Ancient Egypt for Kids
Gods & Goddesses
In the ancient world around the Mediterranean, most civilizations had gods that looked like people, at least sort of like people. This was not true in ancient Egypt. In ancient Egypt, it was fairly easy to spot a god in drawings, hieroglyphics, statues, and paintings and works of art. They could be recognized by the objects they carried and how they looked. Some gods carried an ankh (symbol of life) and some gods carried the scepter of power. Most ancient Egyptian gods had animal heads or green bodies or something that set them apart from people. Those few gods that had more human-like heads wore false beards. Even some with animal heads had false beards. That's why pharaohs wore false beards - because when a pharaoh died, he became a god. Unless you were a pharaoh or a god, you could not wear a false beard.
Most ancient civilizations around the Mediterranean built temples to honor their gods, but each temple honored only one god. This was not true in ancient Egypt. There were many cities built along the Nile River. These cities built many temples. Each temple was used for a variety of purposes including store rooms, guest rooms, school rooms, places to meet and gossip, and more. Each Egyptian temple was also used to honor many gods. The statues inside a temple were called temple gods. What you did was pray to one or more temple gods. The temple god or gods would get your request to the god you wanted to reach.
Most ancient civilizations were afraid of angering their gods. This was not true in ancient Egypt. The ancient Egyptians were not afraid of most their gods. People prayed in the temples for what they wanted. But if they did not get it, they might give the temple statue a little whack with a reed, to let the gods know how disappointed they were. The ancient Egyptians were practical. They knew they could not get everything they wanted. They believed the gods were on their side, whether their wish was granted or not.
What made Egypt so different was that in ancient Egypt, everybody had a job to do. Gods were no exception. Gods had jobs. There were over 2,000 gods in ancient Egypt because there was a lot of work to do.