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:

[blockquote cite=”Fischer-Elfert 2011, 191.”]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![/blockquote]


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.

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3 thoughts on “Ancient Egyptian Demon Advent Calendar, Day 21: Samanu demon”

  1. 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!

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