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Amenhotep Iv

During the time of the New Kingdom of Egypt, peace reigned throughout the nation. Egypt’s enemies the Hyksos had been removed from rule and Egypt prospered. In fact she become an empire. By the time Amenhotop III sat on the throne Egypt was a land of wealth. Amenhotop was considered to be an equal or better Among other rulers throughout the area. Other rulers from neighboring lands refer to him as brother.
Life in the royal house was grand. He built a huge palace in Thebes which, included a lake built expressly for his wife, Tiye. He also built many temples in the city of Thebes. One such temple was built to Amen. This temple was decorated with gold and silver, precious stones, and many royal statues in granite. He also built a huge temple to Mut, Amen’s consort, with 600 statues of the line headed goddess, Sekhent. But most impressive was the temple he built for himself in Lexor. This temple shows the amount of wealth that royal house of Egypt had. It contained 2.5 tons of gold, 215 lbs. of turquoise, 3 tons of electrum, 1.5 tons of bronze and 524 lbs. of copper. There at that temple he built two large statues or colossi at the temple entrance.
Not only was the royal house rich but there was also a sense of style throughout the palace. He set the standard for beauty and art. He showed discriminating taste by using his money to patronize many craftsmen. The many paintings and statues of this time show that the artists and craftsmen had great confidence in their ability to paint, sculpt, create jewelry and build. This confidence of course came from the king’s desire for beautiful art. Paintings depict Amenhotop as a skilled warrior and hunter, even though Egypt was at piece and he did not have to lead army’s into battle. This was considered the traditional role of the Pharaoh.
Also during this time music became more elaborate. The lyre was being used after being brought from Asia. And the harp now contained 20 strings. Add to this the lute and double pipes and a full orchestra is now created.
There is much trade with Nubia, Asia, Babylonia, and. Mitanni In fact so much gold was being taken out of Nubia that the king could afford to give it as gifts to his brother rulers, such as the king of Babylon, Kallimma-Sin. It was considered an honor for the sister or daughter of a neighboring King to marry the king of Egypt and enter his royal house. These marriages, along with the trade and gifts of gold, helped Egypt stay at peace with its neighbors. There’s no doubt that Egypt with this large wealth and army was a force to be reckoned with in the area. And none of Egypt’s neighbors had the will to threaten Egypt’s power.
During this time Egyptians worshiped many gods. The most beloved god was Re, the son god. Egyptian religion revolved around the stable order of things. Yet this was a most adaptable religion. A god’s importance was determined by the importance of the city is people worshiped him. Each village and city had its own major god. but depending upon the whims, desires and needs of the people these gods could take on the attributes of other gods, or be combined with other gods to form a more powerful god. Horus, the god of rulers, for example and many combinations or forms. When Thebes became the capital of Egypt it’s god Amen became important and was combined with the sun god Re to become Amen-Re. And he was now considered King of gods. Amen-Re was considered responsible for aiding the Kings armies in forcing out the Hyskos. This made the god very popular with people as well as being a powerful state god. Even though he was a powerful god other gods still abounded and were worshiped. Orisis the goddess of death was one such popular goddess.

The name Amen means hidden. He was viewed as an unseen god. The god of air. One of the eight gods a pre creation. Because he was the hidden god his shrine was in the deepest, darkest most inner part of the temple. Only to be approached by certain priests using the proper rituals. Even in public parade is mobile shrine was covered.
Amen is now seen as somewhat of a universal god. God of the air who is everywhere and is unlimited.
Amen was represented in human form sometimes with ram’s head or as a ram. His face was often painted blue to show that he was invisible.
When Thebes became the capital of Egypt the priests of Amen seized the moment to enhance their own fortunes. They claimed that their God was more than just another form of the sun god. They claimed that Amen had been worshiped at Heliopolis in north Egypt under the names of Re ,Khepera, Temu and Heru-khuti and that the attributes of these gods were contained in the god Amen. His priests insisted that their God was equal with the other great gods of other ancient cities such as Memphis and Heliopolis. This enabled them to finally add the name of Re to Amen’s and create the all powerful god Amen-Re. He was now seen as an invincible, invisible creative power which was the source of life for all heaven and earth. The priest declared that there was no other god like him, and that he was the greatest of all.
This enhanced the power base for the priesthood of Amen. Because of the hidden nature of Amen, only priests were allowed to perform rituals and daily functions of the hidden god. This of course created image that the priests were men above men. Almost godlike. As we have discussed before Amen was becoming a powerful god that the kings needed to pay respect to. Large temples were built to Amen, and much gold and wealth was given to these temples by the king. So now we see the priesthood as a powerful and wealthy class of men were the sole audience of a powerful god. This makes the priesthood a powerful organization. And the High Priest of Amen was most powerful of all. He obtained the rank of Vizier which was a chief administrator, and minister of war rolled into one. The priesthood under the rule of the Head Priest became a powerful professional priesthood with a hierarchy of priests from the Head priest down to the local temple priest. These offices were handed down from father to son and a family’s trade would be considered to be the priesthood for many generations. So by the time of Amenhotep III this powerful and rich noble class has become entrenched in Egypt’s society and politics. And they are guarding their position most causally.

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Even though the worship of the god Amen-Re was a most powerful state religion evidence shown that Amenhotop III may of worshiped the god Aten also. We begin to see traces Aten showing up during the reign of Amenhotop III. There may have been a thought of opposing the mighty priests of Amen and to lean towards the worship of Aten at the palace, with the queen and mother Tiye at the fore front of the movement.
Amenhotop III built a large palace home for him and his wife, Tiye, in Thebes. On the large palace grounds he built a small lake. Amenhotop III and Tiye sail on this lake on a boat which had the name Aten Gleams. Also during his reign Amenhotep’s III Vizier was both the high priest of Amen and Stewart and the temple Aten. There’s also evidence that the king made a built shrine in Karnak to the god Aten. So it can be concluded that either the to gods existed in the royal house side-by-side or that maybe Amenhotep III was starting to develop a relationship with Aten.
Because of the plentiful and peaceful times life in the royal palace with a happy time. Amenhotep III married a woman named Tiye. It has been rumored that Tiye had been a woman of foreign birth or a commoner these family held no titles. But evidence has shown their parents or indeed Egyptians. They may even have been in position to be close to the king and self. She was more than just the wife of the king. See is a strong woman who was often seen in public with her husband. And her pictures often appear to be the same size as her husband’s thereby indicating the equality. A position the government recognized by foreign dignitaries. It noted that some authors believe that in the later years of AII reign he was sick and weak and Tiye in reality took over as the real ruler of Egypt. The king and queen had six children, two boys and four girls. The second son was Amenhotep IV.
During the period of Amenhotep III reign we see the king as a more ordinary and down-to-earth person. As we have seen the Queen shares almost equal billing with the king. The royal house’s affairs and a more public. this will be opposed to the traditional style of earlier traditional kings. He would change in the landscape of Thebes with the many temple he built.

Amenhotep IV thus grew up in a world of wealth, style, elegance and art. As the second son of Amenhotep III it would not expected for him to grow up to became king. But the first son, Tuthmose, died and the role of successor was thrust upon Amenhotep IV. He is not seen on monument’s during his father’s reign. This may be because of what was considered to be the gross appearance of the young man. Amenhotep IV had large fleshy lips, large and thin ears, a pot belly, large hips and thighs, a prominent jaw, long skinny neck and skinny legs. He tended to be quiet and thoughtful. He had a like of nature and spent time walking in the palace gardens, taking delight in the birds, animals and flowers.
Because of these features it is believed that he may have had some systematic disease which kept him from being athletic and therefore that what intellectual lifestyle, and did not partake of the hunts to which is father enjoyed so much. It can be assumed then that Amenhotep IV spent more time with the sisters and mother who must have influenced his early thought process.

A question that is often discussed with reference to Amenhotep IV’s relation to his father is to whether they ruled co-regents of Egypt. Did Amenhotep IV come to the throne only after his father’s death or did he act as co-regent with his father before his father’s death? Scholars feel that Amenhotep III lived well into the time of the reign of Amenhotep IV. It is argued that the 28th and 30th year of Amenhotep III reign was the 6th year of AMENHOTEP IV reign. A stela in the house of Pinhasy found by the historian, Griffith, shows AMENHOTEP III and Tiye sitting together under the rays of Aten, whose name is seen in the form as it appeared in the 9th year of AMENHOTEP IV reign. Also another historian ,Fairman ,claims that relief’s of tunes of Armana are inscribed with Amenhotep III name along with the name of Aten. Again the name of the Aten is written in his latter form. and that this is evidence that AMENHOTEP III lived during the period of Amenhotep IV reign. Noted historian Redford claims that Amenhotep IV is just paying homage to his father. It has been discovered that the tomb of Ramoes , Amenhotep’s III Vizier, mentions Si-Mut. Si-Mut was the 4th profit of Amenhotep III. Along with these inscriptions are references to Aten and AMENHOTEP IV and his queen. This suggests that Amenhotep III is still reigning at the time of the early reign of AMENHOTEP IV.
As stated above AMENHOTEP IV mother, Tyie, was a strong and powerful woman in her own right. There are also indications that she is a greater influence on Amenhotep IV and may have even been co-ruler with him. Or at least was a close adviser. There’s evidence that perhaps his mother, Tiye, and his wife, Neffertti, may have joined with Amenhotep IV to form a triumphant. And that they may gain control over parts of running the government. They appeared together with him many times in public almost as an equal to Amenhotep IV himself. We do know that his mother definitely had influence over his decisions. We can determine this from a letter written by Tushratta to Tiye during the first few years of Amenhotep IV reign. The letter asks Tiye to intervene and to help create good relations with Amenhotep IV and himself. We can assume that Tiye is in a position to least influence or give counsel to Amenhotep IV .
So we see a young man who was not physically strong, and in fact may have been sick. And because of the physical condition did not spend much time with his father on hunting expeditions, but instead stayed home surrounded by sisters and a mother who would seem a greater influence upon him. What sort of man is this Amenhotep IV, who comes to the throne of Egypt? As we’ve seen he does not have what is considered to be a normal appearance, by traditional standards of that time. Because of its features is believed he may have had some sort of systematic disease which kept him from being athletic. and therefore inclined to intellectual persuits. It is been speculated that he may have had Froelich’s syndrome. This disease however would mAkhenatene it impossible for Amenhotep IV to have children. And since the king appears many times with his wife and children Froelich’s syndrome seems to be ruled out. It’s been suggested, then the he may yet had Marfan’s syndrome. This may be a more likely possibility since Marfan’s syndrome does not affect fertility.
Here we have a young man who sees to been raised by Mother of strong influence and who still may have influenced over him as king. A man who enjoys intellectual pleasures over traditional manly pleasures such as hunting. A young man who may not be strong and sure of himself as ruler. Yet there are those around him, priests of Amen, who are strong politically and financially and wish to stay that way. No matter who is in power. Will this situation have an affect on the reign of Akhenaten?
His first few years show no great revolutionary intentions. He makes his sister Nefertity his queen.
Like his mother, his queen is a strong and influential woman. She appears almost trice as many times as her husband in the talatats. And she is seen holding a sword or club. We will discuss the role of Akhenaten and his family life later. He continues to worship the god Amen. In fact the name of the god is mentioned along side that of AMENHOTEP IV and many of his officials. And a high priest of Amen is still in favor in the early years of his reign . But by the third year of his reign we see a shift in attitude. AMENHOTEP IV decided to hold a jubilee. This was highly untraditional, since the jubilee was normally held to celebrate 30 years or more of rule. Scholars speculate that the jubilee may not have been for Amenhotep IV himself and maybe for the king and Aten as co-rulers. During the jubilee there was a procession of the gods. This procession however was unusual because the normally closed shrine of the gods are now open and without roofs so that the god Aten can shine his life giving rays down upon them. This can be seen as the start of the revolutionary path that Amenhotep IV would travel.
He began his worship of Aten by building a temple in Thebes. The temple was built on the east side of the temple Amen so that it would cast the first rays of the sun each morning, even before the temple of Amen did. We can see by this decision to place the temple in a better place than that of Amen that Amenhotep IV is placing Aten ahead of Amen. He must have wanted the temple to be built quickly because he ordered the built using smaller blocks of stone called talat at, which made for faster construction. Because Aten is the sun disk god, the temple was open and without a roof so that the rays of Aten could shine down upon it. It is noted that no other building projects took place to the east of the temple.
By the 5th year of his reign Amenhotep IV has made Aten his personal god. He also changed his name to Akhenaten, which means “He who serves Aten”. This name change and the making of Aten his own personal god is now seen as a reflection of the change in the state policy. Akhenaten now decides that a temple is not enough. This desire to create something bigger and better for his new god, along with other factors that we will mention later move Akhenaten to build a new capital. That new capital city dedicated to Aten is to be built in El-Armarna to be named Akhenatenehet-Aten, which means “The place of the effective glory of Aten”. This new capital city was built with many courtyards and had the feeling of being open to the air so that the sun disk could be worshiped in all its glory. It was well planned and ordered. The royal palace was built in the north of the city. It was a large complex of many types of buildings and offices. There was a ceremonial palace which led to a large residential area. This then lead to the official section which held the main temple of Aten and a large ceremonial palace which served as a place for public’s ceremonial activities of the king took place. This was surrounded by the office of the government and the police headquarters. There was a smaller temple the was surrounded by a fortified wall which led to the small official city in which the high officials lived. The residents who lived there included the chief of police , the vizier, high priest, the mayor and other high officials of the city and government. He swore an oath never to go beyond the bounds of the city. This is today taken not to mean that he would never leave it, but that he wouldn’t push the bounds of the city beyond designated boundary stones. Or that when he died that he would be buried here.
The questions we should ask now is who is this god Aten? Why did Akhenaten decide to make him the one all powerful god, and build another capital city to move to?
Aten appears to ever presented both the sun god in the solar disk itself. Aten first appears in the Middle Kingdoms as a small form of the sun god. He is related to the bull of Hehopetis. Most often Aten is represented as the round disk of the sun. The light and warmth from him was the source of all life. Unlike other gods he had no animal or human form. Because he is the sun disk ,and his rays give life, his temples were not covered and were open. There’s a strong relationship between Aten and Ma-at, which is truth. The idea of truth here can be seen as what is natural, or from nature. This ideal for truth in nature makes sense due to the fact that the life giving rays of the sun disk are an essential part of nature. Therefore it was said that relationship of Aten and Ma-at was that Aten was living in truth. Aten officially becomes, ”One who is satisfied with Ma-At”.
As we’ve seen Aten was the god of no great consequence during the first part of the New Kingdom. But now to what seems to be a sudden move the king of Egypt changes his name and the location of the capital city of Egypt, all to worship this little-known god. Here’s a man who rules all of Egypt. The greatest empire of the time. But was he indeed the ruler? When he took over as king as a young boy of 10 or 11 in 1375 B.C.80 there are factions that held great power and wanted to keep control of that power. Those who ran the administration, especially in the upper echelons, welded great power. These positions and government posts have been held by families for years, handed down from son the son. These families were nobles who generated great wealth. We can imagine that those families that were entrenched in the decision making process of the government felt that they were the true authority of the government. Noted historian Donald Redford claims that the young king, due to being sheltered and ignored as a youth, did not know these families. And because of a lack of confidence did not trust the people around him and preferred to replace them with his own people whom he trusted. Add the this the wealthy and powerful priesthood of Amen. For generations families have gained power and wealth by serving a different posts for the god of Amen. May we even consider the idea that there was a good working relationship between the priesthood in the people which held office in the government? And let us not forget the great influence of his mother how seems to already know the practice of the worship of Aten. A mother who has raised him and taught him. A queen mother that could give him advice and had a good bit of influence over him. The one of a few that he could really trust.

The army is often seen protecting the king. And there are rumors of discontent , probably Among the priests and nobles. In Akhenaten’s mind there are untrustworthy and enemy people among those who are supposed to serve him. So the best move is a real move. To the new city of his new god and a place where he can start fresh with the new regime that he has put in place. A the new city where he is surrounded by those who he can trust. He brought those new nobles with him. They were new or lesser nobles who followed him to the new capital either because they believed in their new king and Aten, or because they knew which side their bread was buttered on. These nobles now seek favor by showing faith in Aten.

He is now safely tucked away in his new capital surrounded by his army and faithful followers. Taking advice from the few people he can trust, his wife, mother and priest, Aye. Historians believe that Aye was the brother of Tiye and a right hand man of the king, who had great influence over him. Akhenaten can now begin to destroy his enemies whether real or imaginary. This means whipping out the priesthood of Amen, the nobles who support them and all the other priesthood’s that might grow strong. And the best way to destroy the priesthood is to destroy the gods that the priests worship. And thus he proceeds to wipe out the other gods of Egypt, and especially Amen. His desire is to make Aten the only god of Egypt. He sent his soldiers and henchmen to the temples of Amen and other gods to destroy them. He had the term “gods” erased in writings. In fact the very word for “gods” was forbidden. If there are not many “gods” there must be only one god. The word “Mother” associated with the goddess Mut, of Thebes. Mut was represented by the hieroglyph of a vulture. AKHENATEN had the vulture removed in texts and language and replace with the alphabet signs for mother. He even eliminated the god Osiris the beloved god that helped those who where traveling to the underworld. Funeral rites now excluded Osiris and began the tradition of Akhenaten being the source of blessings after death.
The story of Osirsis tells of ones judgement of good vs. evil in the travel to the afterlife in the underworld. Can this is seen by some as indicating that Akhenaten was not interested in the ethics of religion? Akhenaten’s view of faith tends to deal with what is fresh and new. Ideas revolved around a more intellectual view of the natural world. Life is not looked at in the context of what is good or bad but what is new or old. And indeed we see in the art of the time, which will me discussed later, that nature and not ethics tends to be a main theme during Akhenaten rule.

Aten is now the sole god of Egypt. At least in the king’s mind. But Aten is Akhenaten’s personal god. Only the king can speak to Aten. Only the royal family were real trained worshipers of Aten. All others must worship the king as a king-god, who alone knows and understands Aten. Akhenaten has destroyed the other Amen. Eliminated or greatly weakened the priesthood of other gods and surrounded himself with like thinking yes men. He is living safe and secure in his own world of his own creation. Life is good.As Mel Brooks would say, ”It’s good to be king.”
Other changes take place during this period along with the religious changes. Changes that mark this period as revolutionary. A new art form began to develop. It was inventive and exciting. It began to portray different types of scenes. It showed more domestic pictures. Pictures of Akhenaten kissing his wife, in ceremony, or at the dinner table with his family. One mural of Akhenaten’s daughters shows them in playful poses, studied defiance of all rules of Pharoanic dignity. Scenes of busy markets and soldier’s guardrooms were depicted. These are scenes of everyday life, instead dealing with ertenal things. There is seen a truth in art. More natural scenes with dogs running and game fleeing the hunt.
An example of a new style of art was the portrait of Nefertiti. It must have offended the traditionalists. It gave a delicate and fleeting impression instead of presenting the appearance of solidity and endurance.
But not all was well in the empire during the later years of the king. The people did not understand the new religion. Nor did they like it. They were used to the old way of many gods. And in particular the god Osiris. Add to the fact that Akhenaten was not a warrior but an intellectual and that he had a dislike for war. And he had no time for foreign affairs or politics. He didn’t give the army much thought and there were problems from the Hittites on Egypt’s northern border. The army is starting to join forces with the people and priest classes to format plans to overthrow the king. Things at home are not going so well either. AMENHOTEP IV second daughter, Meketaten, dies around the fourteenth year of reign. Also about this time Nefertity his queen seems to have fallen out of favor, exiled or maybe died.
This may be too much for the king. He marries his daughter, MaritAten, to Smenkhkare. Akhenaten named Smenkhkare as his successor and perhaps co-ruler. A short time later, in about1358 BC Akhenaten dies and Smenkhkare ascends the throne. Smenkhkare is not a strong leader and soon the power of the priests of Amen rise again. Smenkhkare soon “disappears” and we don’t hear from him again. Tutenkhaten is crowned king and we see him strike a deal with the priests of Amen and he leaves Akhenaten’s capital and return to Thebes. He tries to carry on the worship of Aten but the priests are growing strong again and soon the worship is of Amen is allowed. Thus ending the reign of Aten as the “sole god” of Egypt.
In conclussion we see that maybe that Akhenaten was not the revonlutionary heritic that he is made out to be. He was a very young man who happened to be the ruler of a vast empire. A young man who because of physical disfigurements lead a sheltered life. And now is forced into a leadership role surrounded by people he did not know or trust. And he escapes into his own world with the few people he does trust. Brave religious leader, or maybe just a scared and insecure little ten year old boy!
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