Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Calendar Entry #25: Holiday of Sokar

We continue our journey through the Cauldrons Calendar feast/festival/holidays.

Seker or Sokar is a funerary falcon god, closely associated with other gods Ptah and Osiris, both with ties to death and the underworld. This has let to the triple god depiction in late periods of Ptah-Seker-Osiris.

The Book of the Dead mentions him making silver bowls and a silver coffin and the Pyramid texts link his name to 'Sy-k-ri' - the call from Osiris to Isis, meaning 'hurry to me' in the underworld. His name could have been derived from 'skr' meaning 'cleaning the mouth' a reference to the Opening of the Mouth ceremony.

Along with Ptah, his primary cult centre was Memphis. This holiday may have been closely related to the Festival in the Estate of Ptah, also on this day, due to the link they have as Ptah-Sokar. In this form Ptah-Sokar represents the soil and its power in the creation of life. Ptah was considered the patron of artisans and Sokar became the patron of goldsmiths specifically.


  1. I wonder if any of the goldsmiths had heavy metal issues

  2. I'm not sure. There are lots of websites that point to The Instruction of Dua-Khety to say that there was. The Instructions are a book about a guy in the Middle Kingdom advising his son Pepy to become a scribe rather than other professions. Most sites say that he has seen a smith (as in a goldsmith) at work and his fingers were claw-like and he smelt like fish roe. The smell has been said to refer to the fumes from a furnace in the chemical process done to gold, and the curled fingers pointing to a symptom of heavy-metal poisoning. However, the translation I read (http://www.reshafim.org.il/ad/egypt/texts/instructions_of_kheti.htm) said that he hadn't seen a goldsmith, but he has witnessed a copper-smith at work. I don't know the process in working with either copper or gold and whether this makes a difference. If they are similar then perhaps there was heavy metal issues within the goldsmith fraternity - if they are dissimilar, then I can't tell you. I haven't come across anything definitive that says goldsmiths had a problem with heavy metal in Ancient Egypt.

  3. Considering that until sometime within the last 100 years Mercury was used to extract gold from ore I would suggest that heavy metal issues were more than likely :)

  4. Lol - I'm glad someone know about gold extraction - had no idea myself :P