Meanwhile, Christianity spread across Egypt, and in the third and fourth centuries AD, edicts by Christian emperors and iconoclasm by local Christians eroded traditional beliefs. Some of these cult animals retained their positions for the rest of their lives, as with the Apis bull worshipped in Memphis as a manifestation of Ptah. [38][39], While the Egyptians had no unified religious scripture, they produced many religious writings of various types. Egyptian oracles are known mainly from the New Kingdom and afterward, though they probably appeared much earlier. By the New Kingdom he was also associated with Amun, the supreme force in the cosmos. The means of discerning the god's will gave great influence to the priests who spoke and interpreted the god's message. Therefore, although the Egyptians recognized that the pharaoh was human and subject to human weakness, they simultaneously viewed him as a god, because the divine power of kingship was incarnated in him. Often the dead were said to dwell in the realm of Osiris, a lush and pleasant land in the underworld. [9], The relationships between deities could also be expressed in the process of syncretism, in which two or more different gods were linked to form a composite deity. Amun, the supreme god, was increasingly seen as the final arbiter of human destiny, the true ruler of Egypt. Some information is also provided by allusions in secular texts. [45] Regardless of these variations, the act of creation represented the initial establishment of Ma'at and the pattern for the subsequent cycles of time. The state dedicated enormous resources to religious rituals and to the construction of temples. The god Ptah, for instance, was particularly important in his cult center of Memphis, but as the patron of craftsmen he received the nationwide veneration of many in that occupation. According to legend, the sun travels the skies as Ra drives his chariot through the heavens. At various times, certain gods became preeminent over the others, including the sun god Ra, the creator god Amun, and the mother goddess Isis. [16] The temples were not primarily intended as places for worship by the general populace, and the common people had a complex set of religious practices of their own. Despite their mundane purpose, many of these texts also originated in temple libraries and later became disseminated among the general populace. [67], The earliest Egyptian temples were small, impermanent structures, but through the Old and Middle Kingdoms their designs grew more elaborate, and they were increasingly built out of stone. Do Egyptians still worship their gods? [104], The tombs of wealthier individuals could also contain furniture, clothing, and other everyday objects intended for use in the afterlife, along with amulets and other items intended to provide magical protection against the hazards of the spirit world. It is also possible that the peasantry used simple magic for their own purposes, but because this magical knowledge would have been passed down orally, there is limited evidence of it. They believed in different gods and thought their Pharaoh was the gods' representative on Earth. [102] Because it was believed that the deceased would have to do work in the afterlife, just as in life, burials often included small models of humans to do work in place of the deceased. Careful burials during the Predynastic period imply that the people of this time believed in some form of an afterlife. In the course of this journey, Ra met with Osiris, who again acted as an agent of regeneration, so that his life was renewed. [40] Finally, Greeks and Romans such as Plutarch recorded some of the extant myths late in Egyptian history. According to the ancient Egyptians, it was necessary to worship and recognize the gods and goddesses in order for life to continue going smoothly. 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