Religious Cults

Ancient Egyptian Gods and Goddesses for kids - Religious Cults

Facts about the history, locations and significance of the ancient Egyptian Religious Cults

Religious Cults in Ancient Egypt
Discover the history surrounding the Religious Cults in ancient Egypt. The strange ancient Egyptian cults consisted of groups of people at specific cities in Egypt who created cult centers that adopted a system of ritual practices and worship relating to a small number of gods. The major gods of Egypt had political backing leading to large followings and cult centers where their gods were celebrated with great festivals and processions.

This article provides details of major cult centers in Upper and Lower Egypt and the names of the gods and goddesses that were worshipped.

The Gods of Ancient Egypt Index

Religion and Egyptian Cults

Religious Cults - Chart of Cult Centers in Ancient Egypt
There were over 2000 ancient Egyptian gods and goddesses. Most were only worshipped at local level, and each town had their local deity, but other gods developed a cult status. The Egyptian priests were very rich, powerful and highly influential. Records relating to the New Kingdom show that the priests of the temples dedicated to the god Amun had over 80,000 people working for them and owned enormous amounts of land, cattle and hundreds of ships. Egyptian Priests therefore vied for position and power and the way to succeed was to establish a cult center in their city. The Egyptian priests therefore evolved different  creation myths explaining how their favored gods came into being. Not surprisingly there were many different religious cults in ancient Egypt.

Names of Religious Cults
The names of the cults indicated the number of gods worshipped in the cult and the location of the cult center. The Ennead is a collection of nine gods, an Ogdoad a collection of eight gods and a Triad a collection of three gods - refer to the Triads of Egyptian Gods.

Religious Cults and Festivals
Cult centers attracted many visitors who attended elaborate celebrations and festivals which often included magnificent river processions. Ordinary Egyptians were not allowed inside the temples that were built at the cult centers, so the festivals gave them the opportunity to see some of the rituals of the priests and gaze at the awesome statues of the gods and goddesses. Statues of the gods were removed from the temples and ceremoniously placed on gilded ceremonial barques, that were carried on the shoulders of the priests to even bigger river boats. The massive processions were similar to our own parades and included standard-bearing Egyptian soldiers, priests, musicians, singers and dancers. Statues of other gods were added to the procession as different temples were passed. The people would enjoy the spectacle of the procession and celebrate with drinking and feasting.

Religious Cults - Chart of Cult Centers
The names of the cults indicated the number of gods worshipped in the cult and the location of the cult center. The names of some of the major cults of ancient Egyptian religion were the Ennead of Heliopolis, the Ogdoad of Hermopolis, the Triad of Thebes, the Triad of Memphis and the Elephantine Triad of gods. Other religious cults are detailed in the chart of cult centers and religious cults.

Chart of Religious Cults

Cult Centre - Gods an Goddesses

Abydos - Osiris and Anubis

Bubastis - Bastet

Busiris - Osiris and Isis

Buto - Wadjet

Coptos - Min

Crocodopolis - Sobek

Dendera - Hathor

Edfu - Horus

Esna (Triad of Latopolis) - Khnum, Neith and Heka

Elephantine Triad - Khnum, Satet & Anuket. Also Hapi

Heliopolis - Atum Ra and the Ennead

Heraklepolis - Heryshaf

Hermonthis - Menthu

Hermopolis - The Ogdoad and Thoth

Hierakonpolis - Horus

Leontopolis - Ra and the lion gods

Letopolis - Horus

Memphis Triad - Ptah, Sekhmet & Nefertum

Naqada - Set

Ombos - Sobek

Sais - Neith

Tanis (Tanite Triad) - Amun, Mut and Khonsu. Also Set

Thebes Triad - Amun, Mut and Khonsu

Thinis - Anhur

The Ancient Religious Cults - Map of Upper & Lower Egypt
The following maps show the location of the religious cults and their centers of worship in ancient Egypt.

The Ancient Cities of Egypt

Map of the Cities of Egypt (Upper Egypt and Lower Egypt)

Facts about Religious Cults in Upper Egypt
Interesting facts about the locations of the ancient Religious Cults and the gods and goddesses that were worshipped at the cult centers in Upper Egypt.

Religious Cults Fact Sheet - Religious Cults in Upper Egypt

Names of Ancient Religious Cults - Facts about Ancient Religious Cults

Fact 1 on the Religious Cults: Thebes - The cult center of the Triad of Thebes (Luxor) consisting of Amun, his consort Mut, and her son, Khonsu.

Fact 2 on the Religious Cults: Abydos - The mythical burial place of the god Osiris and his cult center. A sacred center of worship notably to the the gods Anubis and Osiris with other shrines dedicated to Isis, Horus, Amun Ra and Ptah.

Fact 3 on the Religious Cults: Thinis - Thinis was the cult center of the war god Anhur.

Fact 4 on the Religious Cults: Dendera - Dendera, located south of Abydos was the cult center primarily for the goddess Hathor but Horus as her consort and Ihy as their son were together worshipped

Fact 5 on the Religious Cults: Hierakonpolis - Hierakonpolis, the 'City of the Hawk', that worshipped the god Horus. 

Fact 6 on the Religious Cults: Koptos - Coptus or Koptos the cult center of Min, a sky god. Isis and Horus were also worshipped at Coptos.

Fact 7 on the Religious Cults: Edfu - The beautiful Temple of Horus was dedicated to the hawk-headed god

Fact 8 on the Religious Cults: Elephantine - Elephantine was the cult center for the three gods Khnum, Satet the war goddess of the flood or inundation and their daughter Anuket, the goddess of the cataracts. The Nile god Hapi was worshipped at Elephantine Island

Fact 9 on the Religious Cults: Khmun (Hermopolis) - Ogdoad of Hermopolis consisted of four pairs of deities. Aquatic gods represented by frogs and the goddesses represented by snakes : Amun and Amaunet, Heh and Hehet, Kek and Keket, and Nun and Naunet.

Fact 10 on the Religious Cults: Kom Ombo (Ombos) - The Kom Ombo temple was built primarily in honor of the crocodile-headed god Sobek but the gods Hathor, Khonsu and Horus the Elder were also worshipped there.

Fact 11 on the Religious Cults: Esna (Latopolis) - Esna (Latopolis) was the cult center of the Triad of Latopolis consisting of Khnum, Neith and Heka.

Fact 12 on the Religious Cults: Hermonthis - Hermonthis was the cult center of the god Menthu the ancient god associated with raging bulls, strength and war.

Fact 13 on the Religious Cults: Naqada - Naqada was a cult center for the god Set

Facts about Religious Cults in Lower Egypt
Interesting facts about the locations of the ancient Religious Cults and the gods and goddesses that were worshipped at the cult centers in Lower Egypt.

Religious Cults Fact Sheet - Religious Cults in Lower Egypt

Names of Ancient Religious Cults - Facts about Ancient Religious Cults

Fact 14 on the Religious Cults: Memphis - The Triad of Memphis centred around the Cult of Ptah, his wife Sekhmet and their son was Nefertem but many other gods were also worshipped in the city

Fact 15 on the Religious Cults: Hermopolis (Khmunu) - An important religious center with its own version of the creation myth in respect of the Ogdoad of Hermopolis  which consisted of 4 pairs of aquatic gods represented by frogs and cobras. The names of the gods of the Ogdoad of Hermopolis were Amun and Amaunet, Heh and Hehet, Kek and Keket, and Nun and Naunet. The city was also the cult center of Thoth.

Fact 16 on the Religious Cults: Busiris - Busiris Definition: Busiris was the cult center of Osiris

Fact 17 on the Religious Cults: Sais - The city's patron goddess was Neith, whose cult was based in the city

Fact 18 on the Religious Cults: Crocodilopolis (Shedyet) - Shedyet or Crocodilopolis, "Crocodile City", was the cult center of Sobek the Egyptian crocodile god

Fact 19 on the Religious Cults: Buto - Wadjet was the cobra goddess of Buto, there was also a sanctuary to Horus and became associated with Isis and Nefertum, the god of perfume

Fact 20 on the Religious Cults: Bubastis - Bubastis was the cult center of Bastet the goddess of cats.

Fact 21 on the Religious Cults: Leontopolis - Leontopolis, the "City of Lions" as there were many temples dedicated to the lion gods and goddesses such as Bastet (or Bast), Sekmet, Mafdet and Tefnut

Fact 22 on the Religious Cults: Tanis - The chief deities of Tanis were Amun, his consort, Mut, and their child Khonsu, forming the Tanite Triad. Tanis become known as the 'Thebes of Lower Egypt' as the same three gods were worshipped as the Triad of Thebes.

Fact 23 on the Religious Cults: Letopolis - Letopolis where its principle god was Horus the Elder, who was worshiped as Khenty-khem as the patron of the blind.

Fact 24 on the Religious Cults: Heraklepolis - The city of Heraklepolis was the cult center of Heryshaf a creator and fertility god

Fact 25 on the Religious Cults: Heliopolis - The ancient city of Heliopolis "City of the Sun" was extremely important as a religious center and was believed by the ancient Egyptians to be the birthplace of the sun god Atum and the first nine Egyptian gods known as the Ennead of Heliopolis, the divine family consisting of Atum (Ra), Geb, Isis, Nephthys, Nut, Osiris, Set, Shu and Tefnut.

Religious Cults Fact Sheet - Religious Cults in Lower Egypt

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