Goddess of the Nile river

The goddess Anuket, depicted as a woman with a tall, plumed headdress
Name in hieroglyphs
Major cult center Elephantine, Seheil
Symbol Bow, arrows, gazelle, ostrich feather
Parents Khnum and Satet
Siblings Ra, Apophis, Sobek, Tehuti, Hathor, Serqet, Heka, Kuk, Kauket

Anuket was the personification and goddess of the Nile river in the Egyptian mythology in Elephantine, at the start of the Nile's journey through Egypt, and in nearby regions of Nubia.


In Ancient Egyptian, she was known as Anuket, Anaka,[1] or Anqet.[2] Her name meant the "Clasper" or "Embracer".[1] In Greek, this became Anoukis (Ανουκις),[1] sometimes also spelled Anukis. In the interpretatio graeca, she was considered equivalent to Hestia or Vesta.[1]


Anuket was usually depicted as a woman with a headdress of either reed or ostrich feathers [3] (thought by most egyptologists to be a detail deriving from Nubia). She was usually depicted as holding a Sceptre topped with anankh, and her sacred animal was the gazelle.[4] She was also shown suckling the Pharoah through the New Kingdom and a goddess of lust in later years.[4] In later periods, she was assoiciated with the Cowry, especially the shell, which resembled the vagina.[4]

History & Roles

She was originally the daughter of Ra, but was always related to Satet in some way. For example, both goddesses were called the "Eye of Ra", along with Bastet, Hathor, and Sekhmet.[4] Also, they were both related in some way to the Uraeus.[4]


Anuket was part of a triad with the god Khnum, and the goddess Satis. She may have been the sister of the goddess Satis[3] or she may have been a junior consort to Khnum instead.[3][1]

A temple dedicated to Anuket was erected on the Island of Seheil. Inscriptions show that a shrine or altar was dedicated to her at this site by the 13th dynasty Pharaoh Sobekhotep III. Much later, during the 18th dynasty, Amenhotep II dedicated a chapel to the goddess. [5]

During the New Kingdom, Anuket’s cult at Elephantine included a river procession of the goddess during the first month of Shemu. Inscriptions mention the processional festival of Khnum and Anuket during this time period. [6]

Reliefs of Senusret III and Neferhotep I making offerings to Anuket on Seheil.

Ceremonially, when the Nile started its annual flood, the Festival of Anuket began. People threw coins, gold, jewelry, and precious gifts into the river, in thanks for the life-giving water and returning benefits derived from the wealth provided by her fertility to the goddess. The taboo held in several parts of Egypt, against eating certain fish which were considered sacred, was lifted during this time, suggesting that a fish species of the Nile was a totem for Anuket and that they were consumed as part of the ritual of her major religious festival.

Anouké ou Anouki (Anucè, Anucis, Istia, Estia, Vesta), N372.2, Brooklyn Museum



  1. 1 2 3 4 5 EB (1878).
  2. "Anuket". Retrieved 2016-10-26.
  3. 1 2 3 Geraldine Pinch, Egyptian Mythology: A Guide to the Gods, Goddesses, and Traditions of Ancient Egypt, Oxford University Press, 2004, p 186
  4. 1 2 3 4 5 "Anuket". Retrieved 2016-10-26.
  5. Kathryn A. Bard, Encyclopedia of the archaeology of ancient Egypt, Psychology Press, 1999, p 178
  6. Zahi A. Hawass, Lyla Pinch Brock, Egyptology at the Dawn of the Twenty-first Century: Archaeology, American Univ in Cairo Press, 2003, p 443


Further reading

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