and numerals and their ancient religious uses in our e-book
Ancient Creation Stories told by the Numbers
by H. Peter Aleff
Seshat's emblem in Luxor shows the tools
of her rope-stretching trade
Detail of Seshat's emblem on a Luxor temple wall, enlarged from a photograph by Werner Forman in Werner Forman and Steven Quirke: “Hieroglyphs & the Afterlife in Ancient Egypt”, University of Oklahoma Press, 1996, page 11, posted with permission.
This picture of Seshat's emblem on a temple wall in Luxor dates from around 1250 BCE. It shows the seven- part leaf of the hemp plant used to make Seshat's surveying rope.
That leaf is here framed by a large numeral "ten" with a smaller version of that same numeral on top. This juxtaposition of "tens" clearly described Seshat's mastery of numbers from large to small in her and her followers' decimal system. That juxtaposition of the small "ten" symbol with its much larger version also still conveys accurately her duty to scale down the large numbers of the cosmos into their smaller counterparts which she then used to lay out the scaled-down replica of that cosmos, the temple.
The five-pointed star at the center of the hemp leaf is a pentagram, slightly distorted to accommodate the stem of the hemp leaf. The pentagram is a telltale sign of systematic and for back then highly advanced mathematical thinking because it requires for its precise construction analytical geometry as well as an understanding of the "golden section" which ranks still today as maybe the most widely used and most clearly recognized shorthand symbol for the beauty of mathematics.
We know that some 750 years after the Luxor sculptor carved this sign of mathematical beauty into the heart of Seshat's emblem of rope-stretching geometry, the pentagram was so closely associated with true mathematics, as compared with mere counting, that Pythagoras used this sign as the symbol for his secret mathematical teachings which he had picked up mostly in Egypt, and as an unmistakable sign of mutual recognition among the disciples of his mathematics cult.
The context and clarity of Seshat's attributes in her Luxor portrait suggest that its sculptor used this geometric figure here already with a very similar meaning, as the most essence-conveying symbol for the advanced mathematics at the core of Seshat's temple geometry which Pythagoras would later come to study.
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