Week 6 Blog Post

Central to this week’s material is the discussion of the king Akhenaten and the worker’s town of Dier el-Medina. As we have learned, Akhenaten changed his name from Akhenamen and changed the central deity to the obscure sun god, Aten. Personally, I found the tiny human hands extending from the sun symbol to be rather creepy. However, given the decline in the central rulers since the time of the pharaohs, you have to admire the amount of influence the king still controlled at this time. This power is demonstrated with the various accomplishments Akhenaten had achieved in demanding the worship of Aten over Amun. For one, the worker’s town of Dier el-Medina in the Valley of the Kings was a stable settlement except for when Akhentaten was in control (in terms of population – not necessarily success, as demonstrated by the first workers strike that occurred here). Regardless, the abandonment of an entire working town would require significant influence and political control. Similarly, to relocate and construct a completely new capital city is impressive. Though nothing on the scale of an expertly crafted pyramid, Akhenaten was able to command a labor force and his administration large enough to relocate and construct a completely new city. Considering he had essentially cut off the financial support of the major priesthoods and cults on Amun, it is hard to imagine where this support was really coming from. Despite these various displays of success and influence, he clearly could not convince his people that Aten was someone to continue the worship of. This is demonstrated by the fact that many of his temples and shrines were defaced after his death, and his infamous successor changed his name from Tuthankaten to Tutankamun, and the cults of Amun were quickly revitalized after his death. Though Akhenaten may not have been successful in creating a flawless image of himself as the living Aten, he was definitely successful in creating a rule that stands out among the kings and demonstrating the power and influence that kings still held in the New Kingdom.

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