Satet (also known as Setet, Sathit, Satit, Sati, Setis or Satis) was an archer-goddess of the Nile cataracts. Her name comes from the term “sat” (to shoot, to eject, to pour out, to throw). It is often translated as “She Who Shoots (Arrows)” in relation to her aspect as a goddess of the hunt, or “She who Pours” with reference to her role in the inundation and her guardianship over the Nile cataracts. Her name was originally written with the hieroglyph for a shoulder knot (top left) but this was later replaced by the sign representing a cow’s skin pierced by an arrow (top right).

Satet, Louvre
Satet, Louvre, Rama, CC BY-SA 2.0 FR, via Wikimedia Commons
Sobekhotep III worshiping Satet
Sobekhotep III worshiping Satet, Brooklyn Museum, CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

As a warrior goddess, she protected the pharaoh and the southern borders of ancient Egypt and in her role as a goddess of fertility she caused the inundation and purified the deceased with water from the underworld (the mythical source of the Nile). Satet is described in the Pyramid Texts performing this service for the king.

Satis, Late Period
Satet, Late Period, Kabyhaswell, CC BY-SA 3.0 FR , via Wikimedia Commons

Her most important role was as the goddess of the inundation (yearly flooding of the Nile). According to myth, on the “Night of the Teardrop” Isis would shed a single tear, which was caught by Satet and poured into the Nile, causing the inundation. As a result, she (like Isis) was linked to Sothis, the personification of the star Sept (Sirius A, the “Dog Star”) which rose in the sky just before the arrival of the inundation every year.

Like Anuket (and many other goddesses) she was originally thought to have been Ra’s daughter and was sometimes considered to be the spouse of Montu (the Theban war god). By the New Kingdom, she was believed to be the wife of Khnum and the mother or sister of Anuket. These three gods formed the Abu (Elephantine) triad. As Khnum became linked to Osiris, and Anuket linked to Nephthys, Satet became firmly connected to Isis. She was also linked with Hathor, as goddess of human fertility and love.

She was worshiped through the Aswan area (particularly on Setet Island) and throughout Upper Egypt. However, items found in Saqqara suggest she was popular in Lower Egypt even in ancient times. She remained popular throughout Egyptian history and her temple in Abu (Elephantine) was one of the principal shrines in Egypt.

Triad of Elephantine: Satet, Anuket and Khnum
Triad of Elephantine: Satet, Anuket and Khnum

She is depicted as a woman wearing the Hedjet (White Crown) of Upper Egypt decorated with either ostrich plumes (the Atef crown), or gazelle or antelope horns. Due to her link with Sothis and the inundation, she was sometimes depicted wearing a star on her head and carrying water jars. Occasionally, she carries a bow and arrows, but usually this is replaced by a sceptre and an ankh (symbolising life).

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  • Goodenough, Simon (1997) Egyptian Mythology
  • Kemp, Barry J (1991) Ancient Egypt: Anatomy of a Civilisation
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  • Redford Donald B (2002) Ancient Gods Speak
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Copyright J Hill 2008