Religion was an all-encompassing concept for ancient Egyptians, closely interwoven with every aspect of their lives from birth to death and affecting pharaohs and commoners alike. Understanding parts of it unlocks the rich breadth and depth the civilization has got to offer.
Ancient Egyptians believed in a plethora of gods and goddesses who are in one way or another related to one another in complex webs of relationships. Some of the most prominent and important deities include Osiris, god of the underworld, his wife Isis, goddess of health, wisdom and marriage, and their son Horus, god of the sky, war and hunting. They are well-represented in the museum’s collection in numerous forms, such as statutes, drawings and on steles.
The government of ancient Egypt was closely linked to the religious system. Pharaohs have derived their ruling mandate from their relationship with the gods, considering themselves the descendent of the gods or ‘Living Horus.’ Most of the exhibited artifacts came from the ancient city of Tell el-Amarna because AMORC had previously sponsored excavation activities there.
One of the exhibits highlights is the statute of Cleopatra, who was the last and possibly most famous pharaoh of ancient Egypt. It is one of the few images of the female ruler that still remains today. Standing at 116cm (46 inches), the statue’s body had been modeled after classical forms as a means to allude to the queen’s lineage with generations of her family’s rule. The face and the triple cobra diadem suggest that the statue portrays Cleopatra.
The significant portion of the museum’s collection are votives or offerings people present to god in order to establish a personal relationship with the higher being. A popular form of offering is a mummified animal that ranged widely from cats to snakes. Among the collection is a baboon that was used to honor Thoth, or god of the moon, who was sometimes depicted as a baboon. X-Ray results revealed that the votive contained no actual animal or its parts inside. Instead, it is formed around a ceramic jar that gives its shape and size.
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