Bulletin of the American Society of Papyrologists 48 (2011) 317-320
Gihane Zaki, Le Premier Nome de Haute-Zgypte du le siecle avant
f-C. au VIIC siecle apres f.-C. d'apres les sources hiiroglyphiques des
temples ptolemnaiques et rorains. Monographies Reine Elisabeth 13.
Turnhout: Brepols, 2009. xviii + 468 pages + 23 plates. ISBN 978-2 - 503-52724-6.
In many Egyptian temples, scenes can be found with depictions of geographical content.1 The most well-known of these scenes are processions with
personifications of the nomes, but over time many variations of such "geographical processions," as they are called in Egyptology, existed. The GraecoRoman temples contain some of the most elaborate examples of this genre, in
which life in the nome is symbolically rendered in four different parts. In her
book Le Premier Nome de Haute-$gypte, a revised version of a doctoral dissertation defended at the Universit6 de Lyon in 2000, Gihane Zaki (henceforth
Z.) takes reliefs with geographical content as a point of departure for a wideranging study of the first Upper Egyptian nome in the Graeco-Roman period.
In doing so Z. convincingly demonstrates that such scenes contain important
details that can enhance our understanding of certain aspects of the nome,
such as its cults, sacred topography, toponyms and administrative division.
The first chapter, also the first part of the book, contains a catalogue of 41
scenes from geographical processions in Graeco-Roman temples such as those
of Dendara, Edfu, Kom Ombo, and Philae that refer to the first Upper Egyptian
nome. Added to these texts are a number of offering scenes that have a specific
link to the nome or its deities, for a total of 62 texts. Z. not only brings these
texts together for the first time, but she also offers a translation and copious
notes for all of them.
The second part discusses, on the basis of this corpus of texts, aspects of
the geography and theology of the first Upper Egyptian nome. Chapter two
on the sacred topography of the nome is the most directly linked to the preceding catalogue. After a clear introduction on "geographical processions," Z.
continues with a detailed description of the different elements of such scenes,
illustrated with numerous examples from the corpus under study, with specific attention to the terminology used in these texts. Chapter three contains a
good summary of the theology of the nome and discusses several of the main
cults and their interconnections, for example between Khnum and Osiris. The
overview is not exhaustive, however, as it omits the important recent work by
Ewa Laskowska-Kusztal on Khnum of Elephantine and the child god Osiris
1 I should like to thank my colleague Theodore de Bruyn for some improvements
to the text.