Lord of the Sacred Land. As Atum was the god who made the first land rise from the waters of the primeval ocean, and as he was the only god around to lord it at the time, the title is no more than his due. Here it is, the last in the sequence of titles in this inscription:
Nb t3 dsr neb ta djeser Lord of the Sacred Land
Our old friend neb, Lord, is such an old friend it needs no introduction.
Ta, land, we’ve also had before, in tawy, the Two Lands of ancient Egypt. It was written in an abbreviated form in that example. Here it’s written out more fully,
with the strip of mud bank sign we’ve had before – which is the bit pronounced ta – followed by a single stroke and another sign. Neither of these two signs is pronounced; they are both determinatives to give the reader a clue about the type of word this is. The single short stroke indicates that the ta sign is to be taken literally – it is the word for land, not a different word which sounds like the word for land.
The third sign is – wait for it – another bit of land! It’s easy to draw; one short straight side and the two long sides come together in a curve, not an angle – just like a tongue. This particular hieroglyph is a spit or tongue of land, like this one:
What they really want to emphasise here with these three hieroglyphs is that this is the word for land. Land, land, land. Not water. Not air. Land. Have you got that? Good. (They also want to fill an awkward space at the bottom of the column.)
Dsr, djeser, sacred, by contrast, fills the last remaining space very nicely on its own:
It’s an arm holding a certain type of ritual implement, a kind of wand. If you draw an arm holding an ice cream cone, one of those soft ones that extrude from a nozzle (yum) you won’t go far wrong. Stop short of the raspberry sauce and the chocolate flake, though. That would just be ridiculous – or maybe that’s a good reason to write them in someone’s card. You decide. (Come to think of it, the arm does look as though Atum, the divine ice cream man, is leaning out of the serving hatch of the ice cream van … )
I have tried hard and failed to find a picture of an actual wand of this type for you, so here is at least a picture of a more colourful version of the hieroglyph, in the cartouche of King (Djeserkheprure Setepenre) Horemheb (Merenamun):
If anyone does have a picture of the wand, I’d love to have it for the blog.
So we’ve come to the end of Atum’s career as founder of the universe and the titles he acquired on the way. In the next post, it will be time to look at the contribution of the next generation; Atum’s twin offspring, Shu and Tefnut.