Positive Progress Through The Benevolent Use Of Knowledge

Sunday, March 15, 2009

The Hour Watcher

Mehetra was a young priestess in a ancient Egyptian temple. She had trained for years to become a priestess ,and took her position very seriously. Mehetra main responsiibility was to help another priest in everyday matters. She also participated in regular festivals. In the festivals Mehetra would follow the priest, chanting and shaking her sistrum.- (An instrument played by selected women in ancient Egypt).

When Mehetra was not busy she liked to watch, her people go about their duties in the temple. There was one priest in particular,who Mehetra liked to follow.
His name was Amenemopet. He was the 'wenuty', the (hour-watch priest). He was in charge of making sure the temple ritual were performed on time throughout the year. During the day, Amenemopet watched the sun's position in the sky. Ordinary people worked out their time of day in the same way, but the others had less experience and training than Amenemopet. At night Amen carefully watched the water clock, as the evening fell, the clock was filled with water. During the night, water dropped out of a hole at the bottom. Amen checked the water level during the night, in order to work out when the temple ritual was performed. One day Mehetra met Amenemopet walking across the courtyard, of the temple. The 'world is in chaos' he said 'The stars and earth are moving against each other. Sopdet has risen but, it is not yet first of the month of the flood season, Amen shook his head. He pointed to the wall. Mehetra saw a list carved into the wall in hieroglyphs. This calendar keeps track of all the ways throughout the year. It tells me that it is not yet time for the new years festval. The Star Sopdet has risen the flood is coming. I must consult the high peiest. Follow me, he said, to Mehetra. Amen raced through the temple. He stopped in front of a carved wall and pointed to a list of cartouches. (More about the kings list). This problem was first noticed when they were alive, he pointed to a line of cartouches. That was many years ago....and the problems are only getting worst. Amen shook his head again. Then he turned to Mehetra... go now child, I must be alone to think. Mehetra studied the wall in front of her. Each cartouche contain the name of a pharoah.

Did this problem with the calendar really mean that the world was in chaos?
Then her eyes fell upon a clear carving of a Shen sign. The Shen stood for eternity. It had been carved into the wall to show that the Egyptian world will continued forever. Mehetre knewthe priest would work out the problem. So that the heavens and the calendar on the temple wall were in harmony. Mehetra turned and walked out to the temple courtyard. The sun was shining down brightly. As Mehetra began to do her duties...she wondered if Amen would know what was happening, the next time she saw him.

What was happening?

This is a fictional story. However, it is based on something we know actually happened in ancient Egypt.

The ancient Egyptians used two different calendars. One was the agricultural calendar. The other was a man-made administrative calendar.

The agricultural year was based on the observation of the stars. Every year, the star 'Sopdet' appeared at dawn in the middle of July, signalling the new year and the start of the flood season.

The administrative calendar was a fixed calendar. The ancient Egyptians created this calendar by observing the movement of groups of stars called 'decans'.

Every ten days, a new decan appeared on the horizon. There were 36 decans in a year, making 360 days per year. Then, the ancient Egyptians added on five days at the end of the year as the birthdays of the gods Osiris, Isis, Nephthys, Seth and Horus.

Since a year is actually about 365.25 days, this calendar was just a little bit off every year. The ancient Egyptians knew the calendar was not accurate, and that every year the problem was getting worse. However, it was a fixed calendar, (one that had even been carved onto the walls of temples), and it was not easy to change.

However, over many hundreds of years, the calendar was so far off that the summer and winter months were reversed. This calendar had to be adjusted many times throughout ancient Egyptian history to keep it accurate.

Em-Hotep Welcome in Peace.

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