Ancient Egypt Wiki

Ash as depicted on seals of Peribsen.

Period of
ProtodynasticLate Period
Cult center Naqada
Titles ""Lord of Libya"
"The One of Nebut"
Symbol(s) Set animal
Association Western Desert, Libya, Oases
Appearance Therianthrope, Set animal

Ash was the ancient Egyptian god of oases, the Western Desert, as well as the vineyards of the western Nile Delta,[1] and thus was viewed as a benign deity. Flinders-Petrie in his 1923 expedition to the Saqqara found several references to Ash on Old Kingdom wine jar seals: "I am refreshed by this Ash" was a common inscription.

In particular, he was identified by the Ancient Egyptians as the god of the Libhu and Tinhu tribes,[1] known as the people of the oasis. Consequently Ash was known as the Lord of Libya, as the area, occupied by the Libhu and Tinhu tribes, corresponds roughly with the area of modern Libya.[1]

It is also possible that he was worshipped in Ombos, as their original chief deity.

In Egyptian Mythology, as the oases, Ash was identified as lover of Set, who was originally god of the desert, and was seen as protector of the Sahara. The first known recorded mention of Ash dates to the Protodynastic Period, but by the late 2nd Dynasty, his importance grew, and he was seen as protector of the royal estates, since the related god Set, in Lower Egypt, was regarded as the patron deity of royalty itself. Ash's importance was such that he was mentioned even until 26th Dynasty.

Ash was usually depicted as a human, whose head was one of the desert creatures, variously being shown as a lion, vulture, hawk, or snake. Indeed, depictions of Ash are the earliest known depictions, in ancient Egyptian art, to show a deity as a human with the head of an animal. On occasion, Ash and Set were depicted similarly, as the currently unidentified Set-Animal.

Some depictions of Ash show him as having multiple heads, unlike other Egyptian deities, although some compound depictions were occasionally shown connecting gods to Min. In an article in the journal Ancient Egypt (in 1923), and again in an appendix to her book, The Splendor that was Egypt, Margret Murray expands on such depictions, and draws a parallel to a Scythian deity, who is referenced in Sebastian Meunster's Cosmographia Universalis.

The idea of Ash as an import God is a bit of a misthink, as he was the God of Ombos far before Set's introduction sometime in Dynasty II. One of his titles is "Nebuty" or "He of Nebut" indicating this position.

Further, the speculation that Ash is Set's lover is tied to a title- "Beloved of Set". As many Pharaohs had such a title tied to one or another Gods, it is rather hard to call them lovers because of it. It simply means that Set favors him and, as Ash is a desert deity, this makes sense. More often, Ash is seen as another name for Set-- similarly as one might give the name Ta-Bitjet for Selket (Serqet), Dunanwy for Anti, or Sefkhet-Abwy for Sheshat.


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Hart 2005.


  • Hart, G., 2005: The Routledge Dictionary of Egyptian Gods and Goddesses. (2nd ed.), Routledge, London.