The arrangement of some Egyptian pyramids, including those at Giza, correlate to solstice sunrises, the cardinal points of the compass, the movement of certain stars in the constellations of Ursa Major and Ursa Minor, and the rising and setting of specific stars on the horizon.
Sirius, the brightest star in the night sky, was associated with the annual flooding of the Nile River, which was essential for farming in the Nile Valley.
Ancient Egyptian interest in astronomy remains evident in writings, architecture, and religious art.
Relief of Sopdet
Late Period (c. 600 BCE )
Michael C. Carlos Museum, Emory University, Egyptian Purchase Fund, 2008.54.5
Brilliant predictor. This beautiful fragment is a rare representation of Sopdet, the deity that personified Sirius (or Sothis, as the star was known in ancient Egypt), the brightest star in the night sky. Linked to the annual flooding of the Nile River, the star's appearance ensured the fertility of the soil and agricultural productivity.
Late Period, Dynasty 2630 (664332 BCE)
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, gift of Darius Ogden Mills, 1904, 04.2.372
A breath of fresh air. Shu, associated with air, wind, light, and water, was the god of life. He was depicted as a kneeling figure that stood up and separated darkness from light and the sky goddess Nut from the earth god Geb. This action provided the space for life to develop.