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I recently viewed an exhibit of artifacts from ancient Egypt. This week I'll share some of the words I found there.

ankh – a figure resembling a cross, with a loop or ring forming a handle instead of the upper arm. used in ancient Egyptian art as a symbol of life.
    … gold caducei wands, hundreds of Tjet ankhs resembling small standing angels, sistrum rattles used in ancient Egypt to dispel evil spirits …
    – Dan Brown, The Da Vinci Code
Bonus words:
caduceus
(pl. caducei) – a herald's wand, often with serpents twined around it (used as a symbol of the medical profession)
sistrum – an ancient percussion instrument (still used in Nubia) of metal rods or loops attached to a metal frame.
 
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The entry on the caduceus reminded me of an article --Deadly Tiny and Ready For Its Close-up, August 25, 2004, Corante Tech News:

" The quivering strings of flesh -- now known as guinea worms -- may have been the fiery serpents that the Bible describes plaguing the Israelites in the desert. They certainly plagued much of Asia and Africa. They couldn't be yanked out at one go, since they would snap in two and the remnant inside the body would die and cause a fatal infection. The universal cure for guinea worm was to rest for a week, slowly winding the worm turn by turn onto a stick to keep it alive until it had crawled free. Someone figured out this cure, someone forgotten now for perhaps thousands of years. But it may be that that person's invention was remembered in the symbol of medicine, known as the caduceus: two serpents wound around a staff."


RJA
 
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By the way -- we must remember to distinguish the caduceus from the staff of Asclepius. See, for example:

http://drblayney.com/Asclepius.html


RJA
 
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Originally posted by wordcrafter:
I recently viewed an exhibit of artifacts from ancient Egypt. This week I'll share some of the words I found there.caduceus[/URL][/b] (pl. caducei) – a herald's wand, often with serpents twined around it (used as a symbol of the medical profession) .

Years ago I had the opportunity to write a piece about the caduceus.

The Caduceus and the Aesculapian Staff (symbol of the medical profession).

The single serpent of the Aesculapian wand is not to be confused with the two serpents comprising the caduceus, or ‘Herald’s wand’, used by Hercules or Hermes (Mercury) to open doors between the Gods and men.
It appears that the snake symbolised many qualities.
The President of the Royal College of Physicians of London carries a silver caduceus on ceremonial occasions. It was given, as part of the Presidential insignia, to the College,3,4 together with the Statutes and the crimson velvet edged with gold cushion, by John Caius, (1510-1573), President in 1555, 1562, and 1571 The College caduceus bears a head adorned with the College arms supported by four serpents, reputed to have magical powers of rejuvenation and healing because they shed and regrew their skin every year. In John Caius’s own coat of arms are two serpents, referred to in the College of Arms, one representing wisdom, the other grace. A caduceus is to be found in Caius College, Cambridge where it supports scholarship.
Historically, the caduceus was carried for the President by a college servant, the Bedell, called the caduceator in the College Statutes. The caduceator was “to be an honest man, inaccessible to bribery.” Today the Bedell carries the Mace, a symbol of authority and formally a weapon of war, while the President carries the caduceus at all formal occasions to
“ the authority of the President should be exercised with gentleness and mercy, in contrast to the ways those who were accustomed to rule at one time who used an iron staff. But the snakes, symbols of prudence, teach that one should rule and act with prudence.”
 
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scarab – a large dung beetle, sacred in ancient Egypt; also, an ancient Egyptian gem in the form of a scarab beetle
    Scientists have observed homosexual behavior in 1,500 animal species … most widespread among animals with a complex herd life … as a kind of social glue … But researchers have no idea what the advantage is, if any, of homosexual behavior among dragonflies, scarab beetles, or, as observed at least once, two male octopuses of different species.
    We're Deer. We're Queer. Get Used to It. Plenty Magazine, Oct. 25, 2006
shabti (or ushabti) – figurine placed in an ancient Egyptian tomb to be a substitute for the deceased in any work he might be called upon to do in the afterlife
At least one museum refers to its volunteers, in the Egyptian section, as its "shabtis".
    … an indispensable part of any Egyptian's burial equipment, the "shabti"-figurine. Thousands of these objects have been found in tombs … examples … inscribed with a spell that ordered them to take the owner's place sohuld he be called for any hard labor in the next world.
    – Hiroshi Obayashi, Death and Afterlife: Perspectives of World Religions
 
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faience – glazed ceramic ware
[a toponym: originally denoting pottery made at Faenza, Italy (French name Faïence)]
    My eye fell upon a handsome box with an inlaid cover that bloomed with a garden made of ivory and faience and mother-of-pearl.
    – Anita Diamant, The Red Tent

    Unlike the tin-glazed earthenware of the European Middle Ages and Renaissance, Egyptian faience is not clay but a ceramic consisting almost entirely of quartz … . Egypt produced small-scale masterpieces of faience from about 3500 B.C. until the first century A.D. … The copper-based blues and greens … often recall life in the marshes and along banks of the Nile … . The palette of faience expanded over the millennia to include carnelian reds, lemon yellows, and rich cobalt blues and violets - each color with its own symbolic meaning.
    – Magazine Antiques, Sept. 1998
 
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natron – a mineral salt, consisting of hydrated sodium carbonate [baking soda]; used to dessicate bodies for mummification
[another toponym: named for the wadi Natrun, where the salt was found]
    The mummy makers would cover the body with natron and then let it sit for almost two and a half months. Natron … absorbed all the water from the body. Plus, it even had a mild antiseptic in it, which helped to kill any bacteria lurking on the corpse.
    – Joy Masoff, Oh, Yuck: The Encyclopedia of Everything Nasty
Bonus word: desiccate – to remove the moisture from
 
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Rosetta Stone – a key to some previously unattainable understanding
    The Philadelphia research team may have hit upon the "Rosetta Stone" of cancer study by discovering a gene that controls the evolution of tumors …
    – CNN, Feb. 24, 1996
cartouche1. a drawn frame around of an engraving, etc.; (esp. one in Egyptian hieroglyphics, inclosing royal or divine names or titles 2. a heavy paper cartridge case
    A stone cartouche at the entrance proclaims in Hebrew, "This is the gate of the Lords into which the righteous shall enter."
    – The Jewish Week, Dec. 30, 2005
The original Rosetta Stone, bearing an inscription repeated in hieroglyphics and two other in writings, was the key that enabled scholars to decipher hieroglyphics. It is named for Rosetta, Egypt, near which it it was found (toponym) and is now in the British Museum.
    There is only one cartouche (five times repeated) on the Rosetta Stone, and this was assumed to contain the name of Ptolemy, because it was certain from the Greek text that the inscription concerned a Ptolemy.
    – British Museum, The Rosetta Stone
 
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