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Personal Piety in Ancient Egypt

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Abstract

When talking about religion in ancient Egypt, one usually thinks about polytheism and the impressive state temples built throughout the country dating back to at least the age of the pyramids. What is less known, however, is that texts and material culture also show the existence of religious beliefs and practices of ordinary people who addressed the gods with prayers about daily troubles. In addition, gods were offered to at home, state temples had specific areas reserved for the presentation of prayers and offerings and people could buy votive offerings at the temple workshops to donate to the local gods. All this was rooted in the belief in the existence of gods who heard human prayers, responded to people's behaviour and intervened in daily life. To sum up personal piety in Egypt, it was the belief in a transcendent world and the interaction with it. The present article aims to illustrate the principle characteristics of this phenomenon and its development, along with related main research issues.

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