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 Ancient Egyptian Symbols

People all around the world know many egyptian symbols when they see them. They seem almost magical and people are captivated by their beauty and significance. Many egyptian symbols were depicted in hieroglyphs, these symbols were often called "The words of God", and these symbols were often used by priests.

There are many ancient egyptian symbols depicted throughout Egypt. This section of our website covers many of the most popular ancient Egyptian symbols. Many ancient egyptian symbols were used as amulets of protection, or they were used to bring good fortune. Many ancient egyptian symbols were also used in religious and magical rituals for the living and also for the dead.




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ankh1.jpg (2961 bytes)Ankh

Symbol of eternal life. The gods are often seen holding an ankh to someone's lips this is considered to be an offering of "The Breath of Life". The breath you will need in the afterlife.
ankh egyptian symbol

The Ankh appears frequently in Egyptian tomb paintings and other art, often at the fingertips of a god or goddess in images that represent the deities of the afterlife conferring the gift of life on the dead person's mummy; this is thought to symbolize the act of conception. Additionally, an ankh was often carried by Egyptians as an amulet, either alone, or in connection with two other hieroglyphs that mean "strength" and "health". Mirrors of beaten metal were also often made in the shape of an ankh, either for decorative reasons or to symbolize a perceived view into another world.

The ankh was almost never drawn in silver; as a sun-symbol, the Egyptians almost invariably crafted important examples of it (for tombs or other purposes) from the metal they most associated with the sun, gold. A similar metal such as copper, burnished to a high sheen, was also sometimes used.

amenta.jpg (1950 bytes)Amenta

This symbol represents the Underworld or Land of the Dead. Originally it meant the horizon of the sun set. Later, it became the symbol of the west bank of the Nile, where the sun set and also where the Egyptians traditionally buried their dead.


Egyptian Cartouche

egyptian cartouche In Egyptian hieroglyphs, a cartouche is a rectangle with a horizontal line at one end, indicating that the text enclosed is a royal name, coming into use during the beginning of the Fourth Dynasty under Pharaoh Sneferu, replacing the earlier serekh. The name cartouche was first applied by soldiers who fancied that the symbol they saw so frequently repeated on the pharaonic ruins they encountered resembled a muzzle-loading firearm's paper powder cartridge, (cartouche in French).

Egyptian Jewelry

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Emerald tablet
Eye of Horus Ankh and lotus necklace
Emerald Tablet
Eye of Horus article
Ankh and lotus necklace

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ba.jpg (2275 bytes)Ba
The Ba is what we might call someones personality. It would leave the body at the time of death. During the days the Ba would make itself useful, at night it would return to the tomb. At this time, it would look for the person to which it belonged. This would be the mummy, however, often the egyptians would supply the Ba with a statue in the likeness of the deceased in case the mummy was lost or damaged.
rdcrown.jpg (4336 bytes)Deshret

The Red Crown. This was the crown that represented Lower Egypt (northern).
nemes.gif (2488 bytes)Nemes

A striped headcloth worn by Pharaohs.
was.jpg (3983 bytes)Was

This is a symbol of power and dominion. The Was scepter is carried by deities as a sign of their power. It is also seen being carried by kings and later by people of lesser stature in mortuary scenes
white-crown.jpg (4011 bytes)Hedjet

The White Crown. This was the crown of Upper Egypt (southern).
cartouch.jpg (5104 bytes)Shenu

More commonly know as a cartouche. The shape represents a loop of rope in which a name is written. A protector of that name.
cobra.jpg (4156 bytes)Uraeus

The cobra is an emblem of Lower Egypt. It is associated with the king, and kingdom of Lower Egypt. It is also associated with the sun and with many deities. The cobra represented the "fiery eye of Re", in which two uraei can be seen on either side of a winged solar disk. Starting in Middle Kingdom The uraeus appears as a symbol worn on the crown or headdress of royalty. It is used as a protective symbol, the Egyptians believed that the cobra would spit fire at any approaching enemies.

uraeusThe Uraeus, used as a symbol of sovereignty, royalty, deity, and divine authority in ancient Egypt.

The Uraeus is a symbol for the goddess Wadjet, one of the earliest of Egyptian deities, who often was depicted as a cobra. The center of her cult was in Per-Wadjet, later called Buto by the Greeks. She became the patroness of the Nile Delta and the protector of all of Lower Egypt, so her image was worn by the pharaohs as a head ornament, first as the body of Wadjet atop the head or as a crown encircling the head, always remaining in effect part of their crown, indicating her protection and as a claim over the land. The pharaoh was recognized only by wearing the uraeus, which conveyed legitimacy to the ruler.


maat1.jpg (2173 bytes)Maat

Represents truth, justice, morality and balance. Deities are often seen standing on this symbol, as if standing on a foundation of Maat.




A sphinx is a mythical creature with a lion's body and a human head.

Generally the role of sphinxes is associated with architectural structures such as royal tombs or religious temples. The oldest known sphinx was found in Gobekli Tepe, Turkey and was dated to 9,500 BC.

sphynx egypt



scarab.jpg (4546 bytes)Scarab

Called the dung beetle because of its practice of rolling a ball of dung across the ground. The Egyptians observed this behavior and equated it with the ball of the sun being rolled across the sky. They confused this balled food source with the egg sack that the female dung beetle laid and buried in the sand. When the eggs hatched the dung beetles would seem to appear from nowhere, making it a symbol of spontaneous creation. In this role it was associated with the sunrise. Khepri was the scarab headed god.

egyptian scarab
djed.gif (1836 bytes)Djed

It is believed that the Djed is a rendering of a human backbone. It represents stability and strength. It was originally associated with the creation god Ptah. Himself being called the "Noble Djed". As the Osiris cults took hold it became known as the backbone of Osiris . A djed column is often painted on the bottom of coffins, where the backbone of the deceased would lay, this identified the person with the king of the underworld, Osiris. It also acts as a sign of stability for the deceased' journey into the afterlife.
sema1.gif (2647 bytes)Sema

This is a rendering of the lungs attached to the windpipe. As a hieroglyph this symbol represents the unification of Upper and Lower Egypt. Other symbols are often added to further illustrate unification.
maat.jpg (4049 bytes)Feather of Maat

Represents truth, justice, morality and balance. It was pharaoh's job to uphold Maat. When a pharaoh died, Maat was lost and the world was flung into chaos, only the coronation of a new pharaoh could restore Maat.


egyptian obeliskAn obelisk is a tall, narrow, four-sided, tapering monument which ends in a pyramid-like shape at the top, said to resemble a "petrified ray" of the sundisk. A pair of obelisks usually stood in front of a pylon. Ancient obelisks were often monolithic, whereas most modern obelisks are made of several stones and can have interior spaces.


sistrum Sistrum
An important instrument in the ancient Egyptian cosmogony, the Sistrum is used in ceremonies and dances for worshipping the Goddesses Hathor, Bast and Isis. It is also known as the Sheshesht or Iba. Shaped like the ankh, the Sistrum has a handle that is topped with a wooden or metal loop having wires that are strung with metal plates.

Its constant shaking produces a jangling sound that is considered effective in appeasing Typhon, God of chaos. The instrument is closely associated with Hathor, the Goddess of festivity, joy, dance, fertility and eroticism. It also symbolizes her son, Ihy. With the mother and creator, Goddess Isis depicted as holding a pail in one hand and the Sistrum in the other, the instrument is even used for reducing the destructive effect of the flooded Nile.

One of the most prominent representations of the Sistrum is to be found in Dendera in the temple of Hathor. Even today, this instrument is an important part of worship rites in the Ethiopian and Coptic churches.


seba Seba
Seba is the Egyptian symbol for star. This simple line drawing made of 5 equidistant spokes resembles a starfish. The term ‘seba’ means discipline or learning and it is associated with gates and doorways. The early Egyptian had great interest in and extensive knowledge of the star-filled night sky. The stars had a great deal of influence on the development of their calendar and also dictated their beliefs in life after death. The ceilings of their temples were decorated with images of astral deities, constellations and stars. The Egyptian sky goddess, Nut is also shown adorned with five-pointed stars. The stars were supposed to represent the souls of the dead and considered the followers of Osiris.
The Seba in itself is representative of star and the star-gods or constellations, but when it is enclosed within a circle, it comes to represent the Duat, the otherworld or the land of afterlife to where the souls descend after death.


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