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.
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.
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 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.
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
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.
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).
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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.
The Red Crown. This was the crown that represented Lower Egypt
A striped headcloth worn by Pharaohs.
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
The White Crown. This was the crown of Upper Egypt (southern).
More commonly know as a cartouche. The shape represents a loop of rope
in which a name is written. A protector of that name.
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.
Uraeus, used as a
symbol of sovereignty, royalty, deity, and divine authority in ancient
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.
Represents truth, justice, morality and balance. Deities are often seen
standing on this symbol, as if standing on a foundation of Maat.
sphinx is a mythical creature with a lion's body and a human head.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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 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.