Ancient Egyptian Gods and Goddesses
Egyptian religion has over 700 gods and goddesses with a variety of beliefs depending on the time period of Egyptian history which is being studied. Even the Egyptian recognized the difficulty of following the multitude of gods and goddesses as early as the Old Kingdom. They attempted to simplify the religion by organize their gods in family groups of eight or nine.
Evidence is very limited on Predynastic Egypt (before 3100 B.C.). What we do know would suggest that early Egyptian developed local cults of worship often centered around animals. Each community would worship it's own deity or set of deities.
After the unification of Egypt, (3100 B.C.) their religion was polytheistic with one exception during the reign of Akhenaten. During this time the Pharaoh Akhenaten changed the religion of Egypt to be monotheistic, worshiping only Aten, his patron god. His changes lasted only during his reign and were changed back to earlier practices after his death. The Egyptian gods can be divided into two main categories; household gods and local, state or national gods.
Household gods were often worshiped at shrines located in peoples living quarters. These gods often lacked cult followers, priests or temples at which they were worshiped. None the less these gods were of key importance to the general population, in that the state and national gods often seemed distant. Two of the most well known household gods were Bes and Tauert.
Local and state gods were the main deity or deities in certain locations in Egypt. For example, the crocodile god was worshiped mostly in the Fayoum and at Kom Ombo. From the group of local and state gods, some would gain national recognition and would be worshiped throughout Egypt. For example Re, the sun god, began to become national recognized as early as early as the second dynasty. To add to the mix, gods were sometimes combined with others to make a new deity to be worshiped. For example Re was combined with the state god Amun to become Amen-Re during the New Kingdom Era.
The national gods were often promoted by the reigning pharaohs preferences. For the common people , worship of the local or household gods was most common. People may also chose to worship gods which could help them in their occupation. For example a scribe often close Thoth as their primary deity. Thoth was the patron god of scribes and writing.
Below are links to individual gods and goddess pages. Each page is illustrated with information on the god/goddess. In addition the dictionary has brief descriptions of the major god/goddess in the Egyptian system.
Navagation God and Goddess of Ancient Egypt