You are on page 1of 2

Priest (First Prophet) stood at the head of a temple congregation,

dedicated to the cult of a particular divinity. Lesser prophets were

responsible for the maintenance of the gods image. whilst the LectorPriest recited the sacred texts. A special rank, often held by princes
who officiated at the funeral ceremonies of a dead king, was sernpriest, his rank indicated by the panther skin and the side-lock of
youth that he wore. The priest responsible for supervising
mummification was known as the Overseer of the Mysteries.
The wab priest was responsible for the purification of the vessels and
instruments used in the ceremonies,

Michael Rice, Who's Who in Ancient Egypt, Routledge, 2002,




The Oxford

Encyclopedia of Ancient

Egypt, vol.1, Oxford University Press, 2001, p.22

During the Old Kingdom, the priests of funerary temples bore the titles
of wab ("pure one"), Hri -Hb lector-priest, Hm-nTr god's servant, and
the somewhat enigmatic title hnty-s. God's servants and hnty-s were
organized in shifts, each shift having its own supervisors. All priests
were responsible for temple property and the daily offerings. The hntys are also mentioned as holders of fields, but it is unclear whether that
was their administrative duty. To the regular temple priesthood must
be added the priests who officiated in private funerary cults. Such cults
were often attached to temples, and their priests shared in the temple
offerings. The non-priestly personnel included agricultural workers and
the personnel of workshops and storehouses (which were collectively
referred to as "serfs"), as well as craftsmen, scribes, and guards. The
local cult temple was supervised by a "high priest" or by an "overseer

of priests," who also managed the temples economic affairs. Toward

the end of the Old Kingdom, the title "Overseer of Priests" was held by
mayors and provincial governors, who thus supervised the temples in
their districts.1

During the Middle Kingdom, the mayors were also "overseer of

priests" or "temple overseers" of royal funerary foundations.

In a New Kingdom temple, the main body of priests comprised men

who bore the lower priestly title of wab. They performed their religious
duties in shifts, which probably explains how w'fc-priests could at the
same time be administrators and craftsmen. Together with the god's
servants, god's fathers, and lector-priests, they were supervised by the
high priest, who also had administrative responsibilities. An "overseer
of priests of Upper and Lower Egypt" was responsible for all the priests
of all the Egyptian temples. Throughout most of the New Kingdom, this
title was held by the high priest of the Temple of Amun at Kamak, but
at times it was held also by the high priests of other temples or by the

1 D.B. Redford (ed.) The Oxford Encyclopedia of Ancient Egypt, vol.1, Oxford
University Press, 2001, p.22