List of Egyptian Gods and Goddesses
For several millennia, the ancient Egyptians worshiped an unbelievable number of deities. Archaeologists and scholars have unearthed evidence to show that almost every ancient Egyptian city or district had some kind of patron deity or the other.
For example, in the ancient Egyptian city of Thebes, there were the Theban triad that included Amun, Khonsu and Mut. In Elephantine, there existed another trinity of gods called the Elephantine Trinity, which was made up of Khnum, Satet, and Anuket.
Here is a detailed list of ancient Egyptian deities that we know of:
List of ancient Egyptian Gods
|Four Sons of Horus (Duamutef, Hapy, Imset, and Qebehsenuef)
|Horus the Elder
|Horus son of Isis
List of ancient Egyptian Goddesses
Major ancient Egyptian religious thoughts
In its more than 3,000-year history, ancient Egypt witnessed a number of creation myths and stories. The three major religious thoughts were the Heliopolitan creation myth, the Memphite creation myth (with Ptah as the creator god) and the Hermopolitian/Ogdoad creation story.
The Ogdoad of Hermopolis
These are a group of eight primordial deities, with each one representing a particular feature of creation, according to the ancient Egyptian creation story. The eight gods were believed to operate in pairs. The most famous couple of the Ogdoad has to be Amun and Amunet (Amaunet).
|Ogdoad of Hermopolis
|Amun and Amaunet
|Nun and Naunet
|Heh and Hauhet
|Kuk and Kuaket
This grouping comprises of nine of the most worshiped (arguably) deities in ancient Egypt. At the head of the group is Atum, the creator god who emerged on top of a mount (i.e. benben) at the center of the primordial water of chaos. The Ennead of Heliopolis basically celebrates Atum and his family of gods. In some cases, the Ennead has been extended to include the falcon-headed god Horus, who is the son of Isis and Osiris.
|The Ennead of Heliopolis
|Atum (often associated with Ra and Amun)
|Later addition, Horus
Centered in the ancient Egyptian city of Thebes, which was located along the Nile River, the Theban Triad rose to immense prominence following the rise in political power of Theban rulers. The three gods that make up the Theban Triad were seen as a family, with Amun the sun/creator god as the head of the triad.
This grouping of Egyptian deities emerged primarily from the ancient Egyptian city known as Elephantine. The god Khnum was the most famous in the Elephantine Trinity.
Significance of the gods in ancient Egypt
To the ancient Egyptians, the gods were needed to aid them after death as they believed that the dead person’s soul journeyed through the underworld in a bid to enter the afterlife. The Egyptian gods had what was termed as heka, a sustaining force that allowed them to perform their duties in both the land of the living and the land of dead. Without heka (magic), the universe and life itself will be nonexistent. Heka permeates everything that is, was and will ever be.
Evolution of the gods
With the passage of time, ancient Egyptians began to depict their deities in human forms. The likes of Osiris, Amun, Isis, Nephthys, and Ma’at all have human forms.
Furthermore, worship of some famous Egyptian gods and goddesses like Isis, Amun and Horus grew so much that they began to incorporate the features and roles of other minor deities in the Egyptian pantheon. In some cases, those gods merged to become one colossal deity. For example, Amun, the creator god, merged with Ra, the sun god, to form Amun-Ra (or Amun-Re).
Over the course of its history, which spanned about 3,000 years, some ancient ancient Egyptian gods faded out while the characteristics of other deities evolved in order to keep up with the changing political and social landscape.
Other interesting facts about ancient Egyptian gods
Centuries before the first ancient Egyptian dynasties, the kind of religion that the Egyptians practised was primarily animistic one. It was from this pre-dynastic tradition that later Egyptian gods and goddesses came to be associated with animals. For example, the Nile god Sobek is often depicted as a crocodile; then there is the goddess Serket, who usually appears as a scorpion.
During the pre-dynastic period, deities of the Nile were seen as some of the most revered in Egypt as the Nile River was the lifeblood of the people. Deities like Aunket and Osiris played immense roles in the early Egyptian pantheons.
It’s been estimated that ancient Egypt had more than 1,600 deities in their pantheon over the course of its history.
Major Egyptian deities like Isis, Horus, Amun, Bastet, and Anubis were worshiped across the land of Egypt. That was in sharp contrast to minor Egyptian deities whose worship was confined to a particular region or district. In some cases, those minor deities were solely associated with a particular religious ritual or ceremony.
The Ennead is just one of the numerous groupings of ancient Egyptian gods. There are other groupings like the one from the city of Memphis, where Priests of Ptah consider the god Ptah to be superior to Atum. There is also the grouping of primordial Egyptian deities known as the Ogdoad.
Another point worth noting is the fact that ancient Egyptians were comfortable with having variations and different schools of religious thought when it came to explaining the creation of the universe. The two major theological thoughts that existed were the Memphite Creation Story and the Theban Creation story.
Often times, when a dynasty assumed the reins of power, it tried to promote in a biased manner a particular theological thought. This was evident when Theban rulers began (beginning around the Middle Kingdom era) to dominate the entire Egyptian landscape. With that came the elevation of many Theban deities to national prominence, particularly Amun (or Amun-Re).
Another very important point that ought to be mentioned has to do with the overlapping traits and characteristics of many Egyptian gods and goddesses. It was not uncommon for two deities to perform a similar role in the pantheon. Notable examples are the deities that were generally associated with the Eye of Ra. Those deities – Hathor, Sekhmet, Wadjet, and Bastet (or Bast) – were said to be closely associated with the sun god Ra. As such, they played quite a similar role in the pantheon, serving as protective deities of other Egyptian deities as well as the Egyptian rulers.