The ba-spirits of Amun-Re: Theology and Egyptian Exegesis in the Persian Period

Recorded: April 14, 2023
Event: Achaemenid Workshop 1
Citation: Yu Chen, Hong. "The ba-spirits of Amun-Re: Theology and Egyptian Exegesis in the Persian Period." Pourdavoud Center: Achaemenid Workshop 1 (April 14, 2023).

by Hong Yu Chen (University of California, Los Angeles)

The imprints of the Achaemenid empire are scant in the monumental records of Egypt, and this lack of evidence has presented a significant hurdle in our understanding of the relationship between formal Egyptian religious institutions and the religious policies of the Achaemenid empire. Egypt comprises an incredibly important aspect of the discussion, where indigenous religious practice seemed to continue, though certainly were placed in far closer formal contact with other religious practices of the empire. However, in this environment of political domination by the Persians, Egypt produced one of the best-preserved temples of the Late Period: the Temple of Hibis in the Western Desert. The temple wall inscriptions of Hibis feature dedications to the Egyptian supreme deity and sun god, Amun-Re. The manifestations and forms of the sun god at Hibis find remarkable parallel with the theology of Amun and Amun-Re elsewhere in Egypt, including the former royal site of Thebes and the city of Hermopolis. As the only site with significant evidence of formal Egyptian religious thought from the Persian Period, Hibis offers an opportunity to understand the potential interactions between the empire and Egyptian religious thought. Due to the sheer scope of the subject of Amun theology, this talk will focus primarily on the manifestations of Amun and his eight ba manifestations in the hymns of the first hypostyle hall and examine the complex genealogies and theologies of this specific religious aspect of Amun theology presented at the Temple of Hibis.

About the Speaker

Hong Yu Chen is a fourth year Iranian Studies and Egyptology graduate student at the University of California, Los Angeles. Their research foci include Persian-Egyptian relations in antiquity, language change and development in the context of empire, and sociocultural history of the Egyptian Late Period. They received their BA in History and Near Eastern Studies from The Johns Hopkins University in 2019, with a specialization in near eastern languages, particularly Egyptian.