Seker-Osiris. The syncretized god Sokar-Osiris stands in a shrine. His iconography combines that of Osiris (atef-crown, crook and flail) and Sokar (falcon head, was-sceptre).
Major cult centerMemphis

Seker (/ˈsɛkər/; also spelled Sokar, and in Greek, Sokaris or Socharis) is a falcon god of the Memphite necropolis in the Ancient Egyptian religion.


Although the meaning of his name remains uncertain, the Egyptians in the Pyramid Texts linked his name to the anguished cry of Osiris to Isis 'Sy-k-ri' ('hurry to me'),[1] or possibly skr, meaning "cleaning the mouth".[2] In the underworld, Seker is strongly linked with two other gods, Ptah the Creator god and chief god of Memphis, and Osiris the god of the dead. In later periods, this connection was expressed as the triple god Ptah-Seker-Osiris.

The Faiyumic Coptic form ⲥⲓⲭⲟⲗ is possibly preserved in a personal name ⲥⲉⲛⲥⲓⲭⲟⲗ "daughter of Sokar".[3]


Seker was usually depicted as a mummified hawk and sometimes as a mound from which the head of a hawk appears. Here he is called 'he who is on his sand'. Sometimes he is shown on his hennu barque which was an elaborate sledge for negotiating the sandy necropolis. One of his titles was 'He of Restau' which means the place of 'openings' or tomb entrances.

Seker with outstretched wings, scene from Joseph Smith Hypocephalus
Seker with outstretched wings, scene from Joseph Smith Hypocephalus
Egyptian hieroglyphs

In the New Kingdom Book of the Underworld, the Amduat, he is shown standing on the back of a serpent between two spread wings; as an expression of freedom this suggests a connection with resurrection or perhaps a satisfactory transit of the underworld.[1] Despite this, the region of the underworld associated with Seker was seen as difficult, sandy terrain called the Imhet (also called Amhet, Ammahet, or Ammehet; meaning 'filled up').[4][5]

Roles and cults

Seker, possibly through his association with Ptah, also has a connection with craftsmen. In the Book of the Dead he is said to fashion silver bowls[1] and at Tanis a silver coffin of Sheshonq II has been discovered decorated with the iconography of Seker.[6] Seker's cult centre was in Memphis and festivals in his honour were held there on the 26th day of the fourth month of the akhet (spring) season. While these festivals took place, devotees would hoe and till the ground, and drive cattle, which suggests that Seker could have had agricultural aspects about him.[2]

Seker is mentioned in The Journey of Ra: the myth used to explain what happens during the night when Ra travels through the Underworld. According to the myth, Seker rules the Fifth Kingdom of Night, which is called "Hidden", and is tasked with punishing the souls of evildoers by throwing them into a boiling lake.

Also as part of the festivals in akhet, his followers wore strings of onions around their necks, showing the Underworld aspect of him. Onions were used in embalming people - sometimes the skin, sometimes the entire onion. When just the skin was used, it would be placed on the eyes and inside the ears to mask the smell.[7]

Also, the god was depicted as assisting in various tasks such as digging ditches and canals. From the New Kingdom a similar festival was held in Thebes, which rivaled the great Opet Festival.[2][6]

Other events during the festival including floating a statue of the god on a Henu barque, which was a boat with a high prow shaped like an oryx.[8]

Popular culture

In the 1956 film The Ten Commandments, the Pharaoh Rameses II invokes the same deity to bring his deceased firstborn son back to life, while wearing a dark blue robe with a silver bow.

In the show Stargate SG-1, the Goa'uld villain Sokar is named after Seker. Sokar appears as a powerful and sadistic Goa'uld who chose the role of the Devil rather than a god like the rest of his species. He is killed when the moon he uses as his own personal version of Hell is blown up, destroying Sokar's ship in orbit and Sokar himself.

American technical death metal band Nile wrote the title track of their album “Annihilation of the Wicked” about the domain, occupation, and appearance of Seker. Curiously, the lyrics seem to describe Seker in the form of Seker-Osiris, not Ptah-Seker-Osiris, deliberately excluding the aspects of Ptah. The lyrics call him “ancient and dead,” a trait held by Osiris, but also describe him as being “shunned by Ra,” which would place the Seker they describe in the context of Heliopolis rather than Memphis.

The fantasy role playing game Advanced Dungeons and Dragons includes Seker in its 1st edition Deities and Demigods, and Legends and Lore rulebooks. In this setting, Seker is described as the Egyptian lesser god of light and, among other details, he casts rays of light from his hands which destroy all undead. His Alignment is given as Neutral Good, and it is noted he protects Egyptian souls of the same Alignment after their death. No specific mention is made of the later triple persona, though his symbol is given as a hawk-headed mummy holding an ankh, which does at least indirectly suggest the connection.[9]


  1. ^ a b c The Routledge Dictionary of Egyptian Gods and Goddesses, George Hart ISBN 0-415-34495-6
  2. ^ a b c "Sokar". Retrieved 2016-10-24.
  3. ^ Heuser, Gustav. Die Personennamen der Kopten. p. 62.
  4. ^ The Egyptian Amduat, Erik Hornung and Theodore Abt ISBN 3-9522608-4-3
  5. ^ Budge, E.A. Wallis. An Egyptian Hieroglyphic Dictionary, vol. I. London, 1920.; pgs. 54-55.
  6. ^ a b The Complete Gods and Goddesses of Ancient Egypt, Wilkinson ISBN 0-500-05120-8
  7. ^ Gahlin, Lucia (2014). Gods & Myths of Ancient Egypt. Southwater. p. 46. ISBN 9781780193328.
  8. ^ "sokar". Retrieved 2016-10-24.
  9. ^ Ward, James, with Rob Kuntz (1984). Legends and Lore. TSR Inc. p. 48. ISBN 0-935696-22-9.

Further reading