The true identity of this ancient symbol, used to denote the regnal years of the king, has become lost over the years. I know what you are thinking . . . it’s obviously a chocolate chip cookie. Hahaha! Actually, it is thought to be a threshing floor, but I believe this too is incorrect.
This hieroglyphic is used to denote the regnal year. In Ancient Egypt, time was kept by recording the years the pharaohs ruled. A ∩ denotes ten years, while a straight line I indicates one. A rule of twenty eight years would look like this.
Take the hieroglyphic phrase for “repeatedly”
or for “daily course”
etc, etc, etc. You get the picture. :O)
All of these have two things in common. The sun symbol , Ra, and a reference to time.
Now take the phrase for “a moment”
(the arms represent the negative meaning “never will there be a moment”.)
These symbols represent time as well, casting new light upon what this symbol actually is.
Just as Ra is representing one day, I believe the speckled disc in question represents the solar calendar, with each dot representing the years in the lunar cycle.
So why was the meaning behind this disc lost to antiquity? I came across something while researching my book Treasure of Egypt that may answer that puzzling question. Perhaps it was, in part, due to an expungement long ago. Much like the moon’s symbols being misidentified due to religious controversy, it appears as if the speckled disc fell out of favor and was rarely used by the Priests of Amun after the rein of Pharaoh Akhenaten.
If you look, you will find the symbol among many of the writings chiseled into the Telatat blocks from the Aten Temple that was dismantled after the pharaoh’s death. So why was it used so prodigiously during Akhenaten’s reign, yet was almost strictly relegated to denote the regnal year henceforth?
I believe it had much to do with the Heretic King’s closing of the Temples of Amun during his reign and the subsequent efforts of the priests to wipe out the symbols Akhenaten had used to promote his worship of the sun after his death. This once auspicious symbol of the sun has been reduced to what is now thought to be a threshing floor.
The Wings of Isis
There are many sun symbols in the ancient hieroglyphs.
The aten above – a disc with long, streaming rays, the circle with a dot in the middle that represents Ra the sun god, and even Khafre the dung beetle – in a strange association where life springs forth from decay – represent the rebirth of the newly risen sun and the idea of becoming.
It should be noted, however, that the hieroglyphs including the dung beetle are also associated with being or becoming, and not time.
. . . BUT I do not believe that the Wings of Isis is among the symbols that refer to the sun. If you have read my book or the previous articles you know that both Isis and Hathor were associated with rebirth and the moon – not the sun. Another reason that this harvest moon may have been confused with the sun is the moon’s ability to travel across both the day and night skies.
Thank you for your readership.
To read the first chapter click here: Treasure of Egypt Sneak Peek
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To read the previous articles on The Enigmatic Symbols of Egypt, click below:
Part I - The All-Seeing Eye
Part II - The Origins of the Sphinx
Part III - The Misidentified Symbols of Ancient Egypt
Part V - The Unknown Symbol of Ancient Egypt