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Osiris is one of the principal Egyptian gods who first appeared in funerary texts during the Pyramid Age, when the practice of mummification began (2400 B.C.). He presided over the court that determined the fate of kings when they died. He is portrayed as a mummified man wearing a tall white crown adorned with two ostrich feathers.

According to Egyptian mythology, Osiris was murdered by his brother Seth then brought back to life by the love of his sister and wife, Isis. This myth describes the forces of destruction that initiated the process of mummification. The love of Isis is symbolic of regeneration and the promise of eternal life. The cycle of destruction, death and rebirth was repeated each year in the annual flood of the Nile, the river that provided the essential ingredients needed to sustain life, giving birth to one of the first civilizations.

CMC PCD 2001-310-042 Osiris and Isis had a son named Horus. Together they represent a holy family: god, goddess and divine child. In the New Kingdom, the main temples throughout Egypt venerated a holy family modelled on the Osiris, Isis and Horus triad.

Osiris is also equated with the miracle of the Nile and the rich harvest, as the text from the sarcophagus of a high priestess of Amun named Ankhnesneferibra attests:

"Hail, you are the maker of grain, he who gives life to the gods with the water of his limbs, and bread to every land with the water that takes form under him."

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