Akhenaten

As I was reading about the New Dynasty for class this week, I was immediately drawn to one Pharaoh’s reign in particular: Akhenaten (meaning “agreeable to Aten” which is the disk of the sun in ancient Egypt, an aspect of the Ra, the sun God). He seems to generally be considered a strange and mysterious man, heavily influenced by his mother. During his reign, came major changes to the ancient Egyptian religious and cultural traditions that we became familiar with in the Old Kingdom. The Pharaoh’s original name was Amenhotep IV, yet he was a follower of the monotheistic religion of Atenism, and changed his name in recognition. In his reign, Akhenaten started a religious revolution in ancient Egypt, making Aten Egypt’s one god, instead of worshipping to multiple deities, as in the past. It is believed that Akhenaten’s revolution came in the fifth year of his reign, and began the construction of a new capital, Akhetaten, or the “Horizon of Aten”, in the site now known as Amarna. Though construction was not finished, in 1346 BC, or the seventh year of his reign, the capital of Ancient Egypt was moves from Thebes to Akhetaten and construction seemed to have continued for a couple of years after. The traditional worshipping and ceremonies in the new capital were drastically different from those before, tagged with this newfound monotheism. In 1344 BC, Akhenaten proclaimed not just the oneness of god, but the Aten is the “universal” god, and forbid the worship of any others. He even went as extreme to change the hieroglyphs to read one “god”, instead of “gods” (plural); this changed not only the hieroglyphs, but Egyptian art itself. These changes were incredibly radical in ancient Egyptian times, and that is why Akhenaten is such a major Pharaoh in ancient Egyptian history.

http://www.heptune.com/Akhnaten.html