Sunday, June 21, 2015

Summer Solstice in Ancient Egypt

In Ancient Egypt, summer solstice was the most important day of the year. The sun was at its highest and the Nile River was beginning to rise. It was the beginning of the Egyptian New Year.

Accurately predicting the floods and the start of the growing season was vitally important to Ancient Egyptians. It was linked to the appearance of Sopdet (the deification of Sothis, a star considered by almost all Egyptologists to be Sirius). Sopdet is depicted as a woman with a five-pointed star on her head. Sopdet  appears around the time of the summer solstice.

Special ceremonies were held to honor the goddess Isis. Egyptians believed Isis was mourning for her husband, Osiris who was killed by their brother Set, and  her tears made the Nile rise. Some believe the solar deity Horus, the son of Isis and Osiris, defeated his uncle Set at this time of the year. With this victory, divine order and fertility were restored in Egypt and allowed the Nile floods to come, bringing life back to the Nile valley.