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  • Writer's pictureMike Parker

Egyptian mythology as a metaphorical pre-history of North Africa linking Egypt to Atlantis.

I realise it's heresy at the moment to suggest there is a connection between Egypt and Atlantis, but this would change overnight if the city of Atlantis is found in Northwest Africa, and we discover that predynastic Egyptian history leads to the same place. With a historical Atlantis in the Northwest, the prospect of survivors of the decimated city migrating to the Northeast and integrating into embryonic Egypt becomes a real possibility, and an inevitability when you consider this in the context of North Africa turning to desert during the Holocene, forcing them to make the journey.


The body of evidence is gradually emerging that the Northwest corner of Africa was once a vast Island (or mostly an Island), and that the Eye of the Sahara was once the city of Atlantis. So the time is coming, and I hope I can do my bit to speed things along, where we will be coming to the realisation outlined above. When that happens we need to make the connection to Egypt. So we need Egyptologists, or anyone who can translate or locate translations of inscriptions, to start looking through Egyptian sources, in the temples, tombs and funerary texts to look for references to predynsastic times, and to re-examine them looking for clues that place the ancestors, or some of the ancestors, of the Egyptians in the Northwest of Africa. I've found some clues that seem to do this, as you will see in the article.


When I started writing this article I had intended just to establish the idea that Egyptian mythology is a metaphorical pre-history of Egypt or more broadly of North Africa. But what I found whilst researching the article is so intreaguing I can't keep it to myself.


The Egyptian foundation story

Anyone who has visited Egypt and had the pleasure of being shown around the temples by a guide, will have seen the therianthropic (part animal, part human) depictions of the Egyptian gods and heard the fabulous stories about them. Here is a fun introduction to those stories.

Source: See U in History / Mythology channel, YouTube.


The first gods to rule over men, were the children of Nut and Geb, the sky and earth. They had two boys, Osiris and Set, and two girls Isis and Nephthys. Osiris married his sister Isis and became king of the World, whilst Set married Nephthys and became king of the Desert. Set was jealous of his brother and devised a plan to kill him and take his throne. Set tricked Osiris, getting him to climb inside a box/coffin, which he sealed shut and threw into the river, where Osiris drowned. Isis was distraught. With help from her sister Nephthys, she recovered Osiris's body and hid it. When Set found out he was furious and dismembered the body of Osiris, cutting it into 42 pieces and scattering them across Egypt. Isis recovered the pieces of her husband, stitched them back together again, brought him back as god of the underworld and conceived a child with him, named Horus.


History or Myth?

The Egyptian foundation story is described as mythology. Personally I don't believe a civilisation would go to so much effort to record these stories in temples across Egypt if they were entirely fictional. I see the stories as "semi-historical", stories which started out as history but became distorted for one reason or another.


Obviously the stories should not be taken literally. Modern scientific understanding makes it highly improbable that there were ever supernatural therianthropic gods in Egypt.


The origins of supernatural foundation myths

Egypt is not the only Country with a supernatural foundation myth, and this is probably not a coincidence. There are several possible reasons why supernatural foundation myths are so common:

  1. The stories are true and these civilisations were founded by the gods

  2. The stories evolved through aural tradition.

  3. The stories make use of metaphors to simplify history and make it more interesting.

  4. The stories were corrupted for political purposes.

Firstly, we have to concede that there is a remote possibilitiy that the stories are true and these civilisations were founded by the gods, or even by Ancient Aliens.


A more likely and frequently encountered explanation, is that the stories evolved naturally as uneducated people attempted to describe historical events they didn't understand through aural tradition. Even if the grown ups did understand what they were saying, there is a pretty low chance of them explaining anything complicated to naeve children. The story needs to be simplified and relatable if the children are going to have any chance at remembering it correctly. There is also a desire on the part of the adults to make the story entertaining in order to capture the childrens attention. Metaphors can help to achieve this. Stories about gods with animal heads, a dismembered body being sewn back together and coming back from the dead, are definately a winner on that account.


However, there is another possibility which is generally overlooked, that to my mind is likely to be a significant factor. The ruling family has a motive to wilfully corrupt history through the addition of a supernatural element to help them cling on to power. When kingdoms are founded, the person who becomes king, does so by merit or by force. Either way, they have a strong claim to power and little threat of challenge. The opposite is true for their weak descendants. Adding a supernatural element to their foundation story achieves three things which help the ruling family cling on to power:


Establishing a divine right to rule - Whether by blood or by divine decree, rulers can avoid challenge by associating themselves with the gods. Many Egyptian Temples show the Pharaoh standing with one or more Egyptian god's, as a statement of their divine legitimacy to their rule.


Creates a religion to promote obedience - Belief in gods who punish the bad and reward the good in the afterlife, promotes good behaviour and obedience in society by exploiting people's natural instinct for self preservation.


Mystery and desire for knowledge - Stories about supernatural origins, combined with restricted access to the inner sanctums of temples where you can read them, creates a mystery which incentivises participation in order to find out more. That might be attending religious festivals, making an offering or donation, or even joining the priesthood.


A supernatural foundation myth not only benefits the ruling family, it helps to unite society, makes everyone feel like they are part of something special and gives them them something to fight for. A complicated history based purely on historical facts, loses its romance and struggles to achieve this, as we are beginning to discover in the secular and largely agnostic 21st century West. If you can weave the complexities of real history into a simpler story about a family of supernatural gods, it becomes far more memorable and will be more widely understood. In societies where the majority of the population are uneducated, this is even more important.


Certainly the Egyptian civilisation withstood the tests of time. This can be partly explained by its geography and the life bringing Nile, but no doubt a significant factor in Egypt's longevity is the strength of its foundation myth.


Interpreting the metaphor.

Two metaphors which would help to extract the history from Egyptian mythology would be as follows:


Gods - Rather than gods who ruled for thousands of years, this could be a metaphor for kingdoms with dynasties which ruled for thousands of years.


Animals - Rather than gods with animal heads, the animal may represent the character of each kingdom or of its most enigmatic king.


We can now making these substitutions in Egyptian mythology.


The kingdoms of Osiris and Set

Osiris was god of the fertile lands in Egypt, whilst Set was god of the desert.

  • Kingdom of Osiris - As the firstborn, Osiris became king of Egypt or "Lord of the Earth". We think of Egypt as being constrained to the Nile, but in predynastic times when North Africa was green, the kingdom could have extended across North Africa.

  • Kingdom of Set - Set was associated with lands outside of Egypt, as "Lord of the desert" and at some point as "Ruler of the South".

We know that much of North Africa was green and fertile during the early part of the Holocene. The desert, which we can see from wind erosion has existed for millions of years in the Sahara, will have grassed over in places and formed a layer of soil on top of the sand. With vast areas of savannah, mega lakes and rivers, this would have formed the perfect environment for early civilisations to form.


The death of Osiris

Osiris was murdered by Set, after the jealous Set tricked him to climb inside a box, trapping him inside before carrying the box to the river, throwing it in and drowning him.

  • Shaken in the box - Osiris being shaken inside the box as it was carried to the river could represent the kingdom of Osiris being shaken by earthquakes.

  • Drowning - Osiris being thrown into the river and drowning could represent the kingdom of Osiris being drowned by floods.

We know there was a great deal of flooding as sea levels rose quickly at the end of the Ice Age, and the land was slow to make isostatic adjustments after the redistribution of water around the globe.


Seth dismembers Osiris

Set then dismembers the body of Osiris into 14 or 42 pieces.

  • Set represents the desert (Hill), so the dismemberment of Osiris could represent the kingdom of Osiris being broken up by encroachment of the desert.

  • Set could also represent desert nomads who may have attacked the kingdom of Osiris in its moment of weakness.

North Africa has been subjected to vast climate change during the holocene, going from desert to savannah and back to desert once more.


Isis pieces her husband back together and conceives Horus

With help from Nepthys, Isis finds the pieces of her husband, and sews them back together. After bringing him back to life for a short time, she conceives Horus.

  • Isis is associated with fertility as the mother of Horus. Her cult began in the Nile Delta and she is the goddess of inundation which brings life to the Nile.

  • The piecing together of her dead husband, could represent the survivors of the Kingdom of Osiris, who after the floods and subsequent desertification, were pushed towards the coast and westward towards the Nile. Into Isis's realm where they would be reunited.

  • As the survivors from the kingdom of Osiris, integrate with those in Isis's home realm in the fertile Nile Delta, they give birth to a new civilisation, the kingdom of Horus.

The desertification of North Africa is surely the historical event which gave rise to the Egyptian civilisation, by bringing so many people with diverse knowledge together in a fertile area where they could flourish into a great civilisation.


Osiris becomes king of the underworld

However Osiris cannot stay in the world of the living, and retires to the world of the dead, becoming god of the underworld.

  • Osiris is sometimes referred to as "the foremost of the westerners".

  • In Egypt the western side of the Nile is associated with death, for instance in Luxor it is the location of the Valley of the Kings.

  • The "underworld" to the Egyptians, and to the Greeks who embraced their culture during the Ptolemaic period, was in the west.

After floods and desertification in the West, from the perspective of the survivors in Egypt, the West would become associated with the dead. Their world had been shattered, and whilst survivors from all parts of the kingdom of Osiris may have reunited in the land of Isis in the Nile delta, their kingdom had changed and the idea of reforming the kingdom of Osiris was laid to rest.


Caricatures of the gods

If you were setting out to write a childrens book, or a cartoon to tell the story of Egyptian history to the next generation, you couldn't do much better than the caricatures the Egyptians used for their gods. With the exception of Osiris, they all take animal forms which are representative of their character or story.


Osiris - A man with green skin - The green putrified skin of Osiris is clearly representative of his fate, drowning in the river after Set tricked him to climb into a box, nailed it shut and threw him into the river. So the story goes.


Set - A dog like creature - Or possibly an ardvark. It is not clear exactly what animal Set is supposed to be with his long and cuved snout. The determinative heiroglyph for Set looks a bit like a dog sitting upright, but has a forked or flared tail. It may be that his enigmatic animal form was chosen to represent the unpredictability and chaos associated with him.


Isis and Nephthys - A kite - Both can be depicted as a woman, a kite or a woman with wings. The bird's ability to soar over the landscape to find their pray, my represent both women's involvement in searching for and finding the body and later the parts of Osiris, and their screeching is associated with women in mourning. There is also an association with motherhood, with kites hunting to provide for their young. Their wide wingspan may represent a wide embrace, having compassion for their people and providing shelter and protection for the vulnerable.


Horus - A falcon - Horus was revered as the greatest leader in predynastic Egypt, defeating Set, uniting Egypt and bringing stability. The falcon has acute eyesight, which may represent him being watchful over his kingdom. The falcon is also the fastest bird of prey with a strong and sharp beak, which may represent him responding swiftly with lethal force against anyone threatening his kingdom. The falcon's deadly accuracy also makes them a great provider for their chicks, as with his mother Isis, this may represent him being a great provider for the people of Egypt.


Anubis - A dog - The depiction of Anubis as a dog or jackal is often attributed to jackals being found on the edge of the desert scavanging for food and digging up the dead in cemeteries, but that doesn't seem right to me at all. This interpretation may have arisen because Muslims view dogs as unclean (possibly because of fleas and plague) and Egyptians in general treat them terribly. But Ancient Egypt was lush and green, so wild dogs didn't need to scavange. As my favourite film Alpha portrays, wolves, which became domesticated dogs and man's best friend have been faithfully defending us and helping us hunt since the ice age. Dogs are seen in plenty of scenes in temples and tombs. Anubis was the god of lost souls and the helpless. He guarded the dead and lead them into the afterlife. So the depiction of Anubis as a dog is more likley representing a faithful defender and friend of man.


The depictions of the gods make perfect sense if you stop viewing them litterally and view them instead as figurative depictions making each distinct and recognisable in the scenes of temples and tombs.


Looking for supporting evidence in the Heiroglyphs

Egyptian Heiroglyphs are tantilising. The pre-history of the world is staring us in the face, and yet hardly anyone can read them and translations are hard to find, if they exist. We can walk around the temples, or stare at statues and stelae, but we only come away with a high level overview of what they really mean, and that is with a good guide.


Funerary texts

Egyptian funerary texts, although primarily concerned with the passage of the deceased into the afterlife, turn out to be a useful source for snippets of information about Egyptian pre-history. These texts include the Pyramid texts, Coffin texts and the Book of the Dead.


The drowning of the kingdom of Osiris seems to be described as a historical event in spell 353 of the Coffin texts, where it describes Seth controlling floods in the "Eye of Osiris" on the night of the great storm.

"Spell for having power over water. The doors of the Great One are opened for Osiris, the doors of the firmament are thrown open for Thoth. Nile-god, the Great One of the sky in this your name of…, grant that may have power over water just as Seth had power over the water in the eye(?) of Osiris on that night of the great storm..." R. O. Faulkner, The Ancient Egyptian Coffin Texts Volume I, Spell 353 (Internet Archive)

The Temple of Edfu

According to Graham Hancock inscriptions at the Temple of Edfu tell the story of the ancestors of the ancient Egyptians, who settled in Egypt after their island was destroyed in a flood. Hancock describes the temple as the Temple of Horus, and speaks of a sect of Egyptians known as "the followers of Horus". Hancock explains this narrative in one of his lectures, available on YouTube, starting at 25:40.

Source: Graham Hancock, YouTube.


The Temple of Dendera

A scenes in Dendera shows 14 people arriving on a boat. The scenes in this section are said to describe the orbital period or phases of the moon, with it taking approximately 14 days to transition from a new moon (totally black) to a full moon. This may well be the case, but could it also be metaphorically related to Isis piecing together the 14 parts of Osiris? Others think so. Could this represent the 14 parts of the kingdom of Osiris migrating to Egypt? There is also a tiny little person, depicted like a baby, in the centre of the Eye of Horus. So is the full moon in this scene representing the dawn of a bright new era for Egypt, welcoming the survivors from the kingdom of Osiris and the birth of Horus?

Source: Swanbazaar


Gods as traditional rulers of particular areas

We previously learnt that Osiris was the traditional ruler of all the fertile land in pre-dynastic Egypt, which we decided in that period could extend across North Africa. His title as "the foremost of the westerners" suggests a power base in the west. Isis on the otherhand seems to be associated with east, in the Nile delta. Set is associated with the desert, presumably whatever parts of the Sahara and western desert existed then. Nephthys we don't know, but given the association of the Nile with fertility, and Isis being associated with the North, I would guess that Nephthys would be associated with the southern part of the Nile.


This scene, from a statue of Senusret I in the Cairo Museum, shows Set and Horus making a union between Upper and Lower Egypt, by tying the Lotus flower and Papyrus around the symbol of Union. Set is standing by and holding the Lotus flower, the symbol of Upper Egypt, in the South around Luxor, so could be interpreted as an ancient ruler of a southern kingdom. Whilst Horus is standing by and holding the Papyrus flower, the symbol of Lower Egypt in the North around Giza and the Nile Delta, so could be interpreted as an ancient ruler of a northern kingdom. The scene is analysed in a post by Lansberry. Presumably with this scene on his statue Senusret is staking his claim to rule both areas.

Source: Facebook post by the Egyptian Museum of JE 31139.


A curious stele at the Leiden Museum shows Anubis and the Eye of Horus included in a passage with Lotus flowers and Papyrus. Anubis was the son of Set and Nephthys, and the cousin of Horus (Hill). Similarly to above, could this be a reference to an agreement or union between Anubis and Horus to bring peace between Upper and Lower Egypt? The symbol of union (according to Lansberry) appears a few times in the text of the full stele.

Source: Licensed image ©123rf.com/nrotteveel 148928727. Photograph of AP12 at the Leiden Museum.


As I said at the start of this section, Egyptian heiroglyps are tantilising. If you know a few things, then you catch a glimpse of possible meaning, and you're left wondering and unable to find a translation or to translate it yourself.


Discussion

There does seem to be a tradional association between particular gods and particular areas of North Africa, supporting the idea of these gods being ancient rulers or ruling dynasties in these areas.


Osiris seems to be associated with West Africa. In the Coffin texts, Osiris is described as being "the foremost of the westerners" (spell 149) and as the "bull of the west" (spell 36). So a predynastic kingdom of Osiris would most likley have its seat of power in the West. Another describes the flooding of the "Eye of Osiris" during a storm (spell 353). Looking to extract history from myth, this seems to describe a geographical feature within the kingdom of Osiris which resembles an eye, and was destroyed by flooding during a tremendous storm. The "Eye of the Sahara" is a feature in West Africa that closely resembles an eye, and can be seen from satellite imagery to have been flooded in the ancient past (we will discuss this in a future article). Was this the seat of power of a predynastic kingdom of Osiris?

Source: Apple Maps.


Remarkably there is another story which suggests this was the seat of power of a predynastic kingdom known by a different name. This kingdom was even described by an Egyptian priest, although its name was translated into Greek. This kingdom is Atlantis, described in Plato's dialogues. Like the stories about Osiris, the story about Atlantis has been relegated to myth. Here we have two myths which seem to be leading us to the same location.


There are further overlaps between Egyptian mythology and Atlantis. Inscriptions at Edfu, according to Graham Hancock, describe the ancestors of the Egyptians arriving in Egypt after the island they came from was destroyed by flooding. Inscriptions at Dendera seem to show the 14 parts of the kingdom of Osiris arriving in Egypt by boat, in a metaphor describing the assent from a new to full moon. Could it be that the history of predynastic egypt and North Africa is not really lost at all, its just that we have been unable to interpret it correctly? Maybe Egyptologists and historians are just too shy to attempt to extract history from stories about gods with animal heads.


Conclusion

In writing this article I set out to test the idea that Egyptian mythology represents a pre-history of North Africa. I had a suspicion it would. With Egypt in the East, and Atlantis seemingly in the West several thousand years earlier according to Plato's dialogues. I suspected there would be hints of Egypts predynastic origins in the West. I was aware of Graham Hancocks lecture about the inscriptions at Edfu. But I had no idea that I would find references in the Coffin texts, which lead to the very location I've been investigating for the past few years as a probable location for the city of Atlantis.


Clearly there is more work to be done before we can confidently link the two, like finding translations for the relevant inscriptions in Edfu and Dendera and examining them through the lens of looking for history shrouded in myth. From Egypt we need to look West, by trawling through inscriptions looking for further evidence of a western connection in predynastic times. At the same time we need to show that there were settlements in the West where the settlers who moved to Egypt could have come from. Once the Eye of the Sahara has been identified as the city of Atlantis, which I'm 99% certain it will be, there will be a strong case to make the connection. Once that happens we can begin piecing together the predynastic history of Egypt and the whole of North Africa, and reassess the impact on World history. I hope it happens in my life time.

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