Perhaps the most intriguing aspect of ancient Egyptian civilization was its inception from the ground up, as the ancient Egyptians had no prior civilization they could use as a template. In fact, ancient Egypt itself became a template for the civilizations that followed. The Greeks and the Romans were so impressed with Egyptian culture that they often attributed many attributes of their own culture - usually erroneously - to the Egyptians.
To the ancient Egyptians, as was the case with any society made up of inquiring humans, the world was a confusing and often terrifying place of destruction, death, and unexplained phenomena. In order to make sense of such an existence, they resorted to teleological stories. Giving a phenomenon a story made it less horrifying, and it also helped them make sense of the world around them. Unsurprisingly, then, the ancient Egyptian gods permeated every aspect of existence.
Baboons held a prestigious place in Egyptian religion. They were kept as sacred animals in many temples because contemporary Egyptians considered them the original religious observers, particularly with respect to the sun god Re. Ancient Egyptians took the wild baboons stretching on their hind legs, forelegs raised to the sky, to be an oration to the sun god at dawn. Furthermore, these ancient ancestors of the land of Egypt were greeted at dawn by the concatenations of the baboons nattering, which the religious-minded took to be an early-morning devotion. They even believed the baboons spoke the original language of religion, and a claim they could understand baboons was often one asserted by certain members of the priestly class.
However, it is his association with the ibis that most defines Thoth’s visual imagery. Since the ancient Egyptians believed the universe arose from the swamplike waters of Nun, it was the water bird that garnered the most prestigious veneration. Birds like geese, herons, and the ibises were associated with this period of creation, and according to some beliefs, the world came about thanks to the great “honk” of a primordial goose, whose eggshell was said to be preserved in the temple of Thoth. It was believed Re created Thoth’s baboon form to be that of his “shining moon”, but his ibis form was that of a messenger between heaven and earth (although he was much more than this).
Thoth: The History and Legacy of the Ancient Egyptian God Who Maintains the Universe looks at the mythology surrounding one of antiquity’s most famous deities. You will learn about Thoth like never before.