Monday, 10 July 2017


“Archaeologists are underpaid publicity agents for deceased royalty.” - John Agar 

The Uraeus (plural Uraei; from the Greek οὐραῖος, ouraîos, “on its tail”; from Egyptian jʿr.t (iaret), “rearing cobra”) is the stylised, upright form of an Egyptian cobra (asp, serpent, or snake), used as a symbol of sovereignty, royalty, deity and divine authority in ancient Egypt.

 The Uraeus is a symbol for the goddess Wadjet. She was one of the earliest Egyptian deities and was often depicted as a cobra, as she is the serpent goddess. The centre of her cult was in Per-Wadjet, later called Buto by the Greeks. She became the patroness of the Nile Delta and the protector of all of Lower Egypt. The pharaohs wore the uraeus as a head ornament: Either with the body of Wadjet atop the head, or as a crown encircling the head; this indicated Wadjet’s protection and reinforced the pharaoh’s claim over the land. In whatever manner that the Uraeus was displayed upon the pharaoh’s head, it was, in effect, part of the pharaoh’s crown.

The pharaoh was recognised only by wearing the Uraeus, which conveyed legitimacy to the ruler. There is evidence for this tradition even in the Old Kingdom during the third millennium BCE. Several goddesses associated with or being considered aspects of Wadjet are depicted wearing the uraeus as well. At the time of the unification of Egypt, the image of Nekhbet, the goddess who was represented as a white vulture and held the same position as the patron of Upper Egypt, joined the image of Wadjet on the Uraeus that would encircle the crown of the pharaohs who ruled the unified Egypt. The importance of their separate cults kept them from becoming merged as with so many Egyptian deities. Together, they were known as the nebty or The Two Ladies, who became the joint protectors and patrons of the unified Egypt.

Later, the pharaohs were seen as a manifestation of the sun god Ra, and so it also was believed that the Uraeus protected them by spitting fire on their enemies from the fiery eye of the goddess. In some mythological works, the eyes of Ra are said to be uraei. Wadjets existed long before the rise of this cult when they originated as the eye of Wadjet as a cobra. Wadjets are also the name of the symbols called the Eye of the Moon, Eye of Hathor, the Eye of Horus, and the Eye of Ra (depending upon the dates of the references to the symbols).

As the Uraeus was seen as a royal symbol, the deities Horus and Set were also depicted wearing the symbol on their crowns. In early ancient Egyptian mythology, Horus would have been the name given to any king as part of the many titles taken, being identified as the son of the goddess Isis. According to the later mythology of Re, the first Uraeus was said to have been created by the goddess Isis, who formed it from the dust of the earth and the spittle of the then-current sun deity. In this version of the mythology, the Uraeus was the instrument with which Isis gained the throne of Egypt for Osiris. Isis is associated with and may be considered an aspect of Wadjet.

No comments:

Post a Comment