The celebration of June 21 in ancient Egypt

The celebration of June 21 in ancient Egypt
The celebration of June 21 in ancient Egypt

If in France, the date of June 21 is an opportunity to enjoy musical events across the country, it is also the day marking the transition from spring to summer with an astronomical phenomenon called solstice. The summer and summer solsticeswinterwinter have been celebrated for centuries by various cultures around the world. Mythical sites like Stonehenge have become markers of these annual events, which continue to fascinate even today. In Egypt, during Antiquity, the people made the summer solstice a major event and respected with fervor. Throughout the country, monuments built well before our era allow you to admire the path of the Sun, during the last hours of the longest day of the year.

Giving glory to the Sun in ancient Egypt

In ancient Egypt, one of the most important deities was the god Ra. During the Ve dynasty, which extends between 2500 BC until 2350 BC, the figure of Ra becomes predominant. God of the Sun, king of kings and the heavens, Ra is anchored as one of the most important gods of the Egyptian pantheon. It thus represents the nurturing star, which takes a major place in the lives of the people of ancient Egypt.

The importance of the Sun

The summer solstice occurred during a period of rising waters of the Nile. It was then essential for the Egyptians living on the banks of the river that the water level submerge the banks to irrigate the arable landsarable lands. And the importance of the Sun is also found in Egyptian architecture. Religious and funerary buildings were notably built so that natural light from thestarstar causes specific light effects, mainly during astronomical events.

In a work published in 2018, The Oxford Handbook of Light in Archeologyresearcher Giulio Magli returns to the unique architectural characteristics adapted to movementsmovements of the Sun. From Giza to Luxor via Memphis, there are many ancient sites that visitors and archaeologists can still visit to observe the spectacle offered by the summer solstice.

Buildings aligned with the passage of the Sun

The longest day also marked the start of a new year and several places allowed you to admire this event. The first and probably the most popular is the site of Giza, near Cairo. By positioning itself at the level of the Great Sphinx, the Sun sets precisely between two of the three Great Pyramids. In Luxor, theorbitorbit of the Sun turns out to be perpendicular to the position of the temples of Karnak. Some temples have openings on the roofroofwhich filter the light of day, marking here also the arrival of a new seasonseason.

Another important element concerns the helical orbit of the star Sirius, associated with the goddess Isis. Mother of civilization, companion of the god Osiris, Isis is almost as important as Ra in Egyptian religion. The newspaper Egypt Independent relayed in 2022 the observations of an Egyptologist, Ahmed Awad, the latter declaring that across Egypt, scholars had recorded 22 phenomena linked to this astronomical event in temples and places of worship. A study carried out across six Egyptian provinces demonstrating, according to its author, the passion of the ancient peoples of the region for astronomy.

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