Ra is the most famous of the ancient Egyptian gods. He was a sun god who was the king of the ancient Egyptian pantheon and the creator of all life. He was the most widely worshipped god in ancient Egypt. Understanding his role in ancient Egyptian religion and how he was combined with other Egyptian gods over time can be difficult. The list of facts below will help explain who Ra was, why he was so important, and how he was often associated with other gods. This information is written for both adults and kids.
Interesting Egyptian God Ra Facts
Where Ra got his name from is not clear. It is believed that Ra may mean sun or creator.
Ra is first mentioned in ancient Egypt's Second Dynasty.
During the New Kingdom of ancient Egypt the worship of Ra was very important as is evident by the numerous depictions of him on tombs from this period.
It is understandable why the Egyptians main god was a sun deity. These ancient people depended on the sun to grow their crops, for light, and for warmth. The ancient pyramids are
also likely a depiction of the rays of the sun beaming down on earth.
Great temples were built in honor of Ra. Many of these structures were built with no roof in order to let the sunlight in. These solar temples often did not have a statue of Ra
because he was symbolized by the sunlight shining into the temple.
Ra was depicted in many different ways in Egyptian art. He was often shown with a solar disk over his head. He also is commonly depicted with the head of a hawk with the body of
a man. Other depictions include a man's body with the head of a ram, as a complete ram, complete beetle, complete serpent, complete bull, and a complete lion.
Ra is sometimes described as an aging king in some ancient text.
Ra was portrayed through the combined god Atum-Ra (see below) as being the originator of a group of nine deities called the Ennead. This group of gods consisted of Atum, Shu,
Tefnut, Geb, Nut, Osiris, Isis, Set, and Nephthys. These gods were worshiped at one of the oldest cities of ancient Egypt; Heliopolis (City of the Sun) located in modern day
Facts about How Egyptian God Ra was Combined with Other Deities
At some point the ancient Egyptians combined the two popular gods Amun and Ra to create the god Amun-Ra (or Ra-Amun). Amun-Ra is mentioned in ancient Egyptian writing as early as
the fifth dynasty. This composite deity was portrayed as a red-eyed man that had a lion's head. Amun-Ra was depicted with a solar disk surrounding his head as was the god Ra and
was referred to as the "king of the gods".
At some point Ra was also merged with the ancient god Atum.
Ra was combined with the god Horus to form the god Re-Horakhty.