Egyptian Section Glossary:
Aaru (alternatives: Yaaru, Iaru, Aalu): Aaru is the abode of the blessed dead. It is the heavenly Underworld where Osiris ruled. It is desrcibed as a series of islands covered with fields of wheat.
Abtu: It was the seat of worship of Osiris. It was also called Busiris, "the house of Osiris".
Akeru - The chthonic gods who followed the Underworld God, "Aker".
Akh (to shine) It was, at first, the unchanging unification of Ka and Ba, which united after the death of the physical body. In this sense, it was a sort of ghost. the deceased is now free to roam on and over the earth. After the successful union of the "ba" with its "ka", the "akh" was considered enduring and unchanged for eternity.
The Akh was then a part of the Akh-Akh, which was a member of the starry sky.
Alternatively, the Ka changed into the Akh and Ba after death, rather than uniting with the Ba. In this system, the Akh went to the underworld and became the Ka again, while the Ba remained on Earth in the corpse of the deceased. The "akh" is represented in hieroglyphs by the symbol of the crested ibis.
Some Egyptians believed that they would spend their afterlives as blessed akhs, spending eternity with the surrounding stars as companions.
Amenta: This is the symbol that represents the Underworld or Land of the Dead.
Originally it meant the horizon of the sun set. Later, it became the symbol of the west bank of the Nile, where the sun set and also where the Egyptians traditionally buried their dead.
Ankh: Symbol of eternal life. The gods are often seen holding an ankh to someone's lips this is considered to be an offering of "The Breath of Life".
Symbol of eternal life. The gods are often seen holding an ankh to someone's lips this is considered to
be an offering of "The Breath of Life". The breath you will need in the afterlife.
Anrosphinx: One of three varieties of Egyptian sphinx, (this one having the head of a man)
Atef Crown: The atef crown was worn by Osiris. It is made up of the white crown of
Upper Egypt and the red feathers are representative of Busiris, Osiris's cult center in the Delta.
Ba: The ba can best be described as someone's personality. Like a person's body, each ba was an individual. It entered a person's body with the breath of life and it left at the time of death. In order for the physical bodies of the deceased to survive the afterlife, they had to be reunited with their "ba" every night.
Bakhu: The mythical mountain from which the sun rose. The region of the eastern horizon.
Barque: A boat in which the gods sailed.
Book of the Dead: This is a collection of magic spells and formulas that was illustrated and written, usually on papyrus. It began to appear in Egyptian tombs around 1600 BC. The text was intended to be spoken by the deceased during their journey into the Underworld. It enabled the deceased to overcome obstacles in the afterlife.
Buchis: One of the three great bull cults in ancient Egypt (besides Apis/Memphis and Mnervis/Heliopolis) was the one of Buchis in the town of Armant in the fourth province of Upper Egypt just south-west of Thebes. This cult was continued by the Greeks and after them by the Romans and it lasted until almost 400 A.D.
The Buchis bull was a manifestation of Osiris and Re and was also linked to the local god of war, "Mentu."
Canopic Jars: Four jars used to store the preserved internal organs of the deceased. Each jar is representative of one of the four sons of Horus.
Imsety: The human headed guardian of the liver
Qebekh-sennuef: The falcon headed guardian of the intestines.
Hapy: The baboon headed guardian of the lungs
Duamutef: The jackal or wild dog headed guardian of the stomach.
Cartonnage: Papyrus or linen soaked in plaster, shaped around a body. Used for mummy masks and coffins.
Cartouche: A circle with a horizontal bar at the bottom, elongated into an oval within which a king's name is written It is believed to act as a protector of the kings name.
Criosphinx: One of three varieties of Egyptian sphinx, this one having the head of a ram.
Demotic: A form of ancient Egyptian writing which was developed in the 7th century BC and used for everyday writing in the Late and Graeco-Roman periods.
Desheret: The red crown. This was the crown that represented Lower Egypt
Djed: This was the oldest symbol of the four pillars of Osiris and had a deep religious and symbolic
meaning to the Egyptians. It is an ancient Egyptian symbol of stability. It is believed that the Djed is
a rendering of a human backbone. It represents stability and strength. It was originally associated
with the creation god Ptah. Himself being called the
"Noble Djed". As the Osiris cults took hold it became known as the backbone of Osiris . A djed
column is often painted on the bottom of coffins, where the backbone of the deceased would lay,
this identified the person with the king of the underworld, Osiris. It also acts as a sign of stability for
the deceased' journey into the afterlife.
Djew: Which means mountain, this represents the two peaks with the Nile valley in the middle. The Egyptians believed that there was a cosmic mountain range that held up the heavens. This mountain range had two peaks, the western peak was called Manu, while the eastern peak was called Bakhu. It was on these peaks that
heaven rested. Each peak of this mountain chain was guarded by a lion deity, who's job it was to
protect the sun as it rose and set.
Duat: This is the Egyptian underworld, where the sun traveled from west to east during the night only to rise in the East again each morning..
Ennead of Heliopolis: They were the nine most important gods and goddesses. The gods of the Great Ennead of Heliopolis are: Atum, his children Shu and Tefnut, their children, Nuit and Seb and the family group, Nephthys, Isis, Osiris and Set.
Feather of Maat: Represents truth, justice, morality and balance. It was pharaoh's job to uphold Maat. When a pharaoh died, Maat was lost and the world was flung into chaos, only the coronation of a new pharaoh could restore Maat.
Fetish: An animal skin hanging from a stick, this is a symbol of Osiris and Anubis.
Flagellum: A crop or whip used to ward off evil spirits.
Flail and Crook: A symbol of royalty, majesty and dominion.
Hedjet: The White Crown. This was the crown of Upper Egypt.
Hieracosphinx: One of three varieties of Egyptian sphinx, having the head of a hawk.
Hieroglyph: The Egyptian picture language. From the Greek word meaning "sacred carving".
Ieb: This symbol represents a heart. The Egyptian believed the heart was the center of all consciousness, even the center of life itself. When someone died it was said that their "heart has departed." It was the only organ that was not removed from the body during mummification.
Ka: The ka is usually translated as "soul" or "spirit" The ka came into existence when an individual was born. It was believed that the ram-headed god Khnum crafted the ka on his potter's wheel at a persons birth. It was thought that when someone died they "met their ka". A persons ka would live on after their body had died.
Khepresh: The blue crown was a ceremonial crown often worn in battle. It was a blue cloth or leather headdress decorated with bronze or gold discs.
Khet: This symbol represents a lamp or brazier on a stand from which a flame emerges. Fire was embodied
in the sun and in its symbol the uraeus which spit fire.
Lotus:A symbol of birth and dawn; it was thought to have been the cradle of the sun on the first morning of creation, rising from the primeval waters. As a symbol of re-birth, the lotus was closely related to the imagery of the funerary
and Osirian cult.
Menat: This is a heavy beaded necklace with a crescent shaped front and a counter piece at the rear. It was a symbol associated with the goddess Hathor and her son, Ihy. It held divine powers of healing and was used during ceremonial dancing as a percussion instrument.
Menhed: A scribes pallet.
Mummy: From the Persian word "moumiya". A preserved corpse by either natural or artificial means.
Naos: Shrine in which divine statues were kept, especially in temple sanctuaries. A small wooden naos was normally placed inside a monolithic one in hard stone; the latter are typical of the Late Period, and sometimes elaborately decorated.
Natron: A naturally occurring salt used as a preservative and drying agent during mummification. It is a mixture of four salts that occur in varying proportions: sodium carbonate, sodium bicarbonate, sodium chloride and sodium sulfate.
Nebu:This symbol represents gold which was considered a divine metal, it was thought to be the flesh of the gods.
Nemes: A striped headcloth worn by Pharaohs.
Neter-Khertet: This translates as "divine subterranean place". A name for the land of the dead.
Nomarch: The chief official of a nome. In the late Old Kingdom, and early Middle Kingdom nomarchs gained their office as hereditary rulers.
Nome: From the Greek, "nomos" this is an administrative province of Egypt. The nome system started in the Early Dynastic Period.
Nu: A swirling watery chaos from which the cosmic order was produced. In the begining there was only Nu.
Obelisk: From the Greek word meaning; "a spit". It is a monumental tapering shaft usually made of pink granite. Capped with a pyramidion at the top. Obelisks are solar symbols similar in meaning to pyramids, they are associated with an ancient stone called Benben in Heliopolis.
Ogdoad: A group of gods from the Upper Egyptian town of Khemenu (Hermopolis ) capital of nome 15 ("The Hare") in Middle Egypt. Thoth was the local main god who was considered to be the creator of the world. The first gods he made were the eight reptiles of the Ogdoad (Greek for "group of eight") and they provided the elements which made life on earth possible. They were:
Nun and Nunet snakes representing water
Heh and Hauhet frogs representing time
Kek and Keket snakes representing darkness
Niau and Niaut frogs representing void
Opening of the mouth: This ceremony was performed at the funeral to restore the senses of the deceased. The ceremony was done by touching an adze to the mouth of a mummy or statue of the deceased, it was believed to restore the senses in preparation for the afterlife.
Opet: A great religious festival that took place in Thebes during the inundation. The god Amun was taken from his temple at Karnak and brought to visit his wife, Mut at her temple of Luxor.
Ostracon: From the Greek word meaning "potsherd". A chip or shard of limestone or pottery used as a writing tablet.
Palm Branch: The Egyptians would put a notch in a palm branch to mark the passing of a year in the life of a pharaoh. It symbolized the measure of time.
Papryus: The main Egyptian writing material. Sheets were made by cutting the stem of the plant into strips. These strips were soaked in several baths to remove some of the sugar and starches. These strips were then laid in rows horizontally and vertically. Then it was beaten together, activating the plant's natural starches and forming a glue that bound the sheet together. Separate sheets were glued together to form a roll.
Per Nefer: The place where some of the purification and mummification rituals took place.
Primordial Hill: The Egyptians believed that during creation this hill rose out of the sea of chaos to create dry land.
Pshent: The Double Crown, the red crown and the white crown put together to represent a unified Egypt.
Pyramidion: Capstone of a pyramid or the top of an obelisk.
Sa: This symbol means protection. Its origins are uncertain, but it is speculated that it represents either a rolled up herdsman's shelter or a papyrus life-preserver used by ancient egyptian boaters. Either way it is clearly a symbol of protection.
Sarcophagus: From the Greek word meaning "flesh eater". It was the name given to the stone container within which the coffins and mummy were placed.
Scarab: Called the dung beetle because of its practice of rolling a ball of dung across the ground. The Egyptians observed this behavior and equated it with the ball of the sun being rolled across the sky. Seals and amulets in scarab form were very common and were thought to possess magic powers.
Sekhem: This is a symbol of authority.
Sekhet-Aanru: This mythical place was originally called the "Field of the Aanru plants" It was believed to be islands in the Delta where the souls of the dead lived.
Sema: This is a rendering of the lungs attached to the windpipe. As a hieroglyph this symbol represents
the unification of Upper and Lower Egypt.
Sepat: The ancient Egyptian term for an administrative province of Egypt.
Sesen: A blue Lotus flower. This is a symbol of the sun, of creation and rebirth.
Set Amentet: This means "the mountain of the underworld," a common name for the cemeteries were in the mountains or desert on the western bank of the Nile.
She: A pool of water. The Egyptians believed water was the primeval matter from which aII creation began.
Shen: A loop of rope that has no beginning and no end, it symbolized eternity. The sun disk is often depicted in the center of it. The shen also seems to be a symbol of protection.
Sistrum: The sistrum was a sacred percussion instrument used in the cult of Hathor. The sistrum consisted of a wooden or metal frame fitted with loose strips of metal and disks which jingled when moved. This noise was thought to attract the attention of the gods.
Sphinx: A figure with the body of a lion and the head of a man, hawk or a ram.
Stela: A slab or wood,that was decorated with paintings, reliefs or texts.
Tuat: The land of the dead. It Iies under the earth and is entered through the western horizon.
Udjat: The sound eye of Horus. Symbolizes healing and protection.
Uraeus: The cobra is an emblem of Lower Egypt. It is associated with the king, and kingdom of Lower Egypt. It is a symbol of kingship. It is also associated with the sun and with many deities. The cobra represented the "fiery eye of Re", in which two uraei can be seen on either side of a winged solar disk. Starting in Middle Kingdom The uraeus appears as a symbol worn on the crown or headdress of royalty. It is used as a protective symbol.
Ushabtis: Literally translated it means "to answer." It is a small mummiform figure placed in tombs to do work in the afterlife on behalf of the deceased.
Was sceptor: This is a symbol of power and dominion. The was sceptre is a straight staff with a forked base and topped with an angled transverse section. The top of the staff was often shaped as the head of some creature.
Winged Solar Disk: This is a form that the god Horus Behudety (Horus of Edfu) takes in his battles with Seth. The earliest example of this image is found in the Ist Dynasty.