Akhenaten: mad, bad, or brilliant? - Telegraph
Born Amunhotep (IV), Akhenaten ruled Egypt for a mere fourteen years (ca. be found in museums around the world and are a regular item sold on the black market. . Not only do we have many depictions of the beautiful Nefertiti, Akhenaten's .. doesn't constitute a compelling case from any Amarna-Israelite connection. displays an undeniable relationship between apparent that Akhenaten and Nefertiti are to .. the Bust of Nefertiti serve in a global market. Marriage to this ambitious widower was more tolerable because of Nefertiti: the child No one would recognize this creature of the market as a hieratic being, the . Tiy sensed that Nefertiti liked her strange son, the younger prince Akhenaten.
One theory is that Akhenaten sensing the approach of death—but how? 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 successor.
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! So, like any social-climbing secondary 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. Like many ingenious solutions—and this age does seem to attract them—it didn't work.
- Akhenaten: mad, bad, or brilliant?
For whatever reason, Nefertiti couldn't cut it as "king," not that there hadn't been woman kings in Egypt who had taken male guise before. Hatshepsut, for instance, had portrayed herself with masculine attributes in more than one work of art see above, Section 9.
She had maintained herself on the throne with the support of the army, but perhaps the army in this day was willing to back an effeminate male but not a masculinized 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 nor have any of his burial goods been found.
There is simply no further mention of him at all in Egyptian history. Though it's pure speculation, it's hard to believe Smenkhare wasn't assassinated by someone. 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 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.
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 as "King Tut. Fairly early in his reign, he was persuaded to change his name and, doing exactly the opposite of Akhenaten when he assumed power, took the aten out and put "Amun" in.
With that alone, the resurgence of the Amun cult is all too apparent. At some point around this time, the royal court left Akhetaten and returned to Thebes, no doubt, into the warm embrace of the reigning priesthood much relieved to have their livelihood back on line.
Their gratitude, in fact, would help explain the relative grandeur of Tutankhamun's burial. Only nineteen years old when he died, Tutankhamun's failure to leave behind a male successor is hardly surprising and paved the way for a new dynasty and a world view far different from Akhenaten's.
So, the Amarna Period ends 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 of Tutankhamun's tomb and its splendors. The magnificence of this hastily assembled burial is astounding, especially when one thinks 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 Egyptian history that recalls or even reflects this brilliant, odd moment in the evolution of its religion. Outside of Egypt, well, that's another matter. Akhenaten and Hebrew Monotheism In today's world, the pre-eminent issue surrounding Akhenaten is whether or not his religion did—or even could have!
The answer to that question depends on two main factors. How alike are Hebrew and Egyptian monotheism? And is there any way in which the Hebrews could realistically have had significant contact with atenism, enough to borrow elements from it or, if not, even just have been influenced by it?
To answer the first question, Hebrew monotheism differs in several significant ways from Akhenaten's religion. While the aten is an omnipotent, stand-alone 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 not.
The God of Israel acts through all sorts of different media: 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 universal, he speaks of it more like it's a pharaoh at the center of some cosmic court full of fawning, powerless minions—that is, it looks 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? Any such idea presumes, of course, that Hebrews existed in some form during Akhenaten's reign—later pharaohs' eradication of all records pertaining to Akhenaten's religion and regime makes later cultural borrowing highly unlikely—and many scholars would say flatly 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 theological notions do not require a political state for their existence. Wandering patriarchs, as attested in the Bible during this age, could easily have borrowed the concept of monotheism from Egypt. But there's no evidence Egyptian monotheism spread beyond the borders of its native land, so if Hebrews borrowed this idea from Amarna culture, they would have to have been living in Egypt around the time of Akhenaten's reign.
That, too, seems unlikely, except that biblical sources say they were. 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 when 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 the great majority of scholars today 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. All you need is one average Joe, or Joseph. So, it's possible to weave together from the historical data a scenario in which the idea of monotheism 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 the Bible says the Hebrews were in Egypt.
The city of Goshen in which scripture claims they lived as captives is probably synonymous with an Egyptian settlement in the Nile delta called Pi-Ramesse "the City of Ramses". 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? With that, the evidence seems to weigh heavily against the argument that the Hebrews came into contact with the aten and from that caught the monotheism bug, or even heard about the belief in only one god.
With no obvious channels of communication on either side, it's improbable Akhenaten's revolution could in any way have influenced or even been the inspiration for Hebrew one-god thinking. Think about how many of the world's great inventions have cropped up independently in different 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. Thus, proximity in time or space alone is merely circumstantial evidence and doesn't constitute a compelling case from any Amarna-Israelite connection.
It's perfectly possible some ancient Hebrew came up with the idea of monotheism all on his own. After all, all he had to say was "Hmmm, I wonder if there's just one god? And then you open the Bible to Psalmthe 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: Who layeth the beams of his chambers in the waters.
He causeth the grass to grow for the cattle, and. The high hills are a refuge for the wild goats. As the sun ariseth, the beasts gather themselves together. There go the ships: Among the remains of Amarna culture was found a Hymn to the Aten, purportedly written by Akhenaten himself.
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.
Allen The similarity is fairly astounding. Comparing these passages, who could argue against some form of cultural exchange moving from Egypt to Israel—and, given the chronology, one must suppose the sharing took place in that direction—how can we avoid the conclusion that the ancient Hebrew who wrote Psalm 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? Mainly in ink, but the lips were cut out. The Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology, London There are many theories regarding Nefertiti's death and burial but, to date, the mummy of this famous queen, her parents, and her children have not been found or formally identified.
More evidence to support this identification was that the mummy's teeth look like that of a to year-old, Nefertiti's most likely age of death. Also, unfinished busts of Nefertiti appear to resemble the mummy's face, though other suggestions included Ankhesenamun. Due to recent age tests on the mummy's teeth, it eventually became apparent that the 'Elder Lady' is in fact Queen Tiyemother of Akhenaten and that the DNA of the mummy is a close, if not direct, match to the lock of hair found in Tutankhamun's tomb.
The lock of hair was found in a coffinette bearing an inscription naming Queen Tiye. To the north [there] appears to be signaled a continuation of tomb KV62and within these uncharted depths an earlier royal interment — that of Nefertiti herself. Fletcher suggested that Nefertiti was the Pharaoh Smenkhkare.
Some Egyptologists hold to this view though the majority believe Smenkhkare to have been a separate person. Fletcher led an expedition funded by the Discovery Channel to examine what they believed to have been Nefertiti's mummy. Mummification techniques, such as the use of embalming fluid and the presence of an intact brainsuggested an eighteenth-dynasty royal mummy.
Other elements which the team used to support their theory were the age of the body, the presence of embedded nefer beads, and a wig of a rare style worn by Nefertiti. They further claimed that the mummy's arm was originally bent in the position reserved for pharaohs, but was later snapped off and replaced with another arm in a normal position.
Most Egyptologists, among them Kent Weeks and Peter Lacovaragenerally dismiss Fletcher's claims as unsubstantiated. They say that ancient mummies are almost impossible to identify as a particular person without DNA. As bodies of Nefertiti's parents or children have never been identified, her conclusive identification is impossible.
Any circumstantial evidence, such as hairstyle and arm position, is not reliable enough to pinpoint a single, specific historical person. The cause of damage to the mummy can only be speculated upon, and the alleged revenge is an unsubstantiated theory. Bent arms, contrary to Fletcher's claims, were not reserved to pharaohs; this was also used for other members of the royal family.
The wig found near the mummy is of unknown origin, and cannot be conclusively linked to that specific body.
Nefertiti - Wikipedia
Finally, the 18th dynasty was one of the largest and most prosperous dynasties of ancient Egypt. A female royal mummy could be any of a hundred royal wives or daughters from the 18th dynasty's more than years on the throne.
In addition to that, there was controversy about both the age and sex of the mummy. On June 12,Egyptian archaeologist Dr. Zahi Hawasshead of Egypt's Supreme Council for Antiquitiesalso dismissed the claim, citing insufficient evidence. On August 30,Reuters further quoted Hawass: Fragments of shattered bone were found in the sinus, and blood clots were found.
The theory that the damage was inflicted post-mummification was rejected, and a murder scenario was deemed more likely. The broken-off bent forearm found near the mummy, which had been proposed to have belonged to it, was conclusively shown not to actually belong to the Younger Lady.
Scholars think that, after Tutankhamun returned Egypt to the traditional religion, he moved his closest relatives — father, grandmother, and biological mother — to the Valley of the Kings to be buried with him according to the list of figurines and drawings in his tomb. The Hittite ruler receives a letter from the Egyptian queen, while being in siege on Karkemish.
There perhaps is some ritual meaning, or is the Pharaoh having tea? In the stately temple at Akhetaten, made beautiful by sculptor and painter, and strewn daily with bright and perfumed flowers, Akhenaten continued to adore Aten with all the abandon and sustaining faith of a cloistered medieval monk.
No sacrifices were offered up in his temple, the flowers and fruits of the earth were laid on the altars. Hard things are often said about Akhenaten.
Pharaoh Akhenaten and Queen Nefertiti
Dark stories spread about his personal life. We must recognize that he was a profoundly serious man with a great mission, a high-souled prophet if an impractical Pharaoh. While the empire suffered some small losses during his rule, Akhenaten did not neglect his kingly duties to the extent that has often been portrayed. Yet, he believed he had higher responsibilities. He stood for culture and universal brotherhood, and his message to mankind is a vital thing which survives to us from Egypt, amidst the relics of the past.
Akhenaten believed in the "one and only god", Aten, whose power was manifested in the beneficent Sun. The great deity was Father of all mankind, provided for their needs and fixed the length of their days. Aten was revealed in beauty, and his worshipers were required to live beautiful lives--the cultured mind abhorred all that was evil, and sought after "the things which are most excellent". Akhenaten promoted the idea of universal brotherhood, and dreamed and strived for a beautiful world pervaded by universal peace.
Although Aten was a Sun god, he was not the material Sun - he was the First Cause manifested by the Sun, "from which all things came, and from which ever issued forth the life-giving and life-sustaining influence symbolized by rays ending in hands that support and nourish human beings".
How much Akhenaten understood we cannot say, but he had certainly bounded forward in his views and symbolism to a position which we cannot logically improve upon at the present day. No rag of superstition or of falsity can be found clinging to this new worship evolved out of the old Aton of Heliopolis, the sole lord or Adon of the Universe". Aten is the solar disk and Shu is the air god, the source of "the air of life". Shu is also associated with the Sun. Shu as the atmosphere is manifested by lightning and fire as well as by tempest.
Shu is thus not only "air which is in the Sun", but also, according to Akhenaton's religion, "heat which is in Aten". The development of Aten religion may have been advanced by Yuaa, Queen Tiy's father Akhenaten's grandfatherduring the reign of Amenhotep III, when it appears to have been introduced in Thebian Court circles, but it reached its ultimate splendour as a result of the philosophical teachings of the young genius Akhenaten.
Royal couple from Amarna.
Photograph by Andreas Praefcke, CreativeCommons When Akhenaten and his queen Nefertiti were depicted worshiping Aten, the rays which stretched out from the sun and ended in hands not only supported their bodies but pressed towards their nostrils and lips the "ankh", the symbol of life. The air of life was the Sun-heated air; life was warmth and breath.
Why the "ankh" touched the lips is clearly indicated in the great hymn. When the child is born, Aten: The marked difference between the various Egyptian and mideastern gods and the god of Akhenaten is that Aten was not the chief of a pantheon of gods, he was the one and only god. Several in the family have somewhat long heads, the trait became an artistic convention in Amarna. There is no known connection to the cone-headed skulls found in Peru. Photograph by Miguel Cuesta, CreativeCommons.
Akhenaten's hymn to Aten The chief source of our knowledge of Akhenaten's religion is his great hymn, one of the finest surviving versions was found in the tomb of a royal official at el-Amarna. Akhenaton's hymn to Aten is believed to have been his own composition. Its beauty is indicated in the following extracts from Prof. When thou risest in the eastern horizon of heaven, Thou fillest every land with thy beauty. When thou settest in the western horizon of heaven, The world is in darkness like the dead.
Bright is the earth when thou risest in the horizon, When thou shinest as Aten by day.
Akhenaten and Nefertiti
The darkness is banished, when thou sendest forth thy rays. How manifold are all thy works, They are hidden from before us, O thou sole god, whose powers no other possesseth, Thou didst create the earth according to thy desire While thou wast alone.
The world is in thy hand, Even as thou hast made them. When thou hast risen, they live. When thou settest, they die. For thou art duration, beyond thy mere limbs.