Hatmehyt

Hatmehyt name
Hatmehyt

Hatmehyt (or Hatmehit) was a fish-goddess worshipped in the Delta area of Ancient Egypt, particularly in Mendes (Per-banebdjedet or place of Banebdjed). The standard for the Nome was the symbol of a fish, confirming Hatmehyt as the pre-eminent deity of the area. It is likely that there was a temple dedicated to her in Mendes at one point, but her worship does not seem to have spread out of the Delta area – perhaps because fish were generally seen as taboo.

Hatmehyt, Banebdjed, and Osiris, Donation Stele 22nd Dynasty
Hatmehyt, Banebdjed, and Osiris, Donation Stele 22nd Dynasty @Brooklyn Museum CC BY 3.0
Late Period amulet of Hatmehyt
Late Period amulet

In later times her position was entirely usurped by Banebdjed (an aspect of Osiris) who was considered to be her consort and was worshipped in the female form of Banebdjedet. She was also absorbed by Isis (the wife of Osiris), leading to the view that she (as an aspect of Isis) was the mother of Harpocrates (Harpakhred, “Horus the child”). Despite losing her pre-eminent position, amulets featuring her were popular in the 26th dynasty.

Her name can be translated as “She who is in front of the fishes” or “Foremost of the fish”. This could either suggest that she was the most important of the (few) fish cults, or that she was considered to be the oldest fish deity. She was sometimes depicted as a fish (either a dolphin or a lepidotus fish) or a woman with a “Fish” emblem on her head.

Bibliography
  • Pinch, Geraldine (2002) Handbook Egyptian Mythology
  • Redford Donald B (2002) Ancient Gods Speak
  • Wilkinson, Richard H. (2003) The Complete Gods and Goddesses of Ancient Egypt

copyright J Hill 2010