Thoth’s Storm: New Evidence for Ancient Egyptians in Ireland?
The majestic and isolated Skellig Michael off Ireland’s coast. ( CC BY-SA 3.0 )
Despite these legends, up until recently there had been very little strong academic evidence linking Ireland with the lower Mediterranean. In December 2015, however, this all changed.
Groundbreaking DNA Findings
Scientists from Trinity College Dublin and Queen's University Belfast published new findings in the journal, the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences . What they found was that the ancient Irish were not only related to the people of southern Europe but that that there was a Middle Eastern connection too.
With this new knowledge comes a tantalizing explanation for the ape skull in ancient Ireland and which connects to a previously unexplored etymological link to the Tuatha De Danann .
Commonly, the meaning of this mysterious race has been posited as The People of Danu , a mother goddess from Irish mythology. However, the earliest recordings of the Tuatha do not include the last word Danann, instead being described as Tuatha De or Tuatha Di . In fact it is only since the 19 th century that the current description of Danu was widely accepted by scholars.
Perhaps then it is time to look at these people using the new information we now have about their roots and, most importantly, the gods they worshipped and revered.
Thoth, ancient Egyptian god often depicted as an ibis-headed man. ( CC BY-SA 4.0 )
One of the most important Egyptian gods was Thoth, later to be named Hermes by the Greeks. Thoth was a moon god who was said to have brought wisdom and writing to the world. He was often represented and symbolized by a baboon or the North African ape. Could this be a reason for ape bones found at Irish sites?
Depiction of Thoth as a baboon, circa 1400 BC. ( CC BY-SA 3.0 )
Even more curious are the overlooked etymological variants of Thoth; Thoout and Thaut. When we look for phonetic comparisons within Egyptian hieroglyphics we find very apt descriptions of the Tuatha De Danann’s arrival in Ireland.
Thoout Dai translates as ‘Thoth’s crossing’, Thoout DAt translates to ‘Thoth’s journey by boat’ and Thoout Da translates as ‘Thoth’s storm’ (According to Lebor Gabála Érenn, the Tuatha came to Ireland "in dark clouds"). (9.)
All of these phonetic similarities are in line with the descriptions of these legendary people and how they arrived in Ireland.
Illustration of the Ibis-headed Thoth and baboon primate in boat. ( Public Domain )
Another telling factor in the omission of these translations by scholars in the 19 th century is that The Rosetta Stone and the decipherment of hieroglyphics by Champollion only took place in the 1820’s. The early Christian monks who first recorded these stories would have had no knowledge of these phonetic translations.
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Indeed, most scholars of Irish mythology in the 19 th century probably remained unaware of Champollion’s work as well. Most believed Danann came from the Vedic Goddess Danu.
When we remove the more fanciful elements of myth and lore we are still left with many unanswered questions that new scientific evidence is compelling us to ask. Some of the answers have already overturned previous academic opinion and with each technological breakthrough we discover new means to dig further into our past.
Although an ancient connection between Ireland and Egypt was once thought far-fetched and outside of the accepted scholarly realm, we now have more reason than ever to examine these links and wonder again about the Tuatha De or, possibly, Thoth’s Storm.
© David Halpin 2016
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Featured image: Deriv; Ancient Celtic dolmen from Poulnabrone, Ireland (Flickr/ CC BY 2.0 ) and carved Egyptian deity Thoth (Jon Bodsworth).
By David Halpin
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