Ancient Egypt

Ancient Egypt

For many, the scope of Egypt’s history is difficult to comprehend. Its history covers some five thousand years, and encompasses the origin of civilization, the rise of the Greeks and Romans, the establishment of the Jewish, Christian and Islamic religions, the colonial era when first France and then the English ruled the country, and finally, a return to independence. Egypt has played an important role through all of these eras, and today one can find monuments that evidence Egypt’s role in most of the world’s historic events, from the beginning of mankind until the present. More and more, we are not only learning about the history of mankind in Egypt, but also about his prehistory, the way that he migrated and finally began to organize communities that eventually lead to a civilized world.

In Egypt, we find the earliest detailed records of warfare recorded thousands of years ago, but we also find the cemeteries and monuments of the world’s last global war, World War II. In Egypt, we find some of the first written words of civilization, but we also find great thinkers and writers through the Greek period, into the Christian era, the archaic Islamic period and even modern Nobel Literates. In Egypt, we find ancient pyramids and giant columns supporting massive temples, but we can now find these architectural elements spread throughout the world. Here, along with the first monumental buildings made of stone, we also find the first paved roads, the first wines and beer and even the first peace treaties between organized governments. However, we also find the world’s first scientists, doctors, architects and mathematicians.

Egypt is our window to humanity’s distant past and in understanding its history, we find both mankind’s greatest glories and achievements, as well as his often repeated mistakes. We may follow along with the building of empires, only to see them collapse again and again. We find great men and rulers of renowned, but we often also see their ultimate demise.

And here, we learn about religion, its evolution and, as the world grows older, its replacement with newer religions. Yet, the ancient Egyptian religion has never really completely died out. Even today, many Egyptians continue customs, including some aspects of religion, held over from thousands of years ago. In fact, throughout the world, aspects of the ancient Egyptian religion, particularly funerary, continue to effect our modern lives.

The following link is very useful if you want to know more about the ancient Egypt.

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Egyptian Sun God-RA

RaRa, the Sun God symbolized the creation of every living soul. It was widely believed that Ra was the first being and all the other beings were born later or were his progeny. He is depicted as a man’s body with the head of a hawk with an ankh and a scepter in his hands. He was largely worshiped in Heliopolis (Greek for city of the sun) which was the cult place in ancient Egypt.

The Egyptians thought of him as the conqueror of evil and lies by bringing light to this world and also as a symbol of good and truth. The hawk head represents the sun’s ‘flight’ across the horizon. Ra is also shown in a boat called the ‘Barque of Ages’, sailing across the sky. At the end of the day, he was believed to be traveling in another boat through the Underworld. The sun disk on the head of this Sun God had a cobra around it. Ra was also known by different names representing the various positions of the sun in the sky.

Khepri or Khepera (The Rising Sun)
The rising sun was a symbol of birth and creation. Egyptians believed that the dead were reborn again in the after-life each day with the rising sun. This version or alter-ego was named as Khepri.

Atum (The Setting Sun)
The setting sun was a symbol of the passage of the humans from birth up to death.

Ra (The Noon Sun)
This name was used only for the noon sun, when it was at the zenith. Some pharaohs proclaimed him as ‘Amun-Re’, the king of all gods and pharaohs and the leader of the military. His appearance as the head of a hawk and the body of a man was his form for greeting the mortals.

A legend goes that the Sun God Ra divided his body into a number of parts which created the other Egyptian gods. The first creation of his body or his divine children were ‘Shu’ the god of air or wind, and his wife, Tefnut, the ‘spitter’ or goddess of rain. He was the grandfather of Geb, the god of the Earth and his wife Nut, the goddess of the sky.

The pharaohs were thought of as Gods, not kings, so that after death they would be united with Ra. Humans were believed to have evolved from the tears of Ra. The temples or complexes built for sun worship were always without a roof, so that the sun could shine through the structure. The pharaoh Amenhotep who reigned during the 14th century BC, promoted the worship of the sun-disk over the other deities. He prohibited the worship of other Gods against the beliefs of Egyptians. This tradition was subsequently curbed by future rulers because it contradicted the Egyptian belief in multiple Gods, a very popular concept religiously followed those days

Another popular belief states that Ra traveled the sky through twelve provinces, representing the twelve hours of daylight. At the end of the journey or the dusk, Ra was believed to have been dead and hence embarked on his night voyage. This dead form was referred to as ‘Auf’ meaning corpse. The day journey was in the Manjet-boat or ‘The Barque of Million Years’ and the night in the Mesektet boat or night-bark. During the course of his journey, he was believed to have fought many battles with a snake named Apep. The stormy days or an eclipse period was when Ra was defeated by the snake. In the Underworld or the night journey, Auf brought light to the dead souls as he passed through.

In the later Egyptian cultures, the belief was that Ra combined with another Egyptian God Amon and became Amon-Re. He also combined with Horus to become Re-Harakhte. The association of Ra with the Egyptian civilization has existed for a long period of time. Hence, there are a large number of Egyptian myths, legends or stories where there is mention of Ra in different contexts.

However, the fact remains that the Sun God had a prominent place in the ancient Egyptian culture, throughout its history.

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Osiris – The Ancient Egyptian God

PyramidsOsiris is often considered to be the first ancient Egyptian god to be officially recorded in written scripts of ancient Egypt. Since Osiris is the god of afterlife, many of his carvings and inscriptions have been found in tombs and pyramids throughout Egypt. The oldest carving or attestation of Osiris, found on a Palermo stone, dates back to the year 2500 B.C. Records show that Osiris was widely worshiped in ancient Egypt, until the Christian rulers abolished all pagan and Egyptian religions, customs and traditions.

In Egyptian mythology, Osiris is believed to the the eldest offspring of Geb (Egyptian god of Earth) and Nut (Egyptian sky goddess). He was the husband of Isis, who is the Egyptian goddess of fertility and motherhood and was worshiped as the ideal mother by ancient Egyptians. Osiris was also the father of Horus.

Osiris – The Ancient Egyptian God

Osiris was one of the most important deities of ancient Egypt. The people of ancient Egypt believed in the concept of life after death. Hence, Osiris was the presiding god of all the ceremonies and rituals like mummification and burial. Osiris is also considered to be the god of resurrection and eternal life. He is also the protector of the dead, and is also considered as the judge of the deceased.

The Legend of Osiris

According to the Egyptian mythology, the Sun god Ra, was the first ruler of land (also referred to as Skondia in Egyptian culture). His wisdom and predictions told him that the child of goddess Nut would be his successor. Feeling insecure, Ra cursed Nut saying that she would not be able to give birth to a child on any day of the year. A heartbroken Nut went to Thoth (the god of wisdom who is considered to have thrice-great wisdom) for help. Thoth assured her not to worry and in turn challenged Khensu, the moon god, and challenged him for draught games. Khensu accepted the challenge and the two began to gamble. Thoth kept on winning the games and the stakes started climbing higher and higher. In the game, Khensu lost a lot of his ‘light’ to Thoth. Thoth, made up five days between the beginning and end of the year, from the light that he had won. Nut gave birth to Osiris in the first of the five days. According to the tradition of pharaohs and gods, Osiris married his sister Isis.

Contribution of Osiris to Ancient Egypt

According to the tales of ancient Egypt, Ra became very old and left Earth to rule the heavens. According to Ra’s prediction, Osiris indeed succeeded him. During the initial stages of Osiris’ rule, the people displayed savage behavior. They constantly engaged in fights, showed signs of cannibalism, which greatly disturbed Osiris. He decided to make his people civilized. He started by teaching his people the activity of farming. He taught his people to plant, tend and harvest wheat and barley crops. He taught his people to grind the wheat grain into flour and make bread. It is said that Osiris, also developed the technique of wine making. He taught them the basic laws of civilization, and also introduced the arts of poetry and music.

The popularity of Osiris, made his brother Set jealous. Set was coincidentally the lord of evil. After Osiris had managed to civilize his people, he left on a journey to spread wisdom all over the world. Upon his return, he was killed by Set, who put his dead body in a chest. A heartbroken Isis started searching for the chest, in which the body of her husband was imprisoned. She left Horus (son of Isis and Osiris), in the care of goddess Buto (represented as a cobra). Isis recovered the chest and was retuning to the abode of Buto, when Set spotted the case. He made 14 pieces of the body and scattered them all over the kingdom of Osiris. Isis gathered up the pieces and created the first mummy. It was believed that the spirit of Osiris would come back to his body and he would rise again.

Indeed, the spirit of Osiris is said to have returned; however, not to his body, but as his son. The spirit of Osiris made his son Horus, a proficient leader and warrior by teaching him the arts of statesmanship and military leadership. Horus eventually avenged his father’s death and killed Set. According to some stories, he banished Set into the great western desert.

The Egyptians believed that the spirit of Osiris would come back to its body and would once again rise from its grave (located on the island of Philae) and with him, he would bring to life all those who had worshiped him and had been his followers. This is why, the Egyptians took up the rituals of mummification.

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