Tuesday, June 23, 2009

ancient Egypt

If human culture seems obsessed with sex lately, it's nothing new. Archaeologists have discovered the oldest known artistic representation of a woman - a carved ivory statue of a naked female, dating from 35,000 years ago.
Yet, studying homosexuality in ancient Egypt is a difficult task. Not a single legal text has survived from ancient Egypt (in contrast to elsewhere in the ancient Near East); and no sure evidence points to cult prostitution taking root there (until the late Roman period). In fact, sexual intercourse was viewed as ritually defiling in sacred places. Explicitly sexual motifs in art and literature are limited, and coded images and metaphors often confront the investigator. We all recognize a phallus-symbol in the many obelisks although this is hardly ever mentioned by scholars. Also, as Egyptologist R.B. Parkinson [latest translation] puts it, "the subject [of homosexuality in ancient Egypt] is surrounded by modern as well as ancient taboos…". Edgar Gregersen noted how some Egyptologists have been embarrassed by statues of the god Min, who is always depicted with an erection; and he reported on one young museum curator who was surprised to discover a box containing over a dozen wooden phalli that had been hacked off of Min statues in the museum and then hidden away. Today more open-minded research is being done, although academic homophobia still exists and some of the resources linked here, are in fact scientists trying to explain that these sources should not be interpreted as same sex relationships (It's no use showing a Rembrandt to a blind man).
The tomb of the Two Manicurists:
Niankhkhnum and Khnumhotep and the topic of same-sex desire: On the eastern wall of the offering chamber, the identical pair are shown in the most intimate embrace possible within the canons of ancient Egyptian art. Niankhkhnum is on the right grasping his companion's right forearm; Khnumhotep, on the left, has his left arm across the other man's back, tightly clasping his shoulder. Again the tips of the men's noses are touching and this time their torsos are so close together that the knots on the belts of their kilts appear to be touching, perhaps even tied together. Here, in the innermost private part of their joint-tomb, the two men stand in an embrace meant to last for eternity.

Six major sources have been related to homosexuality in ancient Egypt:
(1) Conflict of Horus and Seth,
(2) Book of the Dead,
(3) Teaching of Vizier Ptahhotep,
(4) Neferkare's Affair with General Sisene,
(5) Akhenaten's Disappearing Boyfriend, and
(6) Tomb of the Two Manicurists (Niankhkhnum and Khnumhotep).

These images come from the Catamite Gay Asian Collections which as we all know are no longer available.
Follow your passion,

1 comment:

PriscillaSabina said...

blog is presented in a nice way!!