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Gallery 19: Case 11

Religion in ancient Egypt

Egyptian religion was closely linked with the natural world and was a fundamental part of all other aspects of Egyptian life.

Many gods were of both national and local significance and were frequently depicted in different forms. Thoth, for example, could be shown as an ibis or a baboon, or with the head of an ibis but the body of a man.

Gods might be represented on earth by various living creatures. The Apis Bull, for example, was the embodiment of Ptah of Memphis. The Bull was selected for his special markings, and when he died received an elaborate burial, attended by the king.

Temples were cult centres and sacred spaces. A formal hierarchy of priests was associated with most temples: only chief priests were permitted to tend the statues of the gods after observing a strict cleansing ritual. All priests were representatives of the King, himself the embodiment of Horus in life and Osiris in death, and like him they acted as a link between the worlds of gods and men.

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