Nekhbet

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Nekhbet with staff and shen ring. Egypt.Nekhbet.01.jpg
Nekhbet with staff and shen ring.
Nekhbet
Nekhbet
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Nekhbet
in hieroglyphs

Nekhbet ( /ˈnɛkˌbɛt/ ; [1] also spelt Nekhebit) was an early predynastic local goddess in Egyptian mythology, who was the patron of the city of Nekheb (her name meaning of Nekheb). Ultimately, she became the patron of Upper Egypt and one of the two patron deities for all of Ancient Egypt when it was unified. [2]

Goddess feminine or female deity

A goddess is a female deity. Goddesses have been linked with virtues such as beauty, love, motherhood and fertility. They have also been associated with ideas such as war, creation, and death.

Egyptian mythology

Egyptian mythology is the collection of myths from ancient Egypt, which describe the actions of the Egyptian gods as a means of understanding the world around them. The beliefs that these myths express are an important part of ancient Egyptian religion. Myths appear frequently in Egyptian writings and art, particularly in short stories and in religious material such as hymns, ritual texts, funerary texts, and temple decoration. These sources rarely contain a complete account of a myth and often describe only brief fragments.

Upper Egypt strip of land on the Nile valley between Nubia and Lower Egypt

Upper Egypt is the strip of land on both sides of the Nile that extends between Nubia and downriver (northwards) to Lower Egypt.

Contents

Mythology

Relief from the Temple of Nekhbet at El Kab Relief from the Temple of Nekhbet at El Kab.jpg
Relief from the Temple of Nekhbet at El Kab

One of Egypt's earliest temples was the shrine of Nekhbet at Nekheb (also referred to as El Kab). It was the companion city to Nekhen, the religious and political capital of Upper Egypt at the end of the Predynastic period (c. 3200–3100 BC) and probably, also during the Early Dynastic Period (c. 3100–2686 BC). [2] The original settlement on the Nekhen site dates from Naqada I or the late Badarian cultures. At its height, from about 3400 BC, Nekhen had at least 5,000 and possibly as many as 10,000 inhabitants.

Egyptian temple Structures for official worship of the gods and commemoration of pharaohs in Ancient Egypt

Egyptian temples were built for the official worship of the gods and in commemoration of the pharaohs in ancient Egypt and regions under Egyptian control. Temples were seen as houses for the gods or kings to whom they were dedicated. Within them, the Egyptians performed a variety of rituals, the central functions of Egyptian religion: giving offerings to the gods, reenacting their mythological interactions through festivals, and warding off the forces of chaos. These rituals were seen as necessary for the gods to continue to uphold maat, the divine order of the universe. Housing and caring for the gods were the obligations of pharaohs, who therefore dedicated prodigious resources to temple construction and maintenance. Out of necessity, pharaohs delegated most of their ritual duties to a host of priests, but most of the populace was excluded from direct participation in ceremonies and forbidden to enter a temple's most sacred areas. Nevertheless, a temple was an important religious site for all classes of Egyptians, who went there to pray, give offerings, and seek oracular guidance from the god dwelling within.

Nekhen Religious and political capital of Upper Egypt in Ancient Egypt

Nekhen or Hierakonpolis was the religious and political capital of Upper Egypt at the end of prehistoric Egypt and probably also during the Early Dynastic Period.

Naqada Place in Qena Governorate, Egypt

Naqada is a town on the west bank of the Nile in Qena Governorate, Egypt. It was known in Egyptian as nbwt, which became Coptic Ⲉⲙⲃⲱ, which was borrowed as classical antiquity as Ombos. Its name derives from Egyptian nbw, meaning "gold", on account of the proximity of gold mines in the Eastern Desert.

Nekhbet was the tutelary deity of Upper Egypt. Nekhbet and her Lower Egyptian counterpart Wadjet often appeared together as the "Two Ladies". One of the titles of each ruler was the Nebty name, which began with the hieroglyphs for [s/he] of the Two Ladies.... [2]

A tutelary is a deity or spirit who is a guardian, patron, or protector of a particular place, geographic feature, person, lineage, nation, culture, or occupation. The etymology of "tutelary" expresses the concept of safety, and thus of guardianship.

Lower Egypt northernmost region of Egypt

Lower Egypt is the northernmost region of Egypt: the fertile Nile Delta, between Upper Egypt and the Mediterranean Sea — from El Aiyat, south of modern-day Cairo, and Dahshur. Historically, the Nile River split into seven branches of the delta in Lower Egypt. Lower Egypt was divided into nomes and began to advance as a civilization after 3600 BC. Today, it contains two channels major that flow through the delta of the Nile River.

Wadjet lion-headed Egyptian goddess, symbolizing the potentially destructive power of the sun, angry avatar of the gentle Bastet

Wadjet, known to the Greek world as Uto or Buto among other names including Wedjat, Uadjet, and Udjo was originally the ancient local goddess of the city of Dep. It became part of the city that the Egyptians named Per-Wadjet "House of Wadjet" and the Greeks called Buto, which was an important site in prehistoric Egypt and the cultural developments of the Paleolithic.

In art, Nekhbet was depicted as a vulture. Alan Gardiner identified the species that was used in divine iconography as a griffon vulture. Arielle P. Kozloff, however, argues that the vultures in New Kingdom art, with their blue-tipped beaks and loose skin, better resemble the lappet-faced vulture. [3]

Sir Alan Henderson Gardiner was an English Egyptologist, linguist, philologist, and independent scholar. He is regarded as one of the premier Egyptologists of the early and mid-20th century.

Griffon vulture species of bird

The griffon vulture is a large Old World vulture in the bird of prey family Accipitridae. It is also known as the Eurasian griffon. It is not to be confused with a different species, Rüppell's griffon vulture. It is closely related to the white-backed vulture.

New Kingdom of Egypt period 1550 to 1070 BC in ancient Egypt

The New Kingdom, also referred to as the Egyptian Empire, is the period in ancient Egyptian history between the 16th century BC and the 11th century BC, covering the 18th, 19th, and 20th dynasties of Egypt. Radiocarbon dating places the exact beginning of the New Kingdom between 1570 BC and 1544 BC. The New Kingdom followed the Second Intermediate Period and was succeeded by the Third Intermediate Period. It was Egypt's most prosperous time and marked the peak of its power.

In New Kingdom times, the vulture appeared alongside the uraeus on the headdresses with which kings were buried. The uraeus and vulture are traditionally interpreted as Wadjet and Nekhbet, but Edna R. Russmann has suggested that in this context they represent Isis and Nephthys, two major funerary goddesses, instead. [4]

Uraeus stylized, upright form of an Egyptian cobra used as a symbol of sovereignty, royalty, deity and divine authority in Ancient Egypt

The Uraeus is the stylized, upright form of an Egyptian cobra, used as a symbol of sovereignty, royalty, deity and divine authority in ancient Egypt.

Isis goddess in ancient Egyptian religion

Isis was a major goddess in ancient Egyptian religion whose worship spread throughout the Greco-Roman world. Isis was first mentioned in the Old Kingdom as one of the main characters of the Osiris myth, in which she resurrects her slain husband, the divine king Osiris, and produces and protects his heir, Horus. She was believed to help the dead enter the afterlife as she had helped Osiris, and she was considered the divine mother of the pharaoh, who was likened to Horus. Her maternal aid was invoked in healing spells to benefit ordinary people. Originally, she played a limited role in royal rituals and temple rites, although she was more prominent in funerary practices and magical texts. She was usually portrayed in art as a human woman wearing a throne-like hieroglyph on her head. During the New Kingdom, as she took on traits that originally belonged to Hathor, the preeminent goddess of earlier times, Isis came to be portrayed wearing Hathor's headdress: a sun disk between the horns of a cow.

Nephthys Egyptian deity

Nephthys or Nebthet or Nebet-Het is a goddess in ancient Egyptian religion. A member of the Great Ennead of Heliopolis in Egyptian mythology, she was a daughter of Nut and Geb. Nephthys was typically paired with her sister Isis in funerary rites because of their role as protectors of the mummy and the god Osiris and as the sister-wife of Set.

Nekhbet usually was depicted hovering, with her wings spread above the royal image, clutching a shen symbol (representing eternal encircling protection), frequently in her claws. [2]

Shen ring

In ancient Egypt a shen ring was a circle with a line tangent to it, represented in hieroglyphs as a stylised loop of a rope. The word shen itself means, in ancient Egyptian, encircle, while the shen ring represented eternal protection.

Related Research Articles

Horus Egyptian war deity

Horus is one of the most significant ancient Egyptian deities. He was worshipped from at least the late prehistoric Egypt until the Ptolemaic Kingdom and Roman Egypt. Different forms of Horus are recorded in history and these are treated as distinct gods by Egyptologists. These various forms may possibly be different manifestations of the same multi-layered deity in which certain attributes or syncretic relationships are emphasized, not necessarily in opposition but complementary to one another, consistent with how the Ancient Egyptians viewed the multiple facets of reality. He was most often depicted as a falcon, most likely a lanner falcon or peregrine falcon, or as a man with a falcon head.

Neith Egyptian goddess

Neith was an early ancient Egyptian deity who was said to be the first and the prime creator. She was said to be the creator of the universe and all it contains and she governs how it functions.

Buto Archaeological site in Egypt

Buto, Butus, or Butosus, now Tell El Fara'in, near the villages of Ibtu and Kom Butu and the city of Desouk, are names later given to an ancient city located 95 km east of Alexandria in the Nile Delta of Egypt. What in Classical times the Greeks called, Buto, stood about midway between the Taly (Bolbitine) and Thermuthiac (Sebennytic) branches of the Nile, a few kilometers north of the east-west Butic River and on the southern shore of the Butic Lake.

Menhit Egyptian deity

Menhit was originally a Nubian war goddess in Egyptian mythology. Her name depicts a warrior status, as it means (she who) massacres.

Index of Egyptian mythology articles

This is an index of Egyptian mythology articles.

Eye of Ra

The Eye of Ra or Eye of Re is a being in ancient Egyptian mythology that functions as a feminine counterpart to the sun god Ra and a violent force that subdues his enemies. The Eye is an extension of Ra's power, equated with the disk of the sun, but it also behaves as an independent entity, which can be personified by a wide variety of Egyptian goddesses, including Hathor, Sekhmet, Bastet, Wadjet, and Mut. The Eye goddess acts as mother, sibling, consort, and daughter of the sun god. She is his partner in the creative cycle in which he begets the renewed form of himself that is born at dawn. The Eye's violent aspect defends Ra against the agents of disorder that threaten his rule. This dangerous aspect of the Eye goddess is often represented by a lioness or by the uraeus, or cobra, a symbol of protection and royal authority. The Eye of Ra is similar to the Eye of Horus, which belongs to a different god, Horus, but represents many of the same concepts. The disastrous effects when the Eye goddess rampages out of control and the efforts of the gods to return her to a benign state are a prominent motif in Egyptian mythology.

Iusaaset or Iusaas is a primordial goddess in Ancient Egyptian religion. In Egyptian texts, she is described as "the grandmother of all of the deities". This allusion is without any reference to a grandfather, so there might have been a very early, but now lost, myth with parthenogenesis as the means of the birth of the deities from the region where her cult arose near the delta of the Nile. There are many alternative spellings of her name, including Iusaaset, Iusaas, Juesaes, Ausaas, and Jusas, as well as in Greek Saosis.

Pschent Ancient Egyptian crown

The Pschent was the double crown worn by rulers in ancient Egypt. The ancient Egyptians generally referred to it as sekhemty(sḫm.ty), the Two Powerful Ones. It combined the Red Deshret Crown of Lower Egypt and the White Hedjet Crown of Upper Egypt.

Hedjet White Crown of Higher Egypt

Hedjet is the formal name for the white crown of pharaonic Upper Egypt. After the unification of Upper and Lower Egypt, it was combined with the deshret, the red crown of Lower Egypt, to form the pschent, the double crown of Egypt. The symbol sometimes used for the white crown was the vulture goddess Nekhbet shown next to the head of the cobra goddess Wadjet, the uraeus on the pschent.

Semerkhet Egyptian pharaoh

Semerkhet is the Horus name of an early Egyptian king who ruled during the first dynasty. This ruler became known through a tragic legend handed down by the ancient Greek historian, Manetho, who reported that a calamity of some sort occurred during Semerkhet's reign. The archaeological records seem to support the view that Semerkhet had a difficult time as king and some early archaeologists even questioned the legitimacy of Semerkhet's succession to the Egyptian throne.

Weneg was a sky and death deity from ancient Egyptian religion, who was said to protect the earth and her inhabitants against the arrival of the "great chaos".

Two Ladies

In Ancient Egyptian texts, the "Two Ladies" was a religious euphemism for the goddesses Wadjet and Nekhbet, two deities who were patrons of the Ancient Egyptians and worshiped by all after the unification of its two parts, Lower Egypt, and Upper Egypt. When the two parts of Egypt were joined together, there was no merger of these deities as often occurred with similar deities from various regions and cities. Both goddesses were retained because of the importance of their roles and they became known as the Two Ladies, who were the protectors of unified Egypt.

El Kab Archaeological site

El Kab is an Upper Egyptian site on the east bank of the Nile at the mouth of the Wadi Hillal about 80 kilometres (50 mi) south of Luxor. El Kab was called Nekheb in the Egyptian language, a name that refers to Nekhbet, the goddess depicted as a white vulture.

Hypsoma is a Greek word indicating the Ecliptic high point of a celestial body, as seen from Earth. In Babylonian astronomy the hypsomata of stars and planets are described in the Astrolabe B and in the mul.APIN: each star of Ea's path has its special hypsoma.

Khaset (nome)

Khaset was one of 42 nomes in Ancient Egypt.

The Book of Nut is a collection of ancient Egyptian astronomical texts, also covering various mythological subjects. These texts focus on the cycles of the stars of the decans, the movements of the moon, the sun and the planets, on the sundials, and related matters.

Nebty name

The Nebty name was one of the "great five names" used by Egyptian pharaohs. It was also one of the eldest royal titles. The modern term "Two-Ladies-name" is a simple derivation from the translation of the Egyptian word nebty.

References

  1. "Nekhbet". Dictionary.com. Random House. 2012.
  2. 1 2 3 4 Wilkinson, Richard H. (2003). The Complete Gods and Goddesses of Ancient Egypt. Thames & Hudson. pp. 213–214
  3. Bailleul-LeSuer, Rozenn (ed), Between Heaven and Earth: Birds in Ancient Egypt. The Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago. pp. 61–62, 138
  4. Robins, Gay, Review of The Animal World of the Pharaohs and Choice Cuts: Meat Production in Ancient Egypt. Journal of the American Oriental Society, vol. 119, no. 1, (January–March 1999)

Further reading