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Great Egyptians: Akhenaten: The Rebel Pharaoh and

the Mystery of Tutankhamen: Teachers Guide


Grade Level: 6-8

Curriculum Focus: World History

Lesson Duration: Two class periods

Program Description
Akhenaten His reign was so scandalous that his name was stricken from his family's temples.
Meet Akhenaten, who brought dramatic change to Egypt with his slogan, "Living in Truth." King
Tut Compare Akhenaten's legacy with that of the boy king. Was there a murderer lurking in
King Tut's court? Egyptologist Bob Brier does a little detective work to shore up a tale of power
and intrigue in one of the world's oldest whodunits.

Video Comprehension Questions

Why is Amarna considered to be one of the most puzzling sites in all of Egypt? (Amarna is
considered to be one of the most puzzling sites in Egypt because it was built in a remote area by
Akhenaten, who founded a new religion there, and because it then quickly vanished until it was
rediscovered at the end of the 19th century. It is also puzzling because there are no scenes of gods, as in
other ancient Egyptian sites, and images show the pharaoh as misshapen.)

What is unusual about the physical description of Akhenaten? (The pharaoh Akhenaten is shown
in his statues as misshapen, with an elongated face, breasts, wide hips, and swollen thighs. For a
thousand years the pharaoh had been shown as young, vigorous, well-muscled, ready to go into battle.)

How did Akhenaten become the most powerful person in Egypt? (Akhenaten became pharaoh
because his mother, Queen Tiye, made sure he inherited the throne.)

What changes did Akhenaten make in the religious order of Egypt? (Akhenaten turned the
Egyptian religious order upside down by asserting, for the first time in Egyptian history, that there was
only one god (Aten), declaring the other gods of Egypt extinct, and deserting Thebes to build a new city.)

How did Akhenaten make changes in Egyptian art? (During Akhenaten's rule, artistic expression
was allowed to flourish without concern for tradition, showing a new realism and portraying the daily
life of the pharaoh.)

What was the result of Akhenaten's rule on Egyptian foreign policy? (During Akhenaten's rule,
Egypt, the great army had grown weak, Egypt was no longer receiving tribute from foreign countries,
and its ambassadors were no longer respected in foreign lands.)

Where do some archaeologists believe Akhenaten was entombed? (Evidence found in January of
1907 at tomb 55 in the Valley of the Kings leads some to believe that Akhenaten was buried there.)

Great Egyptians: Akhenaten: The Rebel Pharaoh and the Mystery of Tutankhamen: Teachers Guide

What is the evidence that Akhenaten suffered from Marfan's syndrome? (The physical disabilities
shown in Akhenaten's statues (such as elongated face, long, thin fingers and toes) are very similar to a
disease known as Marfan's syndrome, a genetic disease that damages the body's connective tissue.)

Why has Akhenaten been called the most original religious thinker the world has ever known?
(Akhenaten has been called the world's most original religious thinker because he prefigured the
monotheism of Moses and the tranquility and hope of Jesus Christ.)

Lesson Plan

Student Objectives
Students will understand:

Some religions, or belief systems, develop because of the influence of an individual human
being; some develop in other ways.

Religious leaders and religions have features in common as well as significant differences.

Materials

Great Egyptians: Akhenaten: The Rebel Pharaoh and the Mystery of Tutankhamen video and VCR, or
DVD and DVD player

Encyclopedias (including encyclopedias of religion)

Biographical reference works for important figures in world religions

Procedures
1. Use the life story of Akhenaten and the short-lived monotheistic religion that he established as
the basis of a research project into other religions or belief systems that have been founded or
profoundly influenced by an individual (as opposed to the many ancient religions that evolved
over time and have not been attributed to one man or woman). Begin by asking volunteers to
name world religions. What individuals were responsible for founding or spreading this
religion? (At this point, do not include sects within Christianity or Judaism, for example, or
philosophical systems such as Confucianism and the Society for Ethical Culture.)
2. Create and distribute a chart of ancient and modern founders or significant movers in world
religions. Consider including the following individuals in the first column, headed Individual
list the names either in alphabetical order, as here, or in another order you prefer:

Akhenaten

Buddha

Jesus

Laozi (Daoism)

Published by Discovery Education. 2005. All rights reserved.

Great Egyptians: Akhenaten: The Rebel Pharaoh and the Mystery of Tutankhamen: Teachers Guide

3.

Mabuchi (Shintoism)

Mohammed

Moses

Zoroaster

Head the next six columns Dates, Birthplace, Family Facts, Significant Life Events,
Major Teachings, Influence on the 21st Century (did the religion survive the death of the
individual?).

4. Work with your class to fill in the six columns for Akhenaten. If necessary, have students do
their own research on Akhenaten to complete these columns.
5. After you and the class have discussed what students have written in the Akhenaten row,
assign students the task of filling in the other rows on their own. In addition to their chart, they
should submit a bibliography of research sources.
6. Once students have completed their chart, ask them to write a paragraph answering the
following question: What personality traits or other characteristics did all or most of these men
share? Give examples.
7. After youve collected and read the students charts, bibliographies, and paragraphs, hold a
class discussion about the issue of leadership traits among people who founded or influenced
world religions.

Discussion Questions
1. The narrator in this documentary suggests that Akhenaten may have foreshadowed the
monotheistic teachings of Moses and the hope inspired by the message of Jesus. Debate whether
or not this contention is supported by the evidence. In what ways was the message of
Akhenaten like or unlike that of these later religious figures?
2. Akhenaten has been called the most original religious thinker the ancient world had ever seen.
Is this true? Analyze and compare the teachings of other significant religious figures and make
a determination. What makes Akhenatens message original?
3. Discuss the validity of the assertion that Akhenaten was excluded from important ceremonies.
What evidence is there to support this claim? Are there alternative hypotheses you can devise?
4. Explain why Akhenaten focused on the sun as the symbol of his one god. Did he believe that
the sun itself was a god? Discuss what other physical phenomena he might have selected to
represent god. What would the criteria for selection be?
5. Explain why Akhenaten allowed so many radical changes in Egyptian art. How was this
received in Egypt following thousands of years during which art hardly ever changed? Discuss
why changes in Egyptian art happened so slowly.
6. What did the priests of the other Egyptian gods think about Akhenatens new religious
message? What sorts of threats do you think they felt this new religion posed for them?

Published by Discovery Education. 2005. All rights reserved.

Great Egyptians: Akhenaten: The Rebel Pharaoh and the Mystery of Tutankhamen: Teachers Guide

7. Discuss how our country would react if the president of the United States, as suggested in the
program, retreated from political issues as Akhenaten did? What action might Congress take?
How would the executive branch function?

Assessment
Use the following three-point rubric to evaluate students' work during this lesson.

3 points: Students paragraph includes several complete facts; extremely clear and complete
paragraph with many examples.

2 points: Students paragraph includes some facts; moderately clear and complete paragraph
with a few examples.

1 point: Students paragraph contains many missing facts; unclear and incomplete paragraph
without sufficient examples.

Vocabulary
entourage
Definition: Ones attendants or associates.
Context: When the royal entourage went to the temples to make offerings to the God Amen and
to celebrate the festivals, we can imagine little Akhenaten left behind in the palace.
homage
Definition: Expression of high regard.
Context: Up and down the Nile, workers built vast temples to pay homage to the hundreds of
gods.
Marfans syndrome
Definition: A hereditary disorder of connective tissue that is characterized by abnormal
elongation of the bones and often by ocular (eye) and circulatory defects.
Context: The final word on the source of Akhenatens apparent deformities may be written right
now by a group of scientists working on a disease known as Marfans syndromea genetic
defect that damages the bodys connective tissue.
monotheism
Definition: The doctrine or belief that there is but one God.
Context: He had foreshadowed the monotheism of Moses and the tranquility and hope of Christ
well before the people of ancient Egypt were able to accept it.
mystical
Definition: Having a spiritual meaning or reality that is neither apparent to the senses nor
obvious to the intelligence.
Context: Akhenaten had boundary markers carved surrounding the site of his new city telling of
his mystical vision.

Published by Discovery Education. 2005. All rights reserved.

Great Egyptians: Akhenaten: The Rebel Pharaoh and the Mystery of Tutankhamen: Teachers Guide

Academic Standards
Mid-continent Research for Education and Learning (McREL)
McREL's Content Knowledge: A Compendium of Standards and Benchmarks for K-12 Education
addresses 14 content areas. To view the standards and benchmarks, visit
http://www.mcrel.org/compendium/browse.asp.

This lesson plan addresses the following national standards:

World HistoryEarly Civilizations and the Rise of Pastoral Peoples: Understands the major
characteristics of civilization and the development of civilizations in Mesopotamia, Egypt,
and the Indus Valley.

World HistoryEarly Civilizations and the Rise of Pastoral Peoples: Understands the
political, social, and cultural consequences of population movements and militarization in
Eurasia in the second millennium BCE.

The National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS)


The National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS) has developed national standards to provide
guidelines for teaching social studies. To view the standards online, go to
http://www.socialstudies.org/standards/strands/.
This lesson plan addresses the following thematic standards:

Time, Continuity, and Change

Support Materials
Develop custom worksheets, educational puzzles, online quizzes, and more with the free teaching tools
offered on the Discoveryschool.com Web site. Create and print support materials, or save them to a
Custom Classroom account for future use. To learn more, visit

http://school.discovery.com/teachingtools/teachingtools.html

Published by Discovery Education. 2005. All rights reserved.