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Some Remarks on the Epagomenal Days in Ancient Egypt by Anthony Spalinger

Recent discussion bas once more centered upon the transitional five days of the
Egyptian Civil Year. Not too surprisingly the religious orientation of scholars bas been
coupled with a calendric one, especially as the quintet was of crucial importance to the
ancients who were warned to be especially careful during this period. 2 In fact, it was after
the final day of the twelfth month, Mesore (4 smw), that the agents of the goddess Sekhmet
were sent not merely to harm but also virtually to annihilate man. As early as the Pyramid
texts we read of them as days of the “Birth of the Gods,” a tradition that is first
specified in one of the Harhotpe documents of the Early Middle Kingdom.3 At that time,
ail of the five deities associated with each day are recorded: Osiris, Horus, Seth, Isis, and
Nephthys. Just as these specific gods and goddesses associated with their own day are first
recorded in inscriptions dated to the Middle Kingdom, the tradition of Sekhmet and her
messengers can be traced back to the same period.4 References to the epagomenals, of
course, can be found in such texts as the Niuserre Temple Calendar of Dynasty V or the
private feast lists of Khnumhotep 2 at Beni Hasan and those recorded on the Coffin of
Ma, the latter two dated to the Middle Kingdom, as well as one of the Harhotpe documents
as previously noted.5 But perhaps of greater significance to a chronologist than to

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