Classification and Categorization in Ancient Egypt

Determinatives and Categorisation in CT 335 and BD 17


In recent years, cognitive aspects of the Egyptian writing system were studied, and the importance of the determinatives as category makers and as a reflection of the ancient Egyptian mind, was re-alised. This study offers a fresh look at the divine determinatives and the category they form. It focuses on a group of five divine determinatives in Spell 335 of the Coffin Texts and Chapter 17 of the Book of the Dead. After discussing the transmission and themes of the texts as well as theories of categorisation, the author proceeds to analyse the ‘divine category’ which the five divine determinatives form. By identifying its prototypical members and by examining the relations between words and their divine determinatives, this book provides some crucial and thought provoking insights into the Ancient Egyptian perception of the divine, and is an important contribution to the understanding of the organisation of knowledge in general. The book concludes with a collation table that displays all the references to words written with divine determinatives in the texts, including hieroglyphic presentation of all the different variations of these words.