Egypt: Hatmehyt - The Fish Goddess


Hatmehyt was a fish-goddess worshipped in the Delta, particularly in the northeast at Mendes.

The fish as a divinity is comparatively rare in the Egyptian pantheon, but Hatmehyt's name means "she who is in front of the fishes" referring to her pre-eminence in relation to the few rival fish cults. However, it could also be interpreted in a temporal sense to stress the goddess as the "beginning" i.e. earliest fish-goddess to exist when Egypt emerged from the primeval waters.

She can be represented completely as a fish, the shape of which led to former suggestions that it was a dolphin. This has now been discarded in favor of an identification with the lepidotus fish, common in the Nile.

At Mendes, in a district for which the ancient standard was the fish symbol indicating that Hatmehyt was the senior deity in terms of residence there, her cult becomes subordinated to that of the ram-god Banebdjedet - interpreted after his arrival as her consort.