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Amen of Thebes


Amen of Thebes

Of the early history of the worship of Amen we know nothing, but as far as the evidence before us goes it appears not to have been very general, and in fact, the only center of it of any importance was the city of Thebes. Under the XIIth Dynasty we find that a sanctuary and shrine were built in honor of Amen at Thebes in the northern quarter of the city which was called Apt. Later, from this word, with the addition of the feminine article T, the Copt's derived their name for the city Tape, and from it also comes the common name "Thebes." Over Apt the quarter of the city there which was called Apt, who was either the personification of it, or a mere local goddess to whom accident or design had given the same name as the quarter ; it is, however, most probable that the goddess was the spirit or personification of the place. In the reliefs on which she is represented we see her in the form of a woman holding the scepter, and :life", in her hands, and wearing upon her head the disk and horns, upon which rests the hieroglyphic which has for its phonetic value Apt, and stands for the name of the goddess of Thebes as a form of Hathor. Up to the time of the XIIth Dynasty Amen was a god of no more than local importance, but as soon as the princess of Thebes had conquered their rival claimants to the sovereignty of Egypt, and had succeeded in making their city a new capitol of the country their god Amen became a prominent god in Upper Egypt, and it was probably under that dynasty that the attempt was made to assign to him the proud position which was afterwards claimed for him of "king of the gods." His sanctuary at Karnak was at that time a comparatively small building, which consisted of a shrine, with a few small chambers grounded about it and a forecourt with a colonnade on two sides of it, and it remained, practically, in this form until the rise to power of the kings of the XVIIIth Dynasty. It is difficult to decide if the sanctuary of Amen at Thebes was a new foundation in that city by the kings of the Xiith Dynasty, or whether the site had been previously occupied by a temple to the god.


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