Ancient Egyptian Priests.

Telling it how it is.

Forget the guy out front with the white collar. Ancient Egyptian priests didn't work that way.

There was no-one to convert in ancient Egypt. No-one with a soul to save. Everyone knew there was a god to suit all occasions and they paid their respects accordingly.

So if not to twist the arm of a non-believer, what exactly was the role of an Egyptian priest in ancient times.

High Priest.

The highest priest in ancient Egypt and the man closest to the gods was the pharaoh. The temples reflected his bond with the otherworldly in the forms of statues and reliefs depicting him larger than life; greater than just a man.

Job Description.

The priests of ancient Egypt had a variety of roles:

* Temple worship - Ancient Egyptian priests were guardians and caretakers of their temples. It was there job to appease the gods and goddesses that resided there. Reading prayers and anointing statues were two of the main rituals.

* Administration - Everyone from overseers, soldiers and scribes reported to the priests of their respective temple. They would know the facts and figures for all important aspects of Egyptian economy in their region.

* Education - Because they had to read important prayers and spells it was essential they were educated in reading and writing. This also qualified them to teach and the temple was a place of education for those able to afford it.

* Festivals - When celebrating a festival, a priest carried the temple statue in a public procession.

Daily Rituals

* Break of dawn - As the sun first appeared in the morning, priests sung the morning hymn in tribute to the gods. The most senior priest would draw back the bolt on the doors which housed the gods. Incense was lit at this stage.

* Purification - Priests were required to be cleansed before temple work began. Gods were also symbolically purified before being dressed and cosmetics applied.

* Offerings - Meat, bread, fruit, vegetables and beer were all laid before the gods. All produce came from surrounding landowners and farmers and was premium produce, fit for a god.

Priests of Amun.

The priests of ancient Egypt held influential positions and sat atop the upper echelon of society. If the King called the shots, the priests were responsible for implementing his demands.

Because they were so educated and held such responsible positions it seems only natural that a priest could take the highest leadership position an ancient Egyptian priest could attain - pharaoh.

That is exactly what happened to the priests of Amun.

During the period around 1080 to 945 BC, the Theban high priests of Amun administered two thirds of the land in Egypt and ninety percent of the ships, amongst many other resources. This gave them great power and eventually one of the high priests, Pinedjem I, would rise to kingship. He ruled for around half a decade as pharaoh.

return from Egyptian priests to Ancient Egyptian Religion page