Het-Hert, also known in the Greek derivation of her name as Hathor, is one of the oldest known deities in Kemet and was universally worshipped throughout all of its history.  She is a complex deity combining a number of functions and activities, with many titles describing her attributes or alluding to ancient myths.  Her name means "House of Heru," or "The House Above," and in hieroglyphs this is represented by a number of different spellings. The following is a somewhat technical explanation of why I have chosen to call her by the name of Het-Hert.

The hieroglyphs below show the most frequent spelling of her Name:

Glyphs-Hethert sm.jpg (8633 bytes)

Hieroglyphs of "The House of Heru"

It shows a falcon in a house, implying that She personifies the house (ie. the sky) in which Heru, the Sun-God, lives.

Here are some other spellings of her name in hieroglyphs:

Glyphs-Hethert MK CT.jpg (5153 bytes)

Ht-Hr(t) Het-Her(t), "The House Above" (Middle Kingdom) [1]

Het-Heret.jpg (5175 bytes)

Ht-Hrt Het-Hert, "The House Above"  (New Kingdom) [2]

Het-Hert2.jpg (4324 bytes)

Ht-Hrt Het-Hert, "The House of Heru" (Late Period) [3]

According to the Wörterbuch (vol. III, p. 5), the word for "Mansion" or "House" is Ht (pronounced "het") and is attested since the time of the Pyramid Texts.  This agrees with the Coptic pronunciation of the word for house, hi or hei (pronounced "eh"--like the final two letters of "say" in English, the final "t" of "het" having dropped off by that period (Spiegelberg 1921. 33 and Crum 1939. 66)).

The t-loaf and egg used in the two spellings above signify the feminine ending and were used as such in the names of Goddesses, such as that of Het-Hert (Junker 1906. 51-52).  The t-loaf is the phonetic "t" and the egg functions as the determinative, a symbol that indicates the general sense of the word. The actual pronunciation of the feminine ending "t" had fallen off by the time of the Late Egyptian language, and so was not pronounced.  However, we have no indication that it was not pronounced during earlier periods.

Some other pronunciations of her name are Hiwat-haru (Pre-New Kingdom, pronounced "Hyoo-waht-HAH-roo"), Het-hor (Post-New Kingdom, pronounced "Het-HOR"), and Athyr (Coptic, pronounced "ah-tuh-oor").  For this website, I have chosen to use the Middle Kingdom form, Ht-Hr(t), pronounced "Het-Hert" or "Het-Heret," using the hyphen to prevent the mispronunciation of her name as "He-thert."



[1] Glyphs from the outer coffin of Amenenhet (Cairo 28092) from el-Barsha, in Adrien deBuck's The Egyptian Coffin Texts, Vol. I, I-181, Spell 44. The same spelling occurs on the east wall of the tomb of Princess Kemsit, in Edouard Naville's The XIth Dynasty Temple at Deir el-Bahari, Part III, pl. III.
[2] Glyphs from Hermann Ranke's Die Ägyptischen Personennamen: Verzeichnis der Namen,  p. 111, no. 25.
[3] Glyphs from Adolf Erman and Hermann Grapow, Wörterbuch der Aegyptischen Sprache, Band III, p. 5.

Crum, W.E., A Coptic Dictionary, Oxford University Press, c. 1939.
Erman, Adolf, and Hermann Grapow, Wörterbuch der Aegyptischen Sprache, Band III, J.C. Hinrichs'sche Buchhandlung, c. 1929.
  Siuda, Tamara, Personal Conversation on June 5, 2002.
Lambkin, Thomas O., Introduction to Sahidic Coptic, Mercer University Press, c. 1983.
Naville, Edouard, The XIth Dynasty Temple at Deir el-Bahari, Part III, Egypt Exploration Fund, c. 1913.
Ranke, Hermann, Die Ägyptischen Personnennamen: Verzeichnis der Namen, Band I, J.J. Augustin, c. 1935.
Spiegelberg, Wilhelm, Koptisches Handwörterbuch, Carl Winters Universitätsbuchhandlung, 1921.

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