Which of the Ancient Egyptian Gods Were the Most Important?

The Ancient Egyptians had a vast collection of Gods in their pantheon, but which ones were the most important?

Which of the Ancient Egyptian Gods Were the Most Important?
1, 2

Ancient Egypt had its fair share of gods to choose from.

Some of them, according to scholars, would influence some of the characters in other cultures and religions around the ancient world.

But, which of them were considered the most important? 

In the following article, we'll explore some commonly asked questions about ancient Egyptian gods, and highlight 7 of the most-worshipped. 

Advertisement

RELATED: EXPLORE 33 INTERESTING FACTS ABOUT THE ANCIENT EGYPTIAN PYRAMIDS

Who are the nine gods?

The Egyptian "Nine Gods", or The Ennead, was a group of 9 deities that were most commonly worshipped at Heliopolis. 

Advertisement

These were: 

Atum: The God of the Sun

Shu and Tefnut: Atum's children

Advertisement

Geb and Nut: Atum's grandchildren

Osiris, Isis, Seth, and Nephthys: Amut's great-grandchildren

Advertisement

This group of gods became the most prominent in the V and VI Egyptian Dynasties and ended with the occupation by Macedonian forces under Alexander the Great and his successors.

Advertisement

What is the Egyptian god family tree?

According to sites like landofpyramids.org, the Egyptian family tree for the major gods is as follows: -

Advertisement

"Geb and Nut had four children: Osiris, Isis, Seth, and Nephthys. Shu Genealogy: Shu was the name of the God of Wind and Air, created by Atum Ra and one of the 'twin lion gods' with his sister, and wife, Tefnet. Shu and Tefnut were the parents of the Earth God, Geb, and the Sky Goddess, Nut."

Advertisement
egyptian gods family tree
Source: Jeh (J. E.) Bruce, SF/F author/Pinterest

Who is the most powerful god?

This is a tricky question to answer as the ancient Egyptians didn't seem to consider one particular god as more "powerful" than the others. Technically speaking, in ancient Egypt, the living Pharaoh was considered as the most powerful and important "god" in the land, albeit technically a demi-god. 

But, it is clear that some gods were favored over others throughout time.

Ra, for example, was the god of the Sun and appears to have been widely favored. 

Others, like Amun, Horus and any of the "Nine Gods", were also idolized throughout ancient Egypt. 

What are the main Egyptian gods?

Ancient Egypt had a vast pantheon of Gods that were, they believed, responsible for many earthly phenomena and things from the Sun to the flooding of the Nile. Of the many gods, some were more celebrated and important to ancient Egyptian culture. 

Here are 7 of the more important ones. The following list is far from exhaustive, however, and is in no particular order.

1. Amun was a major Egyptian deity

Which of the Ancient Egyptian Gods Were the Most Important?
Source: Dennis Jarvis/Flickr

Amun was one of Ancient Egypt's most important gods. He can be likened to Zeus as the king of the gods in ancient Greek mythology.

Amun, or simply Amon, was merged with another major God, Ra (The Sun God), sometime during the Eighteenth Dynasty (16th to 13th Centuries BC) in Egypt. Amun was widely considered by ancient Egyptians as also being the father of all pharaohs. 

Amun-Ra formed one part of the so-called "Theban Triad" along with Mut and their son Khonsu (The Moon God), which was widely worshiped throughout ancient Egypt. He would retain his position as chief deity throughout the New Kingdom (16th to 11th Centuries BC) of Ancient Egypt. 

2. Anubis: Protector of the underworld

Which of the Ancient Egyptian Gods Were the Most Important?
Source: Ricardo Liberato/Flickr

Anubis is probably one of the most iconic and better-known of the Egyptian pantheon. The Jackal-headed God, Anubis was the protector of the gates to the underworld. 

He was also originally the god of death and the afterlife and was strongly associated with the mummification process of the dead prior to burial. It is widely believed that he ia associated with jackals because of their tendency to dig up and eat buried bodies whenever and wherever they could find them. 

Anubis is also famous for his role in deciding the fate of the dead in the afterlife. Their heart was weighed by him against that of the "feather of truth" to assess their worthiness for entry into the afterlife. 

If they failed the test, another Egyptian God, Ammit, would devour them, both heart and soul. 

3. Horus is watching you!

Which of the Ancient Egyptian Gods Were the Most Important?
The Eye of Horus.
Source: Simon G.B. Roberts/Flickr

Horus was a very special god in ancient Egypt. According to Egyptian mythology, Horus was the son of Osiris and Isis who avenged his father's death to rule Egypt.

Horus was also the God of the sky

During his vengeful battle with his father's brother, Set, Horus lost one of his eyes, which would become the so-called "Eye of Horus" or Wadjet. According to Egyptian legend, when the other gods attempted to catch it, the eye began to cry and its tears became the first people of Egypt. 

Horus' eye would become one of the most potent protective symbols in ancient Egypt.

4. Osiris was Horus' father

egyptian gods osiris
Source: Shawn Kelly/Flickr

Osiris was the Egyptian god of life, death, the afterlife, and flooding events of the Nile. According to Egyptian mythology, he was the brother, and husband, of Isis and father of Horus.

Osiris, according to legend, was betrayed and killed by his brother Set who coveted his brother's position as pharaoh. His sister, and wife, Isis, managed to temporarily resurrect him to conceive their son, Horus.

Osiris appears to have later been merged with Dionysus during the Hellenic era of ancient Greece. 

Osiris' death and resurrection, as well as other elements of his story, have led some to believe Osiris might well be, in part, the inspiration for parts of Jesus Christ's life in Christian mythology. 

5.  Bastet: The Cat Warrior Goddess

Which of the Ancient Egyptian Gods Were the Most Important?
Source: Tracy/Flickr

Bastet, or simply Bast, was an ancient Egyptian goddess of protection and, most importantly, cats. According to Egyptian mythology, she was the warrior daughter of Ra and was sent by him to fight his archenemy Apep.

Worship of Bast appears to have begun around the year 3200 BCE, during the second dynasty in northern Egypt and her city is Bubastis.

Cats were very sacred to ancient Egyptians and held high, honored positions in many households throughout the land. They even achieved the status of demi-gods in ancient Egypt and harming, or killing one, was punishable by death!

Bast was seen as a protectress by ancient Egyptians and was also the defender of pharaohs. Bastet was the most honored feline deity in Ancient Egypt.

6. Set the Betrayer!

Set, Seth, Sutekh, Setesh or Seteh was the ancient Egyptian god of the desert, thunder, evil pain, and suffering. According to Egyptian mythology, Set was responsible for protecting Ra on his journey to the afterlife.

Set was also the brother of Osiris who replaced Ra as the pharaoh of Egypt. As we have already mentioned, Set betrayed and killed his brother in order to take the position of pharaoh after Ra's death. 

He was often represented by the color red which embodied the concept of evil for ancient Egyptians.  

7. Ra: The Sun God

Since we've mentioned his name several times already, it would be uncouth not to include Ra.

He was one of the more prominent gods in the Egyptian pantheon and was often depicted as a falcon-headed man with a sun disk above his head to represent him as the God of the Sun and creation. 

Ra was believed to have created the Earth, and every sunrise and sunset was seen to represent the process of renewal. It was said he was born each morning in the East and died each night in the West. He was later merged with other Egyptian gods, most prominently Amun

Advertisement