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Pharaoh Akhenaten

Pharaoh Akhenaten

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Published by Richard Cassaro

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Published by: Richard Cassaro on Nov 09, 2009
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Pharaoh Akhenaten
The Heretic King, Akhenaten, ruled Egypt during a time of incredible prosperity. He lived withhis family in Thebes, a religious center and city of Amun. At a time when there were hundreds of gods, religion was big business. Thousands of priests worked tirelessly, serving their gods.Akhenaton's parents, Amenhotep III and Queen Tiy, had six children. However, Akhenatonseems to be an outcast. Scientists now believe that he suffered from a disease called MarfanSyndrome, a genetic defect shared with Abraham Lincoln. While he had no portraits, no mentionon monuments, his mother still seems to favor him greatly.Akhenaton succeeded his father to the throne in 1352 B.C., in a rule that lasted 16 years. Whilehe is blamed for the loss of prosperity and decline in civilization in Egypt, evidence suggests thatthis had been an ongoing problem, one that came to a head during Akhenaton's reign.Ancient Egyptians had a pantheon of gods to choose from, led by Amun. Akhenaton's claim tofame is his religious reforms. Under his rule, Egypt became a monotheistic society, ruled by oneGod, Aten. This sun god was now the only God.Although Thebes had been a religious center for generations, Akhenaton developed a newreligious center at Karnak. Obviously, religious differences between the two groups causedstrain. Akhenaton broke with tradition, closing temples, destroying statues, desecrating worshipsites, and taking the revenues given to the God Amun. The fallout from these actions wouldaffect Egyptian civilization for many years.Akhenaton married the famous Queen Nefertiti, believed to be the most beautiful woman in theworld. Carved stela show the happy couple, surrounded by children, worshiping the sun disk,Aten. In a rare show of affection, they are shown playing with their children.Pharaoh Akhenaton was single-handedly responsible for changing thousands of years of arttradition. Images of the other gods were now replaced by the one true image of Aten, the desk of the sun. When the Pharaoh built his monuments, he did not idealize his form; in fact, sculpturesshow him with a large head, wide hips, and elongated fingers and toes.In the end, Akhenaton's dedication to monotheism could not last. He remained isolated in hisnew Kingdom, neglecting foreign policy and the bitter complaints of his citizens. After his deathin 1332 B.C., Egypt returned to its polytheistic roots.
 
Pharaoh Akenaton, wife Nefertiti, and their childrenThe Bust of King Akenaton

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