** ancient civilizations -- Egypt religion

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 a falcon head. Horus was worshiped throuughout the dynastic eras, but was especially adored in the later era. This bronze statuette had silver inlay. m Thge expers are unsure how to date it (7th-4th century BC). 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 played a central role in Egyptian religion. The sun's passage daily across the sky from sunrise to sunset represented the eternal cycle of birth, death and rebirth. For most of Egyptian history, a pantheon of diverse gods played around this central daily phenon=menon.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. He is the god most closely associated with pharoh and kingship. Another depiction of Horus is the child Horus as we see here (figure 1). The images of Horus Child became very popular and probably there were for all condition people. A bronze like this one would only be owned by a rivch person, but we see less expensive images done in wood a clay. In fact, Horus is the Egyptian god most commonly depicted as a child. These reprresenations are of interest to HBC because they depict thge hair style for children as well as the fact that many children did not wear clothes. These respresentation could also represent the heir. There are also important relgious issues which have impacted Western civilization. But in Egyptian religious practice was was part of Isis and Osiris and the struggke with Set--essentially the cosmic struggle between good and evil. More importantly to the modern world was the Isis cult in the Roman world which competed with and infuenced Christianity. 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. This was not unique to Egyptian relion. There are many aspects of Mesopotamian religion that influenced Judaism and Christianity. Old Trestament stories like the Great Flood were a staple of Mesopotgamian mythology. Pharaoh Akhenaten (about 1353-36 BC) attempted to move Egyptian religiion to focus on the Aten cult


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Created: 6:50 AM 1/16/2013
Last updated: 5:02 PM 9/22/2020