Monday, December 23, 2002

LexiLine Journal #98 - 2002 : Abydos Egypt City Palette Deciphered as a Planisphere



I have uploaded my new decipherment
of the Abydos City Palette
to the Ancient Egypt folder

This decipherment is explained online at

[UPDATE December 7, 2006]


Decipherment by Andis Kaulins

This decipherment is based on two photographs on page 28 (plates 35 and 36) of a wonderful German book entitled Ägypten, Die Welt der Pharaonen, editors Regine Schulz and Matthias Seidel, publisher Könemann Verlagsgesellschaft, Köln, 1997.

That book labels this object as a "Städtepalette" [City Palette] , the object being described as: "Grauwacke [grey wacke stone]; H. [height] 19 cm, Br. [width] 22 cm; [location] Kairo [Cairo], Ägyptisches Museum, [Egyptian Museum] JE 27434 (CG 14238)." There is an extensive "Bildnachweis" (Acknowledgement of Photos) in the book organized as a very difficult-to-use alphabetical index by author rather than by picture or page number at pages 537 and 538 of that book, and after some searching, I found it to indicate that the "City Palette" photos in that book stem origianlly from Jürgen Liepe, Berlin.

The HOE (compass) = Symbol for "Measure"

Each of the "cities" is preceded by the sign of the (compass) hoe, to be read MR, which means MER- i.e. "measure" as in Latvian mer "to measure".

1. The Spring Equinox

The OWL marks Perseus and the Pleiades whose stars are shown as squares on the City Palette.

The owl hieroglyph starts the city palette marking Perseus and the Pleiades, whose stars are shown as squares on the City Palette. Above the owl is a bird, perhaps a falcon, apparently marking Camelopardalis.

The owl is used here as a symbol of the rotating heavens because of its ability to turn its head more than 90° in both directions (later so in fact shown on Greek coins of the owl of Athena).


The Egyptian Ba-Bird JABIRU = Sumerian HABUR

The 2nd hieroglyph starts star regions which appear to be equivalent to the Sumerian Sons of God. It is a hieroglyph of the so-called Ba-Bird or JABIRU, which of course is identical to HABUR on the Sumerian Sons of God list. This is Orion and also here, the 7 principal stars of Orion are marked.


The TWINS = Sumerian sa-KIN-KIN

The third symbol, the twins, is self-explanatory. SA-KIN-KIN on the Sumerian Sons of God list
covers Canis Major and Gemini, so KIN KIN may mean either Canis Major or the doubled twins - in this sky region, i.e. the doubling simply shows the plural form.

4. Cancer = Sumerian UK...KU...

CANCER = Sumerian UK...KU... Sanskrit KARKA. This is clearly a crab-like or lizard-like animal. It is the glyph to the far left of the top line.

5. LEO, the Lion = (ELASSER, LARAK)

Below the lion is the hieroglyph of the outstretched arms |__|, crossed by an additional line, the reading of which is the same as a man with his arms held up high meaning "spirit, high"
i.e. K3 = KR or KRi, as in Indo-European (Latvian) KARALis "regent, king" but also GAR- "spirit" or AUG "high". LARAK may be KARAL.

This outstretched arm hierogylph is read by the Greeks as KER, which is like Latvian KER- (palatal k, pronounced TJER) meaning "grasp". Here it markes Crater and Hydra (Djer).


Dendera has a crab at the position of Leo Minor and here we have it again, looking like a scorpion, which originally led me to think this was Scorpio, which is not the case. It is Leo Minor, on ancient megaliths marked as a knife or dagger - so this was a "sharp" symbol. Below the scorpion is the symbol of a footstool or basket - Corvus - seemingly confused in the course of time with Crater as "the pot", and as Richard Hinckley Allen in Star Names notes some ascriptions to Crater, "but all this better suits Corvus" (p. 183).


The hieroglyph is "reedgrass, Binse" or SCHT

Virgo was the maiden of the wheatfield and the hieroglyph clearly shows a grass of some kind. In Persia Virgo was an ear of wheat. Above Virgo are two birds sitting on a perch whose form is that of the stars of Coma Berenices, the north galactic pole above Virgo. As Thompson writes in Richard Hinckley Allen's Star Names (p. 170):

"the stars which Conon converted into the Coma Berenices ... and which lie in Leo opposite to the Pleiades in Taurus, were originally constellated as a Dove...." That quote tells us that the birds here are doves and why the City Palette stretches from the Pleiades to Virgo.


The back side of the Abydos Palette shows three levels of animals and the lower one of plants corresponding to paths in the heavens identified first in Sumerian texts by Werner Papke in Die Sterne von Babylon (The Stars of Babylon, available thus far only in German).

The Path of EN.LIL is north of (above) 16.°69 declination.
Sumerian NIN.da represents the breeding bull and seed funnel, NININ penned-up cattle and gi.LIL.i is a herd of animals. So a cow is used as a symbol for the path of EN.LIL
This is the upper world.
The Path of ANU is between + 16.°69 and -16.°69 declination.
Sumerian AN+shu (Latvian ANsis means donkey, AUNS means "ram", AN means "sky, heaven" whence Latvian ENA "eclipse") - so the three terms here are homophonic.
This is the path of the eclipses.

The Path of EA is south of (below) - 16.°69 declination.
Werner Papke describes it as the path of water.
Sumerian E means irrigation ditch, boundary canal, to water.
This is the netherworld.

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