Egyptian Symbols Overview
There were, in fact, many several symbols in the lives of the ancient Egyptians with diverse usages and meanings. Many of these symbols survived until today and give us great ideas of about these symbols and their usages in ancient Egypt.
The Pharaohs excelled in the creation and usages of these symbols to the extent that they played a role in every aspect of their lives, including social, religious, and cultural activities.
Ankh Egyptian Symbol Of Life
The ancient Egyptians created the key, or the Ankh as they used to call it in the reign of the Pharaohs. The Ankh has this distinctive shape that blends the ancient Egyptian style with the Christian Cross. It is commonly found in many ancient Egyptian tombs and Pharaonic temples. The Ankh is usually represented in portraits where the deceased is resurrected after death. Ankh symbol meaning the key to life as it represented the resurrection of the death as the ancient Egyptians believed in the afterlife.
The Ankh was produced in many shapes and using various materials like metal and sometimes wood that were in some cases plated by gold or copper in a symbol of the sun.
The ancient Egyptians associated the Ankh with life and birth giving. Some scholars noted that the oval twisted handle with two opposite points at head represent the male and the female. They also added that this represents the gathering of Isis and Osiris.
Some historians had other theories. They noted that the Ankh represents various indications. The oval hand represents the Nile Delta. The vertical part symbolizes the path of the River Nile, while the horizontal part represents the East and the West of the country.
Egypt Symol of Eternity (The Pillar of Djed)
The pillar of Djed is one of the most ancient Pharaonic symbols. It consists of a pillar or column with four layers of the lotus flower. It represents eternity and it was commonly mentioned with the name of the Pharaoh with the Ankh.
Historians said that the pillar of Djed dates back to the per dynastic period. There was a festival in Memphis to create the pillar of Djed as the Pharaoh himself used to participate in creating the pillar using strong ropes.
These rituals were carried out to wish that the ruling period of the Pharaoh would be fruitful and long. Some researchers also noted that the ancient Egyptians believed that pillar of Djed represents the spiral cord of Osiris. The upper part of the pillar was colored in green or red, while the column itself used to be colored in white, black, or yellow.
Symbol of Egypt Power (The Scepter of Was)
The scepter of Was consisted of a stick that contained many ancient Egyptian inscriptions. The Pharaonic kings and gods were represented holding the scepter of Was as a symbol of control and power. It was also associated with good luck. Usually gods used to present the specter of Was to the kings.
The scepter was created in various forms to have different meanings. Sometimes it symbolized sovereignty and good luck, Luxor or ancient Thebes, and sometimes the South. This symbol appeared in the reign of the Old Kingdom of ancient Egypt. The origins of the specter of Was were mainly the stick of the shepherd or a stick to attack cobras.
Ancient Egyptian Symbol for Love (Lotus Flower)
The lotus flower is in fact one of the most important symbols of ancient Egypt and the most famous among them all. Egyptians in contemporary times still wear the lotus flower as an authentic Pharaonic symbol.
Lotus is still a symbol of Egypt until today. The inscriptions in ancient Egyptian temples and wall paintings in historical tombs assert that the Pharaohs were fond of this beautiful flower. Many portraits represent the ancient Egyptian kings holding lotus flowers as their appreciation of the distinctive flower.
The lotus flower symbolized the River Nile to the ancient Egyptians. The leaves of the flower represent the lakes that come out of the branches of the River Nile. The rout represented the path of the river, while the flower itself represented the Nile Delta. Lotus flowers also ornamented the stone capital of various ancient Egyptian temples as well.
The Egyptian Symbol of Protection (Eye of Horus)
According to the ancient Egyptian myth, Horus lost his left eye in a fight with Seth, Hathor has magically restored Horus eye since then this restoration symbolizes the process healing and the symbol was often used in amulets.
The Eye of Horus is a known symbol of ancient Egypt. It is believed to provide protection, thus it was widely used by the ancient Egyptians as amulets for both the living and the dead. Today, the Eye of Horus is still used as a symbol of protection.
The Scarab (Egyptian Symbol of Death)
It is a species of the dung beetle shown in Egyptian art as a symbol of death, rebirth, great power, guide and protect in the afterlife. It was an popular for hundred of years in Egypt and beyond. The Scarab was associated with gods and became popular amulets during the First Intermediate Period and remained worn by everyone living and the dead so for until the rise of Christianity.
The Eye of Ra
The god Ra is one of the most known gods. The Eye of Ra symbol was associated with light and represents procreation. The Eye is an extension of Ra's power but it can be represnted by a wide range of Egyptian gods and goddesses including Hathor, Sekhmet, Bastet and goddess Wadjet . Both Eye of Ra and Eye of Horus look the same and do quite the same function. There are Several Myths around Eye of Ra; In the myth, the god Ra when got one of his children missing he sent his eye out into the world to find him.
Egyptian Shen Ring
The shen is a knotted circle of rope represents the infinity, completeness and protection. The Symbol name is riven from the Egyptian word for 'encircle.' Shen symbol were worn for protection and first seen between the Old Kingdom and the First Intermediate Period then became popular during the Middle Kingdom and remained so. Many god were seen holding the Shen like Horus, Nekhbet and Isis, It appears ini temples, tombs and sarcophagi and as well as personal inscriptions.
The sesen is the lotus flower that represnts creation, life, and rebirth. It dates back to the Dynastic Period but became popular startin from from the Old Kingdom. The lotus flower is seen in various types of ancient Egyptian art from sarcophagi to faience statuary, amulets, temples and shrines. It was the Icon of Upper Egypt when the papyrus plant was the symboe of Lower Egypt.
The Ben Ben
It is the primordial mound upon which god of creation (Atum) stood. It is the best known symbol from ancient Egypt, after the Ankh. The pyramids of Egypt and similar structures represent the ben ben, it symbolizes eternity and creation. It dates back to the Dynastic Period but became known during the Old Kingdom, it has been worn as an amulet and appeard in tombs, temple walls, and sarcophagi.
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Frequently Asked Questions
Egypt is safe country to visit with notable low crime rate, tourist attractions are well secured and there is no common negative attitude towards foreigners, with some sensible precautions and preparations you will feel at home and as safe as you'll ever be.
There is no special dress code when visiting Egypt tourist sites, modest dress is recommended in less tourist sites and there is no special concern for women traveling alone.
Egyptian Arabic is the most commonly spoken language in Egypt, it is also the national language in the country but Egyptians speak and understand English as they study it in school. Fewer Egyptians can speak other languages like French, Italian, Spanish, and German. Egyptians working in tourism sector are accustomed to speak enough English and other languages to fulfill the needs of most travelers.
Egypt is very connected to the world, it has many direct flights with Africa, Asia, European Union and United States. Visit Cairo Airport website for a full list of Airlines that fly to Egypt.
Duty free allowances on arrival to Egypt are 1L alcohol, 1L perfume, and either 200 cigarettes, 25 cigars or 200g tobacco. Duty free shops are available in Egypt airports and major tourist cities (Cairo, Luxor, Hurghada, El Gouna and Sharm El Sheikh).
Giza Pyramids and most monuments and Museums in Egypt open between 8 Am to 5 Pm. During Ramadan, the holy month of the Islamic calendar, be aware that these hours will change significantly.
Shops and stores in Egypt are usually opened from 10 Am to 10 Pm however in major cities it opens much later and some are open 24 hours.
Visitors are welcome in most mosques throughout the year. Modest dress is recommended, women should cover their hair, arms and legs. Both Women and men will remove their shoes before entering.
Taking pictures for people and streets is fine after people permission While Taking pictures for official type or army structures is not permitted. In most historical sites and museums in Egypt it is allowed to use camera, some of them may charge you for camera but at the Egyptian Museum and some similar historical sites it is prohibited and you will be asked to leave camera at reception before entering.
Egypt enjoys big hotel variety from world class luxury to simple hostel accommodations; Check in time in most hotels in Egypt is around midday, 12 or 1 PM.
There in no health concerns or vaccinations required to visit Egypt but we recommend to check with your own doctor, he knows you and your medical history best.
The currency in Egypt is the Egyptian pound (LE), it is about ,06 to USD. Money exchange is widely available, Credit cards are largely used in Egypt major cities and tourist spots.
We do not recommend the public buses in big cities. Taxi and limousine service are fine every where but price is negotiable. Trains go to all big cities in Egypt except Sinai and the Red Sea. Flights from / to tourist cities are always available.
Tipping in Egypt is an appreciated habitual attitude but is Not obligatory. Generally 5 to 10 EGP for small favors is fine for carrying luggage, parking a car or to guys who clean bathrooms. 10 % is fine in restaurant and spa. Tipping your tour guide and vehicle driver should be considered if you're provided with good to great service, feel free to give what you think your experience was worth.
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In Cairo, visit the Egyptian Museum, Pyramids of Giza, the Sphinx, Khan El Khalili Bazaar and relish a walking tour on foot in Old Cairo. In Luxor visit the impressive Luxor temple, Hatshepsut temple, Valley of the Kings and Karnak temple. Aswan tours go to Philae Temple, Edfu, Kom Ombo and Abu Simbel temples. Uncover the Western Desert oases like Siwa and Bahariya. Diving or snorkeling in the magic waters of Red Sea and Sinai beaches like Sharm El Sheikh, Dahab, Taba, Hurghada and Marsa Alam to explore the magic of the underwater world. Board a Nile Cruise from Luxor to Aswan or vise versa, Lake Nasser Cruise from Aswan to Abu Simbel or vise versa and Cruise from Cairo to Aswan or vise versa.