Ritual Tools Used to Honor Goddess Hathor Found in Ancient Egyptian Temple Mound
A team of archaeologists recently tunneled into an ancient temple mound in Kafr El-Sheikh, north of Cairo in Egypt. Surrounding a stone icon depicting the goddess Hathor, a collection of rare ancient, ritual artifacts has now been unearthed.
Archaeologists digging at the ancient Egyptian site of Tel al-Fara, in the Kafr El-Sheikh province north of the capital Cairo have announced the discovery of “a set of tools.” This bizarre range of so-called “tools,” are perhaps better called “devices.” They were not used for building, but for conducting religious rituals in honor of the goddess Hathor, the governess of love, most often represented as having the head or ears of a cow.
The temple mound site where ritual treasures were unearthed. Credit: Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities
The Temple of the Pharaenix (Bhutto), in which the collection of artifacts was discovered, was functional between the Predynastic Period (5000-4000 BC) and the Old Kingdom (2686–2181 BC). The site was subsequently abandoned and then resurrected in the 8th century BC. According to a statement from Dr. Mustafa Waziri, Secretary General of the Supreme Council of Archaeology, Tel al-Fara was the traditional home of “Wadjit,” the tutelary goddess of Lower Egypt, who later became the spiritual matron and divine protector of all of ancient Egypt. Often depicted holding a sun disk (uraeus,) Hathor was also the protector of kings and of women in childbirth. Therefore, Hathor was worshiped as the nurse of the child sky god Horus, who was also known as “wadjet eye.”
Head of Hathor found in the mound. Credit: Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities
Clay Guardians Surrounding A Golden Eye
According to Dr. Mustafa Waziri, the temple site comprises three individually built mounds. Two served as early domestic settlements and the third mound covers the entire site. The hilltop features a ritual brick-built bath amidst a tile layer from “a panio hall, a sink, a water heating place, and the bathroom is subject to a bathroom at the highest level in supplying or draining,” according to Waziri.
Dug into the largest mound, the archaeologists first discovered a rather undistinctive limestone pillar. However, when they excavated the stone, it was found to be carved in the image of the goddess Hathor. Further excavations revealed the icon was surrounded by faïence incense burners, one of which was fashioned with the head of the god Horus, who was nursed by the goddess Hathor.
An incense burner with the head of god Horus found in the mound. Credit: Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities.
Two small clay statues were unearthed shaped as Taweret, the ancient Egyptian hippo goddess of pregnancy, and Thoth, the god often depicted as an ibis-headed man. Another collection of clay figurines is believed to have been used in ceremonial rituals specifically dedicated to the god Hathor. Furthermore, the researchers found, “a large offering holder, small birth chair, a pure gold eye of Ujat (wadjet) and the remains of golden scales used for gilding,” according to the Ministry's statement.
The pure gold eye of Ujat found in the mound. Credit: Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities
Bespoke Rituals Directed at The Goddess Hathor
In conclusion, Waziri said it is most likely that this collection of ancient artifacts was “quickly placed under a group of stone blocks arranged regularly on top of a sand hill in the south of the temple of the goddess Wajit.” General Manager of Kafr El-Sheikh and Head of the recent excavations, Dr. Hossam Ghanim, said the researchers also found “a huge building of polished limestone from the inside, representing a well for holy water used in daily rituals.”
Speaking about all of these discoveries in general, Dr. Mustafa Waziri said they are “important” because they represent the working tools that were “actually used to perform the rituals of the daily religious service of the goddess Hathor.” An article on WorldHistory.org explains that poor peasant farmers in ancient Egypt performed “the ritual of the Five Gifts of Hathor.” This daily ritual was designed to “encouraged gratitude by reminding one of all there was to be thankful for, no matter what losses one may have endured.”
Top image: Ritual tools found in the mound. Credit: Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities
By Ashley Cowie