Ancient Egyptian Religion

Figure 1.--This is a statuette depicting Horus as a child. Horus was one of the most important Egyptian gods, often depicted with afalcon head. Horus was worshiped throuughout the dynastic eras, but wasexpecially adored in the later era. Here except for the cobra symbol on his forehead, Horus is depicted naked as all the ancient Egyptian children at the same age. Also notice shaved head and braid. The dating of the statuette is uncertain, but most specialists date it to the 4th century BC or possibly earlier. The finger to the mouth is frequent in ancient Egyptian images of little children. Many Egyptologists think that it is a representation of babies and toddlers putting a finger in the mouth, that was common when there were no pacifiers. It thus may be a more acurate age inducator than the size of the depiction Source: Walters Art Museum, Baltimore, Maryland.

The sun was ancient Egypt's principal deity. The sun's passage daily across the sky from sunrise to sunset represented the eternal cycle of birth, death and rebirth. The kings or pharaohs were seen as gods by the common people. The pharoh was in fact the god's representatives on earth, most commomly Horus. Egypt had an exotic pantheon of gods. One of the most important was Horus who is easily recognized because he is often depicted with a falcon head. It was the rituals and religious ceremonies overseen by pharaoh and the priests guaranteed the continuation of Egyptian civilization and indeed life itself. A pharaoh at death became imortal, joining the gods after a journey through the afterworld. The ancient Egyptians believed that both the body and soul were essential aspects of human existence, during life and after death. The Egyptian funerary ceremonies which so fascinate the modern mind, especially mummification and burial in tombs with valuable artifacts, served the purpose of assisting the deceased pharaoh find his way in the afterworld. It is of course the gold and other precious artifacts that capture the imagination, but a pharaoh's tombs were filled primarily with more mundane items such as food, tools, domestic wares, and other necessities of life so that the pharaoh soul's could naviagte the many dangers of the afterworld in comfort. The outward form of Egyptian religion seems exotic to the Western mind. In fact there are many aspects which were first adopted by the Hebrews and through the Hebrews modern Christianity. Here Akhenaten may have played an important role.


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Created: 6:50 AM 1/16/2013
Last updated: 6:50 AM 1/16/2013