Ancient Egypt
Ancient And Modern Naming Conventions Compared Image Credit: Ancient Egypt
Ancient And Modern Naming Conventions Compared Image Credit: Ancient Egypt

Ancient And Modern Naming Conventions Compared

Hilary Wilson shows how the many and varied ways different societies name their children can help us understand ancient Egyptian names.

Hilary Wilson

A website helping parents choose names for their children advises the following: “Keep in mind that many names may have different meanings in other countries and languages so be careful that the name you choose doesn’t mean something bad or unpleasant.”

The naming of individuals is a common custom of cultures from all periods of history but the significance attached to names, the protocols of name choice and the rituals and conventions associated with naming can vary greatly even between contemporary societies. Comparison of these conventions, particularly those of Africa, with the traditions of ancient Egypt, can illuminate our understanding of Egyptian personal names.

In many modern cultures some children go un-named for their first few months or even years, during which they are referred to by temporary nicknames, until their personalities have developed enough for suitable ‘real’ names to become apparent. Others may take on additional names or change names at different stages in their lives, for example at puberty, on marriage or on the birth of their first child. In cultures where such thought is put into the choice of nomenclature, names are clearly considered to be more important than the mere labels which we, in the ‘enlightened’ West, so casually bandy abo


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