Montu: The Solar God of War

Who the god Montu was

In ancient Egypt, there were many gods associated with war. Montu was a prominent one among them. He is a falcon-headed war-god of ancient Egypt. There are different pronunciations of his name. These are Mentu, Monthu, Mentju, Montju, Menthu, Ment, Month, Mont, Minuthi etc.

montu the god of war

Montu the solar god

Apart from the god of war, Montu is also a solar god. Ancient Egyptians believed that had the destructive power of the sun. Basically, he was a local form of the sun.

Origin of Montu

The antiquity of this god went back to the time period of the Old Kingdom. During this time, he appeared in the Pyramid Texts as well as in some archaeological context also. But it was during the time of the 11th Dynasty (2125-1985 BCE). This time, Montu came into prominence.

The 11th Dynasty was mainly based on the region of Thebes. Thus, people at Thebes widely started the worship of Montu. People called him ‘Lord of Thebes’. So, this can indicate his supremacy over the region of Thebes. During this time period, he became a powerful state god of Thebes.

The family tree of Montu

According to different myths, Montu got married to three different goddesses. These are Tjenenet, Inuyt, and Rettawy. The son of Montu and Rettawy was Horus the child. This association probably links Montu with the pharaoh. Because Horus was believed to have the direct link with the pharaoh. Sometimes, Amun and Mut were considered as the parents of Montu.

Tjenenet
atum the sun god
mother goddess mut
god horus

Iconography of Montu

Iconographically speaking, Montu’s depiction is mainly in a falcon-headed form. It is his original and usual depiction. In the later period, he came in other forms also. Later, we can see him in bull-headed form.

bull-headed montu

Buchis the sacred bull of Montu

The later period of bull-headed form had some significance. It was nothing but the assimilation of Montu and his sacred bull, Buchis. The depiction of Montu’s sacred bull came in the later period. If we come across any ceremonial axe from any burial of this period, it may represent the sacred bull of Montu.

Buchis the sacred bull of Montu

Guardian of happy family life

Ancient Egyptians also believed that Montu is a god who acted as the guardian of a happy family life. His reference in marriage documents to ensure the commitment of husband and wife indicate this belief.

The cult of Montu

Hermopolis was the capital of the Thebes region. Obviously, the main cult centre of Montu was Hermopolis. Because people at Thebes widely venerated him. At Karnak, Montu had his own temple precinct to the north of the Great Temple of Amun. Apart from this, there is Montu’s appearance in the temple of Medamud, Armant, Tod etc.

Among these regions, Tod is noteworthy to mention. Because in 1936, from the Middle Kingdom Temple of Tod, ‘Tod Treasures’ consisting of chests of items dedicated to Montu was found.