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 TEMPLES and gods of ancient EGYPT 

   

Over a period of 5000 years, the ancient provinces of Egypyt and the route of the Nile have been modified several times, but we want to give the reader some real feeling of this ancient civilization, which is not only an important cradle of humanity, but also the place where monotheism began. 


 Direct acces to geographicals maps :

Maps of Lower and Middle Egypt

Maps of Upper Egypt


1. The CITIES and gods of the ancient provinces or districts of LOWER EGYPT,
(also called "the Kingdom of the North," or the DELTA of the NILE)
.

 

District 01 - MEMPHIS : the goddess Mennefer.

a/ First HENOU, a falcon god seen on the prow of the boats of the dead going towards the next life.

b/ "SOKARIS", a precursor of Osiris, was represented as a man enveloped in a shroud , and was in charge of guarding the necropolis of Saqqarah. His female partner Sokaret was also seen in some funeral rituals.

c/ This was the city of the creation god PTAH, his companion SEKHMET the lioness, (a powerful and dangerous goddess), and of their son NEFERTOUM, (the Lotus flower that the sun god Re smells each morning), represented as a lion.

 

District 02 - LETOPOLIS: ancient city near Heliopolis :

a/ LETOPOLIS, where the god KERTY was worshipped as a reclining ram; (occasionally he would change into the form of a shepherd.) In other cities, he was represented as a lion or a bull.

b/ Also the city of the Falcon god MEKHENTYIRTY, whose right eye was the Sun and the left the Moon. He was later assimilated to be the god HAHOERIS, (Horus the Great).

 

District 03 - KOHM el-Hisn : temple to the cow goddess Sekhathor.

 

District 04 - NAUCRATIS

 

District 05 - BUTO and SAIS :

a/ BUTO (Tell el-Farein) was the home of a cult to the cobra goddess OUADJYT, who was the partner of the great god HORUS. Buto or LETO was the city formed by combining Pe and Dep. According to Herodotus, Buto was famous during Persian times for its oracles.

b/ SAIS : Here reigned the creation goddess NEITH, the queen of lower Egypt, who wore a red crown. Represented as a woman carrying a bow and arrows, she was the mother of the crocodile god Sobek.

 

District 06 - XOIS/ Pa Khasouou :

This was a swampy area, where wild bovid animals roamed. Greco-Roman remains have been found here.

 

District 07 - DAMANHOUR :

City consecrated to the god HORUS, symbolized by the solar disk surrounded by wings and two uraeus.

 

District 08 - PITHOM : Cult of the main divinity ATOUM

 

District 09 - BUSIRIS :

Cult of the ancient ram god ANDJTY (who wore two feathers on his head); and later there were ceremonies of the last branch of the Osiris cult, which the famous Pillar- Djed symbolized by a trunk of a pruned tree.

 

District 10 - ATHRIBIS :

The god KHENTYKHETY, a crocodile, was accompanied by the big black bull KEMOUR, who was to become an expression of Osiris as a funeral god.

 

District 11 - LEONTOPOLIS :

The lion god MAHeS of the Middle Empire. In this same city, the god SHOU, the great god of the air and the son of Re, married his sister TEFNOUT, and they were worshipped in the shape of two lions sitting back to back.

 

District 12 - SEBENNYTOS (Sammanoud, the holy calf). Birthplace of Manethon

 

District 13 - HELIOPOLIS (to the north of present-day Cairo).

This was the city of the sun, and worshipped :

a/ Re the sun god, assimilated the sacred bull MNEVIS (Apis)

b/ the creation god ATOUM and his two wives, IOUSAAS and NEBETHETEPET, who formed the feminine aspect when Atoum created the world by his desire. Nebethetepet was progressively associated with the great goddess Hathor.

 

District 14 - SILE

 

District 15 - HERMOPOLIS el-Baqlieh

 

District 16 - MENDES :

The god Banebdjedet, ( Ba, the Lord of Mendes) was a ram god associated with the fish goddess Hatmehyt.

 

District 17 - BALAMOUN

 

District 18 - BUBASTIS :

The cat Goddess BASTET had two aspects: one beneficent, where she was a protector of the home and embodied serenity, and another more dangerous aspect as a lioness.

 

District 19 - TANIS :

 

(or the ancient city of AVARIS), which would become the capital under the second intermediate period of the Hyksos invaders.

 

District 20 - QANTIR or Pi-Ramses :

Here they worshipped the falcon god SOPDOU (a principal divinity), partner to the goddesses Khensit, (Uraeus aspect), and Shesemtet, who was one of the four dangerous faces of the goddess HATHOR. These three divinities watched over the eastern borders of the country to prevent hostile invasions.

 

2.  CITIES and divinities of the districts of MIDDLE EGYPT :

 

District 22 - LISHT :

Residential city of the XIIè dynasty. To the west was the step pyramid of Snefrou, and those of Amenemhat I and Sesostris I, as well as several mastabas.

 

District 21 - ancient city of ATFIH :

(or Aphroditopolis), paid homage to the goddess Bat, (later assimilated as the great nurturing goddess HATHOR), the first of the sacred cows.

 

District 20 - The FAYUM :

Three ancient cities bordered the great lake Moeris (which contained 3% salt). The lake was surrounded by marshes full of crocodiles. Soknopaiou or Qasr El Salvador El-Sagha, was dedicated to the god Sobek, and to the lesser gods Karanis and Bacchias.

To the south of Lake Moeris (in Egyptian Pa-yom: the sea), was located the large city of CROCODILOPOLIS, which became Medinet el-Fayum, then Arsinoe. Here are the ruins of a mysterious labyrinth, which probably inspired the legend of the Minotaur of Crete.

 

District 19 - HERACLEOPOLIS :

This was the Egyptian capital under the XIth dynasty. Even though certain cults worshipped Hathor, Somtous, Bebon and Nehebkaou,; the chief divinity was the ram god HERYSHEF.

 

District 18 - OXYRHYNCHOS - Nothing remains of this city today.

 

District 17 - CYNOPOLIS :

Here the chief god was the funeral divinity ANUBIS (which was a black dog, and son of the white cow Hesat) He was the guardian of all the necropoles of Egypt.

 

District 16 - BENI-HASSAN :

Here is the temple of Ramses II, and also an underground cave dedicated to the lioness goddess PAKHET, the terrifying daughter of Re.

 

District 15 - HERMOPOLIS : Great religious city of the ancient times (before Thebes).

This city was built on a hill (which had existed from primeval times) where the 3 great myths of creation were born :

a/ first myth which mentioned the OGDOADES or creation gods:

b/ Thot sends his exotic bird (probably an IBIS), to a hill where it laid a cosmic egg, the universe!

c/ The birth of Re in the calyx of a lotus flower, which was also the source of primeval waters. As the sun disappears and is born again every evening, the lotus flower opens in the morning and closes again at night.

At Hermopolis they also worshipped: OUNOUT, the goddess with the face of the Uraeus, and NEHEMETAOUY the companion of the god THOT, while in the NEW EMPIRE they worshipped: the SHEPES god, called "the venerable", represented as a celestial entity of light who materialized on earth as a man with a solar disk on his head.

Close to Hermopolis is the solar city AKHENATON (today TELL EL-ARMANA,) the former capital of KING Amenophis IV or Akhenaton.

 

District 14 - MEIR and KOUSSIA (CUSAE) : The necropolis of the nobles of the district.

 

District 13 - ASSIOUT- LYCOPOLIS :

where they worshipped an old dog black who buried the bones of the dead! Tombs of Djefahapi, of Itybi and his son Kheti.

 

District 12 - ABOUHIG - Aboutig, where there were warehouses (of cereals).

 

District 11 - ANTAEOPOLIS (Now Qaou el-Kebir =  the high mountain):

In a huge temple (now gone), they venerated the lioness goddess MATIT, who was replaced by the falcon god NEMTY.

 

District 10 - TAHTA (Djaroukha) :

In this city Aménophis III gave his wife TIYI a large palace surrounded by 80 hectares of agricultural land and an artificial lake with sluices to irrigate the land.

 

District 09 - AKHMIN - PANAPOLIS (or APOU) - Family of three gods :

 

District 08 - THIS : (capital of the district)

This city was under the protection of divine pair of gods ONOURIS, and of the lioness goddess MEHYT, who like Tefnout embodies the eye of Re or abundance.

* ABYDOS (near This) venerated KHENTY-IMENTY, the black funeral dog that Osiris had replaced during the ancient empire. Thus Abydos became the capital of the revived cult of the god Osiris.

 

District 07 - HEOU or DIOSPOLIS PARVA :

Cult of the ancient goddess BAT, who had a woman's face and decorated ears, but the horns of a cow. Assimilated with Hathor during the first dynasties.

 

District 06 - DENDEREH (Tentyris) :

Sanctuary of HATHOR the cow goddess, who was assimilated as Isis during the old kingdom. As for the temples consecrated to Horus and IHY, there is nothing remaining of them, except the door of the sanctuary of IHY, (son of Horus.)

 

District 05 - COPTOS - MIN :

The ancient fertility god with an erect phallus. The statue to him at Coptos is identical to that in the city of Akhmin, on the road toward the Red Sea. His cult dates back to archaic times and is devoted to the Moon.

 

District 04 - THEBES - the great religious capital of Egypt :  

 

 

- KARNAK, the site of the biggest sanctuary devoted to AMON (who was partner to Re, the sun god) .He married the goddess MOUT, who had a temple here from the beginning of the New Empire. She was mother, wife and daughter of Amon, and she conceived a son named Khonsou, who became assimilated with the Moon. Her head was covered with the skin of a vulture, (or she was represented as a lioness). She is associated, in legend and myth, with the goddess Lointaine, who used to run away in order to bring the floods necessary for the germination of the seeds.

- LUQSOR or Luxor. It is in this city, situated three km from Karnak, that AMON (in the form of Amenemope) came every year during the feast of the Opet to visit and unite with the mother goddess IPET (or Amonet), who became the mother of OSIRIS.

- ERMANT or HERMONTIS - Former capital of the IVth district, built on the western bank of the Nile, where they erected a great temple to the war god MONTOU, who had the head of a falcon. His apogee was during the XIIth dynasty, succeeding the bull god Boukhis.

Montou's feminine partner was Tjenenet, who was replaced by Ounyt and Rattaouy (two divine forms of Re). In the New Empire, this warrior god was replaced by the great god Amon.

On the west bank of the Nile, the thebain priests came at new year to celebrate the cult of Amon-Re and the coming of the floods, which were so necessary at sowing time. King Ramses III constructed his millions years castle here.

The great thebain necropolis had the name of Khefe : ( one who stands before his master!)

The goddess protector of this necropolis, (situated west of Thebes) was named MERESGER, and she appeared in the shape of a snake or an Uraeus. In the Valley of the queens, she became the companion of Ptah.

 

District 03 - MO'ALLA (H) : (The centre of the ancient cities)

Here was honored HEMEN, the god who was half-man, half-falcon. The Texts on the Pyramids show him hunting hippopotami with a harpoon, in order to destroy the forces of chaos.

- ESNA where one venerated the two great divinities KHNOUM and NEITH.

Khnoum was a great creation god who moulded human beings from clay on a potter's wheel: he had two wives : Nebetou, (the goddess of the oases, who gave him a son: Heka), and MENHYT, the fierce lioness goddess who appeared also as the distant goddess, (the daughter of Re). NEITH was a creation goddess descended from Sais, (of the delta) whose cult traveled the Nile during the Old Kingdom, as far as Esna.

- KOMIR -There was a temple dedicated to NEPHTHYS, (sister of Osiris and Isis), and this was shared by ANOUKIS, the wife and daughter of Khnoum.

 

District 02 - HIERACONPOLIS or NEKHEN :

A mythical city located beside NEKHEB, where the god Horus ruled, with the ancient vulture goddess Nekhbet.

- ELKAB or NEKHEB was in pre-dynastic times dedicated to the worship of the Great white wild cow : SEMATOURET, who became the mother of the Pharaoh, the latter symbolically becoming a young bull! The cult of the goddess Sematouret was gradually replaced by that of the vulture goddess Nekbet. Her nest was made of three wild lilies, which grew abundantly in the Valley of the Nile at this time.

- at EDFOU, they worshipped the falcon god HAOERIS, also called HORUS the Great. At Heliopolis, he was considered to be the 5th child of Geb and of Nout. At Edfou he fought the enemies of the sun, while at KOM OMBO he became the spouse of the goddess Tasenetneferet, the sister associated with the myth of the distant flooding.

- also at EDFOU, there was an ancient cult to the scorpion goddess HEDEDET, who was replaced by Isis and Selquit (the scorpion goddess who watched over the sarcophagi).

 

District 01 - KOM OMBO (Ombos) :

The crocodile god Sobek shared a temple with the solar falcon god : Haroeris.

- Elephantine Island and the carriers of granite (from Aswan). Cult of the cobra goddess SATIS.

- Sehel Island : the goddess ANOUKIS, of Elephantine (from her hairstyle, we surmise she was probably of African origin). Sometimes she is Satis' daughter, sometimes the wife of the god Khnoum.

- Philae Island - The god MANDOULIS was represented in two forms:

  1. as a lion from lower Nubia.
  2. as a young man, whose companion was the cobra goddess OUADJYT or Satis, the goddess of Elephantine. In the New Empire, this island had an important temple in honor of the goddess Isis. When the island was flooded by the Aswan dam, UNESCO transferred the temple to the island of Agilkia.
- 1st cataract or falls : Here was the great goddess SATIS, (who wore the white crown of Upper Egypt). It was decorated with two antelope horns. With ANOUKIS, they were among the group surrounding the great local god KNOUHM, (of Esna), who had long been considered a god of creation.

 


Philae Island

 

Divinities of the Plateaux of NUBIA

 

DEDOUN :

The Nubian falcon god who was assimilated to Horus. He had the form of a lion during the ancient Empire.

 

ARSENOUPHIS :

This Nubian god, according to a legend, took the form of ONOURIS / SHOU, brought back the distant, and united with her on the island of Philae.

 

MAHES :

Following the example of Bubastis and Leontopolis (two cities situated in the Nile delta), Nubia returned to the cult of the lion during the third intermediate period, (-1080 to -655), this animal being their symbol of strength against foreign invaders.

 

MANDOULIS :

In KALABSHA, the lion god of Lower-Nubia sometimes appeared as a child, or sometimes as an adult in the company of the cobra goddess OUADJYT (from Buto), or of Satis, goddess of the first cataract of Nile.

 

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