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Religion in Ancient Egypt

Religion was in every Egyptian's life. They believed in polytheism, which is believing in more than one god or goddess. For Egyptians they had to obey their gods to have a good life. After their death, the gods would judge them at how well their commands were obeyed.          

Early period :
In the earliest period, the Egyptians worshiped nature, like wind and water. As the towns grew up, each one adopted its own god. Near one point in the delta, they worshiped Horus, god with a human body and a falcon face. In other parts, they worshiped Osiris, god of death and rebirth. The Egyptians believed in life after death, also called the Afterlife. Pharaohs would prepare tombs in a place called the Valley of the Kings and get ready for their journey to the "celestial fields" or heaven. People thought that the afterlife was similar to life on earth, but better. They thought that the people's spirits could eat, drink and move around after death and the spirit just needed a body to live in. That is why mummies were part of the religious custom in Egypt.     

Mummies :
When someone died, he would be turned into a mummy and his tomb was supplied with food and drink. First, the body would be laid on a flat board. The body would then be opened by a priest. The heart, liver and other organs were removed and put into containers called canopic jars. The brains would be taken out through the nose.
The body cavity and the separate parts were washed with wine.Mummies were preserved with a special salt called natron. Then, it was wrapped in yards of cloth. Jewels and charms were put in the folds to keep evil spirits away. It took about 70 days to make a mummy. Then, the funeral was held.
Religion had deeply dominated all aspects of the Egyptian culture, its art, science, government, and law.Egyptian religion can be characterized by its infinite complexity and diversity. This diversity is justified by the constant growth of religious beliefs over many centuries.

Gods and Myth :
The Egyptian pantheon was so diversified, it included many gods which varied in character and form, some being defined by myth, and others by geographical location and organization into groups.
* Local Deities Ancient Egypt was composed of many local areas referred to as nomes, each district possessed its own traditions and customs with its own divinity that was worshiped by its inhabitants.some of the deities were promoted to state gods whose cults spread all over the country for example Ptah of Memphis, Amon of Thebes and Re of Heliopolis.

* Cosmic Deities, There were other gods who did not have local basis however they participated and fulfilled their roles in general myths of creation like Nun which was a personification of chaos before creation.

* Minor Deities, Most Egyptians did not have an access to the state gods in the temples' shrines, which represented the most sacred place. The people could only approach the gods in the national festivals. However there were additional deities who answered the everyday life wishes and were connected with the family. These are referred to as household deities. The most popular were Bes and Tawert which were associated to child birth. Gods represented themselves in various forms and manifested human behavior. They thought, they spoke, they dined, and they had emotions. Sometimes they went into battle and traveled by boat, as illustrated by the behavior of the goddess Hathor in the myth of The Destruction of Mankind. The forms of the deities were numerous. They could be human such as the gods Amon and Ptah, or animal such as the gods Anubis as a jackal and Sobek as a crocodile. The Egyptians sometimes combined human and animal forms in one image such as the gods Horus shown as a falcon-headed man and Sekhmet as a lioness headed woman. Often the same deity possessed more than one form of representation . Gods were assimilated together to form sets composed of three deities, two adults and one youthful deity. These were referred to as triads like The Theban triad composed of Amon- Re and Mut as his consort with Khonsu as their child, another common way of combining gods together is referred to as syncretism, it is when a deity takes the name and character of a more important one, therefore Amon Re means Amon in the form of Re.

Origin of the world :
In the Egyptian view of the universe, There was mainly three major creation myths in ancient Egypt. One of the major creation myths was associated with the religious center of Heliopolis, the creator god who was self generated, began the creation by masturbation thus creation the first pair of male and female deities, who in turn produced another pair ...etc.

The temple :
The temple was considered the dwelling house of the god, it was a miniature picture of the world at the moment of creation. The temple was conceived as the center of creation. This symbolic role of the temple was expressed in its location and design as well as the decoration of its walls and ceiling.

Rituals :
It was ritual not myth that dominated the religious thought of ancient Egypt. In each of the main temples the king was regarded symbolically as the high priest. There were three services performed each day, at dawn, at midday and in the evening all centered around purification and offerings presented to the god.
Akhenaten's new religion :
The New Kingdom has witnessed the first attempt of monotheism when Amenhotep IV established Aten as the sole universal god of Egypt and eliminated all the traditional deities in the Egyptian pantheon. This god was not in fact unknown to the Egyptians. It originally represented the light and heat of the sun. His name appeared frequently in texts, and used in expressions, the most common
 was referring to the universe. Akhenaten's new doctrine did not last long after his death. The return to the orthodox worship of Amon- Re took place under the influence of the divine father Ay. During Tut's reign Amon-Re regained its supremacy that lasted till the end of the Egyptian empire.