The origins of Osiris, the AE god of rebirth/regeneration is shrouded in the dark veil of antiquity. No one truly knows who Osiris was or even if he actually existed at some time in the ancient past. And yet, somehow, by the end of the 5th dynasty, Osiris rose from relative obscurity to become one of ancient Egypt's most important gods and remained so for the remainder of ancient Egyptian history.
The few references we have about the Origins of Osiris have been passed down to us for thousands of years in the 'Pyramid Texts' and in the 'Myth of Osiris and Isis'. But where did it all begin and why was Osiris so revered by the ancient Egyptians of later times?
One of the few clues we have as to who (or what) Osiris actually was comes to us from the Pyramids Texts:
It seems then from the PTs that Osiris was a pyramid construction, or perhaps the construction of a series of pyramids. We learn also from the 'Myth of Osiris and Isis' that the body of Osiris had been cut into 14 pieces (some version say 16 pieces) and scattered across Egypt. Could it be then that the first 16 pyramids that were built by the ancient Egyptians came to represent the 'body of Osiris' in a similar way that modern Christian churches are collectively described as the 'Body of Christ'?
If we then consider the locations of the first 16 or so pyramids the ancient Egyptians built might it in some way resemble the classic 'Body of Osiris' (see image 1 below) that we are so accustomed to seeing in ancient Egyptian art?
I will say right away that what I am about to present here is something of a stretch but it is possible that such might be the case; that the first pyramids represent the 'body of Osiris' (well, the 'backbone' of Osiris).
Let us first of all consider the arrangement of the first 17 pyramids built by the ancient Egyptians. (I use 17 because 3 of these first pyramids were never completed which might perhaps explain why the 'Myth of Osiris and Isis' refers to 14 pieces of Osiris).
The image above shows the following pyramids constructed on the high plateaus along the Nile:
Sekhemkhet (Saqqara - Unfinished)
Khaba (Zawiyet al-Aryan - Unfinished)
Sneferu (Meidum - furthest south)
Sneferu (Dahshur - Bent)
Sneferu (Dahshur - Red)
Djedefre (Abu Rawash - furthest north)
Nebka (Zawiyet al-Aryan - Unfinished)
In addition to the above, Mark Lehner lists in his 'The Complete Pyramids', we also have the 6 so-called Queens’ pyramids at Giza, giving a total of 17 pyramids.
Looking at image 2 above, there is little immediate correlation with the classic Osiris figure we see in image 1. If we look a bit closer, however, and apply our imagination in the same way astronomers do with star asterisms whereby all manner of creatures are conjured up, it is possible (admittedly with a stretch) to depict the 'bare bones' of an Osiris outline. Let us see:
With each pyramid within the 'Body of Osiris' serving as a 'Recovery Vault' (securing seed - wheat, barley etc and other vital recovery goods - see the Recovery Vault Theory), it is little wonder then that later ancient Egyptians during the Festival of Khoiak would create small effigies of Osiris known as 'corn mummies' and pack them full with grain, perhaps in remembrance of the original purpose of the pyramids - the 'Body of Osiris' - as Recovery Vaults. These grain stuffed 'Osiris bodies' would then be placed in a small wooden or stone box and buried in a mound of earth. Given that the 'seed of life' would come forth from 'the Body of Osiris' (the early, giant pyramids), it is easy to understand how Osiris, having secured the 'rebirth' of the kingdom would, in time, become venerated, leading ultimately to his status as a god in later dynasties and paving the way for the Osirian burials of later Egyptian kings.
Food for thought.........