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Explore Egyptian Mythology

Egyptian Gods
Greatest Hits of Egyptian History
Egyptian Games

Egyptian Gods

Ra: The god of the sun, Ra was the first pharaoh of the world, back in the days when gods inhabited Egypt. Each day, Ra’s golden sun ship would sail across the sky, and each night it would travel through the underground world of the Duat, sailing the River of Darkness, and fighting off monsters. The Eygptians celebrated each sunrise, when Ra emerged victorious again and caused a new day to begin. After many centuries, Ra became old and senile, and retreated into the heavens, giving up his throne to Osiris.

Geb: The god of the earth, Geb was one of the first gods to appear from the sea of chaos at the beginning of time. He appears as a man made of earth, with rivers, forests and hills across his entire body.

Nut: Yes, we know she’s got a funny name! Nut was not the goddess of peanuts, but rather the goddess of the sky. She appeared as a woman with skin like a starry sky, dark blue and covered in constellations. Nut was the wife of Geb, and although they loved each other very much, Ra had a prophecy that their children would try to overthrow him someday, so Ra did his best to keep them apart. Despite this, Nut managed to have five children, and the oldest, Osiris, did indeed take over the throne from Ra.

Shu: Nut’s father, the god of the air, was given the job of keeping Nut and Geb apart. This is why the sky is so far above the earth. The god of the wind stays between them, keeping his daughter from visiting her love the earth. Shu is usually not pictured, because he is invisible like the wind.

Osiris: The first son of Geb and Nut, Osiris was a wise and good pharaoh when he took over the world from Ra. Osiris taught man about farming, and created the first cities in Egypt. Unfortunately, Osiris’s brother Set was jealous of him. Set tricked him into laying down in a golden coffin, then sealed the coffin and cut it into pieces. Set scattered the pieces all over Egypt, and Osiris’s wife Isis spent years searching for them. Eventually, Isis put her husband back together, binding him in cloth to make the first mummy, but Osiris only came partially back to life. After that, he was the god of the underworld, sitting in judgment over the souls of the dead. He appears as a king with blue skin and white robes.

Isis: Osiris’s wife was the goddess of magic, and clever and ambitious woman. She tricked Ra into retiring by poisoning him with a magic snake, then encouraging the old sun god to reveal his secret name so Isis could cure him. Once Isis knew Ra’s secret name, she could force him to do just about anything. She encouraged him to retreat into the sky, opening the throne for Osiris. Isis was the patron of magicians, and loved her husband very much. She encouraged their son Horus to take vengeance on the evil Set, who had killed Osiris. Isis is often pictured as a beautiful woman with multicolored wings.

Set: The god of the desert, storms, and evil, Set was one mean dude. His color was red, the color of sterile soil and the desert. Set was the strongest of the gods, and very tricky. He became pharaoh of Egypt after killing his brother, but was later overthrown by his nephew Horus. After that, Set fled into the desert, where he controlled all the evil harsh lands outside the Nile Valley. Set wasn’t all bad, however. In the old days, he sailed on Ra’s boat and helped defend the sun god from the armies of the chaos serpent Apep. Set is usually pictured with red skin and the head of an unknown animal demon – part dog, part anteater, all ugly.

Nephthys: The river goddess, wife of Set and the sister of Isis. Nephthys didn’t like her husband very much, because after he killed Osiris, Nephthys helped Isis collected his pieces and bind them together. She was a kind and gentle goddess, and mother of Anubis, the god of funeral rites.

Horus: Called the Avenger, Horus was the son of Isis and Osiris. When he grew to manhood, he challenged Set and eventually defeated him, becoming the new pharaoh of Egypt. Afterwards, all mortal pharaohs considered themselves to be the descendants of Horus. Horus’s symbol was the falcon, and he is often pictured as a man with a falcon’s head.

Bast:
Cats were extremely popular in Egypt, because they could kill snakes, scorpions, and other nasty creatures. Bast, the goddess of cats, was just as popular. Bast was a protective goddess, and people would wear amulets with her likeness for good luck, especially during the bad luck Demon Days at the end of each year. In cat form, Bast is often pictured with a knife, fighting the chaos serpent Apep. She was Ra’s faithful cat.

Sobek: The god of crocodiles was both respected and feared. Crocodiles were strong creatures. In ancient Egypt, an entire city was named after them: Crocodilopolis, and Sobek had a temple with a lake full of crocodiles. However, crocodiles were fearsome predators, and many Egyptians were killed each year if they got too near the river. Sobek was pictured as a crocodile-headed man. His sweat was said to have created the rivers of the world. Yuck!

Serqet: The goddess of scorpions was both good and bad. She could send scorpions after her enemies, and a single scorpion bite could kill you. On the other hand, you could pray to Serqet for protection from poison, and sometimes she was seen as a guardian of children. She was pictured as a woman with a giant scorpion for a crown. How’d you like that on your head?

Anubis:
Anubis the god of funerals was one of the most important gods, because he helped prepare the soul for the Afterlife and escorted the dead to the hall of judgment. The Egyptians noticed jackals hanging around their graveyards, so they decided jackals must be Anubis’s sacred animals. Priests even wore jackal masks when they made the pharaoh’s body into a mummy. Anubis helped Isis make Osiris into the first mummy. Anubis is usually pictured as a man with a jackal’s head, leading a departed spirit through the Duat.

Greatest Hits of Egyptian History

Narmer:
One of the earlier Egyptian kings, Narmer may have been the first ruler to unify Egypt. Back in the old times, Egypt was two kingdoms: upper and lower. To make matters more confusing, the Nile River runs north to south, so “upper” Egypt is in the south, where the river comes from, and “lower” Egypt is in the north. Narmer put the crowns of the two kingdoms together, becoming pharaoh of upper and lower Egypt. You can see a picture of him on an ancient stone carving called the Narmer Palette.

Imhotep: Imhotep was a chief advisor to the pharaoh Djoser, though Imhotep became even more famous than his master. Imhotep was multitalented. He is credited with designing the first step pyramid, along with being an excellent poet, doctor, and inventor. After he died, he was worshipped as a god. Imhotep is also credited with starting the House of Life, so he may have been Egypt’s greatest magician, but that is a secret the House of Life isn’t revealing!

Khufu’s Pyramid:
The Great Pyramid at Giza was the largest structure in the world for several thousand years. It was built for Pharaoh Khufu, whose was called Cheops by the Greeks. Khufu is remembered as a cruel king, but he sure had a fabulous tomb. He also had a nine sons and fifteen daughters. That’s a lot of birthday presents!

Ramesses II, the Great:
One of the most famous pharaohs in Egyptian history, Ramesses expanded Egypt’s sphere of influence by conquering huge parts of the Middle East. He built cities and temples up and down the Nile. One his most famous monuments is Abu Simbel. Some people think Ramesses may have been the pharaoh mentioned in the Bible who got into trouble with Moses.

Akhenaten: One of the stranger pharaohs ever to rule Egypt, Akhenaten decided to change Egyptian religion and outlaw all the temples of the gods, forcing his people to worship only one god – the sun disk Aten. He built a new capital city, Amarna, and had a famously beautiful queen, Nefertiti. Unfortunately, Akhenaten made a lot of enemies with his reforms, and when he died, his son, the famous King Tut, reversed his policies and went back to the old gods. Amarna was abandoned, and the priests did their best to erase all evidence of the old pharaoh. So much for change!

Hatshepsut: One of the most successful pharaohs was actually a queen regent. Hatshepsut took over Egypt when her son Thutmose III was too young to rule. She ruled for twenty-two years and eventually had herself proclaimed as pharaoh. She even decreed that she should be called king instead of queen, and wore a fake ceremonial beard like male kings. Yes, sir, Mr. Queen, sir! How’s that for confusing?

The Great Sphinx of Giza: No one really knows who made this amazing statue, but it is usually credited to Khafre, the pharaoh whose pyramid stands behind the sphinx. Supposedly Khafre had a dream, which prompted him to build the sphinx. There is a tunnel under the paws of sphinx, which was only discovered in this century. Supposedly, the tunnel is a dead end. At least, that’s what the House of Life wants you to believe.

Cleopatra VII: The last queen of Egypt, Cleopatra was actually a Ptolemaic Greek, a descendent of Alexander the Great’s general Ptolemy, who made Egypt a Greek puppet state centuries before. She fell in love with Mark Anthony and got on the wrong side of a Roman civil war. When she and Mark Anthony’s fleet were defeated by Augustus Caeasar, Cleopatra committed suicide, reportedly by dropping a poison snake down her dress. Ouch! That ended the last Egyptian kingdom and Egypt became part of the Roman Empire.

Egyptian Games

http://www.ancientegypt.co.uk/menu.html 
Follow Carter and Sadie to the British Museum! Play games, read stories, and do amazing activities on their website.

http://www.clevelandart.org/kids/egypt/senet.html
Play the Ancient Egyptian game of Senet.

http://www.clevelandart.org/kids/egypt/mask/rose3d.html
Build your own pharaoh’s mask.

http://www.clevelandart.org/kids/egypt/houndjacks.html
Play the Egyptian game of Hounds and Jackals.

http://hieroglyphs.net/000501/html/000-042.html 
Make your name in hieroglyphics and create your own cartouche.

http://www.brooklynmuseum.org/kiosk/egyptian/ancient-egypt/
Visit the Brooklyn Museum site in Carter and Sadie’s home territory and do lots of fun activities. Did you know the Brooklyn Museum has one of the best collections of Egyptian magic spells in the world?