The ankh is an ancient Egyptian hieroglyph with several shades of meanings: 'key of life', 'cross of life', or simply 'life'. But 'life', accord-ing to the ankh, also encompassed an afterlife because the ancient Egyptians believed in resurrection and an eternal life after mortal life.
The Ankh became widespread around 3100 BC, with the advent of the goddess Isis, who reigned for hundreds of years as the most popular and powerful Egyptian deity. Isis brought her husband Osiris back from death and so the ankh came to symbolize the resurrection of the soul and the promise of eternal life for those who believed in her.
The ankh is a frequently found in ancient Egyptian art and artifacts and is usually shown being carried by gods, and especially Isis. It is commonly believed that the ankh was first intended to resemble a key – the key to the gates of death and the afterlife.