Qetesh “Goddess of Beauty & Love” was a goddess who was incorporated into the ancient Egyptian religion in the late Bronze Age. Her name was likely developed by the Egyptians based on the Semitic root Q-D-Š meaning ‘holy’ or ‘blessed,’ attested as a title of El and possibly Athirat and a further independent deity in texts from Ugarit. Due to lack of clear references to Qetesh as a distinct deity in Ugaritic and other Syro-Palestinian sources, she is considered an Egyptian deity influenced by religion and iconography of Canaan by many modern researchers, rather than merely a Canaanite deity adopted by the Egyptians (examples of which include Reshef and Anat).
Iconography On a stele representing the deity, Qetesh is depicted as a frontal nude (an uncommon motif in Egyptian art, though not exclusively associated with her), wearing a Hathor wig and standing on a lion, between Min and the Canaanite warrior god Resheph. She holds a snake in one hand and a bouquet of lotus or papyrus flowers in the other.
Origin Early researchers attempted to prove Qetesh was simply a form of a known Canaanite deity, rather than a fully independent goddess. William F. Albright proposed in 1939 that she was a form of the “lady of Byblos” (Baalat Gebal), while René Dussard suggested a connection to “Asherat” (e.g., the biblical Asherah) in 1941. Subsequent studies tried to find further evidence for equivalence of Qetesh and Asherah, despite dissimilar functions and symbols. The arguments presenting Qetesh and Asherah as the same goddess rely on the erroneous notion that Asherah, Astarte and Anat were the only three prominent goddesses in the religion of ancient Levant and formed a trinity.However, while Ashtart (Astarte) and Anat were closely associated with each other in Ugarit, in Egyptian sources, and elsewhere, there is no evidence for conflation of Athirat and Ashtart, nor is Athirat associated closely with Ashtart and Anat in Ugaritic texts.