island is associated with a strange chain of symbols: a bird, which then becomes a seed, and then a stone, a column, a pyramid. It is an island born from nothing (it generated itself), and being identified in the sun god Atum, it marks a clear transition between a condition of darkness and immobility (the impossibility of observing the hidden sky and the motion of the planets and that apparent of the fixed stars) and the light, the 'splendour': Atum will generate Shu (god of air and wind) and Tefnut (goddess of rain and humidity, presumably identified with the serpent uraeus or with the iris):

Shu, as air and wind, helps the 'Ship of the Day' of Atum/Ra on its journey from Khepera (sunrise) to Tem (sunset); Tefnut is most often described as a lion-headed woman and she may also be associated with the goddess Sekhmet, who appears in other traditions as the executor of Atum's will to exterminate humanity.

Shu and Tefnut ('sons of the sun god' or 'eyes of the lord of all', first divine couple) generate Geb and Nut, the earth and the sky (this is the only tradition of an earth 'god' and a ' sky goddess). When Geb smiles he triggers earthquakes and all the gifts that can be eaten bloom on his body (volcanic eruptions provide the earth with the heat and vital nutrients necessary as the foundations of the future habitat for life). The god is depicted lying on his side and resting on his firm elbow. Nut, on the other hand, is her sister bride who stands arched above him, with her body decorated with stars. She swallows Atum / Ra (Tem) and the 'Night Ship' travels through her body during the night hours. She at dawn brings him back to life in the form of Khepera. This regenerative power of Nut, through the path of death – burial – rebirth, is found in the concept of sarcophagi (the goddess who welcomes the deceased with open arms).

At this point Atum was incarnated as a man, he ruled for millennia and millennia, he became an old sun weakened in his powers: due to his necessary mortality, he is no longer venerated by men who now mock him. Atum then becomes furious and calls together his children and their children (the other gods) together with Nun himself and warns them that he is meditating revenge on humanity (a Council of the Gods completely similar to the one present in the Odyssey). The conclusion is reached to strike men with a scourge and the goddess Sekhmet/Tefnut will be the material executor of the plan: this goddess, with a lion's head and ravenous instincts, goes to Egypt in search of men to devour and blood to feed himself, and commits a massacre. When he then realizes what is happening and that the goddess is now uncontrollable, Atum takes pity, gathers the Gods together again and it is thus decided to spare the surviving humanity. Very fast messengers were called to go, at night and in great secrecy, to Elephantine Island to collect a large quantity of red ocher. This is brought to Heliopolis and then added and mixed with the seventy thousand jars of beer that the goddesses had prepared during the day.

The messengers spread the red beer (very similar to blood) all over the earth, flooding it. When she wakes up, Sekhmet sees all that blood and begins to drink... to drink... to drink... and once she has finished drinking she has nothing left to devour, and in any case she is now full.

Then, she returns to Ra and the priests who venerate her for a long time gather once a year to drink red beer in his honor, with the hope of occasionally calming her bloodlust.

Around 14,125 BC, the beginning of the reign of the Demigods (the second part of the Ennead)

At the end of the flood (always seen as a remedy for a fault - human or divine - and a renewing element), a "new" humanity is generated, governed by the Demigods, the four children of Geb and Nut: Osiris, Isis, Seth and Nepthys. Osiris and Isis are brother and sister, as well as a divine couple, and reign over Egypt, bringing civilization and restoring (through their law) order to the earth. Osiris, in particular, is the first anthropomorphic king and at the same time is considered the god of death and resurrection.

According to Plutarch's account, he had brought the gifts of civilization to the people of Egypt, teaching them all kinds of useful practices, abolishing cannibalism and human sacrifice, and endowing them with the first code of laws (Maat). Then, having completed his task, he set off on a journey around the world to bring these gifts to other civilizations as well.

The myth states that:

During his absence his brother Seth plotted against him. Upon Osiris' return, Seth and the seventy-two phantom conspirators of his court invited him to a banquet where they raffled off a magnificent chest of wood and gold to the one who could lie comfortably inside it. The guests were unable to enter, while Osiris entered perfectly and had no time to get out before the conspirators locked him up by nailing the lid and sealing it with molten lead. His body was thrown into the Nile, but it did not sink into the river and floated, carried by the current, to the sea.

(remember the story of Moses? Other stories handed down over time also describe such an event, a person in a "container" transported by the waters).

Isis, with the help of the jackals, set out to hunt for her brother, and found him near the coast of Byblos. The chest got stuck between the branches of a tamarisk, which began to grow rapidly, enlarging itself and incorporating Osiris into the heart of its trunk. The king of Byblos decided to cut down the tree and create a ridge beam for his palace from the part of the trunk containing the chest. Isis then removed the body of her brother consort and took him back to Egypt to undergo the rebirth process.

According to another version, which may also deal with a later episode, Osiris was stabbed to death by Seth and cut into fourteen pieces which were scattered throughout Egypt. Isis, who had not had the possibility of having an heir from her husband, reunited the pieces of her and attended her body together with her sister Nephtys with great lamentations.

Isis, with her magical powers and the help of her sister, brought about a regeneration process (through mummification), which was sufficient for both spouses to give life to their son. There was sexual coupling and Horus was conceived: Isis took the form of a kite (again the Bennu/Phoenix) and lowered herself onto Osiris' phallus to receive his semen. Only then, the soul of Osiris could undertake the astral journey that would take him to the sky as a divinity. Isis, who had taken refuge in the swamps of the Nile Delta to escape the wrath of Seth, gave birth to Horus, who would avenge her father. Having become a powerful prince, Horus challenged Seth to a duel: during the fight Horus lost an eye and Seth his testicles, but the sun god resolved the fight by decreeing the victory of Horus, who was proclaimed the first king in the line of pharaohs.

Approximately 12,870 BC, the beginning of the lineage of the 'sons of Horus' or 'followers of Horus' kings

All the pharaohs of the line are identified with Horus, as living rulers of Egypt: those same rulers who, deceased, will transmigrate into the sky assuming identification with Osiris.

The pattern followed is son (god incarnated as Horus in the pharaoh) – Father (counterpart of the underworld and heaven, soul of the pharaoh) – Son (god incarnated as Horus in the new pharaoh).

The mummification of the deceased, who is waiting to make his journey to heaven, allows the divine to be temporarily kept alive in order to be reincarnated as a new pharaoh. Shemsu Hor ('the followers of Horus') is also an epithet attributed to the priestly caste of Heliopolis. Some historical chronicles indicate that as many as 12,000 priests could be employed at any time in the service of the Benben Temple.

The term 'priests', however, is not appropriate (or is actually misleading and limiting): in reality it is taken for granted that they were nothing more than 'astronomers', so much so that the high priest was called the "Chief of Astronomers".

Approximately 8913 BC, the end of the era of the lineage of the 'sons of Horus' kings and the beginning of the reign of the spirits of the dead

In fact, it is a period of approximately 6,000 years which could coincide with a transition phase between the end of the previous age and the evolution of the current one. The period of darkness, of the underworld, of the Universal Flood.

As we have been able to see, the sum of the entire predynastic period is 24,925 thousand years, just under an entire precessional cycle and a little less than what is reported by the Turin Papyrus, whose sum of the predynastic reigns is around 33,000 years. Manetho actually indicated the date of 36,500 BC as the entire duration of Egyptian civilization, from the predynastic cycle to the beginning of the Menes dynasty. This data is significantly decisive in the process of historicization of the predynastic era, since the historical dating of the "First Time" was also deliberately transcribed physically on planet Earth, in the form of monuments, by the planners of Giza. The arrangement of these monuments is not random, as Bauval correctly maintains, and not only with regard to astronomical alignments.

In conclusion, the hypothesis that in remote times there existed a population that witnessed lost eras, of a disappeared and highly evolved civilization, is not at all far-fetched. Let us hypothesize that there lived tens of thousands of years ago, long before the reign of Menes, a civilization composed of beings who guarded the most hidden secrets of knowledge and passed them down by building astonishing monuments using the hermetic codes of science. Is it really so difficult to imagine a remote past as complex as it was historically disruptive?

The answer is certainly in the monuments of Giza.

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