Mesopotamian and Egyptian Cosmogonies: Knowledge and Myth

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What's in a name? (Marc Van de Mieroop, Columbia)

This talk will argue that the final 200 lines of the Babylonian Creation Myth, often seen as a boring appendix listing the 50 names of Marduk, provide insight on how the ancient Babylonians saw an understanding of truth to be based on 'reading'.

'I am the ba-soul of Shu' (Katja Goebs, Toronto)

Evidence for Egyptian myth, as seen in the use of its individual characters and episodes in both the written and the artistic record, can be found in essentially all periods for which these media are attested. This paper seeks to illustrate just how fundamental the function of myth was for Egyptian society by presenting evidence for mythical metaphors and similes, drawn from a variety of stories, that illustrate how aspects of both ritualized and everyday life could be encoded in terms of myth. Drawing on evidence from the Cognitive and Neurosciences, it is suggested that mythical actors and episodes (known as “mythemes” in scholarly literature) provided visual associations that allowed the Egyptian to categorize knowledge and to retrieve it efficiently, as well as to communicate it to others in the format of figurative language. Some of the texts adduced make this particular function explicit. The database system “Mythophor” will moreover be introduced.