Study Guide

Sokar Sightings

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Jan 1, 1970 - Jan 1, 1970

Sokar of the Henu boat

Some of the earliest images of Sokar show him sitting in a silver boat called the Henu.
Henu boat hieroglyph from ancient petroglyphs:

Jan 1, 1970 - Dec 20, 2019

A Biggeh Island

In south Egypt, near the modern city of Aswan, there's a beautiful temple of Isis, on an island named Philae. Next to Philae, another island dedicated to Sokar and Osiris, named Biggeh, rises up out of the Nile. Nobody was ever allowed to set foot on it, except once a year to leave offerings. The forbidden island is still there, and it's still empty, even today.

Dec 21, 2019 - Dec 20, 2019

Onions for Sokar in Abydos (Abdju)

At Abydos, there's a room just for Sokar in the big Osiris temple. Inside this room, wall carvings show a special holiday called "The Day of Chewing Onions." Baskets of onions were brought to the temple for Sokar to taste, then made into food for people who came to the festival. Sokar's onion day is just before the beginning of the Mysteries of Osiris, in late autumn. Maybe that's why everybody was crying at Osiris's festival, not just because Seth killed him?

Dec 21, 2019 - Dec 20, 2019

Evolution #1: Ptah-Sokar

Over time, Sokar started spending so much time with Ptah in their city (Memphis) that the two of them started being shown together, as the same god. This new god, Ptah-Sokar, ruled over all of Memphis's many cemeteries.

Dec 20, 2019 - Dec 20, 2019

Evolution #2: Ptah-Sokar-Osiris

Like some kind of Egyptian god Pokemon, Ptah-Sokar evolved into an even bigger god once he started hanging out with Osiris, the death god from further south and north of Memphis. Together, the three gods as Ptah-Sokar-Osiris, show up everywhere on tomb paintings, funeral papyrus, coffins, and mummy amulets. That's a lot of death!

Protector of Duat

In the New Kingdom, Sokar started showing up inside king's tombs, painted on the walls as a falcon-headed guy standing on top of a big snake. In these paintings, part of a book called the Amduat, Sokar's in charge of the time when it's darker than dark: exactly halfway through the night—the time when the sun starts getting ready to be reborn at sunrise. It's a special job, in pitch darkness, for the god of everything light-challenged.

Dec 20, 2019

Bandaged Bird

A beautiful gold statue of Sokar went into the tomb with King Tut. Some people have mistaken it for an image of Horus, but Horus is no mummy, dummy!

Jan 1, 1970

Greater than the Treasures of Tutankhamun

We all know about King Tut's treasures, but he was young and unimportant. Many kings were buried with more riches—but most were robbed. Another pharaoh's tomb was found intact during the last hundred years. Other kings including Psusennes I and Shoshenk II were buried in Tanis, far north of King Tut. But they was discovered in 1940, just as World War II got started, so nobody knows about the treasures they took to their graves, including a solid silver coffin shaped like Sokar! You might think Tut's gold coffins are bigger bling, but in ancient Egypt, silver was rare and much more expensive.

Dec 20, 0198 - Dec 20, 2019

Bye Bye Birdie

The last known image of Sokar (in this case Osiris-Sokar), with a falcon's head, was carved into the temple of Isis at Philae. It's still there now, because the temple's very well preserved. Philae stayed open longer than any other ancient Egyptian temple, until the Byzantine Emperor, Justinian, finally ordered it closed in 535 CE. Most of them were already in ruins centuries before that.

Is it Sokar?

Sokar makes a guest appearance in the Dresden Codak webcomic. The reason for his showing up? He's bothered by the concept of Schrödinger's Cat in quantum physics.

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