Egyptology Essay

1219 words - 5 pages

The Ancient Egyptian civilization was one of the earliest civilizations in the world. Therefore, it had one of the earliest religions. The Ancient Egyptian religion, which beliefs were based on polytheism, helped to shape other religions presently practiced in Egypt. The ancient Egyptian religion came about to make sense of the changing atmospheric conditions surrounding the people.Egypt is the northeastern most country in Africa. To the north is the Mediterranean Sea and to the East is the Sinai peninsula. In ancient times, there were three parts of Egypt. There was Lower Egypt located right below the Mediterranean, Middle Egypt below that, and Upper Egypt, the southern most territory, until 1500 B.C. when Egypt expanded to the south and took over Kush. All of the villages were set up along the Nile river because of the fertile soil, water and other food it provided. Each of these villages had there own set of governing laws, therefore had differing gods because of their different locations."Polytheism is the belief in a plurality of gods in which each deity is distinguished by special functions." (Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia) Many cultures have practiced this type of worship over the centuries, the most notable being Greece. "The Olympian Zeus, originally a sky god, became the titular head and most powerful of all Olympian deities; the Egyptian Ra was the original, self-generating and supreme deity; and the Vedic gods of India, once numbering several thousand, were gradually displaced by the trinity of Vishnu, Shiva, and Brahma." (Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia) The first occurrence of polytheism in organized society is unknown, however, this practice is still going on today. These current practices are referred to as neopaganism and polytheistic reconstructionism. Most of the polytheistic practitioners were in the eastern hemisphere before the Americas were discovered. In today's society though, polytheism could be found anywhere on the globe.The Egyptians developed a belief system to help "explain the creation of humankind, and other natural phenomena." (Oakes 265) All of these villages had ninety-four gods and goddesses combined. However, the more populated cities had around twelve gods and less populated cities had three (forming a triad) or more. Each god/goddess had specific duties that they were 'assigned.' For example, Amun-Ra was the sun god and was also revered as the creator or the King of gods.The image of the gods suited there purpose. Anubis, associated with cemeteries and embalming, was depicted as a jackal or as a man with the head of a jackal. "Since jackals were common scavengers... Anubis... may have" (Oakes 281) protected the mummies from desecration. There were gods for the sun, for the dead and for many other things like fertility and war.The first dynasty in Egypt began around 3150 B.C. and their belief system developed around the same time. This belief system lasted for over three centuries until a bout 31 B.C....

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