(Gr., Hermonthis), a site located about 12 kilometers (7.5 miles) southwest of present-day Luxor, on the western bank of the Nile (25°37′N, 32°32′E). Armant was probably the original capital and the most important cult center of the god Montu in the fourth Upper Egyptian nome (province). Armant's ancient Egyptian name was Iwny, and from the New Kingdom onward was found written Iwnw. The similarity with the name of the Lower Egyptian city of Heliopolis, or On (Iwnw), led the Egyptians to clarify Armant as Iwnw Mntw (“On-of-Montu”), or even Iwnw Šmʒw (“Heliopolis-of-the-South”), a term also, and ambiguously, applied in later periods to Thebes.

Armant

Armant. View of Armant.

Cemeteries from prehistoric into Christian times have been discovered at Armant, but no temple blocks have been found predating the eleventh dynasty. A reference, however, to “Montu, Lord of Armant” in the sixth dynasty Theban tomb of the nomarch Ihy verified the contemporary existence of a Montu cult center in Armant, despite the lack of monumental remains from the Old Kingdom. Blocks dating to the Middle Kingdom were reused in later Ptolemaic-era temple construction, so no plan is recoverable for the original eleventh dynasty Montu structure. After being neglected during the Second Intermediate Period, Montu's temple received lavish attention from its inception during the eighteenth dynasty—the New Kingdom temple being constructed to the south and in front of the earlier structures. It included a pylon, a forecourt, and a colonnade to the core sanctuary—primarily the work of Thutmose III (r. 1504–1452 BCE). The temple remained much the same until its destruction, possibly by the Persians, during the Late period. The reconstruction of the entire complex may have been started in the reign of Nektanebo II of the thirtieth dynasty, but it was principally a project of the Ptolemies. For example, Cleopatra VII (r. 44–33 BCE) and her son Caesarion contributed a birth-house and a sacred lake.

At Armant, the god Montu was accompanied by two divine consorts: the goddesses Iunyt and Tjenenyet. Iunyt, first seen in reliefs that were dated to the reign of Montuhotep III in the eleventh dynasty (r. 2000–1998 BCE), was probably the primordial goddess of the city, inasmuch as her name means “she-of-Armant.” Tjenenyet was first mentioned by name on blocks from the twelfth dynasty. Although the two goddesses and Montu form a triad, their precise familial relationship to one another is uncertain. In the Ramessid period of the New Kingdom, Tjenenyet began to eclipse her partner, and another goddess appeared: Rettawy (“female-Re-of-the-Two-Lands”). Rather than being a new deity, Rettawy may represent a solar aspect of Iunyt, who is attested in the New Kingdom with the epithet “Daughter of Re.” It has been proposed that Rettawy is an epithet of Tjenenyet, but those two goddesses have been portrayed together in the same context, whereas Rettawy and Iunyt have not.

In the reign of Nektanebo II (360–343 BCE), the Buchis bulls, sacred to the cult of Montu at Armant, were buried for the next 650 years in the Bucheum, built at the desert's edge 6 kilometers (4 miles) west of the city. The mummified “Mother of Buchis” cows were interred 400 meters (about 1300 feet) north of the Bucheum.

See also MONTU.

Bibliography

  • Eggebrecht, Arne. “Armant.” In Lexikon der Ägyptologie, 1: 435–441. Wiesbaden, 1975. Scholarly essay in German, with extensive references.
  • Mond, Robert, and Oliver H. Myers. Temples of Armant. London, 1940. Report by the principal excavators of the site under the auspices of the Egypt Exploration Society.
  • Porter, Bertha, and Rosalind L. B. Moss. Topographical Bibliography of Ancient Egyptian Hieroglyphic Texts, Reliefs and Paintings, vol. 5, Upper Egypt: Sites. Oxford, 1937. The site of Armant is covered on pp. 151–160.

Edward K. Werner