Ancient Egypt had one of the most complex systems of gods and goddesses of any civilization in history. Over the course of millennia of Egyptian history, hundreds of deities were worshiped. Although it’s sometimes difficult to define their exact characteristics, individual gods always had some form of principle association and form, based around things that were important to Egyptian culture, like the sun, the moon, life, or death. However, their characteristics could change over time as their importance lessened or rose in importance, often through new developments in Egyptian culture.
Here are some of the most influential Gods of Ancient Egypt.
Osiris was one of Egypt’s most important idols, and was known as the god of the underworld. He represented death, as well as resurrection, and the Nile flood cycles that were relied on by Egyptians for agricultural productiveness. Osiris was was murdered by his brother Seth. His wife was Isis, who upon his death, resurrected him, then conceived with him a son, who is known as the god Horus.
Isis (pictured above) personified the traditional Egyptian qualities of a wife and mother. As the wife Osiris, god of the underworld, Isis was also one of the key goddesses concerned with burials of the dead. Isis was one of the last of the ancient Egyptian gods to remain worshipped. Her cult and following spread as far as Great Britain and Afghanistan, and it’s also believed that portrayals of Isis with the baby Horus influenced imagery of the Christian Mary and baby Jesus.
Horus was portrayed as a man with a falcon’s head, and was a god of the sky associated with war as well as hunting. The Osiris myth tells that Horus was a son of Isis and Osiris, conceived after the murder of Osiris by Seth, and his birth was for the purpose of avenging his father’s death.
The god of deserts, chaos, storms and violence. The Osiris myth tells that he was the murderer of Osiris, his brother. He was depicted as an animal, but the animal itself remains unknown, and thought to have been a mythical creature.
One of several gods associated with the sun, the god Ra was depicted as a human body with the head of a hawk. It was said he sailed across the sky in a boat every day and traveled through the underworld every night. Most Egyptian pyramids feature some form of representation of Ra, and walls of tombs often depicted detailed scripts that showed Ra’s travels through the underworld.
The cat goddess Bastet was signified as a woman with the head of a cat or lion, in her earliest forms, however was later depicted as a far less intimidating domestic cat.
Amon was esteemed as king of the gods. Before rising to importance in the New Kingdom, Amon was known as god of the air. At Karnak in Egypt, there is a massive temple complex dedicated to Amon-Re is one of the most visited monuments in Egypt, apart from the pyramids.