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Ancient Egypt /
1. Introduction
2. Gods
3. Concepts
4. Cult
5. Cult centres
6. Necropolises
7. Structures

Detailed articleAncient Egypt

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Anthropomorphic representation of Maat.
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Anthropomorphic representation of Maat.

Universal ethical principle of Ancient Egyptian religion, denoting 'justice', 'order', 'truth'.
Maat was connected to the entire existence of the universe, and was not limited to ethics for human beings alone. Understanding how the world functioned and how it had been created, although variously presented within the different orientations of Ancient Egyptian religion, was vital to understanding maat. Maat was the perfect order toward which humans should strive.
In terms of a deity, there was a female personification of the phenomenon of Maat. In this form, she was thought of as Re's daughter. There were cults exculusively dedicated to Maat, the goddess.

For gods
The central protector of maat was the pharaoh, and maat was a principle that even gods had to obey. Maat is to be understood as a substantial element, for it is said that gods 'live from maat'. Maat is also something that could be offered to a god, and is a recurring motif in Egyptian temples.
This ethical principle was personified through the goddess, Maat. Maat is presented as a goddess with an ostrich feather on her head. She was defined as the world order as it had been established upon the creation of the world. There were actual cults of Maat, as early as in the 5th dynasty (25th century BCE). Few cults were large, but there is much evidence for her being revered for centuries.

For humans
By adhering to Pharaoh, who was the incarnation of the god Horus, humans were alligend with nature, and thus also with maat. What Pharaoh did and said, was theoretically beyond the understanding of normal human beings, and to be understood as revelations. By giving up freedom, humans could achieve peace with the universal powers and the gods.
Inhabitants not adhering to the principle of maat, broke all laws of Ancient Egyptian society. Enemies in war were considered to be enemies of maat.

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By Tore Kjeilen