Before Time, after Time: existencial time markers in Ancient Egypt - beginning, end and restart. A preliminary approach based on texts

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Abstract

As any other civilization, the Egyptians thought about Time, something that can be understood not only by their complex setting of their daily (political, administrative, economic, social...) activities but also by their theological and philosophical speculation. According to the Nilotic people, Time was experienced in two different ways: a linear (ḏ.t) and a circular (nḥḥ) one. Nevertheless, in ancient Egypt, Time was by no means an ever existing reality. It was part of the whole “being” that was brought into existence by the Demiurge, in the “First Time” (sp tpj). Therefore, following a linear conception of Time we can ask: if the Time had a beginning, how/when should we expect for it to come to an end? However, a circular approach to Time makes us face each end as a new beginning and this permanent restart leads us to consider an “eternal return”. How should we approach the Time before it is Time? Does the fact that it had a beginning imply the assumption that it would have an end? How can we refer ourselves to the “post-Time”? Is the end definitive or temporary, awaiting for the (re)start of a new Demiurge’s action? Is the immobility of the pre-Creation similar to one after the “end of the world”? Can we identify “apocalyptic” ideas in ancient Egypt? This paper intends to be a preliminary approach to this issue, considering these and other questions. We will follow the traces suggested by textual sources as we will be focusing on the Demiurge, the author of Creation and therefore extremely connected to Time by means of creation, destruction and recreation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages17
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - 2016
EventThe International Conference Sources to Study Antiquity: Between Texts and Material Culture - NOVA FCSH, Lisboa, Portugal
Duration: 9 May 201610 May 2016

Conference

ConferenceThe International Conference Sources to Study Antiquity
CountryPortugal
CityLisboa
Period9/05/1610/05/16

Keywords

  • Ancient Egypt
  • Time
  • Creation
  • End of the World
  • Demiurge

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