Analysis of Akhenaten
Age Group: Adolescent and Beyond
Date Written: Jun 15, 2006
Analysis of Akhenaten
The way this article is written, its almost as a story is being told with commentary of Egyptian scholars. This format makes it more interesting, and gives the article a larger scale. The whole idea that Akhenaten would go against the old Egyptian customs is intriguing. The article says that it is quite possible that he may have been the first person to attempt monotheism. I can imagine how angry the populous and high members of society were. It was a great idea, but it was done too early and too fast. This radical change was most probably the reason for his downfall.
The article goes on to discuss the events from Akhenaten’s first day as pharaoh to the end of his lineage, where someone outside the family, a strong general named Horemheb takes the place of pharaoh. Horemheb goes to great lengths to destroy Akhenaten’s name from history, along with his descendents. This course of action leads me to believe that Akhenaten’s views where so different from tradition, that they were considered dangerous.
Akhenaten could not have been a good leader. Although he single handedly raised the level of artistry and temple building, it was not enough to prevent him from being targeted by the surrounding officials. The article mentions correspondences from Tushratta, a king of the Mesopotamian state of Mitanni. Who writes about how Akhenaten sends him gold plated wooden statues instead of the pure gold ones. It seems that Akhenaten only concentrated himself on building temples for Aten, the god he chose above all. His neglect to affairs outside Egypt is a terrible decision and probably left Egypt defenseless from outside attacks. When he decided to elevate Aten to the level of the only god he definitely must have angered the priests of the other gods. At one point out of a fit of anger, Akhenaten tries to destroy the images and statues of the other gods. These types of decision would have definitely angered Egypt’s higher officials and cause tension between the pharaoh and the people around him.
At one point the Egyptologist theorize that a plague must have struck to account for all the deaths surrounding the royal family. This is indeed conceivable since most of the population of Amarna sprung up in a short amount of time. The location of Amarna was also considered desolate which could have made living harsh especially with such a large population. It does surprise me that they do not consider the possibility of a conspiracy, where the deaths where made to try to deter the pharaoh from his rebellious acts. Another possibility for these deaths could have been that the pharaoh executed them. Of course seeing as how information about this era are sketchy, that any explanation can be said without much facts to back it up.
The article then talks about the events after Akhenaten’s death. It seems the government was in turmoil because the thrown was occupied with several pharaohs before Horemheb takes control. One of these intermediate pharaohs might have been Nefertiti herself, the article seems to hint at her being a strong leader although very little information can be gathered about her. It is strange that Tutankhamun would have used objects from Nefertiti’s own crypt for his own. I suppose there wasn’t too much attachment between the two rulers.
Although not the fault of the article, the information is sketchy and open to interpretation. In a way this adds to the intriguing element of the pharaoh Akhenaten and this strange period in ancient Egyptian history. Its impressive to see how the acts of one man had so much of an impact on the social workings of a civilization. The consequences of his actions were felt by his descendents and lead to his whole lineage almost being erased from history.