While many scholars have interpreted Achaemenid religious policy as one of indifference, the inscriptions on the Naoforo Vaticano statue of Udjahorresnet tell a different tale. These texts demonstrate a strategic willingness to allow—and even support—heterogeneous religious customs to the benefit of the Achaemenid Empire. On the statue of Udjahorresnet, both the religious and political importance of Neith is clear: She, as the mother of the sun god Re, was at the center of the religious cult in Sais, the political center of power for Egypt’s Twenty-sixth Dynasty. A reading of the inscriptions of Udjahorresnet’s statue reveals a deliberate policy on the part of Cambyses, and later Darius, to reestablish and maintain a critical Egyptian cult, thus imbedding Persian dominion within the religious tradition of Egypt and making a strong political statement.
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