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Egyptian Creation Myths. Isis and Osiris. World of Ancient Egypt. Religious/Cult Centers of Ancient Egypt. MEMPHIS HELIOPOLIS HERMOPOLIS THEBES. MEMPHIS. Menes (Narmer) unites Upper and Lower Egypt with capital at Memphis. c.3100 B.C. Narmer palette Metropolitan Museum of Art

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egyptian creation myths

Egyptian CreationMyths

Isis and Osiris

religious cult centers of ancient egypt
Religious/Cult Centersof Ancient Egypt






Menes (Narmer)

unites Upper and Lower Egypt

with capital at Memphis. c.3100 B.C.

Narmer palette

Metropolitan Museum of Art

New York

mythology religion and kingship in egypt
Mythology, Religion and Kingship in Egypt

Official state religion King as priest:

Pharaoh as Horus or son of Re and, after death, Osiris

The pharaoh Chephren with Horus. (The statue originally stood with twenty-two other royal figures as centerpiece of the statue cult in the king's valley temple, Giza. Fourth Dynasty circa 2550 BC. )


Tutankhamun as Osiris ( Dynasty XVIII tomb painting, from the north wall of the tomb of Tutankhamun, Valley of the Kings).

timeline of ancient egypt
Timeline of Ancient Egypt

c. 4500-3000 Predynastic Period c. 3100-2890 Early Dynastic: Dynasty 1 c. 2890-2686 Early Dynastic: Dynasty 2 c. 2686-2613 Early Dynastic: Dynasty 3 c. 2613-2494 Old Kingdom Dynasty 4 c. 2494-2345 Old Kingdom Dynasty 5 c. 2345-2181 Old Kingdom Dynasty 6 c. 2181-2125 Old Kingdom Dynasties 7 & 8 c. 2125-2025 First Intermediate Period: Dynasties 9-11 c. 2025-1700 Middle Kingdom Dynasties 11-13 c. 1700-1550 Second Intermediate Period Dynasty 13-17 c. 1550-1295 New Kingdom Dynasty 18 c. 1295-1186 New Kingdom Dynasty 19 c. 1186-1069 New Kingdom Dynasty 20 c. 1069-945   Third Intermediate Period Dynasty 21 c. 945-727     Third Intermediate Period Dynasties 22-23 c. 727-332     Late Period Dynasties 24-30 and Persian Occupation     332-30       Ptolemaic Period     30 BC - 330 AD Roman Period     330 AD - 641 Byzantine Period

egyptian pantheon
Egyptian Pantheon







Theriomorphism: Manifestation of some aspect of the god’s power

E.g., Hathor as cow. Cow as symbol of fertility



For more information, see


Coffin Texts

Middle Kingdom


Pyramid Texts

as early as

2375-2345 B.C.

Old Kingdom

book of the dead

a collection of formulas, hymns, and prayers for the deceased of ancient Egypt. also known as Pyramid Texts.

The Egyptians believed that a Book of the Dead was needed to pass safely through the demons of the Underworld after death.

Book of the Dead

Book of the Dead of Maiherperi1427-1392 BC, 18th DynastyThe Judgment of the Dead


Illustration from the Book of the Dead (shows deceased being led to judgment by jackal- headed god Anubis, where his heart is weighed against a feather, symbol of truth, in the presence of Thoth, ibis- headed god of wisdom who wears the wide sash of a priest; he notes the results of the weighing. Then, the deceased is led to the supreme judge of the dead and ruler of the underworld, Osiris, who is shown enthroned with attendants. From Thebes. Painted papyrus from the Nineteenth Dynasty ca. 1285 B.C. )

ptah creator god of memphis
Ptah, Creator god of Memphis

Temple of Denderah.This engraving represents a pharaoh making offerings to the god Ptah and to the goddess Sekhmet, his wife. Ptah = Primordial Mound

See Bierlein, pp. 51-52

memphis creation myth c 2900 b c
Memphis Creation Mythc. 2900 B.C.

political goal:

1.) to celebrate Ptah, the local god of Memphis

2.) unification of Two Egypts

Ptah in primaeval water comes to Heliopolis and calls it Memphis

act of creation = Ptah desires himself eight other gods = Ogdoad

shabaka stone
Shabaka Stone

He (Ptah) gave birth to the gods,He made the towns,He established the nomes,He placed the gods in their shrines,He settled their offerings,He established their shrines,He made their bodies according to their wishes.Thus the gods entered into their bodies,Of every wood, every stone, every clay,Every thing that grows upon himIn which they came to be.Thus were gathered to him all the gods and their kas,Content, united with the Lord of the Two Lands.

Shabaka (712-698 B.C.), the first Ethiopian born pharaoh

On the Shabaka Stone:


pyramid text
Pyramid Text

Hymn to Osiris

Coffin as Geb (Earth)

Lid as Nut (Sky)

Nut on a coffin lid


Painted papyrus depicting Shu, the air god, raising his daughter Nut, the sky goddess, above her brother Geb, the earth god, thus creating the world).

heliopolis modern cairo
Heliopolis (Modern Cairo)

Dominant city of the Old Kingdom

Synthesis of

Creation story of Atum

and the story of Osiris

The oldest surviving obelisk in the world, c.2000 B.C.

coffin text
Coffin Text

Creation via masturbation

Atum spit me [Shu] out

Compare Bierlein, pg. 51

heliopolitan ennead
Heliopolitan Ennead

Seven of nine members of the Heliopolitan Ennead, as represented in the judgment scene on the Papyrus of Ani. From right to left: Atum, Shu, Tefnut, Geb, Nut and sitting next to each other, Isis and Nephthys. Other members of the Ennead include Osiris, Seth, Horus and Thot.

From Heliopolis:

Nun (watery chaos)

Atum (sun)

Shu (air) Tefnut (moisture)

Geb (Earth) Nut (sky)

Osiris, Isis, Seth, Nephthys

creation of the world according to heliopolis
Creation of the Worldaccording to Heliopolis

Development of the Ennead

Birth of Isis and Osiris

Death and Resurrection of Osiris

the ennead
The Ennead

Cyclical Struggle:

Osiris (Underworld) and Seth (Chaos)

Prominence of Horus (King of Egypt)

isis and osiris
Isis and Osiris

The Birth of Isis and Osiris

The Rivalry of Seth and Horus

Wanderings of isis

Isis Finds the Coffin of Osiris

The Reawakening of Osiris

Isis suckling the Horus-Childin the papyrus swamps.

the resurrection of osiris
The Resurrection of Osiris

Ritual of Osiris

Flooding of the Nile

Rebirth of Egypt

The Osiris Mysteries as portrayed in the Temple of Isis at Philae.(images After H. Rosellini, Monumenti dell'Egitto e della Nubia, Vol. III (Pisa, 1844), Pl. XXIII.)

greco roman isis
Greco-Roman Isis

Temple of Isis at Pompeii


ritual of isis
Ritual of Isis

Sistrum (rattle)