In Ancient Egypt, virility was an essential faculty for granting the dead’s resurrection.

Detail of Stele of Abkaou (D.XI). Ancient Egypt

Detail of the two profesional mourners over the mummy. Stele of Abkaou. XI Dynasty. Musée du Louvre

All along my work I have been showing that, among the many practices in Ancient Egypt for reviving the corpse, there was one made by the professional mourners in the role of Isis and Nephthys. These two women shook their hair forwards the mummy for symbolising the mythical moment, in which Isis stimulated her husband Osiris and gave him back his virility.

Mummy of Tutankhamun. Ancient Egypt.

Mummy of Tutankhamun. Image: The History Blog

In this sphere I would like to remind an aspect of the Tutankhamun’s mummy: his penis. This pharaoh was mummified with his erect penis, although it was broken from the body after the discovery. Obviously to embalm the corpse of this ancient Egyptian king with an erection was not unjustified. According to Salima Ikram, “it was a deliberate attempt to make the king appear as Osiris in as literal a way as possible. The erect penis evokes Osiris’ regenerative powers”. Yes, it evokes the regenerative power, but first of all it is the best proof of a male living body.

The Osiris Legend of Ancient Egypt relates how the dead god depends on the work of Anubis, who restores the many parts of the body, and the powerful magic of Isis, who, assisted by Nephthys, carries out some practices for giving back the vital faculties: breath, sight, movement…and virility.

Isis kite over Osiris. Tempel of Sethos I in Abydos. Ancient Egypt.

Isis kite over Osiris. Tempel of Sethos I in Abydos. Image: commons-wikimedia.


The erect penis of the mummy/Osiris stresses the importance of the masculinity, or the penis, in a mummy in Ancient Egypt. It was supposed that this erection was the result of the mourning rite carried out by the professional mourners during the funerary ceremony; and it reproduced the moment of the ancient Egyptian myth in which Isis stimulated Osiris and afterwards conceived Horus, so he could revenge his father’s death.

Summing up, the dead in Ancient Egypt neeed an erect penis; and it could mean four things in the funerary belief of Ancient Egypt:

  • It could show one of the effects of the mourning rite.
  • It would be a grant of the resurrection of the dead body.
  • It would grant the existence of the heir and the established order.
  • It would evoke the Osiris’ regenerative power.

If, as Salima Ikram assures, the goal of the erect penis of the Tutankhamun’s mummy was to reinforce the Osiris religion after the “Akhenaten’s revolution”, it would show that the sexual element was crucial in the Osiris Myth and in the funerary ceremony of Ancient Egypt.