How did the Milky Way influence ancient Egypt?

Published by Adrien - 28 days ago - Other Languages: FR, DE, ES, PT
Source: Journal of Astronomical History and Heritage

A recent study from the University of Portsmouth has shed light on the significance of the Milky Way in the religion and culture of ancient Egypt. This research illustrates how the Milky Way could have highlighted the role of Nut, the Egyptian sky goddess.

Nut is depicted as a woman sprinkled with stars, arching over Geb, the earth god. She plays a crucial role in the solar cycle, swallowing the Sun at dusk and giving birth to it at dawn. The study suggests that during winter, the Milky Way outlines Nut's extended arms, and in summer, it follows her spine in the sky.


Geb lying on the ground and separated from the celestial vault (Nut) by his father Shou.
From the 3000-year-old funerary papyrus Djedkhonsuiefankh displayed at the Egyptian Museum in Cairo.

Dr. Or Graur, an associate professor in astrophysics, was inspired by Nut while writing a book on galaxies. A visit to the museum with his daughters, captivated by the image of Nut, sparked his interest in exploring the connections between astronomy and Egyptology.

Dr. Graur analyzed ancient Egyptian texts such as the Pyramid Texts, Coffin Texts, and the Book of Nut. He also utilized sophisticated simulations of the Egyptian night sky to support his findings, demonstrating that the Milky Way reinforced Nut's divine presence.

The researcher also related Egyptian beliefs to those of other cultures. He found similarities in how various societies interpret the Milky Way, as a path for spirits or a trail for migrating birds.

This study demonstrates that integrating disciplines provides new insights into ancient beliefs and highlights how astronomy connects humanity across cultures, geography, and time. This work is the beginning of a larger project aimed at cataloging and studying the multicultural mythology of the Milky Way.
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