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Anat: Warrior Goddess of Canaan and Egypt

By Edward Butler

The Semitic Goddess Anat was introduced into Egypt as a result of immigration and royal patronage, first by the Hyksos and then by the Ramesside kings. Anat is a huntress and warrior, and is depicted armed with a shield, a lance and a club or battle-axe. The warlike Ramesside kings seem to have sought her patronage for their Levantine military adventures, Rameses II even naming one of his daughters ‘Daughter of Anat’. Anat is depicted wearing a tall crown similar to the White Crown of Upper Egypt, but with plumes on the side (indistinguishable, in fact, from the atef crown worn by Osiris). Anat was regarded by Egyptians as fierce and androgynous. She was incorporated into the pantheon as a daughter of Re and a wife of Seth, who receives Anat, along with her fellow Levantine Goddess Astarte, as compensation for being denied the kingship in his dispute with Horus, according to the Conflict of Horus and Seth. This arrangement, in addition to acknowledging the tendency to identify Seth with the Levantine God Ba’al (although Ba’al was also adopted into Egyptian religion in a minor way), also allows Seth’s brute force, which is denied the position of governing principle, scope for expression in the aggressive expansion of Egyptian cultural influence in the region. In addition to her royal patronage in the Delta, Anat also had a following among commoners, perhaps due to the presence in the region of a significant immigrant population, but also reflecting the positive attributes of strength and combat prowess which Anat shares with Seth.

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