Department of Near Eastern Languages and Cultures
- Author(s): Wilkinson, Richard H.
- et al.
The ancient Egyptians visualized their deities in many ways, and while anthropomorphic gods and goddesses represented only one of the major forms that deities took in ancient Egyptian culture, the sub-category was broad and encompassed several different types. Although they all shared the common characteristic of exhibiting primarily anthropomorphic identity in their iconographic form and mythological behavior, deities of this class might take fully human, hybrid (“bimorphic”), or composite form. They could include deifications of abstract ideas and non-living things, as well as deified humans—living, deceased, or legendary (such as Imhotep). While a category of “anthropomorphic deities” was not one that the Egyptians themselves differentiated, deities of this type included many of Egypt’s greatest gods and goddesses, and the anthropomorphic form was used more than any other to depict the interactions of humans and the gods in religious iconography.