However, it was also important that the body of the deceased be preserved, as the Egyptians believed that the ba returned to its body each night to receive new life, before emerging in the morning as an akh.  Demons' position in the divine hierarchy was not fixed. These practices were distinct from, but closely linked with, the formal rituals and institutions. , The Early Dynastic Period began with the unification of Egypt around 3000 BC. This movement between realms was sometimes described as a journey between the sky and the earth. Horus absorbed several falcon gods from various regions, such as Khenti-irty and Khenti-kheti, who became little more than local manifestations of him; Hathor subsumed a similar cow goddess, Bat; and an early funerary god, Khenti-Amentiu, was supplanted by Osiris and Anubis. Their sophisticated theological discussion produced detailed descriptions of Amun's universal power. The highest deity was usually credited with the creation of the world and often connected with the life-giving power of the sun. Despite this flexibility, the gods had limited abilities and spheres of influence. , The Egyptians distinguished nṯrw, "gods", from rmṯ, "people", but the meanings of the Egyptian and the English terms do not match perfectly. People in this era put faith in specific gods who they hoped would help and protect them through their lives. Some texts nevertheless refer to homosexual behavior between male deities. , In addition to their names, gods were given epithets, like "possessor of splendor", "ruler of Abydos", or "lord of the sky", that describe some aspect of their roles or their worship. Temples themselves are also inscribed with such texts, often accompanied by illustrations.  The types of phenomena they represented include physical places and objects as well as abstract concepts and forces. This is often seen as the first instance of true monotheism in history, although the details of Atenist theology are still unclear and the suggestion that it was monotheistic is disputed. Another point of contention is the appearance of the word "god" in wisdom literature, where the term does not refer to a specific deity or group of deities. It was the fixed, eternal order of the universe, both in the cosmos and in human society, and was often personified as a goddess. I, 326–332, Lesko, Barbara S. "Cults: Private Cults", in Redford 2001, vol. , Tombs could contain a great variety of other items, including statues of the deceased to serve as substitutes for the body in case it was damaged. Then, in the backlash against Atenism, priestly theologians described the universal god in a different way, one that coexisted with traditional polytheism. The details of the events they recounted could change to convey different symbolic perspectives on the mysterious divine events they described, so many myths exist in different and conflicting versions.  Private rituals invoked the gods' power to accomplish personal goals, from healing sickness to cursing enemies. To avoid ambiguity (for example boat versus bat which would both be written as bt) ideograms are added to the end for clarity.  On rare occasion, deities of different sexes could be joined in this way, producing combinations such as Osiris-Neith. Whereas, in earlier times, newly important gods were integrated into existing religious beliefs, Atenism insisted on a single understanding of the divine that excluded the traditional multiplicity of perspectives. I, pp. , New deities continued to emerge after this transformation. Evidence of this type of personal piety is sparse before the New Kingdom.  Rituals for a god were often based in that deity's mythology. The centurions were legionaries and they were clearly noticed because they wore a special helmet, and a more ornate harness of much better quality. They give off a scent that the Egyptians likened to the incense used in rituals.  In late antiquity, the Christian conception of Hell was most likely influenced by some of the imagery of the Duat. To know the true name of a deity was to have power over it.  The last formal cults, at Philae, died out in the fifth or sixth century. The beings in ancient Egyptian tradition who might be labeled as deities are difficult to count. , Because it was considered necessary for the survival of the soul, preservation of the body was a central part of Egyptian funerary practices.  Households, too, often had their own small shrines for offering to gods or deceased relatives. At the same time, the subjugated Nubians absorbed Egyptian religious beliefs, and in particular, adopted Amun as their own. The resulting god, Amun-Ra, thus united the power that lay behind all things with the greatest and most visible force in nature.  The most common temple ritual was the morning offering ceremony, performed daily in temples across Egypt. Ancient Egyptian religion consisted of a vast and varying set of beliefs and practices, linked by their common focus on the interaction between the world of humans and the world of the divine. The official ancient Egyptian religion lasted from about 3110 bce to 550 ce. Henotheism, Hornung says, describes Egyptian religion better than other labels. These included the interpretation of dreams, which could be seen as messages from the divine realm, and the consultation of oracles. Under the new regime, Amun became the supreme state god.  Processions also traveled between temples, as when the image of Hathor from Dendera Temple visited her consort Horus at the Temple of Edfu.  In this new Egyptian state, personal piety grew more important and was expressed more freely in writing, a trend that continued in the New Kingdom. Ancient Egyptian Artifacts .  Such local manifestations could be treated almost as separate beings. , The king was also associated with many specific deities. His black coloring alludes to the color of mummified flesh and to the fertile black soil that Egyptians saw as a symbol of resurrection. The importance of oracles as a means of decision-making grew, as did the wealth and influence of the oracles' interpreters, the priesthood. They symbolize specific aspects of each deity's character, functioning much like the ideograms in hieroglyphic writing.  Closely connected deities did sometimes merge. This part of Egyptian history, the Amarna Period, is named after this. Votive offerings and personal names, many of which are theophoric, suggest that commoners felt some connection between themselves and their gods, but firm evidence of devotion to deities became visible only in the New Kingdom, reaching a peak late in that era.  Temple statues and reliefs, as well as particular sacred animals, like the Apis bull, served as divine intermediaries in this way. For instance, Khnum was the god of Elephantine Island in the midst of the Nile, the river that was essential to Egyptian civilization. Some texts give precise descriptions of particular deities, including their height and eye color. Hermeticism, for instance, derived from the tradition of secret magical knowledge associated with Thoth.  Morality in ancient Egypt was based on the concept of maat, which, when applied to human society, meant that everyone should live in an orderly way that did not interfere with the well-being of other people. In general, however, morality was based on practical ways to uphold maat in daily life, rather than on strict rules that the gods laid out. These priests often worked outside their temples, hiring out their magical services to laymen. Hymns were written to praise particular deities. , Nationally important deities gave rise to local manifestations, which sometimes absorbed the characteristics of older regional gods.  Communities also built and managed small chapels for their own use, and some families had shrines inside their homes.  Individuals also frequently employed magical techniques for personal purposes. , Theoretically it was the duty of the pharaoh to carry out temple rituals, as he was Egypt's official representative to the gods.  Isis absorbed the traits of many other goddesses during her rise, and when Amun became the ruler of the pantheon, he was conjoined with Ra to become a solar deity. Egyptian funeral rituals were intended to release the ba from the body so that it could move freely, and to rejoin it with the ka so that it could live on as an akh.  These and other versions of the events of creation were not seen as contradictory. Some deities who were closely connected with isfet, such as Set, could be blamed for disorder within the world without placing guilt on the other gods. They included both mortuary temples to serve the spirits of deceased pharaohs and temples dedicated to patron gods, although the distinction was blurred because divinity and kingship were so closely intertwined. Nevertheless, the withdrawal of state support for the other deities severely disrupted Egyptian society. It measures almost 44 meters in length (143 feet). The importance of names is demonstrated by a myth in which Isis poisons the superior god Ra and refuses to cure him unless he reveals his secret name to her. Thus, the Egyptians developed their elaborate embalming practices, in which the corpse was artificially desiccated and wrapped to be placed in its coffin.  Some deities reached farther. The Egyptians sought to maintain Ma'at in the cosmos by sustaining the gods through offerings and by performing rituals which staved off disorder and perpetuated the cycles of nature. Pyramids were reserved for royalty, and were accompanied by large mortuary temples sitting at their base. Increasingly, commoners with sufficient means were buried in rock-cut tombs with separate mortuary chapels nearby, an approach which was less vulnerable to tomb robbery.  Some demons were guardians of particular places, especially in the Duat, the realm of the dead. Ancient Egyptian deities are the gods and goddesses worshipped in ancient Egypt. Egyptian oracles are known mainly from the New Kingdom and afterward, though they probably appeared much earlier.  From this cross-cultural syncretism emerged Serapis, a god who combined Osiris and Apis with characteristics of Greek deities, and who became very popular among the Greek population. The beliefs and rituals surrounding these gods formed the core of ancient Egyptian religion, which emerged sometime in prehistory. As Egyptian society grew more sophisticated, clearer signs of religious activity appeared.  Some deities were androgynous, but most examples are found in the context of creation myths, in which the androgynous deity represents the undifferentiated state that existed before the world was created. Predynastic artwork depicts a variety of animal and human figures. Personal piety became still more prominent in the late New Kingdom, when it was believed that the gods intervened directly in individual lives, punishing wrongdoers and saving the pious from disaster. 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