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Thoth: Egyptian God of Knowledge

Thoth was a popular god in the Ancient Egyptian pantheon. He was commonly known as the god of learning, writing, the languages, essentially the god of knowledge. Thoth was also the god of the moon. He was considered to be the inventor writing and the creator of the languages; Thoth was also known as the scribe and the interpreter because he was an adviser to the other gods. In some instances he was a representative of the sun god, Re. The sacred animals that were used symbolically of Thoth include the ibis, which is a small bird with a curved beak, and the baboon. The most common depiction of Thoth is a man with the head of an ibis, sometimes holding a scribal palette and reed pen. The depictions where Thoth is holding the scribal palette and reed pen are symbolic of his being and adviser to the other gods; some of his other similar titles included mediator and peacemaker. Other depictions such as the baboon or just the ibis bird are also symbolic of Thoth. Millions of mummified remains of ibis and baboons were found near the city of Hermopolis, which was the center of the cult that worshiped Thoth. (Encyclopedia Britannica) It is located in Upper Egypt, south of Cairo, on the Nile River. Hermopolis was known as Khmunu in Ancient Egypt. In every depiction one thing is common, Thoth wears a lunar crescent on his head because he is the god of the moon. (Dixon, pantheon.org) However, the crescent moon was also believed to be similar to the curved beak of the ibis, so it also has connections there. Another connection with the moon is the baboon. Baboons are nocturnal animals, so the crescent moon again seems relevant. In the myth of Osiris, Thoth protects Isis during her pregnancy; he then goes on to heal her son’s (Horus) eye that had been wounded by Seth, the adversary of Osiris. In the legend Thoth uses intellect and magic to aid Horus in defeating Seth. Thoth also was in charge of weighing the hearts of the deceased at their judgment. After he weighed their hearts Thoth would report back to Osiris with his decision and what kind of afterlife the person deserved. The Greeks identified Thoth as Hermes, who was the messenger god. They said he was “Thoth, the thrice great.” The image chosen is of a small five and a half inch statue of Thoth. He is in the common form as a man with an ibis head, however he does not have a scribe and reed, and he depicted is walking hence the name, Striding Thoth.

By: Shelby Watford

Works Cited

“Thoth.” Encyclopedia Britannica. 2014.http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/593453/Thoth

Dixon, Marianne. “Thoth.” Encyclopedia Mythica.  http://www.pantheon.org/articles/t/thoth.html