Atum Egyptian God and the Egyptian Creation Story

Reed Hepler, Tommi Waters
  • Author
    Reed Hepler

    Reed Hepler received an M.L.I.S. from IUPUI, with emphases in Digital Curation and Archives Management. He received a Bachelor’s in History from USU, with minors in Religious Studies and Anthropology. He also earned a Certificate in Museum Studies. He has worked in museums, libraries, archives, and historical sites for the past four years.

  • Instructor
    Tommi Waters

    TK Waters has been an adjunct professor of religion at Western Kentucky University for six years. They have a master's degree in religious studies from Western Kentucky University and a bachelor's degree in English literature and religious studies from Western Kentucky University.

Learn about the Atum, the Egyptian god, the meaning of Atum, and his importance. Read about the Egyptian creation story and explore facts about Egyptian gods. Updated: 03/15/2022

Table of Contents


Atum Egyptian God: Overview

Atum, or Atum Ra, was the supreme god of the Egyptian pantheon. He was responsible for the creation of the universe and the creation of many of the other Egyptian gods. The worship of Atum Ra was a prominent part of the ancient Egyptian religion. Atum Ra, and worship of him and other gods, were major parts of Egyptian lifestyle and culture.

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  • 0:04 Atum and the Creation Myth
  • 1:30 Role and Appearance of Atum
  • 2:55 Atum and Creation
  • 4:14 Lesson Summary
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History and Facts About Egyptian Gods

In order to understand the ancient Egyptian religion, one must know certain facts about the Egyptian gods. Worship of the Egyptian gods was the way through which government was administered, the economy was controlled, and the interactions of Egyptian society were conducted. Natural occurrences were seen as the will of the Egyptian gods, either being evidence of favor or results of wrath.

One of the main places for the worship of the ancient Egyptian gods, including Atum Ra, was the city of Heliopolis. Worship of the gods was even more entrenched in this city than it was in other ancient Egyptian cities. Atum Ra was the first Egyptian god to be worshipped in Heliopolis, probably because of his nature as the creator god. This is displayed in its name, which means ''city of the sun.'' This refers to the main purpose of the city, which was the worship the gods of the sun, including Atum Ra. Eventually, all nine gods involved in the creation story, referred to collectively as the Ennead, were worshipped as a group in Heliopolis.

Atum Egyptian God: Description and Characteristics

The meaning of Atum is ''completion.'' Atum Ra is associated with the completion of the creation of the universe and other gods. In most depictions, Atum wears a pschent, which is a double crown. This signifies his position as both the ruler of both Upper and Lower Egypt.

Atum Ra, depicted here in a statuette sarcophagus cover, is often shown with a double crown.

Color image. Atum Ra depicted in a statuette with a double crown.

Atum has several specific responsibilities and associations. These demonstrate how important Atum was to Egyptian society. Aside from being the god of the entire universe, Atum was also the god of the evening sun. He was also associated with the scarab beetle, which was an important bug in Egyptian culture. It was said that Khepri, who was another manifestation of Atum, rolled the evening sun into the Earth every night in the form of a massive scarab beetle.

Egyptian God of the Universe

One of Atum's most important acts in Egyptian mythology was his participation in the creation of the universe. The story of the creation of the universe, which will be explained below, shows several of his personality attributes.

Atum Ra: The Evening Sun

Atum Ra is associated with the evening sun or setting sun in his combined role as Atum and Ra, known as ''Re-Atum.'' This is connected with his association with the scarab beetle. It is important to note that another god, Amun Ra, is associated with the sun at mid-day. These are two incarnations of the same deity, or they can be thought of as separate entities. The mythological stories regarding their nature sometimes conflate and sometimes distinguish between the two beings.

Atum Ra: Scarab Beetles

Atum Ra is associated with scarab beetles, which were considered sacred in Ancient Egyptian culture. This beetle is also associated with the god Khepri, who manifests himself as a scarab beetle. Khepri, along with Ra, was another form of Atum. As a result of their associations with Khepri and Atum, scarab beetles were considered to be symbols of rebirth and resurrection.

Egyptian Creation Story

Atum, the Egyptian God of the universe, is at the center of the Egyptian Creation story. The story of the creation of the universe is a part of a larger story of competition and war between the gods.

Atum is thought of as the ultimate creator since he created himself, other gods, and the entire universe. Some of these gods were created during the process of the creation of the universe, and others were created after.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Egyptian creation story called?

The Egyptian creation story has no unique name, but the gods created through the story are all referred to as the Ennead gods. This group of nine gods was the main focus of worship at Heliopolis.

Who was the Egyptian god of creation?

The Egyptian god of creation was known by the name of Atum, Ra, Atum Ra, or Khepri. Through the process of creating the universe, he also created other gods, including the personification of Nun, or the waters of chaos from which he arose.

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