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H q
in hieroglyphs

To the Egyptians, the frog was a symbol of life and fertility, since millions of them were born after the annual inundation of the Nile, which brought fertility to the otherwise barren lands. Consequently, in Egyptian mythology, there began to be a frog-goddess, who represented fertility, referred to by Egyptologists as Heqet (also Heqat, Hekit, Heket etc., more rarely Hegit, Heget etc.),[1] written with the determinative frog.[2]

Name and depiction[edit]

Her name was probably pronounced more like Ḥaqā́tat in Middle Egyptian, hence her later Greek counterpart Ἑκάτη (see Hecate).[3] Heqet was usually depicted as a frog, or a woman with a frog's head, or more rarely as a frog on the end of a phallus to explicitly indicate her association with fertility. She was often referred to as the wife of Khnum.[4]

Worship of Heqet[edit]

The god Khnum, accompanied by Heqet, moulds Ihy in a relief from the mammisi (birth temple) at Dendera Temple complex, Dendara, Egypt

The beginning of her cult dates to the early dynastic period at least. Her name was part of the names of some high-born Second Dynasty individuals buried at Helwan and was mentioned on a stela of Wepemnofret and in the Pyramid Texts. Early frog statuettes are often thought to be depictions of her.[5]

Later, as a fertility goddess, associated explicitly with the last stages of the flooding of the Nile, and so with the germination of corn, she was associated with the final stages of childbirth. This association, which appears to have arisen during the Middle Kingdom, gained her the title She who hastens the birth (cf. the role of Heqet in the story of The Birth of the Royal Children from the Westcar Papyrus[6]). Some say that—even though no ancient Egyptian term for "midwife" is known for certain—midwives often called themselves the Servants of Heqet, and that her priestesses were trained in midwifery.[7] Women often wore amulets of her during childbirth, which depicted Heqet as a frog, sitting in a lotus.

Heqet was considered the wife of Khnum, who formed the bodies of new children on his potter's wheel.[8]

In the Osiris myth, it was Heqet who breathed life into the new body of Horus at birth, as she was the goddess of the last moments of birth. As the birth of Horus became more intimately associated with the resurrection of Osiris, so Heqet's role became one more closely associated with resurrection. Eventually, this association led to her amulets gaining the phrase I am the resurrection in the Christian era along with cross and lamb symbolism.[9]

A temple dedicated to Horus and Heqet dating to the Ptolemaic Period was found at Qus.[10][11]


  1. ^ Armour, Robert A. (2001). Gods and Myths of Ancient Egypt. American University in Cairo Press. p. 116. 
  2. ^ Erman, Johann Peter Adolf; Grapow, Hermann, eds. (1971). Wörterbuch der aegyptischen Sprache im Auftrage der deutschen Akademien. Berlin: Akademie-Verlag GmbH. p. 169.10. 
  3. ^ McKechnie, Paul, and Philippe Guillaume. Ptolemy II Philadelphus and His World. Leiden: Brill, 2008. page 133.
  4. ^ Cotterell, Arthur (1989). The Macmillan Illustrated Encyclopedia of Myths & Legends. Macmillan. p. 213. 
  5. ^ Wilkinson, Toby A. H. (1999). Early Dynastic Egypt. Routledge. p. 286. 
  6. ^ Lichtheim, M. (1973). Ancient Egyptian Literature. 1. p. 220. 
  7. ^ Franklin, Rosalind (2005). Baby Lore: Superstitions and Old Wives Tales from the World Over Related to Pregnancy, Birth and Babycare. Diggory Press. p. 86. 
  8. ^ Wilkinson, Richard H. (2003). The Complete Gods and Goddesses of Ancient Egypt. Thames & Hudson. p. 229
  9. ^ Shier, Louise A. (1972). The Frog on Lamps from Karanis. Medieval and Middle Eastern Studies. Brill. p. 357. 
  10. ^ Porter, Bertha and Moss, Rosalind. Topographical Bibliography of Ancient Egyptian Hieroglyphic Texts, Reliefs and Paintings, V Upper Egypt: Sites (Volume 5). Griffith Institute. 2004.
  11. ^ Wilkinson, Richard H., The Complete Temples of Ancient Egypt, Thames and Hudson, 2000, pp 152, ISBN 0-500-05100-3

External links[edit]

  • Media related to Heqet at Wikimedia Commons