Statue of Thoth as Ibis with a Priest

This bronze statue may have been offered in the temple of Thoth at Hermopolis or one of the numerous sites sacred to this god. The cult of Thoth, god of learning, wisdom, medicine, and writing was popular in pharaonic Egypt. The wooden base is original.

Bronze votives in the form of figurines of gods, men, and animals were popular temple gifts in the First Millennium Egypt. This example depicts a priest standing before an ibis, sacred bird of Thoth. The priest has a shaven head and wears a long robe.

Statue of Thoth as Ibis with a Priest
Statue of Thoth as Ibis with a Priest

“Thoth was the god of wisdom and secret knowledge who invented writing and the different languages of humanity. As a lunar deity, Thoth was the deputy of the sun god, Ra. He mediated between the Two Fighters, Horus and Seth, and returned the estranged Eye of Ra to her father. As the divine physician, Thoth used his magical powers to heal the wounded Eye of Horus. Thoth could be shown as a “beautiful” baboon or as an ibis or an ibis-headed man. Ra was said to have created the baboon form of Thoth to shine in the night sky and the ibis form to act as a messenger between earth and heaven.

Thoth was sometimes called the god “without a mother.” One text states that Thoth came “from the lips of Ra” to uphold maat, the divine order. He was also said to have sprung from the forehead of Seth after this god swallowed some of the semen of his rival, Horus. At his main cult center of Hermopolis Magna, Thoth, Lord of the Ogdoad, was worshipped as a self-creating deity who produced the cosmic egg on the Island of Flame. As a moon god he was pictured crossing the night sky in a boat, but Thoth could also be the navigator of the boat of the sun god.”

Handbook of Egyptian Mythology, by Geraldine Pinch

The God Thoth, called by the ancient Egyptians Djehuty, was originally a moon god who eventually came to be associated with writing and knowledge and to preside over scribes and scholars of all types. Thoth was clearly already an important deity in Old Kingdom times when he is mentioned frequently in the Pyramid Texts. There, along with the sun god Re, he is one of the two “companions” which cross the sky and the gods are said to travel on the wing of Thoth across the winding waterway or river of the heavens.

Unlike the solar disk, it is uncertain that the moon was worshipped in Egypt as a deity in ancient times, and the evidence seems to show that it was regarded rather as a symbol or manifestation of specific deities associated with the moon. The most prominent of these gods were Horus, Iah, and Thoth, though the lunar disk was also symbol of Osiris according to the mythology of that god. Additionally, 14 individual deities were sometimes associated with the days of the waxing moon and 14 were associated with the days of the waning moon.

Late Period to Ptolemaic Period, ca. 332-30 BC. Now in the Worcester Art Museum, Massachusetts. 1947.8