Much of our knowledge about ancient Egyptian culture is based on elaborate worship rituals related to death and the

afterlife. Egyptians were devoted to their gods and to their pharaohs who were gods on earth, as demonstrated by their willingness to build the pyramids for the safe passage of their leaders into the afterlife. Understanding the development of Egyptian society and their theological system requires a basic knowledge of the geography of the area. The Nile River Valley and Nile Delta, circa 4000-5000 BCE, was comprised of about 12,000 square miles of arable land. The villages and towns of ancient Egypt were found up and down the length of the Nile with most of the population living below the First Cataract (located approximately at present day Aswan). The Egyptians were accomplished farmers. They knew the Nile would flood each year and bring new life and abundant grain. The Nile's flooding was predictable and left rich new deposits of silt for new crops, making irrigation easy to plan. A basin irrigation system allowed the flood waters to flow gently into each field, cleansing and renewing the earth each year. The virtual isolation of the Nile Valley allowed Egyptian civilization to develop unthreatened by its neighbors. The Mediterranean Sea lay to the north, vast deserts were found to the east and west, and dense jungle lay to the south. An invader would have to be quite determined to brave the elements that protected the Nile Valley civilization. Since Egyptian civilization was a product, in many ways, of the natural forces that surrounded its people, the people looked to nature to explain the unexplainable. Egyptian gods were depicted as wise, caring, predictable, and forgiving, just as the Nile was predictable and life sustaining. The creation myth of the ancient Egyptians began with a vast waste of water called Nu, similar to the creation story in Genesis where the Spirit of God "hovered over the waters." Nu gave birth to the sun god, who was called Kheyera at dawn, Ra at noon, and Tum at dusk. Just as the Greek god Zeus was greater than his father Chronos, Ra became greater than Nu. Ra created his wife Tefnut, who made the rain. Together, they created Seb, God of the Earth, and Nat, the Goddess of the Sky. Seb and Nat were the parents of Osiris, Isis, Set and Nepthys. Ra is given credit for creating the heavens and earth and all creatures. According to Egyptian legend, Ra had only to think and a creature would take form. Ra is also said to have created man from his eye, and Ra became the first king on earth. The idea that the god Ra was the first king is the seed for the belief that a Pharaoh was both King and god. After Ra gave up his kingship to ride across the sky, Osiris became king with Isis as his queen. Osiris is credited with teaching men to be civilized and to farm, and for teaching mankind to worship the gods and to build temples. Isis was also a wise and good ruler who taught men how to raise grain. Several legends about the death of Osiris exist. All of them credit his brother Set with his death. In one legend, Set cut up Osiris' body and cast it in the Nile, and Isis shed so many tears that the Nile came over its banks. The flooding of the Nile each spring was caused by the tears of Isis as she sought the body of Osiris. (The waters rose in June and receded in October each year). In another legend, Ra ordered Thoth and Hourus to find the body of Osiris and bind it in bandages. Isis then breathed life into the mummied form of Osiris, and Ra sent him to be the Judge of the Dead. This legend laid the foundation for the art of mummification of the dead.

The Egyptians had a reverence for most things in nature. Many animals were sacred, including the cat, the bull, the fish, the jackal, the ram, the boar, the frog and the lion. The serpent figures prominently in many Egyptian myths. The serpent even had the power to poison the great Ra. Because of its great power, the serpent became a symbol of the Pharaohs themselves. Virtually every god and goddess was associated with one or more animals and in some instances might appear in the form of their chosen animal-familiar. A person might lose his own life if he killed a sacred animal. The history of Egypt is typically divided into four periods: pre-dynastic Egypt (6000- 3000 BCE), the Old Kingdom (2700-2200 BCE), the Middle Kingdom ( 2050-1786 BCE) and the New Kingdom (1560-1087 BCE). The pyramids were built during the Old Kingdom Period. The Egyptians had been preserving the remains of their dead long before the building of the great pyramids. They believed that a person's soul (Ka) could live after the death of the body. However, the Ka needed a place to be, so the body was preserved and supplied with the possessions it would need on its journey to the "land of shadows." The mummified body was even provided with food and drink for its journey. In some parts of Egypt, mourners did not leave real food but used magic to feed the spirit by simply naming the foods. The great pyramids were raised to protect the souls of the Pharaohs from their enemies. Farmers would build the pyramids while the Nile was flooding. Work on the pyramids was owed to the god-pharaoh. Tools used to build the pyramid were simple: wooden mallets, stone drills, chisels, flint knives, wooden rulers, plumb lines, and ramps. It is amazing to consider that these huge monuments (Cheop's Pyramid, 137 meters; and Zoser's Pyramid, 60 meters high) were built before widespread use of the wheel. The pyramids were huge complexes that contained not only the sarcophagi of the kings, but pits for the funerary barge, temples, and many false chambers to confuse would-be thieves. Pharaohs would be buried in the tombs as would other members of the royal family. All the belongings the pharaoh might need would be buried with him: food, clothing, tools, furniture, jewelry, even slaves. The dead had to be given instructions concerning the proper prayers, attitudes, etc. to deliver at the various stages of their journey. The temple priests were the only ones who knew how to instruct the dead for their journey. Instructions were written on the inside of the coffin and in the tomb so the dead soul would not forget what it should do. Later the instructions were written on scrolls of paper. Some of these instructions have been collected in the Book of the Dead. Here, we find the Ka trying to gain entrance into the company of the gods by reciting his virtues: Homage to thee, O great God, Lord of Maati! I have come unto thee, O my Lord, and I have brought myself hither that I may behold thy beauties. I know thee, I know thy name, I know the names of the forty-two Gods who live with thee in the Hall of Maati...I have not committed sins against men. I have not opposed my family and kinfolk. I have not acted fraudently in the Seat of Truth. I have not known men who were of no account. I have not defrauded the humble man of his property. I have not done what the gods abominate. I have not vilified a slave to his master. I have not inflicted pain. I have not caused anyone to go hungry. I have not made any man to weep. I have not committed murder....I have not encroached on the fields (of others). I have not added to the weights of the scales...I have not driven the cattle away from their pastures. I have not snared the geese in the goose-pens of the gods. I have not caught fish with bait made of the bodies of the same kind of fish. I have not stopped water when it should flow...I am pure, I am pure. I am pure... This is a negative confession; ie, the Ka recites what it has not done rather than

what it has done. By reading the excerpt above, a student of this culture could argue that the ancient Egyptians believed they had a responsibility to their gods, to their fellow men, and to nature. The soul was led before the seat of Osiris, who sat as the Judge of the Dead. He weighed the heart of the dead person on his balance. Maat, the goddess of truth and justice, balanced the scale. If the heart of the deceased weighed true, he went to his eternal reward wandering the shadow land that was the double of the Nile Delta. No famine or sorrows bothered him in this blessed afterlife. If his heart weighed too heavy, he would be thrown to the animal gods who tear him to shreds. The hieroglyphs left by the priests of ancient Egypt were meant to provide the dead with a guide to the afterlife, to instruct the Ka what it should do in every test as it navigated the after world. Those same hieroglyphs have done much more. They have provided present day scholars with an amazing record of a culture that existed thousands of years ago and some insight into the minds of the people who lived in that culture. Through those ancient writings we have come to know how the ancient Egyptians worshiped, how they viewed their leaders, how they thought they should relate to one another, and how they viewed their role in this life and the next one.

there are egyptian gods RA SUNGOD- was the God of the Sun. He sailed across the heavens in a boat called the 'Barque of Millions of Years'. At the end of each day Ra was thought to die and sailed on his night voyage through the Underworld, leaving the Moon to light the world above. The boat would sail through the twelve doors, representing the twelve hours of night-time. The next dawn, he was born again. Ra Ra and his boat Tutankhamun It was not always smooth sailing. During the day Ra had to fight his chief enemy, a snake called Apep. He was helped by the other gods, such as Seth and Bastet. The sun disk on Ra's head often has a cobra round it. A cobra appears on the forehead of Pharaohs, like Tutankhamun. Cobra Ra was the greatest of the gods and he kept his power in his secret name, which only he knew. He had started to grow old, and sometimes he dribbled. Isis collected some of his saliva and made it into a snake. She hid the snake where Ra would walk. When Ra trod on it, it bit him, and Ra screamed in pain. All the gods gathered round, but none could heal him. Isis said "If you tell me your secret name, this will give me enough magic power to heal you." Ra didn't want to do this, but eventually the pain was so bad that he had to. Isis healed him, and ever since then she has the magic powers that Ra had. HATHOR AND SEKHMET-Hathor was the goddess of joy, motherhood, and love. She looked after all women. She was the goddess of music and dancing, as well. Dead women were identified with Hathor, as men were identified with Osiris. She has a sun disk on her head and cow horns. Sometimes she had cow's ears or was a whole cow. But she had another side as well, as Sekhmet, the Eye of Ra, the destructive Sun Goddess. The Egyptians knew that the Sun brought life, but they also knew that the desert Sun could kill you.

Ra, the Sun God, was angry with mankind, because they laughed at him. He said that he'd send down his anger as Sekhmet, the Eye of Ra. She went down to Earth, killing men, and drinking their blood. She started to frighten Ra, who only wanted to punish Mankind, not destroy them all. So he dyed some beer red, to look like blood. When Sekhmet saw the beer, she was thristy for blood, so she drank it all, got drunk and went to sleep. When she woke up, Ra persuaded her to stop killing Mankind. NUT AND GEB- The sky is Nut's body, arching from horizon to horizon. Geb is the Earth, lying beneath her. During the day, Nut and Geb are separated, but each evening Nut comes down to meet Geb and this causes darkness. If storms came during the day, it was believed that Nut had come closer to the earth. Moon Nut was married to the King of the Gods, Ra, but she was in love with Geb. When Ra found out, he was angry and said that Nut could not give birth to any children during the 360 days of the year. Nut was unhappy and asked the God of Wisdom, Thoth, to help. At this time, the Moon was as bright as the Sun. Thoth got some light from the Moon, so now the Moon gets bigger and smaller each month. With this light, Thoth made five new days, so now the year is 365 days long. Nut gave birth to her five children, on these five days. When Osiris, the oldest, was born, a loud voice said "The lord of all the earth is born." Seth, his brother, was born hating Osiris. If you want to know what Seth did to Osiris, go to Osiris' page. OSIRIS-siris is shown as a man with a beard wearing white mummy wrappings. His crown is the white crown of Upper Egypt surrounded by red feathers. His skin is green to represent vegetation. He holds the symbols of supreme power, the flail and crook. The crook is used by shepherds to catch their sheep. The flail is used in threshing, to separate the grains from the outer husks. Osiris was the God of the Dead. You would expect that such a god would be gloomy or even evil, but the Egyptians thought about death a lot. They mummified their dead and buried them with their belongings so they could enjoy themselves in the afterlife. Osiris This story begins on Nut and Geb's page. Osiris ruled over the Egyptians and taught them farming. His brother Seth had always hated him, and wanted to kill him. Seth made a beautiful box, like a coffin, made to the exact measurements of Osiris. Then Seth invited Osiris and other people to a great feast. When everyone had finished eating, Seth displayed the box, and said that he'd give it to anyone who fitted inside. Everyone tried, but only Osiris fitted. While he was still inside, Seth and his friends quickly slammed on the lid and threw the box in the Nile river. But what happened next? See Seth's page. SETH-Seth (or Set) is shown with an animal's head with a long curved pointed snout, slanting eyes, and square-tipped ears. Sometimes he has a forked tail. Noone seems to know what the animal is. Aardvark, antelope, ass, camel, fennec, giraffe, greyhound, jackal, jerboa, long-snouted mouse, okapi, oryx and pig have all been suggested! Seth was the God of the desert, storm and violence, which are all enemies of the fertile, properous, narrow valley of the Nile. Sceptre of Seth Seth carries a sceptre, which has his head on top and his tail at the other end. Several other gods seem to carry this sceptre as well. Can you find them? Ra and Seth fighting Apep Seth was not always bad. He helped Ra fight the snake Apep. This story begins on Nut and Geb's page. Seth had killed Osiris by tricking him into a coffin, which he threw into the Nile. When Osiris' wife Isis heard about this, she started searching desperately for her husband's body, to bury it properly. She asked everyone she met and finally some children told her where it

was. Isis mourned for her dead husband. Then she hid the body, while she went back to look after her son Horus, still a baby. Seth was terrified that Isis might be able to bring Osiris back from the dead, since she was a great magician. So Seth found where she had hidden the body and cut it into pieces, which he scattered up and down the Nile. Now Isis had to find all the scattered pieces of Osiris. Whenever she found a piece, she buried it there and built a shrine. This means that there are lots of places in Egypt where Osiris was buried! Osiris himself became the King of the Dead, and all Egyptians hoped they would join him after death. But what happened to Seth? See Horus's page. Horus is shown as a hawk, or a man with a hawk's head and the crown of all Egypt. This makes him look similar to Ra, but Ra is crowned with the sun disk. Horus' crown is made of two parts. The white part is the crown of Upper Egypt (in the south) and the red part is the crown of Lower Egypt (including the Nile delta). Together they show that Horus ruled all Egypt. During their reign, Pharoahs identified themselves with Horus. After they died, they became Osiris. White crown Red crown This story begins on Nut and Geb's page. When Horus was a baby, his father Osiris was killed by Seth. Horus and his mother Isis hid in the papyrus reeds in the delta of the Nile until Horus grew up. The he went to war with Seth to get his father's crown and kingdom. The battles raged for a long time. Once Seth managed to blind Horus by taking out his eye and tearing it to bits, but Thoth, the God of Wisdom, managed to heal the eye. So how did the war end? See Isis's page. Eye of Horus The Eye of Horus, healed by Thoth, was an amulet, or magic charm. The Ancient Egyptians also used it to describe fractions. The Egyptians sometimes had had two eye symbols, with the left eye being the Eye of Horus, symbolising the moon, and the right eye being symbolising the Eye

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