4 Famous Symbols of Ancient Egypt
Updated: Aug 19, 2022
Four of the most recognized symbols of ancient Egypt are still famous after 5,000 years!
After thousands of years, let's learn more about why these symbols still resonate in popular culture.
The Ankh is perhaps the most famous symbol of ancient Egypt.
There is no single meaning as it reflects many aspects of Egypt's history. However, it's universally known as the symbol of eternal life.
It represents the cyclical nature of death and rebirth at the core of ancient Egyptian beliefs.
As a unifier of opposites, it represents life in this world and immortality in the next.
It was worn as a protective amulet in life and used to accompany the deceased in death.
Some say it symbolizes the union of heaven and earth, male and female, Osirus and Isis.
As a symbol of eternal life, the Ankh remains a powerful image throughout ancient Egyptian history and popular culture.
Eye of Horus
The Wedjat Eye, more commonly known as the Eye of Horus, means "whole one" and symbolizes protection.
In ancient Egyptian mythology, the god Set stole the left eye of Horus, which symbolizes the moon & rebirth.
The gods Thoth and Hathor restored it. His right eye represents power and the morning sun.
The all-seeing eye of the falcon god offered the highest protection to the Pharaoh.
Falcon cults were popular since late predynastic times, and the Wedjat Eye or Eye of Horus was a widely worn amulet of protection.
So enduring is the Eye of Horus that it's an everyday fashion accessory or, more so, a popular tattoo choice.
The Eye of Horus is a striking image as powerful today as it was in ancient Egypt.
The Djed is a pillar-like hieroglyph representing stability, strength, and permanence - all qualities associated with the Pharaoh.
The Djed pillar also represents the backbone of the god Osiris.
Osiris is the ancient Egyptian gatekeeper of the afterlife and god of the dead.
Some mythology says the remains of Osiris were protected within a giant tamarisk tree and that it symbolized a pillar holding up the world's sky.
The Tyet Knot, also known as the Isis Knot, is associated with Isis, the goddess of magic, healing, and motherhood.
It symbolizes healing, magic, and resurrection. Some say it's a possible variant of the Ankh but much older.
It was also used as a decorative symbol often seen with the Ankh or the Djed, as seen here on the outer shrine of Tutankhamun.
Many theories surround the meaning of the Tyet from how it was used in magic to funerary amulets and even resembling the female reproductive organs.
The Tyet knot evolved to suit the needs of ancient Egyptians from the Predynastic Period to the New Kingdom and was an enduring symbol of healing, resurrection, and magic.
These symbols share themes dominant in ancient Egypt: eternal life, magic, healing, and stability. Five thousand years later, we're still drawn to the images worshipped in antiquity.
I hope you enjoyed learning more about the mysteries of ancient Egypt!
*All photos by the author
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