For much of the history of ancient Egypt, Amun was honored as the supreme god in the Egyptian pantheon. However, he was originally a local deity in Hermopolis, a city in southern Egypt, with power over the air or wind. By 2000 B . C . Amun's cult had reached the capital of Thebes, and rulers began to honor him as the national god of Egypt. However, after invaders known as the Hyksos conquered northern Egypt in the 1700s B . C ., only people in the south continued to worship Amun.
The Egyptians drove out the Hyksos in the 1500s B . C ., and Amun's influence expanded rapidly. So did the size and splendor of his temples. Two of the largest temples of ancient Egypt, located at Luxor and Karnak, were devoted to the worship of Amun, and his cult controlled great wealth.
At first Amun was only one of many deities worshiped by the Egyptians. As he became more important, he was combined with the sun god Ra to form a new deity called Amun-Ra. Egyptians honored Amun-Ra as king of the gods and creator of the universe. They also believed him to be the father of the pharaohs, a deity who would help these rulers triumph in battle.
Amun usually appears in Egyptian art as a bearded man with a headdress containing two ostrich feathers, a broad necklace, and a close-fitting garment. In one hand, he has an ankh, the Egyptian symbol of life, and in the other, he holds a scepter, a symbol of authority. He is often portrayed sitting on a throne like a pharaoh. As Amun-Ra, the god is sometimes shown with the head of a hawk topped by a golden disk representing the sun, which is encircled by a serpent.
pantheon all the gods of a particular culture
deity god or goddess
cult group bound together by devotion to a particular person, belief, or god
pharaoh ruler of ancient Egypt
The cult of Amun-Ra remained strong throughout Egypt until almost the time of Jesus. The ancient Greeks associated Amun-Ra with Zeus, their own supreme god.