Among the phenomena they describe is the Milky Way, which the Egyptians called "the beaten path of stars". Like other parts of the sky, it could be navigated by boat, and was apparently viewed as a series of islands in the midst of celestial waters.

(Silverman, David P., Ancient Egypt, p.117).

What else is known about these so called islands in the sky? What are their names and how are they described?


1 Answer 1


Like cities in Egypt, stars were associated with specific deities who resided there. There seems to be some scepticism in the comments about this so I'm amending this section to clarify this is not just a new age supposition. So let's first establish that the Egyptian deities were believed to reside in the stars as well as in the cities.

Let's for example look at Osiris, who was associated with Sirius and Orion according to the Pyramid Texts.

From the Papyrus of Ani consider this honoring of Osiris:

The stars in the celestial heights are obedient unto thee, and the great doors of the sky open themselves before thee. Thou art he to whom praises are ascribed in the southern heaven, and thanks are given for thee in the northern heaven. The imperishable stars are under thy supervision, and the stars which never set are thy thrones.

Now let's look at the cities the same papyrus section honoring Osiris mentions:

Thou art the governor of Tattu (Busiris), and also the mighty one in Sekhem (Letopolis). Thou art the Lord to whom praises are ascribed in the nome of Ati, thou art the Prince of divine food in Anu. Thou art the Lord who is commemorated in Maati, the Hidden Soul, the Lord of Qerrt (Elephantine), the Ruler supreme in White Wall (Memphis). Thou art the Soul of Ra, his own body, and hast thy place of rest in Henensu (Herakleopolis). Thou art the beneficent one, and art praised in Nart. Thou makest thy soul to be raised up. Thou art the Lord of the Great House in Khemenu (Hermopolis). Thou art the mighty one of victories in Shas-hetep, the Lord of eternity, the Governor of Abydos. The path of his throne is in Ta-tcheser (a part of Abydos).

So here we see two residences of Osiris: Egyptian cities, such as Abydos (which incidentally houses the great temple of Osiris) and celestial bodies.

This is not exclusive to Osiris: the same star/city association can be found for other deities. From the same papyrus:

Thou shalt come forth into heaven, thou shalt sail over the sky, and thou shalt hold loving intercourse with the Star-gods. Praises shall be made to thee in the Boat. Thy name shall be proclaimed in the Atett Boat. Thou shalt look upon Ra within his shrine. Thou shalt make the Disk to set [with prayer] every day. Thou shalt see the Ant Fish in his transformations in the depths of the waters of turquoise. Thou shalt see the Abtu Fish in his time. It shall be that the Evil One shall fall when he deviseth a plan to destroy thee, and the joints of his neck and back shall be hacked asunder. Ra saileth with a fair wind, and the Sektet Boat progresseth and cometh into port. The mariners of Ra rejoice, and the heart of the Lady of the Hour is glad, for the enemy of her Lord hath been cast to the ground. Thou shalt behold Horus standing on the pilot's place in the Boat, and Thoth and Maat shall stand one on each side of him. All the gods shall rejoice when they behold Ra coming in peace to make the hearts of the Spirit- souls to live, and the Osiris Ani, whose word is truth, the assessor of the holy offerings of the Lords of Thebes, shall be with them!

Here we see not only the association between deities and stars, but also sailing towards them. This star-sailing is further extrapolated in Egyptian mythology to not only apply to gods, but to kings as well. The death of a king had a strong connection to the stars for Ancient Egyptians. They believed once a king was deceased, their soul would rise to the heavens and become a star. Translated pyramid texts describe the king ascending and becoming the Morning Star among the Imperishable Stars of past kings. For the pyramid texts, antechamber 279:

The two ridges of the mountain (on both sides of the Nile valley) shall be united. The two banks of the river will be joined. The roads will be hidden from the passers-by. The steps (rwd.w) will be annihilated for those who go up. Make tight the rope (of the boat), sail the road of heaven!

  • Please support your assertions with references. It's not at all clear whether those photos come from a reliable source; please edit the question to tell us where they came from.
    – Spencer
    Commented Nov 1, 2018 at 9:24
  • @Gibet You know the ingredients of a complete answer on SE. This is a decidedly fishy answer, but don't confuse a lack of invective with credulity. As it stands the answer is not even wrong.
    – Spencer
    Commented Nov 2, 2018 at 11:16

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