Gods and Goddesses


Role: A god of the creation of the earth; the patron god of Thebes; and the king of all the gods of Egypt

Appearance: Form of a man, wearing crown with the sun disc and double feather plumes. Sometimes shown with blue skin.

Sacred animals: ram, goose

Center of worship: Thebes

Relations with other gods: husband of Amaunet in early mythology; part of the Triad of Thebes in later mythology (husband to Mut, father to Khonsu)

Amun's name means "The Hidden One," because he was believed to be the invisible force of the wind. Early Egyptian mythology tells that Amun was a god of creation, forming the earth and the sky with just his thoughts. By the 11th dynasty, Amun was being worshipped as the local patron god of Thebes. As Thebes grew in importance in the New Kingdom, Amun's popularity did too, eventually becoming the official god of all Egypt and the king of all the other gods.

Two huge temples (one at Karnak, the other at Luxor) were dedicated to Amun. The priesthood dedicated to him were very influential, even rivaling the pharaoh's status during the New Kingdom. The pharaoh Akhenaten responded to this threat by declaring that Amun and all the other gods (and there were LOTS!) did not exist. There was only one god, the Aten, and it was the sun itself. The Aten was shown as the sun's disk, with rays that ended as hands holding ankhs, the symbol of life. Getting rid of all the other gods meant closing down all their temples and putting all the priests out of work. Akhenaten also moved the capital to a brand new city called Akhetaten ("the Horizon of the Aten"). He did this to further isolate himself from the "old" religion, since the previous capital Thebes was the center of worship of Amun.

Akhenaten and his eldest son Smenkhkare died at about the same time. Young Tutankhaten was left as the sole male heir. It was the perfect time to set things back to normal! So with the support of the unemployed priests, the vizier Ay quickly arranged for Tutankhaten to marry his half-sister Ankhesenpaaten, and made the two of them become the new royal couple of Egypt. Tutankhaten was only around eight years of age, and obviously not making his own decisions. Under influence of the priests, Tutankhaten "decided" to bring back the religion and reopen all the temples. Tutankhaten and Ankhesenpaaten had their names changed to Tutankhamun and Ankhesenamun shortly after: This was to show that the Aten was "out" and Amun was "in!"

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