Show Summary Details

Page of

PRINTED FROM the OXFORD RESEARCH ENCYCLOPEDIA, RELIGION (religion.oxfordre.com). (c) Oxford University Press USA, 2016. All Rights Reserved. Personal use only; commercial use is strictly prohibited. Please see applicable Privacy Policy and Legal Notice (for details see Privacy Policy and Legal Notice).

date: 19 October 2018

Ancient Egyptian Religion

Summary and Keywords

While ancient Egyptians had no conception of religion as a distinct sphere of life, modern scholars have identified a wide range of Egyptian beliefs and practices relating to the divine. Egyptian religion can be traced back to predynastic times, and it developed continuously until the decline of temple religion in the Roman Period. Three mythic cycles are key to its understanding: the creation of the world, and the related solar cycle, which describe the origin and maintenance of the world, and the Osiris cycle, which provides a justification for the human institutions of kingship and funerary rites. Egyptian religion may be seen as being centered on its temples, which functioned both as sites for the worship of the resident gods and the elaboration of their theologies and as important economic and political centers. In addition to gods, three other categories of divine beings played important roles in Egyptian religious practice: kings, sacred and divine animals, and the dead. The king was intimately involved in the temple religion, as the mediator between the divine and human spheres, the patron of the temples, and the beneficiary of his own rituals, while divine and sacred animals seem to have been likewise understood as living embodiments of divine power. Death was understood through a range of metaphors, to which the ritual response was to link the deceased to one or more of the cosmic cycles through practices aimed at translating them into the divine sphere and thus ensuring their continued existence. As with all aspects of the religion, these rituals changed over time but show remarkable consistency throughout recorded history. Alongside these rituals centered on temple, royal, and funerary cults, a number of personal religious practices have been reconstructed as well as one major break in continuity, the “Amarna Revolution,” in which the ruling king seems to have briefly instituted a form of monotheism.

Keywords: afterlife, Akhenaten, ancient Egypt, gods, Horus, Isis, mummification, Osiris, pharaoh, sun god, temples

As is often the case outside of the modern West, ancient Egyptians lacked both a word for religion and the concept of religion as a distinct phenomenon. When modern scholars discuss religion in ancient Egypt, they therefore bring together material from several different spheres of life—most obviously mythological writings and the evidence of the temple and funerary cults but also practices that overlap with such other, distinct, modern concepts as medicine, philosophy, and astronomy. These phenomena are usually selected based on their correspondence to the role and form of religion in the West—beliefs about and practices relating to supernatural beings, in particular “gods,” the afterlife, and morality.1 The following discussion will take as its focus the range of beliefs and practices relating to divine beings (*netjer, pl. *netjeru), a category that includes beings that modern scholars describe as gods and demons, as well as certain categories of living and dead humans and animals—notably the king and unique animals such as the Apis bull and the deified dead.2

Historical Overview

Egyptian religion had no founding text or figure, and so its beginnings are impossible to locate precisely. Images and structures resembling later gods and temples date to before the unification of Egypt—these include images resembling the later mummiform iconography of gods such as Osiris, Min, and Ptah known from later periods, and buildings such as the “cult complex” excavated at Hierakonpolis and dating to c. 3500 bce, which shares structural features with later temples, and whose faunal remains suggest the cultic practices of sacrifice or feasting.3 While these sources require cautious interpretation, it seems that many of the distinctive features of Egyptian religion may be traced to the beginning of the Egyptian state and likely earlier.

Leaving aside brief inscriptions mentioning gods, the earliest substantial religious texts are the corpus known as the Pyramid Texts. These are first attested in the pyramid of the Fifth-Dynasty king, Unas (c. 2375–2345 bce), but there is reason to think that they existed earlier in an oral form. Even these early texts contain references to most of the major Egyptian gods, as well as key concepts such as the solar cycle and the myth of Osiris. This body of texts would later develop into the corpora known as the Coffin Texts, the Book of the Dead, and the Books of Breathing, these last two used into the Roman Period, demonstrating considerable cultic and conceptual continuity from the earliest periods of written history.4 Nonetheless, we must also note important changes and developments; while the most dramatic theological development was the brief period of apparent solar monotheism inaugurated by King Akhenaten (c. 1352–1336 bce), the period following his reign saw the development of the concept of a pantheistic supreme deity. Likewise, there were numerous developments in, for example, burial practices and the structure and rituals of temples, which often reflected or gave rise to changing theological ideas. Other developments may be traced to the influence of ideas from other traditions, such as those of Mesopotamian astrology in the Persian Period (525–404 bce), and Greek religion and philosophy in the Ptolemaic and Roman Periods (332 bce–642 ce).5

Scholars debate when Egyptian religion may be said to have truly ended, but we may note a few key events. The transmission of Egyptian religion seems to have centered on the temples, which functioned for most of their history as important economic and political institutions. Roman rule undermined these roles, making temples increasingly reliant upon imperial and civic financial support, which declined dramatically in the third and fourth centuries.6 The archaeological and textual evidence suggests that this period saw the closure of nearly all of the temples and the end of traditional temple and funerary cultic activity.7 A cult of Isis seems to have persisted for longer at the site of Philae in the far south of Egypt, where a treaty between the Roman state and the Nubian Blemmyes guaranteed the latter group access to the temple; inscriptions suggest that cultic activity at this site continued on a small scale until the 450s ce, and the temple was not officially closed until c. 536 ce, although it is quite likely that there was no ongoing cultic activity at this point.8

An important question concerns the role of Christianity in the decline of Egyptian religion—one historiographical tradition sees Christians as aggressively persecuting the traditional religion in a combat that led to its demise, while another sees the two events as coinciding temporally but being largely unrelated. There is some evidence for conflict between Christianity and Egyptian religion; Christians became numerically dominant in Egypt in the course of the 4th century ce following the imperial support that began with the Edict of Milan of Constantine and his co-emperor Licinius in 313 ce.9 The end of this century saw the Christian destruction of the temple of Serapis (the Serapeum) in Alexandria, while the monastic leader Shenoute of Atripe claimed to have destroyed the temple of Triphis (*(Ta)-Repit) in Akhmim at around the same time.10 Nonetheless, such clear examples of open conflict are relatively rare, and most scholars see the decline of traditional Egyptian religion as having begun before Christians became numerically dominant and capable of challenging the traditional religion.11

Aspects of Egyptian religion developed into the religio-philosophical tradition known as Hermeticism, which claimed to represent Egyptian wisdom and seems to have developed from a dialogue between Egyptian religion and Greek philosophy in the Roman Period, and various attempts to revive Egyptian religion may be seen up to the present day.12 While many authors have attempted to trace survivals of the traditional religion in popular Egyptian Christianity or Islam, the latest clear evidence from Egypt suggestive of a continuous connection to the Pharaonic religious tradition may be found in a small group of surviving magical texts, which date from the 4th to 8th centuries ce, written in Coptic, the final stage of the Egyptian language, and containing mention of the gods Horus and Isis but integrated into a predominantly Christian worldview.13

Cosmogony and Mythology

Ancient Egyptian ReligionClick to view larger

Figure 1. Inlay depicting the god Horus in the form of a falcon standing on the hieroglyph for “gold,” writing the phrase “Horus of gold,” part of the royal titulary (4th century bce).

Photo courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art (CC0 1.0 Universal [CC0 1.0]).

Egyptian views of the divine sphere and its relationship to the human world are expressed in terms of what we would now call mythology: theological and cosmological concepts described through narratives and statements about the gods’ natures and activities, often interpreted in terms of familiar physical, social, and even biological analogies.14 The sky is seen as the surface of a watery body analogous to the Nile, through which the sun and other celestial bodies sail, and gods produce one another through acts such as spitting, sneezing, and sexual intercourse. The underlying mythic conceptions of the universe served to explain and shape the forms of cultic activity and were, in turn, likely shaped by them. Many Egyptian myths are preserved incompletely, or in imperfect conditions; the important Osiris myth is fully extant only in an account by the Greek author Plutarch from the late 1st or early 2nd century ce, and although many of the details seem to be confirmed by Egyptian sources as old as the Pyramid Texts, it is likely that Plutarch’s telling reflects both its time—Roman Egypt—and his own interpretations as a non-Egyptian.15 A second problem in reconstructing Egyptian myths is in the temporal distribution of sources—many of the fullest sources date to the Late Period or after, and so we must deal both with the likelihood that later sources display innovations and the possibility that they preserve authentically older material.

Creation Accounts

One of the key myths is that of creation, often called in Egyptian “the first time” (*zep tepy), of which there are multiple, overlapping accounts, usually named after the city in which the primary cult of the central god was located.16 The state that preceded creation is often imagined as a dark, watery abyss, known as the *Nun and comparable to the Nile in flood, a central part of the life of Egypt. In versions derived from the Hermopolitan creation myth, pre-existence may be defined in terms of attributes that are understood as the opposite of the created world—Limitlessness, Darkness, Wateriness, and Hiddenness—personified as pairs of male-female deities known collectively as the Ogdoad.17 The overall picture of creation in Egyptian mythology is of a process of differentiation from this original undifferentiated and undefinable state.18 The creator god may be understood as existing in potentiality in the waters and as creating himself; a key title of the creator is “the self-evolved one” (*kheper djesef).19 In the older accounts, such as that in the Pyramid Texts, the creator god is often Atum, the solar deity of Heliopolis, giving the account centered on him the title “Heliopolitan Creation Myth.”20 Other creation accounts center on deities such as Ptah, the creator god of Memphis; Re, literally “(the) Sun,” another name of the sun god; or Amun, the chief god of Thebes, who became increasingly important in the New Kingdom. Later creation accounts, dating from the New Kingdom through to the Roman Period, often combine these versions in sophisticated ways.

The creator god creates the first land, the pyramid-shaped mound called the *benben, which found its inspiration in the islands created by the retreating Nile flood; alternatively, an egg or lotus may emerge from the Nun, out of which the young solar creator emerges.21 In the Heliopolitan creation account Atum creates the second generation of gods through masturbation, often described as intercourse with his hand (a feminine noun in Egyptian), or else sneezes and spits out his two children—Shu, the god of the atmosphere, and Tefnut, often understood as the goddess of moisture, but also a form of the solar deity known as the Eye of Re. Shu and Tefnut together conceive Nut (the sky goddess) and Geb (the earth god), who produce in turn Seth and his sister-wife Nephthys, and Osiris and his sister-wife Isis, whose son is Horus.22 This series of nine gods, known as the Heliopolitan Ennead, constitute the structure of the physical and social worlds: the sky and earth separating the upper and lower atmosphere, which are the waters that preceded creation and through which sail the sun; and the central figures of the Osiris cycle, which serves as the justifying myth of kingship and funerary rites.23 In later versions, such as the Memphite Theology, dating to the reign of Shabaka (c. 720–706 bce), creation may take place through speech rather than physical acts—the creator god, Ptah, creates the world through speaking the name of each thing.24 This version also demonstrates a tendency to conflate different versions in sophisticated ways: All of the gods are understood as manifestations of Ptah. He is the male and female aspects of the primordial waters, from which Atum emerges, and Atum’s creative act of masturbation is understood as a metaphor for the act of speech by the mouth and teeth of Ptah that “pronounced the name of everything.”25

Such rich and complex (re-)interpretations continue throughout Egyptian history; in the Ramesside Leiden Theological Papyrus, for example, Shu and Tefnut, the first created beings, are understood as Life and its organizing principle, Order (*ma’at).26 The Roman Period cosmogony reconstructed from Theban texts displays a still more complex synthesis of older versions; the creator god Amun is understood as first existing in the watery abyss in hidden potentiality as Kematef (“He Who Completed his Moment”) before creating his manifest forms, Irita (“Creator of the Earth”) and Amenope, who begin the creation process and create the Ogdoad respectively; finally the Ogdoad create Re, the sun god and cosmic manifestation of Amun.27 A very similar cosmogony is preserved in a fragmentary 2nd-century ce text from Tebtunis, in which the creator who emerges from the Nun and becomes the sun is instead called Pshai (“Fate”).28

The Solar Cycle

The First Time of creation becomes the pattern for the solar cycle, in which the solar creator travels through the waters of the sky in his boat during the day, accompanied by a large retinue of deities. Each night he descends into the underworld, undergoing a kind of death but also bringing light to the deceased who live in the underworld (*duat).29 In the underworld he does battle with the forces of uncreation, represented as watery animals such as snakes and turtles, of whom the most prominent is the serpent Apep (Greek Apophis), sometimes understood as the sun god’s cast-off umbilical cord and symbolic brother; various deities, such as Seth, Isis, and Thoth, play a key role in helping the sun god ward off these hostile beings.30 The moment of sunrise represents the rebirth of the sun as he is raised from the watery darkness, often represented as his father Nun lifting a barque in which the sun god is depicted in his form of the scarab-beetle Khepri (“Evolver”), the god of the morning sun; alternatively, the young sun god may be depicted as a boy emerging from a lotus.31 This rebirth is often understood in explicitly biological terms, with the sun god entering the underworld by being swallowed by the sky goddess Nut in the west before being reborn from her vagina in the east, in the liminal area known as the horizon or light-land (*akhet).32 As this account implies, Egyptian ideas about the location of the underworld seem to have varied; at times the underworld is depicted as under the earth, and at other times it is a “counter-sky,” behind the body of Nut.33

The Osiris Cycle

The third important mythic cycle is that of the family of Osiris.34 Osiris is understood as having inherited the crown of Egypt after the reigns of Re, Shu, and Geb, and these deities do in fact figure in king lists as the first, divine, kings.35 He is understood as having ushered in a golden age but also as having been murdered by his brother Seth in an incident that is usually referred to only indirectly.36 As part of this murder, his body was dismembered and thrown into the Nile, and his members had to be gathered and reconstituted by his mourning sisters Isis and Nephthys with the help of the funerary deity Anubis.37 The rituals to recreate Osiris made him the first mummy and allowed Isis to revive him in order to conceive their son, Horus. In a series of related myths, most preserved in short magical texts to protect and heal children, we find stories recounting how Isis raised her son in the marshes of Khemmis and protected him from Seth and the forces of destruction represented by scorpions and snakes with the help of Re and Thoth.38 As a result of the funerary rites carried out for him, Osiris became the ruler of the underworld and a chthonic fertility deity, and Seth was punished by being forced to carry Osiris’s coffin in the form of a bull, and, in some tellings, being put to death.39

Osiris’s position as a deity who had overcome death granted him considerable importance as a god able to grant post-mortem immortality to humans who wished to repeat his resurrection.40 An important theological development, first clearly attested in the New Kingdom but perhaps originating earlier, was the concept of the nocturnal union of Re and Osiris, the idea that Osiris served as the corpse of the sun god, with whom the sun merged and in whom he rested in the sixth hour of the night as part of his process of rebirth; this allowed the conflation of the important creation or solar and Osirian mythic cycles.41 Related to this concept is an intriguing eschatological vision preserved in the Book of the Dead, in which Atum describes how he will ultimately uncreate the cosmos and rest in the Nun, alone with Osiris.42

The second part of the Osiris cycle consists of the battle between Horus (see figures 1 and 2) and Seth, although this is often separated from the Osiris cycle proper, and it has been suggested that they were originally two separate cycles that were only linked in later tellings, such as that of Plutarch.43 In this part of the myth, the two central gods represent opposing claims to the throne—Horus as the legitimate son of the previous king, Seth as the stronger warrior—as well as the two constituent parts of Egypt—Horus as Lower Egypt, and Seth as Upper Egypt.44 Accounts of their combat vary but key acts include Seth tearing out Horus’s eye, which must be restored, Horus tearing off Seth’s testicles, rendering him infertile, the attempted rape of Horus by Seth, and the successful symbolic rape of Seth by Horus, who tricks the former into consuming his semen.45 After various trials and combats, the fullest Egyptian version tells us that the matter was decided by the intervention of Osiris, who threatened to release his demonic messengers, after which the council of the gods made Horus king and allowed Seth to travel in the solar barque as protector of the sun god from his nightly enemies.46

As can be seen from this brief description, Seth occupied an ambiguous position in Egyptian mythology—he is strong but violent, often an aggressor, and associated with the desert surrounding the Nile valley, storms, and foreign lands.47 Nonetheless, he was an important deity, associated, along with Horus, with kingship, and was worshipped continuously in certain parts of Egypt into the Roman Period, notably in the Kharga and Dakhla oases.48 A change of attitude toward him can be detected, however, after the Second Intermediate period, during which Egypt was ruled by a dynasty of Levantine origin, the Hyksos, who seem to have identified their patron deity with Seth. This resulted in Seth’s increasing, though never complete, demonization following the end of their rule. The inscribed name of Seth was the subject of frequent, if not systematic, erasures, and later versions of the Horus-Seth cycle, such as that preserved on the walls of the Ptolemaic temple of Edfu, focus on Horus hunting and killing Seth and his followers in the form of hippopotami and other dangerous animals.49

The myths of the Osiris cycle have in the past been understood as deriving from cultic or historical events—the death of Osiris as deriving from the ritual drowning of the king at the end of his allotted reign, and the combat of Horus and Seth as a retelling of the union of Upper and Lower Egypt.50 Such readings have generally fallen out of favor, although it is very likely that some features, if not the overall form, of certain myths may derive from cultic acts—the mummification of Osiris is clearly based on real mummification practices, and it is possible that his dismemberment in the myth derives from attested practices of disarticulating bodies before burial that began in the pre-dynastic Naqada I culture (c. 4500 bce) and continued until the Sixth Dynasty.51

Ancient Egyptian ReligionClick to view larger

Figure 2. Statuette depicting Pepy I (c. 2321–2287 bce) enthroned. The god Horus stands behind him in the form of a falcon.

Photo courtesy of the Brooklyn Museum (Attribution 3.0 Unported [CC BY 3.0]).

Temples and Temple Cults

The institutions that Egyptologists refer to as temples served a central role in Egyptian religion; archaeological evidence for, and figural representations of, structures dedicated to the cults of deities can be found in the Pre-Dynastic period.52 While new temples continued to be built into the Roman Period, many cultic sites were in continuous use. The best-studied example, the temple to the goddess Satet (Greek Satis) at Elephantine, shows a process of continual change and development from c. 3200 to 168 bce.53 An initial sanctuary was built around a natural rock formation before being extended by the building of additional walls and a forecourt, which was rebuilt in stone. The temple was rebuilt again at a much larger scale in the reign of Thutmosis III (c. 1450 bce), acquiring the distinctive form of a New Kingdom temple. Perhaps damaged during the Persian Period, the temple was taken down and rebuilt for a third time during the Ptolemaic Period.54

Temples may be divided into several types; one briefly attested but important type is the sun temple, of which six are known from the Fifth Dynasty (c. 2494–c. 2345 bce). Consisting of large stone enclosures centered on an obelisk, it seems that most of the kings of this dynasty built a sun temple and performed various rituals here to honor the solar deity. Although the precise ritual function of these structures continues to be debated, their decoration suggests some relationship to the royal sed-festival, while they are structurally similar to the mortuary temples connected to royal pyramids and so perhaps served a similar function, ensuring the daily rebirth of the sun just as the mortuary temples ensured the rebirth of the deceased kings. The connection between the two institutions is strengthened by the fact that the mortuary temples seem to have received offerings that were first presented at the sun temples.55 The rise of the sun temples has been linked to the close connection between the Fifth Dynasty and the solar god—a later literary text describes the first three kings of this dynasty as having been conceived by the sun god—while their abrupt end has been linked to the approximately contemporary rise of the cult of Osiris, although the evidence for the relationship between the two developments is unclear.56

The following discussion will center on Egyptian temples in their best-attested period, from the New Kingdom through to the Roman Period. Many of the features of these temples pre-date the New Kingdom, and exceptions may certainly be found to most of the individual points of description, but the majority of temples from this period may nonetheless be characterized by certain shared features.57 The structure of an ideal temple is described in a text (at present not fully published) known as the Book of the Temple; although its surviving copies date to the Roman Period (1st and 2nd centuries ce), it is likely that these represent copies of an older text.58

The usual term for temples in Egypt was “God’s Mansion” (*ḥut-netjer), highlighting their conceptual status as the dwelling places and estates of particular deities, comparable to those of nobles or the king. Their primary function was not, therefore, to accommodate humans but to care for the gods’ needs and to administer their affairs. While temples were built by humans, they were understood as being established on sites that were already made sacred by being the location of events in sacred history; the temple of Hermopolis was built on the primeval dwelling place of the Ogdoad, while the temple of Amun at Karnak was said to be built on the initial site of creation itself.59 The building of a temple was symbolically carried out by the king in his role as mediator between the divine and human spheres; the king (in person or through a representative) marked the plan of the temple and broke the first ground. After the foundation trench was filled with sand and foundation deposits of various tools and vessels were made, the temple would be built, purified, and presented to its god(s).60

From the Middle Kingdom, temples were generally built of stone, although the complexes of which they were part were protected by thick walls made, like most private structures, of mud-brick; these have generally not survived. The entrance to the temple proper was through a gateway marked by a pair of pylons, into which was set a door and several large flags, presumably an evolution of the flags or standards from which the hieroglyphic sign for “god” was derived.61 The inner parts of the temple generally consisted of a series of consecutive courtyards, oriented hypothetically on an east-west axis, although this axis was created with reference to the Nile, so that the actual direction depended on the direction of the river. The initial courtyard was usually open and may have been lined by statues representing deceased individuals, while the inner court, known as the hypostyle hall, was generally roofed and filled with dense rows of columns.62 Both courtyards made use of columns with capitals that might be in the form of palms, papyri, lotuses, or other plants, or the head of the goddess Hathor. As one progressed through the courtyards, the sacredness of the space increased, until one reached the sealed, covered sanctuary that housed the shrine, or naos, in which the divine statue was kept; the life-giving power radiating from the image of the deity is often indicated by the blossoms of the capitals flanking the central aisle—along which the image was carried in procession—being represented as open. Subsidiary chapels close to the sanctuary might contain secondary gods worshipped in the temple, sometimes known by their Greek name sunnaoi theoi (sing. sunnaos theos; “shrine-sharing gods”). The usual scheme of Egyptian temples is thus one in which the increasing sacredness of the temple is marked by a shift from open to closed spaces, although an interesting reversal of this is found in the temples of Akhenaten, in which the initial, less sacred, spaces are covered while the sanctuary is open to the sun, the god to whom they are dedicated; in this they are somewhat reminiscent of the much older sun temples.63

Most surfaces of temples were decorated with writing and images, inscribed and painted in the case of the more elaborate temples while simply painted in the less elaborate examples. The pylons were generally decorated with images of the king, superhumanly large, smiting bound captives, an apotropaic image that demonstrated the interrelation of the royal and temple spheres; the king often recurred in the form of colossal statues outside the temple and again in internal wall scenes, which were decorated with scenes of him performing the rituals for which the temple was used. The ceilings of the temples often depicted scenes of the night sky, transforming the temple into a miniature representation of the entire universe—typically, the sky is depicted as a dark blue expanse dotted with five-pointed stars, although there are far more elaborate examples, such as that of the Ptolemaic temple to Hathor at Dendera, in which the entire night sky is depicted with its constellations—both the traditional Egyptian constellations and the Mesopotamian-derived zodiac.64

In addition to the main temple building, temple complexes usually contained numerous secondary buildings, including cultic structures, such as the birth-houses of infant deities, known by the invented name mammisi and common from the Late Period, as well as buildings with more clearly practical purposes, such as storerooms.65 A further important cultic element of most temple complexes was the sacred lake, a pool used to store water for the ablutions necessary for the temple staff to maintain a state of purity.

The most important part of the temple complex was the sanctuary, which consisted of a closed room with sealed doors and was the center of the daily ritual and offering ritual.66 The daily ritual would begin at sunrise, as the priests of the temples—acting on behalf of the king, who was depicted as carrying out these acts in the reliefs—arose, purified themselves, and progressed to the naos playing music and reciting hymns. The chief priest would then break the seal on the sanctuary and enter, similarly breaking the bolt and opening the doors of the naos within, revealing the cult statue. The priest would perform obeisance before the deity, before removing the linen clothing of the god, purifying and anointing the statue, and then dressing it in fresh clothing. In the offering ritual, the god would be presented with a series of offerings, including incense, flowers, food, and so on. Each of the objects presented would be associated with a particular mythic object, often the eye of Horus, whose restoration made the recipient whole and content.67 Once the rituals were completed, the food was removed, the god resealed in the naos, and the priest would walk out backward, sweeping the sand that covered the floor and resealing the sanctuary. The food offerings would go through a series of “reversions,” being offered in turn to the secondary gods of the temples and the divinized dead commemorated in the temple, before being finally distributed between temple personnel, a process that has led to these offerings being known as “reversion offerings.”68

The purpose of the daily and offering rituals was twofold; on the one hand, they mimicked the process of awakening, cleaning, and feeding a nobleman or king in the morning and thus cast the god as the head of their household. On the other hand, theologically the rituals were seen as guaranteeing the presence and benevolence of the god and hence the stability of Egypt and creation itself. The gods were not their statues; instead, they were understood as descending to and dwelling in their statues, in the same way that Re descended to the underworld and dwelt in Osiris each night. This process is often depicted visually and described textually as a falcon descending on the statue, and displeased gods are described as abandoning their statues and, as a consequence, their worshippers.69 The initial entry of the god into the statue was carried out through a ritual known as the Opening of the Mouth (*wepet-ra), a ritual also carried out, with variations, on mummies and on temples themselves, which consisted of a series of offerings and sacrifices made to statues during their consecration.70 The daily ritual repeated this process, enticing the god into their statue each day with songs and offerings. In the Late Period, a further ritual developed to ensure the presence of gods in their statues, called Uniting with the Sun; in this ritual the divine statue was carried onto a terrace on the roof of the temple once each year to absorb the sun’s rays and power.71

Alongside the daily ritual, other rituals took place according to monthly or annual cycles. Festivals often consisted of the god leaving the shrine to visit other deities in their temples or to tour their estates; on these occasions the statue would be transferred from the naos to portable shrines housed on barques, usually kept in the rooms close to the naos. These barques might be transported in the water by larger boats, but were more often carried on poles by bearers, and borne in this fashion they were often used for oracular consultation.72 Such consultations of the gods in their carry-shrines are attested from the reign of Thutmosis III (c. 1479–1425 bce) to the 4th century ce and consisted of the god’s shrine, carried by bearers, moving in response to questions—forward indicated a positive, and backward a negative, response; alternatively two “oracle tickets” with two options might be placed before the god, and they would indicate their decision by moving toward the appropriate ticket. The god’s oracular verdict held a legal force in Egypt, and oracles were used by kings as widely separated in time as Hatshepsut (c. 1473–1458 bce) and Nectanebo I (380–362 bce) to legitimize their reigns.

While the daily ritual and other cultic activities, such as festivals, served as the organizing principles of the temples, their functions were considerably more varied. Temples were often major landowners, with their estates deriving from royal gifts. The temple of Amun at Karnak, for example, the most powerful temple in the New Kingdom, was granted 919 square miles of arable land and 86,486 workers by Ramesses III (c. 1184–1153 bce); during the Third Intermediate period, this economic power allowed its high priests to function as de facto rulers of Upper Egypt, combining the roles of military commander and priest.73 The temple complex itself served as a center for managing these divine estates and for collecting, storing, and redistributing its produce. Temples also served as centers of knowledge, with the institution known as the House of Life (*per-ankh) in particular serving as the equivalent of a temple library.74 These institutions, and others like them, were centers for training in literacy and in specialized knowledge, as well as for the copying and composition of texts, which would have consisted of ritual and theological material as well as, for example, texts concerned with protecting and healing the human and animal body from disease and demons through magico-medical means.

Each temple was typically dedicated to a single, principal god, and although gods might have multiple temples, the particular god of each temple was often understood as distinct from other manifestations of the same god—Khonsu Neferhotep might be distinguished from Khonsu Pairsekheru, for example, and this distinction might manifest in their iconography, theology, and titles.75 Due to their roles as centers of textual production, temples developed distinctive theologies describing the role of their principal deity or deities in mythic cycles; examples include the Heliopolitan, Memphite, and Hermopolitan creation myths, which highlighted the key roles of the principal deities of those towns in the process of creation. Similar theological processes may be seen in, for example, the Roman-period theologies preserved on the walls of the temple of Neith at Esna, in which she is described as the primordial goddess who gave birth to the solar creator, and in the approximately contemporary texts produced by the temples of the god Sobek in the Fayum, which assimilate him with both the creator sun god and Osiris.76

Because of their status as pure places and as the personal property of deities, Egyptian temples are usually not understood as being as open as their counterparts in some other traditions.77 From the Middle Kingdom until the Roman Period the rear walls of temples often had structures intended to allow those without access to the temples to directly worship and pray to the gods within. These range from the inscribed “hearing ears” of the gods to full “Chapels of the Hearing Ear” (also known as “contra-temples,” or Gegentempel in German) with carved representations of the gods to whom they were dedicated, attested from the Middle Kingdom onwards.78 Graffiti found within temples and scrapings, caused by the collecting of powder from the walls to use in healing rituals, shows that some worshippers did have access, at least to the outer parts of temples, although in many cases the individuals who left these marks may have been temple personnel.79 Nonetheless, the presence of the sign known as the *rekhyt bird on many pillars, particularly in hypostyle halls, may be an indicator of the ability of non-staff to enter the temple during particular occasions. The birds are written as part of the phrase “every person worships” and are generally understood as indicating the positions in which common people were supposed to stand during festivals.80

The temple staff, usually known generically as “priests,” consisted of several distinct groups, including “servants of the god” (*ḥem-netjer; Greek prophētēs), “pure ones” (*wab; Greek hiereus), lector-priests (*khery-habt; Greek pterophoros or hierogrammateus), and shrine-bearers (*wen(-per); Greek pastophoros). Individuals could, and did, hold multiple positions concurrently.81 The majority of temple staff were organized into groups, usually known by their Greek name of “phyles” (Egyptian *sa). The members of the phyles worked in the temples on a roster, serving for part of the year and returning to their normal lives and professions at other times; other members of temple staff seem to have had permanent positions. Texts, primarily from the Roman Period, give us an idealized image of priests as highly trained philosophers and theologians who lived in absolute purity, abstaining from animal foods, sexual intercourse, and the wearing of animal fibers while serving the temples.82 Some of these features can be confirmed—priests do seem to have been expected to maintain a high standard of ritual and physical purity, completely shaving their hair and washing their bodies, and observing food taboos while serving temples, which may have included animal foods, typically pork and fish.83 Particularly from the Late Period onward, the position of priest seems to have been hereditary, and evidence from the Roman Period, when the state began to regulate the priesthood, indicates that, alongside demonstrating their status as a hereditary priest, they were expected to undergo an examination of their proficiency in the traditional scripts before being allowed to undergo circumcision and being confirmed legally as priests.84

The King and Religion

Ancient Egyptian ReligionClick to view larger

Figure 3. Limestone ostracon with a drawing of a Ramesside king hunting a lion; the text reads “The slaughter of every foreign land; the king, may he live, prosper, and be healthy” (1186–1070 bce).

Photo courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art (CC0 1.0 Universal [CC0 1.0]).

In the texts produced by the temple cults, the king figures as a central ideological figure. Kingship is described as having been instituted by the sun god and passed down father to son until the time of Horus, the last major divine king and the principal deity associated with kingship.85 Texts describe the king and kingship as having been instituted by the creator god to honor the gods and protect and guide humans, maintaining *ma’at (“order”) and *hetep (“peace”) by ensuring justice and fighting against the forces of uncreation. Iconographically, this is often represented in temples by the king fighting foreigners or hunting wild animals (see figure 3).

The status of the king is debated among scholars; he is often referred to as a “divine being” (*netjer), but he is also described as subordinate to the gods, and many texts stress his human attributes; as a result it is often argued that he is divine only when acting in his capacity as king—that is, he is a human being who may act as a divine being.86 Such a distinction may be apparent in the relatively rare depictions, mostly dating to the New Kingdom, of the king worshipping himself in statue form, in which the statue may be distinguished by divine attributes such as the ram’s horn of Amun.87 On the other hand, such standard royal titles as “Horus,” “Son of Re,” and “Perfect God” suggest that kings did, at least at times, claim a divine status, as does the regular depiction of the king with a lion-tail and descriptions of the king as being conceived by the chief god, either Re or Amun-Re. This ideology of divine parentage is first attested in the text known as Papyrus Westcar, which includes a description of Re fathering the kings of the Fifth Dynasty by the wife of his high priest.88 From the Eighteenth Dynasty, this idea becomes more fully fleshed out, and temple scenes depict the god Amun-Re fathering the child on the wife of the previous king, with the god Khnum forming the king and his divine double (*ka), the delivery of the divine king with the help of various deities, as well as other stereotyped scenes.89

The king played a key role in the ideology of temple cults—not only was his image depicted throughout the temple carrying out the central rituals, and significantly, on the pylons that led to the temple, but the king was usually responsible for building temples and making donations of land to the gods’ estates. The king was, likewise, the focus of a number of specific royal rituals, including the New Year’s ritual, in which his power was renewed and affirmed in a series of rituals culminating with a series of birds embracing him, and the sed-festival, which began to be celebrated after the king’s thirtieth year of power and centered on the renewal of his vitality.90 After their deaths, kings were commemorated by more elaborate versions of the funerary cults to which all Egyptians aspired, but they were more likely than others to become absorbed into the pantheon and to be worshipped over the long term. Examples of divinized kings include Amenhotep I (c. 1552–1295 bce), worshipped as a patron deity in the village of Deir el-Medineh near Thebes following his death, and Amenemhat III (c. 1831–1786 bce), worshipped as the son of Sobek at the temple of Ermouthis-Isis at Medinet Madi, which he had founded, until approximately the 2nd century ce.91 From the New Kingdom, living kings regularly received worship as secondary gods in a number of temples throughout Egypt, a practice that reached its apogee under the Ptolemies and continued under the later Roman emperors.92

Animal Cults

Ancient Egyptian ReligionClick to view larger

Figure 4. Statuette depicting a man named Wedjahorresnet praying to the canine-headed god Anubis (c. 747–525 bce).

Photo courtesy of the Walters Art Museum (CC0 1.0 Universal [CC0 1.0]).

Animal cults are a distinctive, and controversial, aspect of Egyptian religion, one which provoked considerable attention from its Roman, Greek, and Christian detractors.93 The possession of animal attributes or an animal form was often a mark of divinity; the gods might be depicted with fully animal or mixed human and animal forms—Horus, for example, depicted as a falcon or a falcon-headed human—or might be given less marked animal attributes—horns or a lion’s tail—to indicate their divine status (see figure 4). While these depictions do not indicate that the gods themselves were animals, they do indicate that the gods had relationships with certain animals, and that the animal forms, which expressed essential attributes of their associated deities, were, in turn, (potentially) divine.94

The vast majority of animals were not worshipped. Egyptians used animals as beasts of burden, as sources of food, and treated them as pests or as prey to be exterminated or hunted, as elsewhere. But in certain areas, particular animals might be held as sacred to particular deities; thus, for example, the lates fish, sacred to Neith at Esna, was taboo for the priests of her temple and perhaps the inhabitants of the nome, of which Esna was the capital.95 The popularity of the various animal cults—attested by the prominence of the Apis and by the number of votive animal mummies—seems to have shocked non-Egyptians but may have become a marker of Egyptian religious identity from the Late Period onward.96

These so-called animal cults generally centered on limited groups of specific animals. The oldest and most important of these was the cult of the Apis bull, already attested in the Pyramid Texts, although the bulk of the material evidence for this cult dates to between the New Kingdom and the Roman Period.97 The Apis was a single bull, understood as being related to the god Ptah. Each bull seems to have been chosen following the death of its predecessor, recognized by its distinctive markings; Greek writings describe the Apis as being conceived by a heavenly light, and although Egyptian sources do not seem to mention this, it is likely that he, like the king, was understood as being fathered by a god.98 The Apis himself was probably understood as containing a divine presence in the same way as a cult statue and like them offered oracles. His mother (understood as a manifestation of Isis) and children likewise were regarded as divine, and all were cared for within a temple complex in Memphis.99 The death of the Apis is recorded as occasioning mourning throughout Egypt, and the bulls underwent extensive funeral rites, including mummification, before being interred in a catacomb on the west bank of Memphis in the complex known as the Serapeum, dedicated to the dead and divinized Osiris-Apis, whose name, transliterated into Greek as Serapis, was the origin of that of the complex; the Mother of the Apis, and perhaps his children, were treated similarly.100

The Apis was the most important, and archetypal, divine animal; the text known as the Book of the Temple, a manual that describes an ideal temple, uses the Apis as its model for the ideal temple’s “sacred animal” (*a’ae netjer).101 Nonetheless, a number of other singular divine animals are attested, who, like the Apis, were understood as living gods. These include the Buchis (*Bekh) and Mnevis (*Mer-wer), bulls sacred to Montu and Re and housed in Armant and Heliopolis, respectively; the Banebdjed ram, sacred to Re and worshipped in Mendes; the Hesat cow, sacred to Hathor and worshipped at Dendera; and various crocodiles, sacred to Sobek and generally known by his name, worshipped in the Fayum, particularly in the Ptolemaic and Roman Periods.102 There were other models of animal cults; a number of falcons sacred to Horus were held at his temple in Edfu, one of which was selected as his incarnation and crowned as king each year.103 These singular divine animals were often accompanied by larger numbers of sacred animals, which seem to have been understood as having a special relationship to their respective deities without necessarily incarnating them in the same way as the singular animals; this is apparently the case with the crocodiles who lived alongside the Sobek crocodiles in the Fayum, who are distinguished from the primary animal in depictions by their smaller size.104 In modern writings, these categories are distinguished as divine (for singular) and sacred (for plural) animals, a distinction inspired by the Greek writings of Strabo, although it seems that the Egyptians did not have exactly equivalent terms. In Egyptian both categories could be referred to as “sacred/divine animals” (*a’ae netjer), although it seems that the singular animals could also be referred to as gods (*netjeru), or sometimes as “kings” (*nesu).105

Alongside these older cults, much larger-scale “animal cults” are attested from the Late Period, continuing into the Ptolemaic and perhaps Roman Periods.106 This phenomenon is principally attested by the huge quantities of animal mummies that survive in catacombs at specific sites—estimates are of two million mummified ibises at Tuna el-Gebel, the necropolis of Hermopolis, and four million ibises and eight million dogs at the Serapeum in Saqqara, to mention two of the best-studied sites.107 The interpretation of these remains is made difficult by the scarcity of written material describing the cults of which they are part, but they can be reconstructed to some extent by archaeological evidence and study of the mummies, supplemented by a few key texts.108 The consensus of most scholars is that these mummies were produced as votive offerings, which would be paid for and interred on behalf of pious individuals, perhaps during festivals, as an alternative to votive statues of deities, serving a similar function as physical objects in the form of the gods to whom they were dedicated—ibises to Thoth, cats to Bast, falcons to Horus, dogs to Anubis, and so on—but possessing additional efficacy as beings divinized through the funerary rituals that accompanied their mummification. There is some evidence that they were intended to function after death as divine messengers to the gods; letters addressed to deities have been found, or inferred to have been, interred with them, and they seem to have been invoked in oracular practices at both Saqqara and Tuna el-Gebel.109

While the evidence is ambiguous, the huge scale of these burials implies that most of the animals were deliberately raised in intensive conditions before being killed—often at a very young age—to produce mummies.110 This suggests that while they were understood as related to particular deities, and potentially divine, they were not themselves the focus of cults. Some physical evidence likewise suggests that the animals may have been mistreated by their caretakers, and the complaints of one priest associated with their cults from the Ptolemaic Period claim that the ibises of the Serapeum were having their food stolen from them by their keepers.111

Funerary Cults

Ancient Egyptian ReligionClick to view larger

Figure 5. Stela dedicated to the deceased Mentuwoser, originally set up in Abydos. Mentuwoser is depicted as sitting before an offering table on the left, while on the right his family members make offerings and pray to him (c. 1944 bce).

Photo courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art (CC0 1.0 Universal [CC0 1.0]).

The remains of the funerary cults—the mastabas, pyramids, tombs, and tomb-chapels—constitute some of the most distinctive remains of ancient Egyptian material culture and tend to dominate popular views of ancient Egypt and its religion.

Evidence that the inhabitants of Egypt may have believed in some kind of afterlife can be traced very far back; the first Egyptian burial including grave-goods, which may have been intended to accompany the deceased into the next phase of their existence, dates to 34,400–31,500 bp, although any interpretation of such early evidence is highly speculative.112 From the written texts of the dynastic periods, scholars distinguish two overlapping models of Egyptian views of the afterlife—the solar and the Osirian, each based on one of the two major mythic cycles; these two ideas appear in the Pyramid Texts and continue to coexist and develop until the latest attested traditional burials in the 4th century or so.113

The solar model of the afterlife was modeled on the death and rebirth of the sun; euphemistically, death could be described as going to the west, the direction of the setting of the sun, and so the cemeteries of major cities were almost always located in the desert on the west bank of the Nile. Funerary texts drawing upon the solar model of rebirth describe rebirth as both a spatial transition—a physical journey—and a physical second birth analogous to the birth of the sun god to the mother sky goddess Nut, who is depicted on the lids of most coffins and sarcophagi; this model can also be seen in texts mentioning the nourishment of the deceased by mother goddesses, again on the model of the reborn sun god.114 The solar model of the afterlife often understood the deceased as traveling with the sun in the solar barque.

The Osirian model, by contrast, drew upon social and “biomorphic” metaphors of death as murder by an enemy, as dismemberment, and as a trial—drawing on the myth of the death, dismemberment, and justification of Osiris—and rebirth is described in terms of the punishment of enemies, the reintegration of the body, and justification in a divine trial, a process that also reintegrated the deceased into society.115 Over time, the trial aspect became increasingly important, resulting in the concept of the Weighing of the Heart, first fully attested in the Book of the Dead of the New Kingdom, in which the heart of the deceased is weighed against the feather of *ma’at (“justice, order”) in the presence of Osiris.116 Texts always assume a positive outcome, with the deceased becoming “justified of voice” (*ma’a kheru), but the danger awaiting those who are not justified is present in depictions of a hybrid monster called the Devourer (*Ammit), who waits by the weighing scale to consume the unjustified, dooming them to a second death. The association of the afterlife with Osiris—the deity whose rebirth the deceased hoped to emulate—resulted in referring to the deceased as (having) “an Osiris,” expressed by referring to them as “Osiris (of) N.” While scholars have often understood this as expressing the desire to be assimilated with Osiris, it seems rather that the title indicates that the deceased has become like Osiris.117 While women were usually, like men, identified with Osiris, from the Late Period they could also be identified with the goddess Hathor—“Hathor (of) N”—providing a more explicitly gendered vision of the afterlife.118

Ancient Egyptian ReligionClick to view larger

Figure 6. Copy by Charles K. Wilkinson (1922) of a scene from the tomb of Sennedjem in Thebes, taken from the illustration to recitation 110 of the Book of the Dead. The deceased and his wife are shown farming, receiving offerings, and worshipping the gods in the Field of Reeds (c. 1295–1213 bce).

Photo courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art (CC0 1.0 Universal [CC0 1.0]).

The picture of what the afterlife consisted of seems to have varied; alongside the idea that the deceased might join the sun in his daily journey, tomb scenes, particularly from the Old and Middle Kingdoms, depict the deceased carrying out an idyllic earthlike existence, farming, hunting, making love, enjoying music, and so on; this existence takes place in the kingdom of Osiris in the other-world known as the *duat, and more specifically in the Field of Reeds (*Sekhet-Yaru) or Field of Offerings or Rest (*Sekhet-Hetep) (see figure 6).119 As already mentioned, the *duat, also the location of the sun’s nightly journey, had an unclear location. Scholars debate whether it was understood as being in the sky—certain texts, particularly the Pyramid Texts, describe the deceased as joining the stars—in the counter-sky, or under the earth; it seems that it may have been associated with each of these locations depending on the period and context.120

A second, and coexisting, model saw the individual as plural. After death the individual was transformed by funeral rites into a “luminous or effective one” or *akh, and the deceased’s tomb served as their afterlife home, at which rituals to provision them with food and drink were performed.121 These real offerings were often supplemented by representations of offerings in the tomb decoration and/or written spells guaranteeing ongoing offerings (see figure 5).122 Within the tomb, the deceased’s preserved corpse would provide them with a physical body, and statues served as secondary or reserve bodies.123 The aspect of the individual that received the offerings, and which was represented by the statues, was often called the *ka, understood as a kind of double created at the same moment as the physical body. The deceased was able to go forth from their tomb as an akh, or as a “manifestation” (*ba), normally depicted as a human-headed bird. While the *ba was able to rest in their body and receive offerings, in the same way that Re was able to rest in Osiris or the gods were able to rest in their statue-bodies, the *bas of the deceased were also able to leave their tombs, with the exits from the tomb often indicated by “false doors.” They were understood to have divine powers of movement and transformation, often guaranteed by magical spells that accompanied their burials, enabling them to experience daylight and to participate in festivals, particularly the festivals that surrounded the commemoration of the resurrection of Osiris at Abydos.124 Finally, the dead were also described, particularly in texts from the New Kingdom, as dwelling in the *duat, waiting for the sun to come each night and fill them with his vivifying rays.125

While these concepts described a positive afterlife, texts also describe the danger of either a negative afterlife or of non-existence. A few literary texts suggest a lack of belief on the part of some ancient Egyptians in the afterlife, but such ideas are not found in funerary contexts.126 Instead, three dangers, or perhaps aspects of a single negative outcome, are expressed. The first is of death as reversal; several funeral texts provide incantations to guarantee that the deceased does not undergo the reversal of walking upside down and eating feces, a feared possible state for the dead.127 The second possibility is that of the second death, represented in the scene of the Weighing of the Heart by the Devourer.128 The third possibility is of eternal suffering, usually understood as being reserved for the unrighteous; the most common image, in the guides to the underworld attested from the New Kingdom, is of burning in a lake of fire, although more elaborate punishments, comparable to those found in the Greek vision of Tartaros or the late antique vision of hell, are also found, particularly in Ptolemaic and Roman texts.129

In order to avoid this negative afterlife, Egyptians developed several strategies. These included mummification, funerary rituals, and the writing of spells that accompanied the deceased’s body. These acts—which really constitute a single complex of practices—are chiefly attested for the kings and the upper levels of Egyptian society, but it is probable that individuals at lower levels of the social spectrum received similar treatment, albeit to more limited degrees, and a persistent strain throughout Egyptian history suggests a concurrent belief that these actions were neither necessary nor sufficient to guarantee a good afterlife. Some texts describe a good afterlife as, ultimately, a gift granted by the gods—in particular Osiris and Re—dependent on moral conduct in life in accordance with ma’at and on a relationship with the gods.130 The most explicit of these texts, dating to the Ptolemaic Period, may describe gods granting afterlives to those who have not undergone funerary rites.131

For the body to continue to serve as a home for the deceased, an attempt was made to preserve it. The earliest mummies seem to have been produced naturally by burying them directly in the dry desert sand, and the earliest examples of embalming (c. 4300–2900 bce) may have been accidental, as resins with which funerary wraps were impregnated were observed to preserve the skin and flesh.132 The process of mummification underwent considerable change over time, and the fullest description, provided by the Greek author Herodotus (5th century bce), describes different types available for different costs.133 The most important stages seem to have consisted of desiccating the body using natron salt and preventing the decay of the internal organs, either removing them completely (as was usually done to the brain), storing them outside the body (as was the case with the stomach, intestines, lungs, and liver, stored in so-called canopic jars that each represented one of the four sons of Horus), or embalming them and placing them back into the body (as was the case with the heart). The body might be anointed with oils before being bound with linen bandages, sometimes dipped in resin, with protective amulets placed in the wrappings.134 Each stage of the process was likely ritualized, with both actions and accompanying spoken formula linking the embalming process to mythic archetypes; the ideal mummification took place over seventy days, the time it took the ecliptic stars, the deities known as decans, to reappear after their “deaths” (period of invisibility) in the *duat.135

Ancient Egyptian ReligionClick to view larger

Figure 7. A Roman-period mummy shroud; despite the use of Greek tempera painting techniques to produce a particularly life-like portrait, the underlying Egyptian context is apparent in the Horus falcons wearing the double crown who flank the deceased and the hieroglyphic inscription at the top (120–150 ce).

Photo courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art (CC0 1.0 Universal [CC0 1.0]).

The mummy would then be placed in a series of shrouds, cases, and sarcophagi, their number, size, and material depending upon the deceased’s status and means, as well as local and temporal customs. Their purpose was twofold. The first was to constitute, along with the mummy, a compound body for the *ba, and so they are generally anthropomorphic, representing the deceased’s body in an idealized form; Roman-period examples often use the traditions of Greek painting to produce particularly life-like portraits (see figure 7).136 The second function was protective, and to this end they were depicted with protective images, including deities (such as the body of the goddess Nut on the lid) and protective texts.137 Like divine statues and temples, the deceased’s mummy and statues underwent an Opening of the Mouth, in which they were presented with a series of offerings, and in which tools were used to symbolically open their mouths to allow them to breathe and speak, and as in the case of the offerings to divine statues, the offerings were associated with divine objects, in particular the Eye of Horus.138

Burial practices changed considerably over time. The earliest burials consist simply of small graves in the sand, and this indeed probably remained the norm for the poor throughout Egyptian history.139 These graves often contained amulets and small grave goods, and might, particularly in the Roman Period, be marked with stelae whose images could represent the deceased and serve as the focus of rituals and offerings in their honor.140 Early in Egyptian history, however, higher-status individuals began to build mounds over their graves, which culminated in the development of the mastaba, a rectangular mud-brick or stone structure below which the mummy was buried, and which served as an often elaborately decorated chapel. From the mastaba developed the pyramid, initially by placing one mastaba on top of another (as in the case of the Step Pyramid of King Djoser [c. 2667–2648 bce]), with the sides being cut to perfect slopes in the fully developed examples. While pyramids were only ever used for the burial of kings and members of the royal family, in particular the king’s wives, the form of the pyramid was copied at smaller scales by private individuals from the New Kingdom, and smaller pyramids surmount tomb chapels up to the Roman Period. Mastabas and pyramids seem to have typically been filled with offering goods, but almost all examples of these were looted, in many cases probably shortly after the initial burial. As a result, the form of the rock-cut tomb-chapel generally replaced the mastaba and pyramid from the Middle Kingdom, probably because of the greater security it provided.

The pyramids were parts of larger ritual complexes, with attached mortuary temples, accessible from the Nile valley through valley temples, to which they were linked by closed causeways.141 In the post-Amarna period (from c. 1336 bce) the cultic function of the rock-cut tombs developed, with the addition of above-ground funerary chapels. In form, these often mirror that of contemporary temples, consisting of one or more courts in whose innermost parts were statues of the deceased and often their spouse; the deceased functioned in these temples both as the object (as the beneficiary of offerings and rituals) and the subject of cult (symbolically encountering and worshipping the gods).142 Kings often built further temples for their afterlife cults apart from their tombs; from the New Kingdom royal temples, often called “Mansions of Millions of Years” (*ḥut net ḥeḥu em renput), developed from the older royal ka-temples (*ḥut-ka), serving as independent sites to memorialize and carry out cult activities for the deceased king.143 Both kings and private individuals might have secondary funerary chapels, usually known as cenotaphs (literally “empty tombs”), for their commemoration, built at other sites, most notably at Abydos, a center of the worship of Osiris.144

Ancient Egyptian ReligionClick to view larger

Figure 8. Vignette from a copy of the Book of the Dead used by a woman named Gautsoshen, depicting the deceased pouring a libation before Osiris and Isis (1000–945 bce).

Photo courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art (CC0 1.0 Universal [CC0 1.0]).

Alongside tombs, the most important material artefacts of funerary cults are the funerary and netherworld texts, the former “spells” or formulae intended to ensure the divinization of the dead, the latter consisting of guides to the underworld, often in the form of descriptions of the sun’s nightly journey through the *duat, which begin to appear from the New Kingdom.145 The earliest funerary texts are the Pyramid Texts, first attested in the pyramid of the Fifth-Dynasty king, Unas, and used in the pyramids of other kings and royal wives.146 A selection of these texts, supplemented by additional material, went on to constitute the Coffin Texts, a corpus found from the First Intermediate period written on coffins, shrouds, and papyri buried with the dead.147 Selections from this corpus, again supplemented by further texts, developed into the Book of the Dead, which was often richly illustrated with vignettes and usually found on rolls accompanying the deceased, though also on the walls of tombs, on scarab amulets, and on shrouds (see figure 8).148 This collection continued to be used into the Roman Period alongside other works, including the Books of Breathing, partly derived from the Book of the Dead.149

The spells in each of these corpora number in the hundreds and had diverse purposes; generally, it seems that each specific instance of their use drew upon a selection from a larger corpus. They consist of formulae spoken during funerary rituals, intended to transform the deceased into an *akh, to guarantee them offerings, and so on, as well as formulae to be spoken by the deceased, in order to allow them to pass by the guardians of the *duat, to justify themselves, and to gain divine powers, such as those of transformation into divine and animal forms.

The fact that the earliest examples of funerary texts, the Pyramid Texts, are found only in the pyramids of kings and their families, before gradually appearing on the coffins of nobles and later in papyri possessed by a broader social spectrum, led certain scholars to hypothesize a “democratization” of the afterlife. According to this idea, the first stage of the development of the Egyptian conception of the afterlife consisted in the deceased king becoming Osiris, in much the same way that the living king represented his son Horus. Thus only the king was guaranteed a blessed afterlife, and it was not until central power broke down in the First Intermediate period that first nobles, and later commoners, were able to claim the possibility of a royal Osirian afterlife.150 More recently, several scholars have disputed this idea, pointing out that the Pyramid Texts seem to be written instances of primarily oral texts, which often resemble contemporary material found in the funerary assemblages of commoners, and that certain formulae mention the king as an individual separate from the deceased, apparently indicating their origin in a non-royal sphere.151 This suggests that the afterlife aspirations of both royals and non-royals were basically the same from the earliest times, and that it was simply the practice of preserving funerary texts along with the deceased that was practiced by royals before being adopted by commoners.152

Like the gods of temples, the deceased seem to have had a very real and ongoing role in human society. Alongside a few particularly popular deceased kings, certain commoners also became the recipients of full cults in several locations. The most important of these are Imhotep (Greek Imouthēs, identified with Asclepius), the architect of the Step Pyramid, and Amenhotep, Son-of-Hapu (Greek Amenothes), an Eighteenth-Dynasty official.153 Both of these individuals were worshipped, sometimes together, at several sites around Egypt from the Late Period. Other individuals who received important cults include the category of dead known as *ḥesy, probably drowned individuals, the most famous of whom are Petese and Pihor, two Nubian princes worshipped at the temple of Dendur in the Roman Period.154 While drowning was believed, in earlier periods, to remove the possibility of an afterlife, since the body was lost, from at least the 5th century bce it seems that death in water led to a closer identification with Osiris, whose body was found dead in the Nile.155 It is possible, though not certain, that the deification of Antinous, the favorite of Hadrian, after his death in the Nile in the year 130 ce, was inspired by this conception.156

The dead who did not receive full worship still played an important role in society, and in particular in the lives of their families, in what can be called “ancestor cults.” The descendants of the deceased, in particular their sons, were expected to continue to provide offerings for them, although it is unclear how long these would typically be maintained, and at least from the Ptolemaic Period, the provision of offerings to the deceased might be delegated to priests known as “libationers” (*waḥ-mu; Greek: choachytēs).157 Nonetheless, the dead were commemorated in festivals such as the Beautiful Festival of the Valley in Thebes, celebrated from at least the New Kingdom into the Roman Period, in which Amun traveled from his temple in Karnak to visit the tombs of the dead on the west bank and revitalize them.158 Families went to these tombs and held feasts to honor their ancestors.

In return, the dead were believed to interact with the living. Letters to the Dead, attested from the Sixth to Twenty-First Dynasties (c. 2345–945 bce), consist of messages addressed to deceased relatives, asking them for favors.159 Negatively, literary texts describe the dead coming back to haunt the living, and Late Period amulets promise protection from the dead along with other dangerous superhuman beings.160

Personal Religion

Ancient Egyptian ReligionClick to view larger

Figure 9. An example of a Horus Cippus, a stela whose central image is of Horus-the-Child (Ḥor-pa-khered; Greek Harpocrates) treading on and holding dangerous animals. This example is covered with spells against disease and venomous creatures, and water poured over it would be collected and used in healing rituals (360–343 bce).

Photo courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art (CC0 1.0 Universal [CC0 1.0]).

Although the predominance of monumental funerary and temple sites in Egyptian archaeology has left us with fewer sources for “domestic” or “popular” religion, what evidence we have suggests that individuals in Egypt would have interacted with divine beings in their daily lives in diverse ways.161 Many of these were linked to the cycle of life—the involvement of gods in conception, birth, and the crises of illness and personal problems. From the New Kingdom the practice of praying to gods for children is attested by theophoric names, often of the form “Given by (God’s Name)” (*padi-NN; Greek NN-doros)—Padihor for children whose conception was attributed to Horus, for example. These, as well as other theophoric names, often show a local character, with particular gods or forms of gods being more popular in particular areas.162 In childbirth, the gods might be present in apotropaic images on the walls of birthing rooms and in images of the birthing bricks upon which women in labor squatted (likely associated, again, with the primeval mound).163

In order to deal with the threats of disease, venomous animals, and demonic possession—the lines between which were often blurred—a number of rituals were developed; those rituals intended for private individuals are usually called “magic” in Egyptology, to distinguish them from rituals whose beneficiaries are gods, the dead, or royalty, although the ritual logic used in all three instances is often very similar (see figure 9).164 These texts are attested in copies from the Middle Kingdom through to the Roman Period and indeed probably influenced the later tradition of Christian magic in Egypt.165 Spells against snakes and scorpions, similar to those found in later magical collections, are found as early as the Pyramid Texts and were likely borrowed from use in everyday life.166

Alongside healing, protective, and exorcistic spells, at least one love spell is preserved from New Kingdom Egypt, and such more varied types of magic become frequent in the Roman Period, from which hundreds of spells for a wide variety of purposes are attested—healing and love spells, as well as divination and curse spells, to name only a few.167 These texts, written principally in Demotic and Greek, show considerable syncretism, particularly with Greek and Judaeo-Christian religion, but draw primarily upon the Egyptian religious tradition and may have developed from archetypes that seem to go back to, in at least some cases, the Late Period, if not further.168

A further instance of personal interaction with divine beings is attested by the phenomenon called by Egyptologists “personal piety,” which appears in the Ramesside Period. Individuals began to produce artefacts attesting to a more intimate connection to the gods than is typical of earlier periods, in a process often understood as a response to the crisis of the Amarna period.169 These include stelae dedicated by private individuals depicting the dedicator worshipping particular gods in a way hitherto more characteristic of the king. These stelae may be occasioned by the perceived intervention of the god in the individual’s daily life—perhaps a punishment for a sin, such as stealing cattle from the divine herd, which manifests as actual or metaphorical blindness, and which is expiated by the dedication of the stela and devotion to the god.170 In other cases, these stelae depict or describe the god saving the worshipper from danger, such as the attack of the crocodile, for which the stela serves as an act of gratitude.171 In still other cases, the reason for the stela is unclear and may simply indicate a feeling of devotion to the god. These stelae, as well as hymns attesting to similar relationships, suggest a sense of intense closeness to the deity comparable to that found in devotional cults in other religious traditions. Related to such manifestations of attachment to gods is the practice, attested in the Ptolemaic Period, of dedicating oneself and a portion of one’s income to a particular god in return for the god’s protection, an act confirmed by a legal document.172

The Amarna Revolution and Monotheism

The event known as the “Amarna Revolution” was a brief period in which the reigning king, Akhenaten (1352–1336 bce), introduced major theological changes to cultic practices and theology. While the brevity of this period (years 5–17 of his rule) makes it difficult to be sure of the full details of this event, the broad outlines of this event seem reasonably clear.173 Egyptian religion was generally polytheistic, albeit with tendencies toward henotheism (the focus of worship on individual gods) and pantheism (the understanding of all gods as expressions of a single divine force).174 The Amarna period seems to represent a move toward something resembling monotheism, perhaps the earliest recorded example of this in world history. As a result, Akhenaten’s reign and religious reforms have been the subject of considerable interest, as well as attempts to link his innovations with later monotheistic religions, in particular with Judaism through Moses, although such attempts have not to date been convincing.175

Akhenaten’s religious revolution centered on the sun god, and he seems to have worshipped this deity exclusively, to the extent that the worship, and even existence, of other deities, in particular Amun, were denied. The sun god seems to have been understood, even more so than previously, as a king, being given a royal titulary, written in a cartouche, which described him in naturalistic terms—as a light- and life-giving disk (*Aten) who traveled alone through the sky rather than in a boat accompanied by a retinue.176 Among the various explanations for this theological development suggested by scholars, two are particularly noteworthy. The first is political and relates the decision to shift the focus of worship from Amun(-Re), the principal god of the New Kingdom capital Thebes, to an attempt to undercut the perceived threat of the economically and politically powerful priesthood of Amun; the shift to worshipping the sun god in his form of the sun-disk was accompanied by the creation of a new capital near Hermopolis, named the Horizon of the Disk (*Akhetaten, modern Amarna), and new cultic practice in which the king was seen as the chief intermediary between the singular god and humanity.177 The second explanation is theological and situates this revolution within the broader development within Egyptian religion called by Jan Assmann the “new solar theology.”178 This developed particularly in the reign of Akhenaten’s father and predecessor, Amenhotep III, and consisted of stressing the supremacy and remoteness of the sun god, at times describing him as a disk, and insisting upon his uniqueness.179 This was accompanied by an increasing focus on the divinity of the king through his relationship to the sun god; indeed, inconclusive attempts have been made to argue that the sun god of Akhenaten was in fact his deified father.180

Ancient Egyptian ReligionClick to view larger

Figure 10. Fragment from a block from a temple relief depicting Akhenaten sacrificing a duck to the sun god; the god’s hands may be seen reaching down to accept the offering and offer life to the king.

Photo courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art (CC0 1.0 Universal [CC0 1.0]).

The revolution seems to have gone through multiple stages; the earliest consists of Akhenaten (“Akh of the Disk”) adopting this name in preference to his previous name of Amenhotep (“Amun is Satisfied”) IV. This was followed by the move to the new capital and the development of the royal titulary of the sun god, with the later form avoiding any words that were homophonous with the names of other gods.181 This was accompanied, apparently, by the deliberate excision from monuments around Egypt, and particularly in Thebes, of the name of Amun, and the plural word “gods,” as well as, to a lesser extent, the names of other deities, and the avoidance of hieroglyphic writings that used the symbols of other gods.182 A new artistic style was developed—again, showing continuity with developments predating Akhenaten’s rule—which involved, significantly, depicting the sun god as a disk with long arms reaching out to give life rather than as a human or human-animal hybrid (see figure 10); Akhenaten’s sun god, manifest only in the sun itself, had no cult statues. A new written form of the Egyptian language was developed (Late Egyptian), closer to the spoken language, in which hymns to the sun were composed, apparently by Akhenaten himself.183 These stressed the role of the sun as the sole giver of life and are a major source for our knowledge of his theological conceptions. They follow the naturalistic conception of the sun implied in his developed titulature, eschewing the biological and social mythology of earlier periods. The sun is a sovereign, living god who is made manifest through the light that comes forth from his disk, but has no personal name; he creates and sustains all living things, but the activities of the night sun are unknown and unknowable, and the afterlife comes about not through identification with Osiris but rather through being granted life by the sun, sometimes through Akhenaten; the dead live again when they receive the sun’s light.184

It is unclear how far, outside of Akhenaten’s capital, his theological and cultic innovations were adopted by Egyptians more generally. The campaign against the traditional cults seems to have focused on Amun, so that suppression of other gods was inconsistent and it is possible, if not certain, that some traditional cultic activities, including the worship of Osiris, continued even in the capital.185 After his death, his successor, Tutankhaten (“Living Image of the Disk”), changed his name to Tutankhamun (“Living Image of Amun”) and restored the traditional cults of the gods, and in the reigns of following kings the name of Akhenaten was excised from Egyptian monuments and king lists, with only fragmentary hints of his memory in much later histories; his existence had to be rediscovered gradually by Egyptologists over the course of the 19th and 20th centuries.186 A stela commemorating Tutankhamun’s restoration describes how the gods had abandoned their temples as a result of Akhenaten’s actions, with disastrous consequences for Egypt; the end of Akhenaten’s reign may have been accompanied by a plague, which would have confirmed the belief that his abandonment of the traditional gods had endangered Egypt.187

There is some evidence that Akhenaten’s solar cult continued for a brief period after his death, but not for long.188 Nonetheless, his focus on the supremacy of the single solar creator may have influenced later Egyptian theology, which in the Ramesside Period often described one god, Amun, as a sole, supreme god, with the other gods—in particular Re and Ptah—as aspects of this central deity.189 As the creator this supreme deity was the source of existence yet also had an ongoing role as a life-giving pantheistic deity immanent in creation (as, e.g., the sun, the air, and water). This cosmic role did not exhaust his existence, however; he was also an ethical authority—both judge and savior as well as the ruler of fate and time, and ultimately a transcendent, hidden being who could never be fully known.190

Egyptian Religion and Other Religious Traditions

While this discussion has focused on the worship of Egyptian-origin gods within Egypt, Egyptian religion was never hermetically sealed off from other traditions. A deity believed to be of Nubian origin, Dedun, appears already in the Pyramid Texts, and other deities, such as Osiris and Bes, have been suggested to have been of foreign origin, Near Eastern and sub-Saharan African, respectively, although such speculations are not widely accepted.191 More certain are Canaanite deities such as Astarte, Anat, and Ba’al, whose worship and iconography was adopted in Egypt following the Second Intermediate period, which saw the rule of the Hyksos, a dynasty of Levantine origin.192 All three of these deities were associated with Seth, Egypt’s own deity of foreignness—Ba’al as Seth’s alter ego, and Astarte and Anat as his consorts.193 The absorption of Egypt into the wider Persian, Greek, and later Roman empires resulted in the presence of significant foreign cults in Egypt—notably Judaism in Ptolemaic Elephantine and Roman Alexandria, the worship of Greek deities in Greek colonies, and of the Thracian rider god Heron throughout Egypt in the Roman Period.194 With the exception of the last of these, foreign deities do not seem to have been widely accepted into the Egyptian pantheon, although they were often identified with Egyptian deities, who might, as a consequence, be depicted with some of their iconography, and an interesting body of Graeco-Egyptian texts, of which the Roman-era magical papyri are an example, testify to an impressive degree of syncretism in this period.195

Egyptian deities were also worshipped outside Egypt; the religions of Nubia seem to have been heavily influenced by Egyptian religion, with Kushite rulers being buried in pyramids and worshipping Egyptian deities alongside their own deities, such as Apedemak, who was depicted in Egyptian style as a lion-headed man.196 Other Nubian groups, such as the Blemmyes and Noubadians, also worshipped Isis at her Egyptian temple of Philae.197 Egyptian religion was likewise influential in the Mediterranean, with some evidence that Egyptian religion influenced that of the Bronze Age Levant through its political hegemony, while cults of Egyptian deities are attested in Greece and other parts of the western Mediterranean from the 4th century bce.198 The most popular Egyptian deity outside Egypt was Isis, who had cult centers throughout the Mediterranean, from Anatolia to Greece and Italy, and even France and the British Isles.199 She was often worshipped alongside her son, Horus, and her consort Osiris—from the Ptolemaic Period usually in the form of Serapis, whose name was taken from the merging of Osiris and the Apis bull.200

The interest in Egyptian religion shared by Graeco-Roman authors, generally focused on the cult of Isis, the animal cults, and the body of Graeco-Egyptian texts known as the Hermetica, resulted in a fascination among Christians and Muslims in Egyptian religion long after it had ceased to be practiced, and these texts, and those that they inspired, served as the initial, albeit flawed, sources for its rediscovery at the dawn of Western Egyptology in the 17th and 18th centuries.201

Review of the Literature

The primary sources for Egyptian religion are of three types: the first is the archaeological evidence—sites, structures, assemblages, and objects from which we may infer cultic behavior and beliefs. These often include the second type of evidence, texts produced by the Egyptian cults, including literary, cultic, and magical material, as well as the textual decoration of tombs and temples. These texts generally have a very specific context of use, and are, with a few exceptions such as the Book of the Temple, more practical than theoretical, so that the underlying beliefs must be reconstructed.202 The third source is the evidence of authors writing in Greek and Latin, such as Herodotus, Plutarch, and Horapollo, preserved in the medieval manuscript tradition. Such authors, often, though not always, non-Egyptians, attempt to explain or describe Egyptian culture for a primarily non-Egyptian audience and thus offer very useful information for interpreting the two other types of evidence, which has informed Egyptology from its beginnings; the concept of dynasties, for example, is drawn from the Greek language history of the Ptolemaic priest Manetho. Graeco-Roman sources nonetheless pose several methodological problems, as they date from the later part of the Egyptian religious tradition and may contain the misunderstandings or deliberate distortions of those who may not have practiced the Egyptian religion or spoken the Egyptian language.

These sources are used by scholars to create models of Egyptian religion, and, due to their imperfect and incomplete nature, these models often vary considerably. A constant danger in such studies, in particular those with wide-ranging concerns, such as that presented here, is that they flatten the considerable local and temporal variability that seems to have characterized this religious tradition. An attempt has been made in this overview to obviate this by noting important temporal developments and regional particularities, but much of the richness of locally and temporally specific practices and beliefs has, by necessity, been ignored. Many studies of Egyptian religion cover only the Pharaonic Period, ending either in the Ptolemaic Period, when the ruling dynasty was of Macedonian origin, or in the Roman Period, when the king (the Roman Emperor) was no longer based in Egypt; a deliberate decision has been made here to discuss the Egyptian religious tradition up until its last clear attestations. Not only is there demonstrable continuity throughout these later periods, but they saw considerable theological innovation, and provide us with many of our fullest sources.

Egyptian religion has been a key concern of modern Egyptology from its beginnings, and thus a full discussion of works discussing it is beyond the scope of this article. Early discussions, such as those of Emmanuel de Rougé and Gaston Maspero, often focused on the question of whether Egyptian religion was polytheistic or monotheistic, partly a result of the debates inherited from the late antique tradition.203

The first real synthesis of native Egyptian texts on religion was produced by Adolf Erman in 1905, while an early attempt to provide a diachronic perspective may be found in the work of James Breasted (1912), which introduced the idea of the democratization of the afterlife.204 Current approaches to Egyptian religion may be seen as being founded on the work of two German scholars, Erik Hornung and Jan Assmann, who in the 1970s and 1980s identified the major “themes” of Egyptian religion—the creation, solar, and Osirian cycles discussed here; these have also resolved questions of polytheistic and monotheistic tendencies by demonstrating both the complexity of Egyptian theology and its development over time.205 Most of Hornung and Assmann’s key works have since been translated into English and are cited here in their translations.

Among the many other authors who wrote on Egyptian religion, the work of J. Gwyn Griffiths can be considered particularly important for its synthesis of the Graeco-Roman textual tradition with texts written in the various forms of the Egyptian language.206

Further Reading

Allen, James P. Genesis in Egypt: The Philosophy of Ancient Egyptian Creation Accounts. New Haven, CT: Yale Egyptological Seminar, 1988.Find this resource:

Assmann, Jan. The Search for God in Ancient Egypt. Translated by David Lorton. Ithaca, NY and London: Cornell University Press, 2001.Find this resource:

Frankfurter, David. Religion in Roman Egypt: Assimilation and Resistance. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1998.Find this resource:

Hoffmeier, James K. Akhenaten and the Origins of Monotheism. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015.Find this resource:

Hornung, Erik. Conceptions of God in Ancient Egypt: The One and the Many. Translated by John Baines. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1982.Find this resource:

Ikram, Salima, ed. Divine Creatures: Animal Mummies in Ancient Egypt. Cairo: American University in Cairo Press, 2005.Find this resource:

Meeks, Dimitri, and Christine Favard-Meeks. Daily Life of the Egyptian Gods. Translated by G. M. Goshgarian. London: John Murray, 1997.Find this resource:

Morenz, Siegfried. Egyptian Religion. Translated by Ann E. Keep. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1973.Find this resource:

Pinch, Geraldine. Magic in Ancient Egypt. London: British Museum Press, 1994.Find this resource:

Ritner, Robert K. The Mechanics of Ancient Egyptian Magical Practice. Chicago: Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago, 1993.Find this resource:

Shafer, Byron E., ed. Temples of Ancient Egypt. London and New York: I. B. Tauris, 1998.Find this resource:

Smith, Mark. Following Osiris: Perspectives on the Osirian Afterlife from Four Millennia. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2017.Find this resource:

te Velde, Herman. Seth, God of Confusion. Translated by Gertrud E. van Baaren-Pape. Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 1967.Find this resource:

Wildung, Dietrich. Egyptian Saints: Deification in Pharaonic Egypt. New York: New York University Press, 1977.Find this resource:

Wilkinson, Richard H. The Complete Gods and Goddesses of Ancient Egypt. London: Thames and Hudson, 2003.Find this resource:

Wilkinson, Richard H. The Complete Temples of Ancient Egypt. New York: Thames and Hudson, 2000.Find this resource:

Notes:

(1.) Cf. Jan Assmann, From Akhenaten to Moses: Ancient Egypt and Religious Change (Cairo: The American University in Cairo Press, 2014), 7–24.

(2.) The nature of the Egyptian writing systems poses a problem for representing the language in Latin transliteration. The hieroglyphic writing system and its later hieratic and demotic descendants only consistently write consonants and semi-vowels, usually omitting vowels, and tend to be highly conservative in their orthography. As a result, Egyptologists have developed a number of conventional transliteration systems intended to capture phonologically important features of consonantal orthography. In the example here, the word nṯr (“god” or “divine being”) contains three consonants, whose points and manner of articulation correspond roughly to those of the Latin n, t, and r. These transliterations are then vocalized according to a conventional pronunciation, in which semivowels (ȝ, ʻ, j, y, w) are usually pronounced as vowels (a, a, i, i, and u, respectively), and the letter e is added where necessary between consonants. In this article, this “Egyptological pronunciation” is provided in order to give an idea of the pronunciation of words in scholarly contexts, but when marked with an asterisk (*) this indicates that it does not, in most cases, represent the actual pronunciation of the word in question at any period of the Egyptian language. We know, for example, from Coptic writings and Greek transliterations that nṯr was pronounced as /nutə/ in the Roman Period, and its earlier pronunciation may be reconstructed as something like */nacrə/. See Carsten Peust, Egyptian Phonology: An Introduction to the Phonology of a Dead Language (Göttingen: Peust & Gutschmit Verlag, 1999), 16. Egyptian deities are referred to in this article by their most common English-language names. In most cases this is a transliteration of the Greek forms of their names (Osiris from Ὄσιρις‎), although occasionally (as in the case of Tefnut) this is, instead, an artificial rendering of their Egyptian name; for Osiris the equivalent would be *Wesir (from Wsjr). This should not be understood as a “more correct” form of their names. The Greek forms generally provide us with a close approximation of the Egyptian pronunciation of names in the Graeco-Roman period, modified to fit the Greek case system—thus Coptic texts confirm that Osiris’s name from at least the Ptolemaic period was probably pronounced as /usirə/ (Ουσιρι‎), from which an earlier pronunciation of something like */ʔusurə/ can be reconstructed; see Peust, Egyptian Phonology, 262. On demons in Ancient Egypt, see Rita Lucarelli, “Demonology during the Late Pharaonic and Greco-Roman Periods in Egypt,” Journal of Ancient Near Eastern Religions 11 (2011): 109–125.

(3.) Nicola Harrington, “MacGregor Man and the Development of Anthropomorphic Figures in the Late Predynastic Period,” in Archaeology of Early Northeastern Africa, Studies in African Archaeology 9, ed. Karla Kroeper et al. (Poznań: Poznań Archaeological Museum, 2006), 659–670; Bruce Williams, “Narmer and the Coptos Colossi,” Journal of the American Research Center in Egypt 25 (1988): 35–59; Renée Friedman, “Hierakonpolis Locality HK29A: The Predynastic Ceremonial Center Revisited,” Journal of the American Research Center in Egypt 45 (2009): 79–103; and Barry J. Kemp, Ancient Egypt: Anatomy of a Civilization, 2nd ed. (London and New York: Routledge, 2006), 121–124.

(4.) Dates throughout this article are taken from Ian Shaw, ed., Oxford History of Ancient Egypt (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000), 480–489. On the use of funerary texts in the Roman Period, see Foy Scalf, “The Death of the Book of the Dead,” in Book of the Dead: Becoming God in Ancient Egypt, ed. Foy Scalf (Chicago: Oriental Institute Museum, 2017), 146–147.

(5.) Richard A. Parker, A Vienna Demotic Papyrus on Eclipse- and Lunar-Omina (Providence: Brown University Press, 1959), 28–34.

(6.) Andrew Monson, From the Ptolemies to the Romans: Political and Economic Change in Egypt (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2012), 159–246; Silvia Bussi, “Le statut des prêtres en Égypte romaine: Aspects économiques et sociaux,” Revue Historique de Droit Français et Étranger 83, no. 3 (2005): 337–354; and Roger S. Bagnall, “Combat ou vide: Christianisme et paganisme dans l’Égypte romaine tardive,” Ktema 13 (1988): 295.

(7.) Roger S. Bagnall, “Combat ou vide,” 285–296.

(8.) Jitse H. Dijkstra, Philae and the End of Ancient Egyptian Religion: A Regional Study of Religious Transformation (298–642 CE) (Leuven, Belgium: Peeters, 2008), 214–217.

(9.) Mark Depauw and Willy Clarysse, “How Christian was Fourth Century Egypt? Onomastic Perspectives on Conversion,” Vigiliae Christianae 67 (2013): 407–435.

(10.) Johannes Hahn, “The Conversion of The Cult Statues: The Destruction of the Serapeum 392 A.D. and the Transformation of Alexandria into the ‘Christ-Loving’ City,” in From Temple to Church: Destruction and Renewal of Local Cultic Topography in Late Antiquity, ed. Johannes Hahn, Stephen Emmel, and Ulrich Gotter (Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 2008), 335–365; Stephen Emmel, “Shenoute of Atripe and the Christian Destruction of Temples in Egypt: Rhetoric and Reality,” in From Temple to Church: Destruction and Renewal of Local Cultic Topography in Late Antiquity, ed. Johannes Hahn, Stephen Emmel, and Ulrich Gotter (Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 2008), 161–201; and David Klotz, “Triphis in the White Monastery: Reused Temple Blocks from Sohag,” Ancient Society 40 (2010): 197–213.

(11.) Roger S. Bagnall, “Models and Evidence in the Study of Religion in Late Roman Egypt,” in From Temple to Church: Destruction and Renewal of Local Cultic Topography in Late Antiquity, ed. Johannes Hahn, Stephen Emmel, and Ulrich Gotter (Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 2008), 23–41; Mark Smith, Following Osiris: Perspectives on the Osirian Afterlife from Four Millennia (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2017), 421–537; and cf. David Frankfurter, Religion in Roman Egypt: Assimilation and Resistance (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1998).

(12.) Garth Fowden, The Egyptian Hermes: A Historical Approach to the Late Pagan Mind (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1993); Richard Jasnow and Karl-Theodor Zauzich, The Ancient Egyptian Book of Thoth: A Demotic Discourse on Knowledge and Pendant to the Classical Hermetica, vol. 1 (Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz Verlag, 2005), 65–71. For the important question of the reception of such texts in the Islamic world, see Kevin van Bladel, The Arabic Hermes: From Pagan Sage to Profit of Science (Oxford: Oxford University Press), 2009. On attempts to revive Egyptian religion, see, for example, Marilyn C. Krogh and Brooke A. Pillifant, “Kemetic Orthodoxy: Ancient Egyptian Religion on the Internet—A Research Note,” Sociology of Religion 65, no. 2 (2004): 167–175.

(13.) On the survival of Egyptian religion in popular Christian and Islamic practices, see For example, László Kákosy, “Survival of Ancient Egyptian Gods in Coptic and Islamic Egypt,” in Coptic Studies: Acts of the Third International Congress of Coptic Studies, Warsaw, 20–25 August, 1984, ed. Wlodzmierz Godlewski (Warsaw: Éditions Scientifiques de Pologne, 1990), 175–177; Saphinaz-Amal Naguib, “Survivals of Pharaonic Religious Practices in Contemporary Coptic Christianity,” in UCLA Encyclopedia of Egyptology, ed. Jacco Dieleman and Willeke Wendrich (Los Angeles, 2008). For Coptic magical texts mentioning the traditional deities, see David Frankfurter, “Laments of Horus in Coptic: Myth, Folklore, and Syncretism in Late Antique Egypt,” in Antike Mythen: Medien, Transformationen und Konstruktionen, ed. Ueli Dill and Christine Walde (Berlin and New York: De Gruyter, 2009), 229–247.

(14.) James P. Allen, Genesis in Egypt: The Philosophy of Ancient Egyptian Creation Accounts (New Haven, CT: Yale Egyptological Seminar, 1988), ix.

(15.) J. Gwyn Griffiths, Plutarch’s “De Iside et Osiride” (Cardiff: University of Wales Press, 1970); and Eric Hornung, The Egyptian Books of the Afterlife, trans. David Lorton (Ithaca, NY and London: Cornell University Press, 1999), 6.

(16.) Siegfried Morenz, Egyptian Religion, trans. Ann E. Keep (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1973), 166–174; and Allen, Genesis in Egypt.

(17.) Kurt Heinrich Sethe, Amun und die acht Urgötter von Hermopolis, eine Untersuchung über Ursprung und Wesen des aegyptischen Götterkönigs (Berlin: Verlag der Akademie der Wissenschaften, 1929), 35–42 et passim.

(18.) Gertie Englund, “Gods as a Frame of Reference: On Thinking and Concepts of Thought in Ancient Egypt,” in The Religion of the Ancient Egyptians: Cognitive Structures and Popular Expressions, ed. Gertie Englund (Upsala: Tryckeri Balder AB, 1987), 20–27.

(19.) Allen, Genesis in Egypt, 36.

(20.) Jan Assmann, The Search for God in Ancient Egypt, trans. David Lorton (Ithaca, NY and London: Cornell University Press, 2001), 119–123.

(21.) John Baines, “Bnbn: Mythological and Linguistic Notes,” Orientalia, Nova Series 39, no. 3 (1970): 389–404; and Morenz, Egyptian Religion, 177–180.

(22.) Allen, Genesis in Egypt, 13–21, 28–30.

(23.) Allen, Genesis in Egypt, 8–12.

(24.) Boyo G. Ockinga, “The Memphite Theology – Its Purpose and Date,” in Egyptian Culture and Society: Studies in Honor of Naguib Kanawati, vol. 2, ed. Alexandra Woods, Ann McFarlane, and Susanne Binder (Cairo: Publications du Conseil Suprême des Antiquités de l’Égypte, 2010), 99–117; translation in Miriam Lichtheim, Ancient Egyptian Literature, vol. 1 (Berkeley and London: University of California Press, 1973), 51–57.

(25.) Lichtheim, Ancient Egyptian Literature, 54–55; and Allen, Genesis in Egypt, 42–47.

(26.) “Coffin Texts” Spell 80, ll.31–32, translation in Raymond O. Faulkner, The Ancient Egyptian Coffin Texts (Warminster: Aris and Phillips, 1973), 83–84; Assmann, Search for God, 178–183; and Allen, Genesis in Egypt, 22–27.

(27.) David Klotz, Caesar in the City of Amun: Egyptian Temple Construction and Theology in Roman Thebes (Turnhout: Brepols, 2012), 58–61, 121–126, 133–142, 174–185.

(28.) Mark Smith, On the Primaeval Ocean (Copenhagen: Museum Tusculanum Press, 2002), 193–197.

(29.) Allen, Genesis in Egypt, 30–35; and Jan Assmann, Death and Salvation in Ancient Egypt, trans. David Lorton (Ithaca, NY and London: Cornell University Press, 2005), 246–247.

(30.) Erik Hornung, “The Triumph of Magic: The Sun God’s Victory over Apophis,” in The Valley of the Kings, trans. David Warburton (New York: Timken, 1990), 103–114; Herman te Velde, Seth, God of Confusion, trans. Gertrud E. van Baaren-Pape (Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 1967), 99–108; Joachim F. Quack, “Apopis, Nabelschnur des Re,” Studien zur Altägyptischen Kultur 34 (2006): 377–379; cf. Plutarch, “On Isis and Osiris 365D,” in Griffiths, Iside et Osiride, 174–175; and Serge Sauneron, Les fêtes religieuses d’Esna aux derniers siècles du paganisme (Cairo: IFAO, 1962), 265–266.

(31.) Hornung, Books of the Afterlife, 65–66.

(32.) See, for example, “P. Carlsberg I” A.I, 1-C.II, 19 (2nd-century-ce copy of a 13th-century-bce text with commentary), translation with notes in Otto Neugebauer and Richard A. Parker, Egyptian Astronomical Texts I: The Early Decans (London: Brown University Press, 1960), 43–52, 82–83.

(33.) Allen, Genesis in Egypt, 3–7.

(34.) J. Gwyn Griffiths, The Origins of Osiris and His Cult (Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 1980); and Griffiths, Iside et Osiride.

(35.) Donald B. Redford, Pharaonic King-Lists, Annals and Day-Books: A Contribution to the Study of the Egyptian Sense of History (Mississauga: Benben, 1986), xix–xx, 11–13; and Dimitri Meeks and Christine Favard-Meeks, Daily Life of the Egyptian Gods, trans. G. M. Goshgarian (London: John Murray, 1997), 30–31.

(36.) Griffiths, Origins of Osiris, 22–25; and te Velde, God of Confusion, 81–94.

(37.) Griffiths, Origins of Osiris, 25–27, 51–61.

(38.) See, for example, texts 69 and 90–96 in Joris F. Borghouts, Ancient Egyptian Magical Texts (Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 1978), 43–44, 59–72; and te Velde, God of Confusion, 28–32.

(39.) te Velde, God of Confusion, 94–98.

(40.) Assmann, Death and Salvation, 70–73 et passim.

(41.) Andrzej Niwiński, “The Solar-Osirian Unity as a Principle of the Theology of the ‘State of Amun’ in Thebes in the 21st Dynasty,” Jaarbericht Ex Oriente Lux 30 (1989): 89–106; Assmann, Death and Salvation, 187–189; and Smith, Following Osiris, 299–337.

(42.) “Book of the Dead Spell 175 S2,” translation in Thomas G. Allen, The Egyptian Book of the Dead, (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1960); and Assmann, Death and Salvation, 134–137.

(43.) Assmann, Search for God, 123–124; Griffiths, Origins of Osiris, 14–17; and J. Gwyn Griffiths, The Conflict of Horus and Seth from Egyptian and Classical Sources: A Study in Ancient Mythology (Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 1960).

(44.) Eugene Cruz-Uribe, “Stḫ ʻȝ pḥty ‘Seth, God of Power and Might,’” Journal of the American Research Center in Egypt 45 (2009): 201–226.

(45.) te Velde, God of Confusion, 32–59; Griffiths, Conflict of Horus and Seth, 28–50; and Richard B. Parkinson, “‘Homosexual’ Desire and Middle Kingdom Literature,” Journal of Egyptian Archaeology 81 (1995): 64–66, 70–71.

(46.) “The Contendings of Horus and Seth,” trans. Edward F. Wente Jr. in The Literature of Ancient Egypt, 3rd ed., ed. William K. Simpson (New Haven, CT and London: Yale University Press, 2003), 91–103; and te Velde, God of Confusion, 63–66.

(47.) te Velde, God of Confusion, 62, 85, 109–151.

(48.) te Velde, God of Confusion, 71–73; David Fabre, “Le dieu Seth de la fin du Nouvel Empire à l’époque gréco-romaine entre mythe et histoire,” Egypte: Afrique et Orient 21 (2001): 19–40; David Fabre, “De Seth à Typhon et vice versa,” Egypte: Afrique et Orient 22 (2001): 41–55; Colin Hope, “Reconstructing the Image of Seth, Lord of the Oasis, in His Temple at Mut al-Kharab in Dakhleh Oasis,” in Rich and Great: Studies in Honour of Anthony J. Spalinger on the Occasion of his 70th Feast of Thoth, ed. Renata Landgráfová and Jana Mynářová (Prague: Charles University, 2016), 123–145; and Colin A. Hope and Ashten R. Warfe, “The Proscription of Seth Revisited,” in The Cultural Manifestations of Religious Experience: Studies in Honour of Boyo G. Ockinga, ed. Camilla de Biase Dyson and Leonie Donovan (Wiesbaden: Ugarit-Verlag, 2017), 273–283.

(49.) Hope and Warfe, “Proscription of Seth,” 273–283; te Velde, God of Confusion, 32–80, 109–151; and Fabre, “Le dieu Seth,” 22–33.

(50.) Margaret A. Murray, “The Cult of the Drowned in Egypt,” Zeitschrift für Ägyptische Sprache 51 (1913): 127–135; James Frazer, The Golden Bough: A Study in Magic and Religion, Part IV; Adonis, Attis, Osiris, vol. 2, 3rd ed. (London: Macmillan and Co., 1914), 158–200 et passim; and Alexandre Moret, La mise à mort du dieu en Égypte (Paris: Geuthner, 1927); and Griffiths, Conflict of Horus and Seth, 119–124.

(51.) John Baines, “Egyptian Myth and Discourse: Myth, Gods, and the Early Written and Iconographic Record,” Journal of Near Eastern Studies 50, no. 2 (1991): 81–105; Hermann Kees, “Apotheosis by Drowning,” in Studies Presented to F. Ll. Griffith, ed. Stephen R. K. Glanville (London: Egypt Exploration Society, 1932), 402–405; te Velde, God of Confusion, 74–80; and Griffiths, Origins of Osiris, 208–211. George R. H. Wright, “The Egyptian Sparagmos,” Mitteilungen des Deutschen Archäologischen Instituts, Abteilung Kairo 35 (1979): 345–358; Veronica Tamorri, “Manipulated Corpses in Predynastic Egyptian Tombs: Deviant or Normative Practices?,” in Current Research in Egyptology 2011: Proceedings of the Twelfth Annual Symposium Durham University 2011, ed. Heba Abd El Gawad et al. (Oxford and Oakville: Oxbow Books, 2012), 201–209; and Smith, Following Osiris, 44.

(52.) Friedman, “Hierakonpolis Locality HK29A,” 79–103; and Kemp, Anatomy of a Civilization, 65–83.

(53.) Richard Bußmann, “Der Kult im frühen Satet-Tempel von Elephantine,” in Archäologie und Ritual: Auf der Suche nach der rituellen Handlung in den antiken Kulturen Ägyptens und Griechenlands, ed. Joannis Mylonopoulos and Hubert Roeder (Vienna: Phoibos, 2006), 25–36; Günter Dreyer, Elephantine VIII: Der Tempel der Satet; Die funde der Frühzeit und des Alten Reiches (Mainz: Verlag Phillip von Zabern, 1986); and Kemp, Anatomy of a Civilization, 116–121.

(54.) Dieter Arnold, Temples of the Last Pharaohs (New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press, 199), 189, 202; and Günter Vittmann, “Das demotische Graffito vom Satettempel auf Elephantine,” Mitteilungen des Deutschen Archäologischen Instituts, Abteilung Kairo 53 (1997): 263–281.

(55.) Miroslav Verner, Sons of the Sun: Rise and Decline of the Fifth Dynasty (Prague: Charles University, 2014), 199–226; Jiří Janák, Hana Vymazalová, and Filip Coppens, “The Fifth Dynasty ‘Sun Temples’ in a Broader Context,” in Abusir and Saqqara in the Year 2010, vol. 1, ed. Miroslav Bárta, Filip Coppens, and Jaromír Krejčí (Prague: Czech Institute of Egyptology, 2011), 430–442.

(56.) “King Cheops and the Magicians,” translation by William Kelly Simpson in Simpson, Literature of Ancient Egypt, 13–24; Verner, Sons of the Sun, 225–226; and Smith, Following Osiris, 70–72, 127–129.

(57.) Rolf Gundlach and Matthias Rochholz, eds., Ägyptische Tempel-Struktur, Funktion und Programm: (Akten der Ägyptologischen Tempeltagungen in Gosen 1990 und in Mainz 1992) (Hildesheim: Gerstenberg, 1994); Erik Hornung, “The Temple as Cosmos,” in Idea into Image: Essays on Ancient Egyptian Thought, trans. Elizabeth Bredeck (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1992), 115–129; Arnold, Last Pharaohs, 277–310; Richard H. Wilkinson, The Complete Temples of Ancient Egypt (New York: Thames and Hudson, 2000), 54–79; cf. David O’Conner, “The Status of Early Egyptian Temples,” in The Followers of Horus: Studies Dedicated to Michael Allen Hoffmann 1944–1990, ed. Renée Friedman and Barbara Adams (Oxford: Oxbow Books, 1992), 83–98; and Kemp, Anatomy of a Civilization, 65–83.

(58.) Joachim Quack, “Translating the Realities of Cult: The Case of the Book of the Temple,” in Greco-Egyptian Interactions: Literature, Translation, and Culture, 500 bce–300 ce, ed. Ian Rutherford (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2016), 26–286; and Joachim Quack, “Das Buch vom Tempel und verwandte Texte: Ein Vorbericht,” Archiv für Religionsgeschichte 2 (2000): 1–20.

(59.) Eve A. E. Reymond, The Mythical Origin of the Egyptian Temple (Manchester, UK: Manchester University Press, 1969), 43–52; and Smith, Following Osiris, 443.

(60.) Wilkinson, Complete Temples, 38–39.

(61.) Baines, “On the Symbolic Context of the Principal Hieroglyph for ‘God,’” in Religion und Philosophie im Alten Ägypten. Festgabe für Philippe Derchain zu seinem 65. Geburtstag am 24. Juli 199, eds. Ursula Verhoenen and Erhart Graefe (Ithaca, NY, 1982), 29–46.

(62.) Campbell Price, “On the Function of ‘Healing Statues,’” in Mummies, Magic and Medicine in Ancient Egypt: Multidisciplinary Essays for Rosalie David, ed. Campbell Price et al. (Manchester, UK: Manchester University Press, 2016), 169–182.

(63.) E. P. Uphill, “The Per Aten at Amarna,” Journal of Near Eastern Studies 29, no. 3 (1970): 151–166; Wilkinson, Complete Temples, 78; Barry J. Kemp, The City of Akhenaten and Nefertiti: Amarna and its People (London: Thames and Hudson, 2012), 79–121; and James K. Hoffmeier, Akhenaten and the Origins of Monotheism (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015), 91–135.

(64.) Otto Neugebauer and Richard A. Parker, Egyptian Astronomical Texts III: Decans, Planets, Constellations, Zodiacs (London: Brown University Press, 1969), 72–74, 203–204, et passim.

(65.) The Coptic term mammisi (“place of birth”) was first used by Jean-François Champollion as a transliteration or translation of its Middle Egyptian equivalent, pr-ms (“house of birth”). François Daumas, Les mammisis des temples égyptiens (Paris: Société d’Édition “Les Belles Lettres,” 1958), 15–16 et passim; and Arnold, Last Pharaohs, 285–288 (note that Arnold mistakenly identifies mammisi as an Arabic word).

(66.) Nikolaus Tacke, Das Opferritual des ägyptischen Neuen Reiches (Louvain, Belguim: Peeters, 2013); Katherine Eaton, Ancient Egyptian Temple Ritual: Performance, Pattern, and Practice (New York and London: Routledge, 2013), 41–75; David Lorton, “The Theology of Cult Statues in Ancient Egypt,” in Born in Heaven, Made on Earth: The Making of the Cult Image in the Ancient Near East, ed. Michael B. Dick (Winona Lake: Eisenbrauns, 1999), 131–145; and Barbara Watterson, The House of Horus at Edfu: Ritual in an Ancient Egyptian Temple (Stroud: Tempus, 1998), 80–84.

(67.) Assmann, Search for God, 47–52.

(68.) Eaton, Temple Ritual, 19, 175–178.

(69.) Lorton, “Cult Statues,” 179–201.

(70.) Lorton, “Cult Statues,” 147–179.

(71.) Assmann, Death and Salvation, 317–324; and Lorton, “Cult Statues,” 189–201.

(72.) Claas J. Bleeker, Egyptian Festivals: Enactments of Religious Renewal (Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 1967); Françoise Perpillou-Thomas, Fêtes d’Égypte ptolémaïque et romaine d’après la documentation papyrologique grecque (Leuven, Belgium: Peeters, 1993), 78–81; Richard A. Parker with Jaroslav Černý, A Saite Oracle Papyrus from Thebes in the Brooklyn Museum (Providence: Brown University Press, 1962), 35–48; Jean-Marie Kruchten, “Un Instrument Politique Original: La ‘Belle Fête de pḥ-ntr’ des Rois-Prêtres de la XXIe Dynastie,” Bulletin de la Société Française d’Égyptologie 103 (1985): 6–26; Jean Marie Kruchten, Le grand texte oraculaire du Djéhoutymose (Brussels: Fondation Égyptologique Reine Élisabeth, 1986); Alan Gardiner, “The Gods of Thebes as Guarantors of Personal Property,” Journal of Egyptian Archaeology 48 (1962): 57–69; David Klotz, “Two overlooked oracles,” Journal of Egyptian Archaeology 96 (2010): 247–254; and Eaton, Temple Ritual, 100–121.

(73.) Pierre Grandet, Le papyrus Harris I (BM 9999) (Cairo: IFAO, 1994). John Taylor, “Third Intermediate Period (1069–664 BC),” in Oxford History of Ancient Egypt, ed. Ian Shaw (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000), 325–328 et passim.

(74.) Kim Ryholt, “Libraries in Ancient Egypt,” in Ancient Libraries, ed. Jason König, Katerina Oikonomopoulou, and Greg Woolf (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2013), 23–37.

(75.) See the “Bentresh Stela,” trans. Edward F. Wente Jr. in Simpson, Literature of Ancient Egypt, 361–366; and cf. Klotz, Caesar in the City, 81–90, 95–98.

(76.) Sauneron, Les fêtes religieuses, 253–264; and Martin A. Stadler, Theologie et culte au temple de Soknopaios: Études sur la religion d’un village égyptien pendant l’époque romaine (Paris: Cybèle, 2017), 22–30, 65.

(77.) John Baines, “Restricted Knowledge, Hierarchy, and Decorum: Modern Perceptions and Ancient Institutions,” Journal of the American Research Center in Egypt 27 (1990): 1–23.

(78.) Emily Teeter, Religion and Ritual in Ancient Egypt (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2011), 79–84; and Wilkinson, Complete Temples, 71.

(79.) Wilkinson, Complete Temples, 47, 99.

(80.) Kenneth Griffin, “A Reinterpretation of the Use and Function of the Rekhyt Rebus in New Kingdom Temples,” in Current Research in Egyptology 2006: Proceedings of the Seventh Annual Symposium Which Took Place at the University of Oxford, April 2006, ed. Maria Cannata and Christina Adams (Oxford: Oxbow, 2007), 66–84.

(81.) Serge Sauneron, The Priests of Ancient Egypt, trans. David Lorton (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2000); Walter Otto, Priester und Tempel in hellenistischen Ägypten: Ein Beitrag zur Kulturgeschichte des Hellenismus (Rome: Bardi Editore, 1971); Ann Macy Roth, Egyptian Phyles in the Old Kingdom: The Evolution of a System of Social Organization (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1991); Watterson, House of Horus, 75–80; and Dijkstra, Philae, 193–199.

(82.) Pieter Willem van der Horst, Chaeremon: Egyptian Priest and Stoic Philosopher (Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 1984).

(83.) Sauneron, Priests, 36–69; Pierre Montet, “Le Fruit Défendu,” Kemi 11 (1950): 85–116; Ingrid Gamer-Wallert, Fische und Fischkulte im alten Ägypten (Wiesbaden: Otto Harrassowitz, 1970), 75–85; and Youri Volokhine, Le porc en Égypte ancienne: Mythes et histoire à l’origine des interdits alimentaires (Liège: Presses Universitaires de Liège, 2014).

(84.) Bussi, “Le statut.”

(85.) John Baines, “Kingship, Definition of Culture, and Legitimation,” in Ancient Egyptian Kingship, ed. David O’Connor and David P. Silverman (Leiden, The Netherlands: E. J. Brill, 1995), 3–47; and David P. Silverman, “The Nature of Egyptian Kingship,” in Ancient Egyptian Kingship, ed. David O’Connor and David P. Silverman (Leiden, The Netherlands: E. J. Brill, 1995), 49–92.

(86.) Dietrich Wildung, Egyptian Saints: Deification in Pharaonic Egypt (New York: New York University Press, 1977), 2–28; and Erik Hornung, Conceptions of God: The One and the Many, trans. John Baines (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1982), 138–142.

(87.) Wildung, Egyptian Saints, 3–8.

(88.) “King Cheops,” Simpson in Simpson, The Literature of Ancient Egypt, 13–24.

(89.) Hellmut Brunner, Die Geburt des Gottkönigs: Studien zur Überlieferung eines altägyptischen Mythos (Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz, 1986).

(90.) Meeks and Favard-Meeks, Daily Life, 187–193; and Eric Uphill, “The Egyptian Sed-Festival Rites,” Journal of Near Eastern Studies 24, no. 4 (1965): 365–383.

(91.) Jaroslav Černý, “Le culte d’Amenophis Ier chez les ouvriers de la nécropole thébaine,” Bulletin de l’Institut Français d’Archéologie Orientale 27 (1927): 159–203; Vera F. Vanderlip, The Four Greek Hymns of Isidorus and the Cult of Isis (Toronto: A. M. Hakkert, 1972), 67 et passim; Ian Moyer, “Isidorus at the Gates of the Temple,” in Graeco-Egyptian Interactions: Literature, Translation, and Culture, 500 BCE–300 CE, ed. Ian Rutherford (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2016), 230–237; and cf. Howard M. Jackson, “A New Proposal for the Origin of the Hermetic God Poimandres,” Zeitschrift für Papyrologie und Epigraphik 128 (1999): 95–106.

(92.) Eleanor G. Huzar, “Emperor Worship in Julio-Claudian Egypt,” in Wolfgang Haase, Aufstieg und Niedergang der römischen Welt, part 2, 18, no. 5 (Berlin and New York: Walter de Gruyter, 1995), 3092–3143.

(93.) Klaas A. D. Smelik and Emily A. Hemelrijk, “‘Who Knows Not What Monsters Demented Egypt Worships?’ Opinions on Egyptian Animal Worship in Antiquity as Part of the Ancient Conception of Egypt,” in Aufstieg und Niedergang der römischen Welt, part. 2, 17, no. 4, ed. Wolfgang Haase (Berlin and New York: De Gruyter, 1984), 1852–2000.

(94.) Herman te Velde, “A Few Remarks upon the Religious Significance of Animals in Ancient Egypt,” Numen 27, no. 1 (1980): 76–82.

(95.) te Velde, “A Few Remarks”; and Ingrid Gamer-Wallert, Fische und Fischkulte im alten Ägypten (Wiesbaden: Otto Harrassowitz, 1970), 75, 88–90.

(96.) Smelik and Hemelrijk, “Who Knows Not,”.

(97.) Dieter Kessler, Die heiligen Tiere und der König: Teil I; Beiträge zu Organisation, Kult und Theologie der spätzeitlichen Tierfriedhöfe (Wiesbaden: Otto Harrassowitz, 1989), 57–104; Aidan Dodson, “Bull Cults,” in Divine Creatures: Animal Mummies in Ancient Egypt, ed. Salima Ikram (Cairo: American University in Cairo Press, 2005), 72–89; and Martin Fitzenreiter, Tierkulte im pharaonischen Ägypten (Munich: Wilhelm Fink Verlag, 2013), 76–79, 104–107.

(98.) Griffiths, Iside et Osiride, 462–463.

(99.) Dodson, “Bull Cults,” 89; Harry S. Smith, “The Death and Life of the Mother of Apis,” in Studies in Pharaonic Religion and Society in Honour of J. Gwyn Griffiths, ed. Alan B. Lloyd (London: Egypt Exploration Society, 1992), 201–225; and Nathaniel J. Reich, “New Documents from the Serapeum of Memphis,” Mizraim 1 (1933): 48–49, 57–58, 108–109.

(100.) Richard L. Vos, The Apis Embalming Ritual (P. Vindob. 3873) (Leuven, Belgium: Peeters, 1993).

(101.) Joachim F. Quack, “Die Rolle des heiligen Tieres nach dem Buch vom Tempel,” in Tierkulte im pharaonischen Ägypten und im Kulturvergleich, ed. Martin Fitzenreiter, Steffen Kirchner, and Olaf Kriseleit (Berlin: Internet-Beiträge zur Ägyptologie und Sudanarchäologie, 2003), 111–123.

(102.) Lothar Goldbrunner, Buchis: Eine Untersuchung zur Theologie des heiligen Stieres in Theben zur griechisch-römischen Zeit (Turnhout: Brepols, 2014); Dodson, “Bull Cults,” 92–100; and Fitzenreiter, Tierkulte, 79–81, 107–110; Susan Redford and Donald B. Redford, “The Cult and Necropolis of the Sacred Ram at Mendes,” in Divine Creatures: Animal Mummies in Ancient Egypt, ed. Salima Ikram (Cairo: American University in Cairo Press, 2005), 164–198; Charlène Cassier, “La vache Hésat, une femelle parmi les animaux sacrés uniques?,” in Apprivoiser le sauvage/Taming the Wild, ed. Magali Massiera, Bernard Mathieu, and Frédéric Rouffet (Montpellier: Université Paul Valéry Montpellier 3, 2015), 49–65; Ghislaine Widmer, “On Egyptian Religion at Soknopaiu Nesos in the Roman Period (P. Berlin P 6750),” in Tebtynis und Soknopaiu Nesos: Leben im römerzeitlichen Fajum, ed. Sandra Lippert and Maren Schentuleit (Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz Verlag), 170–184.

(103.) Carina van den Hoven, “The Coronation Ritual of the Sacred Living Falcon at Edfu: A Divine, Royal and Cyclical Rite of Passage,” in Life, Death, and Coming of Age in Antiquity: Individual Rites of Passage in the Ancient Near East and Adjacent Regions, ed. Alice Mouton and Julie Patrier (Leiden, The Netherlands: Nederlands Instituut voor het Nabije Oosten, 2014), 159–177; and Watterson, House of Horus, 98–103.

(104.) Angelo Colonna, “Θεοί‎ and ἱεροί‎: Some Remarks on Animal Cult in Ancient Egypt According to Classical and Egyptian Texts,” in Proceedings of the Fourth International Congress for Young Egyptologists: 25–27 September 2012, ed. Teodor Lekov and Emil Buzov (Sofia: New Bulgarian University, 2014), 104–106.

(105.) Colonna, “Θεοί‎ and ἱεροί‎,” 102–111.

(106.) Salima Ikram, ed., Divine Creatures: Animal Mummies in Ancient Egypt (Cairo: American University in Cairo Press, 2005); Edward Bleiberg, Yekaterina Barbash, and Lisa Bruno, Soulful Creatures: Animal Mummies in Ancient Egypt (Brooklyn: Brooklyn Museum, 2013); Lidija McKnight and Stephanie Atherton-Woolham, eds., Gifts for the Gods: Ancient Egyptian Animal Mummies and the British (Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 2015); and Fitzenreiter, Tierkulte, 119–136, 143–148.

(107.) Salima Ikram, “Speculations on the Role of Animal Cults in the Economy of Ancient Egypt,” in Apprivoiser le Sauvage/Taming the Wild, ed. Magali Massiera, Bernard Mathieu, and Frédéric Rouffet (Montpellier: University Paul Valéry Montpellier, 2015), 211–228.

(108.) Friedrich Preisigke and Wilhelm Spiegelberg, Die Prinz-Joachim-Ostraka (Strasbourg: Karl J. Trübner, 1914); John D. Ray, The Archive of Ḥor (London: Egypt Exploration Society, 1976); and Frédéric Colin, Frédéric Adam, and Ivana Pranjic, “Harpocrate au chien et les cadavres de Qasr ‘Allam: Perspectives sur le statut rituel des inhumations animales dans l’Égypte ancienne,” Archimède: Archéologie et Histoire Ancienne 1 (2014): 47–51.

(109.) Foy Scalf, “Resurrecting an Ibis Cult: Demotic Votive Texts from the Oriental Institute Museum of the University of Chicago,” in Mélanges offerts à Ola el-Aguizy, ed. Fayza Haikal (Cairo: Institut Français d’Archéologie Orientale, 2015), 361–388; Dieter Kessler and Abd el Halim Nur el-Din, “Tuna al-Gebel: Millions of Ibises,” in Divine Creatures: Animal Mummies in Ancient Egypt, ed. Salima Ikram (Cairo: American University in Cairo Press, 2005), 133–137; Ray, Archive of Ḥor, 130–136; and Fitzenreiter, Tierkulte, 163–165.

(110.) Alain Charron, “Massacres d’Animaux à la Basse Époque,” Revue d’Égyptologie 41 (1990): 210–211; Alain Charron, “Les animaux sacralisés,” in Des animaux et des hommes: Une symbiose égyptienne, ed. Françoise Dunand and Roger Lichtenberg (Monaco: Éditions du Rocher, 2005) 165–200; and Salima Ikram, “Speculations,” 217–220.

(111.) Mary Hartley, Alanah Buck, and Susanne Binder, “Canine Interments in the Teti Cemetery North at Saqqara during the Graeco-Roman Period,” in Abusir and Saqqara in the Year 2010, ed. Filip Coppens and Jaromir Krejči (Prague: Czech Institute of Egyptology, 2011), 17–29; Salima Ikram et al., “Killing Man’s Best Friend?,” Archaeological Review from Cambridge 28, no. 2 (2013): 60–61; and Stephanie Atherton et al., “A Healed Femoral Fracture of Threskiornis Aethiopicus (Sacred Ibis) from the Animal Cemetery at Abydos, Egypt,” International Journal of Paleopathology 2 (2012): 45–47; and O. Hor 7, 27, 29, edited in Ray, Archive of Ḥor, 35–38, 96–97, 98–100.

(112.) Smith, Following Osiris, 8–20.

(113.) Assmann, Death and Salvation, 173–176.

(114.) Assmann, Death and Salvation, 141–185.

(115.) Jan Zandee, Death as an Enemy According to Ancient Egyptian Conceptions (Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 1960), 217–223, 259–296; Jan Assmann, “Death and Initiation in the Funerary Religion of Ancient Egypt,” in Religion and Philosophy in Ancient Egypt, ed. William K. Simpson (New Haven, CT: Yale Egyptological Publications, 1989), 137–155; and Assmann, Death and Salvation, 23–113.

(116.) Assmann, Death and Salvation, 73–86.

(117.) Smith, Following Osiris, 138–147, 159–161, 198–199, 210–222, 338–340.

(118.) Mark Smith, “New References to the Deceased as Wsἰ‎r n NN from the Third Intermediate Period and the Earliest Reference to a Deceased Woman as Ḥ.t-Ḥr NN,” Revue d’Égyptologie 63 (2012): 194–195; Emily Cole, “The Gendered Individual in Funerary Papyri of the Ptolemaic and Roman Periods,” Journal of the American Research Center in Egypt 49 (2013): 205–218; Smith, Following Osiris, 251–255, 384–387; and Christina Riggs, The Beautiful Burial in Roman Egypt Art, Identity, and Funerary Religion (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005), 41–94.

(119.) Assmann, Death and Salvation, 221–225.

(120.) Allen, Genesis in Egypt, 56–57.

(121.) Assmann, “Death and Initiation,” 136–137; Robert K. Ritner, “Divinization and Empowerment of the Dead,” in Book of the Dead: Becoming God in Ancient Egypt, ed. Foy Scalf (Chicago: Oriental Institute Museum Publications, 2017); and Smith, Following Osiris, 136–137, 44–46, 177–184.

(122.) Assmann, Death and Salvation, 343–348.

(123.) Assmann, Death and Salvation, 105–109.

(124.) Smith, Following Osiris, 230–270; and Assmann, Death and Salvation, 225–253.

(125.) Assmann, Death and Salvation, 246–247.

(126.) Assmann, Death and Salvation, 120–122.

(127.) Zandee, Death as an Enemy, 73–78; and Assmann, Death and Salvation, 138–140.

(128.) Zandee, Death as an Enemy, 14–19, 45–52.

(129.) Zandee, Death as an Enemy, 20–23, 147–157, 297–302.

(130.) John Baines and Peter Lacovara, “Burial and the Dead in Ancient Egyptian Society,” Journal of Social Archaeology 2, no. 1, (2002): 5–36; and Smith, Following Osiris, 74–75, 183–184, 222–225.

(131.) Jasnow and Zauzich, Book of Thoth, 320, 324; and “Setna II 2.9–13,” trans. Robert K. Ritner in Simpson, Literature of Ancient Egypt, 474–475.

(132.) Jana Jones et al., “Evidence for Prehistoric Origins of Egyptian Mummification in Late Neolithic Burials,” PLoS One 9, no. 8; Jana Jones, “New Perspectives on the Development of Mummification and Funerary Practices During the Pre- and Early Dynastic Periods,” in Proceedings of the Ninth International Congress of Egyptologists, ed. Jean-Claude Goyon and Christine Cardin (Leuven, Belgium, Paris, and Dudley: Peeters, 2007), 979–989.

(133.) Herodotus, “Histories II.86–88,” translation in Alfred D. Godley, Herodotus: The Persian Wars, Volume I: Books 1–2 (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1920), 370–373.

(134.) A. Rosalie David, “Mummification,” in Paul T. Nicholson and Ian Shaw, Ancient Egyptian Materials and Technology (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2000), 372–389.

(135.) Alexandra von Lieven, Grundriss des Laufes der Sterne: Das sogenannte Nutbuch (Copenhagen: Museum Tusculanum Press, 2007), 145.

(136.) Assmann, Death and Salvation, 105–109.

(137.) Assmann, Death and Salvation, 165–173.

(138.) Assmann, Death and Salvation, 310–329.

(139.) Baines and Lacovara, “Burial and the Dead,” 12–14; and Colin, Adam, and Pranjic, “Harpocrate au chien,” 32–63.

(140.) Thelma K. Thomas, Late Antique Egyptian Funerary Sculpture: Images for This World and the Next (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2000).

(141.) Dieter Arnold, “Royal Cult Complexes of the Old and Middle Kingdoms,” in Temples of Ancient Egypt, ed. Byron E. Shafer (London and New York: I. B. Tauris, 1998), 31–85.

(142.) Jan Assmann, “The Ramesside Tomb and the Construction of Sacred Space,” in The Theban Necropolis: Past, Present and Future, ed. Nigel Strudwick and John H. Taylor (London: British Museum Press, 2003), 46–52.

(143.) M. Ullmann, König für die Ewigkeit: Die Häuser der Millionen von Jahren; Eine Untersuchung zu Königskult und Tempeltypologie in Ägypten (Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz Verlag, 2002); and Gerard Haeny, “New Kingdom ‘Mortuary Temples’ and ‘Mansions of Millions of Years,’” in Temples of Ancient Egypt, ed. Byron E. Shafer (London and New York: I. B. Tauris, 1998), 86–126.

(144.) Smith, Following Osiris, 205–206.

(145.) Hornung, Books of the Afterlife, 26–135.

(146.) Hornung, Books of the Afterlife, 1–6; see translation in James P. Allen, trans. and Peter der Manuelian, ed., The Ancient Egyptian Pyramid Texts (Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature, 2005).

(147.) Hornung, Books of the Afterlife, 7–12; and translation in Faulkner, Coffin Texts.

(148.) Hornung, Books of the Afterlife, 13–22; Foy Scalf, ed., Book of the Dead: Becoming God in Ancient Egypt (Chicago: Oriental Institute Museum Publications, 2017); and translation in Allen, Book of the Dead.

(149.) Hornung, Books of the Afterlife, 23–25; translation of this and other Ptolemaic and Roman funerary texts may be found in Mark Smith, Traversing Eternity: Texts for the Afterlife from Ptolemaic and Roman Egypt (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009).

(150.) James Breasted, Development of Religion and Thought in Ancient Egypt (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1912), 256–272.

(151.) Harold M. Hays, “The Death of the Democratisation of the Afterlife,” in Old Kingdom, New Perspectives: Egyptian Art and Archaeology 2750–2150 BC, ed. Nigel Strudwick and Helen Strudwick (Oxford and Oakville: Oxbow Books, 2011), 115–130; Harold M. Hays, “The Entextualization of the Pyramid Texts and the Religious History of the Old Kingdom,” in Towards a New History for the Egyptian Old Kingdom: Perspectives on the Pyramid Age, ed. Peter Der Manuelian and Thomas Schneider (Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 2015), 200–226; and Smith, Following Osiris, 115–117, 176–177.

(152.) Smith, Following Osiris, 94–95, 166–270.

(153.) Wildung, Egyptian Saints, 31–78, 83–109.

(154.) Cyril Aldred, “The Temple of Dendur,” The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 36, no. 1 (1978): 1–80; and Aylward M. Blackman, The Temple of Dendûr (Cairo: Institut Français d’Archéologie Orientale, 1911).

(155.) Francis Ll. Griffith, “Herodotus II.90: Apotheosis by Drowning,” Zeitschrift für Ägyptische Sprache 46 (1909): 132–134; Alan Rowe, “Newly-Identified Monuments in the Egyptian Museum Showing the Deification of the Dead together with Brief Details of Similar Objects Elsewhere,” Annales du Service des Antiquités de l’Égypte 40 (1940): 1–50; Mustafa El-Amir, “The Cult of Ḥryw at Thebes in the Ptolemaic Period,” Journal of Egyptian Archaeology 37 (1951): 81–85; Jan Quaegebeur, “Les ‘Saints’ Égyptiens Préchretiens,” Orientalia Lovaniensia Periodica 8 (1977): 127–143; Jan Quaegebeur, “Note sur l’ Herêsieion d’ Antinoé,” Zeitschrift für Papyrologie und Epigraphik 24 (1977): 246–250; and Guy Wagner, “Le concept de ‘Ḥsy’ à la lumière des inscriptions Grecques,” in Egyptian Religion: The Last Thousand Years, Part II, ed. Willy Clarysse, Antoon Schoors, and Harco Willems (Leuven, Belgium: Peeters, 1998), 1074–1078.

(156.) Gil H. Renberg, “Hadrian and the Oracles of Antinous (Sha Hadr. 14.7): With an Appendix on the So-Called Antinoeion at Hadrian’s Villa and Rome’s Monte Pincio Obelisk,” Memoirs of the American Academy in Rome 55 (2010): 159–198; and Jean-Claude Grenier, L’Osiris Antinoos (Montpellier: Cahiers de l’ENIM, 2008); and Domingo Saura Zorrilla, “Morir ahogado en el Nilo: Antínoo y la divinización osiriana,” in Formas de morir y formas de matar en la Antigüedad romana, ed. Gonzalo Bravo and Raúl González Salinero (Madrid and Salamanca: Signifer Libros, 2013), 509–524.

(157.) Pieter W. Pestman, The Archive of the Theban Choachytes (Leuven, Belgium: Peeters, 1993).

(158.) Klotz, Caesar in the City, 389–391; and Bleeker, Egyptian Festivals, 137–140.

(159.) Alan H. Gardiner and Kurt Sethe, Egyptian Letters to the Dead, Mainly from the Old and Middle Kingdoms (London: Egypt Exploration Society, 1928); and Edward F. Wente, Letters from Ancient Egypt (Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1990), 210–219.

(160.) Christina Adams, “Shades of Meaning: The Significance of Manifestations of the Dead as Evidenced in Texts from the Old Kingdom to the Coptic Period,” in Current Research in Egyptology 2006, ed. Maria Cannata (Oxford: Oxbow Books, 2006), 1–20; Iorweth E. S Edwards, Hieratic Papyri in the British Museum, Fourth Series: Oracular Amuletic Decrees of the Late New Kingdom (London: Trustees of the British Museum, 1960).

(161.) John Baines, “Practical Religion and Piety,” Journal of Egyptian Archaeology 73 (1987): 79–98.

(162.) Gwen Jennes and Mark Depauw, “Hellenization and Onomastic Change: The Case of Egyptian P3-dỉ/Πετε‎-,” Chronique d’Egypte 87, no. 173 (2012): 109–132.

(163.) Geraldine Pinch, Magic in Ancient Egypt (London: British Museum Press, 1994), 122–132; and Ann M. Roth and Catharine H. Roehrig, “Magical Bricks and the Bricks of Birth,” Journal of Egyptian Archaeology 88 (2002): 121–139.

(164.) Joris F. Borghouts, Magical Texts; Jørgen P. Sørensen, “The Argument in Ancient Egyptian Magical Formulae,” Acta Orientalia 45 (1984): 5–19; and Robert K. Ritner, The Mechanics of Ancient Egyptian Magical Practice (Chicago: Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago, 1993).

(165.) Angelicus M. Kropp, Ausgewählte Koptische Zaubertexte (Brussels: Édition de la Fondation Égyptologique Reine Élisabeth, 1930–1931); Marvin Meyer and Richard Smith, ed., Ancient Christian Magic: Coptic Texts of Ritual Power (San Francisco: HarperCollins, 1994); and Theodore de Bruyn, Making Amulets Christian: Artefacts, Scribes, and Contexts (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2017).

(166.) Harold M. Hays, The Organization of the Pyramid Texts, vol. 1 (Leiden, The Netherlands and Boston: Brill, 2012), 275–282.

(167.) For the New Kingdom love spell, see P. Smither, “A Ramesside Love Charm,” Journal of Egyptian Archaeology 27 (1941): 131–132. For magic in the Roman Period, see, for example, Hans Dieter Betz, ed., The Greek Magical Papyri in Translation Including the Demotic Spells, 2nd ed. (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1992); William M. Brashear, “The Greek Magical Papyri: An Introduction and Survey; Annotated Bibliography (1928–1994),” in Aufstieg und Niedergang der römischen Welt, vol. 2, part 18, no. 5, ed. Wolfgang Haase (Berlin: De Gruyter, 1995), 3380–3684.

(168.) Robert K. Ritner, “Egyptian Magical Practice under the Roman Empire: The Demotic Spells and Their Religious Context,” in Aufstieg und Niedergang der römischen Welt, vol. 2, part 18, no. 5, ed. Wolfgang Haase (Berlin: De Gruyter, 1995), 3333–3379; Jacco Dieleman, Priests, Tongues, and Rites: The London-Leiden Magical Manuscripts and Translation in Egyptian Ritual (100–300 CE) (Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 2005); Joachim F. Quack, “From Ritual to Magic: Ancient Egyptian Precursors of the Charitesion and their Social Setting,” in Continuity and Innovation in the Magical Tradition, ed. Gideon Bohak, Yuval Harari, and Saul Shaked (Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 2011), 43–84; and Jacco Dieleman, “Coping With a Difficult Life: Magic, Healing, and Sacred Knowledge,” in The Oxford Handbook of Roman Egypt, ed. Christina Riggs (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012), 337–361.

(169.) John Baines and Elizabeth Frood, “Piety, Change, and Display in the New Kingdom,” in Ramesside Studies in Honour of K. A. Kitchen, ed. Mark Collier and Steven Snape (Bolton: Rutherford Press, 2011), 1–17; Assmann, The Search for God, 158, 168, 242–244; and Jan Assmann, “Theological Responses to Amarna,” in Egypt, Israel, and the Ancient Mediterranean World: Studies in Honor of Donald B. Redford, ed. Gary Knoppers and Antoine Hirsch (Leiden, The Netherlands and Boston: Brill, 2004), 179–191.

(170.) José M. Galan, “Seeing Darkness,” Chronique d’Egypte 74, no. 147 (1999): 18–30; Battiscombe Gunn, “The Religion of the Poor in Ancient Egypt,” Journal of Egyptian Archaeology 3, no. 2–3 (1916): 81–94; and Claas Jouco Bleeker, “Guilt and Purification in Ancient Egypt,” Numen 13, no. 2 (1966): 81–87.

(171.) See, for example, “British Museum EA1632,” discussed in Hellmut Brunner, “Eine Dankstele an Upuaut,” Mitteilungen des Deutschen Archäologischen Instituts, Abteilung Kairo 16 (1958): 5–19.

(172.) Kim Ryholt, “A Self-Dedication Addressed to Anubis: Divine Protection Against Malevolent Forces or Forced Labor?,” in Lotus and Laurel: Studies on Egyptian Language and Religion in Honour of Paul John Frandsen, ed. Rune Nyord and Kim Ryholt (Copenhagen: Museum Tusculanum Press, 2015), 329–350.

(173.) Erik Hornung, Akhenaten and the Religion of Light, trans. David Lorton (Ithaca, NY and London: Cornell University Press, 1999); David P. Silverman, Josef W. Wegner, and Jennifer Houser Wegner, Akhenaten and Tutankhamun: Revolution and Restoration (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, 2006); Aidan Dodson, Amarna Sunrise: Egypt from Golden Age to Age of Heresy (Cairo: American University in Cairo Press, 2014); and Hoffmeier, Akhenaten.

(174.) Hornung, Conceptions of God, 1–32, 51–60; and Assmann, The Search for God, 10–12.

(175.) Assmann, Akhenaten to Moses, 61–75.

(176.) Jan Assmann, “Akhanyati’s Theory of Light and Time,” Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities Proceedings 7, no. 4 (1992): 146–159.

(177.) Samuel Jackson, “The ‘Wicked Priest’ in Egyptology and Amarna Studies: A Reconsideration,” Antiguo Oriente 6 (2008): 185–211; and Silverman, Wegner, and Houser Wegner, Akhenaten and Tutankhamun, 33–34.

(178.) Jan Assmann, Egyptian Solar Religion in the New Kingdom: Re, Amun and the Crisis of Polytheism, trans. Anthony Alcock (London and New York: Routledge, 1995).

(179.) Assmann, Solar Religion, 61–101; Assmann, The Search for God, 189–208; Assmann, Akhenaten to Moses, 14–17, 52–57; Assmann, “Akhanyati’s Theory,”, 161–163; William J. Murmane and Edmund S. Meltzer, eds., Texts from the Amarna Period in Egypt (Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1995), 19–28.

(180.) W. Raymond Johnson, “Amenhotep III and Amarna: Some New Considerations,” Journal of Egyptian Archaeology 82 (1996): 65–82.

(181.) Assmann, “Akhanyati’s Theory,” 164–166; Battiscombe Gunn, “Notes on the Aten and His Names,” Journal of Egyptian Archaeology 9, no. 3–4 (1923): 168–176; and Hoffmeier, Akhenaten, 204–206.

(182.) Peter Der Manuelian, “Semi-Literacy in Egypt: Some Erasures from the Amarna Period,” in Gold of Praise: Studies on Ancient Egypt in Honor of Edward F. Wente, ed. Emily Teeter and John A. Larson (Chicago: Oriental Institute of Chicago, 1999), 286–289; and Hoffmeier, Akhenaten, 198–203.

(183.) Orly Goldwasser, “Literary Late Egyptian as a Polysystem,” Poetics Today 13, no. 3 (1992): 448–450; and Hoffmeier, Akhenaten, 211–237.

(184.) Assmann, “Akhanyati’s Theory,” 147–152, 165–166; Assmann, The Search for God, 208–218; Smith, Following Osiris, 276–299; and Murmane and Meltzer, Texts from the Amarna Period, 14–15 et passim.

(185.) Anna Stevens, “The Material Evidence for Domestic Religion at Amarna and Preliminary Remarks on Its Interpretation,” Journal of Egyptian Archaeology 89 (2003): 143–168; Rennan de Souza Lemos, “Archaeology, Religion, Ritual and Ancient Egypt: Some Discussions on the Amarna Period (c. 1350–1330 BC),” Hathor—Studies of Egyptology 1 (2012): 85–113; Hoffmeier, Akhenaten, 193–203; and Smith, Following Osiris, 278–297.

(186.) Donald B. Redford, Akhenaten: The Heretic King (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1984), 207–211; Silverman, Wegner, and Houser Wegner, Akhenaten and Tutankhamun, 161–184; Erik Hornung, “The Rediscovery of Akhenaten and His Place in Religion,” Journal of the American Research Center in Egypt 29 (1992): 43–49; and Assmann, Akhenaten to Moses, 61–78.

(187.) “Restoration Stela of Tutankhamun” ll.5–10, translation in John Bennett, “The Restoration Inscription of Tut’ankhamūn,” Journal of Egyptian Archaeology 25, no. 1 (1939): 9; Redford, Heretic King, 187, 205; and Assmann, Akhenaten to Moses, 69–71.

(188.) Maarten Raven and René van Walsem, The Tomb of Meryneith at Saqqara (Turnhout: Brepols, 2014), 56.

(189.) Assmann, The Search for God, 218–244; Assmann, Akhenaten to Moses, 17–19; and Allen, Genesis in Egypt, 48–55.

(190.) Assmann, Solar Religion, 133–210; Jan Assmann, “Primat und Transzendenz: Struktur und Genese der Ägyptischen Vorstellung eines ‘Höchsten Wesens,’” in Aspekte der spätägyptischen Religion, ed. Wolfhart Westendorf (Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz Verlag, 1979), 7–42.

(191.) On Dedun, see Jean-Pierre Pätznick, “De l’origine du nom divin Ddwn,” Cahiers Caribéens d’Egyptologie 18 (2014): 61–76; Henri Gauthier, “Le dieu nubien Doudoun,” Revue Égyptologique 2 (1920–1924): 1–41. For theories of the foreign origins of Osiris and Bes, see George A. Barton, “Tammuz and Osiris,” Journal of the American Oriental Society 35 (1915): 213–223; Gustave Jequier, “Notes et Remarques,” Recueil de Travaux Telatifs à la Philologie et à l’Archéologie Égyptiennes et Assyriennes 37 (1915): 114–118. For a critique of the theory of the foreign origin of Osiris, see, for example, Smith, Following Osiris, 127.

(192.) Christiane Zivie-Coche, “Dieux autres, dieux des autres: Identité culturelle et altérité dans l’Égypte ancienne,” in Concepts of the Other in Near Eastern Religions, ed. Ilai Alon, Ithamar Gruenwald, and Itamar Singer (Leiden, The Netherlands, New York, and Cologne: E. J. Brill, 1994), 39–80.

(193.) te Velde, God of Confusion, 119–129.

(194.) For Judaism in Egypt, see Cyrus H. Gordon, “The Origin of the Jews in Elephantine,” Journal of Near Eastern Studies 14, no. 1 (1955): 56–58; Bezalel Porten, “The Religion of the Jews of Elephantine in Light of the Hermopolis Papyri,” Journal of Near Eastern Studies 28, no. 2 (1969): 116–121; and Karel van der Toorn, “Anat-Yahu, Some Other Deities, and the Jews of Elephantine,” Numen 39, no. 1 (1992): 80–101; Tobias Georges, Felix Albrecht, and Reinhard Feldmeier, ed., Alexandria (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2013), 175–399. On Greek deities, see for example, G. Zuntz, “Once More: The So-Called ‘Edict of Philopator on the Dionysiac Mysteries’ (BGU 1211),” Hermes 91, no. 2 (1963): 228–239; Ian Rutherford, “Paeans at Ptolemais?,” Zeitschrift für Papyrologie und Epigraphik 135 (2001): 41–42; and Perpillou-Thomas, Fêtes d’Égypte ptolémaïque et romaine, 78–81. For an overview of foreign cults in Roman Egypt, see Gaëlle Tellet and Christine Zivie-Coche, “Imported Cults,” in The Oxford Handbook of Roman Egypt, ed. Christina Riggs (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012), 440, 444–451.

(195.) Alexandra von Lieven, “Translating Gods, Interpreting Gods: On the Mechanisms behind the Interpretatio Graeca of Egyptian Gods,” in Greco-Egyptian Interactions: Literature, Translation, and Culture, 500 bce–300 ce, ed. Ian Rutherford (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2016), 61–82; and Fowden, The Egyptian Hermes; Ian S. Moyer, Egypt and the Limits of Hellenism (Cambridge, UK and New York: Cambridge University Press, 2011).

(196.) Inge Hofmann, “Die meroitische Religion: Staatskult und Volksfrömmigkeit,” in Aufstieg und Niedergang der römischen Welt, vol. 2, part 18, no. 5, ed. Wolfgang Haase (Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 1995), 2801–2868; Janice W. Yellin, “Meroitic Funerary Religion,” in Aufstieg und Niedergang der römischen Welt, vol. 2, part 18, no. 5, ed. Wolfgang Haase (Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 1995), 2869–2892; and Louis V. Žabkar, Apedemak, Lion God of Meroe: A Study of Egyptian-Meroitic Syncretism (Warminster: Aris and Phillips, 1975).

(197.) Dijkstra, Philae, 131–173.

(198.) Mark S. Smith, God in Translation: Deities in Cross-cultural Discourse in the Biblical World (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2008), 72–75, 84–85; Sarolta A. Takacs, Isis and Sarapis in the Roman World (Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 1995), 29–30.

(199.) Takacs, Isis and Sarapis,; Laurent Bricault, Miguel J. Versluys, and Paul G. P. Meyboom, ed., Nile into Tiber: Egypt in the Roman World Proceedings of the IIIrd International Conference of Isis Studies, Faculty of Archaeology, Leiden University, May 11–14, 2005 (Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 2007); “A Lead Bust of the Goddess Isis from Groundwell Ridge, Swindon, Wiltshire,” Britannia 42 (2011): 309–314; and J. Gwyn Griffiths, The Isis-Book (Metamorphoses, Book XI) (Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 1975).

(200.) Joachim Friedrich Quack and Bjorn Paarmann, “Sarapis: ein Gott zwischen griechischer und ägyptischer Religion,” in Aneignung und Abgrenzung: Wechselnde Perspektiven auf die Antithese von “Ost” und “West” in der griechischen Antike, ed. Nicolas Zenzen, Tonio Hölscher, and Kai Trampedach (Heidelberg: Verlag Antike 2013), 229–255; Philippe Bourgeaud and Youri Volokhine, “La formation de la légende de Sarapis: une approche transculturelle,” Archiv für Religionsgeschichte 2, no. 1 (2000): 37–76; Thomas A. Brady, Sarapis and Isis: Collected Essays (Chicago: Ares, 1978); and Smith, Following Osiris, 390–414.

(201.) Brian P. Copenhaver, Hermetica: The Greek Corpus Hermeticum and the Latin Asclepius in a New English Translation, with Notes and Introduction (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1992); cf. note 17; Erik Hornung, The Secret Lore of Egypt: Its Impact on the West, trans. David Lorton (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2001); Peter Ucko and Timothy Champion, The Wisdom of Egypt: Changing Visions through the Ages (London: UCL Press, 2003).

(202.) Quack, “Translating the Realities of Cult”; Quack, “Das Buch vom Tempel.”

(203.) Emmanuel de Rougé, Conference sur la religion des Égyptiens (Paris: E. de Soye, 1869); Gaston Maspero, Études de mythologie et d’archéologie égyptiennes, 3 vols. (Paris: Ernest Leroux, 1893–1898); cf. Hornung, Conceptions of God, 1–32.

(204.) Adolf Erman, Die religion der Ägypter (Berlin and Leipzig: De Gruyter, 1934); Breasted, Development of Religion and Thought.

(205.) For example, Hornung, Conceptions of God; Assmann, The Search for God, Death and Salvation, and Solar Religion.

(206.) For example, Griffiths, Iside et Osiride, Origins of Osiris, Conflict of Horus and Seth, and Isis-Book.