Amun-Ra: Temple, Hieroglyphics & Facts

Instructor: Aida Vega Felgueroso

Aida has taught Spanish at the University in Italy. Spanish is her mother tongue and she has a master's degree in Spanish Language and Literature.

In this lesson we will meet the god Amun-Ra, the supreme god for the Egyptians, as well as some of the myths related to him. Amun-Ra was central to the Egyptian culture so that, knowing him, we will know better the ancient Egyptians.

Two Gods in One Divinity

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. Thus sang the Egyptians the hymn of Amun-Ra, supreme god, representation of the sun and life. Actually, Amun-Ra became one god about 2040 B.C. Previously, the Egyptians worshiped two different divinities: Amun and Ra. Let's look at each of them separately to make it possible to understand better the enormous importance that Amun-Ra later had.

Sacred lake at Karnak.
sacred lake

Amun, God of Thebes

Amun was, originally, a god of Thebes. His name means hidden god. This was because he represented abstract concepts related to air. The Egyptians said that he is everywhere but can not be seen. He was also the god of fertility.

Amun was represented by a man clothed with a wrap. On his head he wore a mortar, and out of it came two feathers. Sometimes he had a ram's head.

His wife was Amunet, the sky goddess, who had the form of a woman with snake head.

Thebes was a relatively important city in the Ancient Egypt. But by 2040 B. C. a fact of great transcendence happens: Thebes is named capital of Egypt. It remained capital for more than a thousand years and, when it was no longer, it was the main religious center of the kingdom. In this way, the Theban god Amun became god of all Egypt.

Amun represented as a Pharaoh.
Amun Pharaoh

Amun in Hieroglyphics

The written testimonies we have about Amun are very ancient, before he became the supreme god of Egypt and, therefore, prior to 2040 B.C. Since then Amun was not a god of special importance, there are not many inscriptions with his name. Those who have come to us associate Amun with the air, that is why it is protector of the navigators and is represented with the blue skin.

Amun in a stele.
amun stele

Ra, the God of the Sun

Contrary to Amun, Ra was always a god of great importance. He represented the sun and, therefore, was the origin of life. In addition, the first pharaohs were considered incarnations of Ra. Ra is the sun and as the sun rises and dies every day, Ra was also the symbol of reincarnation, of life after death.

Ra was depicted as a hawk-headed man. On this head, he carried the sun disk.

While the capital of Egypt was in Memphis, Ra was the supreme god. But in 2040 B.C. the capital was moved to Thebes and there Ra met the main Theban god, Amun. From this union was born the god Amun-Ra who will be the most important god in the most splendid times of the Egyptian empire.

Ra with hawk head and the sun disk.
ra sun disk

Ra in Hieroglyphics

In the hieroglyphics Ra is represented with the same symbol as the sun. In addition, there are also inscriptions where he appears crossing the sky from the east to the west in a solar barge. Ra, the sun, made a 24-hour trip every day and died every day in the west and came back to life in the east.

Ra in the Solar barge.
ra solar barge

Amun-Ra, the Great God

By the year 2040 B.C. the two deities had already become one: Amun-Ra. This god had the characteristics of Amun and those of Ra. In this way he was, like Amun, the god of the occult, and, like Ra, he was the god of the sun and of reincarnation.

He was the supreme god of the Egyptians, the protector of the pharaohs who identified with him.

Statue of Amun-Ra.
amun ra statue

Representations of Amun-Ra

Various representations of Amun Ra have come to us:

  • Amun Ra Lord of the thrones of the Two Lands: In this version he is represented as a man crowned with two feathers, red and green or red and blue and with a scepter in his hand.
  • Amun-Ra-Atum, god of Thebes: In this version he appears like a man with hawk head or like a man crowned by the sun disc surrounded by a serpent,
  • Ammon-Min-Kamutef, the bull of his mother: In this version, he is a calf in the morning that grows old and dies to the rhythm of the sun that sets and disappears. The next morning, both the sun and the bull return to life.

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