Builders under Pharaoh Akhenaten worked so hard they broke their backs The priesthood of Amun had reinforced the strength of their god by declaring him an aspect of Ra, and it was that association that made Amun acceptable to the rest of Egypt. This gave an unprecedented amount of power to the Amun priesthood, allowing them, through the god, to control not only the country, but also the king. The divinity of kingship now included a claim to being a son of Amun. When the vizier Ptahmose, High Priest of Amun died, Amenhotep III, instead of promoting the next High Priest, as was expected, conferred the viziership on the nobleman Ramose, neatly sidestepping the priesthood and effectively moving towards a separation of state and religion.
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Builders under Pharaoh Akhenaten worked so hard they broke their backs The priesthood of Amun had reinforced the strength of their god by declaring him an aspect of Ra, and it was that association that made Amun acceptable to the rest of Egypt.
This gave an unprecedented amount of power to the Amun priesthood, allowing them, through the god, to control not only the country, but also the king. The divinity of kingship now included a claim to being a son of Amun. When the vizier Ptahmose, High Priest of Amun died, Amenhotep III, instead of promoting the next High Priest, as was expected, conferred the viziership on the nobleman Ramose, neatly sidestepping the priesthood and effectively moving towards a separation of state and religion.
Given these prevailing moods within the royal family, it should not really be any surprise that the young Amenhotep IV began his reign with certain goals and ideals already set in his mind.
The early name Aten. Courtesy Ted Loukes On his ascension, he began building at Karnak , the long established home of Amun-Ra, decorating the southern entrance with scenes of himself worshipping Ra-Horakhti, as well as building his open-air temple to the east of the main precinct, suggesting that he understood and appreciated the legitimacy of Amun-Ra and that he needed that very legitimacy to underwrite his new religious stance; to give it both credibility and acceptability to the Egyptian people.
It is in these remains that we see the new artistic tendencies known as the Amarna style. Temples and Taxation Despite this religious coexistence, a text from Karnak refers to new taxes that were imposed on temples and municipalities by the king in order to fund the Aten buildings. This was unusual, as generally temples were exempt from taxation. Temples were not merely places of worship, but also centers for the storage of grain and other necessities, as well as being substantial landowners in their own right.
The king parceled out land either as favors or as remuneration to courtiers and the nobility , who were then heavily taxed. The common classes worked the land in return for a percentage of the crop produced. They were usually free from military service, but had to pay taxes. The artisanal classes and merchants were obliged to do military service and pay taxes.
The only ones who escaped these obligations were the priesthood, who naturally grew rich faster than anyone else. Courtesy Ted Loukes. A letter from his Memphis steward, dated year 5, 3rd Peret, day 19, greets the king as Amenhotep with all his titles, informing him that his establishments are flourishing.
Only 24 days later, the first proclamation of the Amarna boundary markers was made in the name of Akhenaten. Although it is impossible to say exactly why Akhenaten felt the need to leave Thebes, he made the point in the Amarna proclamations that the new site was fresh ground, owing allegiance to neither god, nor person.
A fresh start in the center of Egypt, rather than to the north or the south, may have seemed the ideal solution for the young king. Maybe he saw a place in between the two as a balance, as a restoration of Maat. Archaeology has shown that even people living in Amarna continued worshipping their own household gods. The extent of the Atenist damage appears to have been the removal of the name of Amun and sometimes the deletion of the plural word gods, whereas the opposite seems to be the case after the Amarna period.
The fundamental structure of religious thought was the balance between chaos and order. Ancient Egyptian religion appears to have been an ever-changing school of thought that grew and shrank as was necessary; structured around certain traditions, it adapted itself to its own needs, while always maintaining the balance between order and disorder.
Perhaps the difficulty in understanding the ancient Egyptian religion is frustrated by there never having been a need for it to explain itself; it was accepted by everybody that the world, and everything in it, was created by the gods, and there was only one priest and that was the king. Bust of Akhenaten. Further reading of the Amarna letters shows that the Egyptians had officials stationed in garrisons throughout the vassal states who dealt with the regional kings when necessary.
A large number of letters are reports back to the crown: pledges of loyalty, assurances that orders have been carried out, and statements that cities were safe and guarded. It also has to be made clear that, for the most part, what remains of the letters is only one half of a dialogue. The incoming messages are plentiful, but the outgoing dispatches from the palace are, to say the least, thin on the ground.
The change of kingship from Amenhotep III to his son was an open invitation to insurrection for some of the outlying vassals; this is when we see the start of the letters begging for aid, and it is highly likely that if similar correspondence had survived from earlier reigns the same sort of pleading requests would have been found. Perform your service for the king …and you will live. It was a year of festival as depicted in the tombs at Amarna, where foreign dignitaries brought gifts of precious metals, weapons, wild animals and even slaves.
These scenes give lie to the idea that the king had lost all those lands previously won by his illustrious ancestors. However, it cannot be denied that the special relationship with the Mitanni came to an end as the Egyptian inaction allowed them to be completely overrun by the Hittites.
Akhenaten | The Heretic Pharaoh
Tutankhaten — year 8 or 9 — renamed Tutankhamun later. From Amarna, Egypt. The Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology, London It has been proposed that Akhenaten may have taken some of his daughters as sexual consorts, to attempt to father a male heir by them, but this is very debatable. It does seem certain that like his father, Amenhotep III, Akhenaten named at least one daughter as Great Royal Wife , but this does not necessarily indicate she was his sexual consort as the position was also an important ceremonial position. Her death was attributed to possibly from childbirth, because of a depiction of an infant with her.
Akhenaten: The Heretic King
Originally, he was known as Amenhotep IV, but then changed his name to reflect his link with the new supreme deity, whom he worshiped. It was a common, and expected, tradition among ancient Egyptian pharaohs, for the ruler to marry the eldest daughter of his father. Some believe she was only 12 when she married Akhenaten. Regardless of her relation to him, Nefertiti, is famous in her own right and famed for her beauty. While the pharaoh had other wives as well, depictions found inside temples indicate that Nefertiti was without a doubt his chief wife, at least for twelve or so years. The king eventually elevated Queen Nefertiti to divine status.
Pharaoh Akhenaten: An Alternative View of the Heretic King