Ancient Egypt’s Religious Contributions to Western Civilization
Behind all aspects of life of those who dwelt on the Nile in ancient times—behind their art, political structure and cultural achievements-one may sense forces at work which are religious in origin. Essentially, the principles of ancient Egyptian religion were significantly influential on all aspects of their daily life choices. The existence or absence of such things as ceremonies, buildings, language, and customs were dependant on their religious usefulness. The course of Egyptian religion advanced through history beginning with polytheism throughout different kingdoms during the Predynastic period to Christianity and eventually partial conversion to Islam and other religions. The interaction of scholars, merchants, and travelers that occurred mostly around the Nile Delta can be considered an important reason there is such a vast variation in beliefs across the globe today. Thus, it is not only important to examine religious practices and their effects on daily life of ancient Egyptians but more importantly to observe the geographical movement and progression of religion from Northern Africa through Eurasia and settling into Europe as a beginning of Western civilization.
The time period during the Old Kingdom spanned over a course of over one thousand years occurring from 4300-3000 B.C.E. During this time, the majority of Egyptians were polytheistic—worshipping many gods all of whom had a particular province of life. Human forms such as Amun or Ptah, animal forms such as Anubis as a jackal or Sobek a crocodile, or a combination of human and animal such as Horus a falcon-headed man are all examples of gods that were worshipped in ancient Egypt. Egyptians wrote songs and dances and built magnificent statues and temples in tribute of the gods they worshipped, the pharaoh, and royal family. The power and wealth of the reigning family gave them the status of gods in the eyes of ordinary people who...
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