The Gods of Ancient Egypt -- Aten


Other Names:


Patron of: the sun.


a solar disk, sometimes with wings, sometimes with life-giving hands on rays reaching out to worshippers. Description: Possibly the most controversial god in the history of ancient Egypt, Aten was the "one god" set up by the Pharaoh Akhenaten (Amenhotep IV).

Contrary to popular belief, the worship of Aten was not monotheism.

The other gods were still worshipped, but Aten was the supreme deity, and the worship of other supreme deities, such as Atum and Ra, was supplanted by the new state religion.

Aten was worshipped by Akhenaten and his followers as the sun in its capacity as life-giver.

The most common depiction of Akhenaten is of him and his family holding offerings up to the sun disk Aten whose rays, terminating in hands, bathe the worshippers in life and power.

There are some who say that Akhenaten was actually Moses before he was exiled from Egypt, and that Aten was an Egyptian form of the Hebrew god YHVH.

It makes for a good story and is quite intriguing, but its discussion deserves dedicated treatment and cannot be elaborated upon here.


Worshipped widely in Egypt during the reign of Akhenaten (much to the consternation of the followers of the older sun gods), the worship of Aten was largely abandoned following Akhenaten's death.

His cult centers were at Karnak, Thebes, Akhetaten (built by Akhenaten as a center of worship), and Heliopolis.