Lector priest

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Stela of a lector priest (upper right), from Saqqara, 19th Dynasty.
"Lector priest"
in hieroglyphs

A lector priest was a priest in ancient Egypt who recited spells and hymns during temple rituals and official ceremonies. Such priests also sold their services to laymen, reciting texts during private apotropaic rituals or at funerals.[1] As such, they were some of the most prominent practitioners of "magic" (heku) in ancient Egypt. In ancient Egyptian literature, lector priests are often portrayed as the keepers of secret knowledge and the performers of amazing magical feats.[2]

The highest-ranking lector priest in a temple, the chief lector priest, managed the temple's archives of ritual texts.[2]

The term "lector priest" is usually used to translate the Egyptian title, ẖry-ḥb.t, which literally means "the carrier of the book of ritual".[3] The term for a chief lector priest, ẖry-ḥb.t ḥry-tp, was so closely associated with magic that, in Late Egyptian, the shortened form hry-tp became a general term for "magician".[1]

Lector priests wore a sash across the chest that indicated their position.[2]


  1. ^ a b Ritner, Robert Kriech (1993). The Mechanics of Ancient Egyptian Magical Practice. pp. 220–222
  2. ^ a b c Doxey, Denise, "Priesthood", in Redford, Donald B. (ed) (2001). The Oxford Encyclopedia of Ancient Egypt. Vol. III, pp. 69–70
  3. ^ Collier, Mark, and Bill Manley (1998). How to Read Egyptian Hieroglyphs. p. 33