Mesmerizing Ancient Egyptian Symbols and Their Intriguing Meanings (2024)

Mesmerizing Ancient Egyptian Symbols and Their Intriguing Meanings (1)

There is no vestige when it comes to the ancient Egyptians being primitive in any way. Their mythology, their art, and their symbols are all so arresting that a whole lifetime wouldn’t be enough to understand their ways.

Ancient Egypt has always been a subject of awe for the rest of the world. Amazingly, in an age when the rest of the world was trying to discover ways to attain a civilized way of life, the Egyptian civilization had almost reached its zenith. Not only had they created advanced technological systems such as calendars and clocks, but also knew how to read and write. They had developed a system called “hieroglyphs”, in which pictures and symbols represented sounds and words. It was from these hieroglyphic representations that we have been able to decipher many of their symbolism and thus their take on life. Given below is the list of some of the commonly depicted ancient Egyptian symbols and what they stand for.


Mesmerizing Ancient Egyptian Symbols and Their Intriguing Meanings (2)

The “ankh” is an ancient Egyptian symbol represented by a cross bearing a key-shaped loop.
Also referred to as “Key of Life”, “Key to the Nile” or “Breath of Life”, it stands for eternal life.
It supposedly reveals the enigmas of heaven and earth.
Most of the Egyptian gods and goddesses are seen holding an ankh by its loop.

It was believed that people needed the ‘breath of life’ after the death, which was probably due to their belief in the notion of the afterlife. “Ankh” most frequently appears in the paintings on ancient Egyptian tombs that depict deities of the afterlife bestowing upon a dead man, a ‘breath of life’. Ancient Egyptians also carried this symbol with them in the form of an amulet.


Mesmerizing Ancient Egyptian Symbols and Their Intriguing Meanings (3)

The “amenta” signifies the world of the dead.
It stands for the underworld, or the world that lies beneath the real world.
It symbolizes the land where the dead are buried and thus also represents a place from where the journey of the afterlife of the dead begins.
“Amenta” is believed to be a mythical land, and is referred to in the Egyptian literature as the ‘”Desert of Amenta”‘.

The land of “Amenta” was believed to be the region lying near the west bank of the river Nile, as that was where the dead were generally buried. This was because the sun sets in the west. This symbol is found on the paintings on ancient papyrus scrolls on which the “Books of the Dead” were written. They were, to a large extent, found within the hieroglyphic texts that had to do with the dead and their afterlives.

Djed Pillar

Mesmerizing Ancient Egyptian Symbols and Their Intriguing Meanings (4)

The “Djed pillar” is a mythical symbol that is most commonly used in Egyptian mythology.
It stands for strength and stability.
Initially, it was associated with the creation of “Ptah”, who is referred to as the ‘”Noble Djed”‘.
Later on, it came to be associated with the backbone of “Osiris”, the god of the afterlife, as the myth became popular.

This symbol stood for the human backbone, in general, as its shape resembled the same, duw to which it made frequent appearances on the bottom of coffins of the dead, where their backbones would be placed. It was also made in the form of an amulet and placed near the spines of the mummified dead to ensure resurrection. Interesting references to a ceremony called ‘”Raising the Djed”‘, which was the part of the pharaoh’s jubilee celebrations, point towards the importance of the “Djed pillar”. The pharaoh, with the help of his priests, used to practically erect the wooden pillar using ropes.


Mesmerizing Ancient Egyptian Symbols and Their Intriguing Meanings (5)

“Ba” is an interesting ancient Egyptian concept that symbolizes soul or one’s personality.
However, it does not resemble the western notion of ‘soul’, which is intangible in nature.
The Egyptians seemed to have believed that Ba would live even after the person had physically died and that it would join the spirit in the afterlife.

“Ba” is depicted as a bird bearing a human head that is departing from the tomb of the deceased. There was also another angle to the concept of “Ba”. It was believed that when Gods intervened in earthly matters, their “Ba” was at work. This belief also relates to their notion of the divine rights of the king where he acted as a mediator between God and his subjects. In this sense, the king or the pharaoh was termed as the “Ba” of God. It has been opined that it was because of “Ba” that the ancient Egyptians created mummies so that the soul finds a way to re-enter its respective physical body.

Eye of Horus

Mesmerizing Ancient Egyptian Symbols and Their Intriguing Meanings (6)

The “Eye of Horus” stands for physical security, royalty, and well-being.
“Horus” was an ancient Egyptian God of the skies, the son of “Osiris”, and was depicted as a falcon.
His right eye was associated with “Ra”, the solar deity and is said to have severed in a fierce battle between him and his brother “Set”.
Post recovery, he offered his eye to Osiris with a hope to resurrect his father. Therefore, the “Eye of Horus” also represents sacrificial and curative qualities.

The left eye of “Horus”, sometimes, is used as a symbol of moon. This symbol was represented in seven different ways using seven different hieroglyphs and there are numerous instances where the “Eye of Horus” makes an appearance. The classic example in which, this symbol makes an repetitive appearance is the ancient Egyptian funerary text called ‘”The Litany of the Eye of Horus”‘, a fragment of which has been preserved in the British Museum, London.

Winged Disc

Mesmerizing Ancient Egyptian Symbols and Their Intriguing Meanings (7)

This symbol signifies one of the forms of God “Horus Behdety”, that was taken up by him in a battle.
It is a sun disc that has wings and is a common symbol, which can be found in many cultures across the world.

According to the Egyptian mythology, God “Thoth” used his magic to transform God “Horus” into a winged disc and then goddesses “Uazet” and “Nekhbet” joined him in the form of snakes. This is a symbol of protection and prowess and is found painted on the doorways of many of the ancient Egyptian tombs as well as on numerous papyrus scrolls.

Feather of Maat

Mesmerizing Ancient Egyptian Symbols and Their Intriguing Meanings (8)

“Maat” is a popular ancient Egyptian goddess, who set the world in order at the time of its creation and further prevents the universe from returning to chaos.
Thus, as a concept, Maat, symbolizes order, balance, well-being and justice. It also symbolizes moral and ethical values.
The “Feather of Maat” became a symbolic representation of the goddess herself, as it was this feather that adorned her headdress and became her distinct attribute.

Ancient paintings indicate that the pharaohs also wore the feather in the form of an amulet or a pendant. This is symbolic of their responsibilities of law and order and social justice. If a pharaoh died an untimely death, it was imperative to choose his successor immediately due to the common belief that in the absence of a pharaoh to bear the feather, it would get lost and the world would be thrown into a state of pandemonium. It was also believed that if the feather weighed more than a dead man’s heart, it meant that his heart was filled with sins and was thus entitled to a punishment by “Ammit”, the devourer of the dead. On the contrary, if the heart was lighter than the feather, it meant that it was free of sins and so the person had access to the world of Osiris. Hence, the feather was placed near the heart of the dead man.


Mesmerizing Ancient Egyptian Symbols and Their Intriguing Meanings (9)

“Scarab” was an important symbol in the form of a dung beetle represented in the ancient Egyptian religion.
The dung beetle lays its eggs in dung balls by rolling them across the ground, and this practice was equated with the sun rolling across the sky.
This went on to symbolize the phenomenon of spontaneous creation as the young ones of the dung beetles seemed to have come to life from nowhere when the eggs hatched.

The scarab stood for the ideas of manifestation, growth and effectiveness. In the ancient hieroglyphs, this symbol is found in conjunction with the name of the early morning sun “Khepri”, hence it also stood for existence and creation. Scarabs made of materials such as steatite and clay were used in the form of amulets and seals. They were also placed within the bandages of the mummies near the hearts of the deceased. Interestingly, the scarab seals were carried by means of trade and commerce to the distant lands of Mediterranean and Mesopotamia, where they have been found in large numbers. At the same time various Greek imitations have also been found.


Mesmerizing Ancient Egyptian Symbols and Their Intriguing Meanings (10)

“Ka” is an element that makes a living person different from the dead one; it represents the breath of a person which ceases to exist on his death.
The ancient Egyptians believed that “Ka” could be sustained and restored by means of food and drink. Hence, they even made offerings of food and drink to their deceased so that they could live their afterlives with ease.

The ancient Egyptians gave a lot of importance to the concepts of life and death and they were staunch believers of the notion of life after death. They therefore had numerous concepts with respect to the things relating to the cycle of life and death and an entire series of symbolism that emerged from the same. “Ka” is represented by two hands bent upwards from the elbows. The “Ka”, as a symbol, makes its appearance in Egyptian hieroglyphs as well as on tombs and inner surfaces of the pyramids.

Primordial Mound

Mesmerizing Ancient Egyptian Symbols and Their Intriguing Meanings (11)

The “Primordial Mound” is an important symbol of ancient Egypt and is related to their creation myth.

The ancient Egyptians believed that there was only one hill/mound that emerged from the sea of chaos at the beginning of time which represented dry land. It was from this mound that all life sprang up on earth, thus making it a primordial entity responsible for the evolution of life. It has also been opined that the idea of the pyramids, as well as their ancient temples, has been derived from this very concept.

Symbols as Modes of Expression in Ancient Egypt

  • The thought process of the ancient Egyptians was primarily based on their symbolism.
  • It is by means of a vast array of symbols that we come across through their hieroglyphs and other artistic representations that we can interpret their religion, culture and notions of life and death.
  • Sometimes, the idea that a symbol is intended to put across may go hand in hand with the symbol itself, for instance, two arms bent upwards representing human breath (Ka), but they necessarily held prominence for the ancients, who might have used them in their daily lives.
  • The study of Egyptian symbols is extremely essential to know how this symbolism affected their understanding of life.

These symbols that are found scattered everywhere when one goes to Egypt are in fact keys that may help unlock the ancient mysteries not only about their political and economic structures but also about their daily lives and culture in general.

Whenever, we look at Egyptian pyramids, or any other ancient Egyptian structure for that matter, the fact that we are actually looking at a plethora of ancient symbols placed one above the other, the meaning of which may change from context to context, must be kept in mind. Egyptian symbolism, is thus, a vast subject of study and an interesting way to understand Egyptian culture.

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Mesmerizing Ancient Egyptian Symbols and Their Intriguing Meanings (2024)


What is the Egyptian symbol for Magic? ›

The name Heka is identical with the Egyptian word ḥk3w "magic". This hieroglyphic spelling includes the symbol for the word ka (kꜣ), the ancient Egyptian concept of the vital force.

What is the symbol of love in ancient Egypt? ›

Note: The Eye of Ra is an ancient Egyptian symbol of protection, love, good health, royal authority, and power.

What symbol is Heka? ›

The nekhekh is described as a whip (flagellum)—a symbol of punishment and submission—while the heka is detailed as the crook of the shepherd; a symbol of control and leadership. Heka means “ruler”, but originally it meant “the controller; shepherd”—the one who leads and directs the crowds.

What is the most recognizable symbol in ancient Egypt? ›

The Eye of Ra is the most famous ancient Egyptian symbol, and it was used as an amulet to protect from evil spirits, disease, harmful animals, and envy. The Eye includes gold which represents sacrificial qualities because people would offer sacrifices for the gods to grant their wishes.

What is Cleopatra's symbol? ›

Cleopatra buried Antony and then committed suicide. The means of her death is uncertain, though Classical writers came to believe that she had killed herself by means of an asp, symbol of divine royalty. She was 39 and had been a queen for 22 years and Antony's partner for 11.

What is a symbol of Egyptian royalty? ›

The sceptre, or rod, is one of the oldest and most enduring symbols associated with royalty and the deities. Two types of sceptres are found in Egyptian art. The was, a symbol of power and dominion, has a straight shaft, a crooked handle in the shape of an animal head and a forked base.

What is the Egyptian symbol for knowledge? ›

In the Egyptian New Kingdom, it was a common practice to bury mummies with a Tyet amulet to protect them from all harmful things in the afterlife. Due to its association with Isis, the Tyet became a symbol of knowledge.

Is there an Egyptian god of illusion? ›

Heka is the god of magic and medicine in ancient Egypt and is also the personification of magic itself. He is probably the most important god in Egyptian mythology but is often overlooked because his presence was so pervasive as to make him almost invisible to the Egyptologists of the 19th and 20th centuries CE.

What is the ultimate symbol of love? ›

The Heart: The most popular symbol of love, a heart is used to represent the center of emotion, including affection and love, especially romantic love. A heart pierced with an arrow is meant to symbolize romantic love.

What is the symbol of eternal love? ›

Often, a depiction of two doves together translates to everlasting, eternal love. In Greek and Roman mythology, doves were sacred animals, and many depictions of the goddess of love featured the white birds fluttering around their bodies.

Are there any flowers that have special meaning in Egypt? ›

Lotus, Egypt

For ancient Egyptians, the flower, which closes up and submerges underwater, then rises and opens again at dawn, became a symbol of rebirth, as well as unity between Lower and Upper Egypt. The flower was also associated with purity and divinity.

What is the symbol of Anubis? ›

The symbol of Anubis — a black canine or a muscular man with the head of a black jackal — the ancient Egyptian god of the dead was said to oversee every aspect of the process of dying. He facilitated mummification, protected the graves of the dead, and decided whether or not one's soul should be granted eternal life.

What symbols does Anubis have? ›

Anubis' Symbols

Jackal – The association with jackals comes with the role of these animals as scavengers of the dead. Crook and Flail – The crook and flail are important symbols of royalty and kingship in ancient Egypt, and several deities are depicted holding either one of both of these symbols.

What is the Anubis symbol called? ›

The Symbol of the Sceptre

The sceptre is a symbol that appeared often in relics, art, and hieroglyphics associated with the ancient Egyptian religion. Sceptres were used as symbols of power or dominion, and were associated with ancient Egyptian deities such as Set or Anubis as well as with the pharaoh.

What is the oldest known symbol? ›

The oldest symbol known to man is the etchings on the Ramle bone fragments. Many archaeologists have theorized that these symbols have existed for hundreds of thousands of years in other regions as well.

What is the most remarkable architectural symbol of ancient Egypt? ›

The Great Pyramid of Giza, which was probably completed c. 2580 BC, is the oldest of the Giza pyramids and the largest pyramid in the world, and is the only surviving monument of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.

What is the most special thing in Egypt? ›

What is the most famous thing in Egypt? Egypt is famous for some of the world's most beautiful monuments, the likes of which include the Pyramids of Giza, the Great Sphinx, the Temples of Luxor, Abu Simbel, and Karnak Temples.

What is the symbol of Queen Nefertiti? ›

Answer and Explanation: Nefertiti is the symbol of beauty and feminine power. Her name means 'a beautiful woman has come. ' Her bust, discovered in 1913 by German archaeologist Ludwig Borchardt, and has stood as a symbol for female beauty and power.

What is the symbol of Sphinx? ›

The sphinx was believed to be highly intelligent and wise, which is why it could stump humans with its riddles. As such, it represents wisdom. The body of the lion represents strength, while the head of a human symbolizes intelligence. Some scholars view this combination as a symbol of strength, dominance and wisdom.

What is the Egyptian symbol for death? ›

6- The Scarab beetle

The Egyptian Scarab Beetle was a symbol of death, rebirth, great power, guide and protect in the afterlife the scarab beetle was one of the most important and popular and amulets in for hundreds of years, worn by everyone living and the dead.

Is there a symbol for power? ›

The eagle has been used as a symbol of power for a long time. Ever since ancient days, the eagle has been considered as a great symbol of power, control, leadership, strength, authority, ferocity, courage, immortality, and protection.

What is a symbol for creativity? ›

Lightbulb. One of the most recognizable symbols of creativity, the lightbulb represents originality and new ideas.

What is a symbol of intelligence? ›

In a visual message such as a logo or design, an owl can be used to represent wisdom, intelligence or a lesson that needs to be learned.

What symbolizes wisdom and strength? ›

The Griffin symbolizes strength and wisdom since it's an amalgamation of two strong and courageous beasts: the lion and the eagle. It was also commonly associated with strength on the battlefield and has been a popular choice for many coats of arms from families and armies throughout history.

Who is the Egyptian god of creativity? ›

Ptah, also spelled Phthah, in Egyptian religion, creator-god and maker of things, a patron of craftsmen, especially sculptors; his high priest was called “chief controller of craftsmen.” The Greeks identified Ptah with Hephaestus (Vulcan), the divine blacksmith.

Who is the Egyptian god of dreams? ›

The Ancient Egyptians were polytheistic, which means that they believed in many gods. Each Egyptian god and goddess had his or her own duty. The Egyptian god in charge of dreams was Bes. Tutu, another god important to dreaming, was responsible for protecting the Egyptians from bad dreams.

Who is the god of imagination? ›

Hephaestus - the Greek God of Creativity | HandMade Gifts.

What symbol means forever? ›

Formed as a sideways figure-eight, the infinity symbol is also called the eternity or the forever symbol. The two circles forming the eight appear to have no identifiable beginning or end. The symbol has its origins in mathematics, when the mathematician John Wallis chose it to represent the concept of infinity.

What is a symbol of loyalty? ›

Sunflower. Sunflowers received their name simply because their faces literally follow the sun all day, making them the perfect symbol of loyalty.

What is a symbol of unconditional love? ›

The Heart. The most common symbol for unconditional love, the heart, is actually thousands of years old! The heart is one of the things that symbolize love since ancient times. It holds significance in the modern world too.

What flower means forbidden love? ›

Coming up to the 18th century, the rose now symbolizes forbidden love. The flowers were used as a means of communication between lovers who were forced apart by the standards of the societies they lived in.

What is the symbol for everlasting life? ›

The ankh symbol—sometimes referred to as the key of life or the key of the nile—is representative of eternal life in Ancient Egypt. Created by Africans long ago, the ankh is said to be the first--or original--cross.

What symbol means love and loyalty? ›

The heart is the most widely recognized and universally known symbol of "What is love?" It is a recognized love symbol all across the world and is used in many different designs, such as the Irish Claddagh, to represent love and loyalty.

What is the most sacred flower? ›

1. Lotus Flower. Jahnavi Harrison explains how the lotus is a plant that, for those educated in an eastern spiritual context, evokes layers of meaning and narrative.

What are the 8 sacred animals of Egypt? ›

Animals and the Gods: Sacred Creatures of Ancient Egypt
  • Baboon. ...
  • Cat myw – Many deities were depicted as cats, both domestic or wild, and so they were seen as benevolent, sacred animals. ...
  • Cobra. ...
  • Crocodile. ...
  • Falcon / Hawk. ...
  • Frog. ...
  • Goose. ...
  • Heron.
1 Oct 2019

What bird is sacred in Egypt? ›

The sacred ibis (Threskiornis aethiopica), of southern Arabia and Africa south of the Sahara and formerly of Egypt, was sacred to the ancient Egyptians. It is about 75 cm (30 inches) long, white with black in its wings, and has dark plumes on the lower back and a bare black head and neck.

What is the symbol of Osiris? ›

Crook and flail

What is an Egyptian dog called? ›

The Pharaoh Hound originated in ancient Egypt. The Pharaoh Hound is one of the oldest domesticated dogs in recorded history.

What Egyptian god has a dog head? ›

Egyptian civilization - Gods and goddesses - Anubis. Anubis was a jackal-headed deity who presided over the embalming process and accompanied dead kings in the afterworld. When kings were being judged by Osiris, Anubis placed their hearts on one side of a scale and a feather (representing Maat) on the other.

What dog breed is Anubis? ›

The Basenji is the most often cited as the inspiration for the image of Anubis, one of the principal gods of the dead who guided the soul to judgment in the afterlife (although the Greyhound, Pharoah, and Ibizan are also contenders).

Who is Sekhmet? ›

Sekhmet whose name means: “She who is powerful” or “the One who loves Ma'at” was the goddess of the hot desert sun, plague, chaos, war, and healing. She was created from the fire of the sun god Ra's eye when he looked upon Earth.

What kills Anubis? ›

When he attacked Earth with his fleet, Anubis was apparently destroyed by the Ancient super-weapon that SG-1 found in the Atlantus outpost buried under the ice of Antarctica. Anubis was presumed dead, but his formless essence survived the explosion of his mothership.

What does the knot of Isis symbolize? ›

The tit sign was considered a potent symbol of protection in the afterlife and the Book of the Dead specifies that the tit be made of blood-red stone, like this example, and placed at the deceased's neck.

What is a female Anubis called? ›

Anput is the female counterpart of the god Anubis. She is also a goddess of the seventeenth nome of Upper Egypt.

What does the cobra mean in ancient Egypt? ›

The cobra represents the goddess Wadjet, a very ancient goddess who is associated with royalty. When the snake is worn over the king's brow, its head raised and hood dilated ready to attack if needed, it is called a uraeus. The uraeus constitutes the consummate symbol of royalty.

What are Egypts national symbols? ›

The flag bears Egypt's national emblem, the Egyptian eagle of Saladin, centered in the white band. Horizontally divided red-white-black tricolor flag with the Eagle of Saladin. National flag with two white crossed sabres in canton. National flag with two white fouled crossed anchors in canton.

What are the symbols of Egypt called? ›

Egyptian hieroglyphs (/ˈhaɪrəˌɡlɪfs/, /ˈhaɪroʊˌɡlɪfs/) were the formal writing system used in Ancient Egypt, used for writing the Egyptian language. Hieroglyphs combined logographic, syllabic and alphabetic elements, with some 1,000 distinct characters.

What is the most famous Egyptian statue? ›

Great Sphinx of Giza, colossal limestone statue of a recumbent sphinx located in Giza, Egypt, that likely dates from the reign of King Khafre (c. 2575–c. 2465 bce) and depicts his face. It is one of Egypt's most famous landmarks and is arguably the best-known example of sphinx art.

What is the most famous Egyptian artifact? ›

The golden mask of Tut is the most famous and admired artifacts of ancient Egypt in history and the world. It is the funerary death mask of the Egyptian pharaoh King Tutankamun (1332-1323 BC) of the 18th dynasty.

What is the Egyptian symbol of peace? ›

The sign is known in English as the "ankh", based on the hypothetical pronunciation of the Egyptian word, or as the "key of life", based on its meaning.

What flower represents Egypt? ›

The water lily, more commonly known as the lotus, was one of the most ubiquitous plants and symbols of ancient Egypt.

What is a symbol of royalty? ›

The most likely answer for the clue is CROWN. We found more than 4 answers for Symbol Of Royalty..

What's the oldest symbol known to man? ›

The oldest symbol known to man is the etchings on the Ramle bone fragments. Many archaeologists have theorized that these symbols have existed for hundreds of thousands of years in other regions as well.

What is the rarest Egyptian artifact? ›

1. The Tutankhamun Gold Mask — Egyptian Artifact (Link) The most valuable item in the world—the Tutankhamun gold mask—was discovered in the tomb of the ancient Egyptian pharaoh Tutankhamun. The monarch's mummy was said to have been found with its head covered in a gold mask after 19 years of excavation.

Who is the most beautiful ancient Egyptian? ›

At the heart of the exhibition is Queen Nefertari, who was renowned for her beauty and prominence. Called “the one for whom the sun shines,” Nefertari was the favorite wife of pharaoh Ramesses II.

What is the most powerful statue? ›

David. Perhaps the most iconic sculpture in history, Michelangelo's David is a powerful sight to behold. Standing at 14 feet tall, the sculpture depicts the Biblical hero David before his infamous battle with Goliath.

What is the most precious thing in Egypt? ›

Rosetta Stone

This stone, found in Rosetta, Egypt in 1799, is 2,200 years old and made from black basalt stone.

What is the greatest treasure found in Egypt? ›

The List
1Khufu shipGiza pyramid complex
2Unfinished obeliskAswan
3The Great PyramidGiza pyramid complex
4Tomb of TutankhamunValley of the Kings
6 more rows

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