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Author Topic: THE GREAT ATEN  (Read 13586 times)
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Posts: 41646

« 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

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