I assumed that the Winged disk was brought to Egypt by the Assyrians, and used prolifically during the Amarna period. However, I read on Wikipedia and elsewhere that it's known since the Old Kingdom, specifically Sneferu. I cannot find any examples of this.

What are the earliest examples of its use in Egypt?


The winged disk in Ancient Egypt usually represents the god Horus-Behdety, and yes it is known from the Old Kingdom.

I couldn't find any references online (other than the Wikipedia article) to monuments created by Sneferu which include representations of Horus-Behdety. However, the earliest representation is supposed to be in a carving in the Step Pyramid of Djoser at Saqqara.

Alan Gardiner's paper Horus the Behdedtite, published in the Journal of Egyptian Archaeology in 1944 discusses the development of the winged sun-disk in Egypt from the Old Kingdom to the Ptolemaic period, with a number of examples that pre-date its use by Shaustatar, King of Mittani, in the 15th century BC.


I found a 2014 PhD dissertation on Horus the Behdetite, by Randy L. Shonkwiler, which identifies the earliest confirmed use of the winged sun-disk in Egypt as being on the 4th dynasty coffin of Queen Hetepheres (~2500BC), who was the wife of Sneferu and mother of Khufu.

In addition to the image of the coffin included in the dissertation, a quick Google search found this image which clearly shows the winged sun disk inlayed on the end of the coffin.

  • Horus Behdet was "Horus of Behdet". Was this a local deity like Sumer's? Could the early references possibly be the eagle holding the "loops" in it's hand? I remain so utterly dissatisfied because it is identical to the Assyrian disk, and was extensively used during the Middle Assyrian period. It appeared in Middle Assyria with the Mittani, and also in the Amarna period when there were so many Mitanni princesses. – John Dee May 30 '17 at 22:43
  • No, Horus-Behdety wasn't a local deity. It was an aspect of the sun-god Horus whose cult centre was at Behdety. Think of it as being similar to the cult of wsir (Osiris), who had cult centres at Abydos and Busiris. A deity worshipped across Egypt, but with specific towns identified with the cult. I think that the Egyptian winged-sun image has its origins in the the wings of the Scarab (which was associated with the god Khepri - who also came to be seen as an aspect of the sun) – sempaiscuba May 30 '17 at 23:02
  • Before a certain point, wasn't Egyptian religion mostly depictions of animals like the Scarab? – John Dee May 30 '17 at 23:11
  • I feel the need to elaborate because it sounds crazy. It was used first by Shaustatar, King of Mittani, then a little later (after 1400) by Ashur Nadin Ahhe II. The Mittani origin is also interesting because they were Aryans and it became the symbol of Zoroaster. This is why I'm looking for earlier examples, to disprove this. – John Dee May 30 '17 at 23:14
  • 2
    I've added a link to Alan Gardiner's 1944 paper in my answer. That has many more examples. – sempaiscuba May 31 '17 at 0:16

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.