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Akhenaten

Amenhotep IV/Akhenaten 1350-1334
Profile of the Pharaoh Akhenaten
Married to the fabled beauty, Nefertiti, this son of Amenhotep III, soon his inconvenienced by the demands of the powerful priests of Amun. At first, he and Nefertiti, under the guidance of Vizier Ay and the his mother, the Great Queen Tiye, attempted to appease the priesthood. But, when Amenhotep IV, became enthralled by the god, the Aten and the priests only became more restive, more hostile.

In an attempt to distance himself from the priests, he moved capital to al-Amarna, where he built a new city, with new temples to honor the Aten. After years of political infighting, the pharaoh lashed out. He forbade worship of any god but Aten. Toward the end of his reign, he is believed to have moved even closer to his concept of one god, leaning across his belief that the Aten, symbol of the force of the sun, to asserting that the there was one supreme power in all of the cosmos, that could not be know, could not be seen, except through the magnifent force of divinity.

Finally, in frustration with established religion's resistance, he renamed himself, to honor the one god, becoming Akhenaten. He encouraged a new, freer artistic style for the sculptors and painters--His artists went from creating modest formulaic pieces to life-like, then collosal, highly stylized works of art.

While Akehenaten and Nefertiti pursued their art and religion, his mother, Queen Tiye, kept up the daunting diplomatic duties. It is through the correspondence, called The Amarna Letters, to and from the vassal states and the nomarchs of Egypt, that we know of the political unrest that was erroding the power and influence of the empire.
Pharaoh Akhenaten Praising the Aten
With his devoted focus on the god, the Aten, Akhenaten allowed the empire to deteriorate. The priests of Amun were furious with the pharaoh, for banning the worship of Amun. There is speculation that some or all of his advisors, including Vizier Ay and General Horemheb, considered his policies dangerous and, in some manner, acted upon those beliefs. Sensing the grwoing tensions, Akhenaten appointed his brother Smenkhare as co-
regent.
Pharaoh Akhenaten & Queen Nerfertiti
Akhenaten/Smenkhare 1330-1334

The co-regency did not appease the priesthood, nor resolve external political problems.
Queen Nefertiti
All references to Queen Nefertiti disappears. The mummies of Akhenaten, Smenkhare and Nefertiti have never been found. The name of Akhenaten had been destroyed, wiped out of the list of kings.
Painted tile from Tel Al Amarna. Berman/LAT

Continue to Tutankhamun

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Kings List A to Z

Hymn to the Aten

There are far too many titles dedicated to Akhenaten and the Amarna period, but here are a couple. For the truly interested and intrigued by the political intrigues of the time, order the Amarna Letters series from KMT.
KMT

 
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