Amen, Amon, Amun, Imen – Primeval Creator God mentioned already in the Pyramid Texts (5th Dynasty) as a primeval deity whose shadow protects the other gods. His female counterpart is Amaunet. He is often called “The Hidden One” which shows an association with invisibility. The ancients regarded him as being behind and in all things, a deity too complex to describe in one name or even possible to depict in his true form. Therefore another name was “He who abides in all things”. ‘Hidden of aspect, mysterious of form’ or the ba of all things are other epiteths. They also called him ‘asha renu’ which means ‘rich in names’.
Amun and the Ogdoad.
Amun and his female counterpart Amaunet, are one of four pairs of the Ogdoad, the Creation Myth which originated in Hermopolis (el-Ashmunein). Amun in his form of a snake (Amun Kem-Atef) is also the forerunner, or ancestor of these eight deities It was believed that Amun can regenerate himself by taking on his snake form and shedding his skin.
Forms and Sacred Animals
As the creator behind all of cosmos, also other deities were unaware of his true form. He was sometimes depicted in the form of the Nile Goose, and sometimes as a ram with curved horns or as a ram-headed man. These two animals; the goose and the ram, were sacred to him, and therefore never offered. The connection with the goose might come from the creation myth about the “Gengen Wer” (means: Great Honker or Great Cackler) – the goose which carried the egg from which life came forth, and indicated Amun as a creator god, while the ram´s creative energy indicated him as a fertility god. As Amun-Min he was also shown in ityphallic form.
Another frequent image of Amun shows him in human form, with two tall plumes on top of his head, seated on a throne. His skin is blue like lapis lazuli which was a highly treasured, semi-precious stone, and he is wearing a short kilt. On top of his crown are two tall plumes, signifying him as a sky deity, and it is said that he was as invisible as the wind.
Already in the 11th Dynasty, Amun was merged with the royal sun-cult of Re in Heliopolis. His importance grew and he was imported at Thebes where he became Amun-Re, the Sun-god, or the ‘King of the Gods’, which title appears for the first time in Dyn 12. This was an effort at making Amun the most important of all deities and to link him to the kingship as being the divine father of the ruler. Many kings called themselves Mery-Amun (Beloved of Amun)
Though he was the High God, he also was a deity to whom the commoner could turn to in times of need. Papyrii tells of him protecting the rights of the poor in law courts and he is called the ‘vizier of the humble’ who comes at the voice of the poor’. There are also traces of Amun being ‘Amun of the road’, a protector of travellers.
Amun at Thebes – Karnak and Luxor
Karnak; “Ipet-Isut”, in ancient Egyptian: ‘The Most Select of Places’, consists of three main precincts: for Amun, Mut and Khonsu (moon God and son of Amun and Mut) which form the ‘Triad of Karnak’. These are all situated within the main precinct of Amun. Here is also the Opet temple and a small temple dedicated to Ptah to be found. To the north is the precinct of the temple of Montu, the earlier main god of Thebes from the end of Dyn XI.
Luxor; “Amun em Ipet Resyt”, in ancient Egyptian: ‘Amun Who Is In His Southern Sanctuary’. This temple lies 3 km south of Karnak, and was in ancient times situated in the center of Thebes (Waset), and dedicated to Amun-Re. He was here mainly represented in either the blue painted form or the black ityphallic form, and he was even ‘visited’ by Amun of Karnak once a year during the Opet Festival. The temple was called the ‘Place of Seclusion’ or the ‘Southern Opet’.
The ityphallic form of Amun; ‘Amun Kamutef’- ‘Bull of his mother’, is not to be confused with his name of ‘Amun Kem-Atef’, by which is meant an ancient form of Amun as a snake deity; ‘He Who has Completed His Moment’, probably referring to the snake sending his skin and beginning a new cycle of life.
Amun in Kush (Nubia)
There were temples built to Amun even south of the 1st cataract to celebrate him as a god of the Egyptian rulers and in this way extend the territory to enable safe transport ways to the gold of Kush. The cult of Amun developed such a strong foothold that when Egypt lost control to the Kushite rulers, these continued the worship.
His importance endured into the Greek and Roman days when several temples were dedicated to him.
Main center of worship:
Thebes/Waset, 4th Nome, Upper Egypt
Other temple locations:
Djamet/Medinet Habu 4th N, Upper Egypt
Khmun/Hermopolis/el-Asmunein 15th N, Upper Egypt
Teudjoi/Ankyronopolis/el-Hiba 18th N, Upper Egypt
(“Amun of Great Roaring”)
Mennefer/Memphis, 1st N, Lower Egypt
Naukratis 7th N, Lower Egypt
Djan´net/Tanis 19th N, Lower Egypt
Ain Amur Between El-Kharga and El-Dakhla, from Roman times.
Ain Birbiyah at El-Dakhla Oasis, from Roman times.
Deir El-Hagar, at Dakhla Oasis, from Roman times.
Nadura, at El-Kharga Oasis, two small temples, Roman times.
Temple of Hibis, at El-Kharga Oasis, to Amun, Mut and Khonsu.
Qasr Ain-El-Zaijan, at El-Kharga Oasis, Roman times.
Siwa Oasis, 26th Dynasty.
Djan´net/Tanis, 19th N, Lower Egypt
Qasr El-Megysbeh at Bahariya Oasis, to both Amun and Horus, Greek times.
Opet which was celebrated when the yearly rising of the Nile was halfway through. the cult-statue of the god was carried on a processional boat from his temple at Karnak to the great temple at Luxor, 2.5 km away, where it stayed for several days before it returned to Karnak.