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Striking Cobra Spitting Fire
Archiv für Religionsgeschichte, Volume: 14, Issue: 1
Swansea University Author: Kasia Szpakowska
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The Ancient Egyptians invented and employed a variety of devices to harness the power of gods and of benevolent demons, and to combat the ever-present hostile demonic forces. In this paper, a working definition and examples of “demonic paraphernalia” are provided, as well as methods of recognition....
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The Ancient Egyptians invented and employed a variety of devices to harness the power of gods and of benevolent demons, and to combat the ever-present hostile demonic forces. In this paper, a working definition and examples of “demonic paraphernalia” are provided, as well as methods of recognition. Besides being of interest in themselves, these types of objects provide clues as to the nature of the demons, thus helping us in our quest for a taxonomy and “demonology” of Ancient Egypt. More specifically, this paper focuses on the use of Late Bronze Age clay cobra figurines as a case-study for the broader exploration of Ancient Egyptian “demonic paraphernalia”. Found primarily in settlement and military sites in middle to Lower Egypt, and along the Mediterranean Coast, one of the roles of these figurines was to ward away threatening demons. These “uraei” and their associated rituals were an important part of the religious practices and self-identity of the Egyptians— important enough for them to take their cult with them on the road even as far north as Lebanon. Un-inscribed, broken, and often crudely made, these humble artifacts nevertheless provide insights into the practical impact of demons on the everyday life of Egyptians. The investigation of this corpus weaves together related textual and representational evidence, as well as archaeological context. It illuminates the role of the fire-spitting serpent as a weapon of mass destruction in the constant battle against demonic agents of chaos.
snake, Demonology, magic, Figurines, archaeology, cobra, fire, goddess, Levant, Israel, Lebanon, Ancient Egypt, Egyptology
Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences