Akhenaten

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Statue of Akhenaten in the early Amarna style: one of the things this pharaoh did was to introduce a more realist style on carved and painted portraits.

Akhenaten (first known as Amenhotep IV) was a pharaoh of the Eighteenth dynasty of Egypt.[1] His reign is dated as 1353–1336 BC or 1351–1334 BC.

Akhenaten is one of Egypt's most well-known pharaohs. In the fifth year of his reign, he changed his name from Amenhotep IV, meaning "Amun is satisfied". He did this because he left Egypt's traditional polytheism. He founded a monotheistic worship of the Egyptian sun god, Aten. He destroyed the temples of Amun. His new religion was called Atenism. It was the first known attempt at monotheism in the world. Naturally, this made enemies of the many priests of the old religion.[2][3]

This culture shift away from traditional religion was not widely accepted. This helps to explain why after his death, his monuments were dismantled, his statues were destroyed, and his name excluded from lists of rulers compiled by later pharaohs.[4] Traditional religious practice was gradually restored, notably under his close successor Tutankhamun, who changed his name from Tutankhaten early in his reign. However, it was Horemheb who destroyed all the works of Akhenaten.

Akhenaten was all but lost to history until the late 19th century discovery of Amarna, the new capital city he built for the worship of Aten. Its rediscovery and Flinders Petrie's early excavations sparked great public interest in the pharaoh and his queen Nefertiti. The interest comes from his connection with Tutankhamun, the unique style and high quality of the pictorial arts he patronized, and interest in the religion he attempted to establish.

References[change | change source]

  1. Shaw I (ed) 2000. The Oxford history of Ancient Egypt. Oxford University Press, p276.
  2. Redford, Donald B. 1984. Akhenaten: the heretic king. Princeton University Press.
  3. Aldred, Cyril 1991 [1988]. Akhenaten, King of Egypt. London: Thames and Hudson. ISBN 0500276218
  4. Manniche, Lise 2010. Akhenaten, Colossi of Karnak. Cairo: American University in Cairo Press.