Wadj-wer, the “Great Green” Deity

Wadj-wer (or Uat-Ur ) is translated in ancient Egyptian as “the Great Green” referring to a either the Mediterranean Sea or a large body of water such as the network of lakes at the northern limits of the Delta. There are inscriptions of “crossing the great green” by foot which would indicate a land-crossing through the Delta region instead of the sea.

Nile Delta

Wadj-Wer was understood as a living god permeated with the spirit of the divine which, like all other aspects of the natural world, was a gift from the Gods. He was the sea (or Delta) itself and was sometimes pictured as a male with long hair and breasts heavy for nurturing and with skin decorated by the shimmer of rolling waves. Wadj-wer is often shown in company with images of the Nile River, linking him with the “mother of all men” one of the titles the ancient Egyptians gave to the Nile.

He is depicted in a manner that is very similar to the God of the Nile, Hapy, except his body is covered with lines representing waves. Just as Hapy embodies the fertility made possible by the Nile’s inundation, Wadj-wer embodies the nourishment produced by fishing the “Great Green.” In the Pyramid Texts utterance 366, the Pharaoh is compared to Wadj-wer: “You are hale and great in your name of ‘Sea’; behold, you are great and encircling in your name of ‘Ocean.’”

Wadj-wer at the Mortuary Temple of Pharaoh Sahure

Wadj-wer was worshiped as early as the Old Kingdom; drawings and inscriptions are found at the Pharaoh Sahure’s Pyramid Complex and Mortuary Temple (c. 2500 BCE) located near Cairo. In the relief shown above from the Mortuary Temple, he carries an offering loaf on a mat with Ankh symbols suspended from his arm. With his androgynous form, large breast and a belly representing pregnancy, Wadj-wer is associated with fertility and prosperity. He continued to be referred to throughout ancient Egyptian history, especially through protective amulets and tomb inscriptions.


Budge, E Wallis (1904) The Gods of the Egyptians
Butler, Edward (2009). Goddesses and Gods of the Ancient Egyptians: A Theological Encyclopedia
Shaw, Ian; Nicholson, Paul (1995). The British Museum Dictionary of Ancient Egypt. The American University in Cairo Press. p. 115.
Wilkinson, Richard H. (2003). The Complete Gods and Goddesses of Ancient Egypt. New York: Thames & Hudson. pp. 130–131