Egyptian goddess Amunet: Origin Story, meaning, birth, family, powers, & Importance
Amunet, also known as Amaunet or Amonet, was one of the obscure deities of ancient Egypt. A primordial deity, Amunet was revered as the “Hidden One” in ancient Egyptian religion. The Egyptian city of Thebes served as her major worship center right up until the Ptolemaic Era.
Myths about Amunet
Goddess of: protection, air, invisibility
Symbols: Ankh, snake, hawk, air, ostrich feather
Powers: Invisibility, strenght
Epithets: “The Hidden One” (Imnt)
Other names: Amonet, Amaunet, Nenuit, Nit, Ennit
Amunet and the Ogdoad of Hermopolis
The Ogdoad of Hermopolis was a group of eight primordial deities – four male and female couples – often associated with creation and chaos.
Amunet was associated with the creator god Amun. Both deities were believed to have emerged long before the beginning of time and creation.
Like the other members of the Ogdoad of Hermopolis, Amunet could be seen as a concept rather than a god. The members of the Ogdoad represented different aspects of creation. Amunet and Amun were considered the invisible parts of creation; hence their association with air, stillness and silence.
Amunet is the goddess of what?
Although a slightly obscure ancient Egyptian goddess, Amunet still held an important role in ancient Egyptian religion. She was considered a primordial deity that existed before the creation of the universe.
Family and association
Thus, she is a member of the eight primordial deities known as the Ogdoad of Hermopolis, which includes Nu, Naunet, Hehu, Hehut, Kekui, Kekuit, Nenu (or Amun).
Amunet was usually associated with the creator god Amun. Both deities constituted one of the four pairings of the eight deities of the Ogdoad of Hermopolis. Like Amun, Amunet was known as “The Hidden One”.
In the earliest known ancient Egyptian religious text, the Pyramid Texts, Amunet and her masculine counterpart Amun are described collectively as “the beneficent shadow of Amun and Amunet”.
A Theban deity, Amunet was revered and worshiped because she protected the kings and queens of ancient Egypt. The goddess was often invoked during rituals and festivals organized by the royal court. One such festival was the Sed festival, where the pharaoh’s continued reign was celebrated across the land.
Worship and cult centers
Thebes – present day Luxor, Luxor Governorate, Egypt – is about 500 miles south of the Mediterranean. It was an important religious and political hub for Egypt, particularly for Upper Egyptian rulers. The city housed major cult centers of many Egyptian deities, one of them being Amunet.
Up until around the 12th Dynasty (c. 1990-1804 BC), worship of Amunet was quite common. Over time, her worship evolved and Egyptian mother goddess Mut began to incorporate many of her roles. Even though Mut replaced her as Amun’s consort, Amunet still remained very much relevant in Thebes and the Egyptian pantheon in general.
Read More: 10 Greatest Goddesses of Ancient Egypt
Amunet was generally associated with Egyptian kingship and pharaohs. And in spite of her somewhat diminished role in the Egyptian pantheon, Amunet still fulfilled her duty as the protector of Egyptian pharaohs. She was implored to nourish the rulers of Egypt – as in one of her carvings which showed her suckling Philip III of Macedon in the 4th century BC.
Her epithet as the “Hidden One” led many ancient Egyptians to associate her with death. Some myths state that she stood at the entrance of the underworld to receive the souls of the dead.
Due to her association with the creator god Amun, some myths state that tree of life on earth emerged from her.
What is Amunet depicted to look like?
Amunet was often shown as a woman wearing the Red Crown of Lower Egypt (also known as the Deshret Crown). In her hands were sometimes an ankh (the Egyptian symbol of life) and a papyrus staff.
Occasionally she was depicted as woman with a snake head. Other times, she was shown a full snake. Her association with air also meant that she was sometimes depicted as a winged goddess.
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Amunet’s relationship to other Egyptian gods and goddesses
In the Karnak Temple Complex lays the Festival Hall of Thutmose III, where the goddess Amunet is depicted side-by-side with ancient Egyptian god of fertility, Min.
This local goddess of ancient Egypt was also associated with Theban deities like Mut and Amun.
According to some records, she was also associated with Neith, the Egyptian goddess of wisdom, mothers and childbirth.