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Sobek, in the form of a crocodile-headed man.
Sobek, in the form of a crocodile-headed man.
God of the river, warfare and fertility
Major cult center Fayoum, Crocodilopolis, Kom Ombo
Symbol the sun disk and feather plumes
Parents presumably Neith
Consort Hathor, Tawaret
in hieroglyphs
s b k

Sobek (also called Sebek, Sochet, Sobk, Sobki, Soknopais, and in Greek, Suchos (Σοῦχος)) was the deification of crocodiles, as crocodiles were deeply feared in the nation so dependent on the Nile River. Egyptians who worked or travelled on the Nile hoped that if they prayed to Sobek, the crocodile god, he would protect them from being attacked by crocodiles.[1] The god Sobek, which was depicted as a crocodile or a man with the head of a crocodile was a powerful and frightening deity; in some Egyptian creation myths, it was Sobek who first came out of the waters of chaos to create the world.[1] As a creator god, he was occasionally linked with the sun god Ra.[1]

Pharaoh Amenhotep III and god Sobek

Most of Sobek's temples were located "in parts of Egypt where crocodiles were common."[1] Sobek's cult originally flourished around Al Fayyum where some temples still remain; the area was so associated with Sobek that one town, Arsinoe, was known to the Greeks as Crocodilopolis or 'Crocodile Town.'[1] Another major cult centre was at Kom Ombo, "close to the sandbanks of the Nile where crocodiles would often bask.[1] Some temples of Sobek kept pools where sacred crocodiles were kept: these crocodiles were fed the best cuts of meat and became quite tame.[1] When they died, they were mummified and buried in special animal cemeteries. In other areas of Egypt, however, crocodiles were dealt with by simply hunting and killing them.

Gradually, Sobek also came to symbolize the produce of the Nile and the fertility that it brought to the land; its status thus became more ambiguous.[2] Sometimes the ferocity of a crocodile was seen in a positive light, Sobek in these circumstances was considered the army's patron, as a representation of strength and power.

Sobek's ambiguous nature led some Egyptians to believe that he was a repairer of evil that had been done, rather than a force for good in itself, for example, going to Duat to restore damage done to the dead as a result of their form of death. He was also said to call on suitable gods and goddesses required for protecting people in situation, effectively having a more distant role, nudging things along, rather than taking an active part. In this way, he was seen as a more primal god, eventually becoming regarded as an avatar of the primal god Amun, who at that time was considered the chief god. When his identity finally merged, Amun had become merged himself with Ra to become Amun-Ra, so Sobek, as an avatar of Amun-Ra, was known as Sobek-Ra.

Sobek in crocodile form, 12th Dynasty (Staatliches Museum Ägyptischer Kunst, Munich)

In Egyptian art, Sobek was depicted as an ordinary crocodile, or as a man with the head of a crocodile. When considered a patron of the pharaoh's army, he was shown with the symbol of royal authority - the uraeus. He was also shown with an ankh, representing his ability to undo evil and so cure ills. Once he had become Sobek-Ra, he was also shown with a sun-disc over his head, as Ra was a sun god.

In other myths, which appeared extremely late in ancient Egyptian history, Sobek was credited for catching the Four sons of Horus in a net as they emerged from the waters of the Nile in a lotus blossom. This motif derives from the birth of Ra in the Ogdoad cosmogony, and the fact that as a crocodile, Sobek is the best suited to collecting items upon the Nile.

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e f g Geraldine Harris and Delia Pemberton, Illustrated Encyclopedia of Ancient Egypt, Peter Bedrick Books, 1999. pp.142-143
  2. ^ Sobek, God of Crocodiles, Power, Protection and Fertility by Caroline Seawright

Simple English


in hieroglyphs
s-b-k:I3 or I4

Sobek was the ancient Egyptian god of the Nile. In art, he was shown with the head of a crocodile. In temples to Sobek, live crocodiles were kept in pools to honour him.


Jobs & role

Sobek was worshipped wherever the nile was presenting difficulties. Sobek was the ancient Egyptian God of crocodiles and controlled the waters. Sobek’s role was to protect the pharaoh from evil. He was the most popular god in Arsinoe (Crocodilopolis in Greek), and was considered the Lord of Faiyum (a place in Egypt).

Myths & stories

One day when Sobek was in the Nile, he saw Osiris’ (who was murdered by Seth, the god of chaos) body. He was so hungry he could not resist eating part of it. His tongue was cut off as a punishment, which is why crocodiles have no tongues in Egyptian myths. He also caught the sons of Horus when they were born.

Physical Appearance

Sobek was seen as a crocodile headed man or very rarely a plain crocodile. Egyptians mummified crocodiles in honor of Sobek. Crocodiles were treated like household pets and were adorned with anklets and other decorative jewels. In temples people kept sacred crocodiles because they thought that they were images of Sobek on earth. The sacred crocodiles were a big attraction, the Egyptian’s believed that if the crocodiles were fed and they accepted their food, you would receive blessings from the God Sobek.

Family & friends

Sobek was a friend of Horus. Sobek’s mother Neith was considered the sister of Isis, who was Horus’s mother. This made Sobek the cousin of Horus, which was a very important fact because Horus was a major God. In other myths, Sobek was allied with Seth. Seth was also sometimes thought of as Sobek's father.


  1. The Complete Gods and Goddesses of Ancient Egypt Thames and Hudson
  2. Atlas of ancient Egypt Pemberton Delia
  3. Egyptian mythology A to Z Remler Pat

Other websites


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