Egyptian Mythology

Egyptian Religion and Mythology

What are the Pyramid Texts?

The Pyramid Texts are a collection of “spells” or instructions regarding the afterlife of a pharaoh. Written during the Old Kingdom, in about 2400 B.C.E., on the walls of the pyramid tomb of King Weni (Unas) and several other kings and queens in Saqqara, these texts were concerned with the protection of the given pharaoh’s remains, the means by which his body could be brought back to life after death in order to ascend to the gods above. The spells are specific, explaining how the king would use certain ladders and ramps and how he would fly to Heaven.

Written in Old Egyptian, the Pyramid Texts, along with Sumerian hymns to Inanna, are among the oldest religious writings known to us. They are an important beginning place for an understanding of Egyptian mythology. While the Texts do not include detailed mythological narratives, they do touch on major mythological themes such as the creation, the resurrection of a god named Osiris, the struggle between Seth and Horus, and the daily journey of the sun god in his solar boat. The Texts mention some two hundred deities, including many of the gods and goddesses now included on touristic and scholarly lists of Egyptian gods: Ra, Atum, Geb and Nut, Osiris, Isis, Horus, Seth, Nephtys, Anubis, Thoth, and the ancient creator goddess Neith, to name only a few. A better understanding of the identities and the symbolism of these gods emerges when we study the specific pantheons of particular religious centers in ancient Egypt and texts that developed later, during the New Kingdom.


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