Thursday, 3 December 2009

Akhenaten, heretic King of the 18th Dynasty.

Akhenaten, also known as Echnaton, Akhnaton and sometimes Ikhnaton was the son of King Amenhotep III and Queen Tiye. Akhenaten was born under the name Amenhotep IV, a name he kept until the 5th year of his 17 years long reign. (1353 BC – 1336 BC or 1351 BC – 1334 BC)
Akhenaten could become King of Egypt because his older brother Crown Prince Thutmose died during childhood.
During the fifth year of his reign he changed his name from Amenhotep IV to Akhenaten he also renamed his Queen Nefertiti to Nefer-Nefru-Aten meaning “Beautiful is the beauty of Aten”. The meaning of the name Akhenaten seems far from certain, here are a few possibilities: “One useful to Aten”, “Effective spirit of Aten” and “He who is of service to Aten”.
Also during the fifth year of his reign he started building the new capital Akhetaten, “The horizon of Aten” which was finished after probably four years. Akhenaten left Thebes to go and live in Akhetaten.
Akhenaten changed the traditional religion by placing Aten (the only true god) above all other gods. Aten was the sun-disk in ancient Egyptian religion. In the beginning the other gods were let to coexist along Aten but later on he put great effort in effectively erasing the names of the other gods with a special attention to the name Atom. Erasing names and destroying statues/pictures of people is a common thing to happen throughout the whole of ancient Egyptian history. “That what is erased will be unknown and will never have happened” they thought I guess….
Much of the art and buildings created during Akhenatens reign were destroyed after his death, the building blocks of his temples (Talatat) were later reused to create other buildings. The reconstruction of parts of Akhenatens temples and by this recreation of the art on the walls is something that struck me as being a very interesting thing and I am sure I will get back to this in a future post.

Nefertiti gave birth to six daughters: Meritaten, Meketaten, Ankhesenpaaten, Neferneferuaten Tasherit, Neferneferure and Setepenre.
Ankhesenpaaten later married Tutankhaten (Tutankhamun), who is believed to be a son of Akhenaten and his minor wife Queen Kiya. Another hypotheses is Tutankhamun being another son of Amenhotep III and Queen Tiye but later research ruled this out since Tiye would have been 50 years of age by the time Tutankhamun was born.
Enough has been left unspoken in this first post of my blog and things are far from complete but it is a start, a start of my journey through ancient Egyptian history. I will unpack my bags at Akhetaten planning on staying in the Amarna region for a while. So much to see and explore, I hardly know where to begin……..


  1. In a way Akhenaten's enemies were successful: Science knows little about him. This is actually stuff for a movie. A beautiful wife - Nefertiti. A break with traditions and the priests of a long established religion. He was also a reformer, though many claim he neglected international affairs in favor of his internal reform process.

    I also wonder if he really died a natural death (there is no evidence of turmoil or a violent death though), with his Aten-belief losing power and his son Tutankhaten turning into Tutankhamun. It is also interesting that his statues have this "alien" appearance, different from that of other Pharaohs. But I think people interpret a bit too much into that, I would not wonder if a strong reformer like him would not also create his very own style.

    Maybe you should go a bit sideways and check what other rulers, cultures and all that existed at the time of his regency.

  2. If there was one thing Egyptians were good at, it must have been erasing names and/or images of people that fell out of favour. Erase them so they have never existed was a common way of thinking.
    This is one of the reasons we are not sure of who was Tutankhamun's mother. Nefertiti cant be his mother because she only gave birth to daughters and Queen Tiye was too old by that time to be his mother. Otto Neubert suggested Tutankhamun's mother was a woman of low standards and got erased by Nefertiti later on.....
    Building blocks of the city Akhetaten (Talatat), now known as El Amarna, were re-used to build other temples etc. The Akhenaten Temple project is trying to rebuild parts of it.
    Some say Akhenaten had somekind of sickness that gave him a rather female appearance. ( if you are interested but there is more to find on this subject)
    Another reason for his different appearance could be the temporaly chance in the way artists portraited people with more detail....all of the sudden feet had toes for instance.

    Interesting thought to go a bit sideways and check some other rulers of those days out.....who knows what I will find...

    Thnx for your reaction, thoughts and tip....they are most welcome.

  3. On Thursday I saw a goth guy who really had a thin and incredibly long face. I assume he was not an alien, a striking head is nothing impossible. Pharaos made ample use of cosmetics, so no wonder they improved and reinforced such special features. I once named a rooster of this species Echnaton, the German version Akhenaten. He did not have a longish face, but a rather long beak. :>

  4. Hi, i'm Egittophilia on twitter... would u mind to add me in your list? I'm a great follower of Akhenaton and his life and case...