Akhenaten (1501-1474 BC), of the Eighteenth Egyptian Dynasty, is best known as a religious reformer. Of this great man J. A. Rogers, the great Jamaican historian, says the following: "Lord Supreme of the then civilized world, with the mightiest army at his command, he preached a gospel of peace and preached it so consistently that when subject nations rebelled he refused to attack them. Living centuries before King David, he wrote psalms as beautiful as the Judean monarch. [Several] hundred years before Christ, he preached and lived a gospel of perfect love, brotherhood, and truth. Two thousand years before Mohammed he taught the doctrine of the One God. Three thousand years before Darwin, he sensed the unity that runs through all living things. Akhenaton [sic], too was the richest man on earth."
Having dispatched the High Priest of Amen to oversee a quarrying expedition, he promoted the minor deity, Aten, to the position of sole deity throughout the country. In the city of Karnak, he built a temple to this deity enforcing a more strict monotheism. The king surrounded himself with a new set of officials. Many of these were foreigners or Egyptians of the lower orders. In this way the Amen priesthood/civil service were sidestepped.
Unhappy with Waset, the king built a new capital further north called Akhetaten. The American urban planner, Earl Faruq, in an interesting essay, noted that: "Great importance was attached to cleanliness in Amarna [i.e. Akhetaten], as in other Egyptian cities. Toilets and sewers were in use to dispose waste. Soap was made for washing the body. Perfumes and essences were popular against body odor. A solution of natron was used to keep insects from houses … Amarna was landscaped with flowers and beautiful gardens as part of Akhenaton's [sic] land use scheme. Amarna may have been the first planned "garden city" … The temples and personal chapels built throughout the city were open to the air. This allowed for the worship of the sun which was contrasted with the closed temples of Thebes. Officials laid out great estates, attractively incorporating nature into their plans. Workman['s] houses were erected on well ordered streets in grid iron fashion."
By 1493 or 1492 BC the king's religious revolution was complete. He changed his name from Amenhotep IV to Akhenaten and instituted a revolution in Egyptian art. Gone were the old stylised representations. In some of the new statues, Akhenaten is portrayed as father and mother to the nation with an appropriate synthesis of male and female body shapes.
|All of this information is extracted from When We Ruled. To find out more about this book CLICK HERE |