merupakan sebuah suku di daerah mexico, yang awalnya merupakan suku yang tak beradab. oleh karenanya, suku ini mencampurkan budaya suku lain.
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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
For other uses, see Aztec (disambiguation).

Aztec civilization
Aztec society
Nahuatl language
Religion · Mythology · Philosphy · Calendars
Human sacrifice · Medicine
Aztec history
Aztlán · Codices · Warfare
Aztec Triple Alliance
Spanish conquest of the Aztec Empire
Fall of Tenochtitlan · La Noche Triste
Moctezuma II · Hernán Cortés
v • d • e

The Aztec Pyramid at St. Cecilia Acatitlan, Mexico State.

Aztec jade mask depicting the god Xipe Totec.

Aztec cosmogram in the pre-Hispanic Codex Fejérváry-Mayer – the fire god Xiuhtecuhtli is in the center.
The Aztec people were certain ethnic groups of central Mexico, particularly those groups who spoke the Nahuatl language and who dominated large parts of Mesoamerica in the 14th, 15th and 16th centuries, a period referred to as the late post-classic period in Mesoamerican chronology.
Often the term “Aztec” refers exclusively to the Mexica people of Tenochtitlan, situated on an island in Lake Texcoco, who referred to themselves as Mexica Tenochca or Colhua-Mexica. Sometimes the term also includes the inhabitants of Tenochtitlan’s two principal allied city-states, the Acolhuas of Texcoco and the Tepanecs of Tlacopan, who together with the Mexica formed the Aztec Triple Alliance which has also become known as the “Aztec Empire”.
In other contexts, Aztec may refer to all the various city states and their peoples, who shared large parts of their ethnic history as well as many important cultural traits with the Mexica, Acolhua and Tepanecs, and who like them, also spoke the Nahuatl language. In this meaning it is possible to talk about an Aztec civilization including all the particular cultural patterns common for the Nahuatl speaking peoples of the late postclassic period in Mesoamerica.
From the 13th century Valley of Mexico was the core of Aztec civilization: here the capital of the Aztec Triple Alliance, the city of Tenochtitlan, was built upon raised islets in Lake Texcoco. The Triple Alliance formed its tributary empire expanding its political hegemony far beyond the Valley of Mexico, conquering other city states throughout Mesoamerica. At its pinnacle Aztec culture had rich and complex mythological and religious traditions, as well as reaching remarkable architectural and artistic accomplishments.
In 1521, in what is probably the most widely known episode in the Spanish colonization of the Americas, Hernán Cortés, along with a large number of Nahuatl speaking indigenous allies, conquered Tenochtitlan and defeated the Aztec Triple Alliance under the leadership of Hueyi Tlatoani Moctezuma II; In the series of events often referred to as “The Fall of the Aztec Empire”. Subsequently the Spanish founded the new settlement of Mexico City on the site of the ruined Aztec capital.
Aztec culture and history is primarily known through archaeological evidence found in excavations such as that of the renowned Templo Mayor in Mexico City and many others, from indigenous bark paper codices, from eyewitness accounts by Spanish conquistadors such as Hernán Cortés and Bernal Díaz del Castillo, and especially from 16th and 17th century descriptions of Aztec culture and history written by Spanish clergymen and literate Aztecs in the Spanish or Nahuatl language, such as the famous Florentine Codex compiled by the Franciscan monk Bernardino de Sahagún with the help of indigenous Aztec informants.
Contents [hide]
1 Definitions
1.1 Aztec people
1.2 Aztec culture
1.3 Aztec empire
2 History
2.1 Migrational period
2.2 Rise of the Triple Alliance
2.3 Spanish conquest
2.4 Colonial period population decline
3 Cultural patterns
3.1 Government
3.2 Tribute and trade
3.3 Economy
3.4 Transportation
3.5 Mythology and religion
3.6 Human sacrifice
3.7 Social structures
3.8 Class structure
3.9 Recreation
3.10 Education
3.11 Arts
3.12 City-building and architecture
4 Agriculture
5 Relationship to other Mesoamerican cultures
6 Legacy
7 Historiography
7.1 Ancient sources
7.1.1 Aztec codices
7.1.2 The conquistadors
7.1.3 Priests and scholars
7.1.4 Native authors
7.2 Contemporary studies
7.3 The mexicanista movement
8 Notes
9 See also
10 References
10.1 Primary sources, available in English
11 External links

Aztec people
When used about ethnic groups the term “Aztec” refers to several Nahuatl speaking peoples of central Mexico in the postclassic period of Mesoamerican chronology, especially the ethnic group that had a leading role in the establishing the hegemonic empire based at Tenochtitlan, the Mexica. Other ethnic groups associated with the Aztec empire are the Acolhua and Tepanec ethnic groups and some of the ethnic groups that were incorporated into the empire, and the term is also sometimes used about them. In older usage the term was commonly used about modern Nahuatl speaking ethnic groups, as Nahuatl was previously referred to as the “Aztec language”. In recent usage these ethnic groups are rather referred to as the Nahua peoples.[1][2] Linguistically the term “Aztecan” is still used about the branch of the Uto-Aztecan languages (Also sometimes called the yuto-nahuan languages) that includes the Nahuatl language and its closest relatives Pochutec and Pipil.[3]
To the Aztecs themselves the word “aztec” was not an endonym for any particular ethnic group. Rather it was an umbrella term used to refer to several ethnic groups, not all of them Nahuatl speaking, that claimed heritage from the mythic place of origin, Aztlan. In the Nahuatl language “aztecatl” means “person from Aztlan”. In 1810 Alexander von Humboldt originated the modern usage of “Aztec” as a collective term applied to all the people linked by trade, custom, religion, and language to the Mexica state and the Triple Alliance. In 1843, with the publication of the work of William H. Prescott, it was adopted by most of the world, including 19th century Mexican scholars who saw it as a way to distinguish present-day Mexicans from pre-conquest Mexicans. This usage has been the subject of debate in more recent years, but the term “Aztec” is still more common.[4] Sometimes the term Aztec is replaced wholesale with “Mexica”, but this ignores the fact that the use of Aztec is not usually restricted to the Mexica ethnic group that inhabited only the southern part of the Island of Mexico-Tenochtitlan, but also includes other groups who would not have identified as Mexica.
Aztec culture
Aztec culture is the culture of the people referred to as Aztecs, but since all ethnic groups of central Mexico in the postclassic period shared most basic cultural traits, many of the basic traits of Aztec culture can not said to be exclusive for the Aztecs. For the same reason the notion of “Aztec civilization” is best understood as a particular horizon of a general Mesoamerican civilization.
Among the cultural traits that the Aztecs of Tenochtitlan shared with many other cultures of central Mexico are the agricultural basis of maize cultivation, the basic social organization dividing society into classes of noble pipiltin and macehualli commoners, the complex of religious beliefs and practices including most of the pantheon (e.g. gods such as Tezcatlipoca, Tlaloc and Quetzalcoatl), the calendric system of a xiuhpohualli of 365 days intercalated with a tonalpohualli of 260 days. Cultural traits particular to the Aztecs of Tenochtitlan was the veneration of the Mexica patron God Huitzilopochtli, the construction of twin pyramids, and the ceramic ware known as Aztec I to III.[5]
Aztec empire
Aztec Empire
Also known as Aztec Triple Alliance
1325–1521 →

Capital Tenochtitlan
Language(s) Nahuatl
Religion Aztec religion
Government Hegemonic Empire
– 1376–1395 Acamapichtli
– 1520–1521 Cuauhtémoc
Historical era Pre-Columbian
– Tenochtitlan is founded March 13, 1325 1325
– Spanish conquest of the Aztec Empire August 13, 1521 1521
Area 500,000 km2 (193,051 sq mi)
Currency Various currencies
The Aztec empire was a tribute empire based in Tenochtitlan, which extended its power throughout Mesoamerica in the late postclassic period.[6] It originated in 1427 as a Triple alliance between the citystates Tenochtitlan, Texcoco and Tlacopan who allied to defeat the Tepanec state of Azcapotzalco, that had previously dominated the Basin of Mexico. Soon Texcoco and Tlacopan became junior partners in the alliance which was de-facto lead by the Mexica of Tenochtitlan.[7] The empire extended its power by a combination of trade and military conquest. It was never a true territorial empire controlling a territory by large military garrisons in conquered provinces, but rather controlled its client states primarily by installing friendly rulers in conquered cities or constructing marriage alliances between the ruling dynasties, and by extending an imperial ideology to its client states.[8] Client states paid tribute to the Aztec emperor, the Huey Tlatoani in an economic strategy limiting communication and trade between outlying polities making them depend on the imperial center for the acquisition of luxury goods.[9] The political clout of the empire reached far south into Mesoamerica conquering cities as far south as Chiapas and Guatemala and spanning from the pacific to the atlantic oceans. The empire reached its maximal extent in 1519 just prior to the arrival of the Spanish conquistadors led by Cortés who managed to topple the Aztec empire by allying with some of the traditional enemies of the Aztecs, the Nahuatl speaking Tlaxcalteca.

Main article: History of the Aztecs
Migrational period
The Nahua peoples began to migrate into Mesoamerica from northern Mexico in the 6th century. They populated central Mexico dislocating speakers of Oto-Manguean languages as they spread their political influence south. As the former nomadic hunter-gatherer peoples mixed with the complex civilizations of Mesoamerica, adopting religious and cultural practices the foundation for later Aztec culture was laid. During the Postclassic period they rose to power at such sites as Tula, Hidalgo. In the 12th century the Nahua power center was in Azcapotzalco, from where the Tepanecs dominated the valley of Mexico. Around this time the Mexica tribe arrived in central Mexico.
Rise of the Triple Alliance

The Valley of Mexico at the time of the Spanish Conquest.
The true origin of the Mexicas is uncertain. According to their legends, the Mexica tribe place of origin was Aztlán. It is generally thought that Aztlán was somewhere to the north of the Valley of Mexico; some experts have placed it as far north as Southwestern United States.
Based on these codices as well as other histories, it appears that the Mexicas arrived at Chapultepec in or around the year 1248.[10]
At the time of their arrival, the Valley of Mexico had many city-states, the most powerful of which were Culhuacan to the south and Azcapotzalco to the west. The Tepanecs of Azcapotzalco soon expelled the Mexicas from Chapultepec. In 1299, Culhuacan ruler Cocoxtli gave them permission to settle in the empty barrens of Tizapan, where they were eventually assimilated into Culhuacan culture.
In 1323, the Mexicas were shown a vision of an eagle perched on a prickly pear cactus, eating a snake. This vision indicated that this was the location where they were to build their home. In any event, the Mexicas eventually arrived on a small swampy island in Lake Texcoco where they founded the town of Tenochtitlan in 1325. In 1376, the Mexicas elected their first Huey Tlatoani, Acamapichtli, who was living in Texcoco at the time.
For the next 50 years, until 1427, the Mexica were a tributary of Azcapotzalco, which had become a regional power, perhaps the most powerful since the Toltecs, centuries earlier. Maxtla, son of Tezozomoc, assassinated Chimalpopoca, the Mexica ruler. In an effort to defeat Maxtla, Chimalpopoca’s successor, Itzcoatl, allied with the exiled ruler of Texcoco, Nezahualcoyotl. This coalition was the foundation of the Aztec Triple Alliance, which defeated Azcapotzalco in 1428.

Jaguar warrior, from the Codex Magliabechiano.
The Triple Alliance of Tenochtitlan, Texcoco, and Tlacopan would, in the next 100 years, come to dominate the Valley of Mexico and extend its power to both the Gulf of Mexico and the Pacific shore. Over this period, Tenochtitlan gradually became the dominant power in the alliance.
Two of the primary architects of the Aztec empire were the half-brothers Tlacaelel and Montezuma I, nephews of Itzcoatl. Moctezuma I succeeded Itzcoatl as Hueyi Tlatoani in 1440. Although he was also offered the opportunity to be tlatoani, Tlacaelel preferred to operate as the power behind the throne. Tlacaelel reformed the Aztec state and religion. According to some sources, he ordered the burning of most of the extant Aztec books claiming that they contained lies. He thereupon rewrote the history of the Aztec people, thus creating a common awareness of history for the Aztecs. This rewriting led directly to the curriculum taught to scholars and promoted the belief that the Aztecs were always a powerful and mythic nation; forgetting forever a possible true history of modest origins. One component of this reform was the institution of ritual war (the flower wars) as a way to have trained warriors, and created the necessity of constant sacrifices to keep the Sun moving.
Spanish conquest
Main article: Spanish conquest of the Aztec Empire
The empire reached its height during Ahuitzotl’s reign in 1486–1502. His successor, Motehcuzōma Xocoyotzin (better known as Moctezuma II or Moctezuma), had been Hueyi Tlatoani for 17 years when the Spaniards, led by Hernándo Cortés, landed on the Gulf Coast in the spring of 1519.
Despite some early battles between the two, Cortés allied himself with the Aztecs’ long-time enemy, the Confederacy of Tlaxcala, and arrived at the gates of Tenochtitlan on November 8, 1519.
The Spaniards and their Tlaxcallan allies became increasingly dangerous and unwelcome guests in the capital city. In June, 1520, hostilities broke out, culminating in the massacre in the Main Temple and the death of Moctezuma II. The Spaniards fled the town on July 1, an episode later characterized as La Noche Triste (the Sad Night). They and their native allies returned in the spring of 1521 to lay siege to Tenochtitlan, a battle that ended on August 13 with the destruction of the city. During this period the now crumbling empire went through a rapid line of ruler succession. After the death of Moctezuma II, the empire fell into the hands of severely weakened emperors, such as Cuitláhuac, before eventually being ruled by puppet rulers, such as Andrés de Tapia Motelchiuh, installed by the Spanish.
Despite the decline of the Aztec empire, most of the Mesoamerican cultures were intact after the fall of Tenochtitlan. Indeed, the freedom from Aztec domination may have been considered a positive development by most of the other cultures. The upper classes of the Aztec empire were considered noblemen by the Spaniards and generally treated as such initially. All this changed rapidly and the native population were soon forbidden to study by law, and had the status of minors[citation needed].
The Tlaxcalans remained loyal to their Spanish friends and were allowed to come on other conquests with Cortés and his men.
Colonial period population decline
Main article: Population history of American indigenous peoples
In 1520–1521, an outbreak of smallpox swept through the population of Tenochtitlan and was decisive in the fall of the city. It is estimated that between 10% and 50% of the population fell victim to this epidemic.
Subsequently, the Valley of Mexico was hit with two more epidemics, smallpox (1545–1548) and typhus (1576–1581). The Spaniards, to consolidate the diminishing population, merged the survivors from small towns in the Valley of Mexico into bigger ones. This broke the power of the upper classes, but did not dissolve the coherence of the indigenous society in greater Mexico.
The population before the time of the conquest is unknown and hotly contested,[11] but disease is known to have ravaged the region; thus, the indigenous population of the Valley of Mexico is estimated to have declined by more than 80% in the course of about 60 years.[12]
Cultural patterns


The maximal extent of the Aztec Empire
The Aztec Empire was an example of an empire that ruled by indirect means. Like most European empires, it was ethnically very diverse, but unlike most European empires, it was more of a system of tribute than a single system of government. In the theoretical framework of imperial systems posited by Alexander J. Motyl[13] the Aztec empire was an informal or hegemonic empire because it did not exert supreme authority over the conquered lands, it merely expected tributes to be paid. It was also a discontinuous empire because not all dominated territories were connected, for example the southern peripheral zones of Xoconochco were not in direct contact with the center. The hegemonic nature of the Aztec empire can be seen in the fact that generally local rulers were restored to their positions once their city-state was conquered and the Aztecs did not interfere in local affairs as long as the tribute payments were made.[14]
Although the form of government is often referred to as an empire, in fact most areas within the empire were organized as city-states, known as altepetl in Nahuatl. These were small polities ruled by a king (tlatoani) from a legitimate dynasty. The Early Aztec period was a time of growth and competition among altepetl. Even after the empire was formed (1428) and began its program of expansion through conquest, the altepetl remained the dominant form of organization at the local level. The efficient role of the altepetl as a regional political unit was largely responsible for the success of the empire’s hegemonic form of control.[15]
Tribute and trade
Several pages from the Codex Mendoza list tributary towns along with the goods they supplied, which included not only luxuries such as feathers, adorned suits, and greenstone beads, but more practical goods such as cloth, firewood, and food. Tribute was usually paid twice or four times a year at differing times.[16]
Archaeological excavations in the Aztec-ruled provinces show that incorporation into the empire had both costs and benefits for provincial peoples. On the positive side, the empire promoted commerce and trade, and exotic goods from obsidian to bronze managed to reach the houses of both commoners and nobles. Trade partners included the enemy Tarascan, a source of bronze tools and jewelry. On the negative side, imperial tribute imposed a burden on commoner households, who had to increase their work to pay their share of tribute. Nobles, on the other hand, often made out well under imperial rule because of the indirect nature of imperial organization. The empire had to rely on local kings and nobles and offered them privileges for their help in maintaining order and keeping the tribute flowing.[17]
The Aztec economy can be divided into a political sector, under the control of nobles and kings, and a commercial sector that operated independently of the political sector. The political sector of the economy centered on the control of land and labor by kings and nobles. Nobles owned all land, and commoners got access to farmland and other fields through a variety of arrangements, from rental through sharecropping to serf-like labor and slavery. These payments from commoners to nobles supported both the lavish lifestyles of the high nobility and the finances of city-states. Many luxury goods were produced for consumption by nobles. The producers of featherwork, sculptures, jewelry, and other luxury items were full-time commoner specialists who worked for noble patrons.
In the commercial sector of the economy several types of money were in regular use. Small purchases were made with cacao beans, which had to be imported from lowland areas. In Aztec marketplaces, a small rabbit was worth 30 beans, a turkey egg cost 3 beans, and a tamal cost a single bean. For larger purchases, standardized lengths of cotton cloth called quachtli were used. There were different grades of quachtli, ranging in value from 65 to 300 cacao beans. One source stated that 20 quachtli could support a commoner for one year in Tenochtitlan. A man could also sell his own daughter as a sexual slave or future religious sacrifice, generally for around 500 to 700 beans. A small gold statue (approximately 0.62 kg / 1.37 lb) cost 250 beans. Money was used primarily in the many periodic markets that were held in each town. A typical town would have a weekly market (every 5 days), while larger cities held markets every day. Cortés reported that the central market of Tlatelolco, Tenochtitlan’s sister city, was visited by 60,000 people daily. Some sellers in the markets were petty vendors; farmers might sell some of their produce, potters sold their vessels, and so on. Other vendors were professional merchants who traveled from market to market seeking profits. The pochteca were specialized merchants organized into exclusive guilds. They made long expeditions to all parts of Mesoamerica, and they served as the judges and supervisors of the Tlatelolco market. Although the economy of Aztec Mexico was commercialized (in its use of money, markets, and merchants), it was not “a capitalist economy because land and labor were not commodities for sale.”[18]
The main contribution of the Aztec rule was a system of communications between the conquered cities. In Mesoamerica, without draft animals for transport (nor, as a result, wheeled vehicles), the roads were designed for travel on foot. Usually these roads were maintained through tribute, and travelers had places to rest and eat and even latrines to use at regular intervals, roughly every 10 or 15 km. Couriers (paynani) were constantly travelling along those ways, keeping the Aztecs informed of events, and helping to monitor the integrity of the roads. Due to the steady surveillance, even women could travel alone, a fact that amazed the Spaniards, as that was not at all possible in Europe since the time of the Romans.
After the conquest those roads were no longer subject to maintenance and were lost.
Mythology and religion
Main articles: Aztec religion and Aztec mythology

The Coat of Arms of Mexico, from Aztec mythology

The Aztec Sun Stone, also known as the Aztec Calendar Stone, at National Museum of Anthropology, Mexico City.

The Aztec goddess of Coatlicue, mother of earth. National Museum of Anthropology.
The Mexica made reference to at least two manifestations of the supernatural: tēōtl and tēixiptla. Tēōtl, which the Spaniards and European scholars routinely mistranslated as “god” or “demon”, referred rather to an impersonal force that permeated the world. Tēixiptla, by contrast, denoted the physical representations (“idols”, statues and figurines) of the tēōtl as well as the human cultic activity surrounding this physical representation. The Mexica “gods” themselves had no existence as distinct entities apart from these tēixiptla representations of tēōtl (Boone 1989).
Veneration of Huitzilopochtli, the personification of the sun and of war, was central to the religious, social and political practices of the Mexicas. Huitzilopochtli attained this central position after the founding of Tenochtitlan and the formation of the Mexica city-state society in the 14th century. Prior to this, Huitzilopochtli was associated primarily with hunting, presumably one of the important subsistence activities of the itinerant bands that would eventually become the Mexica.
According to myth, Huitzilopochtli directed the wanderers to found a city on the site where they would see an eagle devouring a snake perched on a fruit-bearing nopal cactus. (It was said that Huitzilopochtli killed his nephew, Cópil, and threw his heart on the lake. Huitzilopochtli honoured Cópil by causing a cactus to grow over Cópil’s heart.) Legend has it that this is the site on which the Mexicas built their capital city of Tenochtitlan. This legendary vision is pictured on the Coat of arms of Mexico.
According to their own history, when the Mexicas arrived in the Anahuac valley (Valley of Mexico) around Lake Texcoco, the groups living there considered them uncivilized. The Mexicas borrowed much of their culture from the ancient Toltec whom they seem to have at least partially confused with the more ancient civilization of Teotihuacan. To the Mexicas, the Toltecs were the originators of all culture; “Toltecayōtl” was a synonym for culture. Mexica legends identify the Toltecs and the cult of Quetzalcoatl with the mythical city of Tollan, which they also identified with the more ancient Teotihuacan.
Human sacrifice

Human sacrifice as shown in the Codex Magliabechiano
Main article: Human sacrifice in Aztec culture
For most people today, and for the European Catholics who first met the Aztecs, human sacrifice was the most striking feature of Aztec civilization. While human sacrifice was practiced throughout Mesoamerica, the Aztecs, if their own accounts are to be believed, brought this practice to an unprecedented level. For example, for the reconsecration of Great Pyramid of Tenochtitlan in 1487, the Aztecs reported that they sacrificed 84,400 prisoners over the course of four days, reportedly by Ahuitzotl, the Great Speaker himself.
However, most experts consider these numbers to be overstated. For example, the sheer logistics associated with sacrificing 84,000 victims would be overwhelming, though historians and archaeologists agree that 2,000 is a more likely figure. A similar consensus has developed on reports of cannibalism among the Aztecs.
Accounts by the Tlaxcaltecas, the primary enemy of the Aztecs at the time of the Spanish Conquest, show that at least some of them considered it an honor to be sacrificed. In one legend, the warrior Tlahuicole was freed by the Aztecs but eventually returned of his own volition to die in ritual sacrifice. Tlaxcala also practiced the human sacrifice of captured Aztec Citizens.
Social structures
Main articles: Aztec society and Aztec slavery
Class structure

A painting from Codex Mendoza showing elder Aztecs being given intoxicants.
The highest class were the pīpiltin or nobility.[19] Originally this status was not hereditary, although the sons of pillis had access to better resources and education, so it was easier for them to become pillis. Later the class system took on hereditary aspects.
The second class were the mācehualtin, originally peasants. Eduardo Noguera[20] estimates that in later stages only 20% of the population was dedicated to agriculture and food production. The other 80% of society were warriors, artisans and traders. Eventually, most of the mācehuallis were dedicated to arts and crafts. Their works were an important source of income for the city.[21]
Slaves or tlacotin also constituted an important class. Aztecs could become slaves because of debts, as a criminal punishment or as war captives. A slave could have possessions and even own other slaves. However, upon becoming a slave, all of the slave’s animals and excess money would go to his purchaser. Slaves could buy their liberty, and slaves could be set free if they had children with or were married to their masters. Typically, upon the death of the master, slaves who had performed outstanding services were freed. The rest of the slaves were passed on as part of an inheritance.
Traveling merchants called pochtecah were a small, but important class as they not only facilitated commerce, but also communicated vital information across the empire and beyond its borders. They were often employed as spies.
As with all Mesoamerican cultures, the Aztecs played a variant of the Mesoamerican ballgame, named tlachtli or ollamaliztli in Nahuatl. The game was played with a ball of solid rubber , called an olli, whence derives the Spanish word for rubber, hule. The players hit the ball with their hips, knees, and elbows and had to pass the ball through a stone ring to automatically win. Getting the ball through the hoop was so hard, if a player actually scored a goal, they were given some jewelry. No one knows the exact rules of the game, as the rules have never been recorded, and thus, only speculations exist. The Aztec variant of the Mesoamerican ballgame is the only one to be described in postcolonial sources, and not much is known about how other Mesoamerican people played the game.
The Aztecs also enjoyed board games, like patolli and totoloque. Bernal Diaz records that Cortés and Moctezuma II played totoloque together.
Until the age of fourteen, the education of children was in the hands of their parents, but supervised by the authorities of their calpōlli. Part of this education involved learning a collection of sayings, called huēhuetlàtolli (“sayings of the old”), that embodied the Aztecs’ ideals. Judged by their language, most of the huēhuetlatolli seemed to have evolved over several centuries, predating the Aztecs and most likely adopted from other Nahua cultures.
There were two types of schools: the telpochcalli, for practical and military studies, and the calmecac, for advanced learning in writing, astronomy, statesmanship, theology, and other areas. The two institutions seem to be common to the Nahua people, leading some experts to suggest that they are older than the Aztec culture.
Aztec teachers (tlatimine) propounded a spartan regime of education with the purpose of forming a stoical people.
Girls were educated in the crafts of home and child raising. They were not taught to read or write. All women were taught to be involved in religion; there are paintings of women presiding over religious ceremonies, but there are no references to female priests.

This ornament features a turquoise mosaic on a carved wooden base, with red and white shells used for the mouths. Probably worn across the chest, this ornament measures 20 by 43 cm (8 by 17 in). It was likely created by Mixtec artisans from an Aztec tributary state. 1400–1521, from the British Museum [1].
Song and poetry were highly regarded; there were presentations and poetry contests at most of the Aztec festivals. There were also dramatic presentations that included players, musicians and acrobats.
Poetry was the only occupation worthy of an Aztec warrior in times of peace. A remarkable amount of this poetry survives, having been collected during the era of the conquest. In some cases poetry is attributed to individual authors, such as Nezahualcoyotl, tlatoani of Texcoco, and Cuacuauhtzin, Lord of Tepechpan, but whether these attributions reflect actual authorship is a matter of opinion. Miguel León-Portilla, a well-respected Aztec scholar of Mexico, has stated that it is in this poetry where we can find the real thought of the Aztecs, independent of “official” Aztec ideology.[22]
It is also important to note that the Spanish classified many aspects of the Aztec/Nahuatl culture according to the lexicon and organizational categories with which they would distinguish in Europe. In the same way that the second letter of Cortes made a mention of “mesquitas”, or in English, “mosques”, when trying to convey his impression of Aztec architecture, early colonists and missionaries divided the principal bodies of nahuatl literature as “poetry” and “prose”. “Poetry” was in xochitl in cuicatl a dual term meaning “the flower and the song” and was divided into different genres. Yaocuicatl was devoted to war and the god(s) of war, Teocuicatl to the gods and creation myths and to adoration of said figures, xochicuicatl to flowers (a symbol of poetry itself and indicative of the highly metaphorical nature of a poetry that often utilized duality to convey multiple layers of meaning). “Prose” was tlahtolli, also with its different categories and divisions (Garganigo et al.).

Turquoise mask. Mixtec-Aztec. 1400–1521.
The most important collection of these poems is Romances de los señores de la Nueva España, collected (Tezcoco 1582), probably by Juan Bautista de Pomar.[23] Bautista de Pomar was the great-grandson of Netzahualcoyotl. He spoke Nahuatl, but was raised a Christian and wrote in Latin characters. (See also: “Is It You?”, a short poem attributed to Netzahualcoyotl, and “Lament on the Fall of Tenochtitlan”, a short poem contained within the “Anales de Tlatelolco” manuscript.)
The Aztec people also enjoyed a type of dramatic presentation, a kind of theatre. Some plays were comical with music and acrobats, others were staged dramas of their gods. After the conquest, the first Christian churches had open chapels reserved for these kinds of representations. Plays in Nahuatl, written by converted Indians, were an important instrument for the conversion to Christianity, and are still found today in the form of traditional pastorelas, which are played during Christmas to show the Adoration of Baby Jesus, and other Biblical passages.
Music and dance formed an essential part of the indigenous rites and ceremonies. Research about music of the Aztec people dates back to the writings of Bernal del Castillo, who was appalled by the music of these people because he viewed it during their ritualistic sacrifices, which were very different from rituals of Christian worship. Others, such as the Franciscan monk Fray Bernardino de Sahagún and the Dominican monk Diego Durán, were able to look at the music from different viewpoints, noting the unique instruments and the qualities of pitch and harmony that were achieved with these instruments—new sounds to their ears. Some musical instruments used are Tetzilacatl, Teponaztli, Tecomapiloa, Omichicahuaztli, Huehuetl, Coyolli, Chililitli, Caililiztli, Chicahuaztli, Cacalachtli, Áyotl, Ayacahtli.
City-building and architecture

Tenochtitlan, looking east. From the mural painting at the National Museum of Anthropology, Mexico City. Painted in 1930 by Dr. Atl.
The capital city of the Aztec empire was Tenochtitlan, now the site of modern-day Mexico City. Built on a series of islets in Lake Texcoco, the city plan was based on a symmetrical layout that was divided into four city sections called campans. The city was interlaced with canals which were useful for transportation.
Tenochtitlan was built according to a fixed plan and centered on the ritual precinct, where the Great Pyramid of Tenochtitlan rose 50 m (164.04 ft) above the city. Houses were made of wood and loam, roofs were made of reed,[24] although pyramids, temples and palaces were generally made of stone.
Around the island, chinampa beds were used to grow foods as well as, over time, to increase the size of the island. Chinampas, misnamed “floating gardens”, were long raised plant beds set upon the shallow lake bottom. They were a very efficient agricultural system and could provide up to seven crops a year. On the basis of current chinampa yields, it has been estimated that 1 hectare of chinampa would feed 20 individuals and 9,000 hectares of chinampas could feed 180,000.[25]
Anthropologist Eduardo Noguera estimates the population at 200,000 based in the house count and merging the population of Tlatelolco (once an independent city, but later became a suburb of Tenochtitlan). If one includes the surrounding islets and shores surrounding Lake Texcoco, estimates range from 300,000 to 700,000 inhabitants.[25]

The pre-conquest Aztecs were a society that had four main methods of agriculture. The earliest, most basic form of agriculture implemented by the Aztecs is known as “rainfall cultivation.” The Aztecs also implemented terrace agriculture in hilly areas, or areas that could not be used for level ground farming. In the valleys irrigation farming was used. Dams diverted water from natural springs to the fields. This allowed for harvests on a regular basis. The Aztecs built canal systems that were longer and much more elaborate than previous irrigation systems. They managed to divert a large portion of the Cuauhtitlan River to provide irrigation to large areas of fields. The network of canals was a very complex and intricate system.
In the swampy regions along Lake Xochimilco, the Aztecs implemented yet another method of crop cultivation. They built what are called chinampas. Chinampas are areas of raised land, created from alternating layers of mud from the bottom of the lake, and plant matter/other vegetation. These “raised beds” were separated by narrow canals, which allowed farmers to move between them by canoe. The chinampas were extremely fertile pieces of land, and yielded, on average, seven crops annually. In order to plant on them, farmers first created “seedbeds,” or reed rafts, where they planted seeds and allowed them to germinate. Once they had, they were re-planted in the chinampas. This cut the growing time down considerably.
The Aztecs are credited with domestication of the subspecies of Wild turkey, Meleagris gallopavo, which is native to this region.[26]
While most of the farming occurred outside the densely populated areas, within the cities there was another method of (small scale) farming. Each family had their own garden plot where they grew maize, fruits, herbs, medicines and other important plants.
Of the various crops grown by the Aztecs, maize was the most important. Aztec diets centered on it. Maize was grown across the entire empire, in the highland terraces, valley farms and also on the chinampas. Women ground maize into a coarse meal by rubbing it with a grinding stone called a mano against a flat stone called a metate. The Aztecs made tortillas from the corn meal. Other crops that the Aztecs relied upon were avocados, beans, squashes, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, chia, amaranth and chilies. These crops were also grown everywhere. Crops that were specific to the lowland regions were cotton, fruits, cacao beans and rubber trees.
Relationship to other Mesoamerican cultures

Aztecs admired Mixtec craftsmanship so much that they imported artisans to Tenochtitlan and requested work to be done in certain Mixtec styles. The Aztecs also admired the Mixtec codices, so some of them were made to order by Mixteca for the Aztecs. In the later days, high society Aztec women started to wear Mixtec clothing, specifically the quexquemetl. It was worn over their traditional huipil, and much coveted by the women who could not afford such imported goods.
The situation was analogous in many ways to the Phoenician culture which imported and duplicated art from other cultures that they encountered.
Archaeologists usually do not have a problem differentiating between Mixtec and Aztec artifacts. However, the Mixtec made some products for “export” and that makes classification more problematic. In addition, the production of craft was an important part of the Mexica economy, and they also made pieces for “export”.

Most modern day Mexicans (and people of Mexican descent in other countries) are mestizos, of mixed indigenous and European Spanish ancestry. During the 16th century the racial composition of Mexico began to change from one that featured distinct indigenous (Mexicas and members of the many other Mexican indigenous groups) and immigrant (mostly Spanish) populations, to the population composed primarily of mestizos that is found in modern day Mexico.
The Nahuatl language is today spoken by 1.5 million people, mostly in mountainous areas in the states of central Mexico. Local dialects of Spanish, Mexican Spanish generally, and the Spanish language worldwide have all been influenced, in varying degrees, by Nahuatl. Some Nahuatl words (most notably chocolate and tomato) have been borrowed through Spanish into other languages around the world.
Mexico City was built on the ruins of Tenochtitlan, making it one of the oldest living cities of the Americas. Many of its districts and natural landmarks retain their original Nahuatl names. Many other cities and towns in Mexico and Central America have also retained their Nahuatl names (whether or not they were originally Mexica or even Nahuatl-speaking towns). A number of town names are hybrids of Nahuatl and Spanish.
Mexican cuisine continues to be based on and flavored by agricultural products contributed by the Mexicas/Aztecs and Mesoamerica, most of which retain some form of their original Nahuatl names. The cuisine has also become a popular part of the cuisine of the United States and other countries around the world, typically altered to suit various national tastes.
The modern Mexican flag bears the emblem of the Mexica migration story.
Mexico’s premier religious icon, the Virgin of Guadalupe has certain similarities to the Mexica earth mother goddess Tonantzin.
For the 1986 FIFA World Cup Adidas designed the official match ball to show in its “triades” Aztec architectural and mural designs [2].

Before the development of archaeology in Mexico in the 19th century, the historians mainly interpreted the ancient written sources to reconstitute aztec history. Archaeology allowed to reconsider and criticise some of those interpretations and contradictions between the primary sources. Now, the scholar study of aztec civilization is most often based on scientific and multidisciplinary methodologies.
Ancient sources

A painting of Tlaloc, as shown on page 20R of Codex Rios
Aztec codices
There are few extant Aztec codices created before the conquest and these are largely ritual texts. Post-conquest codices, like Codex Mendoza or Codex Ríos, were painted by Aztec tlacuilos (codex creators), but under the control of Spanish authorities. The possibility of Spanish influence poses potential problems for those studying the post-conquest codices. Itzcoatl had the oldest hieroglyphics destroyed for political-religious reasons and Bishop Zumarraga of Mexico (1528–48) had all available texts burned for missionary reasons.[27]
The conquistadors
The accounts of the conquistadors are those of men confronted with a new civilization, which they tried to interpret according to their own culture. Cortés was the most educated, and his letters to Charles V are a valuable firsthand account. Unfortunately, one of his letters is lost and replaced by a posterior text and the others were censored prior to their publication. In any case, Cortés was not writing a dispassionate account, but letters justifying his actions and to some extent exaggerating his successes and downplaying his failures.
Bernal Díaz del Castillo accompanied Cortes, but he wrote decades after the fact, he never learned the native languages, and he did not take notes. His account is colorful, but his work is considered erratic and exaggerated.
Although Francisco López de Gómara was Cortes’ chaplain, friend, and confidant, he never visited the New World so his account is based on hearsay.
Priests and scholars
The accounts of the first priests and scholars, while reflecting their faith and their culture, are important sources. Fathers Diego Durán, Motolinia, and Mendieta wrote with their own religion in mind, Father Duran wrote trying to prove that the Aztec were one of the lost tribes of Israel. Bartolomé de las Casas wrote instead from an apologetic point of view. There are also authors that tried to make a synthesis of the pre-Hispanic cultures, like “Oviedo y Herrera”, Jose de Acosta, and Pedro Mártir de Anghera.
Perhaps the most significant source about the Aztec are the manuscripts of Bernardino de Sahagún, who worked with the surviving Aztec wise men. He taught Aztec tlacuilos to write the original Nahuatl accounts using the Latin alphabet. Because of fear of the Spanish authorities, he maintained the anonymity of his informants, and wrote a heavily censored version in Spanish. Unfortunately the Nahuatl original was not fully translated until the 20th century, thus realising the extent of the censorship of the Spanish version. The original Nahuatl manuscript is known as the Florentine Codex.
Native authors
Other important sources are the work of native and mestizo authors, descendants of the upper classes. These authors include Don Fernando Alvarado Tezozómoc, Chimalpahin Cuauhtlehuanitzin, Juan Bautista de Pomar, and Fernando de Alva Cortés Ixtlilxochitl. Ixtlixochitl, for example, wrote a history of Texcoco from a Christian point of view. His account of Netzahualcoyotl, an ancestor of Ixtlilxochitl’s, has a strong resemblance to the story of King Solomon and portrays Netzahualcoyotl as a monotheist and a critic of human sacrifice.
Diego Muñoz Camargo (1521 – c. 1612), a Tlaxcalan mestizo, wrote the History of Tlaxcala six decades after the Spanish conquest. Some parts of his work have a strong Tlaxcala bias.
Contemporary studies
This section has no content. You can help Wikipedia by introducing information to it. (December 2009)
The mexicanista movement
Laurette Séjourné, a French anthropologist, wrote about Aztec and Mesoamerican spirituality. Her depiction of the Aztecs as a spiritual people was so compelling that new religions have been formed based on her writings. Some parts of her work have been adopted by esoteric groups, searching for occult teachings of the pre-Columbian religions. Séjourné never endorsed any of these groups.[citation needed]
Miguel León-Portilla also idealizes the Aztec culture, especially in his early writings.[citation needed]
Others, such as Antonio Velazco, have transformed the writings by Sejourné and León-Portilla into a religious movement. Antonio Velasco Piña has written three books, Tlacaelel, El Azteca entre los Aztecas, La mujer dormida debe dar a luz, and Regina. When mixed with the currents of Neopaganism, these books resulted in a new religious movement called “Mexicanista”. This movement called for a return to the spirituality of the Aztecs. It is argued that, with this return, Mexico will become the next center of power. This religious movement mixes Mesoamerican cults with Hindu esoterism. The Mexicanista movement reached the peak of its popularity in the 1990s.

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suku ini dikenal dengan emasnya. konon, mereka sudah terbiasa dengan emas, bahkan, emas pun berceceran seperti batu biasa. itulah yang menyebabkan agresi bangsa eropa terhadap suku aztec, yang ingin menguasai emasnya. jadi, amat berkaitan dengan yang disebut el-dorado

Published in: on March 21, 2010 at 3:29 am  Comments (5)  

pajak juga



Menimbang :

bahwa dalam rangka melaksanakan ketentuan Pasal 9 ayat (4) Undang-undang Nomor 6 Tahun 1983

tentang Ketentuan Umum dan Tata Cara Perpajakan sebagaimana telah diubah terakhir dengan

Undang-undang Nomor 16 Tahun 2000, Pasal 29 Undang-undang Nomor 7 Tahun 1983 tentang Pajak

Penghasilan sebagaimana telah diubah terakhir dengan Undang-undang Nomor 17 Tahun 2000, perlu

menetapkan Keputusan Direktur Jenderal Pajak tentang Tata Cara Pemberian Angsuran dan Penundaan

Pembayaran Pajak;

Mengingat :

1. Undang-undang Nomor 6 Tahun 1983 tentang Ketentuan Umum dan Tata Cara Perpajakan

(Lembaran Negara Republik Indonesia Tahun 1983 Nomor 49, Tambahan Lembaran Negara

Republik Indonesia Nomor 3262) sebagaimana telah diubah terakhir dengan Undang-undang

Nomor 16 Tahun 2000 (Lembaran Negara Republik Indonesia Tahun 2000 Nomor 126, Tambahan

Lembaran Negara Republik Indonesia Nomor 3984).

2. Undang-undang Nomor 7 Tahun 1983 tentang Pajak Penghasilan (Lembaran Negara Republik

Indonesia Tahun 1983 Nomor 50, Tambahan Lembaran Negara Republik Indonesia Nomor 3263)

sebagaimana telah diubah terakhir dengan Undang-undang Nomor 17 Tahun 2000 (Lembaran

Negara Republik Indonesia Tahun 2000 Nomor 127, Tambahan Lembaran Negara Republik

Indonesia Nomor 3985);

3. Keputusan Menteri Keuangan Nomor : 541/KMK.04/2000 tentang Penentuan Tanggal Jatuh Tempo

Pembayaran dan Penyetoran Pajak, Tempat Pembayaran Pajak, Tata Cara Pembayaran,

Penyetoran, dan Pelaporan Pajak, serta Tata Cara Pemberian Angsuran atau Penundaan

Pembayaran Pajak;


Menetapkan :



Pasal 1

(1) Wajib Pajak dapat mengajukan permohonan secara tertulis untuk mengangsur atau menunda


a. pajak yang masih harus dibayar dalam Surat Tagihan Pajak, Surat Ketetapan Pajak

Kurang Bayar, Surat Ketetapan Pajak Kurang Bayar Tambahan, dan Surat Keputusan

Pembetulan, Surat Keputusan Keberatan, Putusan Banding yang menyebabkan jumlah

pajak yang harus dibayar bertambah;

b. kekurangan pembayaran Pajak Penghasilan yang masih harus dibayar dalam Surat

Pemberitahuan Tahunan Pajak Penghasilan sebagaimana dimaksud dalam Pasal 29

Undang-undang Nomor 7 Tahun 1983 tentang Pajak Penghasilan sebagaimana telah

diubah terakhir dengan Undang-undang Nomor 17 Tahun 2000, kepada Kepala Kantor

Pelayanan Pajak tempat Wajib Pajak terdaftar, apabila Wajib Pajak mengalami kesulitan

likuiditas atau mengalami keadaan di luar kekuasaannya, sehingga tidak dapat memenuhi

kewajiban pajaknya pada waktunya, dengan menggunakan formulir sebagaimana

ditetapkan dalam Lampiran I Keputusan Direktur Jenderal Pajak ini.

(2) Permohonan Wajib Pajak sebagaimana dimaksud dalam ayat (1), harus diajukan secara tertulis

paling lambat 15 (lima belas) hari sebelum saat jatuh tempo pembayaran utang pajak berakhir

kecuali dalam hal Wajib Pajak mengalami keadaan di luar kekuasaannya, dapat diajukan setelah

batas waktu tersebut, disertai alasan dan jumlah pembayaran pajak yang dimohon diangsur atau

ditunda dan dilampiri dengan bukti-bukti untuk menguatkan alasan permohonannya.

(3) Atas setiap permohonan Wajib Pajak sebagaimana dimaksud dalam ayat (1), diberikan bukti

penerimaan dengan menggunakan formulir sebagaimana ditetapkan dalam Lampiran II Keputusan

Direktur Jenderal Pajak ini.

Pasal 2

(1) Wajib Pajak yang mengajukan permohonan sebagaimana dimaksud dalam Pasal 1 ayat (1) harus :

a. bersedia memberikan jaminan yang besarnya ditetapkan berdasarkan pertimbangan

Kepala Kantor Pelayanan Pajak, kecuali apabila Kepala Kantor Pelayanan Pajak

menganggap tidak perlu; dan

b. tidak mempunyai tunggakan pajak yang telah jatuh tempo.

(2) Bentuk jaminan sebagaimana dimaksud dalam ayat (1) dapat berupa bank garansi, perhiasan,

kendaraan bermotor, gadai dari barang bergerak lainnya, penyerahan hak milik secara

kepercayaan, hipotik, penanggungan utang oleh pihak ketiga, sertifikat tanah atau sertifikat


Pasal 3

(1) Kepala Kantor Pelayanan Pajak setelah mempertimbangkan alasan-alasan yang diajukan oleh

Wajib Pajak sebagaimana dimaksud dalam Pasal 1 ayat (2), menerbitkan keputusan yang dapat

berupa menerima seluruhnya, menerima sebagian atau menolak permohonan Wajib Pajak, dalam

jangka waktu 10 (sepuluh) hari sejak permohonan diterima dengan lengkap.

(2) Dalam hal permohonan Wajib Pajak diterima seluruhnya atau sebagian, maka Kepala Kantor

Pelayanan Pajak atas nama Direktur Jenderal Pajak menerbitkan:

a. Surat Keputusan Angsuran Pembayaran Pajak dengan masa angsuran:

(1) paling lama 12 (dua belas) bulan sejak diterbitkannya keputusan tersebut, untuk

permohonan sebagaimana dimaksud dalam Pasal 1 ayat (1) huruf a;

(2) paling lama sampai dengan bulan terakhir Tahun Pajak berikutnya, untuk

permohonan sebagaimana dimaksud dalam Pasal 1 ayat (1) huruf b;

dengan jumlah angsuran yang sama besarnya setiap bulan, dengan menggunakan formulir

sebagaimana ditetapkan dalam Lampiran III Keputusan Direktur Jenderal Pajak ini; atau

b. Surat Keputusan Penundaan Pembayaran Pajak dengan masa penundaan:

(1) paling lama 12 (dua belas) bulan sejak diterbitkannya keputusan tersebut, untuk

permohonan sebagaimana dimaksud dalam Pasal 1 ayat (1) huruf a;

(2) paling lama 3 (tiga) bulan sejak akhir batas waktu penyampaian Surat

Pemberitahuan Tahunan, untuk permohonan sebagaimana dimaksud dalam

Pasal 1 ayat (1) huruf b;

dengan menggunakan formulir sebagaimana ditetapkan dalam Lampiran IV Keputusan

Direktur Jenderal Pajak ini.

(3) Dalam hal permohonan Wajib Pajak sebagaimana dimaksud dalam Pasal 1 ayat (1) huruf a ditolak

maka Kepala Kantor Pelayanan Pajak menerbitkan Surat Keputusan Penolakan Angsuran atau

Surat Keputusan Penolakan Penundaan Pembayaran Pajak dengan menggunakan formulir

sebagaimana ditetapkan dalam Lampiran V Keputusan Direktur Jenderal Pajak ini.

(4) Apabila setelah jangka waktu sebagaimana dimaksud dalam ayat (1) Kepala Kantor Pelayanan

tidak memberi suatu keputusan, permohonan Wajib Pajak dianggap diterima, dan Surat

Keputusan Angsuran atau Penundaan harus diterbitkan paling lama 7 (tujuh) hari setelah jangka

waktu tersebut berakhir.

(5) Terhadap utang pajak yang telah diterbitkan surat keputusan angsuran atau penundaan

pembayaran, tidak dapat lagi diajukan permohonan untuk mengangsur atau menunda pembayaran.

Pasal 4

(1) Apabila Wajib Pajak yang mengajukan permohonan sebagaimana dimaksud dalam Pasal 1 ayat (1)

huruf a, ternyata mempunyai Surat Ketetapan Pajak Lebih Bayar (SKPLB) maka pengembalian

kelebihan pembayaran pajak yang telah ditetapkan tersebut langsung diperhitungkan untuk

melunasi terlebih dahulu utang pajak yang ada.

(2) Utang Pajak dimaksud dalam ayat (1) adalah sisa utang pajak atas nama Wajib Pajak yang

tercantum pada STP, SKPKB, atau SKPKBT dan utang pajak lainnya yang sudah terutang.

Pasal 5

Surat Keputusan Angsuran Pembayaran Pajak atau Surat Keputusan Penundaan Pembayaran Pajak

dinyatakan tidak berlaku lagi apabila Wajib Pajak mengajukan permohonan pembetulan, keberatan,

gugatan atau banding, atau pengurangan/penghapusan sanksi atau pengurangan/pembatalan surat

ketetapan pajak, yang berkaitan dengan utang pajak yang diizinkan untuk diangsur atau ditunda.

Pasal 6

Apabila ternyata bahwa ketentuan mengenai tanggal dan atau jumlah angsuran yang tercantum dalam

Surat Keputusan Angsuran Pembayaran Pajak tidak dipenuhi oleh Wajib Pajak sebagaimana mestinya,

atau setelah berakhirnya masa penundaan sebagaimana dimaksud dalam Surat Keputusan Penundaan

Pembayaran Pajak ternyata Wajib Pajak tidak melunasi kewajibannya, Kepala Kantor Pelayanan Pajak

melaksanakan tindakan penagihan berdasarkan Undang-undang Nomor 19 Tahun 1997 tentang Penagihan

Pajak dengan Surat Paksa sebagaimana telah diubah dengan Undang-undang Nomor 19 Tahun 2000.

Pasal 7

Permohonan Wajib Pajak yang diterima sebelum ditetapkannya Keputusan Direktur Jenderal Pajak ini,

diproses berdasarkan Keputusan Direktur Jenderal Pajak Nomor : KEP-53/PJ./1995 tentang Tata Cara

Pelaksanaan Pemberian Angsuran atau Penundaan Pembayaran Pajak.

Pasal 8

Pada saat Keputusan Direktur Jenderal ini mulai berlaku, Keputusan Direktur Jenderal Pajak Nomor :

KEP-53/PJ./1995 tentang Tata Cara Pelaksanaan Pemberian Angsuran atau Penundaan Pembayaran

Pajak, dinyatakan tidak berlaku.

Pasal 9

Keputusan Direktur Jenderal Pajak ini mulai berlaku pada tanggal 1 Januari 2001.

Agar setiap orang mengetahuinya, memerintahkan pengumuman Keputusan Direktur Jenderal Pajak ini

dengan penempatannya dalam Berita Negara Republik Indonesia.

Ditetapkan di : Jakarta

Pada tanggal : 30 April 2001




Published in: on March 14, 2010 at 12:15 pm  Leave a Comment  

tentang pajak

jenis wajib pajak

wajib pajak pribadi

Wajib Pajak

Wajib pajak adalah orang pribadi atau badan, meliputi pembayar pajak, pemotong pajak, dan pemungut pajak, yang mempunyai hak dan kewajiban perpajakan sesuai dengan ketentuan peraturan perundang-undangan perpajakan


Pengusaha adalah orang pribadi atau badan dalam bentuk apapun yang dalam kegiatan usaha atau pekerjaannya menghasilkan barang, mengimpor barang, mengekspor barang, melakukan usaha perdagangan, memanfaatkan barang tidak berwujud dari luar Daerah Pabean, melakukan usaha jasa, atau memanfaatkan jasa dari luar Daerah Pabean.

Kewajiban Wajib Pajak

Sesuai dengan sistem self assessment, Wajib Pajak mempunyai kewajiban untuk mendaftarkan diri, melakukan sendiri penghitungan pembayaran dan pelaporan pajak terutangnya.

– Pendaftaran

Wajib Pajak mempunyai kewajiban untuk mendaftarkan diri untuk mendapatkan Nomor Pokok Wajib Pajak (NPWP). Wajib Pajak Orang Pribadi yang wajib mendaftarkan diri untuk memperoleh NPWP adalah :

1. Orang Pribadi yang menjalakan usaha atau pekerjaan bebas;

2. Orang Pribadi yang tidak menjalankan usaha atau pekerjaan bebas, yang memperoleh penghasilan diatas Penghasilan Tidak Kena Pajak (PTKP) wajib mendaftarkan diri paling lambat pada akhir bulan berikutnya;

3. Wanita kawin yang dikenakan pajak secara terpisah, karena hidup terpisah berdasarkan keputusan hakim atau dikehendaki secara tertulis berdasarkan perjanjian pemisahan penghasilan dan harta;

4. Wajib Pajak Orang Pribadi Pengusaha Tertentu yang mempunyai tempat usaha berbeda dengan tempat tinggal, selain wajib mendaftarkan diri ke KPP yang wilayah kerjanya meliputi tempat tinggalnya, juga diwajibkan mendaftarkan diri ke KPP yang wilayah kerjanya meliputi tempat kegiatan usaha dilakukan.

Untuk memperoleh NPWP, Wajib Pajak wajib mendaftarkan diri pada Kantor Pelayanan Pajak yang wilayahnya meliputi kedudukan wajib pajak dengan mengisi formulir pendaftaran dan melampirkan persyaratan administrasi. Selain mendatangi Kantor Pelayanan Pajak, Wajib Pajak Orang Pribadi dapat pula mendaftarkan diri secara online melalui e-registration di website Direktorat Jenderal Pajak Selain mendapatkan NPWP, Wajib Pajak dapat dikukuhkan sebagai Pengusaha Kena Pajak (PKP) dan kepadanya akan diberikan Nomor Pengkuhan Pengusaha Kena Pajak (NPPKP)

Wajib Pajak Badan

Wajib Pajak

Wajib Pajak (WP) adalah Orang Pribadi atau Badan yang menurut ketentuan peraturan perundang-undangan perpajakan ditentukan untuk melakukan kewajiban perpajakan, termasuk pemungut pajak atau pemotong pajak tertentu.


Pengusaha adalah orang pribadi atau badan dalam bentuk apapun yang dalam kegiatan usaha atau pekerjaannya menghasilkan barang, mengimpor barang, mengekspor barang, melakukan usaha perdagangan, memanfaatkan barang tidak berwujud dari luar Daerah Pabean, melakukan usaha jasa, atau memanfaatkan jasa dari luar Daerah Pabean.Badan adalah sekumpulan orang dan atau modal yang merupakan kesatuan baik yang melakukan usaha maupun tidak melakukan usaha yang meliputi perseroan terbatas, perseroan komanditer, perseroan lainnya, Badan Usaha Milik Negara atau Daerah dengan nama dan dalam bentuk apapun, firma, kongsi, koperasi, dana pension, persekutuan, perkumpulan, yayasan, organisasi massa, organisasi social politik, atau organisasi yang sejenis, lembaga, bentuk usaha tetap dan bentuk badan lainnya termasuk reksadana. Dalam pengertian perkumpulan termasuk pula asosiasi, persatuan, perhimpunan, atau ikatan dari pihak-pihak yang mempunyai kepentingan yang sama.

Kewajiban Wajib Pajak

Sesuai dengan sistem self assessment, Wajib Pajak mempunyai kewajiban untuk mendaftarkan diri, melakukan sendiri penghitungan pembayaran dan pelaporan pajak terutangnya.


Wajib Pajak mempunyai kewajiban untuk mendaftarkan diri untuk mendapatkan Nomor Pokok Wajib Pajak (NPWP). Untuk memperoleh NPWP, Wajib Pajak wajib mendaftarkan diri pada Kantor Pelayanan Pajak yang wilayahnya meliputi kedudukan wajib pajak dengan mengisi Formulir pendaftaran dan melampirkan Persyaratan Administrasi Selain mendatangi Kantor Pelayanan Pajak, Wajib Pajak dapat pula mendaftarkan diri secara online melalui e-registration di website Direktorat Jenderal Pajak Selain mendapatkan NPWP, Wajib Pajak dapat dikukuhkan sebagai Pengusaha Kena Pajak (PKP) dan kepadanya akan diberikan Nomor Pengkuhan Pengusaha Kena Pajak (NPPKP)

Pembayaran dan Pelaporan

Setelah melakukan pendaftaran dan mendapatkan NPWP, Wajib Pajak mempunyai kewajiban untuk menghitung dan membayar pajak, yang selanjutnya melaporkan pajak terutangnya dalam bentuk Surat Pemberitahuan SPT . Batas waktu pembayaran dan pelaporan SPT masa dan SPT tahunan adalah sebagai berikut :

wajib pajak patuh

Wajib Pajak Patuh adalah Wajib Pajak yang ditetapkan oleh Direktur Jenderal Pajak sebagai Wajib Pajak yang memenuhi kriteria tertentu yang dapat diberikan pengembalian pendahuluan kelebihan pembayaran pajak.

Syarat-syarat menjadi Wajib Pajak Patuh

Sesuai dengan Keputusan Menteri Keuangan Nomor 235/KMK.03/2003 tanggal 3 Juni 2003, Wajib Pajak dapat ditetapkan sebagai WP Patuh yang dapat diberikan pengembalian pendahuluan kelebihan pembayaran pajak apabila memenuhi semua syarat sebagai berikut:

a. Tepat waktu dalam menyampaikan Surat Pemberitahuan Tahunan dalam 2 (dua) tahun terakhir;

b. Dalam tahun terakhir penyampaian SPT Masa yang terlambat tidak lebih dari 3 (tiga) masa pajak untuk setiap jenis pajak dan tidak berturut-turut;

c. SPT Masa yang terlambat itu disampaikan tidak lewat dari batas waktu penyampaian SPT Masa masa pajak berikutnya;

d. Tidak mempunyai tunggakan Pajak untuk semua jenis pajak:

1) kecuali telah memperoleh izin untuk mengangsur atau menunda pembayaran pajak;

2) Tidak termasuk tunggakan pajak sehubungan dengan STP yang diterbitkan untuk 2 (dua) masa pajak terakhir;

e. Tidak pernah dijatuhi hukuman karena melakukan tindak pidana di bidang perpajakan dalam jangka waktu 10 (sepuluh) tahun terakhir; dan

f. Dalam hal laporan keuangan diaudit oleh akuntan publik atau Badan Pengawasan Keuangan dan Pembangunan harus dengan pendapat wajar tanpa pengecualian atau dengan pendapat wajar dengan pengecualian sepanjang pengecualian tersebut tidak mempengaruhi laba rugi fiskal. Laporan audit harus :

1) disusun dalam bentuk panjang (long form report);

2) menyajikan rekonsiliasi laba rugi komersial dan fiskal.

g. kecuali telah memperoleh izin untuk mengangsur atau menunda pembayaran pajak;

h. Tidak termasuk tunggakan pajak sehubungan dengan STP yang diterbitkan untuk 2 (dua) masa pajak terakhir;

Dalam hal laporan keuangan Wajib Pajak tidak diaudit oleh akuntan publik, maka Wajib Pajak harus mengajukan permohonan tertulis paling lambat 3 bulan sebelum tahun buku berakhir, untuk dapat ditetapkan sebagai WP Patuh sepanjang memenuhi syarat pada huruf a sampai huruf e, ditambah syarat:

– Dalam 2 tahun pajak terakhir menyelenggarakan pembukuan sebagaimana dimaksud dalam Pasal 28 UU KUP, dan

– Apabila dalam 2 tahun terakhir terhadap Wajib Pajak pernah dilakukan Pemeriksaan pajak, maka koreksi fiskal untuk setiap jenis pajak yang terutang tidak lebih dari 10%.
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Published in: on March 11, 2010 at 9:38 am  Leave a Comment  

sungai dalam laut

“dan Dia yang membiarkan dua laut berdampingan yang satu tawar lagi segar, yang lain asin lagi pahit ; dan Dia jadikan diantara keduanya batas yang membatasi” al-furqan:53

ayat diatas dapat kita jumpai di layar televisi.
masih ingatkah anda mengenai sungai dalam laut?

baru-baru ini saya mendengar kabar burung yang mengatakan bahwa ada sungai dibawah laut, awalnya saya tidak percaya, tapi akhirnya saya melihat dalil aqli dan dalil naqli yang menunjukan bahwa hal tersebut ternyata memang ada.

menurut salah satu ilmuan UI yang saya lupa namanya, laut itu awalnya daratan yang mengalir sungai, kemudian daratan tersebut tenggelam. diatas sungai ini, dipercaya memiliki kandungan hidrogen sulfida, berupa uap. yah, bisa dilihat di gambar di atas banyak uapnya.

sungai ini awalnya ditemukan didaerah amerika selatan. namun sungai ini ternyata ada banyak, salah satunya ialah terdapat di laut jawa.

namun, hidrogen yang terkandung dalam sungai tersebut apabila bercampur dengan air laut dan garam maka akan membahayakan kehidupan biota laut. sungai ini dipinggirannya terdapat pepohonan dan dedaunan kering.
aneh bukan? selain para peneliti kini sedang antusiasnya meneliti hal ini, para pengusaha tempat rekreasi seperti seaworld pun mungkin akan tertarik untuk memasukan hidrogen sulfida yang amat banyak dalam aquarium air laut raksasanya untuk dijadikan “wahana” baru dalam pertunjukan, hehe

Published in: on March 11, 2010 at 9:22 am  Leave a Comment  

atikel binatang laut aneh

Erabaru News Jumat, 15 Mei 2009
“Binatang raksasa aneh” dari samudera yang misterius kerap terdampar di pantai terbawa air laut. Belum lama ini, satu tim ilmuwan dari sebuah kota di Amerika Selatan kembali menemukan sesosok bangkai misterius bergigi tajam dengan mulut moncong dengan panjang tubuh hampir 4 meter. Bangkai binatang ini disebut “Gozila”, ia mungkin adalah suatu makhluk pada 135 juta tahun silam, dan merupakan kerabat jauh dari buaya sekarang.
Sebelumnya, menurut laporan Beijing Technology News, bahwa di akhir tahun 1896 silam, di Pantai St. Agustin, dua bocah laki-laki yang tengah bermain menemukan sesosok makhluk putih yang besar. Makhluk itu memiliki panjang 7 meter lebih, dan lebar lebih dari 2 meter dengan bobot 7 ton, dan juga tubuhnya sangat elastis.
Pada 3 Juli 2003, di kawasan ke-10 di selatan Chile ditemukan sesosok bangkai misterius dari laut terdampar di pantai. Berdasarkan penentuan pemeriksaan di lapangan dari pusat perlindungan paus setempat, bangkai makhluk itu panjangnya 12,4 meter, lebar 5,8 meter dan tebal 1,06 meter dengan berat diperkirakan mencapai 13 ton.

Sejak tahun 2004, tim riset biologi yang dipimpin ahli biologi Sidney Pierce dari South Maryland University telah menyelidiki semua sampel bangkai misterius yang bisa ditelusuri, dengan menggunakan mikroskop foto-elektrik, biokimia, metode analitis ilmu molekul dan tes DNA. Mereka membandingkan susunan kimia dari sampel bangkai misterius yang ditemukan di berbagai wilayah di dunia. Hasilnya menunjukan makhluk-makhluk itu sangat mirip, tidak tergolong dalam jenis gurita (cumi-cumi) raksasa, juga tidak tergolong berbagai jenis binatang misterius lain yang tak bertulangbelakang. Sampel-sampel ini berasal dari satu organisme yang sama dengan ikan paus, mereka mungkin sejenis ikan paus atau ikan hiu.

Terhadap “makhluk raksasa misterius” ini, penjajakan dan perdebatan dari para ilmuwan juga tidak pernah berhenti. Sehubungan dengan penemuan itu, para ilmuwan mengemukakan penjelasan ketiga. Yakni, tidak tertutup kemungkinan makhluk misterius itu adalah naga berleher ular atau makhluk purbakala lainnya yang berada pada 160 juta tahun silam, yaitu suatu makhluk purbakala dasar laut dari peninggalan zaman kuno. Dan tentu saja, jumlah makhluk purbakala ini sangat sedikit, mereka hidup di lingkungan laut dalam yang stabil, karena itu, orang-orang sangat sulit menemukan jejak mereka.

Tentu orang-orang akan mempertanyakan, binatang pada 160 juta tahun silam, mana mungkin bisa bertahan (hidup) hingga sekarang?

Dengan pertimbangan lingkungan yang stabil di samudera, tidak tertutup kemungkinan ada makhluk purbakala tertentu dapat bertahan hidup hingga sekarang. Dan contoh dari keadaan ini juga dapat ditemukan, pada tahun 1964, ilmuwan menemukan crinoidea (bunga laut) dari kedalaman 540 meter di samudera. Dan beberapa tahun kemudian, ditemukan lagi landak laut yang merah menyala. Ini semua adalah binatang pada 150 juta tahun silam, dan pernah ditemukan pada fosil, di luar dugaan sekarang masih bisa ditemukan lagi jenis mereka yang masih hidup.

Sesungguhnya, di atas bumi sekarang memang ada fenomena demikian. Ada makhluk yang semestinya sudah musnah pada puluhan juta tahun silam, namun yang mengejutkan, mereka masih eksis di sudut tertentu di muka bumi, dan dengan tegar hidup bersama dengan jenis binatang lain pada masa sekarang ini.

Ada juga jenis binatang tertentu yang pernah hidup di jaman purba, sebagai contoh, panda besar. Ia adalah salah satu makhluk hidup paling kuno dari China. Sejak sebelum adanya manusia, di masa akhir pertengahan abad baru kurang lebih pada 8 juta tahun silam sudah ada jejak panda besar di muka bumi.

Selain itu, ada acipenseriadae yakni sejenis ikan laut yang bertelur di sungai. acipenseriadae adalah binatang bertulang belakang paling kuno yang berasal dari masa mesozoikum pada 100 juta tahun silam, dan mempunyai sebutan “fosil hidup”. Usia acipenseriadae cukup panjang, dapat hidup hingga 100-200 tahun. Panjang tubuh umumnya 3-4 meter, dan berat badan dapat mencapai 500 kg. Di dalam tubuh acipenseriadae selain memiliki beberapa tulang keras di kepala, tulang belakang dan tulang pipinya, selain itu merupakan tulang rawan dan juga tidak berduri. Moncongnya tajam mencuat dengan tubuh berbentuk oval. Di depan moncongnya terdapat sungut yang digunakan untuk mencari makanan di dalam air.
Ikan paru juga hidup pada 300 juta tahun silam. Umumnya mereka bernapas dengan insang di dalam air. Bila air kering ia membungkus dirinya menjadi segumpal tanah dengan lendir dan lumpur, sedangkan di dalamnya menyisakan sebuah saluran yang bisa saling berhubungan dengan dunia luar, kemudian bernapas dengan paru-paru primitif dari gelembung renang ikan, lalu tidur nyenyak. Setelah itu baru kembali ke sungai saat air sungai sudah cukup.
Begitu juga Ikan tanpa duri. ikan ini hidup pada 300 juta tahun silam, hingga pada 70 juta tahun yang lalu sudah lenyap. Tetapi, pernah dua kali berhasil ditangkap di daerah perairan tenggara Afrika. Panjangnya kurang lebih 1,5 meter, pada permukaan tubuhnya dipenuhi dengan sisik yang keras, memancarkan cahaya berwarna putih kebiru-biruan, sekujur tubuhnya seperti mengenakan selapisan baju baja, bagian kepalanya sangat keras. Yang mencengangkan adalah, pada dua sisi bagian dada dan perutnya masing-masing ditumbuhi dengan sebuah sirip, dibanding dengan sirip ikan lainnya, sirip-sirip ini tampak sangat besar, persis seperti kaki binatang liar.

Fosil Dinosaurus Ditemukan di China

Sebuah fosil tulang rusuk sepanjang 1,8 meter telah berhasil digali dalam fase kedua penggalian di situs fosil Dashanpu, Kota Zigong, Provinsi Sichuan, China. Para ahli memperkirakan berdasarkan proporsionalitasnya, panjang dinosaurus tersebut lebih dari 20 meter. The Zigong Dinosaur Museum telah mengizinkan publik untuk menyaksikan proses penggalian yang dimulai sejak 1 Oktober lalu.
Menurut laporan Xinhua Net’s China, Wakil Direktur Museum Peng Guangzhao mengatakan, “Ini adalah fosil tulang rusuk terpanjang yang pernah saya lihat. Berdasarkan pertimbangan keadaan dari keawetan dan konektifitasnya, fosil ini milik dinosaurus yang utuh.”
Fosil yang telah ditemukan selama masa penggalian ini adalah termasuk satu dinosaurus tersendiri. Kemungkinan ini lebih besar dari semua Omeisaurus tianfuensis yang ditemukan di situs fosil Dashanpu. Mungkin juga lebih besar dari Omeisaurus tianfuensis yang tergali di Lungtienfu, yang merupakan fosil terbesar kedua di Asia dan juga dipamerkan di museum ini.
Perkiraan awal yang dilakukan oleh para ahli mengindikasikan bahwa di daerah ini terdapat ladang seluas 300.000 meter persegi mengandung fosil dinosaurus. Diantara lebih dari 10.000 meter persegi dipenuhi dengan fosil-fosil, dan sejauh ini hanya 2800 meter persegi yang telah tergali.
Menurut para ahli, seluruh ladang dipenuhi dengan fosil-fosil. Mengandung lebih dari 1000 tulang tengkorak; nominal tulangnya berjumlah sekitar ratusan ribu bahkan jutaan. The Zigong Dinosaur Museum memulai fase kedua penggalian di situs fosil Dashanpu pada 12 September lalu. Penggalian akan mencakup lebih dari 400 meter persegi dengan kedalaman lebih dari 10 meter.
Dalam 40 meter persegi dari yang telah tergali, 50 potong fosil dinosaurus telah tergali. Potongan terpanjang tulang rusuk berukuran 1,8 meter, sedangkan tulang paha terpanjang adalah 1,5 meter. Situs fosil Dashanpu mengandung geologika dan reruntuhan paleontologi terkenal dari periode Jurassic pertengahan.
Sebelumnya telah diadakan beberapa penggalian dalam berbagai skala pada 1972 dan 1979-1985. Dengan 2.800 meter persegi tergali, hampir 300 tengkorak dari vertebrata purbakala, sebagian besar adalah dinosaurus, telah berhasil digali dan dikenali. Lebih dari 20.000 tulang yang telah memfosil telah dikumpulkan. (*

Makhluk-makhluk asing dengan bentuk tubuh yang aneh ditemukan dari dasar samudera selama survei kelautan terakhir. Ada timun laut transparan bersulur, ikan yang mengepakkan sepasang sirip besar seperti telinga ‘dumbo’ karakter gajah Walt Disney, dan cacing tabung yang memakan minyak

Laporan yang dikeluarkan mencatat, 17.650 spesies yang hidup di bawah 656 kaki (kira-kira 200 m) dari permukaan laut, di tempat yang tak tersentuh cahaya matahari. Penemuan ini merupakan hasil terbaru dari sensus 10-tahunan bagi satwa laut.
Ribuan spesies lautan bertahan hidup di kedalaman samudera yang gelap gulita dengan cara mengkonsumsi bahan-bahan yang membusuk yang perlahan tenggelam termasuk tulang-belulang dari ikan paus. Menurut laporan itu, minyak dan metana juga menjadi sumber energi untuk penghuni dasar lautan ini.
Dengan laporan ini, para peneliti telah menemukan sekitar 5.600 spesies baru di samping 230.000 yang telah tercatat sebelumnya. Mereka memperkirakan daftar spesies baru yang ditemukan akan bertambah beberapa ribu lagi menjelang bulan Oktober 2010, ketika sensus akan diselesaikan. Para ilmuwan juga mengaku telah menemukan 5.722 spesies hidup di kedalaman ekstrim samudera, di perairan yang lebih dalam dari 3.280 kaki (kira-kira 975 m).
Lebih dari 40 spesies baru karang didokumentasikan di pegunungan di dasar lautan, dan juga hamparan brittlestar dan anemon seluas kota-kota. Hampir 500 spesies baru, mulai dari mahluk sel tunggal hingga cumi-cumi besar telah ditemukan di kedalaman dataran dan palungan samudera.
Satu penemuan penting lainnya adalah bahwa 170 spesies baru tersebut mendapatkan energi dari bahan kimia yang dikeluarkan dari lubang-lubang di dasar samudera. Salah satunya adalah familia ‘kepiting yeti’, yang berbulu halus di kaki-kakinya.
“Di tengah Samudera Atlantis, para peneliti menemukan 40 spesies baru dari total 1.000 yang ada,” kata Odd Aksel Bergstad, pakar oseanografi dari Universitas Bergen, Norwegia, yang berada di kepulauan Azores ketika diwawancara lewat telepon.
Lebih dari 2.000 ilmuwan dari 80 negara sedang bekerja untuk mengkatalog spesies-spesies di lautan. Namun, meneliti jurang dasar laut cukup mahal dan sulit karena membutuhkan kamera untuk kedalaman ekstrim, sonar, dan kendaraan kendali jarak jauh yang memakan 50.000 USD per hari.
Begitu sensus selesai, direncanakan penerbitan tiga buku: survei populer satwa laut, lalu buku kedua dengan bab terpisah untuk tiap grup kerja, dan yang ketiga berfokus pada keanekaragaman biologis.

Published in: on March 9, 2010 at 7:47 am  Leave a Comment  

mesir kuno

mesir kuno merupakan salah satu peradaban paling maju di dunia ini. sejak ribuan tahun lalu, mesir sudah mulai melakukan irigasi, pembangunan, dan lain lain. dari mulai membaca bintang, sihir, dan mempercayai dewa-dewa.

mesir biasa menganggap bahwa raja-raja mereka adalah dewa. sehingga, semasa raja bertakhta sudah dibuat makamnya (piramida). mesir kuno menganut sistem pemerintahan monarchi.

mesir kuno memakai tulisan heiroglyph dalam penulisannya. tulisan hierigliph ini merupakan tulisan determinatif atau tulisan yang juga berperan sebagai lambang. seperti lambang mata satu yang melambangkan ra, dll.

berikut kutipan dari wikipedia

km.t (Egypt)
in hieroglyphs
km m t

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Ancient Egypt Portal

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Ancient Egyptian religion encompasses the various religious beliefs and rituals practiced in ancient Egypt over more than 3,000 years, from thepredynastic period until the adoption of Christianity in the early centuries AD. Initially these beliefs centered on the worship of multiple deities who represented various forces of nature, thought patterns and power, expressed by the means of complex and varied archetypes. By the time of the 18th dynasty they began to be viewed as aspects of a single deity who existed apart from nature, similar to trinitarian concepts also found in Christianity: the belief that one god can exist in more than one person.[1]

These deities were worshipped with offerings and prayers, in local and household shrines as well as in formal temples managed by priests. Different gods were prominent at different periods of Egyptian history, and the myths associated with them changed over time, so Egypt never had a coherent hierarchy of deities or a unified mythology. However, the religion contained many overarching beliefs. Among these were the divinity of the pharaoh, which helped to politically unify the country,[2] and complex beliefs about an afterlife, which gave rise to the Egyptians’ elaborate burial customs.




Egyptian religion was not based on firm theological principles. Its primary focus was simply the interaction between humans and the gods.[3] These gods were believed to be present in every aspect of the natural world, yet their true natures remained to some degree mysterious. Hundreds of gods were believed to exist, and the exact nature of their complex interrelationships is still the subject of scholarly debate.[4]


Further information: Egyptian pantheon

The gods OsirisAnubis, and Horus, from a tomb painting.

The Egyptians saw the actions of the gods behind all the elements and forces of nature. However, they did not believe that the gods merely controlled these phenomena, but that each element of nature was a divine force in itself.[5] The forces deified in this way included animals, as with Sekhmet, who represented the ferocity of lions, and inanimate elements, such as Shu, the deification of air. The gods could also represent more abstract things, as Horus represented the power of kingship.[6] The Egyptians thus believed in a multitude of gods, which were involved in every aspect of nature and human society.[7][6] Egyptian myths about the gods were intended to explain the origins and behavior of these phenomena, and the hymns, prayers and offerings given to the gods were efforts to placate them and turn them to human advantage.[6] This polytheistic system was very complex, as some deities were believed to exist in many different manifestations, and some had multiple mythological roles. Conversely, many natural forces, such as the sun, were associated with multiple deities.[8]

The depictions of the gods in art were not meant as literal representations of how the gods might appear if they were visible, as the gods’ true natures were believed to be “mysterious” and “unknown”. Instead, these depictions gave recognizable forms to the abstract deities by using symbolic imagery to indicate each god’s role in nature.[9][6] Thus, for example, the funerary god Anubis was portrayed as ajackal, a creature whose scavenging habits threatened the preservation of the body, in an effort to counter this threat and employ it for protection. His black skin was symbolic of the color of mummified flesh and the fertile black soil that Egyptians saw as a symbol of resurrection.[10] However, this iconography was not fixed, and many of the gods could be depicted in more than one form.[11]

Many gods were associated with particular localities within Egypt where their cults were most important. However, these associations changed over time, and they did not necessarily mean that the god associated with a place had originated there. For instance, the godMonthu was the original patron of the city of Thebes. Over the course of the Middle Kingdom, however, he was displaced in that role byAmun, who had originated elsewhere. The national popularity and importance of individual gods fluctuated in a similar way.[12]

In addition to the major gods, there were also other, less-powerful supernatural beings. These included a profusion of minor gods, which in modern studies are sometimes referred to as “demons”. They tended to be less universal than the major gods, and were often defined by specific behaviors or tied to particular locations, but the Egyptians did not draw a clear distinction between the two classes. Some demons were localized guardian deities, while others were servants of greater gods who performed specific actions on demand. Most of them were inhabitants of the Duat, the Egyptian underworld, although many others were present in the world of the living.[13] The spirits of deceased humans, while distinct from the gods, were also believed to exist on the same plane,[14] and could affect the world of the living in similar ways.[15] Deceased pharaohs were believed to be fully divine, and occasionally, distinguished commoners such as Imhotep also became deified.[16]

[edit]Associations between gods

The Egyptians recognized that different natural phenomena are interrelated,[6] and they often placed deities in groups to symbolize this relationship. Sometimes deities were grouped into pairs, linked because of a relationship between the two phenomena they represented, or simply to give one deity a counterpart of the opposite sex. They could also be grouped into threes; often these triads formed mythological families consisting of a father, mother, and usually male child. There were also many larger groups, including two different sets of creator deities—the eight gods of the Ogdoad and the nine gods of the Ennead—and several sets of minor gods with similar functions but no individual identity, such as the deities representing each hour of the day and night.[17]

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. While early Egyptologists believed that the Egyptians did this to resolve conflicts between competing deities, syncretism was more of a recognition of the presence of one god “within” another where their respective roles overlapped. Sometimes this process combined deities that had similar characteristics, or that could even be seen as different aspects of the same god. At other times syncretism combined a foreign deity with a native one, or linked a localized god with a more important national one. Sometimes syncretism joined gods with very different natures, as when Amun, the god of hidden power, was linked with Ra, the god of the sun. The resulting god, Amun-Ra, thus united the power that lay behind all things with the greatest and most visible force in nature.[18]

[edit]Monotheistic tendencies

At various times during Egyptian history, different gods, including Horus, Ra, and Isis, rose to be seen as the greatest of all the gods. During the New Kingdom, Amun held this position, and a theology developed in which he came close to being a truly monotheistic deity.[19] His true identity was concealed from the visible world, even from the other gods, yet his power permeated the universe. Although they retained their individual identities, all the gods were ultimately aspects of this single hidden force.[20][21]

Based on this, and upon instances in Egyptian literature where “god” is mentioned without reference to any specific deity, many Egyptologists have argued that beneath the polytheistic traditions of Egyptian religion there was an increasing tendency toward monotheism, while others have seen evidence of pantheism. In recent decades, however, Erik Hornung has disputed these claims, noting that each of the gods, even Amun, was only depicted and worshipped in a limited number of forms, so that Egyptian religion was never completely pantheistic. He also points out that at no point in Egyptian history were the traits of a supreme being limited to only one deity, and many Egyptian writings call particular gods “sole” or “lord of all that exists” even in periods when other gods were preeminent. He further argues that the Egyptians used the generic term “god” to refer to any god, or “whichever god you wish”.[22] His argument is that Egyptian religion was purely polytheistic, having no notion of a divine being beyond the immediate multitude of deities.[23]

More recently, scholars such as James P. Allen and Jan Assmann have suggested that the Egyptians did to some degree recognize a single divine force.[24][23] Allen’s compromise approach states that the Egyptians could simultaneously be polytheists and monotheists, as demonstrated by the process of syncretism which, he says, “unites the view of god as simultaneously Many and One”. Under this view, it is possible that only the Egyptian theologians fully recognized an essential unity behind the polytheistic system. However, it is also possible that ordinary Egyptians practiced a form of henotheism, identifying the single divine force with a single god in particular situations.[24][25]


Further information: Atenism

The Egyptians did have an aberrant period of true monotheism during the New Kingdom, in which the pharaoh Akhenaten abolished the official worship of other gods in favor of the sun-disk Aten, of which he himself was an aspect.[26] This exclusivity was a radical departure from Egyptian tradition,[27] and the Aten’s impersonal nature did not appeal to the Egyptian people. Thus, under Akhenaten’s successors Egypt reverted to its traditional religion, and Akhenaten himself came to be reviled as a heretic.[28]

[edit]Other important concepts


In Egyptian belief, the universe was governed by the force of ma’at. This Egyptian word encompasses several concepts in English, including “truth,” “justice,” and “order.” It referred to the fixed, eternal order of the universe, both in nature and in human society. This was the most fundamental of all natural forces, believed to have existed from the creation of the universe, which ensured the continued existence of the world. Among humans, ma’at meant that all people and all classes of society lived in harmony. Any disruption of ma’at was inherently harmful, so all people were expected to behave in accordance with it.[29]

In nature, ma’at meant that all the forces of nature existed in balance. It included the cyclical patterns of time—the cycle of day and night and of the seasons, and of human generations.[29] While the Egyptians recognized that time is linear, they also saw it as cyclical, in that each of these patterns represented a renewal of ma’at and a defeat of disorder, and thus a repetition of the original creation of the universe.[30] Therefore, the theme of cosmic renewal was present in many Egyptian rituals.[31][32]

Ma’at also included the structure of the world, which kept each element in its place.[29] The Egyptians had a specific vision of this structure. In this view, the world was surrounded by infinite expanse of water from which it had originally arisen. This water was personified as the god Nun. The earth was envisioned as a flat plate of land, represented by the god Geb. Above him arched the body of the sky goddess Nut, who represented the surface of the primordial water. Shu, the air, stood between Geb and Nut and separated them. During the day, the sun god Ra traveled over the earth, across the inner surface of Nut.[33] At night, Ra was thought to be swallowed by Nut, and pass through her body, or on the outside of the sky, through a region called the Duat. With each new sunrise, Nut gave birth to him again.[34] By the New Kingdom, however, the Duat was also sometimes identified with a region beneath the earth, and Ra was said to sail beneath the horizon to rise into the sky the next morning.[35]

[edit]Divine pharaoh

Colossal statue of the pharaoh Ramses II

Egyptians viewed kingship itself as a force of nature.[36] Thus, even though the Egyptians recognized that the pharaoh was human and subject to human frailties, they simultaneously viewed him as a god, because the divine power of kingship was incarnate in him. He therefore acted as intermediary between Egypt’s people and the gods.[37] He was key to upholding ma’at in society, by defending the country from enemies, appointing fair officials, settling disputes between his people, managing the food supply, and appeasing the gods with temples and offerings.[38] For this reason, temple reliefs often depict the pharaoh presenting an emblem of ma’at to the gods, representing his maintenance of the divine order.[39] Theoretically, he held dominion over the entire world, and thus the Egyptian word for “king” referred only to the pharaoh, and not to any foreign ruler.[40][41]

The king was also associated with many specific deities. While alive, a pharaoh was logically identified with Horus, the god of kingship.[42] Due to analogy between the sun, the dominant force in nature, and the king, the dominant force in human society, the pharaoh was also associated with Ra and regarded as his son.[43][6] Once Amun had been syncretized with Ra, Amun was also identified with the king[44] and seen as his father.[45] Several goddesses functioned as the “mother” of the pharaoh,[46] and he could also symbolically take the place of the child deity in many family triads of gods.[47]

Upon his death, the king became fully deified. In this state, he was directly identified with Ra, and was also associated with Osiris, god of death and rebirth and the mythological father of Horus.[48] Many mortuary temples were dedicated to the worship of deceased pharaohs as gods.[49]


The Egyptians had elaborate beliefs about death and the afterlife. They believed that humans possessed a ka, or life-force, which left the body at the point of death. In life, the ka received its sustenance from food and drink, so it was believed that, to endure after death, the ka must continue to receive offerings of food, whose spiritual essence it could still consume. Each person also had a ba, the set of characteristics distinguishing one individual from another, similar to the concept of a personality.[50] Unlike the ka, the ba remained attached to the body after death. Egyptian funeral rituals were intended to release the ba from the body so that it could move freely, and to rejoin it with the ka so that it could live on as an akh. However, it was also important that the body of the deceased be preserved, as the Egyptians believed that the ba returned to its body each night to receive new life, before emerging in the morning as an akh.[51]

Originally, however, the Egyptians believed that only the pharaoh had a ba,[52] and only he could become one with the gods; dead commoners remained dead.[53] The nobles received tombs and the resources for their upkeep as gifts from the king, and their ability to enter the afterlife was believed to be dependent on these royal favors.[54] In early times the deceased pharaoh was believed to dwell among the circumpolar stars, which never set in the Egyptian sky and were therefore regarded as eternal.[55] Over the course of the Old Kingdom, he came to be more closely associated with the daily rebirth of the sun god Ra and with the cyclical death and resurrection of the fertility god Osiris as those deities grew more important.[56]

During the late Old Kingdom and the First Intermediate Period, the possession of a ba and the possibility of a paradisiacal afterlife gradually extended to all Egyptians.[52][53] To reach this pleasant afterlife, the soul had to avoid a variety of supernatural dangers, before undergoing a final judgment known as the “Weighing of the Heart”. In this judgment, the gods compared the actions of the deceased while alive (symbolized by the heart, the center of reason and emotion in Egyptian belief) to ma’at (symbolized by a feather), to determine whether he or she had behaved in accordance with ma’at. If the deceased had not done so in life, then he or she could not be expected to do so in the afterlife, and was thus destroyed by the demon Ammut. If the deceased was judged worthy, his or her ka and ba were united into an akh.[57][38] Specific beliefs about the destination of the akh varied. The vindicated dead were often said to dwell in Osiris’ kingdom, a lush and pleasant land believed to exist somewhere beyond the western horizon, but kings, and sometimes commoners as well, were often said to travel with Ra across the sky.[58][59] Over the course of the Middle and New Kingdoms, the notion that the akh could also travel in the world of the living, and to some degree magically affect events there, became increasingly prevalent.[60]


While the Egyptians had no unified religious scripture, they produced many religious writings. These included a variety of hymns, prayers, and funerary texts. Despite the great number of Egyptian myths, however, mythological information is more fragmentary.


Ra (at center) travels through the underworld in his barque, accompanied by other gods

Egyptian myths were metaphorical stories intended to illustrate and explain the gods’ actions and roles in nature. The details of the events they recounted could change as long as they conveyed the same symbolic meaning, so many myths exist in different and conflicting versions.[61][6] Mythical narratives were rarely written in full, and more often texts only contain episodes from or allusions to a larger myth.[62] Partly this was because the Egyptians avoided explicitly describing or depicting negative events within myths, believing that this risked giving power to the forces of chaos. Much of what mythological information is known comes from papyri originally kept in temple libraries, from devotional writings, and from funerary texts. Surprisingly little comes from inscriptions in the temples themselves, as temples were meant to celebrate the eternal power and benevolence of the gods, and the turbulent events often found in myths conflicted with this purpose.[63]

Among the most important Egyptian myths were the creation myths. While there were several different creation myths, they all shared common elements: an infinite, lifeless ocean which preceded the creation, and a pyramidal mound of land which was the first thing to emerge from this ocean. [64] However, the creation accounts differ in focusing on different gods. One creation myth describes the Ogdoad, the group of eight gods who embodied the primeval waters, and how their meeting resulted in the creation and emergence of the mound.[65] Another myth relates the actions of Atum, who was said to be the first god to appear on the mound, in creating the Ennead, nine gods representing the natural forces of the world. A third myth says that the god Ptah, who was associated with the mound, created the world simply by envisioning and naming all things in it, while a fourth claims that Amun was the hidden power that caused all the other creator gods to form.[66] To some degree these myths represent competing theologies, but they can also be seen as representing different aspects of the process of creation. The convergence of the Ogdoad represented the transformation of the lifeless primordial chaos into the orderly, life-bearing world; the Ennead myth demonstrated how the world’s original, embryonic form (Atum) evolved into the multiplicity of elements it later contained.[67] Amun was the ultimate cause of creation, who first developed a concept of what the world would be like, and Ptah was the power of creative speech, by which that initial vision was made reality, and which caused the growth of Atum.[68]

Another story central to Egyptian belief was the myth of Osiris and Isis.[69] It tells of the god Osiris, who had inherited his rule over the world from his ancestor Ra. Osiris was murdered and dismembered by his jealous brother Set, a god often associated with chaos.[70] Osiris’ sister and wife Isis reassembled Osiris’ body and resurrected him so that he could conceive an heir to take back the throne from Set. Osiris then entered the underworld and became the ruler of the dead, while Isis eventually gave birth to his son Horus. Once grown, Horus fought and defeated Set to become king himself.[71] Set’s association with chaos, and the identification of Osiris and Horus as the rightful rulers, provided a rationale for pharaonic succession and portrayed the pharaohs as the upholders of order.[72] At the same time, Osiris’ death and rebirth were related to the Egyptian agricultural cycle, in which crops grew in the wake of the Nile inundation,[73] and provided a template for the resurrection of human souls after death.[74]

The sun god Ra was essential to life on earth, and was thus among the most important gods. In myth, the movement of the sun across the sky was explained as Ra traveling in abarque, and the setting of the sun was regarded as Ra’s entry into the underworld, through which he journeyed during the night.[75] While in the underworld, Ra met with Osiris, who again acted as a god of resurrection, so that his life was renewed. He also fought each night with Apep, a serpentine god representing chaos. The defeat of Apep and the meeting with Osiris ensured the rising of the sun the next morning, an event that represented rebirth and the victory of order over chaos.[76]

[edit]Devotional Writings

Like many cultures, the Egyptians prayed to their gods for help, although there are few written prayers that predate the Nineteenth Dynasty. There are also many formal hymns praising particular deities or the pharaoh. These poems consist of short lines organized into couplets or triplets, and were probably recited, or possibly even sung, during religious ceremonies. They often included mention of many different aspects of the deity whom they addressed, and expounded on his or her nature and mythological function. Thus, they are important sources of information on Egyptian theology.[77]

[edit]Funerary Texts

Main article: Ancient Egyptian funerary texts

Section of the Book of the Dead depicting the Weighing of the Heart.

Among the most significant and extensively preserved Egyptian writings are funerary texts designed to insure that deceased souls reached a pleasant afterlife.[78] The earliest of these are the Pyramid Texts, the oldest religious writings in the world.[79] They are a loose collection of hundreds of spells inscribed on the walls of royal pyramids during the Old Kingdom, intended to magically provide the king with the means to join the company of the gods in the afterlife.[80] The spells appear in differing arrangements and combinations, and few of them appear in all of the pyramids.[81]

At the end of the Old Kingdom a new body of funerary spells, which included material from the Pyramid Texts, began appearing in tombs, inscribed primarily on coffins, but also found on tomb walls and on other funerary objects. This collection of writings is known as theCoffin Texts, and was not reserved for royalty, but appeared in the tombs of nonroyal officials.[82] In the New Kingdom, several new funerary texts emerged, of which the best-known is the Book of the Dead. Unlike the earlier books, it often contains extensive illustrations, or vignettes.[83] The book was copied on papyrus and sold to commoners to be placed in their tombs.[84]

The Coffin Texts included sections with detailed descriptions of the underworld and instructions on how to overcome its hazards. In the New Kingdom, this material gave rise to several “books of the netherworld”, including the Book of Gates, the Book of Caverns, and theAmduat.[85] Unlike the loose collections of spells, these netherworld books are structured depictions of Ra’s passage through the Duat, and by analogy, the journey of the deceased person’s soul through the realm of the dead. They were originally restricted to pharaonic tombs, but in the Third Intermediate Period they came to be used more widely.[86]

[edit]Religious practices

First pylon and colonnade of the Temple of Isis at Philae.


Temples existed from the earliest periods of Egyptian history, and at the height of the civilization were present in almost every town.[87] These included both mortuary temples to serve the spirits of deceased pharaohs and temples dedicated to patron gods,[88] although the distinction was blurred because divinity and kingship were so closely intertwined.[89] Not all gods had temples dedicated to them, as there were many cosmic deities that did not receive widespread worship, and many household gods who were the focus of popular veneration rather than temple worship.[90]

Temples served as “houses” for the gods, in which physical images which served as their intermediaries were cared for and provided with offerings.[91] This service was believed to be necessary to sustain the gods, so that they could in turn maintain the universe itself.[92] Thus, temples were central to Egyptian society, and vast resources were devoted to their upkeep.[93]Pharaohs often added to them as part of their obligation to honor the gods, so that many temples grew to be huge—the Temple of Amun at Karnak, for instance, is the largest religious structure in the world.[94]

In the New Kingdom, a basic temple layout emerged, which had evolved from common elements in Old and Middle Kingdom temples. With variations, this plan was used for most of the temples built from then on, and most of those that survive today adhere to it.[95] In this standard plan, the temple was aligned along a central axis oriented relative to some significant location; most commonly, temples were built along the Nile with an axis running roughly east–west.[96] The major entrance to such temples was usually the nearby landing quay on the Nile, from which a processional way ran through the walls of the temple enclosure. Beyond this, there were usually one or more pylon gateways, followed by a courtyard enclosed by a colonnade. This courtyard was likely where commoners delivered offerings and met with the priests. Further in was the covered hypostyle hall, and beyond this was the sanctuary, surrounded by subsidiary rooms related to the daily business of temple ritual.[97]

The entire journey from the temple entrance to the sanctuary was seen as a journey from the human world to the divine realm; thus, the sanctuary was the most sacred part of the temple, and contained a shrine with a statue of the temple’s god.[98] Access to the sanctuary was usually restricted to the pharaoh and the highest-ranking priests.[99] Ritual offerings were typically performed in the morning and evening, either by the pharaoh or, more commonly, the priest acting as his surrogate. In these rituals, the god’s statue was washed, anointed, and elaborately dressed, and food offerings were placed before or near it. Afterward, when the god had consumed the spiritual essence of the offerings, the items themselves were taken to be distributed among the priests.[100] In addition to these daily offerings, there were other rituals performed at certain times of year for particular festivals, and infrequent rituals performed under special circumstances.[92] Many of these rituals involved the transportation of the god’s image to visit another significant site,[101] the symbolic destruction of the forces of disorder,[102] or the reenactment of particular myths.[103]

Temples were supported by donations from the monarchy and by estates of their own. These estates could include vast areas of land, with farms, gardens, mines, quarries, and workshops devoted to supplying the temple’s needs. Large temples were therefore very important centers of economic activity, sometimes employing thousands of people.[104]


Painting of a priest burning incense, showing his shaven head

The pharaoh was Egypt’s official representative to the gods, so in theory, temple priests merely acted on his behalf.[45] In fact, during the Old and Middle Kingdoms, there was no separate class of priests; instead, many government officials served in this capacity for several months out of the year before returning to their secular duties. Only in the New Kingdom did professional priesthood become widespread, although most lower-ranking priests were still part-time. The pharaoh theoretically retained the right to make all priestly appointments, although he often delegated this duty.[105] However, as the wealth of the temples grew, the influence of their priesthoods increased, until it rivaled that of the pharaoh.[106] In the political fragmentation of the Third Intermediate Period, the high priests of Amun even became the effective rulers of Upper Egypt.[107]

There were several different varieties of priests and temple personnel. One class of priests worked outside temples: those who served in the mortuary cults of private individuals.[108] The lector priests, who recited the incantations during temple rituals and were versed in many magical texts, also performed outside duties, such as officiating at funerals.[109] The priests serving in each temple were divided into several ranks and specialized roles. At the top of this hierarchy was the high priest, or “first servant of the god.” This office was frequently passed from father to son and tended to become hereditary. Temples also employed many people outside the priesthood, including farmers and artisans to supply their needs, and musicians and chanters who assisted in temple rituals. All were paid with portions of the temple’s income.[110]

Priests were usually male. During the Old Kingdom, many women from wealthy families held important priestly roles, mainly in temples to female deities. However, during the Middle Kingdom women became less prominent in public life, and afterward most of the women involved in temple activities seem to have been in more minor roles.[111] There was an exception to this during the Third Intermediate Period, when important female roles emerged in the cults of several deities, most notably the “god’s wives” of Amun.[112]

While actively serving the temple, priests adhered to strict standards of purity. They were required to shave their heads and bodies, wash several times a day, and wear only clean linen clothing. In the service of some specific gods, there were also particular behaviors, such as eating certain foods, from which priests had to refrain. They were not required to be celibate, but sexual intercourse rendered them unclean until they underwent further ritual purification.[113]


The Egyptians celebrated a variety of religious festivals. Most were annual, tied to one or more specific days of the year, but some took place at longer intervals or on irregular occasions. Some, such as the celebration of the new year, took place across the country, but most were celebrated only locally, at a specific temple. Temple festivals usually involved a procession carrying the god’s image out of the sanctuary in a model barque to visit other significant sites, such as the temple of a related deity. Commoners celebrated these events along with the priesthood, gathering to watch the procession and sometimes receiving portions of the unusually large offerings given to the gods on these occasions. Other festivals were part of the rituals of kingship rather than the cult of a deity; these included coronation ceremonies and the sed festival, a ritual renewal of the pharaoh’s strength which took place periodically during his reign.[114]


Main article: Heka

The word “magic” is used to translate the Egyptian term heka, which meant “the ability to make things happen by indirect means”. Heka was believed to be a natural phenomenon, the force which was used to create the universe and which the gods employed to work their will.[115] Humans could also use it, however, and magical practices were closely intertwined with religion. In fact, even the regular rituals performed in temples were counted as magic.[116] Individuals also frequently employed magical techniques for personal ends. Although these ends could be harmful to other people, no form of magic was considered inimical in itself.[117] Instead, magic was seen primarily as a way for humans to prevent or overcome negative events.[118]

Magic was closely associated with the priesthood. Temple libraries contained numerous magical spells, and many of the spells found in other contexts seem to derive from temple books; thus, great magical knowledge was ascribed to the lector priests who studied these books. These priests often worked outside their temples, hiring out their magical services to laymen.[119] Other professions also commonly employed magic as part of their work, including doctors, scorpion-charmers, and makers of magical amulets. It is also likely 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.[120]

Language was closely linked with heka, to such a degree that Thoth, the god of writing, was sometimes said to be the inventor of heka.[121] Therefore, magic frequently involved written or spoken incantations, although these were usually accompanied by ritual actions. Often these rituals invoked the power of an appropriate deity to perform the desired action, using the power of heka to compel it to act. Sometimes this entailed casting the practitioner or subject of a ritual in the role of a character in mythology, thus inducing the god to act toward that person as it had in the myth. Rituals also employed sympathetic magic, using objects believed to have a magically significant resemblance to the subject of the rite. The Egyptians also commonly used objects believed to be imbued with heka of their own, such as the magically protective amulets worn in great numbers by ordinary Egyptians.[122]

[edit]Funerary practices

Main article: Ancient Egyptian burial customs

Because it was considered necessary for the survival of the soul, preservation of the body was a central part of Egyptian funerary practices. Originally people were buried in graves in the desert, where the arid conditions mummified the body naturally. In the Early Dynastic Period, however, the Egyptians began using tombs for greater protection, and the body was insulated from the desiccating effect of the sand and was subject to natural decay. Thus, the practice of embalming developed. The process was not fully developed until the New Kingdom, but from then on the embalmers removed the internal organs, dried the corpse in natron crystals, and wrapped it in linen to be placed in its coffin.[123] The quality of the process varied according to cost, however,[124] and those who could not afford it were still buried in desert graves.[125]

The Opening of the Mouth ceremony being performed before the tomb

Once the mummification process was complete, the mummy was carried from the deceased person’s house to the tomb in a funeral procession that included his or her friends and relatives, along with a variety of priests. At the tomb entrance, a number of rituals were performed, including the Opening of the Mouth ceremony, in which a priest touched the mummy with various ceremonial tools to restore the dead person’s senses and give him or her the ability to receive offerings. Then the mummy was buried and the tomb sealed.[126]Afterward, relatives or hired priests gave food offerings to the deceased in a nearby mortuary chapel at regular intervals. However, over time families inevitably neglected offerings to long-dead relatives, and most mortuary cults only lasted one or two generations.[127]

The first Egyptian tombs were mastabas, rectangular brick structures where kings and nobles were entombed. Each of them contained a subterranean burial chamber and a separate, aboveground chapel for mortuary rituals. In the Old Kingdom the mastaba developed into the pyramid, which symbolized the primeval mound of Egyptian myth. Pyramids were reserved for royalty, and were accompanied by large mortuary temples sitting at their base. Middle Kingdom pharaohs continued to build pyramids, although far smaller than those of the Old Kingdom, but the popularity of mastabas waned. Increasingly, commoners with sufficient means were buried in rock-cut tombs with separate mortuary chapels nearby, an approach which was less vulnerable to tomb robbery. By the beginning of the New Kingdom even the pharaohs were buried in such tombs, and they continued to be used until the decline of the religion itself.[128]

Tombs could contain a great variety of other items, including statues of the deceased to serve as substitutes for the body in case it was damaged[129] and Canopic jars containing the organs removed during the mummification process.[130] 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. The use of these model workers replaced the practice, used by the earliest pharaohs, of burying human servants along with the king.[131] 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.[132] Further protection was provided by funerary texts inscribed on the tomb walls, the burial shroud, the coffin, or on separate rolls of papyrus.[133] The tomb walls also bore artwork, including images of the deceased eating food which were believed to allow him or her to magically receive sustenance even after the mortuary offerings had ceased.[134]

Because they believed that the gods could manifest themselves in animal form, the Egyptians mummified and interred animals as well as humans. Originally this only applied to specific sacred animals, such as the Apis bull worshipped as a manifestation of Ptah. Beginning in the Twenty-sixth dynasty, however, the Egyptians began mummifying a wide variety of animals in honor of the gods whom they represented. Worshippers paid the priests of a particular deity to acquire and mummify an animal which represented that deity, and the mummy was placed in a cemetery near the god’s cult center as an offering. Some such crypts contain millions of animal mummies.[135]


[edit]Predynastic and Early Dynastic periods

The beginnings of Egyptian religion extend into prehistory, and information about religious activity in these early times comes solely from archaeological evidence, which is difficult to interpret and subject to differing opinions. Careful burials during the Predynastic period imply that the people of this time believed in some form of an afterlife. At the same time, animals were ritually buried, a practice which may reflect the development of zoomorphic deities like those found in the later religion.[136] While these early Egyptians also produced anthropomorphic figures which may represent gods in human form, the evidence is unclear, and this type of deity may have emerged more slowly than those in animal shape.[137] Each region of Egypt originally had its own patron deity,[138] but it is likely that as these small communities conquered or absorbed each other, the god of the defeated area was either incorporated into the other god’s mythology or entirely subsumed by it. This resulted in a complex pantheon in which some deities remained only locally important while others developed more universal significance.[139]

The Early Dynastic period began with the unification of Egypt around 3000 BC. This event transformed Egyptian religion, as some deities rose to national importance and the cult of the divine pharaoh became the central focus of religious activity.[140] The early kings were interred in elaborate mastaba tombs with expensive grave goods and, in the case of First Dynastyrulers, humans sacrificed to attend the king in the afterlife. These burials demonstrate the importance of the royal funerary cult even at the beginning of Egyptian history. High officials were buried in less-elaborate tombs of a similar type.[141]

[edit]Old and Middle Kingdoms

During the Old Kingdom the priesthoods of the major deities tried to organize the confusing national pantheon into groups, each with their own mythology and cult center. It was in this period that family triads of deities emerged, and the theologies of Heliopolis, Hermopolis, and possibly Memphis were developed.[142][143][144] Meanwhile, pyramids replaced mastabas as the tombs of pharaohs, although important non-royals continued to use mastabas.[145] Pyramids were accompanied by large mortuary temple complexes, which were extremely important in the development of Egyptian temple design.[146]

In the Old Kingdom, the city of Heliopolis became the nation’s most important religious site, and its patron god Ra was increasingly influential.[147] The Fourth Dynasty change from step pyramids to true pyramids, for instance, may have been influenced by the symbolic association of the true pyramid shape with the rays of the sun.[148][149] By the Fifth Dynasty Ra was effectively the nation’s state god, with and had developed the close links with kingship and the afterlife that he retained for the rest of Egyptian history.[150][151] Around the same time, Osiris became an important afterlife deity.[152]

At the end of the Fifth Dynasty, kings began inscribing the Pyramid Texts inside their tombs. The texts contain not only the solar and Osirian concepts of the afterlife that were current at the time, but also older traditions, some dating back to Predynastic times.[153] They are thus an extremely important source for understanding Egyptian theology during and before the Old Kingdom.[154]

In the 22nd century BC, the Old Kingdom collapsed into the disorder of the First Intermediate Period, with important consequences for Egyptian religion. Old Kingdom officials had already begun to adopt the funerary rites originally reserved for royalty,[53] but now, less rigid barriers between social classes meant that these practices and the accompanying beliefs gradually extended to all Egyptians, a process called the “democratization of the afterlife”.[155] The Osirian view of the afterlife had the greatest appeal to commoners, and thus Osiris became one of the most important gods. The new pharaohs originated from Thebes, and they promoted their patron god Monthu to national importance, but during the Middle Kingdom he was eclipsed by the rising popularity of Amun.

New Kingdom

The Middle Kingdom crumbled in the Second Intermediate Period, but the country was again reunited by Theban rulers, who became the first pharaohs of the New Kingdom. They promoted their deity Amun to the position of supreme state god, and syncretized him with the long-established patron of kingship, Ra. The temple of Amun-Ra at Karnak in Thebes thus became the religious capital of Egypt. Increased contact with outside peoples in this period led to the adoption of many Near Eastern deities into the pantheon, while the subjugated Nubians absorbed Egyptian religious beliefs, and in particular, adopted Amun as their own.

Akhenaten and his family worshipping the Aten

The New Kingdom religious order was disrupted when Pharaoh Amenhotep IV replaced Amun with the Aten as the state god, and renamed himself Akhenaten in its honor. Eventually he prohibited the worship of gods other than the Aten, and moved Egypt’s capital to a new city atAmarna, for which this part of Egyptian history, the Amarna period, is named. In doing so Akhenaten claimed unprecedented status for himself, as an aspect of the Aten itself as well as its sole intermediary for worship.The Atenist system lacked well-developed mythology, moral philosophy, and afterlife beliefs, and the Aten itself seemed distant and impersonal, so the new order did not appeal to ordinary Egyptians.Thus, many of them continued to worship the traditional gods in private. Nevertheless, the withdrawal of state support for the other deities undermined the structure of Egyptian society.Akhenaten’s successors therefore restored the traditional religious system, and eventually they dismantled all Atenist monuments.

The confusion of the Amarna period resulted in a long-term decline in pharaonic religious influence, despite the efforts of later pharaohs to counteract it. As a backlash against Akhenaten’s claim to be the only interface between the populace and the gods, people began to believe that the gods were more directly involved in daily life. The pharaoh was therefore less significant, more human and less divine. At the same time, after the religious restoration the priesthood of Amun grew still more powerful, and these factors contributed to the breakdown of the New Kingdom.

Later periods

In the first millennium BC, Egypt was significantly weaker than in earlier times, and in several periods foreigners seized the country and assumed the position of pharaoh. Animal cults, a characteristically Egyptian form of worship, became increasingly popular in this period, possibly as a response to the uncertainty and foreign influence of this period. Isis grew more popular in this period as well, and eventually became the most important goddess in Egypt.

In the fourth century BC, Egypt became a Hellenistic kingdom under the Ptolemaic dynasty, which assumed the pharaonic role, maintaining the traditional religion and building or rebuilding many temples. The kingdom’s Greek ruling class identified the Egyptian deities with their own, and syncretized several Greek gods with Osiris and Apis to create Serapis, a new state god intended to unite the Greek and Egyptian communities. Nevertheless, for the most part the two belief systems remained separate, and the Egyptian deities remained Egyptian.

The Ptolemaic religious system changed little after Egypt became a province of the Roman Empire, with the Ptolemaic kings replaced by distant emperors. The cult of Isis appealed even to Greeks and Romans outside Egypt, and in Hellenized form it spread across the empire.In Egypt itself, however, knowledge of many of the details of Egyptian belief had become confined to the insular and shrinking temple priesthoods. The religion declined further in the first century AD, when Christianity and its exclusive monotheism arrived and began winning converts. In 383 AD, when Christianity had become the official religion of the empire, Emperor Theodosius I ordered the closing of all pagan temples, including those in Egypt. While it persisted among the populace for some time, Egyptian religion slowly faded away thereafter.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Egyptian hieroglyphs
Papyrus Ani curs hiero.jpg
A section of the Papyrus of Ani showing cursive hieroglyphs.
Type logography usable as an abjad
Spoken languages Egyptian language
Time period 3200 BC – AD 400
Parent systems

  • Egyptian hieroglyphs
Child systems HieraticDemoticMeroitic,Middle Bronze Age alphabets
ISO 15924 Egyp
Note: This page may contain IPA phonetic symbols in Unicode.

Egyptian hieroglyphs (pronounced /ˈhaɪ(ə)roʊɡlɪf/; from Greek ἱερογλύφος “sacred carving“, itself pronounced [ˌhieroˈɡlypʰos]) was a formalwriting system used by the ancient Egyptians that contained a combination of logographic and alphabetic elements. Egyptians used cursive hieroglyphs for religious literature on papyrus and wood. Less formal variations of the script, called hieratic and demotic, are technically nothieroglyphs.




The word hieroglyph comes from the Greek adjective ἱερογλυφικά (hieroglyphiká), a compound of ἱερός (hierós ‘sacred’) and γλύφω (glýphō ‘Ι carve, engrave’; see glyph). The glyphs themselves were called τὰ ἱερογλυφικὰ γράμματα (tà hieroglyphikà grámmata, ‘the sacred engraved letters’). The word hieroglyph has become a noun in English, standing for an individual hieroglyphic character. As used in the previous sentence, the word “hieroglyphic” is an adjective and is often used erroneously in place of “hieroglyph”.

[edit]History and evolution

Hieroglyphs emerged from the preliterate artistic traditions of Egypt. For example, symbols on Gerzean pottery from circa 4000 BC resemble hieroglyphic writing. For many years the earliest known hieroglyphic inscription was the Narmer Palette, found during excavations at Hierakonpolis (modern Kawm al-Ahmar) in the 1890s, which has been dated to circa 3200 BC. However, in 1998 a German archaeological team under Günter Dreyer excavating at Abydos (modern Umm el-Qa’ab) uncovered tomb U-j of a Predynastic ruler, and recovered three hundred clay labels inscribed with proto-hieroglyphs, dating to the Naqada IIIA period of the 33rd century BC.[1][2] The first full sentence written in hieroglyphs so far discovered was found on a seal impression found in the tomb of Seth-Peribsen at Umm el-Qa’ab, which dates from the Second Dynasty. In the era of the Old Kingdom, the Middle Kingdom and the New Kingdom, about 800 hieroglyphs existed. By the Greco-Roman period, they numbered more than 5,000.[3]

Scholars generally believe that Egyptian hieroglyphs “came into existence a little after Sumerian script, and, probably [were], invented under the influence of the latter …” [4] For example, it has been stated that it is “probable that the general idea of expressing words of a language in writing was brought to Egypt from Sumerian Mesopotamia.” [5] [6] On the other hand, it has been stated that “the evidence for such direct influence remains flimsy” and that “a very credible argument can also be made for the independent development of writing in Egypt…” [7] Given the lack of direct evidence, “no definitive determination has been made as to the origin of hieroglyphics in ancient Egypt.” [8]

Hieroglyphs consist of three kinds of glyphs: phonetic glyphs, including single-consonant characters that functioned like an alphabetlogographs, representing morphemes; and determinatives, which narrowed down the meaning of a logographic or phonetic words.

Hieroglyphs on an Egyptian funerary stela

As writing developed and became more widespread among the Egyptian people, simplified glyph forms developed, resulting in the hieratic(priestly) and demotic (popular) scripts. These variants were also more suited than hieroglyphs for use on papyrus. Hieroglyphic writing was not, however, eclipsed, but existed alongside the other forms, especially in monumental and other formal writing. The Rosetta Stone contains three parallel scripts – hieroglyphic, demotic and Greek.

Hieroglyphs continued to be used under Persian rule (intermittent in the 6th and 5th centuries BC), and after Alexander the Great’s conquest of Egypt, during the ensuing Macedonian and Roman periods. It appears that the misleading quality of comments from Greek and Roman writers about hieroglyphs came about, at least in part, as a response to the changed political situation. Some believe that hieroglyphs may have functioned as a way to distinguish ‘true Egyptians‘ from the foreign conquerors. Another reason may be the refusal to tackle a foreign culture on its own terms which characterized Greco-Roman approaches to Egyptian culture generally. Having learned that hieroglyphs were sacred writing, Greco-Roman authors imagined the complex but rational system as an allegorical, even magical, system transmitting secret, mystical knowledge.

By the 4th century, few Egyptians were capable of reading hieroglyphs, and the myth of allegorical hieroglyphs was ascendant. Monumental use of hieroglyphs ceased after the closing of all non-Christian temples in AD 391 by the Roman Emperor Theodosius I; the last known inscription is from Philae, known as the The Graffito of Esmet-Akhom, from AD 396.[9]

[edit]Decipherment of hieroglyphic writing

Main article: Decipherment of hieroglyphic writing

As active knowledge of the hieroglyphs and the related scripts disappeared, numerous attempts were made to decipher the hidden meaning of the ubiquitous inscriptions. The best known example from Antiquity are the “Hieroglyphica” by Horapollo, which offer an explanation of almost 200 glyphs. Horapollo seems to have had access to some genuine knowledge about the hieroglyphs as some words are identified correctly, although the explanations given are invariably wrong (the goose character used to write the word for ‘son’, z3, for example, is identified correctly, but explained wrongly to have been chosen because the goose loves his offspring the most while the real reason seems to have been purely phonetic). The Hieroglyphica do thus represent the start of more than a millenium of (mis)interpreting the hieroglyphs as symbolic rather than phonetic writing.

In the 9th and 10th century, Arab historians Dhul-Nun al-Misri and Ibn Wahshiyya offered their interpretation of the hieroglyphs. In his English translation of Ibn Wahshiyya’s work[10], Joseph Hammer points out that Athanasius Kirchner used this among several other Arabic works in his own attempts at decipherment.

Kirchner’s interpretation of the hieroglyphs is probably the best known early modern European attempt at ‘decipherment’ (others include the works of Johannes Goropius Becanus), not least for the fantasticness of his claims. Like other interpretations before, Kirchner’s ‘translations’ were hampered by the fundamental notion that hieroglyphs recorded ideas and not the sounds of the language. As no bilingual texts were available, any such symbolic ‘translation’ could be proposed without the possibility of falsification.

The real breakthrough in decipherment began with the discovery of the Rosetta Stone by Napoleon‘s troops in 1799 (during Napoleon’s Egyptian invasion). As the stone presented a hieroglyphic and a hieratic version of the same text in parallel with a Greek translation, plenty of material for falsifiable studies in translation was suddenly available. In the early 1800s scholars such as Silvestre de SacyJohan David Åkerblad, and Thomas Young studied the inscriptions on the stone, and were able to make some headway. Finally, Jean-François Champollion made the complete decipherment by the 1820s:

It is a complex system, writing figurative, symbolic, and phonetic all at once, in the same text, the same phrase, I would almost say in the same word.[11]

This was a major triumph for the young discipline of Egyptology.

Hieroglyphs survive today in two forms: Directly, through half a dozen Demotic glyphs added to the Greek alphabet when writing Coptic; and indirectly, as the inspiration for the original alphabet that was ancestral to nearly every other alphabet ever used, including the Roman alphabet.

[edit]Writing system

This article contains IPA phonetic symbols. Without proper rendering support, you may see question marks, boxes, or other symbols instead of Unicode characters.

Visually hieroglyphs are all more or less figurative: they represent real or illusional elements, sometimes stylized and simplified, but all generally perfectly recognizable in form. However, the same sign can, according to context, be interpreted in diverse ways: as a phonogram (phonetic reading), as a logogram, or as an ideogram (semagram; “determinative“) (semantic reading). The determinative was not read as a phonetic constituent, but facilitated understanding by differentiating the word from its homophones.

[edit]Phonetic reading

Hieroglyphs typical of the Graeco-Roman period

Most hieroglyphic signs are phonetic in nature, meaning the sign is read independent of its visual characteristics (according to the rebus principle where, for example, the picture of an eye could stand for the English words eye and I [the first person pronoun]). This picture of an eye is called a phonogram of word, ‘I’.

Phonograms formed with one consonant are called mono- or uniliteral signs; with two consonants, biliteral signs; with threetriliteral signs.

Twenty-four uniliteral signs make up the so-called hieroglyphic alphabet. Egyptian hieroglyphic writing does not normally indicate vowels, unlike cuneiform, and for that reason has been labelled by some an abjad alphabet, ie, an alphabet without vowels.

Thus, hieroglyphic writing representing a Pintail Duck is read in Egyptian as sȝ, derived from the main consonants of the Egyptian word for this duck: ‘s’, ‘3’ and ‘t’ (note that the numeral ‘3’ is how we, nowadays in our own alphabet, often represent the similar looking Egyptian alef (Egyptian 3 symbol.png, two half-rings opening to the left.)

It is also possible to use the hieroglyph of the Pintail Duck without a link to its meaning in order to represent the two phonemes sand ȝ, independently of any vowels which could accompany these consonants, and in this way write the word: , “son,” or when complemented by the context other signs detailed further in the text, , “keep, watch”; and sȝṯ.w, “hard ground”. For example:


– the characters ;

G38 Z1s

– the same character used only in order to signify, according to the context, “Pintail Duck” or, with the appropriate determinative, “son”, two words having the same or similar consonants; the meaning of the little vertical stroke will be explained further on:

A A47 D54

– the character  as used in the word sȝw, “keep, watch”[clarification needed]

As in the Arabic script, not all vowels were written in Egyptian hieroglyphs; it is debatable whether vowels were written at all. Possibly, as with Arabic, the semivowels /w/ and /j/ (as in English W and Y) doubled as the vowels /u/ and /i/. In modern transcriptions, an e is added between consonants to aid in their pronunciation. For example, nfr “good” is typically writtennefer. This does not reflect Egyptian vowels, which are obscure, but is merely a modern convention. Likewise, the ȝ and ʾ are commonly transliterated as a, as in Ra.

Hieroglyphs are written from right to left, from left to right, or from top to bottom, the usual direction being from left to right. The reader must consider the direction in which the asymmetrical hieroglyphs are turned in order to determine the proper reading order. For example, when human and animal hieroglyphs face to the left (i.e., they look left), they must be read from left to right, and vice versa, the idea being that the hieroglyphs face the beginning of the line.

Like many ancient writing systems, words are not separated by blanks or by punctuation marks. However, certain hieroglyphs appear particularly common only at the end of words making it possible to readily distinguish words.

[edit]Uniliteral signs

Main article: Egyptian uniliteral signs

The Egyptian hieroglyphic script contained 24 uniliterals (symbols that stood for single consonants, much like English letters). It would have been possible to write all Egyptian words in the manner of these signs, but the Egyptians never did so and never simplified their complex writing into a true alphabet.[12]

Each uniliteral glyph once had a unique reading, but several of these fell together as Old Egyptian developed into Middle Egyptian. For example, the folded-cloth glyph seems to have been originally an /s/ and the door-bolt glyph/θ/ sound, but these both came to be pronounced /s/, as the /θ/ sound was lost. A few uniliterals first appear in Middle Egyptian texts.

Besides the uniliteral glyphs, there are also the biliteral and triliteral signs, to represent a specific sequence of two or three consonants, consonants and vowels, and a few as vowel combinations only, in the language.

[edit]Phonetic complements

Egyptian writing is often redundant: in fact, it happens very frequently that a word might follow several characters writing the same sounds, in order to guide the reader. For example, the word nfr, “beautiful, good, perfect”, was written with a unique triliteral which was read as nfr :


However, it is considerably more common to add, to that triliteral, the uniliterals for f and r. The word can thus be written as nfr+f+r but one reads it merely as nfr. The two alphabetic characters are adding clarity to the spelling of the preceding triliteral hieroglyph.

Redundant characters accompanying biliteral or triliteral signs are called phonetic complements (or complementaries). They can be placed in front of the sign (rarely), after the sign (as a general rule), or even framing it (appearing both before and after). Ancient Egyptian scribes consistently avoided leaving large areas of blank space in their writing, and might add additional phonetic complements or sometimes even invert the order of signs if this would result in a more aesthetically pleasing appearance (good scribes attended to the artistic (and even religious) aspects of the hieroglyphs, and would not simply view them as a communication tool). Various examples of the use of phonetic complements can be seen below:

S43 d w

—   md +d +w (the complementary d is placed after the sign) → it reads mdw, meaning “tongue”;

i A40

—   ḫ +p +ḫpr +r +j (the 4 complementaries frame the triliteral sign of the scarab/beetle) → it reads ḫpr.j, meaning the name “Khepri“, with the final glyph being the determinative for ‘ruler or god’.

Notably, phonetic complements were also used to allow the reader to differentiate between signs which are homophones, or which don’t always have a unique reading. For example, the symbol of “the seat” (or chair):


—   This can be read stws and ḥtm, according to the word in which it is found. The presence of phonetic complements—and of the suitable determinative—allows the reader to know which reading to choose, of the 3 readings:

  • 1st Reading: st
    Q1 t

    —   st, written st+t ; the last character is the determinative of “the house” or that which is found there, meaning “seat, throne, place”;

Q1 t

—   st (written st+t ; the “egg” determinative is used for female personal names in some periods), meaning “Isis“;

  • 2nd Reading: ws

    —   wsjr (written ws+jr, with, as a phonetic complement, “the eye”, which is read jr, following the determinative of “god”), meaning “Osiris“;

  • 3rd Reading: ḥtm
    H Q1 m&t E17

    —   ḥtm.t (written ḥ+ḥtm+m+t, with the determinative of “Anubis” or “the jackal”), meaning a kind of wild animal,

H Q1 t G41

—   ḥtm (written +ḥtm+t, with the determinative of the flying bird), meaning “to disappear”.

Finally, it sometimes happens that the pronunciation of words might be changed because of their connection to Ancient Egyptian: in this case, it is not rare for writing to adopt a compromise in notation, the two readings being indicated jointly. For example, the adjective bnj, “sweet” became bnr. In Middle Egyptian, one can write:

b n
i M30

—   bnrj (written b+n+r+i, with determinative)

which is fully read as bnr, the j not being pronounced but retained in order to keep a written connection with the ancient word (in the same fashion as the English language words through,knife, or victuals, which are no longer pronounced the way they are written.)

[edit]Semantic reading

Besides a phonetic interpretation, characters can also be read for their meaning: in this instance logograms are being spoken (or ideograms) and semagrams (the latter are also called determinative).[13]


A hieroglyph used as a logogram defines the object of which it is an image. Logograms are therefore the most frequently used common nouns; they are always accompanied by a mute vertical stroke indicating their status as a logogram (the usage of a vertical stroke is further explained below); in theory, all hieroglyphs would have the ability to be used as logograms. Logograms can be accompanied by phonetic complements. Here are some examples:

  • ra

    —   , meaning “sun”;

  • pr

    —   pr, meaning “house”;

  • sw t

    —   swt (sw+t), meaning “reed”;

  • Dw

    —   ḏw, meaning “mountain”.

In some cases, the semantic connection is indirect (metonymic or metaphoric):

  • nTr Z1

    —   nṯr, meaning “god”; the character in fact represents a temple flag (standard);

  • G53 Z1

    —   , meaning “” (soul); the character is the traditional representation of a “bâ” (a bird with a human head);

  • G27 Z1

    —   dšr, meaning “flamingo”; the corresponding phonogram means “red” and the bird is associated by metonymy with this colour.

Those are just a few examples from the nearly 5000 hieroglyphic symbols.


Determinatives or semagrams (semantic symbols specifying meaning) are placed at the end of a word. These mute characters serve to clarify what the word is about, as homophonicglyphs are common. If a similar procedure existed in English, words with the same spelling would be followed by an indicator which would not be read but which would fine-tune the meaning: “retort [chemistry]” and “retort [rhetoric]” would thus be distinguished.

A number of determinatives exist: divinities, humans, parts of the human body, animals, plants, etc. Certain determinatives possess a literal meaning and a figurative meaning. For example, a roll of papyrus,


is used to define “books” but also abstract ideas. The determinative of the plural is a shortcut to signal three occurrences of the word, that is to say, its plural (since the Egyptian language was familiar with a dual, sometimes indicated by two strokes). This special character is explained below.

Here are several examples of the use of determinatives borrowed from the book, Je lis les hiéroglyphes (“I am reading hieroglyphics”) by Jean Capart, which illustrate their importance:

  • nfr w A17 Z3

    —   nfrw (w and the three strokes are the marks of the plural: [literally] “the beautiful young people”, that is to say, the young military recruits. The word has a young-person determinative symbol:


    —   which is the determinative indicating babies and children;

  • nfr f&r&t B1

    —   nfr.t (.t is here the suffix which forms the feminine): meaning “the nubile young woman”, with


    as the determinative indicating a woman;

  • nfr nfr nfr pr

    —   nfrw (the tripling of the character serving to express the plural, flexional ending w) : meaning “foundations (of a house)”, with the house as a determinative,



  • nfr f

    —   nfr : meaning “clothing” with


    as the determinative for lengths of cloth;

  • nfr W22

    —   nfr : meaning “wine” or “beer”; with a jug


    as the determinative.

All these words have a meliorative connotation: “good, beautiful, perfect.” A recent dictionary, the Concise Dictionary of Middle Egyptian by Raymond A. Faulkner, gives some twenty words which are read nfr or which are formed from this word.

[edit]Additional signs


Rarely, the names of gods are placed within a cartouche; the two last names of the sitting king are always placed within a cartouche:

i Y5

jmn-rˁ, “Amon-Rê ” ;

i V4 p
A t

qrwjwȝpdrȝ.t, “Cleopatra.”

[edit]Filling stroke

A filling stroke is a character indicating the end of a quadrant which would otherwise be incomplete.

[edit]Signs joined together

Some signs are the contraction of several others. These signs have, however, a function and existence of their own: for example, a forearm where the hand holds a scepter is used as a determinative for words meaning “to direct, to drive” and their derivatives.


The doubling of a sign indicates its dual; the tripling of a sign indicates its plural.

[edit]Grammatical signs

  • The vertical stroke, indicating the sign is an ideogram;
  • The two strokes of the “dual” and the three strokes of the “plural”;
  • The direct notation of flexional endings, for example:


The idea of standardized orthography—”correct” spelling—in Egyptian is much looser than in modern languages. In fact, one or several variants exist for almost every word. One finds:

  • Redundancies;
  • Omission of graphemes, which are ignored whether they are intentional or not;
  • Substitutions of one grapheme for another, such that it is impossible to distinguish a “mistake” from an “alternate spelling”;
  • Errors of omission in the drawing of signs, much more problematic when the writing is cursive: hieratic writing, but especially demotic, where the schematization of the signs is extreme.

However, many of these apparent spelling errors are more of an issue of chronology. Spelling and standards varied over time, so the given writing of a word during the Old Kingdom might be considerably different during the New Kingdom. Furthermore, the Egyptians were perfectly content to include older orthography (“historical spelling”) alongside newer practices, as if it were acceptable in English to use the spelling of a given word from 1600 in a text written today. Most often ancient spelling errors are more of an issue of modern misunderstandings of the specific context of a given text. Today, hieroglyphicists make use of a number of catologuing systems (notably the Manuel de Codage and Gardiner’s Sign List) in order to clarify the presence of determinatives, ideograms and other ambiguous signs in transliteration.

[edit]Simple examples

Ptolemy in hieroglyphs
Hiero Ca1.svg
wA l
i i s
Hiero Ca2.svg

The glyphs in this cartouche are transliterated as:

wꜣ l
i i s Ptolmiis

though ii is considered a single letter and transliterated i or y.

Another way in which hieroglyphs work is illustrated by the two Egyptian words pronounced pr (usually vocalised as per). One word is ‘house’, and its hieroglyphic representation is straightforward:


Here the ‘house’ hieroglyph works as a logogram: it represents the word with a single sign. The vertical stroke below the hieroglyph is a common way of indicating that a glyph is working as a logogram.

Another word pr is the verb ‘to go out, leave’. When this word is written, the ‘house’ hieroglyph is used as a phonetic symbol:


Here the ‘house’ glyph stands for the consonants pr. The ‘mouth’ glyph below it is a phonetic complement: it is read as r, reinforcing the phonetic reading of pr. The third hieroglyph is adeterminative: it is an ideogram for verbs of motion that gives the reader an idea of the meaning of the word.

Published in: on March 7, 2010 at 11:55 am  Leave a Comment