xii. In Search of Sokar

Aside from Horus, there was another falcon god called Sokar, Egypt's oldest god of the death. The pharaoh's final journey into the afterlife was periodically enacted during a fabulous festival of Sokar, which included his symbolic death and rebirth in the afterlife. Sokar presided over the Memphite necropolis, which included Giza, ancient Rostau, and since he can be equated with the falcon-headed god of the Northern Group of constellations, which can be identified as Cygnus, then Sokar's role in Egypt sky-religion is vital.

Evidence for the cult of Sokar in and around Giza goes back to the beginning of dynastic Egypt, c. 3100 BC. Moreover, the presence there of intact jars from the even older Maadi-Buto culture argues for the presence here of a funerary cult as early as 3900-3200 BC, while the discovery to the south of the plateau of even earlier chert tools from the Neolithic age is tentative evidence that Giza was active from at least 5000-4000 BC.

Sokar from the tomb of Thutmose III.

As ancient Rostau (which translates as 'mouth of the passages'), Giza was associated with the most secret part of the perceived underworld through which the soul of the deceased was expected to pass in order to achieve ascension under the guardianship of Sokar. Rostau was intrinsically linked with the Mound of Creation in ancient texts, signifying that the Ancient Egyptians saw Giza as an axis mundi of the physical world.

Rival ideas did exist in Egypt coming mostly from the south, and involving other gods, other cult centres, and other stars such as Sirius, Orion and Canopus. All vied for superiority as early Old Kingdom times, and yet there can be little question that the funerary cult most associated with Giza at the beginning of the Pyramid Age revolved saw ascension as accessible via the north-south meridian line marked, as in Olmec tradition, by the stars of Cygnus and Ursa Major.