Symbols in Ancient Egypt were used for a plentitude of reasons during various periods of the Egyptian civilization. They represented concepts and ideas originating from their mythology. Egyptians used these symbols to represent their gods, decorate their temples, create amulets and deal with challenges.
Ancient Egyptian symbology has helped develop a deep understanding of their culture. The Egyptians absorbed some symbols from previous civilizations while creating others during various different eras of the time.
These symbols are one of the most important legacies the Egyptians have left behind. They have been shrouded in ambiguity and secrets. As some say, many represented the lives of ancient pharaohs.
Listed below are the top 8 most important Ancient Egyptian Symbols of Strength:
Table of Contents
1. Egyptian Ankh
Considered a mantra or mascot of the ancient Egyptian creed, the Egyptian Ankh or the Pharaonic Ankh is one most famous religious symbols of the time. It symbolized eternal life, immorality, divinity, and resurrection.
The Egyptian Ankh sign has also largely been associated with aspects of ancient Egyptian art. It links to many philosophical, aesthetic, and functional aspects too.
The sign of the Ankh has been transferred to many other civilizations as well. It is one of the most remarkable symbols that was created over 4000 years BC. (1)
2. Eye of Horus
The ancient Egyptians mastered integrating mythology into various symbols and figures. Derived from the myth of Osiris and Isis, the Eye of Horus was used as a symbol of protection and prosperity at the time.
This eye represented an eternal conflict between what was seen as virtuous, what was sinful, and what required punishment. This legendary symbol was a metaphorical depiction of good vs evil and order vs chaos. (2)
3. Scarab Beetle
The Scarab beetle was an important ancient Egyptian symbol that represented the dung beetle. In Egyptian mythology, this beetle was linked to Divine manifestation. (3)
The Scarab beetle image is widely viewed in Egyptian art. This dung beetle was linked to Egyptian gods. This beetle would roll dung in the shape of a ball and lay eggs into it. This dung served as nourishment for the young when the eggs hatched. The concept was that life emanated from death.
The dung beetle was also associated with the god Khapri who was known to roll the sun in the shape of a ball across the sky. Khapri kept the sun safe during its travels in the underworld and pushed it to dawn each day. The scarab image became famous for amulets after 2181 BC. And remained so during the rest of Egypt history (4).
4. Seba Symbol
The Seba symbol is a vital ancient Egyptian symbol. It is in the shape of a star that implies learning and discipline. This symbol is linked to gates and doorways. For the Egyptians, the star hinted the departing of the soul.
The star was also the symbol of the famous god Osiris. Another deity was also linked to the Seba symbol called Nut, who was the sky goddess. She was also known as adorning five pointed stars. The Egyptians believed that stars not only existed in this world but also existed in the afterlife.
The land of the afterlife was called Duat. They believed that one’s personality could ascend to the heavens and live there as a star. So, the Saba symbol represented the Duat as well as the star gods. (5)
5. Lotus Symbol
The Lotus symbol was a prime symbol of religious expression in ancient Egypt. It was also widely used across the parameters of temples, and mortuary sites present before the advent of Christianity.
Many of Egypt’s early records depict the Lotus symbol (6). The lotus flower is a commonly appearing motif in Egyptian art, influencing Egyptian iconography and mythology heavily. It is usually depicted as being carried or worn. It is also shown as being displayed in bouquets and presented as offerings.
Some say it could be thought of as Egypt’s ‘national symbol’ and represented the ‘vegetation power of the Nile.’ (7)
6. Tree of Life Symbol
One of the primary Egyptian Symbols of Strength, the Tree of Life, had important religious connotations within the realm of Egyptian mythology.
This holy tree was also referred to as the “Sacred Ished Tree.” It was thought that the fruit that emanated from the Tree of Life could give sacred knowledge of the Divine plan and make a path to eternal life.
This fruit was not available for mere mortals. It was only accessible in rituals that related to eternity, in which ‘gods refreshed aging Pharaohs. These rituals also symbolized the Pharaoh’s unity with the gods.
7. Djed Pillar
The Djed Pillar was a prominent symbol representing permanence, stability, and immutability that is spanned across Egyptian art and architecture. This symbol is associated with the God of creation Ptah and the Ruler of the Underworld, God Osiris.
Metaphorically, the symbol itself represents the backbone of Osiris. This symbol appearing vividly throughout Egyptian history has connotated the concept that death is only just a portal to a new beginning and is the nature of life. It is also a reassuring symbol and implies that the gods are always nearby.
8. Ka and Ba
Egyptians believed Ka and Ba represented two aspects or parts of a human being’s soul. Ka was an essence in the human body that was independent and one that every person received at birth.
Ka remained within the body and could not leave it. Ka remained inside the human body even after death. But this was when it met Ba and took the journey to the underworld. Ba was also an abstract concept of a reflection of a person’s personality and continued to live on after death.
Once a person died, Ba could travel to the underworld and return to the body to meet Ka. After Osiris’s judgment, both Ka and Ba could be reunited in the underworld.
Culture, spiritual beliefs, and mythological notions were all deeply entwined within these Egyptian symbols of strength. Which of these symbols of strength were you already familiar with, and which ones did you find the most fascinating?
- The Pharaonic Ankh between history and modern fashion. Vivian S. Micheal. International Design Journal (8)(4). October 2018
- The Eye of Horus: A Connection between Art, Mythology and Medicine in Ancient Egypt. Rafaey, Clifton, Tripathi, Quinones. Mayo Foundation. 2019.
- Influences of Egyptian Lotus Symbolism and Ritualistic Practices on Sacral Tree Worship in the Fertile Crescent from 1500 BCE to 200 CE. McDonald. Department of Biology, University of Texas. (2018)
- Symbolism of The Lotus In Ancient Egypt. https://www.ipl.org/essay/Symbolism-Of-The-Lotus-In-Ancient-Egypt-F3EAPDH4AJF6
Header image courtesy: British Library, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons