Ancient Egyptian Symbols

Anthropology: Ancient Symbols and Hieroglyphs of the Land of the Pyramids

Ancient Egyptian symbols have shaped Egypt over time. The symbols represent the confluence of spiritual and physical parts of Egyptian civilization, and they have become the culture’s foundation. They were written on temple walls and obelisks and utilized in magical and religious ceremonies for both the living and the dead. As such, ancient Egyptian symbols played an important part in conveying the culture from one generation to the next.

Ancient Egyptian Symbols
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Ancient Egyptian Symbols and Meaning

Let us look at the famous ancient Egyptian symbols and Egyptian hieroglyphs translated:

The Ankh

The Ankh, one of ancient Egypt’s and the world’s most recognized and widely used symbols, represents internal life and divine protection. It appears in the form of an Egyptian cross with a looped top in a key-like design. It represents eternal life, the early rising sun, purification of the purifying water, divinity and the union of opposites, as well as the spirit of Ra (Isis and Osiris). The Ankh, meaning emblem, first appeared in the Early Dynastic Period (3150–2613 BCE), and by the Old Kingdom (2613–2181 BC), it had evolved into a vital sign of eternal life known as Neb-Ankh charms. In addition, the emblem stands for “The Knot of the Goddess Isis” and her great cult.

The Egyptian Ankh Cross is a symbol of happiness and harmony between masculinity and feminity. The ancient Egyptian Symbol is popular as the Nile Key, and it symbolizes the perpetual connection between heaven and earth. The Djed and Was Symbols appeared alongside the Symbol.

The Djed

It is popular as “The Backbone of Osiris”. It associates with Osiris, the deity of the underworld, and Ptah, the God of creation. The Djed pillar is a metaphor for resurrection and eternal life. According to ancient Egyptians, the Djed pillar was made up of four pillars holding four corners of the world. It was also a fertility pole that ancient people raised during festivals. The pillars stressed life’s balance and hope for the afterlife, offered primarily by Ancient Egypt’s great Gods.

The emblem exists on several temples, in various copies of the Book of the Dead, and as an amulet during Egypt’s old monarchy (2613-2181 BC). The Djed sign connects with directing the soul to leave the body. It travels to the afterlife, leaving the earth behind in the Book of the Dead. A Djed column exists at the bottom of the coffin, where the deceased’s backbone is laid for the soul to rise and walk into the afterlife. The Djed column is an Ancient Egyptian emblem for stability, fertility, and power. The raising of the Djed Pillar was the earth’s grains rising, and the soul rising from the body and travelling to the Afterlife.

The Was Scepter

It is an ancient Egyptian symbol that depicts the power and dominion of God and the ruler of ancient Egypt. The ancient Egyptians believed four pillars in the shape of a Was spectre supported the sky. It is famous as “Sculptor of the Earth” and stands for completeness and totality. The staff’s top has a canine head developed by King Djet belonging to the first dynasty.

Hathor, Isis, Ra, and many other gods each had their own spectre. The emblem is associated with desert and war themes and Set, the God of chaos. The meaning of the sceptre varied depending on who held it:

  • In the hands of Isis, it symbolized dualism and fertility,
  • Hands of Hathor, it symbolized bliss,
  • In the hands of Horus, it signifies the sky, and
  • Hands of Ra, it symbolizes rebirth.
Scarab Symbol
Credit: Britannica

The Scarab

The Scarab was one of ancient Egypt’s most well-known emblems from the first intermediate period (2181-2040 BCE) until the birth of Christianity. This ancient Egyptian sign, a dung Egyptian scarab beetle, can be seen in Egyptian art and iconography. The Egyptian scarab amulet’s shape arose from the Scarab’s habit of curling dung into a ball and placing its eggs in it, with the dung serving as food for the young when they hatched. The ancient Egyptians saw life springing from nothing as a symbol of metamorphosis, rebirth, and resurrection. The Scarab is associated with God Khepri, who served as Ra’s aid in rolling the sun’s ball around the sky.

The scarab hieroglyph letter is associated with the concepts of existence, transformation, growth, effectiveness, and divine manifestation, which explains why it was employed to describe official titles, governmental locations, and royal seals. Hardstone scarab beetle amulets, consisting of amethyst, green jasper, and carnelian, were the most prevalent scarab amulets.

The Tyet

Tyet is an ancient Egyptian symbol, also popular as Tjet. The symbol resembles the Anka symbol, with the only difference being the arms are curved downwards. It is also known as the knot of Isis or the blood of Isis. The sign stands for female genitalia and dates its origins to the Old Kingdom. It was a burial amulet composed of red stone or glass, and it links to several gods, including Isis. It represents the female reproductive organs as well as the goddess Isis’ position as the universal mother.

The Tyet and the Djed were united to provide a perfect union of feminine and male power. The Nephthys also stood for themes of burial and resurrection activities. It represents the concepts of eternal life and rebirth. It is frequently linked with the Ankh symbol (Ankh sun amun), providing both Isis and Osiris with protection and security. When Egypt was in its rich glory, and the Isis cult reached its zenith in the new kingdom, the Tyet sign was popular.

Lotus Symbol

Egyptian mythology values the lotus symbol as an absolute icon. Because the bloom, also known as the “Water lily,” closes at night, falls underwater, and then reopens in the morning, it has become a symbol of the sun, creation, and rebirth. The sun deity Atum-Ra identifies as the Ancient Egyptian Symbol Lotus. It is a magnum lotus that rose from the Nun waters when the world originated and the Sun-god emerged.

The Osiris cult also employed the emblem associated with funeral images and the departed entering the underworld, representing reincarnation. In art, the emblem represents Upper Egypt. It emerged in honoured and sacred sites across Egypt, on the capital tops of Egyptian pillars portraying the tree of life and in tombs, ancient Egyptian Hieroglyphs engraved on papyrus and found on thrones and headdresses of the divine pharaohs.

The Shen

Shen is a circle of rope without any beginning or an end. It forms an unbroken tie that highlights infinity, completion, eternal, and holy protection. Shen is a highly popular sign and well-presented. Everyone, even monarchs, wore the amulet of Shen, and the word “Shen” originates from the Ancient Egyptian word “Encircle.” In addition, it is associated with the Greek sign omega, which represents infinity. Several deities, including Horus and Isis themselves, appear holding the Shen. As such, Ancient Egyptians revered the Shen as a symbol of symmetry and perfection. It appears in several temples and tombs.

Wadjet Symbol
Credit: Ancient Origins


The Symbol of Ancient Egypt: Healing, Protection, Good Health, Good Luck, Royal Power, Sacrifice, Curative Qualities, and the most famous ancient Egyptian symbols are represented by the Egyptian symbol Eye of Horus (Uto, Udjat, Wedjat). Horus, the sky deity, took his left eye away to save his father Osiris, who became the ruler of the underworld. The eye was eventually restored after Horus saved his father’s life.

Horus’ left eye is an Ancient Egyptian sign representing Hathor’s or Thoth’s abilities of the sky’s magical skills and abilities. This symbol became popular due to its healing properties and was in use as a medical tool to measure medication proportions. Believers also thought that the eye of Horus meaning had mathematical knowledge and power.

Meaning of Egyptian Eye

The Eyes of Horus has six sections. Each part gets a fraction as its measurement unit, illustrating ancient Egyptian mathematical expertise. Like,

  • The eye’s right side depicted smell;
  • The pupil depicted sight,
  • The left side depicted hearing,
  • The curving tail that looks like a tongue represents taste.
  • The teardrop represents touch, with each part of the eye representing a different sense.

Amulets of the eye exist with both the dead and the living and were of gold, lapis lazuli, and carnelian. The eye is a symbol of sacrifice and represents the moon. The Eye of Horus symbol represents the location of the Third Eye. His right eye is regarded as Ra, the Egyptian sun god’s eye.

The Udjat Eye

The Eye of Ra is a well-known ancient Egyptian symbolic amulet capable of expelling all negative energy and bringing complete harmony into one’s life. The symbol’s origins trace back to several interconnected stories, such as when he sends his eye forth as a loving father searching for his missing children. Another eye developed in its place during Ra’s absence.

Ra, the sun god, sails his boat across the day and then descends to the underworld at night when he is weak and helpless. According to legend, Ra’s daughter utilized the eye’s power to punish humans who disobeyed his commands and regulations. Still, many gods feared the eyes would destroy humanity, so they captured and calmed the eyes before returning them to Ra.

The sign represents royal authority and power, as well as regeneration and peace. Although the eye of Ra meaning refers to the sun’s destructive force, the Egyptians use it to defend their buildings and themselves. The people painted the amulets in a dark crimson colour and use them to ward off evil spirits and spells while also promoting good health. The emblem of a snake wrapped around a solar disc is another portrayal of Ra’s eye.

Hekha and Nekhakha “Crook & Flail”

The Crook and Flail were signs of the state’s authority and the king’s total dominance over his subjects. “Hekha” is an Osiris epithet that means “To Rule” and signifies royal power and dominion. The symbols initially emerged during the reign of the first monarch, Narmer, in the Early Dynastic Period (c. 3150 BCE). The crook and flail were initially the symbols of the God Osiris, who represented the Pharaohs’ rule.

The staff symbolized monarchy and the Pharaoh’s role as a shepherd to his people. In contrast, the flail symbolized the land’s fertility and the Pharaoh’s role as a food supplier for his citizens. In addition, it was made of wood since the ancient Egyptians thought gold was scarce, although the monarchs always used gold-decorated versions.


The Ouroboros is an Ancient Egyptian sun emblem that portrays Aton’s travels and is one of the sun god’s attributes. It stands for rebirth, eternal infinity, regeneration, and the beginning and end of time. When Atum emerged from Nun’s dark, primordial waters in the form of a serpent regenerating itself every morning, the emblem was born. The emblem initially emerged in King Tutankhamen’s tomb when he was interred in the 14th century BC, and it depicts the unified Ra-Osiris. It’s an infinity symbol and is prominent in many cultures, including Greek and Norse mythology.

Cartouche Symbols
Credit: Pinterest


It is an obvious connection and powerful symbolism to the sun, which exhibits divine protection against all evil spirits in life and the afterlife. Moreover, it is one of the oldest and classical emblems of the ancient Egyptian civilization. The cartouche in the Egyptian Hieroglyph alphabet depicts the Egyptian-Language word meaning Name. It’s an oval with a line at one end at right angles and a horizontal bar in the centre with a royal name. They appear on tombstones and coffins and indicate the person buried within. This is to aid the body’s journey through the afterlife.


The Uraeus is an ancient emblem that represents the snake, the royal goddess Wadjet’s animal depiction. The emblem represents divine authority, majesty, and sovereignty. According to the tale of the cobra, the Uranus emblem can bestow magical powers and protection to the ancient Egyptians. The Uraeus was a sculptured ornament, on the top of his crown, as a pharaoh’s adornment, and in jewellery and amulets. It also signifies a shrine or a structure in Hieroglyph symbols.

The Ka

The ka represents the newly born and resurrected souls in the afterlife. The Ka is the soul’s life energy and spiritual essence and the most convoluted portion of ancient Egyptian symbolism and mythology. It was the portal to the heavens, affecting every aspect of their lives. The holy Gods received each man’s life forces through the Ka. It was also the source of these abilities, the spiritual double that every man possesses, and the ultimate emblem of the Egyptian symbol of life’s sustaining and creative power.

The Ka was a soul component, a person’s twin who lived inside his body till he died. The spiritual component of every human being will leave the body after death. Still, it must return, which is why the ancient Egyptians mummified it to preserve it as long as possible to win their chance at eternal life. The Kas of royalty symbolizes individualism. The Ka of Osiris was the sentinel of the pyramids. It frequently existed with the Horus name of the monarch on the pole.

The ancient Egyptians regarded the ka as each person’s conscience or guidance and kindness, honour, compassion, and tranquility. The shoulder and arms curved upwards at the elbow were the Hieroglyphs of the ka. The Ka sculptures and images emerge in a virtuous, youthful, and beautiful form. The Egyptians believed that the ram-headed God Khnum created all of humanity out of clay.

The Feather of Maat

Ancient Egyptians held the belief that the weight of a feather was equivalent to the weight of the afterlife. Thus, the feather of Maat, which was one of the forms of the goddess Maat who represented the ancient Egyptian values of order, harmony, law, balance, morality, truth, and justice, is one of the most well-known and well-known ancient Egyptian symbols.

The feather of Maat played a significant role in the afterlife’s judging process. When Anubis’ symbol brings the deceased’s body to the Hall of Truth to stand before Osiris, the ruler of the underworld, the judgement begins by weighing the feather of Maat against the deceased’s heart and the heart’s weightlessness. If the deceased’s heart is much lighter than that of a feather, the person joins the eternal realm of the reeds. However, if the deceased’s heart is heavier than Maat’s feather, Ammit will consume him and depart him from any existence. Ammit is a soul-eating monster


The Amenta, which signifies the land of the dead and the underground, also known as Duat, is one of ancient Egypt’s most distinctive emblems. The symbol depicts the horizon where the sun sets and the west bank of the Nile, where the ancient Egyptians buried their dead.

Ancient Egyptian Symbol Tree of Life
Credit: Sivana East

The Tree of Life

Every ancient society on the planet had its own version of the tree of life. It was inextricably related to the presence of water. The tree of life is a famous ancient Egyptian symbol that profoundly impacted their mythology all over Egypt. Many Egyptians believed that the three conferred eternal life and a complete understanding of time cycles. It depicts the sun, and people believed it had the shape of a palm and sycamore tree. These grew at the gates of heaven.

The people linked it to the Heliopolis Ennead’s nine gods, as well as the genesis myth. In Heliopolis, at sun god Ra’s temple, the tree of life made its first apparition. The sacred Ished tree, also popular as the Tree of Life, was the home of the Bennu bird, sometimes known as the Phoenix, and links to the Djed Symbol.


Menet is a highly powerful religious symbol appearing as a necklace with a striking shape and counterweight. It was another name of the goddess Hathor, who is the symbol of love, joy, and festivity. The Ancient Egyptian Symbol was a necklace with a protective amulet that linked to Hathor and Apis Bulls. The Menet depicts a sign of new life, fertility, and rebirth. The Necklace was trendy in the new kingdom since it brought good luck and provided divine protection against all evil spirits in present life and every life after that. It was also a conduit for transmitting Hathor’s power to all of her followers.


The ancient Egyptians were highly inventive in all aspects of their lives, including music. It is evident from musical instruments like the sistrum, which consists of a handle and a U-shaped metal frame made of bronze or brass. The instruments ranged in width from 30 to 70 cm and had small moveable rings that produced sound. It was a significant device in Egyptian cosmology in religious events in Hathor’s worship and shaking to prevent the Nile from flooding.


The Seba amulet, also popular as the Star Amulet, is an ancient Egyptian symbol emblem that depicts stars. It embellished several temples and tombs and their advances in astrology, which formed their calendar and beliefs in the afterlife. Seba associates with gateways and gates and refers to ‘learning’ or ‘discipline.’ The sign stands for the values of learning, discipline and of gates and good entrances. The Egyptians thought the stars represented the spirits of the dead and Osiris’ followers. Nut, the Egyptian sky goddess, wears five-pointed stars. The stars had a significant impact on creating their calendar based on their beliefs in life after death.

The Bennu Bird

The Bennu bird, or the Phoenix, is a popular ancient Egyptian creature and symbol. It represents the emerging sun and the theory of resurrection. The Bennus represents the spirit of Ra, the sun deity. It was he who established headquarters in Heliopolis. The Bennu bird sits on the tree of life, also known as the sacred Ished tree, in Ra Heliopolis. The inundation of the Nile River and the ancient Egyptian notion of creation were likewise related to the Bennu Phoenix.

Canopic Jars
Credit: Egypt Tours

Canopic Jar

The canopic jar, used in mummification, resurrection, and judgement, is the most spiritual and religious item in ancient Egyptian mythology. The ancient Egyptians thought that life was eternal and that the symbol of death was merely a portal to another world. The ancient Egyptians used four jars to store organs such as the intestines, lungs, stomach, and liver. They took the organs after embalming, anointing, and wrapping the body in linen. The soul lies in the heart that resides inside the body.

The jars stood within a canopic chest and then people buried them alongside the deceased’s sarcophagus in tombs. They are of limestone or ceramic. The jars’ heads mimic the “Four Sons of Horus,”

  • the baboon-headed Happy,
  • the jackal-headed Duamutef,
  • the human-headed Imsety,
  • and the falcon-headed Qebehsenuef.

These are also cardinal compass points.

The Crescent

The Egyptian Fertility Goddess, of Motherhood, Healing, and Magic Isis inspired several symbols and amulets, including the Crescent moon emblem, which brings good fortune to all mothers and their children.


The Ajet is an ancient Egyptian sign representing the horizon and the sun and exists in ancient hieroglyphic writing. The symbol represents the horizon or the bright mountain. A circle in the circle depicts the sun, while the figures at the bottom are mountains. Aker, the Egyptian underworld god, who appears as two lions on either side, guards the emblem. Each side of the emblem represented the Egyptian underworld’s eastern and western horizons, as well as yesterday and today.

The Red Crown Deshret

The kings of Lower Egypt, located in northern Egypt near the Nile delta, wore it. Various Gods and Goddesses wore the crown, highlighting the role of rulers who possess Gods’ divinity. A Uranus was for the cobra goddess Wadjet, the guardian of lower Egypt. It existed on the kings’ foreheads and crowns.

Hedjet, the White Crown

Upper Egyptian monarchs and Gods like Osiris wore it. They dwelt in southern Egypt south of Memphis and around modern-day Aswan. The Egyptian Vulture Goddess Nekhnet, portrayed on the foreheads of monarchs on the crown, guarded the crown.

The Double King Pschent

It is a combination of the Deshret and the Hedjet, and it represents the unity of Upper and Lower Egypt under one king. Horus wore his crown, and Menes was the first Pharaoh to do so.

Nemes Headdress

The Nemes is a striped fabric headcloth that reaches the shoulders worn by ancient Egyptian monarchs, including the boy pharaoh Tutankhamun, who is pictured wearing one on his golden mask.

Egyptian Winged Sun

The winged sun, which dates back to the old kingdom and represents divinity, sovereignty, and power. It is one of ancient Egypt’s earliest emblems. The symbol is Bendety and appears in several temples to represent Behedti, the God of the midday sun. In addition, people used it as an amulet to ward off evil. The sign has Uraeus bordering it on both sides.

Ancient Egyptian Symbol Ba
Credit: Egypt Tours


The Ba stands for Personality in a falcon or a bird with a human head. It is the soul’s wandering physical essence and symbolizes the soul’s ascension after death. Some believe Ba encouraged the development of the Mummification Process for the Ba Spirit to return to the body at night. Thus, the Ba can shift the Sun Barque and travel across the underworld each night.


The Nebu is an ancient Egyptian gold symbol. The symbol was thought to be a celestial metal from the skies and that was the gods’ flesh. It links to Ra, the solar God, also popular as The Mountain of Gold. Its polished surface was associated with the sun’s brilliance, and it represented qualities of immortality in the afterlife. The pharaohs were famous as the golden Horus in the old Egyptian kingdom. The royal burial chamber was famous as “The House of Gold” in the new kingdom.


The Djew is a popular ancient Egyptian symbol and depicts the afterlife, grand tombs, death, and great royalty. Ancient Egyptians believed that a cosmic mountain supported the heavens. Two mountain peaks on the Nile River in the middle describe the tombs across the mountainous lands bordering the Nile valley.

Primordial Hill

The PrimordialHill is an ancient Egyptian emblem. The ancient Egyptians thought that when the water of darkness was born, it formed a hill and created drylands. This drove them to build these impressive eternal structures.

The Egyptian symbols are hieroglyphs, and people view them as “Words of the Gods.” They recorded the most important events in ancient Egyptian history, spiritual beliefs, and culture.

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