Friday, February 18, 2011

doing justice to Min

Maybe I'm a rube but this etymological situation puzzles me greatly.  In Egypt there was this famous place called Wadi Hammamat which was utilized throughout the span of Egyptian greatness as a major centre for mining and quarrying activity.  Gold mining and quarrying for bekhen stone were the chief activities; bekhen stone being prized for its colours, and utilized for making sculptures and sarcophagi.  Wadi Hammamat connected the great ancient Egyptian city of Gebtu (Koptos in Greek, now called Qift) to the Red Sea coast.  At Gebtu the predynastic god Min had a cult site and caravans would depart from Gebtu on their way to and through Wadi Hammamat for mining, trade and travel.  The wadi nowadays is prized for the hieroglyphic and hieratic inscriptions left behind by these tradesmen of the great Egyptian civilization.  Not surprisingly, Min was worshipped by the miners and masons doing their digging at Wadi Hammamat.  Min was known here as "Min, the (foremost) Man of the Mountain" or "Min, the Male of the Mountain".  Now this mining activity went on here, as I intimated prior, for at least three thousand years.  There are numerous texts and figures of an ithyphallic Min adorning the rocks here.

On the internet at a mine is described as such:
an excavation made in the earth for the purpose of extracting ores, coal, precious stones, etc.
On the internet at the action to mine is described as such:
to dig in the earth for the purpose of extracting ores, coal, etc.; make a mine.

This is an apt description of what went on at Wadi Hammamat for thousands of years under the auspicious watch of the great Min.

One of my favourite sites on the internet, the Online Etymology Dictionary, gives this for the origin of the english word mine:
c.1300, from O. Fr. mine, probably from a Celtic source (cf. Welsh mwyn, Ir. mein "ore, mine"), from O.Celt. *meini-. Italy and Greece were relatively poor in minerals, thus they did not contribute a word for this to Eng., but there was extensive mining from an early date in Celtic lands (Cornwall, etc.). The verb meaning "to dig in a mine" is from c.1300.

That's it, that's the best we can do in our modern research.  Puzzled I thought maybe the goods we're mining for, minerals, might help reveal some clues to the origin of the mine family of words.  Nothing, a virtual dead end.  One thing I have always been good at is math.  I've always been quite confident and unshaken in the conclusion that 1 + 1 = 2, 2 + 2 = 4 and so on.  So when I see things that add up to reveal an answer I'm quite certain of the truthfulness of that answer despite what I might be taught.  The ancient Egyptians dug and quarried for thousands of years at Wadi Hammamat for earth's treasures.  This was overseen by Min.  This place, the substance and the performing of the action preserves the power of this deity to this very day.  You cannot convince me otherwise.