Egyptian mythology (or Egyptian religion) is the name for the succession of beliefs held by the people of Egypt until the coming of Christianity and Islam. The timespan involved is nearly three thousand years, and beliefs varied considerably over time.
After coming out of the natron, the bodies were coated inside and out with resin to preserve them, then wrapped with linen bandages, embedded with religious amulets and talismans. In the case of royalty, this was usually then placed inside a series of nested coffins the outermost of which was a stone sarcophagus. The intestines, lungs, liver and the stomach were preserved separately and stored in canopic jars protected by the Four sons of Horus. Other creatures were also mummified, sometimes thought to be pets of Egyptian families, but more frequently or more likely they were the representations of the Gods. The ibis, crocodile, cats, nile perch and baboon can be found in perfect mummified forms.
The Book of the Dead were a series of almost two hundred sectional texts, songs and pictures written on papyrus, individually customised for the individual, which were buried along with the dead, or painted on the tomb walls, in order to ease their passage into the underworld. In some tombs, the Book of the Dead has also been found painted on the walls. One of the best examples of the Book of the Dead is The Papyrus of Ani, created around 1240 BC, which, in addition to the texts themselves, also contains many pictures of Ani and his wife on their journey through the land of the dead.
In later belief, the soul of the deceased is led into a hall
of judgement in Duat, by Anubis,
and the deceased's heart, which was the record of the morality
of the owner, is weighed against a single feather representing
Maàt's (the concept of truth, and order). If the outcome
is favourable, the deceased is taken to Osiris in Aaru,
but the demon Ammit (Eater of Hearts)
part crocodile, part lion, and part hippopotamus
destroys those hearts whom the verdict is against, leaving
the owner to remain in Duat.
The Monotheistic Period
According to some egyptologists, particularly among those with a Judao-Christian religious bias, it is incorrect to regard this period as monotheistic. These researchers state that people did not worship the Aten but worshipped the royal family as a pantheon of gods who received their divine power from the Aten. According to other egyptologists, it is important to regard this period as monotheistic. A recent alternative explanation resulting from interpreting particular items of knowledge concerning biblical and Egyptian history (by Ahmed Osman) proposes that Moses and Akhenaten to be the same person.
After the fall of the Amarna dynasty, the original Egyptian pantheon survived more or less as the dominant faith, until the establishment of Coptic Christianity and later Islam, even though the Egyptians continued to have relations with the other monotheistic cultures (e.g. Hebrews). Egyptian mythology put up surprisingly little resistance to the spread of Christianity, sometimes explained by claiming that Jesus was originally a syncretism based predominantly on Horus, with Isis representing Mary.
Some known temples include:
Egypt has long had ties with Libya. After the death of Rameses XI, the priesthood in the person of Herihor wrest control of Egypt away from the Pharaohs until they were superseded (without any apparent struggle) by the Libyan kings of the 22nd Dynasty. The first king of the new Dynasty, Shoshenq I, served as a general under the last ruler of the 21st Dynasty. It is known that he appointed his own son to be the High Priest of Amun, a post that was previously a hereditary appointment. The scant and patchy nature of the written records from this period suggest that it was unsettled. There appear to have been many subversive groups which eventually led to the creation of the 23rd dynasty which ran concurrent with the 22nd.
Started with Ptolemy I of Egypt and ended with Cleopatra VII. As Ptolemy I Soter ("Saviour"), he founded the Ptolemaic dynasty, which was to rule Egypt for 300 years. All the male rulers of the dynasty took the name "Ptolemy". Because the Ptolemaic kings adopted the Egyptian custom of marrying their sisters, many of the kings ruled jointly with their spouses, who were also of the royal house. This custom made Ptolemaic politics confusingly incestuous, and the later Ptolemies were increasingly feeble. The last of the Ptolemies, the famous Cleopatra, was the only Ptolemaic queen to rule on her own, after the death of her brother/husband, Ptolemy XIII.
Egypt was incorporated into the Roman Empire and was ruled first from Rome and then from Constantinople (until the Arab conquest). The most revolutionary event in the history of Roman Egypt was the introduction of Christianity in the 2nd century. It was at first vigorously persecuted by the Roman authorities, who feared religious discord more than anything else in a country where religion had always been paramount. But it soon gained adherents among the Jews of Alexandria. From them it rapidly passed to the Greeks, and then to the native Egyptians, who found its promise of personal salvation and its teachings of social equality appealing.