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Author Topic: AKHENATEN/TUTANKHAMUN  (Read 75969 times)
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« Reply #60 on: May 29, 2007, 08:27:11 pm »

THE GROTESQUE PHARAOH                                                                      continued

The repose to which we are accustomed in Egyptian sculpture is here set aside
in a manner that can even be called frightful; movement, expression, emotion,
and disregard for reality are now the rule.

The essence of this art, which was at first designated despairingly as merely "ugly"
or even "sick," can be understood by comparing it with schools of modern art that
deal freely with the human form.

As early as 1926, Schafer called Amarna art "expressionistic," as did Alexander Scharff,
and it is doubtless more apt to employ this designation than to speak of "realism," on
the assumption that Akhenaten actually looked like his depictions.

This art is a manneristic distortion of reality, a rebellion against the classical ideal of
beauty established earlier in Dynasty 18.

Everything that had been static, fixed in place for eternity, is now set in motion.  Vert-
ical axes become diagonal, stressed by receding foreheads and elongated crowns.   The
countours of the human figure swell and recede, creating the rhythmic play of the over-
ly swollen thighs and the scrawny, "chicken-like" calves (as Thomas Mann called them),
and even the chin and lips are swollen.

We also encounter new motion in the king's meeting the rays beamind down from the
solar disk.  And, finally, movement characterizes the playful, caressing intimacy of the
royal family, which is depicted in lively group scenes, and the fluttering bands of cloth
that dangle from clothes, crowns and articles of furniture.
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« Reply #61 on: May 29, 2007, 09:14:32 pm »

THE GROTESQUE PHARAOH                                                                   continued

Akhenaten introduced the chariot drawn by a pair of horses as a means of
expressing this new motion and he might well have intended it to imitate the
swift course of his god across the sky.

In no other period did Egyptian art contain so many representations of char-
iots, and no longer just in battle or the hunt, but as the means of rapid trans-
portation evidently employed by the king on a regular basis.

Only in the temple did he still tread respectfully.

An ecstasy of speed pervades the chariot scenes.  On one of the blocks from
Hermopolis, a team of horses races into an enormous open space; nothing
halts their rapid movement, and one of the horses turns its head, resulting in a
rare frontal view.


This movement also characterizes the representations of PROSKYNESIS so pop-
ular at this time; like the faithful praying in a mosque, whole rows of officials bow
down to the ground in prayerful adoration of the king, just as Akhenaten is, from
time to time, depicted lying outstretched on the ground before his god.

   The upper part of the stela from Hermopolis depicts the royal family on their knees
beneath the radiant Aten while, in the lower part, they are lying flat on the ground
"kissing the earth", as the Egyptians put it.
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« Reply #62 on: May 29, 2007, 11:13:20 pm »


Along with movement, there is emotion: the obligatory kissing, embracing and
caressing among the royal family, the mourning of the royal couple at the bier
of their daughter Meketaten, Nefertiti as a nursing mother and all the scenes of
intimacy that occur only in the art of Amarna.

All these are intended to depict how the love that emanated from the Aten de-
termined the togetherness of his creatures, as exemplified in Pharaoh's imme-
diate surroundings.  And with that, any inhibitions against depicting and empha-
sizing emotion has vanished.

'HOLDING HANDS' -fragment of Akhenaten and Nefertiti Statue

A breath of previously unknown freedom seems to blow through this art and one has
the feeling that the artists must have done their work free of all former conventions.

But this is only one aspect, which was complemented by a strong commitment to the
principles, newly established by Akhenaten, as obligatory.

Even the "expressionism" of this art does not signify freedom, but rather represents
a binding obligation. 

It is constantly stressed in the texts that the king himself established the guidelines
for artistic production.
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« Reply #63 on: May 30, 2007, 09:48:43 am »

NO FEAR OF EMOTION                                                                               continued

Akhenaten did not shy from questioning even the basic principles of Egyptian
art.  His artists tried their hand at bold turns and frontal views, and on the re-
constructed temple wall in the Luxor Museum, it can be seen how even the
convention of scale was no longer binding; in the two lower registers the king,
making offerings in the temple, is depicted as smaller in size than the men walk-
ing to the temple behind him, carrying offerings and cult implements!

This entails the annulment of a strict rule that had determined pictorial composi-
tion since the beginnings of Egyptian art: the size of the individuals represented,
whether deities, humans,or animals, did not depend on the accident of their
appearance, but on their relative importance within the scene.

Akhenaten's artists otherwise adhered to this principle, especially representing the
Royal Family.
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« Reply #64 on: May 30, 2007, 04:15:03 pm »


Aten's coexistence with the other deities lasted for only a short time.

The traditional divine multipicity was still fully present at the king's 'sed'-festival,
for their temples and domains were obliged to contribute to the financing of the
great festival and the new construction projects; the exclusivity of the Aten was
thus at first only a relative one - like many an Egyptian deity, he was UNIQUE, but

But in the representations, only the radiant Aten appears in the divine chapels of
the 'sed'-festival, while in a highly fragmentary inscription from the Ninth Pylon,
which reproduces a speech by the king, the new god is emphatically contrasted to
the other deities.


In the Theban tomb of Parennefer ( who was still "overseer of the prophets of all
the gods'!) a text stresses that "one measures the payments to every (other) god


with a level measure, but for the Aten one measures so that it overflows" - this in
contrast to the warning in the popular "Story of the Eloquent Peasant" not to fill to
overflowing, or not to overdo Maat, as the sage Ptahhotpe had quite similarly advised.

In the future, the Aten with his rays would be the only permissible icon of the god.  The
mixed form of a human body and an animal's head would vanish, and only the hands ema-
nating from the sun would serve as a reminder of his former human form.

At an early stage, these hands could still hold any sort of objects; thus, in smiting scenes,
they even held weapons that they extended to Pharaoh!

In connection with the 'sed'-festival, they held the hieroglyph designating this festival by
way of a wish for many repetitions of it.  But in the final form of the "radiant Aten" only
the ANKH sign, the hieroglyph for "life", remained, extended to the noses of the king and
the queen. 

The rays depicted in the art are mentioned again and again in the hymns to the "Aten", as
a token of the proximity of this "distant" god.
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« Reply #65 on: May 30, 2007, 04:59:41 pm »


From the third to the fifth year of his reign, Akhenaten carried out a "perestroika"
that affected every area of life and which cannot be compared to any phase in
Egyptian history.

The vast extent of the reorganization was unique - religion, art, language and lite-
rature were affected, and surely also the administration and the economy, for a
little later the temples of the traditional deities would be closed and their priests dis-
missed from state sevice or "reindoctrinated."

But there was no persecution at this time though, in year 4, the high priest of Amun
was sent literally "into the desert" on a quarrying expedition.

Only a few weeks before the founding of the new Residence, the administrator Ipi re-
ported to the king from Memphis that all was in order in the temple of Ptah and that
all the deities were receiving their prescribed offerings.


Though his measures were considered and gradual, there was certainly opposition.  In the
text of his boundary stelae, the king himself speaks of "bad things" he had heard in his
fourth and preceding regnal years, though without identifying the opposition by name; in
the highly damaged continuation of the text, he seems to be precluding future opposition.

Indicative is the military presence that we encounter already on the Theban TALATAT and
then later in the rock-cut tombs at Amarna.  Scurrying soldiers, predominantly a guard of
Asiatics and blacks, surround the king and prevent any resistance.

Indeed, Akhenaten was the only founder of a religion to have all the instruments of state
power at his disposal, and we should assume that he employed them ruthlessly to realize
his ideas.

Only underground opposition was possible, and "lamentations" gave expression to a wide-
spread sentiment among the common people and the former elite.

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« Reply #66 on: May 30, 2007, 05:05:47 pm »

AKHENATEN'S "PERESTROIKA"                                                             continued

It cannot be said how widespread approval of the new reorganization was, but
it probably was not crucial for the reformer's further course.

His next step brought a new royal titulary, from which were removed not only
the name of the hated Amun, but also references to his locales of Thebes and
Karnak; in his new NEBTY name, Karnak was replaced by the newly founded Re-
sidence of Akhetaten.


Akhenaten could keep his former throne name NEFERKHEPRURE, just as he remained
"the sole one of Re" (WAENRE), but he changed his personal name Amenophis into
the name by which the world today knows him, and which in Egyptian sounded some-
thing like AKHANYATI - "He who is useful to Aten," or perhaps "Radiance of Aten";
the rendering "Soul of Aten" is less suitable because AKH actually denotes only the
soul of a deceased person, while Akhenaten's formulation "I am your son who is use-
ful to you and elevates your name" speaks in favour of the meaning "to be useful".

The exact nuance of the name escapes us, and in this volume we employ the con-
ventional form Akhenaten, rather than the more accurate Akhanyati - the precise
vocalization of ancient Egyptian is problematic, since the hieroglyphic writing system
did not indicate the vowels.
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« Reply #67 on: May 30, 2007, 05:42:59 pm »

                      " T H E   B E A U T I F U L   C H I L D   O F   T H E   L I V I N G   A T E N "

The traditional titles of Pharaoh remained unaltered, but the king was often pleased to style himself
"The Beautiful Child Of The Living Aten"; representations of the king as a child were popular at this
time and also served as amulets, replacements for the proscribed divine amulets of prior times.  The
Aten, Akhenaten's god, did not change his own royal titulary until some years later.

The assumption of the new titulary coincided with the solemn foundation of a new Residence; both
occurred in the fifth regnal year.  Akhenaten finally decided no longer to adorn Thebes with temples
for his new god Aten, and he sought out a place where he would not be hampered by monuments
constructed in the traditional style or dedicated to the traditional  deities.  He found this place in a
remote locale in Middle Egypt, where he would not be obliged to destroy anything but could simply

In moving the Royal Residence, he could find a precedent in Amenemhet I, who inaugurated Dyna-
sty 12 in the 20th century BC and abandoned Thebes to found a new Residence just over 37 miles
south of Cairo, near the modern town of el-Lisht.  But this was done solely for political reasons, not
religious ones, whereas here the move was above all a religiously motivated HEGIRA on the part of
the religious reformer, one that did not take him to any of the old centers, but to this remote locale.

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« Reply #68 on: May 30, 2007, 09:10:23 pm »



Erik Hornung
Translated by David Lorton                                                                      continued

                                                    A   N E W   R E L I G I O N


Akhenaten left no holy scripture, so what he founded does not belong to the
religions of the book.  And a "Word of God" is altogether inconceivable in this
new religion, for the newly promulgated god remained silent.  The Aten himself                                                did not speak; rather, his preacher Akhenaten spoke about him.  We must thus
rely on evidence stemming from the inscriptions of the king and his officials.

The inscriptions frequently mention a "teaching" or "instruction" of Akhenaten's,
which he placed in the hearts of his subjects.  To be sure, the Egyptian word
used for it, SEBAYT, also designates the wisdom literature handed down in writ-
ing from as early as the late Old Kingdom, but in the Amarna Period it seems, in
fact, to be exclusively a matter of a teaching and instruction imparted orally by
the king; nowhere is there a trace of religious tractates.

For a monarch of the New Kingdom, it is astonishing how little Akhenaten has
left to us in writing; the boundary stelae of his new Residence with their two
different texts, the "Great Hymn to the Aten," which has been ascribed to him,
probably correctly, -  though it is recorded in the tomb of Aya - and a victory
stela in distant Nubia, which was undoubtedly erected in the king's name by his
viceroy there, are a few inscriptions from the beginning of his reign and further
hymns.  Thus, for written sources regarding Akhenate's religion, we can only con-
sult certain illuminating passages from the tomb inscriptions of his officials.

It speaks to the clarity and simplicity of this religion that such meager sources
nevertheless yield a general picture, allowing us to gain some familiarity with its
essential characteristics.  But there is also pictorial evidence: representations of
the god Aten and the royal family and lavish depictions of architecture and other
motifs in the tombs and palaces.

Akhenaten endeavoured to promulgate his teachings through menmonic images,
especially the sun disk with its rays, but also scenes of his family.  These motifs
were stipulated and obligatory, leaving the artists little latitude, but the abundan-
ce of new pictorial motifs must have aroused a feeling that anything could be ex-
ressed figuratively.  This continued to have an effect long after Akhenaten; an
unprecedented wealth of religious images was developed during the Ramesside
Period and later, in Dynasty 21.

New was the compulsory nature of the pictures and the divine names of the Amar-
na Period.  Previously, a considerable freedom prevailed in the designation of
deities with names and epithets in a cult scene; it was even a principle to seek a
lively variety, with as little repetition as possible.  There was also leeway in the
representation of deities and the constellations into which they were inserted. In-
deed, each divinity had a multiplicity of names, forms of manifestation and constella-
tions to be taken into account.  But now there was only ONE fixed name and ONE
fixed image of the Aten; all variation was excluded, and even his epithets were re-
duced to a few stereotypes.

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« Reply #69 on: May 30, 2007, 09:27:24 pm »

                                    G O D   A S   P H A R O A H

We have already indicated the rigor with which the royal status of the god was
now promulgated.  Aten ruled the world as king, he had a royal titulary and wore
the royal uraeus, and he even celebrated royal festival of renewal.  Just as offi-
cials often placed the name of their king on their statues, so now statues of the
royal couple bore the cartouches of their king and god.  And his univeral rule was
indicated pictorially by the many hands of the god, to which everything was access-
ible.  After earlier, tentative attempts to provide the sun disk with hands, the
perfected, brilliantly simple image of radiant Aten was developed in a single, bold
step.  But the decided, plastic bulge the disk often displays should not lead us to
interpret it as a solar orb.

The Aten was actually not the sun disk, but rather the LIGHT that is in the sun and
which, radiating from it, calls the world to life and keeps it alive.  Heinrich Brugsch
already emphasized that Aten was a god of light, and Jan Assmannhas managed a
fresh distillation of this view.  Indeed, from early times, the sun with its rays had ser-
ved in the writing system as a hieroglyph in writing words meaning "to shine" and the

In contrast to the rich mythic frameworks in which Egyptian deities had otherwise been
embedded, the Aten remained free of such connections and constellations.  In fact, it
was said of him only that he ever and again created the world and maintains it in life;
but there was no longer an interest in the original creation of the world - Aten, "who
built himself with his own hands,"creates the world continually.

The nightly journey through the netherworld and the defeat of Apopis, the enemy of the
sun, were now gone; there is even no mention of the barque of the god, the vehicle of
the sun's course.  In Egypt, with its innumerable waterways, all deities traveled by boat!
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« Reply #70 on: May 30, 2007, 09:30:17 pm »

                                P H A R A O H   A S   G O D

Aten (or Re-Harakhty) was the god of Akhenaten, but the personal god of the indi-
vidual was the king - as Assmann has put it, "He was the god who set out on pro-
cession, who performed signs and wonders, and who intervened in the destiny of the
individual, holding life and death in his hands."  The officials at Akhenaten's court cul-
tivated the topos of total dependence, in which themes from the "loyalist instructions"
of the Middle Kingdom were continued and expanded.  The king was appealed to as
the dispenser of all sustenance and the epithets of a creator god were heaped on
him; the mayor of the new capital conjured up the formula "Neferkheprure brings into
being" as a new name for himself.

This position vis-a-vis humankind was not simply the traditional role of a pharaoh; ra-
ther it had its origin in the status of Ahenaten as the beloved son of the Aten.  Pre-
viously Pharaoh had considered himself to be the "son of Re", thus stressing his divine

But Akhenaten was the son of his god in a much more personal manner, and in this lay
the seed of the failure of his teaching, for it stood and fell along with his own person.

For Egyptian theologians there also arose the question of the HOMOOUSIA of father and

In the eighth scene of the Book of Gates, a new description of the Netherworld that ori-
ginated in the Amarna Period (before and after Akhenaten), Atum expresses his total uni-
ty with Re with the formulation "I am the son who emerged from his father, I am the
father who emerged from his son", at the same time alluding, in context, to the father-son
relationship of Osiris and Horus.

While Aten was not just a national deity, but rather illuminated the entire world as the uni-
versal sun god, Akhenaten always remained pharaoh of Egypt and never became a prophet
for all humankind. 

On a purely superficial level,this is shown by his titulary.  Akhenaten was "lord of the Two
Lands", that is , Egypt, while the Aten was lord of the worldd, expressed concretely as
"Sky and Earth".

Personal piety at this time consisted exclusively in loyalty to the king, which meant to Akhe-
naten as a person; no other intermediary was conceivable.  We have already made the refe-
rence to the excessive appeals made by his officials; veritable hymns were sung to him, as
by Pabehsy:

"Praise to you, oh my god, who built me,
who determined good for me,
who made me come into being and gave me bread,
who cared for me with his KA!


I give praise to the height of the heavens,
I adore the lord of the Two Lands, Akhenaten:
god of fate, giver of life, lord of command,
light of every land,
on whose gaze one lives.
Nile of humankind,
on whose KA one is sated.
God who creates the great ones and builds
       the poor ones,
breath for every nose, by which one breathes!"

Akhenaten is constantly designated the Nile of Egypt, embodying the annual inunda-
tion and all the beneficence of nature and he is also called "mother who bears all, he
nourishes millions with his food," just as prior to Akhenaten, in the hymn of Suti and
Hor, the sun god Re was designated "mother of humans and deities," while he would
later often be called "mother and father."
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« Reply #71 on: May 31, 2007, 03:09:31 pm »

The Female Element:      N E F E R T I T I

Akhenaten and his god thus partly accounted for the female sphere, but the third party in
the alliance was Nefertiti, whose importance was already noted above.  This importance was
not of a political but of a purely religious nature and thus had a different stress than in the
case of Teye, Akhenaten's mother.

Nefertiti shared in the rulership without being formally a coregent.  She was Akhenaten's per-
sonal goddess, and she, along with him and the Aten, comprised a divine trinity, like those
which so often occur in the pantheon of the New Kingdom.

The constellation that shines through here is that of Atum, the single god at the beginning of
creation and the pair Shu and Tefenet who emerged from him.

This is quite clear at the beginning of the reign when, for exampe, some of the colossal statues
of Akhenaten wear the four -feathered crown of Shu.  Later, the indications became more re-
condite, as when the royal couple "elevate" the names of the Aten.

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« Reply #72 on: June 01, 2007, 10:04:31 pm »

What a marvelous thread you have made here, Bianca, excellent choice in pictures.

Akhenaton has long been a favorite of mine.  I believe he was divinely inspired and that he, too, found the message of the one true God, but that his people at the time, the Egyptians, weren't ready to hear it.

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(Psalms) 31:5,
"Into your hands I commit my spirit; redeem me, O LORD, the God of truth."
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« Reply #73 on: June 02, 2007, 08:19:20 am »

Hi, Faith:

It's really nice to "meet" you personally.  Thank you for the appreciative remarks.  I am
especially fond of Akhenaten myself.  I do think that he was ahead of his time.  Not only
were the Egyptians not ready for his "message", but I think he had been too imbued in
the "role" of Pharaoh that it caused HIM to lose the message.

Love and Peace,
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« Reply #74 on: June 02, 2007, 08:20:13 am »


February 12, 2001 - Cairo - Reuters

A tomb dating back to the reign of New Kingdom Pharaoh Amenhotep IV in the 14th century BC has been discovered in the Giza suburb of Sakkara, an antiquities official said on Sunday.

``This is a unique discovery because it is the first time we have uncovered a tomb in Sakkara from the reign of Akhenaton, who had his capital at Akhetaton (now called Tel al-Amarna) in Upper Egypt,'' Adel Hussein, director of Sakkara at the Supreme Antiquities Council, told Reuters.

The tomb once occupied by the high priest Meryneith, whose name means ``the beloved of Neith (goddess of war and hunting),'' was discovered by a Dutch-Egyptian archaeological mission on January 31 during excavation of New Kingdom tombs at Sakkara.

The excavation work, which is still under way, has so far uncovered two store rooms in the east of the tomb, three small chapels in the west, wall reliefs that include depictions of funeral rituals, five columns with hieroglyphic inscriptions and a burial chamber, Hussein noted.

``No mummies have yet been uncovered, but we have come across bones. There is a good chance we will find a mummy once excavation work on the burial chamber is complete,'' he added.

Hussein sees the discovery as an addition to our knowledge of the reign of Amenhotep IV and Sakkara, which was used as a site for pyramids and tombs from the first Pharaonic dynasties.

In his quest to unify Egypt in the worship of a single deity, Aton -- a form of the sun-god Ra --, the 18th dynasty ruler Amenhotep IV changed his name to Akhenaton, meaning ``it pleases Aton,'' and built a new capital in Amarna dedicated to Aton and called it ``Akhetaton'' (the Horizon of Aton).

Akhenaton, a religious hard-liner who provoked the wrath of the powerful Amun priesthood, among others, for his reforms, is said by some scholars to have been the world's first monotheist. He ruled from 1353-36 BC.

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