Some assume that Amun (Amen, Amon) was a relatively modern god within the context of ancient Egyptian religion. His worship at Thebes, where the earliest known Temple dedicated to him was located, is only documented from the 11th Dynasty onward. It is true that he gained most of his prestige after replacing the war god Montu as the principle god of Thebes during Egypt's New Kingdom, when he was recognized as the "King of Gods". At that time, because of Egypt's influence in the world, he actually became a universal god. In fact, by the 25th Dynasty, Amun-Re was even the chief god of the Nubian Kingdom of Napata and by the Ptolemic, or Greek period, he was regarded as the Egyptian equivalent of Zeus. However, he is actually mentioned in the pyramid text from the Old Kingdom (5th Dynasty, Unas - line 558), which show him to be a primeval deity and a symbol of creative force.
This text seems to assign great antiquity to his existence. Amun-Re grew so important spiritually and politically by the time of the New Kingdom that Egypt became something of a Theocracy. At the apex of his worship, Egyptian religion approached monotheism. The other gods became mere symbols of his power, or manifestations of Amun-Re. In essence, he became the one and only supreme deity. He was one of the eight Heh gods of the Ogdoad of Hermopolis, where his original consort was Amaunet (Ament).
His worship may have originated at Hermopolis, but another possibility was that he functioned early on as a less prominent god at Thebes, where he eventually flourished. The Nubians, however, believed that he originated at Gebel Barkal, located in the modern north of the Sudan. In the middle of the 16th Dynasty, with the expulsion of the Hyksos rulers of Egypt, Amun's growth was accelerated due to the vindication of both Egyptian power and Amun-Re as a protector of both the Egyptian state and the Monarchy. At that time, temples were built and dedicated to Amun throughout Egypt, including the Luxor Temple and the Great Temple at Karnak. His importance during this and later periods is evidenced by the grander and extravagance of these temples. They were enlarged and enriched over the centuries by rulers of Egypt who were eager to express their devotion to Amun-Re. In fact, his growth to that of a national god mirrored the growth of Thebes in importance.
This growth was accelerated when Amenemhet I took control of the thrown at Thebes, and founded the 12th Dynasty. However, the apex of his worship probably occurred during the New Kingdom onward at Thebes, where the important Opet festival was dedicated to Amun. During the Opet festival, the statue of Amun was conveyed by boat from the temple of Karnak to Luxor in order to celebrate Amun's marriage to Mut in his aspect of Ka-mut-ef (literally, "bull of his mother"). In this capacity, Amun was recognized for his procreative function. Together, Amun and Mut conceived their son, Khonsu, a moon god, to make of the Thebes Triad. The sacred animal of Amun was originally the Goose, and like Geb, he was sometimes known as the "Great Cackler". Later, Amun was more closely associated with the Ram, a symbol of fertility. At various times he also sometimes appears as a man with the head of a frog, the head of a uraeus, the head of a crocodile, or as an ape. However, when depicted as a king, he wears the crown of two plumes, a symbol borrowed from Min, and often sits on a throne. In this form, he is one of nine deities who compose the company of gods of Amen-Ra. In the Greek period (and somewhat earlier, in order to ascribe many attributes to Amun-Re, he was sometimes depicted in bronze with the bearded head of a man, the body of a beetle with the wings of a hawk, the legs of a man and the toes and claws of a lion. He was further provided with four hands and arms and four wings. The worship surrounding Amun, and later, Amun-Re represented one of ancient Egypt's most complex theologies.
In his most mature form, Amun-Re became a hidden, secret god. In fact, his name (Imn), or at lest the name by which the ancient Egyptians called him, means "the hidden one" or "the secret one" (though there has been speculation that his name is derived from the Libyan word for water, aman. However, modern context seems to negate this possibility). In reality, however, and according to mythology, both his name and physical appearance were unknown, thus indicating his unknowable essence. Stated differently, Amun was unknown because he represented absolute holiness, and in this regard, he was different then any other Egyptian deity. So holy was he that he remained independent of the created universe. He was associated with the air as an invisible force, which facilitated his growth as a supreme deity. He was the Egyptian creator deity par excellence, and according to Egyptian myth, was self-created. It was believed that he could regenerate himself by becoming a snake and shedding his skin.
At the same time, he remained apart from creation, totally different from it, and fully independent from it. However, while hidden, the addition to his name of "Re" revealed the god to humanity. Re was the common Egyptian term for the sun, thus making him visible. Hence, Amun-Re combined within himself the two opposites of divinity, the hidden and the revealed. As Amun, he was secret, hidden and mysterious, but as Re, he was visible and revealed. In some respects, this even relates to his association with Ma'at, the Egyptian concept of order and balance, and reflects back upon the ancient Egyptian's concepts of duality. The secret, or hidden attribute of Amun enabled him to be easily synchronized and associated with other deities. At Thebes, Amun was first identified with Montu, but soon replaced him as the city's protector. His association with Re grew in importance when Amenemhet I moved the capital of Egypt to Itjtawy at the apex of the Nile Delta, where the relationship was probably expedient both theologically and politically. However, this association with Re actually grew as Thebes itself gained importance. Soon, Amun was identified with other gods as well, taking on the names (among others) Amun-Re-Atum, Amun-Re-Montu, Amun-Re-Horakhty and Min-Amun. However, it should be noted that with all of this synchronization, Amun was not absorbed to create a a new god. Instead, there was a unity of divine power with these other gods. Amun-Re was associated with the Egyptian monarchy, and theoretically, rather than threatening the pharaoh's power, the throne was supported by Amun-Re.
The ancient theology made Amun-Re the physical father of the king. Hence, the Pharaoh and Amun-Re enjoyed a symbiotic relationship, with the king deriving power from Amun-Re. In return, the king supported the temples and the worship of Amun. In theory, Amun-Re could even take the form of the king in order to impregnate the chief royal wife with the successor to the throne (first documented during the reign of Hatshepsut during the New Kingdom). Furthermore, according to official state theology during the New Kingdom, Egypt was actually ruled by Amun-Re through the pharaohs, with the god revealing his will through oracles. In reality, the god did in fact threaten the monarchy, for the cult of Amun-Re became so powerful that its priesthood grew very large and influential, and at one point, priests of the deity actually came to rule Egypt (during the 21st Dynasty). At other times, Amun-Re created difficulties for the king, such as in the case of Akhenaten, who sought to change the basic structure of Egyptian religion. In this instance, Amun-Re eventually proved more powerful then the king, for though Akhenaten desperately tried to change the nature of Egyptian religion, for such efforts he himself became the scorn of later pharaohs. After Akhenaten's reign, Egyptian religion almost immediately reverted back to its prior form and to the worship of Amun-Re.
Amun For other uses, see Amun (disambiguation).
Amun, reconstructed Egyptian Yamānu (also spelled Amon, Amoun, Amen, and rarely Imen, Greek Ἄμμων Ammon, and Ἅμμων Hammon), was the name of a deity in Egyptian mythology who gradually rose from being an abstract concept to the patron deity of Thebes and one of the most important deities in Ancient Egypt before fading into obscurity. Concept to creator Initially, a religious concept that was identified as the air in the Ancient Egyptian myths of creation, included Amunet and Amun as dual aspects. These religious beliefs varied by region. In Thebes, Amun came to be associated with the breath of life, one of the deities who created part of the ba. In the areas where Amun was worshiped, by the First Intermediate Period, this association had led to his being thought of as a creator, titled father of the gods. These changes in beliefs preceded the Ogdoad, although they also were part of it.
As he became more significant, he was paired with a goddess (his counterpart, Amunet, being the female aspect of the early concept of air, rather than a wife), and since he was becoming identified as a creator, it was considered more appropriate to designate him as the spouse of the divine mother from whom the cosmos emerged to enhance his status. By the time that Amun rose to this recognition, the divine mother was Mut. Amun became depicted in human form, seated on a throne, wearing on his head a plain, deep circlet from which rise two straight parallel plumes. The plumes may have been symbolic of the tail feathers of a bird, a reference to his earlier status as a wind deity. Having become more important than Montu, the local war deity of Thebes, Montu's authority then diminished and he was said to be the son of Amun. As Mut then was said to be infertile, it was believed that she, and thus Amun, had adopted Montu instead of giving birth to him. This changed later when Montu was replaced by Khonsu, the lunar deity as her adopted son. Rise of cult after Hyksos expelled When the army of the founder of the Eighteenth dynasty expelled the Hyksos rulers from Egypt, the victor's city of origin, Thebes, became the most important city in Egypt, the capital of a new dynasty.
The local patron deity of Thebes, Amun, therefore became nationally important. The pharaohs of that new dynasty attributed all their successful enterprises to Amun and they lavished much of their wealth and captured spoil on the construction of temples dedicated to Amun. The cultural advances achieved by the pharaohs of this dynasty brought Egypt into a cultural renaissance, restoring trade and advancing architectural design to a level that would not be achieved by any other culture for a thousand years. As the Egyptians considered themselves oppressed during the period of the Hyksos rule, the victory accomplished by pharaohs worshiping Amun was seen as a champion of the less fortunate. Consequently, Amun was viewed as upholding the rights of justice for the poor. By aiding those who traveled in his name, he became the Protector of the road. Since he upheld Ma'at, those who prayed to Amun were required, first, to demonstrate that they were worthy by confessing their sins. Much later, because of the evidence of the adoration given to Amun in many regions during the height of his cult, Greek travelers to Egypt would report that Amun—who they determined to be the ruler of the Egyptian pantheon—was similar to the leader of the Classical Greek pantheon, Zeus, and therefore they became identified by the Greeks as the same deity. Likewise, Amun's consort Mut became associated by these Greeks with Zeus's consort in the Classical pantheon, Hera. Fertility god Subsequently, when Egypt conquered Kush, they identified the chief deity of the Ku######es as Amun.
This Kush deity was depicted as ram-headed, more specifically a woolly ram with curved horns*—so Amun became associated with the ram. Indeed, due to the aged appearance of the Kush ram deity, the Egyptians came to believe that this image had been the original form of Amun and, that Kush was where he had been born. Since rams were considered a symbol of virility due to their rutting behavior, Amun also became thought of as a fertility deity, and so started to absorb the identity of Min, becoming Amun-Min. This association with virility led to Amun-Min gaining the epithet Kamutef, meaning Bull of his mother,  in which form he was found depicted on the walls of Karnak, ithyphallic, and with a scourge, as Min was. Sun God As the cult of Amun grew in importance, Amun became identified with the chief deity who was worshipped in other areas during that period, Ra-Herakhty, the merged identities of Ra, and Horus. This identification led to another merger of identities, with Amun becoming Amun-Ra.
In the Hymn to Amen-Ra he is described as "Lord of truth, father of the Gods, maker of men, creator of all animals, Lord of things that are, creator of the staff of life." By then Ra had been described as the father of Shu, Tefnut, and the remainder of the Ennead, so Amun-Ra likewise, became identified as their father. Ra-Herakhty had been a solar deity and this nature became ascribed to Amun-Ra as well, Amun becoming considered the hidden aspect of the sun during the night, in contrast to Ra-Herakhty as the visible aspect during the day. Amun clearly meant the one who is hidden. This complexity over the sun led to a gradual movement toward the support of a more pure form of deity. During the later part of the eighteenth dynasty, the pharaoh Akhenaten (also known as Amenhotep IV) disliked the power of the temple of Amun and advanced the worship of the Aten, a deity whose power was manifested in the sun disk, both literally and symbolically. He defaced the symbols of many of the old deities and based his religious practices upon the deity, the Aten. He moved his capitol away from Thebes, but this abrupt change was very unpopular with the priests of Amun, who now found themselves without any of their former power.
The religion of Egypt was inexorably tied to the leadership of the country, the pharaoh being the leader of both. The pharaoh was the highest priest in the temple of the capital and the next lower level of religious leaders were important advisers to the pharaoh, many being administrators of the bureaucracy that ran the country. When Akhenaten died, the priests of Amun reasserted themselves. His name was struck from Egyptian records, all of his religious and governmental changes were undone, and the capitol was returned to Thebes. The return to the previous capital and its patron deity was accomplished so swiftly that it seemed this almost monotheistic cult and its governmental reforms had never existed. Worship of the Aten ceased and worship of Amun-Ra was restored. The priests of Amun even persuaded his young son, Tutankhaten, whose name meant "the living image of Aten"—and who later would become a pharaoh—to change his name to Tutankhamun, "the living image of Amun". Decline Although the capitol was moved back to Thebes and the power base of Amun's cult had been revivified, the authority of Amun began to weaken after the Twentieth dynasty. Under the Twenty-first dynasty the secondary line of priest pharaohs of Thebes upheld his dignity to the best of their power, and the Twenty-second favoured Thebes, but they became weak and ineffective. As the leadership weakened, division between Upper Egypt, the southern portion, and Lower Egypt, the northern portion reasserted itself.
The unification of Egypt failed, falling into regional autonomy again. Nubia took over the rule of southern Egypt. Southern Egypt includes Thebes and it would have decayed rapidly had it not been for the piety of the rulers of Nubia toward Amun, who had been worshiped in their own country for a long time. Initially, they made Thebes their Egyptian capital and they honoured Amun greatly, although neither their wealth nor their culture was sufficient to reverse the decline of the cult. In the rest of Egypt, however, the popularity of the cult of Amun was rapidly overtaken by the rise of a new cult, the Myth of Osiris and Isis. And so outside Thebes, Amun's identity first became subsumed into Ra (Ra-Herakhty), who initially remained an identifiable figure in the Isis and Osiris cult, but ultimately, Amun merely became an aspect of Horus.
Persistence of cult outside Egypt In areas outside of Egypt where the Egyptians had previously brought the worship of Amun, his fate was not so dreadful. In Nubia, where his name was pronounced Amane, he remained a national deity, with his priests at Meroe and Nobatia, regulating the whole government of the country via an oracle, choosing the ruler, and directing military expeditions. According to Diodorus Siculus, these religious leaders even were able to compel kings to commit suicide, although this tradition stopped when Arkamane, in the 3rd century BC, slew them. In Libya there remained a solitary oracle of Amun in the Libyan Desert at the oasis of Siwa. Such was its reputation among the Classical Greeks that Alexander the Great journeyed there after the battle of Issus and during his occupation of Egypt, where he was declared the son of Amun by the oracle. Alexander thereafter considered himself divine.
Even during this occupation, Amun, identified by these Greeks as a form of Zeus, continued to be the principal local deity of Thebes during its decay. Derived terms Several words derive from Amun via the Greek form, Ammon: ammonia and ammonite. The Romans called the ammonium chloride they collected from deposits near the Temple of Jupiter Amun in ancient Libya 'sal ammoniacus' (salt of Amun) because of proximity to the nearby temple. Ammonia, as well as being the chemical, is a genus name in the foraminifera. Both these foraminiferans (shelled Protozoa) and ammonites (extinct shelled cephalopods) bear spiral shells resembling a ram's, and Ammon's, horns. The regions of the hippocampus in the brain are called the cornu ammonis – literally "Amun's Horns", due to the horned appearance of the dark and light bands of cellular layers
(AMON-RA) A combination of Amon and Ra worshipped in later Egyptian history. Under this name, the Theban god Amun (qv) became the national god of Egypt. Amun (AMON, AMANA, AMMON, HAMMON, AMEN) "The Hidden One". Egyptian sky god who came to be regarded as a sun god and the head of the Egyptian pantheon. Originally a local god of Khmun, then also of Thebes. Amun's cult rose in prominence as Thebes rose to a preeminent political position within Egypt. In the New Kingdom he became syncretized with the Heliopolitan sun god Re as Amun-Re, in which form he was the "king of the gods" and the tutelary deity of the pharaohs. The pharaohs, who had been considered "sons of Re", thus came to be regarded as incarnations of Amun-Re. Amun took on the role of a primeval deity and creator in the cosmology of the New Kingdom, creating earth and sky out of his thought. He was a member of the Ogdoad, paired with the goddess Amaunet and representing hidden power. Also a member of the Theban triad, which made him the husband of Mut and adoptive father of Khons. Amun was depicted in human form, with blue skin and either the head of a bearded man or a ram's head with curved horns. He wore a crown composed of a modius surmounted by two tall feather plumes. He was sometimes depicted in ithyphallic form with an oversized erect penis. His true appearance was considered beyond human understanding. He was said to be "hidden of aspect, mysterious of form", invisible yet omnipresent throughout the cosmos. Amun's sacred animals were the ram and the goose. His primary sanctuaries were at Karnak and Luxor near Thebes. Amun and his influential Theban priests suffered a temporary eclipse during the reign of Akhenaton, who tried to impose a monotheistic worship of Aton. The cult of Amun revived soon after Akhenaton's death. It was not until the sack of Thebes by the Assyrians in 663 BC that Amun was reduced to mere local importance. As Ammon, however, he had an oracle at the Siwa Oasis in the western desert that remained prominent at least until the time of Alexander the Great, who visited the oracle.