Star Lore
in Ancient Egypt


In ancient Babylon Aquarius was associated with the destructive floods that the Babylonians regularly experienced; a concept that was adopted in ancient Egypt as well.

In ancient Egyptian astronomy, Aquarius was associated with the annual flood of the Nile; the banks were said to flood when Aquarius put his jar into the river, beginning spring.

Source: Wikipedia

Nile flood
Source: Library of Congress


Egyptian constellations are still highly disputed and open to interpretation.

According to Alessandro Berio, the Daressy Zodiac suggests that Aquila had its place as an Egyptian constellation, and not merely a Graeco-Babylonian one. Possibly, Aquila was seen as the Falcon of Horus.

Horus was one of the most significant ancient Egyptian deities, most notably the god of kingship and the god of the sky.

Sources:Wikipedia and Alessandro Berio: The Celestial River

Falcon-headed Horus, 1290 BC
Temple of Seti I
Source: Wikipedia

Argo Navis

Greek philosopher Plutarch attributed the constellation to the Egyptian Barque of Osiris.

Osiris was the Egyptian god of fertility, agriculture, the afterlife, the dead, resurrection, life, and vegetation. A depiction of the Barque can be found on the ceiling of the Dendera Temple, showing Osiris sailing across the sky as the personification of the full moon. Osiris is seated on a throne, accompanied by the goddesses Nephthys (left) and Isis (right).

Source: Wikipedia

Barque of Osiris;


R.H. Allen reports Egyptian records of about 2000 B.C. in which the constellation Cancer was was described as a sacred Scarabaeus, an emblem of immortality.

In ancient Egypt, the scarabaeus pushing balls of dung across the desert was seen as a synonym to the sun being pushed through the sky. The sacred beetle was associated with birth, death and regeneration.

Source: R.H. Allen:Star Names, Their Lore and Meaning

Papyrus painting of a Scarabaeus
© M. Gamal

Canis Major

Sirius, the brightest star in the night sky was the basis for the ancient Egyptian calendar, as the heliacal rising of Sirius marked the flooding of the Nile.

The Egyptian name for Sirius was Sopdet. The star was personified as the goddess of the Nile and the goddess of fertility.

Source: Wikipedia, Wikipedia, Ridpath & Tirion: Stars and Planets Guide

Sopdet, Gregorian Egyptian Museum
Source: Wikipedia

Canis Minor

According to Mark R. Chartrand, the ancient Egyptians thought of this constellation as Anubis, the jackal god.

Source: Wikipedia

Anubis Statue, Vatican Museums
Source: Wikipedia


Egyptian constellations are still very controversially discussed. Gyula Priskin suggests that in the decanal procession of strip B on the astronomical ceiling of Esna, the brightest stars of Libra, α, β and γ Librae were seen as a boat.

Source: Gyula Priskin: The Astral Myth of Osiris: the Decans of Taurus and Libra

Libra in the
astronomical ceiling of Esna
Source: Gyula Priskin

Milky Way

In Egyptian mythology, the Milky Way was seen as a pool of cow's milk related to the fertility cow-goddess Bat.

Bat was depicted as a female human face with cow ears and horns. Other depictions showed her as a human woman.

Bat is one of the oldest Egyptian deities, dating back to the the earliest records of the religious practices in ancient Egypt. Later, by the time of the Middle Kingdom, her identity and attributes were subsumed within that of the goddess Hathor.


Bat as a woman
Brooklyn Museum

Bat as a cow; Metropolitan Museum of Art


In Egyptian astronomy, the stars of Orion and Lepus, together with some neighboring stars formed the constellation Sah.

In the Old Kingdom, Sah was referred to as "the Father of Gods." After his death, a pharaoh was thought to travel to Orion.

Later, Sah came to be associated with Osiris, the god of fertility, agriculture, the afterlife, the dead, resurrection, life, and vegetation.

Sources: Wikipedia and Astronomytrek

Sah (Orion) riding his star-boat
Temple of Hathor, Dendera, Egypy
Source: Astronomytrek


The Metternich Stela is dated to the Thirtieth dynasty of Egypt, around 380–342 BC. The stela tells the story of the death and resurrection of Horus.

Horus, usually depicted as a falcon headed man, was one of the most significant ancient Egyptian deities. Most notable was his role as King of the Sky.

Among other myths, the hieroglyphic text of the stela tells the story of Horus' death by a scorpion sting. After Horus' death, the God and magician Thoth blesses Horus' mother Isis with a spell that enables her to bring Horus back to life.

This legend may have been one of the sources of the Greek legend of Orion.

Sources: Sacred Texts and Chandra Observatory

Metternich Stela; Source: Wikipedia


The ancient Egyptian knew of Pisces, seeing in it a creation story and the "fish of the Nile." The symbol of Pisces’ two fish has been found on the lid to an Egyptian sarcophagus dating back to 2300 BCE.


Egyptian sarcophagus (from Aegyptische Urkunden; koenigliche Museen zu Berlin)


The brightest star in the constellation Scorpius is Antares.

In ancient Egypt, Antares represented the scorpion goddess Serket (and was the symbol of Isis in the pyramidal ceremonies).

It was called tms n hntt "the red one of the prow."

Source: Wikipedia

Scorpion goddess Serket in The Louvre
© Francesco Dazzi


Quoting Wikipedia: To the Egyptians, the constellation Taurus was a sacred bull that was associated with the renewal of life in spring. When the spring equinox entered Taurus, the constellation would become covered by the Sun in the western sky as spring began. This "sacrifice" led to the renewal of the land.

Source: Wikipedia

Ursa Major

The ancient Egyptians had two words for the asterism we call the Big Dipper, both related to farm or draught animals:

Khepesh meant "the thigh" or "the ox-leg"; Meskheti meant "the striker" or "the bull."

Source: George A. Davis jr.: The Origin of Ursa Major,

Oxen in ancient Egypt; Source:

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