College of Communication and Fine Arts Institute of Egyptian Art and Archaeology

The god Nun from the Osireion at Abydos

The God Nun

In the long passageway to the Osireion (begun by Seti I, c.1290-1279 B.C.E.) at Abydos, is this relief carving of the god Nun lifting up the Solar Barque of Khepry [pronounced kep-ree] (the rising sun), a scene from the Book of Gates. The ancient Egyptians believed that Nun was the primordial waters from which creation took place. At dawn, Khepry, the morning sun symbolized as a scarab beetle, was born out of these waters. The Egyptians observed that the scarab beetle pushed along a ball of dung (in which it had laid its eggs) and buried it in the sand. From this ball, seemingly by spontaneous generation, emerged baby beetles. Khepry, which means "to become," thus became a potent symbol of rebirth and regeneration.

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Last Updated: 1/23/12