‘Demon Things’ conference 2016 abstract: Amr Gaber

Read More
Screenshot 2015-10-02 11.40.36

Amr Gaber, Swansea University

MnH, ‘the Butcher’: A Benevolent Demon and Lord of Demons

This work is concerned with a demon, i.e. Meneh who is attested in the ancient Egypt since the Middle Kingdom till the Graeco-Roman Period according to the epigraphic and iconographic evidence. Despite his aggressiveness, fierceness and violence, he uses his forces only against enemies showing a benevolent temper. Being mentioned in religious texts dealing with the afterlife and subsequently not only had his cult in the Graeco-Roman temples, but having his own son as well. Hence, this work studies his different aspects in extenso. Additionally his connection to the butcher demons is established via a new proposed reading of two his epithets.

For more information on our conference click here and you can also see our general program and register your attendance.

Share Button

‘Demon Things’ conference 2016 abstract: Sonja Gerke

Read More

Sonja Gerke, Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz

The ancient Egyptian Griffin

The mythical creature, that is known to us today as ‘griffin’ – a hybrid of feline body and bird’s head – overlooks a history of altogether five thousand years and was known and formed by many different cultures and cultural thoughts. Within this long history the ancient Egyptian culture, bearing some of the first illustrations of griffins at all, has written its own chapter of the griffin, which itself extends to a story of nearly three thousand years.

My paper will give an overview of ‘the’ ancient Egyptian griffin and the set of problems that is linked to the investigation of this creature.

Illustrations of griffins can appear on many different media and in various contexts (objects, tomb decoration etc.) throughout ancient Egyptian history from the Early Dynastic to the Roman Period. The variety of sources raises the question if all those ‘griffins’ are truly related to each other and therefore depict the same creatures. One of the major problems is the modern term ‘griffin’, which is used in the hitherto egyptological literature inconsequently for many further hybrids, e.g. the human-headed sphinx with wings or the falcon-headed sphinx. In fact, those creatures can (and should) be clearly distinguished from each other.

The main part of the paper deals with contexts and meanings of griffins in depictions and written sources. It will focus on the so called Apotropaia of the Middle Kingdom, i.e. magic wands and related objects, which form the largest category of objects bearing illustrations of griffins. Those representations will be correlated to earlier and later ‘griffins’ and their general development will be analysed.


For more information on our conference click here and you can also see our general program and register your attendance.

[Image of Griffin on ivory wand (MMA 22.1.65) courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.]

Share Button

‘Demon Things’ conference 2016 abstract: Panagiotis Kousoulis

Panagiotis Kousoulis, University of the Aegean

Rebellious identities and demonic diversity:
Name vs. function of the msw-bdSw and the Apopian associates

A central issue in the study of the ancient Egyptian demonic discourse is the variety of forms and names in which the unseen intervenes and is recognized. These manifestations range from positive to negative and vice versa. This is especially true for collective groups of enemies which are categorised under the generic term msw-bdS(t) or msw-bST. In the mythological discourse, msw-bdSt are regarded as a comparative body of liminal hostile entities, which usually refer to Apep and his off spring or associates, or to any group of rebels. Thus, it can be translated as “children of rebellion”, “children of impotence”, “children of the feeble”, or “children of the rebellious one”. The term may also be viewed as denoting a single serpentine being, as in the spell 17 from the Book of the Dead, in the scene 69 from the Book of Gates, or in Late Period material. The scope of this presentation is to present and exemplify the formative axioms and Apophian attributes of this collective group of hostile entities. At the core of this research lies the very complicated issue of the function vs. representation vs. name/function name in the ontological and performative conception of the demonic in ancient Egyptian thought. Does identity of the various apopian names identify the archenemy of the sun god par excellence, when the functions are different? Does identity of the multiple apopian functions identify the same malevolent entity, when the names are different? How could the polarity and conceptual development of a “demonic” or “anti-god” entity be framed and defined in the Egyptian belief system and discourse?


For more information on our conference click here and you can also see our general program and register your attendance.

Share Button

‘Demon Things’ conference speakers

Check out our line-up of speakers for the ‘Demon Things’ conference 2016! We will be releasing their abstracts in the next few weeks too.


Share Button

for National Dog Day! an Ancient Egyptian dog guardian demon

Here is a lovely little canine with BIG knives wielded by his hands and on his feet, as well as snakes coming out of his mouth. He is fiercely ready to protect your sleep!

Base of headrest Louvre E3443 with dog-headed protective demon from

He can be found on the base (section E on the sketch) of the New Kingdom headrest Louvre E3443 (photo by author).


headrest schematic

For other Doggie-demons, see the odd composite demon from the Coffin of Dirpu, and the little spotty dog in the Book of the Dead.

Share Button

Walking on Sunshine – a mobile armed sundisk demon

Read More
Wand featuring a walking sundisk [Munchen 2826].
Wand featuring a walking sundisk [Munchen 2826].

Perhaps this little walking armed sundisk can help those suffering from the heat waves making their way across various continents. Since it is part of the decoration of an apotropaic hippopotamus tusk wand, it was more likely designed to protect mothers and newborns during the process of childbirth, and to protect the infant afterwards.  Notice that it has a knife on each foot (the better to hurt you with!). The double circle could be a moon, but because it has an uraeus (the poorly carved cobra coming off of it) I suspect it is indeed the sundisk instead.

It was found in Dra’ Abu el-Naga’ and based on the inscription on the reverse, likely dates to about the 17th Dynasty (c. 1650 BCE).

  • Legge, F. “Magic Ivories of the Middle Empire III.” Proceedings of the Society of Biblical Archaeology 28 (1906): pl. 50. [source of image]
  • Altenmüller, Hartwig. Die Apotropaia und die Götter Mittelägyptens: Eine Typologische und Religionsgeschichtliche Untersuchung der sogenannten “Zaubermesser” des Mittleren Reichs.  München: Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität, 1965, p. 75, cat. 86.
Share Button

This Taweret has knives on her feet!

Just when I thought that all the demons and liminal beings with knives on their feet were depicted on furniture, jewelry, or cosmetic containers… During the Egyptian and Jewish Magic in Antiquity conference, an image was shown of a big Taweret holding a knife with each of her four limbs. She stands tall and proud, with the head and body of a hippo with a dorsal appendage wearing a wig and a headdress. Before her is the sa-sign, the Ancient Egyptian symbol of protection with which he was associated. Not only is this NOT on a piece of furniture, it is part of a 20th Dynasty amuletic talisman on papyrus that includes a spell and other great imagery. Click on the caption to see the information on it from the Louvre!

Taweret hippo with knives
Taweret on pLouvre E32308.
Share Button

Egyptian and Jewish Magic in Antiquity Conference

Read More
EJMA guy

Contexts, Contacts, Continuities and Comparisons

Full details and location of this

International Collaborative Conference in Ancient Magic 5-9 July, 2015, University of Bonn

Download Flyer


Full Programme




Share Button

What animal is that?

Read More
Fennec fox - image from http://www.drusillas.co.uk/animals/fennec-foxes
Fennec fox - image from http://www.drusillas.co.uk/animals/fennec-foxes

This week the Demonology 2K team met with visiting scholar John Wyatt, who specialises in identifying bird and animal species in ancient Egyptian depictions. Together we discussed the different ways in which demons can be depicted and what animal species are used to create their images. We had lots of questions for him, mostly along the lines of ‘what the heck is this supposed to be?’


John helped to identify some animals, and he also suggested some cases where we just can’t tell what animal was depicted. For example, lots of demons we thought could be fennec fox formed could also be a different species of fox, such as Ruppell’s fox. Apart from their size, the two species look very similar!


Ruppell's fox - image from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ruppell's_fox
Ruppell’s fox – image from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ruppell’s_fox
Fennec fox - image from http://www.drusillas.co.uk/animals/fennec-foxes
Fennec fox – image from http://www.drusillas.co.uk/animals/fennec-foxes
Share Button

2 Demonological Presentations in UK

Read More

The Southampton Ancient Egypt Society

 ‘The Ancient Egyptian Demonology Project: Second Millennium BCE’

Dr Kasia Szpakowska, Swansea University

Saturday, May 16, 2015 at 14:00

Oasis Academy,

Romesy Road, Lord’s Hill, Southampton SO16 8FA


The Egypt Society of Bristol

 ‘Armed and Dangerous: An iconography of protective Middle and New Kingdom demons’

Dr Kasia Szpakowska, Swansea University

Tuesday, June 16, 2015 at 18:45

Department of Archaeology & Anthropology,

43 Woodland Road, Bristol University

Share Button