Who was Sobek?
Sobek was the Egyptian crocodile god of strength and power. He was also and patron of the Egyptian army and royal warriors. His crocodile head was used as a recognition aid and a device to visually convey the powers, identity and attributes of the god.
Facts about Sobek
The following facts and profile provides a fast overview of Sobek:
Sobek Profile & Fact File
Egyptian Name: Sobek. Alternative Names: Suchos, Sebek, Sochet, Sobk, Sobki, Soknopais
Role & Function: The function of Sobek is described as being the crocodile god of strength and power. He was patron of the Egyptian army and royal warriors. Defender of the Egyptian people and the Pharaoh
Status: Sobek was ancient god and according to some ancient Egyptian myths the son of Neith and Set and the brother of Anubis
Symbols: The Crocodile
Cult Center: Crocodilopolis (Shedyet) in Lower Egypt and Thebes & Kom Ombo (Ombos) in Upper Egypt. Another cult center at Karanis, located in the northeast corner of the Fayum was established under Roman rule
Titles: The "Lord of the Waters", "The Rager" and "Lord of Faiyum"
Name in Hieroglyphics: Translation of Hieroglyphics for Sobek: First symbol represents the letter S, the leg is leg; sound sign for letter 'b', the basket with handle represents the letter K and the last is the crocodile symbol of Sobek
Sobek - Reviled or Revered?
The depiction of Sobek as a crocodile god led to him being either being revered as the war-like deity for his strength, power and ferocious attributes or reviled due to his association with the man-eating crocodile. Herodotus an ancient Greek historian (c. 484 – 425 BC) wrote "...those who dwell about the city of Elephantine even eat them, not holding them to be sacred."
Sobek the Crocodile God
The crocodile was feared as a vicious man-eater, killing and maiming many people on the banks of the river Nile. Only the adult hippopotamus, which also inhabited the Nile was safe from the crocodile. The Nile Crocodile is the largest crocodile in Africa and can grow up to 20 feet (6 meters) and weigh up to 1,650 pounds (730 kilograms).
The Family of Sobek
According to one of the many creation myths of ancient Egypt Sobek was believed to be the son of Set, the god of war and hostility and of Neith the warrior goddess of hunting and warfare.
The Cult Centers of Sobek
The majority of ancient Egyptians revered Sobek as a patron of the Egyptian army, royal warriors and a defender of the Pharaoh and the Egyptian people and focussed their worship of the god at great temples built at cult centers. Sobek was a major god of Egypt and had political backing leading that led to large followings and cult centers where Sobek was honored with great festivals and processions. His main cult centres were at Crocodilopolis (Shedyet) in Lower Egypt and Thebes & Kom Ombo (Ombos) in Upper Egypt. The following map shows the location of Crocodilopolis, Kom Ombo (Ombos) and Thebes illustrating the widespread worship of Sobek throughout ancient Egypt. Sacred crocodiles were bred and venerated at all of his cult centers dating back to the reign of Amenhotep III (1390 - 1352 BC).
Map of the Cities of Egypt (Upper Egypt and Lower Egypt)
The Cult Centers of Sobek - Crocodilopolis
The ancient city of (Shedyet) in Lower Egypt was named Crocodilopolis meaning "Crocodile City" by the Greeks and was the cult center of Sobek the Egyptian crocodile god who symbolized the might of the Egyptian pharaohs. The region of Faiyum was dominated by a large lake, called Lake Moeris. A temple dedicated to Sobek in Crocodilopolis worshipped a live crocodile, named the sacred Petsuchos, meaning "son of Sobek". The crocodile was worshipped as a manifestation of Sobek and adorned with gold and precious gems and fed the choicest of foods. The crocodile lived in a special temple equipped with sand and a lake. When the Petsuchos died, its carcass was mummified and it was replaced by another. The Greek historian Strabo (63 BC – ca. 24 AD) visited Crocodilopolis and reported that the tamed crocodile Petsuchos was kept in a lake on the temple grounds and was fed grain, pieces of meat, wine and milk mixed with honey brought by foreigners who came to see the divine creature. Herodotus confirmed that anyone, Egyptian or foreigner, who was killed by a crocodile in the district of Crocodilopolis were deemed to be divine and accorded a special funeral conducted by Nile priests, embalmed and buried in a sacred coffin.
The Cult Centers of Sobek - Kom Ombo (Ombos)
The cult center of Kom Ombo (Ombos) was located in Upper Egypt. Kom Ombo was originally an Egyptian city called Nubt, meaning City of Gold, was a military base and controlled trade routes from Nubia to the Egyptian Nile Valley. The first, perfectly symmetrical, Kom Ombo temple was built by the pharaoh Tuthmosis III primarily in honor of the crocodile-headed god Sobek but the gods Hathor, Khonsu and Horus the Elder were also worshipped in Kom Ombo. The layout combines two temples in one dedicated to both Sobek and Horus with each side having its own entrances, courtyards, colonnades, altars, halls and sanctuaries. Like Crocodilopolis live crocodiles were kept at the temple of Sobek. A deep well was located near the entrance that supplied the temple with water and a small lake where the crocodiles were raised. Many mummified crocodiles have been found in the temple cemeteries.
The Cult Centers of Sobek - Thebes
Karnak, part of the ancient city of Thebes (Luxor), located in Upper Egypt housed a massive temple complex and was primarily the cult center of the Triad of Thebes consisting of Mut, Amun and Khonsu. For additional information refer to the Triads of Egyptian Gods.
The Cult Centers of Sobek - Karanis
The long lasting power of Sobek was such that another cult center at Karanis, located in the northeast corner of the Fayum, was established under Roman rule. His worship only fell into decline with the advent of Christianity which was imposed by the Romans by the edict of the Emperor Constantine the Great in 380 when the Christian religion was declared the state church of the Roman Empire.
Sobek the Crocodile god of the Military
The ferocious attributes of Sobek led him to become a patron of the Egyptian army, royal warriors and a defender of the Pharaoh and the people of Egypt. It is interesting to note that some ancient Egyptian fortresses had a secured supply of water and were surrounded by crocodile-infested ditches or canals. One such fortress was in Sile (Tjaru) which led, via the major military road (called the Way of Horus) leading out of Egypt, into Canaan and Sinai. The bridge at Sile spanned the crocodile infested waterway - a real deterrent to the enemies of Egypt.
Sobek in Egyptian Mythology
Sobek, the Egyptian crocodile god of strength, featured in the stories, myths and legends in Egyptian Mythology. According to some ancient Egyptian myths Sobek was the son of Neith and Set. His consort was Renenutet, the snake goddess who was the protector of the harvest and granaries. Sobek began as a deity of fertility and water. Then myths associated him with creation and the River Nile was believed to have come from the sweat of Sobek and gave life to vegetation and was credited with the fertility of the land. One of his titles was 'Lord of the Waters' as Sobek was believed to have risen from the primeval waters of Nun and laid his eggs on the bank of the waters to create the world. Sobek is also connected with the Osirian myth and was believed to have carried the dead body of Osiris on his back to the banks of the Nile. Another myth connected Sobek with the sun god Ra who ordered Sobek to rescue the four Sons of Horus who arose from the primeval waters of Nun and bring them to land. Sobek was also associated with the evil god Set who was the enemy of Horus and in the Horus myth the allies of Set made their escape by changing themselves into crocodiles.
Facts about Sobek in Egyptian Mythology
Discover interesting information and research facts about Sobek, the Egyptian crocodile god of strength and power. The facts about Sobek provides a list detailing fascinating additional info to increase your knowledge about Sobek in Egyptian Mythology.
History, Mythology and Facts about Sobek
Fact 1 about Sobek: A magical spell in honor of Sobek was spoken when ancient Egyptians forged the River Nile.
Fact about Sobek 2: An adult hippopotamus was capable of biting a crocodile in half and was its only enemy, apart from humans
Fact about Sobek 3: The ancient Egyptians believed that Sobek could bestow sight and senses to the dead, he could bring water and fertility to the land.
Fact about Sobek 4: Many believe the worship of Sobek arose from fear of crocodiles; the Egyptian people appeased Sobek in order to appease crocodiles in general.
Fact about Sobek 5: The Pyramid Texts and the Book of the Dead both cite Sobek's assistance of the deceased.
Fact about Sobek 6: Sobek was one of a triad of gods with Hathor and Khonsu called the Triad of Kom Ombo
Fact about Sobek 7: The River Nile was believed to have come from his sweat, thus Sobek was seen as a god of vegetation and fertility.