The Egyptian pyramids are ancient pyramid-shaped masonry structures located in Egypt. As of November 2008, sources cite either 138 as the number of identified Egyptian pyramids. Most were built as tombs for the country's pharaohs and their consorts during the Old and Middle Kingdom periods; the earliest known Egyptian pyramids are found at Saqqara, northwest of Memphis. The earliest among these is the Pyramid of Djoser, built c. 2630–2610 BC during the Third Dynasty. This pyramid and its surrounding complex were designed by the architect Imhotep, are considered to be the world's oldest monumental structures constructed of dressed masonry; the most famous Egyptian pyramids are those found on the outskirts of Cairo. Several of the Giza pyramids are counted among the largest structures built; the Pyramid of Khufu at Giza is the largest Egyptian pyramid. It is the only one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World still in existence. By the time of the Early Dynastic Period, those with sufficient means were buried in bench-like structures known as mastabas.
The second historically-documented Egyptian pyramid is attributed to the architect Imhotep, who planned what Egyptologists believe to be a tomb for the pharaoh Djoser. Imhotep is credited with being the first to conceive the notion of stacking mastabas on top of each other, creating an edifice composed of a number of "steps" that decreased in size towards its apex; the result was the Pyramid of Djoser, designed to serve as a gigantic stairway by which the soul of the deceased pharaoh could ascend to the heavens. Such was the importance of Imhotep's achievement that he was deified by Egyptians; the most prolific pyramid-building phase coincided with the greatest degree of absolutist rule. It was during this time of the Old Kingdom of Egypt that the most famous pyramids, the Giza pyramid complex, were built. Over time, as authority became less centralized, the ability and willingness to harness the resources required for construction on a massive scale decreased, pyramids were smaller, less well-built and hastily constructed.
Long after the end of Egypt's own pyramid-building period, a burst of pyramid-building occurred in what is present-day Sudan, after much of Egypt came under the rule of the Kingdom of Kush, based at Napata. While Napatan rule was brief, ending in 661 BC, Egyptian culture made an indelible impression; the Meroitic period of Kushite history, when the kingdom was centered on Meroë, saw a full-blown pyramid-building revival, which saw more than two hundred Egyptian-inspired indigenous royal pyramid-tombs constructed in the vicinity of the kingdom's capital cities. Al-Aziz Uthman tried to destroy the Giza pyramid complex, he gave up after damaging the Pyramid of Menkaure. The shape of Egyptian pyramids is thought to represent the primordial mound from which the Egyptians believed the earth was created; the shape of a pyramid is thought to be representative of the descending rays of the sun, most pyramids were faced with polished reflective white limestone, in order to give them a brilliant appearance when viewed from a distance.
Pyramids were also named in ways that referred to solar luminescence. For example, the formal name of the Bent Pyramid at Dahshur was The Southern Shining Pyramid, that of Senwosret at el-Lahun was Senwosret is Shining. While it is agreed that pyramids were burial monuments, there is continued disagreement on the particular theological principles that might have given rise to them. One suggestion is that they were designed as a type of "resurrection machine."The Egyptians believed the dark area of the night sky around which the stars appear to revolve was the physical gateway into the heavens. One of the narrow shafts that extend from the main burial chamber through the entire body of the Great Pyramid points directly towards the center of this part of the sky; this suggests the pyramid may have been designed to serve as a means to magically launch the deceased pharaoh's soul directly into the abode of the gods. All Egyptian pyramids were built on the west bank of the Nile, which, as the site of the setting sun, was associated with the realm of the dead in Egyptian mythology.
In 1842, Karl Richard Lepsius produced the first modern list of pyramids – now known as the Lepsius list of pyramids – in which he counted 67. A great many more have since been discovered; as of November 2008, 118 Egyptian pyramids have been identified. The location of Pyramid 29, which Lepsius called the "Headless Pyramid", was lost for a second time when the structure was buried by desert sands after Lepsius's survey, it was found again only during an archaeological dig conducted in 2008. Many pyramids are in a poor state of preservation or buried by desert sands. If visible at all, they may appear as little more than mounds of rubble; as a consequence, archaeologists are continuing to identify and study unknown pyramid structures. The most recent pyramid to be discovered was that of Sesheshet at Saqqara, mother of the Sixth Dynasty pharaoh Teti, announced on 11 November 2008. All of Egypt's pyramids, except the small Third Dynasty pyramid of Zawyet el-Amwat, are sited on the west bank of the Nile, most are grouped together in a number of pyramid fields.
The most important of these are listed geographically, from north to south, below. Abu Rawash is the site of Egypt's most northerly pyramid — the ruined Pyramid of Djedefre and successor of Khufu, it was thought that this pyramid had never been completed, but the current archaeological consensus is that not only was it completed, but that it was orig
Ancient Egyptian funerary practices
The ancient Egyptians had an elaborate set of funerary practices that they believed were necessary to ensure their immortality after death. These rituals and protocols included mummifying the body, casting magic spells, burial with specific grave goods thought to be needed in the Egyptian afterlife; the ancient Egyptian burial process evolved over time as old customs were discarded and new ones adopted, but several important elements of the process persisted. Although specific details changed over time, the preparation of the body, the magic rituals, grave goods were all essential parts of a proper Egyptian funeral. There were many different gods; the ancient Egyptians believed that each god would separately judge the deceased before he could enter the afterlife. Although no writing survives from Predynastic Egypt, scholars believe the importance of the physical body and its preservation originated there; this would explain why people of that time did not follow the common practice of cremation, but rather buried the dead.
Some believe they may have feared the bodies would rise again if mistreated after death. Early bodies were buried with a few burial goods. Sometimes multiple people and animals were placed in the same grave. Over time, graves became more complex, with the body placed in a wicker basket later in wooden or terracotta coffins; the latest tombs Egyptians made were sarcophagi. These graves contained burial goods like jewelry, food and sharpened splint; this demonstrates that this ancient period had a sense of the afterlife, though archaeological evidence may show the average person had little chance of getting into it. This may be; the pharaoh was allowed in because of his role in life, others needed to have some role there. Human sacrifices found in early royal tombs reinforce this view; these people were meant to serve the pharaoh during his eternal life. Figurines and wall paintings begin to replace human victims; some of these figurines may have been created to resemble certain people, so they could follow the pharaoh after their lives ended.
Note that not only the lower classes had to rely on the pharaoh's favor, but the noble classes. They believed that when he died, the pharaoh became a type of god, who could bestow upon certain individuals the ability to have an afterlife; this belief existed from the predynastic period through the Old Kingdom. Although many spells from the predeceasing texts were carried over, the new coffin texts had additional new spells added, along with slight changes made to make this new funerary text more relatable to the nobility. In the First Intermediate Period, the importance of the pharaoh declined. Funerary texts restricted to royal use, became more available; the pharaoh was no longer a god-king in the sense that only he was allowed in the next life due to his status here, now he was the ruler of the population who upon his death would be leveled down towards the plane of the mortals. The first funerals in Egypt are known from the villages of Maadi in the north; the people of these villages buried their dead in round graves with one pot.
The body was neither treated nor arranged in a regular way as would be the case in the historical period. Without any written evidence, there is little to provide information about contemporary beliefs concerning the afterlife except for the regular inclusion of a single pot in the grave. In view of customs, the pot was intended to hold food for the deceased. Funerary customs developed during the Predynastic period from those of the Prehistoric Period. At first people excavated round graves with one pot in the Badarian Period, continuing the tradition of Omari and Maadi cultures. By the end of the Predynastic period, there were increasing numbers of objects deposited with the body in rectangular graves, there is growing evidence of rituals practiced by Egyptians of the Naquada II Period. At this point, bodies were arranged in a crouched or fetal position with the face toward either the east the rising sun or the west. Artists painted jars with funeral processions and ritual dancing. Figures of bare breasted women with birdlike faces and their legs concealed under skirts appeared in some graves.
Some graves were much richer in goods than others, demonstrating the beginnings of social stratification. Gender differences in burial emerged with the inclusion of weapons in men's graves and cosmetics palettes in women's graves. By the First Dynasty, some Egyptians were wealthy enough to build tombs over their burials rather than placing their bodies in simple pit graves dug into the sand; the rectangular, mud-brick tomb with an underground burial chamber, called a mastaba, developed in this period. These tombs had niched walls, a style of building called the palace-façade motif because the walls imitated those surrounding the palace of the king. Since commoners as well as kings, had such tombs, the architecture suggests that in death, some wealthy people did achieve an elevated status. In the historical period, it is certain that the deceased was associated with the god of the dead, Osiris. Grave goods expanded to include furniture and games as well as the weapons, cosmetic palettes, food supplies in decorated jars known earlier, in the Predynastic period.
Now, however, in the richest tombs, grave goods numbered in the thousands. Only the newly invented coffins for the body were made for the tomb. There is some inconclusive evidence for mummification. Other objects in
The Osiris myth is the most elaborate and influential story in ancient Egyptian mythology. It concerns the murder of the god Osiris, a primeval king of Egypt, its consequences. Osiris's murderer, his brother Set, usurps his throne. Meanwhile, Osiris's wife Isis restores her husband's body, allowing him to posthumously conceive their son, Horus; the remainder of the story focuses on Horus, the product of the union of Isis and Osiris, at first a vulnerable child protected by his mother and becomes Set's rival for the throne. Their violent conflict ends with Horus's triumph, which restores Maat to Egypt after Set's unrighteous reign and completes the process of Osiris's resurrection; the myth, with its complex symbolism, is integral to ancient Egyptian conceptions of kingship and succession, conflict between order and disorder, death and the afterlife. It expresses the essential character of each of the four deities at its center, many elements of their worship in ancient Egyptian religion were derived from the myth.
The Osiris myth reached its basic form in or before the 24th century BCE. Many of its elements originated in religious ideas, but the struggle between Horus and Set may have been inspired by a regional conflict in Egypt's Early Dynastic or Prehistoric Egypt. Scholars have tried to discern the exact nature of the events that gave rise to the story, but they have reached no definitive conclusions. Parts of the myth appear in a wide variety of Egyptian texts, from funerary texts and magical spells to short stories; the story is, more detailed and more cohesive than any other ancient Egyptian myth. Yet no Egyptian source gives a full account of the myth, the sources vary in their versions of events. Greek and Roman writings On Isis and Osiris by Plutarch, provide more information but may not always reflect Egyptian beliefs. Through these writings, the Osiris myth persisted after knowledge of most ancient Egyptian beliefs was lost, it is still well known today; the myth of Osiris was influential in ancient Egyptian religion and was popular among ordinary people.
One reason for this popularity is the myth's primary religious meaning, which implies that any dead person can reach a pleasant afterlife. Another reason is that the characters and their emotions are more reminiscent of the lives of real people than those in most Egyptian myths, making the story more appealing to the general populace. In particular, the myth conveys a "strong sense of family loyalty and devotion", as the Egyptologist J. Gwyn Griffiths put it, in the relationships between Osiris and Horus. With this widespread appeal, the myth appears in more ancient texts than any other myth and in an exceptionally broad range of Egyptian literary styles; these sources provide an unusual amount of detail. Ancient Egyptian myths are vague; each text that contains a myth, or a fragment of one, may adapt the myth to suit its particular purposes, so different texts can contain contradictory versions of events. Because the Osiris myth was used in such a variety of ways, versions conflict with each other.
The fragmentary versions, taken together, give it a greater resemblance to a cohesive story than most Egyptian myths. The earliest mentions of the Osiris myth are in the Pyramid Texts, the first Egyptian funerary texts, which appeared on the walls of burial chambers in pyramids at the end of the Fifth Dynasty, during the 24th century BCE; these texts, made up of disparate spells or "utterances", contain ideas that are presumed to date from still earlier times. The texts are concerned with the afterlife of the king buried in the pyramid, so they refer to the Osiris myth, involved with kingship and the afterlife. Major elements of the story, such as the death and restoration of Osiris and the strife between Horus and Set, appear in the utterances of the Pyramid Texts. Funerary texts written in times, such as the Coffin Texts from the Middle Kingdom and the Book of the Dead from the New Kingdom contain elements of the myth. Other types of religious texts give evidence for the myth, such as two Middle Kingdom texts: the Dramatic Ramesseum Papyrus and the Ikhernofret Stela.
The papyrus describes the coronation of Senusret I, whereas the stela alludes to events in the annual festival of Khoiak. Rituals in both these festivals reenacted elements of the Osiris myth; the most complete ancient Egyptian account of the myth is the Great Hymn to Osiris, an inscription from the Eighteenth Dynasty that gives the general outline of the entire story but includes little detail. Another important source is the Memphite Theology, a religious narrative that includes an account of Osiris's death as well as the resolution of the dispute between Horus and Set; this narrative associates the kingship that Osiris and Horus represent with Ptah, the creator deity of Memphis. The text was long thought to date back to the Old Kingdom and was treated as a source for information about the early stages in the development of the myth. Since the 1970s, Egyptologists have concluded that the text dates to the New Kingdom at the earliest. Rituals in honor of Osiris are another major source of information.
Some of these texts are found on the walls of temples that date from the New Kingdom, the Ptolemaic era, or the Roman era. Some of these late ritual texts, in which Isis and Nephthys lament their brother's death, were adapted into funerary texts. In these texts, the goddesses' pleas were meant to rouse Osiris—and thus the dece
Anubis is the Greek name of a god associated with mummification and the afterlife in ancient Egyptian religion depicted as a canine or a man with a canine head. Archeologists have identified Anubis's sacred animal as the African golden wolf. Like many ancient Egyptian deities, Anubis assumed different roles in various contexts. Depicted as a protector of graves as early as the First Dynasty, Anubis was an embalmer. By the Middle Kingdom he was replaced by Osiris in his role as lord of the underworld. One of his prominent roles was as a god, he attended the weighing scale during the "Weighing of the Heart," in which it was determined whether a soul would be allowed to enter the realm of the dead. Despite being one of the most ancient and "one of the most depicted and mentioned gods" in the Egyptian pantheon, Anubis played no role in Egyptian myths. Anubis was depicted in black, a color that symbolized regeneration, the soil of the Nile River, the discoloration of the corpse after embalming. Anubis is associated with Wepwawet, another Egyptian god portrayed with a dog's head or in canine form, but with grey or white fur.
Historians assume that the two figures were combined. Anubis' female counterpart is Anput, his daughter is the serpent goddess Kebechet. Anubis' name jnpw was pronounced, based on Coptic Anoup and the Akkadian transcription <a-na-pa> in the name <ri-a-na-pa> "Reanapa" that appears in Amarna letter EA 315. However, this transcription may be interpreted as rˁ-nfr, a name similar to that of Prince Ranefer of the Fourth Dynasty. In Egypt's Early Dynastic period, Anubis was portrayed in full animal form, with a "jackal" head and body. A "jackal" god Anubis, is depicted in stone inscriptions from the reigns of Hor-Aha and other pharaohs of the First Dynasty. Since Predynastic Egypt, when the dead were buried in shallow graves, "jackals" had been associated with cemeteries because they were scavengers which uncovered human bodies and ate their flesh. In the spirit of "fighting like with like," a "jackal" was chosen to protect the dead, because "a common problem must have been the digging up of bodies, shortly after burial, by jackals and other wild dogs which lived on the margins of the cultivation."The oldest known textual mention of Anubis is in the Pyramid Texts of the Old Kingdom, where he is associated with the burial of the pharaoh.
In the Old Kingdom, Anubis was the most important god of the dead. He was replaced in that role by Osiris during the Middle Kingdom. In the Roman era, which started in 30 BC, tomb paintings depict him holding the hand of deceased persons to guide them to Osiris; the parentage of Anubis varied between myths and sources. In early mythology, he was portrayed as a son of Ra. In the Coffin Texts, which were written in the First Intermediate Period, Anubis is the son of either the cow goddess Hesat or the cat-headed Bastet. Another tradition depicted him as the son of Nephthys; the Greek Plutarch stated that Anubis was the illegitimate son of Nephthys and Osiris, but that he was adopted by Osiris's wife Isis: For when Isis found out that Osiris loved her sister and had relations with her in mistaking her sister for herself, when she saw a proof of it in the form of a garland of clover that he had left to Nephthys - she was looking for a baby, because Nephthys abandoned it at once after it had been born for fear of Seth.
George Hart sees this story as an "attempt to incorporate the independent deity Anubis into the Osirian pantheon." An Egyptian papyrus from the Roman period called Anubis the "son of Isis."In the Ptolemaic period, when Egypt became a Hellenistic kingdom ruled by Greek pharaohs, Anubis was merged with the Greek god Hermes, becoming Hermanubis. The two gods were considered similar; the center of this cult was in uten-ha/Sa-ka/ Cynopolis, a place whose Greek name means "city of dogs." In Book XI of The Golden Ass by Apuleius, there is evidence that the worship of this god was continued in Rome through at least the 2nd century. Indeed, Hermanubis appears in the alchemical and hermetical literature of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. Although the Greeks and Romans scorned Egyptian animal-headed gods as bizarre and primitive, Anubis was sometimes associated with Sirius in the heavens and Cerberus and Hades in the underworld. In his dialogues, Plato has Socrates utter oaths "by the dog", "by the dog of Egypt", "by the dog, the god of the Egyptians", both for emphasis and to appeal to Anubis as an arbiter of truth in the underworld.
In contrast to real wolves, Anubis was a protector of cemeteries. Several epithets attached to his name in Egyptian texts and inscriptions referred to that role. Khenty-imentiu, which means "foremost of the westerners" and was the name of a different canine funerary god, alluded to his protecting function because the dead were buried on the west bank of the Nile, he took other names in connection with his funerary role, such as tpy-ḏw.f "He, upon his mountain" and nb-t3-ḏsr "Lord of the sacred land", which designates him as a god of the desert necropolis. The Jumilhac papyrus recounts an
Ancient Egyptian concept of the soul
The ancient Egyptians believed that a soul was made up of many parts. In addition to these components of the soul, there was the human body. According to ancient Egyptian creation myths, the god Atum created the world out of chaos, utilizing his own magic; because the earth was created with magic, Egyptians believed that the world was imbued with magic and so was every living thing upon it. When humans were created, that magic took the form of the soul, an eternal force which resided in and with every human being; the concept of the soul and the parts which encompass it has varied from the Old Kingdom to the New Kingdom, at times changing from one dynasty to another, from five parts to more. Most ancient Egyptian funerary texts reference numerous parts of the soul: the ẖt "physical body", the sꜥḥ "spiritual body", the rn "name, identity", the bꜣ "personality", the kꜣ "double", the jb "heart", the šwt "shadow", the sḫm "power, form", the ꜣḫ. Rosalie David, an Egyptologist at the University of Manchester, explains the many facets of the soul as follows: The Egyptians believed that the human personality had many facets - a concept, developed early in the Old Kingdom.
In life, the person was a complete entity, but if he had led a virtuous life, he could have access to a multiplicity of forms that could be used in the next world. In some instances, these forms could be employed to help those whom the deceased wished to support or, alternately, to take revenge on his enemies; the ẖt, or physical form, had to exist for the soul to have intelligence or the chance to be judged by the guardians of the underworld. Therefore, it was necessary for the body to be preserved as efficiently and as possible and for the burial chamber to be as personalized as it could be, with paintings and statuary showing scenes and triumphs from the deceased's life. In the Old Kingdom, only the pharaoh was granted mummification and, thus, a chance at an eternal and fulfilling afterlife. However, by the Middle Kingdom, all dead were afforded the opportunity. Herodotus, an ancient Greek scholar, observed that grieving families were given a choice as to the type and or quality of the mummification they preferred: "The best and most expensive kind is said to represent, the next best is somewhat inferior and cheaper, while the third is cheapest of all."Because the state of the body was tied so with the quality of the afterlife, by the time of the Middle Kingdom, not only were the burial chambers painted with depictions of favourite pastimes and great accomplishments of the dead, but there were small figurines of servants and guards included in the tombs, to serve the deceased in the afterlife.
However, an eternal existence in the afterlife was, by no means, assured. Before a person could be judged by the gods, they had to be "awakened" through a series of funerary rites designed to reanimate their mummified remains in the afterlife; the main ceremony, the opening of the mouth ceremony, is best depicted within Pharaoh Sety I's tomb. All along the walls and statuary inside the tomb are reliefs and paintings of priests performing the sacred rituals and, below the painted images, the text of the liturgy for opening of the mouth can be found; this ritual which would have been performed during internment, was meant to reanimate each section of the body: brain, limbs, etc. so that the spiritual body would be able to move in the afterlife. If all the rites and preservation rituals for the ẖt were observed and the deceased was found worthy of passing through into the afterlife, the sꜥḥ forms; this spiritual body was able to interact with the many entities extant in the afterlife. As a part of the larger construct, the ꜣḫ, the sꜥḥ was sometimes seen as an avenging spirit which would return from the underworld to seek revenge on those who had wronged the spirit in life.
A well-known example was found in a tomb from the Middle Kingdom in which a man leaves a letter to his late wife who, it can be supposed, is haunting him: What wicked thing have I done to thee that I should have come to this evil pass? What have I done to thee? But what thou hast done to me is to have laid hands on me although I had nothing wicked to thee. From the time I lived with thee as thy husband down to today, what have I done to thee that I need hide? When thou didst sicken of the illness which thou hadst, I caused a master-physician to be fetched…I spent eight months without eating and drinking like a man. I wept exceedingly together with my household in front of my street-quarter. I left no benefit undone that had to be performed for thee, and now, behold, I have spent three years alone without entering into a house, though it is not right that one like me should have to do it. This have I done for thy sake. But, thou dost not know good from bad. An important part of the Egyptian soul was thought to be heart.
The heart was believed to be formed from one drop of blood from the heart of the child's mother, taken at conception. To ancient Egyptians, the heart was the seat of emotion, thought and intention, evidenced by the many expressions in the Egyptian language which incorporate the word jb. Unlike in English, when ancient Egyptians referenced the jb they meant the physical heart as oppos
In ancient Egyptian religion, Apis or Hapis, alternatively spelled Hapi-ankh, was a sacred bull worshiped in the Memphis region, identified as the son of Hathor, a primary deity in the pantheon of Ancient Egypt. He was assigned a significant role in her worship, being sacrificed and reborn. Apis served as an intermediary between humans and other powerful deities; the Apis bull was an important sacred animal to the ancient Egyptians. As with the other sacred beasts Apis' importance increased over the centuries. During colonization of the conquered Egypt and Roman authors had much to say about Apis, the markings by which the black calf was recognized, the manner of his conception by a ray from heaven, his house at Memphis, the mode of prognostication from his actions, his death, the mourning at his death, his costly burial, the rejoicings throughout the country when a new Apis was found. Auguste Mariette's excavation of the Serapeum of Saqqara revealed the tombs of more than sixty animals, ranging from the time of Amenhotep III to that of the Ptolemaic dynasty.
Each animal was buried in a separate tomb with a chapel built above it. Worship of an Apis bull, experienced by ancient Egyptians as holy, has been known since the First Dynasty in Memphis, while worship of the Apis as a proper god, at least according to Manetho's Aegyptiaca, seems to be a adoption, purportedly started during the reign of king Kaiechos of the Second Dynasty. Apis is named on early monuments, but little is known of the divine animal before the New Kingdom. Ceremonial burials of bulls indicate that ritual sacrifice was part of the worship of the early cow deities and Bat, a bull might represent her offspring, a king who became a deity after death, he was entitled "the renewal of the life" of the Memphite deity Ptah: but after death he became Osorapis, i.e. the Osiris Apis, just as dead humans were assimilated to Osiris, the ruler of the underworld. This Osorapis was identified with Serapis of the late Hellenistic period and may well be identical with him. Creating parallels to their own religious beliefs, ancient Greek writers identified Apis as an incarnation of Osiris, ignoring the connection with Ptah.
Apis was the most popular of three great bull cults of ancient Egypt, the others being the cults of Mnevis and Buchis. All are related to the worship of Hathor or Bat, similar primary goddesses separated by region until unification that merged as Hathor; the worship of Apis was continued by the Greeks and after them by the Romans, lasted until 400 CE. This animal was chosen because it symbolized the courageous heart, great strength, fighting spirit of the king. Apis came to being considered a manifestation of the king, as bulls were symbols of strength and fertility, qualities that are linked with kingship. "strong bull of his mother Hathor" was a common title for Egyptian gods and male kings, being unused for women serving as king, such as Hatshepsut. As early as the time of the Narmer Palette, the king is depicted with a bovine tail on one side, a bull is seen knocking down the walls of a city on the other. Apis was pictured with the sun-disk symbol of his mother, between his horns, being one of few deities associated with her symbol.
When the disk was depicted on his head with his horns below and the triangular marking on his forehead, an ankh was suggested. That symbol always was associated with Hathor. Early on, Apis was the herald of the chief deity in the area around Memphis; as a manifestation of Ptah, Apis was considered to be a symbol of the king, embodying the qualities of kingship. In the region where Ptah was worshiped, cattle exhibited white patterning on their black bodies, so a belief grew up that the Apis calf had to have a certain set of markings suitable to its role, it was required to have a white triangular marking upon its forehead, a white Egyptian vulture wing outline on its back, a scarab mark under its tongue, a white crescent moon shape on its right flank, double hairs on his tail. The calf that matched these markings was selected from the herds, brought to a temple, given a harem of cows, worshiped as an aspect of Ptah; the cow, his mother was believed to have conceived him by a flash of lightning from the heavens, or from moonbeams.
She was treated specially, given a special burial. At the temple, Apis was used as his movements being interpreted as prophecies, his breath was believed to cure his presence to bless those around with strength. A window was created in the temple through which he could be viewed and, on certain holidays, he was led through the streets of the city, bedecked with jewelry and flowers. Details of the mummification ritual of the sacred bull are written within the Apis papyrus. Sometimes the body of the bull was mummified and fixed in a standing position on a foundation made of wooden planks. By the New Kingdom period, the remains of the sacred bulls were interred at the cemetery of Saqqara; the earliest known burial in Saqqara was performed in the reign of Amenhotep III by his son Thutmose. Ramesses II initiated Apis burials in what now is known as the Serapeum, an underground complex of burial chambers at Saqqara for the sacred bulls, a site used throughout the rest of Ancient Egyptian history into the reign of Cleopatra.
Khaemweset, the priestly son of Ramesses II, excavated a great gallery to be lined with the tomb chambers.
Heka was the deification of magic and medicine in ancient Egypt. The name is the Egyptian word for "magic". According to Egyptian literature, Heka existed "before duality had yet come into being." The term ḥk3 was used to refer to the practice of magical rituals. The name Heka is identical with the Egyptian word ḥk3w "magic"; this hieroglyphic spelling includes the symbol for the word ka, the ancient Egyptian concept of the vital force. The Old Kingdom Pyramid Texts depict ḥk3w as a supernatural energy; the "cannibal pharaoh" must devour other gods to gain this magical power. Heka was elevated to a deity in his own right and a cult devoted to him developed. By the Coffin Texts, Heka is said to be created at the beginning of time by the creator Atum. Heka is depicted as part of the tableau of the divine solar barge as a protector of Osiris capable of blinding crocodiles. During the Ptolemaic dynasty, Heka's role was to proclaim the pharaoh's enthronement as a son of Isis, holding him in his arms. Heka appears as part of a divine triad in Esna, capital of the Third Nome, where he is the son of ram-headed Khnum and a succession of goddesses.
His mother was alternately said to be Nebetu'u, lion-headed Menhit, the cow goddess Mehetweret, before settling on Neith, a war and mother goddess. Other deities connected with the force of ḥk3w include Hu, Werethekau, whose name means "she who has great magic"; as Egyptologist Ogden Goelet, Jr. explains, magic in The Egyptian Book of the Dead is problematic. The text uses various words corresponding to'magic,' for the Egyptians thought magic was a legitimate belief; as Goelet explains: "Heka magic is many things, above all, it has a close association with speech and the power of the word. In the realm of Egyptian magic, actions did not speak louder than words--they were one and the same thing. Thought, deed and power are theoretically united in the concept of heka