Religion

Isis

Amulet (shows goddess Isis suckling god Horus as a baby). Gold. From Meroe. Twenty-fifth Dynasty. Khartoum, National Museum. Source: Wildung, Dietrich. Sudan: Ancient Kingdoms of the Nile.
Isis Nubia

Goddess of motherhood and fertility

Isis, also known to the Kushites as the "great lady of Nubia [Kush]",1 was particularly popular among women. Figurines and amulets bearing her image can be found in both rich and poor graves throughout Sudan. Since child mortality rate was extremely high in ancient times, the cult of Isis attracted mothers worried about the health conditions of their children.

The cult of Isis was unique for advocating high moral values of peace and tranquility. Beside being the goddess of motherhood, Isis was a goddess of literacy, and crafts. Her cult was associated with high intellect and wisdom. Kushite pharaohs often claimed Isis to be their heavenly-mother to assume high moral values, good judgment, and integrity. A translation of Meroitic inscription about Isis, reads as follows:

"Give noble renewal (Oh Isis) to the new vivification. Give renewal--give (its) erection. Reflect (on) the patron (and) guide good prosperity (on the) good path indeed."2

There is no reason to assume that Isis was originally an Egyptian goddess. Even the cult center of Isis was located at Philae in Lower Nubia. Although part of Nubia, Philae has been a subordinate of Egypt for most of history. However, the local population of Philae has been predominantly of Sudanese extraction, until today. The cult of Isis at Philae received Pilgrims from different parts of the ancient world including Rome, Greece, Syria, and Israel.


  • 1 P. Garnsey, and C. R. Whittaker, Imperialism in the Ancient World: The Cambridge University Research Seminar in Ancient History (Cambridge UP, 1978) 37.
  • 2 Translation by C. A. Winters of Napata Statue No. 75: 1-2, in C. A. Winters, "Meroitic Religion," Arkamani Sudan Electronic Journal of Archaeology and Anthropology, Oct. 2005, Dec. 2008 <http://www.arkamani.org/arkamani-library/meroitic/meroitic-religion.htm>.
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The primary material of the website is authored by Ibrahim Omer © 2008.