The Ancient Egyptians had many gods, but most of their names aren’t ideal for naming animals. Could you imagine calling Ta-senet-nofret every day? But there are some lovely names! Below this table, you’ll find out more about animals in Ancient Egypt and which gods took which animal forms.
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|Anubis||Egpytian god of embalming and protector of the dead|
|Amun||Egyptian God of wind and fertility|
|Apep||Serpent deity; greatest enemy of Ra, the Egpytian sun god|
|Aton||Eyptian sun god|
|Bastet||Goddess of fertility and happiness|
|Hathor||Goddess of love, peace, beauty and dance|
|Heket||Goddess of fertility|
|Horus||God of the sky and the light; protector of children|
|Isis||Eyptian goddess magic and wisdom|
|Maat||Goddess of truth, balance and justice|
|Nefertem||God of healing balms and perfume|
|Nephthys||Sister of Isis, Osiris and Seth|
|Osiris||Eyptian god of the dead|
|Phoenix||symbolizes regeneration and renewal|
|Ptah||God of craftsmen and creators|
|Ra||Egyptian sun god|
|Seth||God of the desert and storms; God of disorder|
|Sobek||Crocodile god, lord of the waters|
|Toth||Moon god; god of magic, science and writing|
Lots of Egyptian gods looked like animals. This didn’t automatically make them holy, but they embodied a certain characteristic of the god. It was later that animals themselves were seen as holy and a person could even be punished with death for killing one, even by accident.
The people in Ancient Egypt watched animals very closely. Where they spent their time, when they turned up, what they did - all of these things were clues that they had a certain mythological task. The snake stood for danger as well as healing. Frogs were a symbol of fertility, because they reproduced in great numbers on the fertile banks of the Nile. Cats were especially praised because they protected people’s houses from mice and other pests.
Anubis was a judge of the dead, and guided dead people on their journeys to the other side. He was depicted as a human with the head of a jackal (a wild dog) because these animals are often seen digging in the desert.
The holy scarab beetle was a very special animal for the Egyptians as, unlike any other animal, it stood for rebirth. People watched the beetles burying themselves in a ball of dung under the ground and then being “resurrected”. In reality, these were its offspring. There were lots of amulets * in the shape of scarab beetles, and this symbol was as important to the Ancient Egyptians as the cross for Christians.
* An object with magical powers. They were often also worn as pendants on necklaces.
In Ancient Egypt, (important) people were often mummified after their deaths. This means that their bodies were embalmed with oils and bound in cloths. The reason? The Ancient Egyptians believed in reincarnation, and you needed your body to be in tact. Animals were also mummified. For example, so that people could take their beloved pets with them after death into the afterlife. But they were also used for food or to receive a blessing from a certain god. Especially cats were found mummified in graves to appease the goddess Bastet.
Gods in Animal Forms
The list below will show you which gods were depicted as an animal, or several animals. Most had the body of a human and the head of an animal. The god Seth, for example, was depicted as a human with the head of a donkey. Once, his head was a mix of lots of different animals, including the aardvark, antelope, elephant shrew, camel, okapi, giraffe, sighthound, red river hog, tortoise, donkey, pig, crocodile and snake. If you have a pet cat, god names like Bastet, Tefnut or Sachmet would be a good fit. If you have a tortoise or a snake, you could opt for a name like Apophis, Amun or Nehebkau.
|Frog||Heket, Nu (m), Kek (m), Heh (m), Amun (m)|
|Cobra||Meretseger, Renenutet, Wadjet|
|Crocodile||Ammit, Sobek, Taweret|
|Cow||Hathor, Nut, Isis, Bat|
|Lion||Apedemak, Nefertem, Wadjet, Tefnut, Schu, Sachmet|
|Sheep||Ba-djedet, Herischef, Chnum|
|Snake||Nehebkau, Apep, Naunet (f), Kek (f), Heh (f), Amun (f)|
(m) = male (f) = female