The most popular Egyptian gods
- 1st: Ra
- 2nd: Iah
- 3rd: Set
- 4th: Min
- 5th: Horus
- 6th: Osiris
- 7th: Anubis
- 8th: Isis
- 9th: Thoth
- 10th: Bast
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Made popular with the Book of the Dead and a thousand cheesy Curse of the Mummy movies, Ancient Egypt still holds its fascination in the modern world. In this electronic internet age, the Egyptian government should really consider renaming the place E-gypt.
The language barrier can be a little tricky. As with most hieroglyphic translations, the old Egyptian names have many variant spellings in English. Seth is Set in his ways, and Ra is also the eye of Re.
There was also a mysterious plague of missing hieroglyphs at the time of the New Kingdom (1550-1070 B.C.), when foreign influence made certain letters vanish from the language. Egyptian scribes valiantly tried to reinstate them by adding extra letters to the ends of words, which led to much confusion. And still does.
More confusion arises from the Egyptian tendency to join deities together at different periods. With all the permutations, one God can have an enormous number of names. Amon, Amen, Ammon-Ra, Amen-Re, Amun, Amon-Re... You get the idea.
If you want to get ahead or give yourself a headache then Egypt is the place to be. Egyptian Gods go in for cumbersome and elaborate headgear, and tend to stroll around with animal heads. Usually without the matching body. Along the Nile there are only so many animals to go round. So they do have to share, which causes much confusion.
Although Horus had the head of a hawk, he was not alone. Hawk-heads hawk their wares all over the place in Egyptian mythology. Other very popular heads are serpent, dog, jackal, bull, frog, hippo, crocodile and lion. There are also the odd wobblies like the Sphinx with a human head and lion body. Horns, globes and plumes are almost obligatory accessories and you can have an animal head enhanced with all these embellishments.
Cats were considered to be sacred creatures. They were mummified, and this was done with the utmost respect. No vivisection was involved, which is probably more than you can say for the humans.
Having invented mummification, the Egyptians were very much into otherworldly preparations. This is not surprising as the many Gods of Judgment and Death were waiting on the other side and would be most insulted if a soul turned up looking scruffy.
The messy business of burial was looked after by a whole subset of undertaker Gods. These were in charge of embalming — and handled many bits not normally on public view.
This obsession with death may seem a bit morbid today, but the Egyptians viewed it all with healthy fascination. The Book of the Dead was a bestseller. At least they waited until you were dead from natural causes.
REGIONS COVERED: Egypt. Thebes, Memphis... More details soon...
Many Gods are spread across different regions, cultures and tribes. We’ve tried to pin them down to a particular area if possible. But corrections are always welcome, especially from people with first-hand knowledge. So if you know the region and would like to comment, we’d love to hear from you. Contact us here.
TRIBES, CULTURES AND PEOPLES COVERED: The Egyptians. With a little Greek crossover here and there.