30 July, 2011

Ancient Egyptians And Their World Of Dreams

Ancient Egyptian headrest found in tomb of Tutankhamen
Ancient Egyptian headrest from tomb of TutankhamenIt's strange how I sometimes write a post and then something comes along for the next post of a similar nature. Yesterday the theme was dreams and last night I read by chance about the ancient Egyptians and how they believed that what they dreamed had a bearing on their daily lives.

Interpreting dreams was an important part of predicting their future. So much so that they compiled Dream Books. These consisted of lists of dreams and what relevance these would have in their lives.

We know this to be true because several such books have been found. One of the best known was compiled by someone called Qenherkhepshef, who is described as being a scribe. He lived in the late thirteenth and early twelfth centuries BC - a long time ago!

It's more of a papyrus that a book and is known as the Papyrus Chester Beatty III and is held by the British Museum in London.

Here are a few entries from his 'book.'

If a man sees himself in a dream submerging in the river : good : this means purification from evils.

If a man sees himself in a dream eating crocodile : good : this means acting as an official among his people.

If a man sees himself in a dream burying an old man : good : this means flourishing.

If a man sees himself in a dream seeing his face in a mirror : bad : this means another wife.

If a man sees himself in a dream shod with white sandals : bad : this means roaming the earth.

If a man sees himself in a dream copulating with a woman : bad : this means mourning.

If a man sees himself in a dream with his bed catching fire : bad : this means driving away his wife.


It's not certain who would have possessed these Dream Books but is thought most likely to be the priests and magicians.

Lector Priests, for example, acted as links between local communities and the temples. They were associated with magic throughout ancient Egyptian history and were also known as dream interpreters. They probably, therefore, consulted Dream Books.

With dreams having such significance nightmares were of great concern to the ancient Egyptians. They would often guard against these with spells and the use of headrests (see photo at top of this post) decorated with protective entities.

Temples sometimes had special structures built to encourage healing or helpful dreams. This was supposedly especially helpful for infertility problems.

There is a story found on papyrus where a wife Mehusekhe spends a night in such a sanctuary because of her inability to conceive. She has a dream in which she is told to make up a remedy from the crushed gourds of a melon vine. The dream also told her to have sexual intercourse with her husband Setne (probably an essential!) and, sure enough, she became pregnant.

Dreaming was very much part and parcel of every day living.

Further Dream Posts
The Precognitive Dream Of An Air Crash
Dreaming Of A Phone Number Led To Romance
Examples Of Famous Dreams

Bookmark and Share

5 comments:

  1. i like this stuff about the ancient egyptians it was an interesting era

    ReplyDelete
  2. Fascinating post. I found that last paragraph humorous. Maybe the woman didn't make the connection between sex and conceiving until she spent the night in the temple!
    wv: untries!

    ReplyDelete
  3. I changed my mind about my comment after reading Trish's comment...

    Maybe it's possible dreams could confuse humans from the practical actions and biological functionality of creating the dream. Want a child? Leave the temple. Have sex. :D

    ReplyDelete
  4. "Mysteries of Ancient Egypt" has been included in this weeks A Sunday Drive. I hope this helps to attract even more new visitors.

    ReplyDelete
  5. They even had a dream god called: "Serapis", they built him temples and they went there to sleep if they were looking for some answers from the god, because dreams where caused by real things unable to be interpreted or controlled by the conscious mind.

    ReplyDelete