Tenenet: The Goddess of Pregnancy, Childbirth & Beer

Who the Goddess Tenenet was?

In ancient Egyptian mythology, goddesses took a very important role in shaping the mythology as a whole. Thus, we can see a number of major and minor goddesses in ancient Egyptian religious pantheon. Tenenet was an ancient Egyptian goddess. Ancient Egyptians believed that she was a goddess with a protective nature for women.

Pregnancy and childbirth were the main two aspects with which she was associated. Ancient Egyptians believed that she protected the uterus of pregnant women. She was also associated with beer.

Cult of Tenenet

In ancient Egypt, the main cult center of Tenenet was Hermothis,
located about 12 miles south of Thebes. The present location of this ancient city is the modern city of Armant. The present city is located in the Luxor Governorate on the West Bank of the Nile. During the time period of the Middle Kingdom, it was an important town. There is one argument that ancient Egyptians worshipped Isis through the form of Tenenet in Hermothis.

Goddess of Beer

Apart from her protective nature towards pregnant women, Tenenet also holds her grip in the field of beer and beer-brewing. In fact, many believe that the name of the goddess itself came from a word which was used in ancient Egypt for referring beer. The name Tenenet came from the word ‘tenemu’, meaning beer.

Here the most interesting part is that the manufacturing of beer was one of many important tasks of women in ancient Egypt. Women mainly were associated with bread-making. then they used to bake the bread and after that fermented them in jars along with barley. So, women conducted the whole process of beer manufacturing. Thus, the name of the goddess indicates it also.

How does Tenenet appear

Tenenet appears in the form of a human. In her appearance, we can trace the influence of Meskhenet’s iconography. Meskhenet was also a goddess of childbirth. Tenenet wears a symbol on her head which is similar to that of Meskhenet. This symbol is a cow-uterus which signifies her protective nature towards pregnant women.

Association with other Deities

We can trace the association of Tenenet with other ancient Egyptian deities also. Montu, the falcon-headed god of war was her husband. Montu was an astral deity worshipped in Upper Egypt. Later periods witnesse har merger with other deities such as Rat-Taui, Isis, Anit, etc. Among these deities, Isis was a very important one.

Rise and Fall of the Goddess

Archaeologists found her name first on carved blocks of 12th Dynasty. It was during the Ramessid period of the New Kingdom. This was the time which witnessed the rise of this deity as a very important deity. But later her position declined.