The origins of Osiris, the AE god of rebirth/regeneration is shrouded in the dark veil of antiquity. No one truly knows who Osiris was or even if he actually existed at some time in the ancient past. And yet, somehow, by the end of the 5th dynasty, Osiris rose from relative obscurity to become one of ancient Egypt’s most important gods and remained so for the remainder of ancient Egyptian history.
The few references we have about the Origins of Osiris have been passed down to us for thousands of years in the ‘Pyramid Texts’ and in the ‘Myth of Osiris and Isis’. But where did it all begin and why was Osiris so revered by the ancient Egyptians of later times?
One of the few clues we have as to who (or what) Osiris actually was comes to us from the Pyramids Texts:
“This pyramid… is Osiris. This construction… is Osiris” – PT 1657
It seems then from the PTs that at the very beginning, Osiris was a pyramid, or perhaps a series of pyramids. We learn also from the ‘Myth of Osiris and Isis’ that the body of Osiris had been cut into 14 pieces (some version say 16 pieces) and scattered across Egypt. Could it be then that the first 16 pyramids that were built by the ancient Egyptians represented the ‘body of Osiris’ in a similar way that a modern Christian church might be described as the ‘House of God’ or the ‘Body of Christ’?
If we then consider the locations of the first 16 or so pyramids the ancient Egyptians built might it in some way resemble the classic ‘Body of Osiris’ (see image 1 below) that we are so accustomed to seeing in ancient Egyptian art?
Let us first of all consider the arrangement of the first 17 pyramids built by the ancient Egyptians. (I use 17 because 3 of these first pyramids were never completed which might perhaps explain why the ‘Myth of Osiris and Isis’ refers to 14 pieces of Osiris).
The image above shows the following pyramids constructed on the high plateaus along the Nile:
Sekhemkhet (Saqqara – Unfinished)
Khaba (Zawiyet al-Aryan – Unfinished)
Sneferu (Meidum – furthest south)
Sneferu (Dahshur – Bent)
Sneferu (Dahshur – Red)
Djedefre (Abu Rawash – furthest north)
Nebka (Zawiyet al-Aryan – Unfinished)
In addition to the above, Mark Lehner lists in his ‘The Complete Pyramids’ the 6 satellite pyramids at Giza, giving a total of 17 pyramids.
Looking at image 2 above, there is little immediate correlation with the classic Osiris we see in image 1. If we look a bit closer, however, and apply our imagination in the same way astronomers do with star asterisms whereby all manner of creatures are conjured up, it is possible (with a stretch) to depict the ‘bare bones’ of an Osiris outline. Let us see: