On Monday, we were treated with a new look at The Mummy, Universal's reboot of their perennial franchise and the first film in an attempt to resurrect their long-dormant #UniversalMonstersCinematicUniverse. In the new trailer, we see Tom Cruise doing Tom Cruise things, some sets that look very Egyptian, and the titular mummy doing scary mummy things. Perhaps the most intriguing reminder in the trailer is the name of the mummy — a woman in this new version — played by Sophia Boutella. Her name is Ahmanet.
Amunet In Pop Culture
Egyptian women named Ahmanet — more accurately spelled Amunet or Amaunet — have appeared with increasing frequency in television, video games and now movies. Characters with this name have appeared in Penny Dreadful, Stargate SG-1，and in Assassin's Creed 2. Invariably, they've all had a sinister nature, whether as the assassin who killed Cleopatra, as one of the cruel aliens oppressing the universe, or a demon spirit that possessed an unsuspecting Englishwoman. Now, she's a mummy bent on domination.
Amunet The Goddess
As it turns out, Amunet is a real figure from Egyptian mythology, whose name means "the female hidden one." She was one of a group of eight gods and goddesses (the Ogdoad) who, in the belief system of the city of Hermopolis, were the eight deities that preceded the creation of the world. These eight consisted of four goddesses and four gods who were coupled with one another, and were among one of the oldest belief systems in Egypt.
Amun, who became a major god in the Egyptian pantheon later in Egyptian history, was Amunet's male counterpart. Unlike Amun, Amunet never gained huge popularity among Egyptians, and he became more closely associated with the goddess Mut instead of Amunet.
The difference between the Egyptian goddess and her cinematic namesakes is that there was never anything evil about Amunet. Throughout her history, she was seen as a protector goddess. She is also such a minor local goddess, which makes it is quite curious that she has become an archetype for sinister Egyptian women in pop culture.
Interestingly, the female villain in the #TheMummy franchise with Brendan Fraser is named Anck Su Namun, inspired by the name of King Tut's wife, Ankhesenamun, but she wasn't chosen to be the mummy this time. It's unclear as to why Amunet became the name for all of these Egyptian women with diabolical motives. Her first popular appearance is in Stargate SG-1, in 1997, played by Vaitiare Bandera.
The premise of the Stargate universe is that many of the ancient gods, particularly the Egyptian gods, were actually members of an an advanced alien species that visited Earth in the ancient past. Because of this, many Egyptian gods and goddesses were made into characters for the show. Amaunet became a fairly important character, and it is probably because she was a featured antagonist that similar characters of Egyptian origin have been given her name since then.
Other goddesses, such as Hathor and Sekhmet, were closely associated with violence in Egypt, and have been used as characters in other media set in Egypt. For some reason, they have not been chosen in these recent popular works. It remains an open question what the inspiration for the use of Amunet was, but it seems probable that Stargate SG-1 is what brought her name into modern pop culture, even though it did so in an inaccurate way.