Time and Eternity: An Egyptian Dualism
As I was researching for the posts on the ankh, I came across some information which was interesting, describing the Egyptian concept of “time” and “eternity.” These concepts almost seem repetitive and redundant to our modern way of thinking, but to the Egyptians each of these terms represented something concrete and distinct, and both were invoked in certain rituals, texts, and illustrations. It is clear that the Egyptians considered these two ideas as unique, but they often used them together, and so it seems difficult for our present Egyptologists to distinguish or disambiguate what the Egyptians meant by them individually. There has been plenty of speculation.
The two symbols used for the commonly translated “time” and “eternity” are neheh (nhh) and djet (dt), respectively, and looked something like this:
Jan Assmann described the difficulty of pinning down an understanding of these hieroglyphics: [Read more…]