Seshat “Goddess of Writing” was the ancient Egyptian goddess of writing, wisdom, and knowledge. She was seen as a scribe and record keeper; her name means “female scribe”. She is credited with inventing writing. She also became identified as the goddess of sciences, accounting, architecture, astronomy, astrology, building, mathematics, and surveying.

Roles As the divine measurer and scribe, Seshat was believed to appear to assist the pharaoh in both of these practises. Seshat assisted the pharaoh in the “stretching the cord” ritual. This ritual is related to laying out the foundations of temples and other important structures in order to determine and assure the sacred alignments and the precision of the dimensions. She was also the “mistress of builders” and laid the plans for the construction and expansion of sacred sites such as temples. Her skills were necessary for surveying the land, to re-establish boundary-lines after the annual floods. The priestess who officiated at these functions in her name also oversaw the staff of others who performed similar duties and were trained in mathematics and the related store of knowledge. She also was responsible for recording the speeches the pharaoh made during the crowning-ceremony and approving the inventory of foreign captives and goods gained in military campaigns.

Iconograrphy In ancient Egyptian art, she was depicted as a woman with a seven-pointed emblem above her head. It is unclear what this emblem represents. This emblem is the origin of an alternate name for Seshat, Sefkhet-Abwy, which means “seven-horned”.Usually, she is shown holding a palm stem, bearing notches to denote the recording of the passage of time, especially for keeping track of the allotment of time for the life of the pharaoh. She was also depicted holding other tools and, often, holding the knotted cords that were stretched to survey land and structures. She is frequently shown dressed in a cheetah- or leopard-hide, a symbol of funerary priests. If not shown with the hide over a dress, the pattern of the dress is that of the spotted feline. The pattern on the natural hide was thought to represent the stars, being a symbol of eternity, and to be associated with the night sky.