Recorded: February 18, 2020
Event: Contextualizing Iranian Religions in the Ancient World - 14th Melammu Symposium
Citation: Winnerman, Jonathan. "The Cryptographic Titulary of Darius at Hibis," Contextualizing Iranian Religions in the Ancient World - 14th Melammu Symposium. February 18, 2020.
by Jonathan Winnerman (University of California, Los Angeles)
The Cryptographic Titulary of Darius at Hibis
There are numerous writings of the names and titles of Darius I in Egyptian hieroglyphs within the temple of Hibis, located in Egypt’s Kharga Oasis. Most of these resemble Darius’ hieroglyphic titulary on other Egyptian monuments, where pharaonic elements are occasionally interspersed with traditional Persian royal epithets. Several examples at Hibis are unique, however, in that they present his titulary not in normal hieroglyphs, but in cryptography. Cryptography, which had previously seen limited use in Egypt outside the royal tomb, frequently employed intentionally obscure lists of divinities, detailed human and animal figures, or sacred objects to write phrases normally conveyed by simpler hieroglyphs. In this way, the imagery of such writings may be compared to the presentation of Egyptian divinities elsewhere at Hibis, which may reflect a Persian desire to organize and order the complex web of Egyptian religion. At the same time, cryptography also had a deep, Egyptian religious significance. This is especially true in the context of the theology of Amun, whose name literally means “He Who is Hidden.” This talk will examine these cryptographic texts as unique examples for how Iranian and Egyptian religious systems may have combined and intermingled. Rather than attempting to determine the degree of Iranian influence inherent in them, it will be argued that these texts may represent a single expression that could have had important religious significance for both Iranian and Egyptian audiences.
About the Speaker
Jonathan Winnerman is an Academic Administrator in Ancient Studies at UCLA. He graduated with honors from the University of Chicago, where he received his MA and PhD in Egyptology. A specialist in ancient Egyptian language and visual culture, his research focuses on different approaches to the interpretation of ancient Egyptian religion. His dissertation, titled “Rethinking the Royal Ka,” examined divine kingship in the New Kingdom and argued against a single, paradigmatic approach to the divinity of the pharaoh. Instead, he advocated for a multifaceted examination of the divine nature of the king as well as an analysis of the social dynamics that created and maintained divine kingship. Jonathan is currently working on an expansion of his dissertation project, which will further develop this study of divine kingship as a social phenomenon during the 18th and 19th dynasties.
His other research interests include Political Theology and its application to ancient Egypt, ancient Egyptian cryptographic texts, and the ethics of scholarship. He has worked in Egypt for many years, most notably with the Tell Edfu Project and as an epigrapher with the Epigraphic Survey in Luxor. Back in Chicago, Jonathan also contributed to the Chicago Demotic Dictionary Project and trained with the Writing Program as a specialist in writing pedagogy. epigrapher with the Epigraphic Survey in Luxor. Back in Chicago, Jonathan also contributed to the Chicago Demotic Dictionary Project and trained with the Writing Program as a specialist in writing pedagogy.