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Author Topic: THE GREAT ATEN  (Read 10231 times)
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« Reply #45 on: February 26, 2008, 11:27:00 am »

                                      The Middle and End of Akhenaten's Reign

(1348-1338 BCE)

Just two or three years into his reign, there is clear evidence that a major shift in Egyptian
religion has begun.

By now the pharaoh had moved the court and capital away from Thebes to Akhetaten and
had adopted a new title, the name we know him by, Akhenaten which means in Egyptian

"he is agreeable (Akhen-) to the sun-disk (-aten)."

To have effectively removed Amun from his name seems like an all-but-open declaration of
warfare against the dominant religious authority in the day, the Amun priesthood based in
Thebes. And as if that weren't enough, archaeological evidence shows that around this time
Akhenaten began closing down Amun temples across Egypt and even had the name Amun
erased from some inscriptions. Later, he went so far as to order the word "gods" removed
and changed to "god," wherever it occurred on public inscriptions. Whether or not this is
monotheism by theological standards, it's certainly grammatical monotheism.

But what was Akhenaten's beef with Amun? Why did he dislike this god so intensely?
Scholars have suggested it was because Amun as the god of secrets was too obscure
a deity, too inaccessible to the public. Indeed, shrines to Amun are invariably situated
in the middle of temple complexes, roofed and dark, where priests alone may enter them
and then only on special occasions. Perhaps Akhenaten wished to open up Egyptian
religion to a wider clientele, not just the clergy, and so he constructed a capital which was
the antithesis of Amun worship, exposed as much as possible to the full light of day, as
the buildings of Akhetaten show: few roofed structures, little shade, and constant expo-
sure to Akhenaten's true father as far as he was concerned, not Amunhotep III but the

Indeed, a letter found among the remains of Akhetaten confirms exactly this.

Writing to Akhenaten, the Assyrian king complains that the emissaries he sent to Egypt
nearly died of sunstroke when they were attending some royal ceremony at the pharaoh's

"Why are my messengers kept in the open sun?
They will die in the open sun.
If it does the king good to stand in the open sun,
then let the king stand there and die in the open sun.

The heat of the Egyptian midday is, in fact, torturous through much of the year, but
standing in the sun and basking in its brilliance is also a natural extension of Akhenaten's
religious revolution, something virtually all the art of Amarna culture demonstrates.

And this is all very different from the way Amun was worshiped, surely an advantage in
Akhenaten's mind.

It may even help to explain Akhenaten's premature death: skin cancer?
« Last Edit: February 26, 2008, 11:41:15 am by Bianca » Report Spam   Logged

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« Reply #46 on: February 26, 2008, 11:46:36 am »

                                       Art and Iconography in Akhenaten's Reign

The religious iconography of Akhenaten's new belief system centered around the Aten as a divine presence. Representing the life-giving force of the universe, the sun-disk is often depicted in
either abstract or personified form, occasionally both at the same time. Though it's most often
pictured as a mere circle with rays of light radiating downward, the Aten also appears sometimes
with little hands appended onto the end of its solar beams holding out to worshipers the ankh, the Egyptian sign of life. In a few instances, the hands are even shoving the ankh rather unceremo-
niously up the noses of the blessed, a figurative assertion, no doubt, that the sun offers the
"breath of life."

It would seem less comical today if this sacrament didn't look so much like an incontinent ear-swab.

Humorous as it may be to some of us, the significance of this symbol is nevertheless profound,
indeed probably revolutionary to an Egyptian of the day. The sun-worship Akhenaten was pro-
moting surely reminded many of Old Kingdom theology, by now a millennium old, and its false but
pervasive reputation for tyranny (see above, Section 5). More than one Egyptian at the time,
particularly those in the Amun priesthood, must have asked themselves,

"What's next? A pyramid?"

But Akhenaten's movement entailed features far stranger than anything which had happened
in the Old Kingdom. In fact, it looked backwards less than forward in time, at least inasmuch
as the new religion prefigured a very different conception of godhead.

As such, the Aten is typically portrayed without human or animal attributes, in strong contrast
to standard Egyptian practice. The goddess Isis, for instance, is frequently shown as part-wo-
man, part-cow, and the face of her deceased husband Osiris is sometimes painted green to de-
monstrate that he represents the rebirth of vegetation in the spring.

But unlike either of them, Akhenaten's Aten is the font of all being, which means by nature he
cannot be restricted in form, and is thus almost always presented as the aptly universal and
geometric solar circle. The little hands attached to his sun-rays were a concession, no doubt,
to popular taste.

Even to say "he" of the Aten is perhaps too restrictive for this universalist conception of deity—
gender is clearly not relevant to sun-disks—and stranger yet, to say "he" of Akhenaten himself
isn't always valid either.

Male and female styles, which are usually discrete in traditional Egyptian art, blend together in
peculiar fashion throughout Amarna culture, extending as far as royal portraiture. Akhenaten,
for instance, is shown in a series of colossi (large statues; singular, colossus) lacking male geni-
talia, and in general, his depiction is odd, to say the least. He's often portrayed as pot-bellied,
slouching, thick-lipped, with a big chin and pointed head, which has led scholars to suppose he
suffered from some sort of birth defect, resulting in eunuchoidism.

But if so, how did he sire a family, for in art he appears with as many as six different daughters?

And those are only the ones he had by his principal wife.
« Last Edit: February 26, 2008, 11:59:47 am by Bianca » Report Spam   Logged

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« Reply #47 on: February 26, 2008, 12:00:55 pm »

That raises another fascinating and enigmatic issue concerning Akhenaten's revolution, the
centrality of his family in the public presentation of his regime.

Not only do we have many depictions of the beautiful Nefertiti, Akhenaten's principal wife—
more, in fact, than of Akhenaten himself!—but we can trace the royal daughters' births year
by year, and sadly sometimes their deaths as well. Reliefs even show the royal couple play-
ing with the girls. Like no pharaoh before or after him, Akhenaten was family-oriented.

Thus, it seems unlikely he was actually unsexed or a hermaphrodite, certainly not a eunuch,
but the real father of the children he professes, at least through his art, to adore so fondly.
But the gender-bending portraits of him seem ill-suited for such a family man, by modern
standards at least. 

Nefertiti's depictions are not immune to cross-gendering, either. She's shown at least once
wearing the blue crown, the helmet kings don as they go into battle. She's the only Egyptian
queen ever known to have been depicted that way, including Queen Hatshepsut, the woman
who ruled Egypt singlehandedly for two decades a century before (see Section 9).

There's something very odd, by any standard, about the way the Amarna rulers chose to portray themselves.

Indeed, the entire family is depicted with elongated faces and skulls, wide hips and sagging
bellies. The tall hat Nefertiti wears in her famous bust is probably covering—perhaps even
accentuating—her pointed head beneath, even though surely she was not also congenitally
deformed, and certainly as the mother of six daughters, not sexless. Nor were the girls, which
is all the more evidence Akhenaten was not, either.

Naturalistic portraiture seems a less likely explanation of the oddities inherent in this family
than some sort of stylized rendering. There's doubtless something abnormal about them,
but what? And why?

That the royal family constitutes the only people ever portrayed this way is surely a clue.
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« Reply #48 on: February 26, 2008, 12:07:13 pm »

To depict Akhenaten's entire immediate family—and only them—in such an unusual manner
must signify something. Perhaps their different look is meant to highlight exactly that, the
fact that they're different.

Maybe the royal family is supposed to represent something alien, transcendental, not bound
to human or earthly distinctions such as gender. It's easy to see why this would appeal to
Akhenaten, nor is it hard to understand why Nefertiti might go along with being designated
as super-special, and the children would, of course, have been too young to have a choice
or even know the difference.

All this concurs well with Akhenaten's religion, where the pharaoh was said to serve as the
conduit between humanity and the Aten. In other words, it's through and because of him
the sun-disk bestows life on the planet. In his own words, a hymn Akhenaten claims to
have composed himself about the Aten,

"There is no other who knows you except your son, Akhenaten."

That makes the pharaoh and his family some species of divine beings among humankind,
earth-bound extraterrestrials on whose good will the benefits of the sun, and thus all life,

One way or another, before this Akhenaten's day, the Egyptians had always held the sun
as a god and the royal family was always seen as divine, but as the only divine presence
in the universe? That, indeed, was something different.

The imagery of Amarna culture with all its strangeness has attracted not only scholars but
a wide range of iconoclasts, revolutionaries and weirdos of every ilk, who have latched onto
this radiant, unworldly, rebel pharaoh and more often than not caught the reflection of their
own oddity in his slouching, fat-lipped silhouette. The many answers posited to the riddle of
Akhenaten are, in any case, less important than the few, frail realities we know about his
reign and the questions they leave at our feet.

Among them, how did he sustain such a bizarre reordering of the celestial kingdom? For more
than a decade, we must remember, Akhenaten kept his divine fantasies afloat even as he
faced down the Amun priesthood, traditional cults in Egypt and a nation long nurtured on a
pantheon of gods numbering by that day in the thousands. Before we can ask why any of this
happened or what happened to it, we must first try to understand how it happened at all.
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« Reply #49 on: February 26, 2008, 12:15:53 pm »

Akhenaten must have had some supporters, besides the usual lunatic fringe and sycophant
wing who will follow any maniac into the wilderness.

A hint about their identity comes in one of the Amarna reliefs in which Nefertiti holds up the decapitated head of a foreign captive. That suggests some sort of military activity during
Akhenaten's reign, an event history bears no evidence of otherwise.

But that's not surprising really, given later pharaohs' destruction of records from his day. Any
boasts of victory in foreign wars the monomaniacal monotheist might have issued isn't likely
to have survived their holocaust.

So, if Akhenaten did have the support of the Egyptian army—and there's no real evidence
to the contrary—his revolution would make much more sense. Still, an army backing an effe-
minate, secluded, family-loving, pointy-headed sun freak seems highly improbable today.

But then again, how much can we rely on our modern sensibilities here where so little else
seems logical?

Yet, strange times often make strange bedfellows. If both the pharaoh and the military
were seeking the same thing—for instance, to undercut the power of the Amun priest-
hood which, by then, was siphoning off a hefty percentage of the taxes collected in
Egypt—the aten and the army might have made common cause. Or so some scholars

All the same, it must have been an interesting meeting between the slouching sun-lover
and the hardened desert troopers who defended Egypt's frontier. How did they find enough
in common even to have a conversation, much less foment a revolution together?
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« Reply #50 on: February 26, 2008, 12:17:41 pm »

                                           The Aftermath of Akhenaten's Reign

Unlike many New Kingdom pharaohs, Akhenaten's body has never been found, nor even relics
from his burial. That opens the possibility his tomb was not raided in antiquity and still awaits

Indeed, in light of his novel outlook on religious matters, it's not implausible to suppose he was
buried in an unconventional way or place, not where other pharaohs' bodies were laid to rest.
That, of course, would decrease the likelihood of archaeologists stumbling across his grave,
since they tend to look in the usual places. Tutankhamun's tomb is a good example of how hard
it is to find pharaonic burials even when we know where to look.

By a fluke of fortune it was hidden from view for millennia, despite the fact that it's in the Valley
of the Kings, the most probable place to find an Egyptian king interred.

Of course, there's another possibility here. Akhenaten was never buried at all, especially if his
regime collapsed along with him. But apparently that was not the case, either, at least not en-

By all appearances, Akhenaten's death was due to natural causes.

The historical record contains not a single hint of foul play in his death, though he was far from
old age, which leaves us to guess its cause.

Monotheistic exhaustion?
Aten-tion deficit disorder?

Above all, what happened in downtown Akhetaten on that gloomy day when the reason the
sun-disk shines on the earth departed this world, and the next morning the sun still rose?
That must have been a disconcerting moment for the aten-faithful.

Archaeology has, however, made one thing very clear. Akhetaten was not abandoned imme-
diately upon Akhenaten's death.

Building continued, at least for a while.

How the government continued is less clear. Akhenaten's successor, for instance, is all but a
complete mystery. Named Smenkhare, which is close to all we know about him, this pharaoh
appears suddenly in the historical record two years before Akhenaten's death. A late relief de-
picting Smenkhare with Akhenaten is about all there is to track this most cryptic of Egyptian
pharaohs, along with a few documents showing that he married one of Akhenaten's daughters,
surely an attempt to secure his claim to the throne after Akhenaten's death.
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« Reply #51 on: February 26, 2008, 12:28:02 pm »

Curiously, Smenkhare's rise coincides almost exactly with another mysterious event,
the all-but-complete disappearance of Nefertiti from the art of El-Amarna.

Only once in the final two years of Akhenaten's reign is she shown, in a funerary tableau
recording the death of one of her and Akhenaten's daughters. One theory is that Akhen
aten sensing the approach of death—but how?—married his eldest daughter by Nefertiti
to Smenkhare who was the son of a secondary wife. In fact, he had little choice but to
do this because Nefertiti had never given him a son—six daughters but no male heir—and
Egyptian tradition demanded some sort of "son of the pharaoh" succeed.

Thus, in the absence of a crown prince, the son of a secondary wife usually stepped in as

But this is not the only explanation that's been offered. Another theory proposes—and in
light of the unusual circumstances surrounding the Aten-cult at Akhetaten, it's not nearly
as unlikely as it might seem at first glance—

that Smenkhare was Nefertiti!

Knowing his death was imminent and seeing no clear and obvious heir on the horizon since
he'd had no sons by Nefertiti and so there was no pointy-headed male to stem the family's
Aten-uation, Akhenaten created a "son" for himself out of the most obvious candidate there
was, not a secondary son but his primary wife.

Family was, after all, of utmost importance in this new world order, and she had held the
power of Egypt in her hands—had even worn the blue crown!—best of all, she was already
one of the chosen, the long-necked beloved of the Aten. So, like any social-climbing secon-
dary son, Nefertiti "married" her own daughter and took the throne as a man, assuming as
was traditional a new name, Smenkhare. That would help to explain why she disappears at
the very moment Akhenaten's successor enters the picture.
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« Reply #52 on: February 26, 2008, 12:32:22 pm »

Like many ingenious solutions—and this age does seem to attract them—it didn't work.

For whatever reason, Nefertiti couldn't cut it as "king," not that there hadn't been wo-
man kings in Egypt who had taken male guise before. Hatshepsut, for instance, had por-
trayed herself as a man in more than one work of art (see above, Section 9).

Perhaps the army in this day would back an effeminate male but not a masculined woman
as king. Or perhaps Nefertiti was simply more beautiful than savvy.

Despite all their protestations of hope for world peace, beauty pageant winners rarely
achieve that aim.

In any case, the elusive Smenkhare disappears two years into "his" reign. No tomb for
Smenkhare has ever been located or looted or burial goods found. There is simply no
further mention of him at all in ancient Egyptian history.

Though it's pure speculation, it's hard to believe Smenkhare wasn't assassinated by

After all, he had so many enemies, probably far more than what few supporters he could
muster. Perhaps emissaries of the Amun priesthood did him in, or spies sent from an army
unwilling to be led by a woman—again!—or even by a disgusted daughter-husband in lea-
gue with some would-be-pharaoh, an actual man who was not her mother.

Or perhaps it was all of them in league together, and with this we are dangerously close
to writing the first draft of Murder on the Orient Express.
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« Reply #53 on: February 26, 2008, 12:38:27 pm »

Whatever the what-really-happened, Amarna culture left behind one of the most famous
kings in history today

—and one of the least famous kings in his own time—Tutankhamun, popularly known today as

"King Tut."

Originally Tutankhuaten (1336-1325 BCE), the boy-king succeeded Smenkhare to the throne.
Fairly early in his reign, he was persuaded to change his name and, contrary to Akhenaten's
policy, take the aten out and put "Amun" in. With that alone, the resurgence of the Amun
cult is all too apparent. At some point during his reign, the royal court left Akhetaten and
returned to Thebes, no doubt, into the warm embrace of the reigning priesthood much re-
lieved to have their livelihood back on line.

Their gratitude, in fact, would help explain the grandeur of Tutankhamun's burial perhaps,
even to some extent, the preservation of his tomb.

Though the body is badly decayed—the burial process did severe damage to Tutankhamun's
body, so forget everything in "Mummy" movies about the dead coming to life through mummi-
fication, which does more damage than good to corpses—but even in spite of its poor preser-
vation, Tutankhamun doesn't seem to have been murdered.

In fact, recent analysis of his body has confirmed that he died from complications following
a severe fracture of his femur. Conspiracy theorists will have to find new turf.

Tutankhamun's failure to survive and leave behind a male successor, which is hardly surpris-
ing for a nineteen-year-old, paved the way for a new dynasty and a world view far different
from Akhenaten's.

So, the Amarna Period ended essentially with this boy-king, only to be reborn in the modern
excavation of El-Amarna and Thebes, and especially in the American archaeologist Howard
Carter's famous discovery in 1922 of Tutankhamun's tomb and the splendors of his burial.

Tthe sheer magnificence of this tomb in and of itself is astounding and leaves one agog at
what a real royal burial, like Ramses II's, must have entailed.

All in all,Tutankhamun's death and funeral is the epilogue of the Amarna Period in antiquity.
There is little in the rest of ancient Egypt's history that recalls or even reflects this brilliant,
odd moment in the evolution of their religion.

Outside of Egypt, that's another matter.
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« Reply #54 on: February 26, 2008, 12:44:40 pm »


                                    Akhenaten and Hebrew Monotheism

In today's world, the pre-eminent issue surrounding Akhenaten is whether or not his reli-
gion did—or even could have!—influenced the development of Hebrew monotheism, a theo-
logy which the historical data suggest evolved several centuries later. The answer to that
question depends on several factors. For instance, how alike are Hebrew and Egyptian
monotheism? And is there any way in which the Hebrews could realistically have had signifi-
cant contact with atenism, enough to borrow elements from it or, if not, even just have
been influenced by it?

To answer the first, Hebrew monotheism differs in several significant ways from Akhenaten's
religion. While the aten is an omnipotent divinity, it's also present specifically in the light of
the sun-disk and the pharaoh's family, so its divinity is limited in a way the Hebrew deity's is

The God of Israel acts through all sorts of different media: angels, rainbows, floodwaters and,
as biblical Egyptians ought to know perfectly well, frogs. Nor was there any real attempt by
Egyptian monotheists to extend the Aten's power beyond Egypt, the way God's power is seen
by later Hebrew prophets to embrace all creation. So, while Akhenaten claims the Aten is uni-
versal, he speaks of it more like it's a pharaoh at the center of some cosmic court full of fawn-
ing minions—that is, like him.

Still, both cultures share the central notion, if not the details, of monotheism.

Could the Hebrews have picked that up from the Egyptians somehow? Such a notion presumes,
of course, that Hebrews existed in some form during Akhenaten's reign—the eradication by later pharaohs of all records of Akhenaten's religion and regime makes later cultural borrowing highly
unlikely—and besides, many scholars would flatly say there weren't any Hebrews at all during
that time, at least not Hebrews as such.

Israel was definitely not an organized nation in the fourteenth century BCE, but then theologi-
cal notions do not require a political state for their existence. Wandering patriarchs, as attest-
ed in the Bible during this age, could easily have borrowed the concept of monotheism from

But there's no evidence Egyptian monotheism spread beyond the borders of its native land so,
if Hebrews borrowed the notion, they would have to have been living in Egypt around the time
of Akhenaten's reign.

That seems unlikely, except that biblical sources say they were.
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« Reply #55 on: February 26, 2008, 12:49:45 pm »

In the so-called Egyptian Captivity which the Bible claims lasted several centuries, Hebrews
did, in fact, live in Egypt, enslaved by powerful New Kingdom pharaohs until the Exodus in
which Moses led them to freedom in the Holy Lands.

If that really happened, they must have been in Egypt when Akhenaten had his brief day in
the blazing sun. But because a majority of scholars downplay the historicity of the Exodus—

there is certainly no corroborating evidence massive numbers of Hebrews fled Egypt at any

point in ancient history

—again this seems unlikely. Still, it doesn't take huge crowds of Hebrews in Egypt to introduce
the idea of monotheism into Israelite thinking. One "Joseph" is certainly enough.

So, it's possible to weave together from the historical data a scenario in which the idea of mono-
theism threaded its way somehow out of Egyptian theology and into Israelite culture. But when
one looks closely, it's not a very tightly woven tapestry, especially in light of where biblical
scripture says the Hebrews were in Egypt.

The city of Goshen in which the Bible says they lived as captives is probably synonymous with
the Egyptian settlement called Pi-Ramesse ("City of Ramses") in the delta. If so, it's many miles
from Akhetaten, and there's very little evidence to be found in Egyptian art or history that
Akhenaten's revolutionary theology filtered that far north.

Nor is it likely it would have fared well in this part of Egypt, a stronghold of Ramses' family. The Ramessids were staunchly opposed to atenistic thinking and later attempted to eradicate all
traces it had ever existed. So, how is it even possible Ramses' construction slaves heard about
a far-off, out-of-date religious tradition strongly proscribed by their tyrannical overseers?

All in all, the evidence seems to weigh heavily against the argument that the Hebrews caught
the monotheism bug from contact with the Aten, or even just the simple conception there's
only one god.

With no obvious channels of communication on either side, it's improbable Akhenaten's revo-
lution could in any way have influenced or even inspired Hebrew thought.

Furthermore, how many of the world's great inventions have cropped up independently in diffe-
rent places? Writing and literature, for instance, arose in both the West and the East with no
apparent connection between them, as did agriculture, drama and ship-building.
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« Reply #56 on: February 26, 2008, 12:54:19 pm »

And then you open the Bible to Psalm 104,

the great manifesto of God's all-encompassing power,

and read how He created grass for cattle to eat, and trees for birds to nest in, and the sea
for ships to sail and fish to swim in:

Bless the Lord . . . you who coverest thyself with light as with a garment . . .

Who layeth the beams of his chambers in the waters; . . .

He causeth the grass to grow for the cattle, and . . . the trees

Where the birds make their nests; as for the stork, the fir trees are her house.

The high hills are a refuge for the wild goats; . . .

(As) the sun ariseth, (the beasts) gather themselves together . . .

There go the ships: there is that leviathan (whale), whom thou hast made to play therein.

And then among the remains of Amarna culture you read the Hymn to the Aten,

purportedly written by Akhenaten himself, which says:

When the land grows bright and you are risen from the Akhet (horizon)
and shining in the sun-disk by day, . . .

All flocks (are) at rest on their grasses, trees and grasses flourishing;

Birds flown from their nest, their wings in adoration of your life-force;

All flocks prancing on foot, all that fly and alight living as you rise for them;

Ships going downstream and upstream too, every road open at your appearance;

Fish on the river leaping to your face, your rays even inside the sea.

(trans. James P. Allen)

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« Reply #57 on: February 26, 2008, 12:59:09 pm »

The similarity is simply astounding.

Comparing these passages, who could argue against some form of cultural exchange moving
from Egypt to Israel—and, given the chronology, we must suppose the sharing took place in
that direction—how can we avoid the conclusion that the ancient Hebrew who wrote Psalm
104 has somehow borrowed from Akhenaten's Hymn to the Aten?

With that, the realization begins to dawn that answers to the great question about the origins
of Hebrew monotheism are not going to come swiftly or easily.

How did a Hebrew psalmist's eyes—or ears?—ever pass near a banned Egyptian hymn?

While the psalm is hardly a verbatim copy of its atenistic model, the likeness of these songs,
especially in their imagery and the order in which the images come, argues forcefully for some
sort of Egypt-to-Palestine contact, however indirect.

And if there is contact there, why not elsewhere? If that's the case, there clearly was some
channel of intercultural communication, some literary turnpike now invisible. But if we imagine
a road of some sort running between Akhetaten and ancient Jerusalem, what are we really

                                             a history or a novel?

And by doing so, are we not at risk of saying more about ourselves than the odd, beguiling
world Akhenaten built, whose slanted light still shines from beneath sand and walls and script

History, you'll remember, means "question," and that is exactly where the history of Akhen-
aten leaves us.


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« Reply #58 on: March 08, 2008, 02:28:29 pm »


From Wikipedia

Aten (or Aton) was the disk of the sun in ancient Egyptian mythology, and originally an aspect of Ra.

He became the deity of the monotheistic — in fact, monistic — religion of Amenhotep IV, who took the

name Akhenaten. The worship of Aten seems to have ceased shortly after Akhenaten's death.

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« Reply #59 on: March 08, 2008, 02:39:21 pm »

Aten was the focus of Akhenaten's religion, but viewing Aten as Akhenaten's god is a simplification.

Aten is the name given to represent the solar disc.

The term Aten was used to designate a disc, and since the sun was a disc, gradually became associated with solar deities.

Aten expresses indirectly the life-giving force of light.

The full title of Akhenaten's god was The Rahorus who rejoices in the horizon, in his/her Name of the Light
which is seen in the sun disc. (This is the title of the god as it appears on the numerous stelae which were
placed to mark the boundaries of Akhenaten's new capital at Amarna, or "Akhetaten.")

This lengthy name was often shortened to Ra-Horus-Aten or just Aten in many texts, but the god of Akhen-
aten raised to supremacy is considered a synthesis of very ancient gods viewed in a new and different way.

Both Ra and Horus characteristics are part of the god, but the god is also considered to be both masculine
and feminine simultaneously.

All creation was thought to emanate from the god and to exist within the god.

In particular, the god was not depicted in anthropomorphic (human) form, but as rays of light extending
from the sun's disk. Furthermore, the god's name came to be written within a cartouche, along with the
titles normally given to a Pharaoh, another break with ancient tradition.

The Aten first appears in texts dating to the 12th dynasty, in The Story of Sinuhe.

Ra-Horus, more usually referred to as Ra-Herakhty (Ra, who is Horus of the two horizons), is a synthesis of two other gods, both of which are attested from very early on. During the Amarna period, this synthesis was seen
as the invisible source of energy of the sun god, of which the visible manifestation was the Aten, the solar disk.

Thus Ra-Horus-Aten was a development of old ideas which came gradually.

The real change is the apparent abandonment of all other gods following the advent of Akhenaten, i.e., the introduction, apparently by Akhenaten, of monotheism.

This is readily apparent in the Great Hymn to the Aten.
« Last Edit: March 08, 2008, 02:45:55 pm by Bianca » Report Spam   Logged

Your mind understands what you have been taught; your heart what is true.
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