in ancient times, countries generally did not choose snakes, a cold-blooded animal, as a patron saint or an auspicious omen. However, ancient Egypt regarded the snake as the Pharaoh’s protective god. Snake signs can often be seen in various items left over from ancient Egypt, so it has a full sense of mystery. What are the historical origins between the snake and the Pharaoh? Because in ancient Egypt, the Pharaoh symbolized the incarnation of God, and the snake was the Pharaoh’s protector, which could shoot fire from his mouth and spray it at the enemy. In fact, you should have seen a lot of stories about Egyptian civilization in various film and television dramas. This time, let’s learn about the position of the snake in Egyptian culture.

snake sign uraeus comes from Greek οραο (meaning on its tail), the Greek word snake comes from ancient Egyptian (jr.t), It means “she who rears up”. In ancient Egyptian history, the snake sign is mainly the head ornament of the royal family. It appears on the Royal scarf, crown and headdress and is an important symbol of royal power. Generally speaking, the snake sign is the embodiment of the goddess Wadjet, the patron saint of lower Egypt and the patron saint of the Pharaoh.

schematic diagram of the snake sign

although in the history of ancient Egypt, the snake logo seems to have become an indispensable factor in Royal costumes, the snake logo has not always existed, but has experienced a gradual process from scratch and constantly changing. According to the current data, before the middle of the first dynasty, the Egyptian royal family had no friends to wear the decoration of snake sign.

in the early Dynasty, the ancient Egyptians invented the snake sign of the upright cobra to show the authority of the Pharaoh. According to the current data, the first person to wear the snake sign may be Deng Wang. On an ivory signboard unearthed in Abydos, the king ascended the throne wearing a khat King scarf. There was a snake sign decoration at the front of the king scarf. On the flagpole on the right side of the signboard, there was also a snake sign in front of wepwawet.

those who wear the decoration of snake sign

from then on until the end of the ancient kingdom, the snake sign became the decoration of the king’s towel. On the cliff inscriptions of wadi maghara, the king of Zuo Sai also wears a khat scarf, which is decorated with a snake sign. The Great Sphinx in front of the havra pyramid of the 4th Dynasty originally had a snake mark on the king’s scarf, but now only a little trace of the snake mark can be seen. From the 6th Dynasty, royal women also wore snake signs. In this way, the snake sign has changed from the decoration of the king to the decoration of the whole royal family.

the Great Sphinx in front of the havra pyramid wears the snake sign

. However, it is uncertain whether the vulture has become the same snake sign as the cobra. However, in the pyramid text, nekhbet is called the white crown. That is to say, the goddess nekhbet of Upper Egypt is associated with the white crown. From this point of view, the vulture may have become an ornament of the white crown, but this is only an inference, because there is no white crown model or engraving to show this.

from the Middle Kingdom, the snake logo of Cobra has become a common ornament of the Wang family. At this time, the king of the cobra is usually marked with the cobra crown, but the king of the cobra is also marked with the cobra crown. It was also from this era that some Golden Snake signs began to be unearthed. For example, the Golden Snake signs of Sesostris II were still unearthed in the New Kingdom era.

Sesostris III (British Museum Collection)

amenimhet II

wearing a snake sign (nemes King scarf) generally speaking, before the New Kingdom, the ancient Egyptian royal family only wore single snake signs. However, from the beginning of the New Kingdom, double snake signs began to appear: binocular mirror snake, or vulture combined with cobra. From the New Kingdom, from ahmose I, royal women began to wear double snake signs. For example, the queen of the 18th dynasty, ahmose Nefertari (the queen of ahmos I), wore a double snake sign of Cobra and vulture. Some scholars believe that the queen originally wore a single Cobra sign, but once the Queen’s status was deified, she became a goddess, so the vulture sign was added. However, there is also the possibility that the queen originally wore a vulture headdress. Once she wore the cobra’s snake logo, she became a combination of vulture and cobra. Queen Iset of the 18th dynasty (the wife of Thutmosis II and the mother of Thutmosis III) wears a double cobra, which is the earliest Royal woman known to wear a double Cobra.

since then, some queens in power or playing an important role in political life have adopted the decoration of double snakes. The queen Tiye of the 18th dynasty (the wife of Amenhotep III and the mother of Akhenaten) wore a snake sign composed of two cobras and vultures. In fact, the vultures here were not snake signs, because ancient Egyptian women had a kind of headdress, vulture headdress. Here, it is likely to add a double Cobra sign to the vulture headdress. Perhaps Nefertiti, the queen of Akhenaten, also wears a double Cobra logo. Nefertari, Queen of the 19th Dynasty (Queen of Ramses II), also wears a double Cobra sign.

Queen Tiye wearing double snake signs

. However, the pharaohs of the New Kingdom basically wore snake signs of single Cobra. As far as the author knows, the only exception is Tutankhamun. On some items unearthed from Tutankhamun’s mausoleum, Tutankhamun wore a snake logo composed of Cobra and vulture, such as the famous Tutankhamun gold mask. Of course, Tutankhamun also wears the snake logo of a single Cobra. But why are there two kinds of snake signs, especially the combination of Cobra and vulture? The author made a bold guess and didn’t know whether it was right or not.

it is well known that Tutankhamun’s coffin does not match Tutankhamun’s height. Some people believe that it was originally prepared for others. In a hurry, the Egyptians buried Tutankhamun with these funeral utensilsCard. These funeral utensils, which may have been prepared for a royal woman, were temporarily allocated to Tutankhamun. Of course, this is just speculation. As for what the vultures and cobras on Tutankhamun’s mask represent, some believe that they are nekhbet goddess and Wadjet goddess, while others believe that they represent Isis and nefertes.

the Akhenaten couple

the snake sign on Tutankhamun shabti (vulture and Cobra combined snake sign)

the combined snake sign depicted on Tutankhamun’s coffin cover (vulture and Cobra)

reached the 25th Dynasty, Only then did kings begin to wear spectacles and snake signs. The Nubian hat of the Pharaoh of the 25th Dynasty is decorated with a snake sign of binocular mirror snake. Some people believe that binocular mirror snake represents the rule of Nubian king over Egypt and Nubian countries.

at this time, royal women became the wife of Amun God, and their status gradually overtook that of the first priest of Amun. The statue of amenirdis I (daughter of kashka) of the 25th Dynasty depicts her wearing a snake sign composed of binoculars, snakes and vultures. It is believed that this snake sign may be an ornament commensurate with the status of Amun’s wife, representing the unique status of the divine wife as Amun’s wife. Of course, it cannot be ruled out that this is an inheritance of the queen decoration in the New Kingdom era.

in the Ptolemaic era, the snake mark of single cobra is still the mainstream. However, there have also been more exaggerated practices, such as the queen wearing the snake logo of three cobras. As for the reason, some people think that it may be related to the identity of the queen. In the Ptolemy era, the queen had a high status, especially in the later stage, the queen often ruled with the king. Therefore, in addition to being the queen, the queen is also the queen and the wife of the traditional God. Because of this triple identity, she wears the snake logo of triple Cobra. Of course, this is just speculation. As for the real situation, I don’t know.

unknown kings who wore snake signs in Ptolemy era

generally speaking, in the history of ancient Egypt, except for individual dynasties and individual France, the vast majority of pharaohs wore snake signs of single Cobra. Therefore, it can be considered that the snake signs of single Cobra were the mainstream of decorations on pharaohs’ crowns. Royal Women (mainly queens or queens) began to wear double snake signs (binocular snake or combination of vulture and Cobra) from the 18th dynasty. In the Ptolemy era, they wore three snake signs. The exact reason for this is unclear. Wearing multiple snake signs may be related to the special status of royal women.