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An Egyptian mother goddess, called the "Hidden One", "She Who is Hidden", "The Invisible One" or "That Which is Concealed". She is said to be the goddess of wind or air depending on the region.
She is one of eight primeval Deities who existed before the world was. She helps make the sun rise every morning with her wind. She is the personification of the life-bringing northern wind. She has also been shown has a mother to the kings of Egypt and during festivals she would strengthen the king and give him a longer rein. Amaunet was regarded as a tutelary deity of the Egyptian pharaohs and had a prominent part in their accession ceremonies. Her story originated from the area of Thebes, specifically the town called Khmun, which is better known by its Greek name Hermopolis ("City of Hermes", the God the Greeks associated with the actual Egyptian patron God of the town, Djehuty, who is also better known by His Greek name of Thoth).
In the creation myth of Khmun, the primeval flood or ocean was made up of four elements, personified as balanced pairs of male and female Deities: Infinity (or Formlessness), represented by the God Heh and the Goddess Hauhet; Darkness, by the God Kek and the Goddess Kauket; Water, by the God Nun and the Goddess Naunet; and Air or Hidden Power, personified by the God Amun and the Goddess Amaunet. These eight Deities swirled in and among the primordial floodwaters until they came together in a burst of flame to create the first mound of earth, called the Isle of Fire. The Scribe-God of Wisdom and the Moon, Djehuty (Thoth) then landed on the island in the form of an ibis and laid an egg from which the Sun hatched, and Time began. Seven of the eight Deities then left to live in the Underworld, but Amun stayed behind in the land of the living. According to the people of Khmun, their version of the creation myth was supposed to be the oldest one, and Khmun was said to be the very location of the ancient Isle of Fire.
Amaunet's name is the feminine version of Amun's, but She seems to be at least as old as He: The first mention of either Deity is as a pair, in a Pyramid Text dating to around 2350-2345 BCE, during the Egyptian Old Kingdom's Fifth Dynasty. The "Pyramid Texts" is the name given to a series of spells carved on the walls of the burial chamber of pyramids (natch) which were believed to protect the dead King and help him make his way through the afterlife. The texts (and the Gods mentioned) are quite likely even older than the Fifth Dynasty, for the spells appear as it were fully formed, and include language that was archaic for the time. Amaunet (and Amun) in these spells were regarded as protective Deities: They are adressed as "Amun and Amaunet, You Who protect the Gods, and Who guard the Gods with Your shadows". Though Nun and Naunet are described in a similar manner, it seems especially appropriate for Amun and Amaunet, Who both represent the mysterious and invisible hidden forces of nature, to give protection through their shadows; implicit in the idea of a shadow is that things can be hidden there.
She is referred to as 'the mother who is father' and in this capacity she needs no husband.
She is portrayed as a snake or a snake-head on which the crown of Lower Egypt rests. the snake represented the Underworld, water, and transformation. her feet were sometimes replaced by jackals which was another symbol of the underworld and death. Amaunet could also be depicted in human form, however, and in this guise She was shown wearing the Red Crown of Upper Egypt (meaning the southern, or upstream, part of Egypt); She sometimes holds a papyrus staff, which can symbolize both the primeval waters as well as thriving new life, as the image of the papyrus-plant was used in hieroglyphs to write the verb "to flourish".
Amaunet is depicted in a small temple to Amun at Djamet (the modern Medinet Habu), just across the Nile from Luxor, dating from the 18th Dynasty which was begun by the Pharoah-Queen Hapshepsut in the mid-15th century BCE and continued by her successor/predecessor/co-regent (depending on when in the reign we're talking) Thutmoses III. The decoration of this temple nicely illustrates the war between Thutmoses and the memory of Hatshepsut; many of the reliefs have been altered or defaced, and the names changed in an attempt to erase Hatshepsut's legacy (though we can still read them—nice try, Thutmoses III!).
On one of the pillars from this temple, Amaunet is shown with Thutmoses III, offering him life by placing an ankh to his mouth. She is depicted wholly in human form, and dressed in the archaic sheath-dress common to Goddesses, with the Red Crown of Upper Egypt on Her head. She clasps the upper arm of the King, who is wearing a headdress typical of Amun, thereby identifying him as Amaunet's husband. This same temple was built on and added to through Ptolemaic times, a millennium and a half later, where a door-lintel from that period is carved with Amun and Amaunet, showing that She was worshipped right up till the latest times of ancient Egypt. All told, Her worship spanned (at the least) a good 2300 years.
Alternate spelling: Amunet, Amonit
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