Research Papers on the Gods of Ancient Egypt
The gods of ancient Egypt were so pertinent to society because they reflected and influenced politics, especially the rise and fall of specific dynasties. Additionally, they reflected and influenced the balance of power within the state. While it is true that many individual gods waxed and waned in popularity throughout different periods of Egyptian history, some have remained inextricably dominant:
- The sun god, Atum (later called Ra);
- The god of air, Shu;
One could effectively argue that religion was the center of life for most Egyptians. While it is true many Egyptians were concerned with the more mundane tasks of everyday life, many believed that at the heart of all of the workings—of their lives, of their villages and of their state—was the direct result of the mystique and action of the gods. Take for example the yearly rising of the waters of the Nile. Ancient Egyptians firmly believed that this cycle of rebirth that brought the land from underneath the water each year and perpetuated the growth of a new crop for harvest was the direct result of the internal cosmology and mysterious workings of the gods:
The Egyptian came to believe that this was a model of how the world began. Out of the waters of Chaos, containing the germs of things inchoate form, had arisen the primeval mound on which the work of creation began in the First Time. This miracle was repeated each year when the waters that are under the earth welled up and reproduced the primordial Nun or Chaos from which the new land in due course emerged.
All of the religious beliefs held by the ancient Egyptians were invariable linked to the processes of life and death. While many in modern society believe that the Egyptians were obsessed with death, the reality is that the funerary customs and burial rites utilized by the Egyptians were not in celebration of death, but rather a celebration of life: “Egyptian funerary religion was primarily life-affirming, with buildings, rituals and prayers designed to maintain an individual’s life and status beyond the transition of death, which was regarded as an unpleasant necessity”.
Closely linked to preserving an individual’s life was the process of mummification, which the ancient Egyptians believed would preserve the body for use in the after-life. The process of mummification was quite elaborate and took approximately seventy days to complete; a majority of this time was spent drying the body in the desiccant natron.