Punt

12 September 2012
Archaeology

There has been a nice discussion on the whereabouts of Punt on the Eric Aitchison inspired chronology email link – which is always open to new participants, email ericaitch [at] hotkey [dot] net [dot] au. There are those keen to identify Punt with the Levant – as Velikovsky suggested, and there are others that see Punt as having a wider geographical spread, from Lebanon to North Arabia, and still others that also see Punt in Africa or southern Arabia. However, Gary Gilligan gave us a new dimension by suggesting that Gods Land, or Punt, was in the sky – predominantly in the southern sky (or the general location of the southern constellation and those constellations abutting it) as this is where various godly and mythical goings on seem to have occurred. In Gilligan's view, Hatshepsut represented Venus and the planet moved to a position of prominence in her reign. She is variously described in godly epithets, such as 'Her Majesty grew beyond everything, to look upon  her was more beautiful than anything, her form was like a god, she did everything as a god, her splendour was like a god, her majesty was a maiden, beautiful, blooming ….' and such like. Egyptian pharaohs were in effect nominally gods and to liken her to a god was not unusual as when she died her soul was thought to migrate into the sky, and in that respect Gilligan has a point. However, it may be that a cosmic object was seen in the time when Hatshepsut was on the throne, such as comet – a maiden with flowing hair and shining brightly etc. She is further described in such terms as shining like the Sun and her name reached as far as the circuit of heaven etc. Gods Land could thus be thought of the abode of the gods – the sky, and presumably one god in particular (apart from the object represented by the epithets applied to Hatshepsut). It may be worth while to look a little more closely at Punt – what it means in Egyptian, was it the same place as Gods Land, and so on. In the Tale of the Shipwrecked Sailor, Punt is associated with a special island ruled over by a great dragon, and the sailor returns to Egypt after a hospitable stay, laden with gifts that resemble those received by Hatshepsut from the land of Punt. So, is the Hatshepsut inscription at her temple a reference to a godly trip to a heavenly location or is she comparing her visit to a foreign land (or that of her boat crew) with the Tale above, returning laden with goodies as a result of trade rather than the goodliness of the dragon. Was trade exchange in the ancient world perceived as mirroring the activities of the gods at some moment in the past, or should we restrict ourselves a less colourful and thoroughly earthbound solution to Punt?

Note … the Egyptian story of Khensu, a youthful god described as akin to Ra, the Sun, appears to mirror the Tale of the Shipwrecked Sailor in some respects, except he visited a land known as Bekhten rather than Punt, but he also came away carrying armloads of rich gifts.

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