Amun

The Ogdoad of Hermopolis was formed by eight ancient Egyptian Gods. Amun was one of these Gods. His consort was Amaunet or Ament, and Amun was God of air. During the course of the Middle Kingdom or the Twelfth dynasty, Thebes adopted him as the King of Gods.

This was when Mut became his consort. Mut and Amun gave birth to one child, Khonsu. This child was the moon God and Ahmose I promoted him to a national God. Ahmose I was the first pharaoh for the New Kingdom. The king believed Amun had assisted him in driving the Hyksos out of Egypt. When Amun merged with Ra the ancient sun God, he became Amun-Ra and the Ennead of Heliopolis adopted him.

The possibility does exist there were two individual Gods who shared the same name. It is just as likely that the attributes of Montju or Montu the Theban God were taken on by Amun of Heliopolis during the later period. This was when Amun replaced him and became the principle God of the nome. The general translation of Amun is the secret one or the hidden one. Most of the people believed he first created himself, then created everything else while keeping himself separate and distant from the world. If this is true, he would have been the original indivisible and inscrutable creator. When Amun merged with Ra, he became both an invisible and a visible entity. The duality of the visible sun and the hidden God was very appealing for the Egyptian concept of duality and balance. This led to the association between Ma┬┤at and Amun-Ra.

Amun was also connected with Montu. Montu was basically absorbed by Amun as well as the hybrid Gods Amun-Min, Amun-Re-Horakhty, Amun-Re-Montu and Amun-Ra-Atum. There were numerous animals associated with Amun. There were times he took their form in the inscriptions. The original depiction of Amun was a goose due to the epithet of the Great Cackler. There were a lot of similarities with Geb. It was believed Amun had the ability to regenerate himself by transforming into a snake, then shedding his skin. The most common depiction of Amun was the symbol of fertility, a Ram. He has also been depicted as a man with the head of a frog, ram, ape, crocodile and a royal cobra or an Uraeus.

The final depiction of Amun shows him wearing a double plumed crown and sitting on the throne as a king. He has also been associated with Min. The images of Amun during the Ptolemaic period were cast in bronze. He was depicted with the claws and paws of a lion, the body of a beetle, a man’s face with a beard, four arms, the legs of a man and the wings of a hawk. Amun has been described by the Pyramid Texts as the primeval creator. Here he is depicted as a symbol of creative force and a primeval deity. During the Eleventh dynasty, Amun rose to prominence by replacing Montu the Theban war God as the main deity of the city. At this time, there was a close link established between the fortunes of the God and the prominence of Thebes.

Theban Ahmose I showed his gratitude to Amun when the Hyksos was successfully expelled out of Egypt. The Royal family then established temples for Amun all over the Middle Kingdom. The most notable of these were the Great Temple at Karnak and the Luxor Temple. Amun gained so much power during the New Kingdom, Egypt could almost be interpreted as a monotheistic state. Amun-Ra was believed to be the protector and father of the pharaoh. A large portion of the Egyptian resources and land were being controlled by the priests of Amun. Great influence and power were also held by the Theban royal women. They were closely involved with Amun’s cult.

Pharaoh Ahmose I had a great wife called Queen Ahmose Nefertari. She was given the title of God’s Wife of Amun. This was in reference to the myth that the world was created by Amun through masturbation. This title was then given to the wife of every pharaoh. This recognized the role Queen Ahmose Nefertari had played in the state religion of Amun. An additional step was taken by the female Pharaoh Hatshepsut. She stated specifically that her mother had been impregnated by Amun disguised as her father, the Pharaoh Thuthmoses II. She based her right to rule on being the daughter of Amun.

Amun also used the oracles to reveal his will. The oracles controlled the priests and had been given so much land they were able to rival the pharaoh’s power. Certain reforms were instituted by Amenhotep III due to his concerns there was too much power in the hands of the Theban clergy. An additional step was taken by Akhenaten, his son. He made Aten the replacement for Amun and a new capital called Akhetaten was constructed. This experiment did not last for a long period of time. The rule of Tutankhamun reinstated both Thebes and Amen.

Neighboring countries including Nubia began to worship Amun. During the Kingdom of Nubia or Napata in the 25th dynasty, the principle God of the kingdom was Amun. The people believed Amun originated in northern Sudan in Gebel Barkal. Amun was considered by the Greeks to be equal to Zeus. The Opet festival was the main celebration of Amun. The festival celebrated the marriage between Taweret or Mut to Amun. A statue of Amun was sent down the Nile to the Temple of Luxor from the Temple of Karnak. A procreative function of Amun was epitomised during this festival in his title of the bull of his mother or the Ka-mut-ef.