Ancient Egyptian Gods and Goddesses Atum

Ancient Egyptian Gods and Goddesses

Atum: father of the gods (Snake, Mongoose, Lion, Bull, Ape)

The god Atum was a primeval deity strongly associated with the creation of the world, with a cult center at Heliopolis. His cult was one of the most ancient in Egypt, and even as early as the Old Kingdom he was a deity of great importance. His name is based on the ancient Egyptian word tem, which means “finish” or “complete.” Since Atum, as the creator god, was father to the first god (Shu) and goddess (Tefnut), he was known as “father of the gods.” Atum was also strongly linked to the sun, since the Egyptians saw the sun’s cycle as the central event in creation. Most commonly Atum is associated with the dying sun (i.e. evening sun) because as a self-created god he was a deity who could help the sun to be reborn again each morning. His role in the daily rebirth of the sun also made him a popular god in the funerary cult, since all deceased Egyptians wanted to identify themselves with the sun’s ability to be continually reborn.

Often Atum was represented in human form wearing the crown of Upper and Lower Egypt. Less commonly he might be represented with the body of a human and the head of a ram. Other animals that could be associated with Atum include the snake, mongoose, lion, bull, and ape. He could even be represented by the image of the primeval mound on which he was said to have begun the creation of the world.