Study Guide

Banebdjed Gossip

The official seal of the Dakahlia Governorate, the area in modern Egypt where Mendes is, still shows symbols of growing things like wheat and olives—things that Banebdjed blessed as the ancient god of growth. The bush-like thing in the middle of the Dakhalia coat of arms is actually the ancient hieroglyph for “fertile fields.”

Egyptologist Donald Redford and his team from Penn State University have been digging up Mendes (modern Tell el-Ruba) since 1990. It wasn't all fun and games in the ram-god’s city—Banebdjed’s temple saw at least two massacres, complete with lots of bodies and fire damage.

Some people think of Banebdjed as a form of Osiris. This is based on a pun: Banebdjed can be translated as “the soul of the lord of the Djed-pillar.” Usually the Djed pillar, a hieroglyph for “stability,” is Osiris, so Banebdjed would be Osiris’s soul. It’s possible; Osiris has a ram-headed form in the city, and Hatmehit is sometimes called a form of Isis.

Banebdjed isn’t the only ram god, or ram headed god, in Egypt. Amun, Osiris, and Khnum all have ram forms. How to tell them apart? Check out their horns. Amun’s rams all have moon-shaped horns that curl around the ear, like modern rams. Osiris’s ram has long, mostly straight horns. Khnum’s ram has long, wavy horns, just like Banebdjed’s. This is also why some people call Banebdjed the “northern Khnum” and Khnum the “southern Banebdjed”—both are in different parts of Egypt, but have the same now-extinct ram for their symbol.

When Banebdjed has a four-headed ram form (yeah, it’s weird), he is called Shefet-hat, and stands for the souls of Osiris, Ra, Shu, and Geb, the first four kings of the gods.