Egyptian Terms

The following is a list of terms (and a short definition) that one might encounter while studying Egypt.

Ankh
Symbol for life.
Ba
"" -- .
Book of the Dead
"" -- .
Canopic Jars
The four jars used to hold the saved soft tissue (intestines, liver, lungs, and stomach) remains of the deceased that were removed during mummification.
Cartouche
The name of a Pharoah surrounded by a cord with a knot at its base. It can be carved or written.
Cenotaph
A symbolic burial site that does not house remains.
Heb-sed / Sed
The "Royal Jubilee" that took place during the 30th year of a Pharoah's reign. It was designed to help revitalize Pharonic power.
Hedjet
The white crown worn by pharoahs of Upper Egypt.
Heka
The scepter held by Pharoahs. It is associated with the god Osiris.
Ka
A person's immortal soul, the one that would live on after death. It was 'born' at the same time as a person's physical body.
Mastaba
A tomb from the pre-dynastic period that was not cut from rock, but from the sand. A flat, rectangular structure was built on top of the tomb. Mastaba comes from the Arabic word for 'bench', which is what the top structure resembles.
Mummy
The preserved and wrapped body of a human or animal.
Naos
The small stone or wooden shrine where the statue of a god is kept in a temple.
Necropolis
The Greek name for a burrial ground, especially one with structures. It translates as "city of the dead".
Nekhekh
The flail held by Pharoahs. It symbolizes authority, and is associated with the god Osiris.
Nome
The Greek name for the administrative provinces in Egypt. They worked much like the state system in the United States. The Egyptians' name for the Nomes is Sepat.
Nubia
The region of the Nile below Upper Egypt between the First and Fourth Cataracts. Lower Nubia (beween the first two cataracts) was known to the Egyptians as Uauat, and Upper Nubia (above the Second Cataract) as Kush.
Ostracon
A potsherd used as a writing surface.
Palette
1. A lance-shaped stone object decorated to commemorate an event or for a religious purpose.
2. The Small wooden board used by scribes to store/mix writing impliments.
Pharoah
The ruler of Egypt. Pharoahs were seen as gods on earth, the incarnation of Ra. Upon their deaths, Pharoahs became associated with Osiris.
Pronaos
The entry chamber to a temple or tomb.
Pschent
The double crown worn by Pharoahs signifying their authority over Upper and Lower Egypt.
Pyramid
"" -- .
Pyramidon
A pyramid-shaped top of a pyramid or obelisk.
Pyramid Texts
The magical incantations and spells inscribed on the walls of a burial chamber of a tomb.
Register
The horizontal divisions of images/text on tomb/temple walls and on inscriptions.
Reserve Heads
Sculptures of the deceased which served (religiously) as an alternate body. They were most popular during the Old Kingdom.
Serdab
A sealed room in a tomb containing a life-sized statue of the occupant. It magically communicated with the living through a hole in the wall in front of the statue, and thus connected the world of the living with that of the dead. Serdab is Arabic for "cellar".
Serekh
"" -- .
Sphinx
A lion with a human head (usually male, though can also be female). Sphinxes are an incarnation of Pharonic power, and protectors of temple gates.
Stela
A slab of stone or wood that has writing and or pictures on it.
Uraeus
A rearing cobra that singifies royalty and power. It is commonly found at the base of a crown worn by a Pharaoh or deity.
Vizier
The chief executive in power in Egypt. He was in charge of overseeing the administration in the name of the Pharaoh.
Was
The scepter held by male deities. Some of the more masculine female deities, like Neith, are occasionally shown holding it as well.

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