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Inventory number

Cat.1993

  • Document
  • Writing Recto
  • Writing Verso

General description

The Tale of Isis and the Name of Re


Papyrus Cat. 1993 is a well-preserved manuscript written in the hieratic script containing several protection spells against snakes and scorpions. It is well-known for bearing in the recto a copy of the so-called “Tale of Isis and the Name of Re”. The goddess Isis desires to know the secret name of the sun-god Re. In order to find out his name, she comes up with the following idea. According to the text, Isis forms a clay snake with the spittle dribbled out of the mouth of the ageing sun-god Re. Subsequently, the snake bites the god and poisoned him. The only one capable of healing the god would be Isis herself. The goddess will do so as long as Re reveals his secret name to her. The sun-god does this on condition that she will not reveal the secret to anyone except her son Horus. In this way, “the poison dies” and the sun-god Re is alive again, as will be every person bitten by a scorpion to whom that magical spell is recited to.


This story, along with many others, played an important part in ancient Egyptian conceptions of magical-medical healing and welfare. Considering the cyclical nature of time, if something happened in the past the same is expected to happen again. Therefore, a prior event at the time of the myth – such as the Tale of Isis and Re – represented a key to men’s healing. By identifying the patient with the sick deity, the physician could be associated with the divine healer and recreate the healing power of the magic words for the patient.

Epoch

New Kingdom (1539-1077 BC)

Dynasty

Dynasty 20 (1190-1077 BC)

Pharaoh

---

Provenance

Thebes/Deir el-Medina (?)

Acquisition: Drovetti, Bernardino

Acquisition Date: 1824

Joining object(s) (log into TPOP)

Image(s)

Image

  • Text 1

Script

hieratic

Text type

Magical

Keywords

serpents, poison, scorpions

Epoch

New Kingdom (1539-1077 BC)

Dynasty

Dynasty 20 (1190-1077 BC)

Pharaoh

---

Drawing

Yes

Drawing description

in col. 4: three seated deities: the first wearing the double crown and divine beard; the second is falcon headed with the double crown; the third is Isis; the fourth is standing, having a falcon head, wearing the double crown, and holding a sceptre.

Bibliographical reference

Roccati, Magica Taurinensia, pp. 16–17, 67–72, 125–148, 165–167 (OEB166366).

Image

  • Text 1

Script

hieratic

Text type

Magical

Keywords

serpents, scorpions, poison

Epoch

New Kingdom (1539-1077 BC)

Dynasty

Dynasty 20 (1190-1077 BC)

Pharaoh

---

Drawing

No

Drawing description

---

Bibliographical reference

Roccati, Magica Taurinensia, pp. 16–17, 73–79, 149–157, 168–170 (OEB166366).

Museo Egizio