The Divine Determinative or: How Ancient Egyptians Marked Their Deities

In the ancient Egyptian script “Demotic” the names of gods and goddesses were written with a special sign at the end which marks the divine character of the name. The sign itself is not read. In modern scholarship it is called “Gods’ determinative” or “Divine Determinative”.

The sign looks like a shepherd’s crook. It is an abstract version of the Egyptian hieroglyph “falcon on a standard”. .A standard is a kind of flag as an emblem of sovereignty.

The sign is also used to mark the names of kings and even specific objects from the divine sphere, for example the barque of Re.

The photo highlights the names of the most famous trinity of Egyptian deities: Osiris, Isis and Horus.

Section of the London-Leiden Magical Papyrus, Museum number EA10070,1 (pdm xiv / PGM XIV) © The Trustees of the British Museum