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Title: Tatenen  
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Subject: Ancient Egyptian religion, Horus, Ancient Egyptian philosophy, Wadj-wer, Raet-Tawy
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Tatenen (also Ta-tenen, Tatjenen, Tathenen, Tanen, Tenen, Tanenu, and Tanuu) was the god of the primordial mound in ancient Egyptian religion. His name means risen land[1] or exalted earth,[2] as well as referring to the silt of the Nile. As a primeval chthonic deity,[3] Tatenen was identified with creation. He was an androgynous protector of nature from the Memphis area, then known as "Men-nefer".

Tatenen represented the Earth and was born in the moment it rose from the watery chaos,[1] analogous to the primeval mound of the benben and mastaba and the later pyramids. He was seen as the source of "food and viands, divine offers, all good things",[4] as his realms were the deep regions beneath the earth "from which everything emerges", specifically including plants, vegetables, and minerals.[3] His father was the creator god Khnum, who made him on his potter's wheel of Nile mud at the moment of creation of Earth.[5] This fortuity granted him the titles of both "creator and mother who gave birth to all gods" and "father of all the gods".[1][6] He also personified Egypt (due to his associations with rebirth and the Nile) and was an aspect of the earth-god Geb, as a source of artistic inspiration,[7] as well as assisting the dead in their journey to the afterlife.[8]

He is first attested in the Coffin Texts, where his name appears as Tanenu or Tanuu, 'the inert land', a name which characterizes him as a god of the primeval condition of the earth. Middle Kingdom texts provide the first examples of the form Tatenen.[3]

With a staff Tatenen repelled the evil serpent Apep from the Primeval Mound. He also had a magical mace dedicated to the falcon, venerated as "The Great White of the Earth Creator".[9] In one interpretation, Tatenen brought the Djed-pillars of stability to the country,[9] although this is more commonly attributed to Ptah.


Both Tatenen and Ptah were Memphite gods. Tatenen was the more ancient god, combined in the Old Kingdom with Ptah as Ptah-Tatenen, in their capacity as creator gods.[2] By the Nineteenth dynasty Ptah-Tatenen is his sole form, and he is worshiped as royal creator god. Ptah-Tatenen can be seen as father of the Ogdoad of Hermopolis, the eight gods who themselves embody the primeval elements from before creation.[3]


Tatenen's ambiguous portrayal is a result of the ancient nature of the period he was worshipped in, as well as the subsequent confusion when he was merged with Ptah. He was always in human form, usually seated with a pharaonic beard, wearing either an Atef-crown (as Ptah-Sokar) or, more commonly, a pair of ram's horns surmounted by a sun disk and two tall feathers.[3] As Tanenu or Tanuu, obviously a chthonic deity, he carried two snakes on his head.[3] He was both feminine and masculine, a consequence of his status as a primeval, creator deity.[1] Some depictions show Tatenen with a green complexion (face and arms), as he had connections to fertility and a chthonic association with plants.[2]


  1. ^ a b c d Tatenen. Retrieved 2009-10-21.
  2. ^ a b c The Egyptian Gods. Retrieved 2008-10-21.
  3. ^ a b c d e f Tatenen Retrieved 2009-10-21.
  4. ^ C. J. Bleeker. Historia Religionum I: Religions of the Past, p.68
  5. ^ M. Lichtheim: Ancient Egyptian Literature, Vol.3, p.113
  6. ^ J. H. Breasted: Ancient Records of Egypt, Part Three, § 411
  7. ^ J. H. Breasted: Ancient Records of Egypt, Part Two, § 91
  8. ^ Carol Andrews: The Ancient Egyptian Book of the Dead, spell 180
  9. ^ a b Intersexed and Androgynous Deities in Religion or Mythology. Retrieved 2009-10-21.
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