Ancient Egypt had important female deities: The Nile River emerged from the tears of the goddess Isis, after the death of her husband, the god Osiris. Revered as a heavenly mother, Isis would become, over time, the most important goddess of Egyptian mythology, where other deities such as Hathor, Bastet, Sekhmet and Tueris were also prominent.

SISTRO CON CABEZA DE HATHOR Fayenza / Reino Nuevo (1570-1070 a. C.) /Szépm􀀀vészeti Múzeum. Museo de Bellas Artes, Budapest (nº inv. 51.2296)

Faience / New Kingdom (1570-1070 BC)
Szépmüvészeti Múzeum. Museum of Fine Arts, Budapest (inv. no. 51.2296)

Isis had great influence in different civilizations where cults to her became established, especially in the Roman Empire. For many academics, the form of the nursing goddess—the archetype of the woman protector of the newborn and representation of maternal love—is the iconographic origin of the Virgin Mary in Christian religion.

Women also played a key role in religious ceremonies. In the country of the Nile, we come across priestesses, the worshippers of Amun, dancers, and caretakers of temples.

ESCULTURA DE TUERIS Piedra caliza / Baja Época (664-332 a. C.) /Museu egipci de Barcelona. Fundació Arqueològica Clos (nº inv. E 269)

Limestone / Late Period (664-332 BC)
Museu egipci de Barcelona. Fundació Arqueològica Clos (inv. no. E 269)

AMULETO DEL DIOS BES Esteatita/ Datación incierta /Museo Civico Archeologico, Bolonia (nº inv. EG 615)

Glazed steatite / Uncertain date
Museo Civico Archeologico, Bologna (inv. no. EG 615)

Along with numerous representations of female deities, this section includes libation vessels, amulets and votive stelae, such as that from the Egyptian Museum of Barcelona, which represents women making offerings to the god, Ra-Haractes, who was usually represented with the head of a falcon and a solar disk on top.

Associated with the cow goddess, Hathor, are other objects, such as the “New Year” canteens, vessels that contained the water of the Nile on the first day of flooding—in mid-June—coinciding with the beginning of the Egyptian new year. The sistrum, a U-shaped musical instrument—reminiscent of Hathor’s horns—which was played in dances and religious ceremonies also deserves a special mention.

ESTELA DE HY Piedra caliza / Dinastía XIX (1293-1195 a. C.) / Museo Egizio, Turín (nº inv. 1514)

Painted limestone / 19th Dynasty (1293-1195 BC)
Museo Egizio, Turin (inv. no. 1514)