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According to the ancient Egyptians, the Milky Way was the helper of the dead

According to the ancient Egyptians, the Milky Way was the helper of the dead

We have already learned that the ancient Egyptians had great respect for celestial bodies. Just think of one of their most important gods, Re, who was also known as the Sun God. Based on the results of new research, members of a civilization along the Nile River were able to justify the role of the Milky Way with an interesting explanation: they believed its role was nothing less than leading the dead to the afterlife.

An astrophysicist from the University of Portsmouth, his research team investigated the role of the goddess Nut. Their study was published in the Journal of Astronomical History and Heritage IFL Science.

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Early astronomers

The ancient Egyptians were keen observers of the night sky, and these observations also determined their beliefs. As early as the era of the pyramids, more than 4,000 years ago, tomb drawings were drawn and texts were written depicting the moon and some planets, stars, and constellations, he writes. American Scientific.

Could the star-covered god have been a symbol of the Milky Way?


A 3,000-year-old papyrus in the Cairo Museum.
Nut, whose body is covered in stars, is believed to imitate the shape of the Milky Way.
Source: Wikimedia Commons

The Egyptians often depicted Nut as a woman covered in stars arching over the planet. The major goddess, mother of Ra. She was often depicted as a cow or a sow, as they wanted to emphasize her maternal nature, Mythloch wrote.

Their respect was also justified by the fact that Nut protects the Earth from the menacing waters of the Abyss known as Nun. In addition, according to the ancient Egyptians, it also played a role in the migration of birds to warmer regions. Moreover, it was considered another important task for the deity to give birth every morning and absorb the sun in the evening. In order to do this, according to the Egyptians, he always turned his back to the east and his head to the west.

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They couldn't be sure

But the position of the Milky Way in the sky changes throughout the year. Accordingly, researchers wondered whether Nut actually represented celestial bodies. Several examples of drawings have been identified in ancient Egyptian tombs showing Nut with her arms extended at a 45 degree angle to her body. Accordingly, researchers believe that since the pose already shows similarities to the shape of the Milky Way, it could still be symbolized by the goddess in this way, IFL Science reports.

Others thought the same

But this is still not enough proof of identity, according to experts. They looked for connections between cultures, examined the role other peoples assigned to the Milky Way, and whether they found similarities with the Egyptian model. During their further research, they found, for example, a coffin with text on it that identified Nut as a ladder through which the soul of the dead could ascend to the afterlife. In Native American mythology, the Milky Way played just such a role, and most Native North Americans believed that way.

According to the Yucatec Maya, the dead travel through the Milky Way to the afterworld at night. It is believed that the dark part of it leads to the underworld.

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