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.
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Egyptian and Jewish Magic in Antiquity Conference

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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

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Full Programme




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What animal is that?

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Fennec fox - image from
Fennec fox - image from

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's_fox
Ruppell’s fox – image from’s_fox
Fennec fox - image from
Fennec fox – image from
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2 Demonological Presentations in UK

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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

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Door Guardians of Egypt and Beyond

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Men-Shen door-guard
Door gods at a temple in a Taichung, Taiwan neighborhood behind the central train station. 1989.

In the interest of encouraging cross-cultural and interdisciplinary research, today we feature a door guardian from Ancient Egypt and another from China. Similarities and contrasts abound.

Men-Shen door-guard
Door gods at a temple in a Taichung, Taiwan neighborhood behind the central train station. 1989. (By Jeremy Kemp Uploaded by Jeremykemp at en.wikipedia [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons)
Squatting spotty dog guardian
This spotty flop-eared dog acts as one of 10 guardians within a portal in Book of the Dead 146. Tomb of Sennedjem (TT 1)

They can both wield weapons—for example a pair of swords, or a sword and axe for Men-Shen, and a butcher’s knife for the Ancient Egyptian guardians. Sometimes the Egyptian ones instead hold a reed or feather, or even nothing at all!







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Demon Database presentation at Berkeley

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Screenshot of DemonThings database
Screenshot of DemonThings database

From the Outside Looking In:
Digitization of Ancient Egyptian Objects and Entities

Kasia Szpakowska
Associate Professor of Egyptology
Swansea University, Wales

Time: April 13, 2015;  5:30-6:30 p.m.
Venue: 254 Barrows Hall, UC Berkeley
Sponsor: Near Eastern Studies & Center for Tebtunis Papyri
Event Contact: [email protected]

This presentation provides an overview of the Ancient Egyptian Demonology Project: Second Millennium BCE, centered at Swansea University, Wales. At the core of the project is the development of a relational database of liminal entities or “demons.” We hope it will prove useful to Egyptologists and scholars of other religions at one level, and the general public at another. At this pilot stage we are focussing on a limited range of objects from a limited time span: coffins, wands, headrests, figurines and manuscripts (usually papyrus). As with all archaeological databases, the core materials are often fragmentary, necessitating complex relationships with the data pertaining to the fragment, section, and objects, with each type having its own idiosyncratic challenges. Part of the goal is to link with existing databases such as the Book of the Dead Database of Bonn University and online museum catalogues.

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Akhu ‘Spirits’ in the Coffin Texts

The Akhu ‘Spirits’ are mentioned in several Coffin Text spells.


From Book of the Dead of Hunefer
The Akhu ‘Spirits’ can be a great threat or a great help to the living and the dead. Image from the Book of the Dead of Hunefer

CT spell 47 describes these demons as part of an apotropaic list (an itemized list of dangerous entities and concepts). If any god, and spirit (Akh) and any dead person (mwt) opposes the deceased, they will be confined to the confederacy of ‘Him who is dangerous’. The deceased is also assisted by the deity Thoth, who sets his knife against the beings listed.

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Coffin of Djehuty-nakht (B2Bo)

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The coffin of Djehuty-nakht (coffin code B2Bo) is dated to approximately 2010–1961 B.C. (during the Middle Kingdom). It was excavated from Tomb 10A in Deir el-Bersha, Middle Egypt (the fifteenth Ancient Egyptian nome). Coffins from this region and time period are most famous for their depictions of a map of the paths of the afterlife, but whereas other coffins have this map drawn on the bottom, the map is placed on the interior back section of this coffin. This coffin contains 123 references to demons, one of the highest number of demon references in Middle Kingdom coffins!


MFA 21.962-63 (Image from museum website)
MFA 21.962-63 (Image from museum website)


The coffin is currently on display in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. To find out more about this object, check out the Museum website.


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Clawed Ancient Egyptian Bes-image

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Brooklyn 37.440E_detail1

Just came across this rather nifty Bes in the Brooklyn Museum. Take a close look at those claws!

Brooklyn Museum: Headrest with Bes-Image and Taweret
Headrest with Bes-Image and Taweret, ca. 1539 – 1425 B.C.E. B.C.E. Wood, 7 1/4 x 11 7/16 x 2 15/16 in. (18.4 x 29 x 7.5 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Charles Edwin Wilbour Fund, 37.440E. Creative Commons-BY Image: detail, 37.440E_detail1.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph, 2003


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Digital Humanities & Egyptology & some Demons too!

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Digital Humanities and Egyptology

Friday, February 13, 2015, 10 am – 1 pm

The Center for the Tebtunis Papyri

373 Bancroft Library, (Jean and Irving Stone Seminar Room), Berkeley, CA

First session (open to public)

  • 10 am Opening remarks (Rita Lucarelli, UC Berkeley)
  • 10.15 am Willeke Wendrich (UCLA): Ancient Egypt Online: Data, Metadata and Quality of Information
  • 11.15 am Mark Depauw (KU Leuven): Trismegistos and Ancient Egypt: Bridging Academia and Collections
  • 12.15 am Rita Lucarelli (UC Berkeley): The Materiality of the Book of the Dead: Mapping Ancient Texts on Objects through 3D Visualization Techniques
  • 1 pm Lunch

Second session (Round Table)

2-4 pm The value of digital tools and methodologies in Egyptology and the development of a working cooperation among digital egyptological projects worldwide

More Information here: DHworkshop0213

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