Many of you will have received your copy of the new edition of Overseas by now, but have you wondered what the hieroglyph at the cover's centre depicts?
The crouching man seen at the centre of the picture, with the head of an ibis, is the Egyptian god Thoth, inventor of writing and the alphabet, an apt choice for the cover of a magazine.
More than just the inventor of these, Thoth is also described as the God of Knowledge, the Moon, Measurement, Wisdom, the Alphabet, Records, Thought, Intelligence, Meditation, the Mind, Logic, Reason, Reading, Hieroglyphics, Magic, Secrets, Scribes, and Writing.
He plays a prominent role in many Egyptian myths, such as mediator between good and evil, scribe of the gods, maintainer of the universe, an arbitrator, and counsellor.
The temple dedicated to Thoth was found in the city of Khmun, called Hermopolis Magna in the Greco-Roman era, near modern-day El Ashmunein, on the border of Upper and Lower Egypt. The portico of the temple, consisting of two rows of six pillars, is all that remains today, burnt for lime after the Muslim conquest, or carried away for building materials elsewhere.
Khmun as it appears today
During the late period of Egyptian history, a cult centred on Thoth arose amongst the local population of Khmun. Millions of ibis were sacrificed, mummified and buried in the area in his honour.
Given the theme of language and its evolution in this issue of Overseas, we thought a cover which evokes the birth of written language a suitable choice. If you haven’t yet received your copy, you can read it online here.