maandag 10 november 2014

Phoenicians in Abu Simbel

ABU SIMBEL = dlḥms


We know about 10-12 Phoenicians by name in the town of Abu Simbel in the south of Ancient Egypt (Nubia) in 4 inscriptions. Abu Simbel is known from the colossal statues of Ramses II and his two temples. There is also a small temple of Hathor of Ibsjeb and the queen Nefertari. All this had to be replaced some 200 metres up as a result of the installation of the Nasr dam and lake between Elefantine and Abu Simbel. The inscriptions are based on the survey of Maganini. What did the Phoenicians so far to the south?


CIS I 111:

K’yt ‘bdptḥ bn ygr’šmn – dl’ – ’ḥm

This is here Abdptaḥ son of Yagir-ešmun – dl’ --  ’ḥm


Abdptaḥ = servant of Ptaḥ (Benz p.174, Krahmalkov p.357).


Yagir-ešmun must be a misspelling. We know however Yagid-ešmun = Ešmun make him/me/you fortunate. (Benz p.127, Krahmalkov p.205).


We know the father and the son, but further information can not be detected, because the inscription has too many damages in the end. The names are of interest, because they are carrying names of the gods: Phoenician Ešmun and Egyptian Ptaḥ. The father seems to be complete Phoenician, but the son is holding an Egyptian god in his name.


CIS I 112a

‘bdskn bn ptyḥw ’š ‘l (d)lḥms

Abdsakun son of PTyehaw who sailed upstream to Abu Simbel.


Abdsakun = servant of Sakun (Benz p.162, Krahmalkov p.356)


PTyeḥaw must be: Ptḥyḥw = Ptaḥ-yeḥaw = Ptaḥ grant long live (Benz p.177, Krahmalkov p.410)


We know, that Abdsakun sailed up to Abu Simbel. Maybe his father Ptaḥ-yeḥaw lived somewhere else. That could be Memphis or Saqqara, where a lot of other Phoenicians lived.

The father uses the Egyptian Ptaḥ in his name, but the son has a complete Phoenician name.

Abu Simbel = dlḥms. Here is the d in the inscription lacking.


CIS I 112b1

Grhkl bn hlm ’š ‘l š šb lḥmh

Gerhekal son of Helem. I am the one who sailed upstream … to Abu Simbel.


Helem must be ḥelem (vocalisation and meaning uncertain) (Benz 109, Krahmalkov p.184)


Gerhekal = Ger-Hêkal (Fearer of Hekal) (Benz 104, Krahmalkov p.143).


Helem is an almost unknown word in the Phoenician world. Maybe the origin was Egyptian. Gerhekal is a Phoenician name. At the end of the inscription there stands clearly lḥmh, but Krahmalkov thinks we have to read dlḥms = Abu Simbel.



CIS I 112c

Kšy bn ‘bdp‘m ’š ‘l š[d] – šk -- ḥmh

Kusi son of Abdp‘m. I am who sailed upstream to – Kusj to Abu Simbel?


The name of the son Kusi could be a naming to the land of Kusj. It could be a misspelling also, because we know the Phoenician word ksy (CIS I 2022; 3985) in the Punic language, but not kšy. The Egyptian name for the Nubian is kš. Another possibility is that it is a misspelling for ks’y (servant of Kese).  

Abdp‘m could be a misspelling, because we are aware of the Phoenician name Abddo‘m (Benz 104, Krahmalkov p.143).

It is obvious, that Kusi went to Abu Simbel (dlḥms), but here we find only the word --ḥmh. Maybe Abu Simbel was called in Egypt ḥmh and in Phoenician: dlḥms.

It is difficult to retain your own proper language. That is why there are so many misspellings.


CIS I 113

’nk ’šmnytn ‘lt – n – r – h – nkpyn w‘lt‘r šrw
‘šmn[ytn] --- ‘r šrw

I am Ešmunyaton coming from – n – r – h – nkpyn? coming from Sharu.

Ešmunyaton – ‘r? Sharu.


Ešmunyaton = May Ešmun grant! (Benz 71-72, Krahmalkov p.83).

The place Sharu is unknown.


A last inscription mentions only the name Kšy again (see CIS I 112c).




Frank L.Benz, Studia Pohl, Rome, Biblical Institue Press, 1972. Studia Pohl: Dissertations scientificae de rebus orientis antique. A cataloque, Grammatical Study and Glossary of Elements.

                   Krahmalkov: PHOENICIAN - PUNIC DICTIONARY

                   Charles R.Krahmalkov. OLA 90. Studia Phoenicia XV.

                   Uitgeverij Peeters en Departement Oosterse studies. Leuven 2000.