The Egyptian mythology reference article from the English Wikipedia on 24-Apr-2004
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Egyptian mythology

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Egyptian mythology (or Egyptian religion) is the name for the succession of beliefs held by the people of Egypt until the coming of Christianity and Islam.

The timespan involved is nearly three thousand years, and beliefs varied considerably over time, so an article or, indeed, even one whole book, cannot do more than outline the many entities and subjects in this complex system of beliefs. Egyptian Mythology is different from Greek or Roman Mythology, in that in Egyptian Mythology most deities are of human body and animal head or vice versa.

Table of contents
1 Afterlife
2 External influences
3 Monotheism developments
4 Temples
5 The World
6 The Nile
7 See also
8 External links and references
9 Egyptian mythology articles
10 A Note on Pronunciation


Egyptians believed they had the right to an afterlife. Egyptians believed for the soul to survive death, the body had to be preserved. Therefore, embalming and mummification was practiced. The weighing the heart occurred before proceeding to either the afterlife or the devourer.

Egyptian embalming

Main article: Mummification

Since preservation of the body was instrumental in keeping the Ka and Ba souls, embalming was developed by the Egyptians around the 4th Dynasty. Egyptians would conduct the mummification process. All soft tissues like the brain and internal organs were removed. The cavities were washed and then packed with natron, and the body buried in a pile of natron. The intestines, lungs, liver and the stomach were preserved separately and stored in jars protected by the four sons of Horus: Duamutef (stomach), Qebhsenuef (intestines), Hapy (lungs), and Imsety (liver).


Book of the dead

Main article:
Book of the Dead

The Book of the Dead was a series of almost two hundred magical texts, hymns and illustrations recorded on papyrus, which were placed with the dead in order to ease their passage into the underworld. In some tombs, the texts have also been found on the walls. One of the best examples of the Book of the Dead is 'The Papyrus of Ani', created in 1240 BC. As well as the texts themselves, it also contains many pictures of Ani and his wife on their journey through the land of the dead.

Egyptians saw death as being the start of a perilous journey, rather than the end of life. In order to reach the land where the gods dwelt, and to live amongst them, they must first traverse the land of the dead. Each Book of the Dead was tailored to some extent for the individual who would be taking the journey. It contained the spells and hymns thought to be most appropriate to the life that the person had led, as well as the pleas and speeches that would be used to pass each test on the journey. Crucially, these included the test of the Weighing of the Heart.

The weighing of the heart

To the Egyptian, the heart notes all good and bad deeds of a person's life. It was the data that is analyzed in a ceremony, upon death, in a judgment for afterlife. The ceremony of the weighing of the heart occurred in the Hall of Judgement. The deceased is led into the hall by Anubis. The deceased's heart is placed on one scale pans and weighed against the Maat's feather of truth. Anubis then adjusts the scale's plummet. Thoth records the verdict. The deceased is taken by Horus before Osiris after a proper verdict if rendered in favor. A crocodile, lion, and hippopotamus shaped demon, the devourer (e.g., "Eater of Hearts"), destroys those that the verdict is against.

External influences

Libyan period

Main article:
Libyan Egypt
22nd - 25th Dynasty

Egypt has long had ties with Libya. After the death of Rameses XI, the priesthood in the person of Herihor wrest control of Egypt away from the Pharaohs until they were superseded (without any apparent struggle) by the Libyan kings of the 22nd Dynasty. , The first king of the new Dynasty served as a general under the last ruler of the 21st Dynasty. It is known that he appointed his own son to be the High Priest of Amun, a post that was previously a hereditary appointment.

The scant and patchy nature of the written records from this period suggest that it was unsettled. There appear to have been many subversive groups which eventually led to the creation of the 23rd dynasty which ran concurrent with the 22nd.

Ptolemaic period

Main article: Greek Egypt
304 BC - 30 BC

Started with Ptolemy I of Egypt and ended with Cleopatra VII. As Ptolemy I Soter ("Saviour"), he founded the Ptolemaic dynasty, which was to rule Egypt for 300 years. All the male rulers of the dynasty took the name "Ptolemy". Because the Ptolemaic kings adopted the Egyptian custom of marrying their sisters, many of the kings ruled jointly with their spouses, who were also of the royal house. This custom made Ptolemaic politics confusingly incestuous, and the later Ptolemies were increasingly feeble. The last of the Ptolemies, the famous Cleopatra, was the only Ptolemaic queen to rule on her own, after the death of her brother/husband, Ptolemy XIII.

Roman period

Main article: Roman Egypt
30 BC - 639 AD

Egypt was incorporated into the Roman Empire, and was ruled first from Rome and then from Constantinople (until the Arab conquest). The most revolutionary event in the history of Roman Egypt was the introduction of Christianity in the 2nd century. It was at first vigorously persecuted by the Roman authorities, who feared religious discord more than anything else in a country where religion had always been paramount. But it soon gained adherents among the Jews of Alexandria. From them it rapidly passed to the Greeks, and then to the native Egyptians, who found its promise of personal salvation and its teachings of social equality appealing.

Monotheism developments

A short period of monotheism occurred under the reign of Akhenaten, and was focused on the Egyptian sun deity Aten. Akhenaten outlawed the worship of any other god and built a new capital (Amarna) around the temple for Aten. The religious change survived only until the death of Akhenaton's son Tutankhamun, but it was highly unpopular and was quickly reverted afterwards. In fact, Akhenaten and Tutankhamun's removals from the Wall of Kings are likely related to the radical religious change.

According to some Egyptologists, it is incorrect to regard this period as monotheistic. People did not worship the Aten but worshipped the royal family as a pantheon of gods who received their divine power from the Aten. Afterward, the original Egyptian pantheon survived more or less as the dominant faith, until the establishment of Coptic Christianity and later Islam, even though the Egyptians had encountered monotheism in other cultures (e.g. Hebrewss). Egyptian mythology put up surprisingly little resistance to the spread of Christianity. Possibly its long history of collaboration with the Greek and Roman rulers of Egypt had robbed it of its authority.


temples as representations of the world...

Some temples today are still standing, which you can see in Egypt. Others are in crumbles from wear and tear. Pharaoh Ramses II built a lot of temples in his day.

Some known temples include:

The World


Heaven and earth

The Nile

The river Nile gave life to the entire Egyptian civilisation. Its annual spring floods bringing water and rich nutrients to fields that would otherwise be swallowed up by the Sahara Desert. The river provided food, transportation, building materials and papyrus. Egypt's new year was deemed to begin at the flooding of the Nile. The river's course, from south to north, was seen as being in perfect harmony with the sun god Ra's daily journey from west to east in his boat across the ocean of sky. It was the Pharaoh's duty each year to influence the gods and bring forth the floods, as well as organising the building and repair of the irrigation systems. His success or failure as a ruler was measured by the prosperity brought by the Nile. The Nile itself did not play a major role in Egyptian religious beliefs. It was known simply as 'the river' and even the annual flood was given over to a minor god named 'Hapy'.

See also

External links and references

Egyptian mythology articles



Aalu - Aaru - Ahemait - Ailuros - Aker - Akert - Akeru - Am-heh - Amathaunta - Amaunet - Ament - Amentet - Amenthes - Amenti - Ammit - Ammon - Ammut - Amon - Amon-Min - Amon-Re - Amset - Amun - Andjety - Anedjti - Anezti - Anhur - Ankt - Anouke - Anqet - Anti - Anubis - Anuket - Anukis - Apep - Apepi - Apet - Apis - Apofis - Ap-uat - Arensnuphis - Ari-hes-nefer - Arsnuphis - As - Aset - Ash - Astennu - Aten - Athor ? Ausaas


Ba - Baba - Babi - Babu - Bakha - Banebdedet - Baneb Djedet - Banebdjetet - Ba Neb Tetet - Ba-Pef - Bast - Bastet - Bat - Bata - Beb - Bebti - Behedti - Bes - Beset ?Bisu - Buchis - Buto


Chem - Chensit - Chenti-cheti - Chenti-irti - Chepri - Cherti - Chnum - Chons ? Chontamenti


Dedun - Dedwen - Djebauti - Djeheuty - Dua - Duamutef ? Duat


Edjo - Egyptian soul - Ehi - Ennead - Ernutet




Ham - Hap - Hapi - Hapy - Harachte - Harakhti - Har-em-akhet - Harendotes - Harensnuphis - Harmachis - Har-mau - Harmerti - Har-nedj-itef - Haroeris - Har-pa-Khered - Harpocrates - Har-pa-khered - Harsomtus - Hathor - Hatmehit - Hatmehyt - Hauhet - Hedetet - Heget - Heh - Heka - Heket - Hemen - Hemsut - Hemuset - Heqet - Her-akhety - Heru-sa-Aset - Har-sa-iset - Harsiesis - Har-wer - Heru-ur - Heryshaf - Hesat - Hetepet - Het-hert - Het-Heru - Hetyt Serket - Hez-ur - Hike - Horakhety - Hor-Hekenu - Horus -Hr - Hrw - Hu ? Huh - Hwt-Hert


Iaru - Ihu - Ihy - Imiut - Immutef - Imset - Inmutef - Ipet - Isdes - Isis ? Isten - Iunmutef - Iusas


Jah - Joh - Juesaes ? Junit - Jusas


Ka - Kauket - Keb - Kebechet - Kebechsenef - Kebehsenuf - Kematef - Kemwer - Khem - Khensu - Khentamenti - Khentimentiu - Khenty-irty - Kheper - Khepera - Khepri - Khert Neter - Kherty - Khnum - Khons - Khonsu - Kis ? Knum - Kuk


Maahes - Maat - Maàt - Maàt - Mafdet - Mehen - Mahes - Mehet-uret - Mehet-Weret - Mehturt - Mehurt - Mekhenty-er-irty - Menchit - Mendes - Menhit ? Menthu - Mentu - Mert - Meret - Meretseger - Mertseger - Mesenet - Meshkent - Meskhenet - Meskhent - Mesta - Mesti - Mihos - Min - Mnevis - Mnewer ? Mont - Month - Montu - Mut - Miysis


Naunet - Neb-er-tcher - Nebet-het - Nebt-het - Nechbet - Nehmet-awai - Nechmetawaj - Neferhor - Nefertem - Nefer-Tem - Nefer-Temu - Nefertum - Neheb-Ka - Nehebkau - Nehebu-Kau - Neith ? Nekhbet - Nekhebit - Nenun - Nenwen - Neper - Nephoros - Nephthys - Nepit - Neter-khertet - Nopheros - Nu - Nunet ? Nut


Ogdoad ? Onuris - Opet - Ophois - Osiris


Pachet - Petbe - Petesuchos - Psais - Ptah-Seker-Osiris - Ptah-Seker ? Ptah


Qebehsenuf - Qebshenuf - Qetesh


Ra - Ra-Herekhty - Ra-Heru-akhety - Re - Re-Harakhti -Renenet - Renenutet - Renpet - Reret ? Ruti


Saa - Sachmet - Sai - Sakhet - Sakhmet - Saosis - Sates - Sati - Satis - Satjit - Seb - Sebek - Sechat-Hor - Seker - Sekhmet - Sektet - Selchis - Selket - Selkis - Sentait - Sep - Sepa - Septu - Serket - Sesat - Seshat - Seshata - Sesheta - Sesmu - Set - Setech - Setekh Setesh - Seth - Seti - Shait - Shu - Sia - Sobek - Socharis - Sochet - Sokar - Sokaris ? Sopd - Sopdu - Sopdet - Sothis - Suchos - Sutech - Sutekh


Tahuti - Tanen - Ta-tenen - Tathenen - Taueret - Taurt - Taweret - Tefnut - Tehuti - Tenenit - Thot - Thoth - Toeris - Tuamutef


Udjo - Upuaut - Usiris - Uto



Wadjet - Wadjit - Wepwawet - Wep-wawet


Zebauti - Zehuti

See also

A Note on Pronunciation

A "received pronunciation" of the names of ancient Egyptian deities has formed. By and large, this pronunciation is acceptable for most consonants and utterly wrong for the vowels. The actual vowels of ancient Egyptian are essentially unknown. Egyptologists developed a set of conventions to make it easier to talk about the terms they used. Two distinct different glottal consonants were both replaced with "a". A consonant similar to the "y" in the English word "yet" was replaced with "i". A consonant similar to the "w" in the English word "well" was replaced with "u". Then, "e" was inserted between other consonants. Thus, for example, the Egyptian king whose name is most accurately transcribed as "R?-mss" is known as "Rameses", even though cuneiform tablets that mention him suggest that a more accurate rendering with vowels might have been "Ri`amasesa".

See also: Egyptian language

External links