Well, I had pretty much finished a post talking about how Takács, in an otherwise massive entry in his monumentally impressive dictionary of Egyptian, missed a crucial Semitic cognate for mr, ‘pyramid’ – “[o]ne of the most enigmatic words from an etymological viewpoint” – in Akkadian amaru, “pile of bricks.” This seemed pretty important, and I was excited to write about it. I even did a PDF search, just to make sure Takács hadn’t already covered it. As I’m finishing up my post, I was looking back through the discussion of mr, and somehow stumbled upon an entire section I had missed that indeed mentions amaru. No idea how I missed it, either…it was one of the very first sections.

Anyways, I don’t have much to add to this, other than the slightly interesting fact that ziggurats – the well-known Mesopotamian stepped pyramids – were made of baked mud bricks; whereas the Egyptian pyramids were limestone blocks. Thus, the Mesopotamian amaru and Egyptian mr are even more analogous than thought, in terms of basically meaning the same thing to the respective cultures (that is, Egyptian pyramids as “piles of stone blocks”).

Also, Takács cites Biberstein Kazimirski, Albright and others have appealed to another apparent Semitic cognate of amaru: Arabic ˀamārāt, either interpreted as “pierre qui indique la route” – that is, marker stones to indicate routes – or as “pyramidal heap of stones” (Albright). Although somewhat insightful, this is a contextually-dependent definition, Albright noting correctly that ˀamāra is “properly ‘mark, sign'” (Albright 1927: 218). But interestingly, in Genesis 31, Jacob makes a “heap” (גל) of stones as something of a stele – a boundary marker (31.52), and a sign of his “treaty” with Laban.