Susanllewellyn's Blog

November 14, 2009

Office hieroglyphs (21)

Filed under: Office hieroglyphs,Uncategorized — Valerie Billingham @ 9:16 pm
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khet nebet


Khet nebet.  Every thing.  Or, rather, thing every.  Let’s look at thing, first.

khet khet transliteration

Khet, thing. As you’ve been sitting there, starving, for two and a half months, your attention will have been fixed instantly on the loaf of bread which, as usual, represents the letter t.  I wonder whether you’d fancy eating the object depicted above it, the symbol which to the Egyptians represented the second of their collection of four letters h?  Some people have been known to eat it.

The identification is not aboslutely certain, but it’s quite possible that it’s the symbol for a human placenta.  Some of you may be making the very sound of the second letter h as you contemplate the idea of eating it, especially if what you are eating at the moment is attempting to reguritate itself and / or fly across the room.  Some of you may be made of tougher stuff.

I did briefly toy with the idea of putting a photograph of a human placenta on this blog – and there are plenty of them in cyberspace , including one in which bread was also a feature – but I decided that, if you really want to do a comparison with the hieroglyph, you can easily find them.  They are a bit off-putting for the unwary Egyptophile.  We’ll make do with a couple of pictures of the original hieroglyph instead:

placenta 1097

 placenta 2098

They don’t help much with the identification, do they?  And they don’t look very appetizing.  I don’t know whether the Egyptians ate their placentas or not, but I did find a shampoo which listed placenta as an ingredient in Canada, of all places.  Who’d have thought it?  Anyway, in this context, it’s not for eating, it’s for saying the second letter h.  Kh.  And it’s easy to draw:  just a circle and some cross-hatching.


 nebet transliteration

Nebet means every or all.  The signs need no introduction to you.  We had the basket sign, neb, before, as the word for “Lord” in the titulary of Osiris.  Neb aslo means “every” or “all”, and it appears here as nebet because it is in its feminine form, agreeing with khet.  The “t” endings of words are often feminine.

There.  For two and a half months you’ve been feeling abandoned. Now you’re the tomb owner who has everything.

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