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Ancient Egyptian Demon Advent Calendar, Day 21: Samanu demon


Day 21 features the samanu demon (written as s-m-n), also known as axw. We don’t really know what he looks like, but one spell (P. Leiden I 343 + I 345) specifies that this demon was responsible for nasty pounding pains in a person’s head and belly. While the spell is typically Ancient Egyptian in structure, Hans Fischer-Elfert convincingly argues for a Near Eastern origin of both the spell and this demon.

The following snippet is part of his translation of the spell:

O axw, O S-m-n! You son of the slave Htm ...! You driving one, you screaming/violent one, O Smn, who is pounding against the head. O Tmkn, who is pounding against the heart! O Jbsn, who is pounding against the belly! O D..., who is walking by in secret! To whom shall I hand you over, you axw? To whom shall I hand you over, you Smn? You belong to the wandering asses who are in the desert! – Fischer-Elfert 2011, 191.


For the full spell and discussion, see Fischer-Elfert, H.-W. (2011), ‘Sāmānu on the Nile: The Transfer of a Near Eastern Demon and Magico-Medical Concept into New Kingdom Egypt’, in Mark Collier and Steven Snape (eds.), Ramesside Studies in Honour of K. A. Kitchen (Bolton: Rutherford Press), 189-98.

  1. Susanne Beck
    Susanne Beck03-30-2014

    Unfortunately not. It is not common apart from few exceptions (Pazuzu, Lamashtu) to depict demons in Mesopotamia. I know where Samanu is coming from but nothing about his kinship. I will submit my dissertation about Samanu this year!

  2. Susanne Beck
    Susanne Beck03-29-2014

    Indeed the Egyptians texts not very helpfull to detect the outward appearance of Samanu. The Mesopotamian sources are more descriptive!

    • Dr. Kasia Szpakowska
      Dr. Kasia Szpakowska03-29-2014

      Good point! Would be worthwhile to check to see if there are any representations as well as the descriptions. Interesting that his kinship, to a certain extent, is mentioned.

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