Thursday, December 13, 2007

The First Monotheist - Akhenaten

He has been called the first individual in history, as well as the first monotheist, first scientist, and first romantic. He is Akhenaten.

A very controversial figure in the list of pharohs. His rule dates back to 1350 BC and he was a king of 18th dynasty. His successors include his son, the famous boy-king, Tutankhamun on whom I wrote the last post. His royal wife, Nefertiti, is considered to be one of the most beautiful of queens.

Akhenaten is very famous for introducing monotheism in Egypt! Egyptions were familiar with a variety of deities headed by a supreme deity - Amun-Ra. Akhenaten introduced Aten as one of the supreme gods and after passage of sometime proclaimed Aten as the only supreme deity. The suffix in his name (-aten) was a result of this. He was earlier named Amenhotep IV. Aten is visible in the form of solar disc spreading light on the pharoh. By the way, the solar disc was just a representation, Aten was not considered to be a sun god.

What he did next was very controversial to say the least. He started to deface everything that had Amun as god. Did away with traditional religious ceremonies, depicted his wife Nefertiti to be equal amongst the pharohs (considered as blasphemy!) and started building a new city, Amarna, instead of Thebes which was the religious hub of pharohs.

Do you know that Akhenaten is considered to be a pioneer in introducing monotheism? In fact some attribute birth of Judaism to him! Some even consider him Moses who introduced One God to Israelites! But that of course is a moot point amongst egyptologists.

Another thing that sets apart his rule from others was the style of art. Pharohs were normally depicted as strong built that crushed the enemies but portrayals of Akhenaten were 'with a sagging stomach, thick thighs, larger breasts, and long, thin face' - quite different from the previous depictions of pharohs! On the other hand, the busts of Nefertiti that have been excavated till date show her as a very beautiful woman!

When he died, it started the reversal of everything that he had done. The city of Amarna was abandoned and so was the the god Aten. Old rituals and festivals came back.

Check My Other Posts on Egyptology

- Nefertiti - The Most Beautiful Woman in World
- King Tut
- Hatshepsu - Woman Pharoh with A Beard!
- Cleopatra - The Last Pharoh
- Your Name in Egyptian Hieroglyphs

1 comment:

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