Sopdu (Soped, Sopedu) was a god of war associated with the eastern borders and the eastern Desert, known as the “lord of the east”. He was sometimes associated with the planet Venus, but was generally a solar god, closely associated with the sun, which rises in the east, and represented the scorching heat of the sun. He patrolled the border and protected the turquoise mines in the Sinai. He was also thought to protect the mouth of the deceased. His name was written with the hieroglyph of a thorn and can be translated as “skilled man” or “skilled ones”. However, it could also mean “sharp ones”. The sign itself was called “the tooth” by the Egyptians giving his name a possible third meaning of “the teeth”.
He was the son of Sopdet (Sirius) and Sahu (Orion) who in turn were associated with Isis and Osiris respectively. According to the Pyramid Texts, the composite deity known as Sopdu-Horus was the child of the Pharaoh (as Sahu/Osiris) and Isis (as Sopdet). As a war god he was closely associated with the Pharaoh (and Horus, the Patron god of the kings) during the Middle Kingdom. His association with Horus also related to the fact that both were hawk gods, and Sopdu was given the epithet “sharp of teeth” with reference to the bird of prey and to the hieroglyph used in his name. By the New Kingdom he was known as Hor-Sopdu (or Har-Septu), and considered to be an aspect of Horus rather than an individual god.
He was generally depicted as a crouching falcon or as an Asiatic warrior wearing a shemset girdle, a crown with two tall plumes and carrying an axe. His primary cult centre was at Saft el-Henna in the north-eastern Nile delta, but he was also worshipped at the turquoise mines of Serabit el-Khadim.
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copyright J Hill 2016