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Society and Culture > Religion and Spirituality
Subtopics  Myths, Places of Worship, Beliefs, Religious Texts, Religious Leaders, Tombs
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Since the prehistoric age, Egyptians believed that all aspects of life were controlled by supernatural powers. One important religious concept was the creation of the universe. For the Egyptians, creation was essentially an act of generation, represented by the yearly flooding of the Nile River. Each day was also considered a repetition of the act of creation. As the sun, represented by Atum, traveled across the sky to rise and set and begin the cycle again, so the Egyptians felt assured that the created order of their world was eternal and ongoing.

Unlike modern religions, which are based on a set of theological principles, the ancient Egyptian religion was concerned with interactions between people and their gods, the ethics of dealing with others, and the performance of spiritual duties. The universe was believed to work according to a strict eternal law, Ma’at, which means Right or Balance. For the Egyptian, the universe functioned with predictability and regularity. In the moral sphere, purity was rewarded and sin was punished. Man had to subdue his desires and actions to that law in order to live a good life so that society would be on the right track.

Some deities were worshiped countrywide and others were worshiped in certain regions. The worship of a number of gods was a distinguishing feature of the ancient Egyptian religion until the reign of Akhenaten. Akhenaten unified all the gods in the image of one single god, which he named Aten, the sun god. This god was depi