Bonus Blog- Egyptian Deities

Similar to most African cultures, Egyptian history is deeply rooted with the existence of deities.  The appearance of such religious figures begins in Pre-dynastic times.  The Old Kingdom showed the most highest respect to their deities by constructing temples that had cults to accompany them, incorporated the representative symbols of the gods in to the names of the elitist, and had many rituals. The people of Egypt also had evolved the theory that their kings and queens were semi-divine and acted as the middlemen between the deities and the common man.  The symbol of Horus, the falcon god and protector of pharaohs, appears in the cartouche of pharaohs to symbolize their divinity.  Another name that was incorporated into royal names was that of the protector of women, Neith. The queens that usually use her name were mainly from the Western Delta which was were a huge cult had been established to pay respect to her.  Two Early Dynastic queens that used her name are Neithhotep and Merneith.

During the New Kingdom there was a king, Akhnaten, that unsuccessful created a deity.  The new deity, Aten, was suppose to replace the well-founded sun god, Amun.  The sun god was considered the father of gods.  Akhnaten wanted to reestablish the sun god because he felt the cult of Amun was becoming to strong.  Although he did somewhat convert Egyptians to Aten, it was only during his lifetime and once he died so did his fantasy deity.  As time continued to past other deities took on essential roles in the Egyptian history including Hathor who symbolized fertility and welcoming the dead to the afterlife, Isis who stood for fertility, Seth who was the god of storms, and many others.  During the Late Dynastic Period when there was a lot of Greco-Roman influence there were multiple deities created to merge the two cultures together.

As you can see deities were more than just religious figures.  Many times their creation was a political tool to control the country better and to increase the authoritative position for the government.  The people in power were generally successful at making Egyptians follow the new deities but their popularity seemed to fade after that person in power had left, like when Aten was created.  The deities that remained central roles to the kingdom were those that had strong roots in the Egyptian history and had been passed down through many generations like Amun and Neith.

Bonus Blog Reply

It’s hard to say what part of ancient egyptian archaeology is the most important. For me I prefer cultural applications when it comes to Anthropology. It seems that the most interesting is to see how social customs have been transferred across time through burial sites as well as art that has been recovered.

The reason why the cultural aspect of ancient Egyptian archaeology is the most important, in my eyes, is that we can add more context to all the other discoveries. It adds a story line and it allows context. This context is necessary when we try to examine the past. The contextualization provides meaning and we can start to answer the universal question, “why?”.

The burial sites, especially, seem to give a lot of meaning. We have talked about this some throughout the lectures, but for me it helps see the culture and the time period for more of what it was and less as my mind imagines it. An important example is how there is an increase in social complexity in both Ma’adi and in Buto in the pre-dynastic era. Without these important cultural discoveries the variations between cities and over time would seem more minute than they are.

By looking at the cultural aspects of ancient Egypt we can not only see the increase in social complexity, but we can also see how the economic system developed as well as how their government started. It seems to me that this is essential when knowing entirely what a civilization is and how they have evolved over time through their interactions with each other and their interactions with people from far off lands.

The cultural aspect brings a wealth of knowledge and clarity to what may have seemed obscure. The light shed through cultural application can also enable understanding for something that was a mystery.