The Lettuce Connection:A re-examination of the association of the Egyptian god Min with the lettuce plant from the Predynastic to the Ptolemaic Period.

  • Pauline Norris

    Student thesis: Phd


    Min was one of the earliest known Egyptian deities and his origins remain obscure but, because of his association with fertility and the kingship, he retained his importance from the Predynastic Period into the Roman era. Although his depiction as an ithyphallic, mummified male with a flail balanced above his raised right arm remained unaltered throughout, the overall iconography of Min did exhibit changes, notably with the introduction in the Sixth Dynasty of what is accepted as a lettuce plant resembling the modern Cos or Romaine cultivar of Lactuca sativa L. It is the association of Min with the lettuce plant that is the subject of this thesis. It is the received opinion in the literature that the plant was offered to Min, a fertility god, as an aphrodisiac. Apart from two seminal works that are over fifty years old, little research has been conducted into the association of Min with the lettuce. Much early research is in need of re-examination because of changes in social attitudes and research techniques and this the thesis seeks to redress. The aims of the research are to review the evidence for the lettuce plant in ancient Egypt and to re-examine the previously noted association of the god Min with a plant identified as lettuce.The study is primarily library and museum based and examines the history and nature of lettuce in ancient Egypt. The nature of 'aphrodisiac' is examined and the use of such substances in ancient Egypt is compared with modern usage. Min as a god of fertility is re-analysed and, finally, texts and Ptolemaic temple inscriptions are examined for evidence as to why and by whom lettuce was offered. The research results are applied to a study of Min as a god of fertility.The evidence indicates that lettuce was offered by the king to Min to ensure the fertility and regeneration of agriculture and of the king which would secure the continuation of his line and humanity. There is no evidence to suggest lettuce was offered as an aphrodisiac to increase the sexual desire of the god.
    Date of Award31 Dec 2015
    Original languageEnglish
    Awarding Institution
    • The University of Manchester
    SupervisorJoyce Tyldesley (Supervisor) & Andrew Chamberlain (Supervisor)


    • Min lettuce aphrodisiac

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