Mystery of Akhenaten

It’s really interesting to me how this class has come full circle in some ways as we finished discussing the New Kingdom. We started by talking about things such as king’s lists and chronology, and now we’ve discussed the rulers such as Seti I who created these king’s lists and their purpose seems more clear. Even though we already knew that the lists helped establish legitimacy and continuity across dynasties, I think it makes a whole lot of sense realizing how great some of the leaps were. This also makes me think of Akhenaten and the threat he posed to the status quo between pharaohs and temples. I wanted to know what some viewpoints are about his possible mummy since he had such a radical impact on Egypt even if it didn’t outlast his reign.

An article in National Geographic from 2007 caught my eye because it immediately followed CT scans of some unidentified mummies from the Valley of the Kings which includes the mummy that may or may not by Akhenaten. The reason that some scholars believe it could be Akhenaten or a family member is because his cartouche on the coffin has been demolished similar to the examples we saw in lecture today trying to remove Akhenaten from the historical record. The scans revealed that there may be a relation between this mummy and the mummy of Tutankhamen, who some scholars believe to be the son of Akhenaten. Both have distinctly egg-shaped skulls and other similar traits that could indicate kinship such as slight scoliosis of the back. The mummy is a male who died between the ages of 25-40 which at least doesn’t refute the idea that he is Akhenaten.

There are still a lot of questions about the end of Akhenaten’s life and whether Tutankhamen was his son. Either way, dynasties are hard to verify, and it doesn’t help that later pharaohs so meticulously didn’t include Akhenaten in their records and his legacy was so carefully destroyed. On another note, these same researchers were able to determine that two female mummies found near Tutankhamen’s tomb definitely do not belong to Nefertiti, so the famous queen is still missing.