Three reasons that make Akhenaten the most interesting Pharaoh of all times

By: Hamza Shafique

As soon as you walk into Cairo Museum of Egyptian Antiquities, you are welcomed by thousands of artefacts from thousands of years of Ancient Egyptian history.  Whole experience overwhelming and to an ordinary eye all artefacts after a while tend to look similar but still Pharaoh Akhenaten and artefacts from his time stand out from the rest. Akhenaten ruled Egypt almost 3300 years ago and here are three reason why Akhenaten is the most interesting Pharaoh of all times.

Monotheism:

Akhenaten is also considered the pioneer of Monotheism in the written documented history. He denounced all Egyptian deities of his forefathers and started worshipping one god Aten. 

Aten was represented by sun or we can call it sun god Aten. Atheism is worlds first documented monotheistic religion and some have even considered it to be the inspiration behind Abrahamic religions as well. There are similarities between Great Hymn to the Aten ( number of hymn-poems written to the sun-disk deity Aten) and Psalms of the Judeo-Christian, which are believed by some experts to be inspired by the Hymn. This created totally different set of artefacts as well.

Cult Leader from Antiquity:

We all have seen the recent documentary on Rajneeshpuram and cult of Rajneesh/Osho on Netflix. Akhenaten was Osho of his time, just like Rajneeshpuram he also created his very own Utopia for followers of Aten called Amarna. All artefacts related to Akhenaten and Atheism are found at the location of Amarna. City of Amarna was constructed in a haste and perished soon after the death of Akhenaten (since Atheism died with him as well), creating a cult status for this period. After the death of Akhenaten his successors moved back to the old capital and religion. There was deliberate attempt to cover all traces of Akhenaten from history as well, but city of Amarna survived in much better state since it was abandoned right away.

Amarna Art Style:

This period also marks the start of Amarna art style. Before Akhenaten, Pharaohs were portrayed as these perfect godly beings with perfect features and heroic bodies ready for war. Akhenaten embodied the term, accept me for what I am and make his artisans depict the reality. His colossal statues and wall engravings/paintings depict him with long face and overweight/disproportionate body. Apart from depicting royal family in formal scenes of war, rituals /offerings to gods, Amarna art included informal scenes, such as intimate portrayals of affection within the royal family or playing with their children, as well. The art had realism which continued even after the collapse of Amarna and Atheism. That’s why his era statues and artefacts stand out from the rest.

All Pictures used are taken at Akhenaten section Cairo Museum by Hamza Shafique

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