Who was the Ancient Egyptian god Ra?
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Who was the god Ra?

Egyptian painting of a boat with people standing in it
The sun god Ra on his solar boat,
traveling across the sky from east to west.

September 2016 - Ra (sometimes spelled Re) was the ancient Egyptian god of the sun. He was already well known in the Old Kingdom, by 3000 BC. He had the sun (a circle) balanced on his head, as you can see in the picture, and he traveled in a boat from sunrise in the east to sunset in the west every day, accompanied by his followers.

Egyptian model boat
Egyptian model of a boat

You could compare Ra to the Indian god Vishnu or to the Greek god Helios. The Greek sun god travels in a horse-drawn chariot, because the Greeks usually traveled in horse-drawn chariots, but the Egyptian sun god travels in a boat, because Egyptians usually traveled by boat up and down the Nile River.

Learn by doing: Egyptian afterlife project
More about ancient Egyptian gods

Bibliography and further reading about the Egyptian god Ra:

Gods and Goddesses of Ancient Egypt, by Leonard Fisher (1999). For younger kids.

Isis and Osiris, by Geraldine Harris (1997). A retelling of the story for kids.

The Egypt Game (Yearling Newbery), by Zilpha Keatley Snyder (reprinted 1985). A great kids' story about kids who pretend to be Egyptian gods and goddesses.

Religion in Ancient Egypt: Gods, Myths, and Personal Practice, by John Baines, David Silverman, and Leonard Lesko (1991). Pretty hard going, but it will tell you everything you need to know about Egyptian religion.

Isis in the Ancient World, by R.E. Witt (1997). Mostly about the spread of Isis worship to Greece and the Roman Empire.

More about ancient Egyptian gods
More about ancient Egypt
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Karen Carr is Associate Professor Emerita, Department of History, Portland State University. She holds a doctorate in Classical Art and Archaeology from the University of Michigan. Follow her on Instagram or Twitter, or buy her book, Vandals to Visigoths.
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