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121.  Ancient Egyptian Onomastics 841

121.  Ancient Egyptian Onomastics

has been written down by scholars: Yoyotte
(1972) discussed the toponyms, Lüddeckens
(1972) the anthroponyms. General introduc-
tions are, for the toponyms, the study by
Zibelius (1982) and the series of papers by
Sauneron (1983), for the anthroponyms, the
articles by Quaegebeur (1974) and Vernus
(1982). Bibliographical information concern-
ing Egyptian onomastics can be found in
the periodical Onoma (1950 —), subsection
Egyptian (by K. Vandorpe since 1990), and in
the onomastic sections of the bibliography in
the periodical Aegyptus (1920 —) and in the
Annual Egyptological Bibliography (1948 —)
and the Preliminary Egyptological Bibliog-
raphy (1983 —).

3. Toponyms
(place names, names of temples, pyramids,
domains, royal foundations, channels etc.)

3.1. Structure and Sense
As to their , toponyms (TN) can be di-
vided into two groups: sentence- and word-
names. TN composed of a sentence are rather
rare. They usually refer to pyramids (‚Mycer-
inus is divine’), domains (‚Sokar wishes that
Ounas lives’) or temple buildings. Most TN
are, however, word-names, composed of one
word ( pillar) or of a substantive defined
by a genitive ( Island of Snofru) or
by an adjective ( ), The white walls,
i. e. Memphis).

As to their a distinction can be made

(a) city-names, compounded with terms such
as (city), (town), (foundation),

(house, hence hamlet).
(b) TN adapted from a geographical reality,

related to the soil ( newly gained land;
wood; field; sand), the water (

great river; mouth of a water branch)
or constructions such as temples ( ), stables
( ).

Within this group a major problem arises:
how can one distinguish a real proper name
(e. g., name of a city) from a common name,
i. e. the name of the geographical reality itself
(e. g., name of a field or a temple, which can
become the name of its city later on)? Tem-
ples, pyramids and cities have their own de-
terminative ( , , respectively). Unfor-
tunately, the determinative is sometimes lack-
ing and the context cannot always give a
decisive answer.

1. Introduction
2. Research on Egyptian Onomastics
3. Toponyms
4. Anthroponyms
5. Divine Names
6. Other Names
7. Transliterating Names
8. The Names as Source Material for Other

9. Selected Bibliography

1. Introduction
The study of names marked the beginning of sci-
entific Egyptology. The Macedonian royal names
Ptolemaios and Cleopatra on the Rosetta Stone
and further the names of the pharaohs Tuthmosis
and Ramesses were the key to the decipherment of
hieroglyphs by Champollion (1822). Ever since,
scholars examined the multitudinous Egyptian
sources: texts on papyri and inscriptions on tem-
ples, in graves and on stones. They cover almost
3800 years of history: Early Dynastic Period
(3100—2686 BC), Old Kingdom (2686—2181 BC),
1st Intermediate Period, Middle Kingdom and 2nd
Intermediate Period (2181—1558 BC), New King-
dom (1558—1085 BC), 3rd Intermediate and Late
Period (1085—304 BC), the Greek or Ptolemaic
Era (304—30 BC), the Roman and Byzantine
Times (30 BC—641). In 641 the Arabs conquered

Various language stages and scripts are to be
distinguished. From the dawn of Egyptian history
h i e r o g l y p h s were inscribed or painted on walls.
H i e r a t i c is a simplified derivation of hieroglyphs,
used for book writing and administration. It can
be written more quickly, but it still has clearly
recognizable signs. The administrative writing,
however, became gradually more cursive and de-
veloped into d e m o t i c: this very cursive writing
came into vogue from about 650 BC onwards. In
the Ptolemaic, Roman and Byzantine period, the
G r e e k l a n g u a g e, used by the Greeks and in the
Greek administration, coexisted with hieroglyphs
(for inscriptions, till 3th century AD), hieratic (for
sacred writings, till 4th century AD) and demotic
(mainly for temple administration, till 5th century
AD). About 250 AD a new Egyptian writing came
into existence: C o p t i c, which is still used nowa-
days in liturgical works. This stage of the Egyptian
language is written with Greek characters, to which
are added a few signs rendering typical Egyptian

2. Research on Egyptian Onomastics
The history of the study of Egyptian names

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842 VIII. Historische Entwicklung der Namen

Hathor = Παθυρις or Ἀϕροδίτης πόλις, The
city of Aphrodite) or a totally new name is
given to the city (Pr-Mnṯw-nb-M3tn, Temple-
domain of Montu, Lord of Medamud, Greek
Τὰ κεραμεῖα). Another phenomenon worth
mentioning, is that of cities having several
names, i. e. an administrative (Edfu: Ḏb3,
Coptic , Arabic Tell Edfu, Greek
Ἀπόλλωνος πόλις) and a religious name
(Edfu: Bḥdt, Greek Βαχθις).

The Coptic TN are usually based on the
older Egyptian names, not on the Greek
translations or Greek new names (Pr-Mḏ3,
Greek Ὀξύρυγχος, Coptic ). Many
of the Egyptian TN even survive in Arabic
times (Pr-B3st.t, Temple-domain of the god-
dess Bastet = Arabic Basta, see TAVO B41).
For Ancient Egyptian and Coptic elements in
the toponymy of modern Egypt, see Czap-
kiewicz (1971) and Kosack (1971); both stud-
ies are to be consulted with caution.

3.3. Onomastica and Topographical Lists
The so-called instructions for the training of
Egyptian scribes are lists of words or names
on several subjects, such as fauna, flora, oc-
cupations, TN. The TN are usually classified
from south to north, the Delta-TN from west
to east. Well-known examples of such ono-
mastica are the Ramesseum-onomasticon
from the Middle Kingdom as well as the
Amenope-onomasticon and Papyrus Hood
from the New Kingdom, all published by
Gardiner (1947). A late-hieratic onomasticon
from Tebtunis from about 100 AD is exam-
ined by Osing (1989), a demotic onomasticon
among the Cairo-papyri by Zauzich (1987).

Alongside the onomastica, the Egyptians
drew up topographical lists for administrative
purposes (Schlott-Schwab 1981), the oldest
one being the list on the kiosk of Sesostris I
in Karnak (Middle Kingdom). Among the
later lists, the hieratic geographical Papyrus
Tanis no. 1 and the lists of the nome-proces-
sions on temples, such as the one in Edfu, are
worth mentioning (Beinlich 1980).

3.4. Repertoria
Brugsch already collected the hieroglyphic and
hieratic TN in his Géographie of 1857, on
which a supplement was published in 1880.
Somewhat more recent, but also outdated
now, is the Dictionnaire des noms géogra-
phiques, compiled by Gauthier (1925—31). In
the series of the Tübinger Atlas des Vorderen
Orients, Beihefte, the Egyptian TN are now
recollected in chronological order: The TN of

(c) The two preceding items can be defined
by, for instance, adjectives (Ḥw.t-wr.t, The
great palace), names of gods (Niw.t-Imn, The
city of Amun), or royal names (Pr-Rc-ms-sw-
mry-Imn, Piramesse, House of Ramesses, be-
loved by Amun).

There are no general studies on the struc-
ture and sense of the TN. There exist, how-
ever, partial studies: Zibelius (1979) discussed
the TN of the Old Kingdom, Jacquet-Gordon
(1962) gathered all the domains of the Old
Kingdom and Helck (1984) the pyramid
names. There are articles about particular
composing elements: ihy (Yoyotte 1958, 418—
419), m3y (Yoyotte 1961—62a), št3 (Vernus
1977), itrw-c3 (Quaegebeur 1982), cẖy (Van-
dorpe 1991). There are of course also many
articles on specific TN (e. g., Yoyotte 1957—
60, on Bousiris).

3.2. History
A complete study of the changes within to-
ponymy is not available. Sentence-names (cf.
3.1.) rarely outlive the Middle Kingdom. Old
word-names are often simplified or disappear
in the course of ages. Some of them survive,
even though the etymology is not clear any
more (Imwr < Iw-m-itrw, island in the river).
In their stead new types of TN come into
existence. For instance, TN composed of Pr
(temple-domain) + main local god, or of Pr-
nb(.t) (temple-domain of the master/mistress)
+ old name of the city, are current from the
New Kingdom onwards (M3dw, Medamud,
later Pr-Mnṯw-nb-M3tn, Temple-domain of
Montu, Lord of Medamud; see Zibelius
1977). M3y (newly gained land), attested from
the New Kingdom onwards, is often used in
TN in the New Kingdom and later (Yoyotte
1961—62a). The Semitic loanword mktr (for-
tification) emerges in the New Kingdom as a
composing element for TN at the eastern bor-
der of the Delta. In the 3rd Intermediate
Period TN appear which are compounded
with sbt, strongholds founded by local kings
in those turbulent times (Yoyotte 1963). The
Libyan period (3rd Intermediate Period) pro-
duces a lot of TN consisting of grg (founda-
tion) + name of a god (Yoyotte 1962b).

In the Greco-Roman and Byzantine times,
every major city has a Greek name next to
the Egyptian name. The Greeks transliterate
the Egyptian TN (P3-mwẖy, The storehouse
= Πμοῦχις), or translate them (Niw.t-Imn,
The city of Amon = Διὸς πόλις, The city of
Zeus). Sometimes both possibilities are
attested (Pr-Ḥw.-t-Ḥr, Temple-domain of

Page 5

121.  Ancient Egyptian Onomastics 845

Σενμωνθις, The one of Apollo, alias The
Daughter of Montu, Apollo being equated
with Montu). A lot of them, however, have
no relation at all (Πτολεμαῖος ὁ καὶ Πα-
μενως, Pamenos meaning He of the young
man). Next to those groups, the double names
compounded with two Egyptian names still
exist (Petosiris alias Onnophris).

A person who bears a Greco-Egyptian
double name can be a Greek whose family
lives in Egypt for several generations and has
known mixed marriages, or an Egyptian who
takes a Greek name according to his position
in a Greek government office or in the Ptol-
emaic army. For the problem of the (doub-
le-)name as a criterion for the nationality, see
Clarysse (1985).

4.4. Abbreviated and Hypocoristic Names
(Ranke 1937—52, 95—117; Quaegebeur

There are two means to abbreviate AN. One
can simply omit a part of the name, e. g., the
divine name in a theophoric AN ( in-
stead of -NN, The face of the god NN
has said) or one or more lexical elements (

instead of Horus has
taken the sword). Another way of abbrevi-
ating AN is to eliminate some sounds, con-
sonants as well as vowels. The result of the
shortening is a hypocoristic name without a
proper etymology, written in purely phonetic
way ( and instead of ). Some
pet names are constructed by adding special
endings ( in ) or by repeating words or
parts of words within the AN ( ).

4.5. The Royal Names
The royal titulature consists of five great
names (cf. 4.3.), which the king assumes when
ascending the throne: the Horus-name (the
king as embodiment of the god Horus), the

name (the king in relation to the two
ladies, protectresses of Upper and Lower
Egypt), the golden-Horus name (what is
meant with ‚Horus of gold’, is an unsolved
problem), the prenomen (the principal name,
following the title ‚King of Upper and Lower
Egypt’) and the nomen (birth name of the
king, following the title ‚Son of Re’). The last
two names are written in a cartouche.

The standard work, although out of date,
remains Le Livre des Rois d’Égypte by Gau-
thier (1907—17). A handbook for the royal
names is compiled by von Beckerath (1984).
Later on, Bonhême (1987) examined the royal
names of the 3rd Intermediate Period and

4.3. Surnames and Double Names (Ranke
1937—52, 6—8; de Meulenaere 1966
and 1981; Vernus 1986)

From the third dynasty down to the Roman
domination, a person can bear two or even
three names. A surname has to be distin-
guished from an epithet or from the filiation,
sometimes joined to the principal name. Sev-
eral procedures can be applied to indicate a
surname. The different names of one person
can alternate on a same monument, two
names can be put in juxtaposition, or the
names can be preceded by a specification,
pointing to a principal or a surname. The
latter group is studied here in detail. Until
the end of the Old Kingdom the main name
is preceded by (great name), but then
this specification disappears. The designation
of the surname (small/little name) is
replaced by (beautiful name) in the
course of the Old Kingdom. The main name
is usually a theophoric or a basilophoric
name, whereas the surname is an abbrevation
or a hypocoristic of the principal name, or
even a profane AN without any reference to
the principal name. This system disappears in
the sixth dynasty. From the Middle Kingdom
onwards, two names of the same person are
joined by (who is also called). With
the renaissance of the 26th dynasty the old
designation (beautiful name) turns up
again. But from the Greek domination on-
wards the system with pushes aside

definitively in the demotic documents.
In Greek texts different formulas are used to
introduce the second name: ὃς καὶ (καλεῖται),
ὁ καὶ, ἐπικαλούμενος etc. (Calderini 1941—
42; Horsley 1992). When the double name is
joined by the double name of the father, the
following sequence is used in Greek and de-
motic texts: “name 1”, son of “name 1 of the
father”, alias “name 2”, son of “name 2 of
the father” (Ritner 1984).

In the Ptolemaic period two new types of
double names came into existence: the Greco-
Egyptian double names, composed with a
Greek and an Egyptian name, and the Greek
doubles names, consisting of two Greek
names. Related are the double names com-
posed with a Semitic and a Greek or Egyptian
name (Ἀπολλώνιος ὁ καὶ Ἰωναθᾶς, The one
of Apollo, alias The Lord has given him). The
Greco-Egyptian double names are often
translations of each other (Ψονσνευς ὁ καὶ
Τριάδελϕος, both meaning Three brothers,
see Quaegebeur 1992; Ἀπολλωνία ἡ καὶ

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846 VIII. Historische Entwicklung der Namen

thart (1980), and for the Coptic period, such
as Till’s (1962) prosopography of Thebes.

5. Divine Names

5.1. Names of Gods (Kuhlmann 1977)
The structure of the names of gods is similar
to that of the AN. As to their sense, the
following distinctions can be made. There are
divine names, composed of a characteristic of
the deity (Amun, The invisible, according to
the medium air, in which he ought to reveal
himself). Another group consists of names
which are personifications of abstract con-
cepts (Maat, Justice). Some names of god-
desses are the female counterpart of the name
of a god (Amaunet, female counterpart of
Amun). There are, however, several names of
gods of which no etymology is available.
In addition, divine names can be com-
pounded of two, sometimes even three or
more names of gods (see also Barta 1991).

A separate category of divine names are
the names of protecting spirits or demons,
representatives of chaos. A lot of them are
attested in funerary and magical texts (Meeks

5.2. Divine Epithets and Magical Names
Divine names can be accompanied by divine
epithets ( South of his wall, an epi-
thet of Ptah, see Quaegebeur 1980), which are
sometimes transliterated by the Greeks as if
they were part of the divine name itself
(Ἁθερνεβθϕηι, Hathor,
mistress of Aphroditopolis).

Magical texts are an important source for
Egyptian mythology and hold many

among them names of Egyptian
gods and demons, later on also of Greek and
Semitic gods. In the Greek magical papyri
from Egypt, the names of gods and demons
are transliterated into Greek, the etymology
of which has to be established by Egyptolo-
gists (Thissen 1991).

6. Other Names
Next to human beings and gods, personal
names can be attributed to animals, usually
deified animals, and to objects. Janssen (1958)
and Fischer (1961; 1977) gathered, for in-
stance, personal names given to dogs, the
favorite household pets throughout Egyptian
history. El-Sayed (1980) examined the names
of the seven heavenly cows. Schmitz (1984)

Grenier (1989) discussed the titulatures of the
Roman emperors. Finally, Barta (1987—89)
wrote a treatise on the construction of the
royal names themselves.

4.6. Repertoria
The names are col-
lected and thoroughly studied by Ranke in
Die ägyptischen Personennamen (1937—52):
he informs us about the hieroglyphic writing
of an AN, its transcription, its Greek version
if available, its translation. He also discusses
the structure, the sense and the history of all
the AN. An index was compiled later on
by Biedenkopf-Ziehner et al. (1977). Clère
(1938), de Meulenaere (1957—81) and Thi-
rion (1979—91) provided addenda to Ranke’s

The AN can be found in the Na-
menbuch of Lüddeckens (1980 —), alphabet-
ically arranged, but not yet finished. Spiegel-
berg (1901) examined the Egyptian AN and
their Greek transliterations occurring in the
mummy-labels. Preisigke (1922) gathered all
the AN and their variants recorded in the
Greek papyri, among them the trans-
literations of Egyptian names. Preisigke’s Na-
menbuch has been supplemented by Fora-
boschi (1971). The two latter publications are
somewhat out of date and contain many
ghost-names, corrected in several recent ar-
ticles (Bingen 1967; Quaegebeur 1974, 411—
412). Heuser (1929) provided a ‚Vorarbeit’ for
a dictionary of AN, on which Brunsch
(1984) made an index.

Next to the dictionaries, the
have to be taken into account. Franke

(1984) made a prosopography for the Middle
Kingdom. Ghalioungui (1983) provided an
up-to-date repertory of the Ancient Egyptian
physicians and examined their names. For the
Ptolemaic Period one can consult the Proso-
pographia Ptolemaica (by W. Peremans, E.
Van ’t Dack et al., Leuven, 1950 —), up to
now a collection of persons of whom the
occupation or activities are known; the AN
in Greek and demotic writing are listed. In
the future, volumes with all the persons of
certain regions or archives will appear. For
the Zenon-archive, the greatest archive of the
Ptolemaic period (about 1700 texts), one can
also consult Papyrologica Lugduno-Batava
21. A prosopography of the Roman Period
on data-base is being prepared by D.
Rathbone at University College London.
There are regional studies for the Byzantine
period, such as the Pros. Arsinoitica by Die-

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850 VIII. Historische Entwicklung der Namen

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122.  Onomastique sumérienne

tamie méridionale, les noms propres sumé-
riens se font de plus en plus rares dans la

En principe, les noms propres ont un sens
complet, mais beaucoup sont des énoncés
abrégés. Il existe aussi des hypocoristiques,
dont certains résistent à toute analyse. Par
leur contenu, les anthroponymes sont souvent
religieux (l’élément de base étant un nom de
divinité), mais d’ autres sont profanes, invo-
quant le roi ou le père de famille, par exemple.

1.1. Sources
L’onomastique sumérienne nous est connue
par des inscriptions et textes divers, mais sur-

1. Anthroponymie
2. Toponymie
3. Bibliographie sélective

1. Anthroponymie
Les anthroponymes sumériens sont constitués
de termes ou de groupes de termes qui appar-
tiennent à la langue sumérienne. Celle-ci fut
écrite et parlée durant le IIIe millénaire;
concurrencée par l’akkadien dès avant 2000
av. J.—C., elle devint une langue réservée aux
écrits: cette situation se reflète dans l’ono-
mastique. Très nombreux au IIIe millénaire
et encore sous la 3e dyn. d’Ur, en Mésopo-

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