25 Facts About Ancient Egyptian Gods That You Probably Didn’t Know | List25
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Ancient Egyptians were some of the most religious people to inhabit the Earth. Because their knowledge was only a sliver of what we know today, they feared many things and had a strong belief in the supernatural. From this belief sprang a host of Ancient Egyptian gods. If there was a situation or a place which could have its own god, more likely than not there was one. While most of the deities were local presences, some such as Ra, Osiris, and Thoth were elevated to a national stage.
In this list, we’ve dug up – well, not literally; we’ll leave that for the archaeologists and grave robbers – these fascinating facts about the Ancient Egyptian gods and religious systems. Religion in Ancient Egypt wasn’t so different from religion today with its focus on doing good and earning a place in the afterlife. Though it may seem complex and extensive, the religion was rather flexible, evolving based on the personal practices of the ruling Pharaoh. Egyptian gods often had both human and animistic traits, making them quite memorable and recognizable. Find out some of the amazing things we know about the Ancient Egyptians in this list of 25 Facts About Ancient Egyptian Gods That You Probably Didn’t Know.
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Like many young religious traditions, religion in pre-dynastic Egypt was mostly animistic, making various animals, plants, or things the homes of spirits.
Many of today’s well-known Egyptian gods harken back to the animistic times. Take Anubis, the god of funerals and death. He is depicted with the head of a jackal since the animals often were seen at the desert’s edge where Egyptians buried their dead.
Good news for Gator fans: the Ancient Egyptians had a gator god! (Well, technically he had a Nile crocodile head.) Sobek was one of the most powerful and longest lasting gods. As guardian of waterways, Sobek enjoyed eating flesh, like most crocodiles. To show reverence, many Ancient Egyptian temples kept live crocs in pools.
Though the Ancient Egyptians had over 2,000 gods, most were only known locally in small parts of the empire.
Just like we have multiple branches of Christianity today – Catholicism, Methodism, Eastern Orthodox, etc. – Ancient Egyptians also had multiple schools of religious thought, each claiming it was superior to the others.
The sun god Ra has one of the most interesting stories among all the Ancient Egyptian gods. Every night, it is said this god was eaten by Nut, the sky goddess, only to be reborn the following sunrise.
The worship of Egyptian gods was one of the most durable religions in the world, lasting over 3,000 years. In contrast, Buddhism has been around for only 2,500; Christianity for 2,000; and Mormonism for 0 years.
Whenever a new pharaoh took power, he would often promote the local god from his school of thought to be the primary national god. For example, when power shifted to Thebes during the Middle Kingdom years (2000 BC to 1700 BC), Amun became the national god after fusing with Ra to become Amun-Ra.
Beyond originating from Ancient Egyptians’ animistic beliefs, the incorporation of animal features in gods had another important use: showing the deity’s mood. If a god was enraged, its head may have been depicted as a fearsome lion; if calm and gentle, it may have had a cat’s head instead.
The gods were most often portrayed with a human body and animal head. Images of an animal body and human head were often used to represent kings.
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