Women’s participation in the religious hierarchy of Ancient Egypt


Ancient Egypt has always seemed a very pious place, with Pharaoh himself positioned as both divine and a high priest of all the gods who delegated authority to a vast hierarchy of religious specialists. Those specialists took care of the daily rituals of the gods and the running of temple business. Temples and the extensive funerary rites that the Egyptians favored are two of the most recognizable aspects of ancient Egypt, and a considerable amount of scholarship has gone into explaining the religious beliefs of the ancient Egyptians as well as the role of the men who populated the aforementioned hierarchy.1 As Herodotus’ quote indicates, priesthood was primarily a male occupation. The role of men in this world is hard to miss. Priesthood was a common vocation and priests were depicted on temple walls performing their duties and enjoying a special proximity to the gods to which normal people were not privy. Women’s participation in the religious life of ancient Egypt is an aspect that has historically been overlooked and undervalued. Thankfully, this is changing and several works have appeared that attempt to address the role of women in the religious hierarchy.2 From these works we can see that women in priestly roles are far less common than men, but not at all insignificant.

Publication Title

Women in Antiquity: Real Women across the Ancient World