Akhenaten was a woman
One interpretation of
Akhenaten's strange physique was that 'he' was actually 'she'
He suffered from a disease
It has been suggested
that Akhenaten suffered from Frohlich's Syndrome. This may explain his
strange appearance, but one side effect of that disease is impotence.
Akhenaten is reported to have had six daughters by Nefertiti alone
which makes this explanation unlikely, although it is possible that the
disease struck in later life
It was the unique style of Amarna art
styles of the Amarna period has no comparison to any other period in
Ancient Egypt. For the first time royalty were shown in more natural, less
formal poses. In addition the freakish statues at Karnak could have been
deliberately exaggerated to set the kings appearance apart from 'mortal'
He was Moses
When study of Akhenaten's life became
more popular in the late 18th century many attempts were made to equate
the Pharaoh with the biblical Moses. It has also been suggested that Moses
was actually a High official in the court of Amenhotep III
He was a religious visionary
Atenism can be
interpreted as the first step in a logical evolution of religion from many
minor gods to one major one. If this is the case then Akhenaten could well
be viewed as the forefather of most modern beliefs.
He was a political opportunist
ascended to the throne the priests of Amun controlled much of
Egypt. The temples were wealthy and powerful and Akhenaten may have seen
their destruction as the way to further his own ambitions. Effectively in
Atenism the Pharaoh was the only person who could make offerings directly
to the God, which would have given him power as both religious and
He was a loony
One other possible explanation was
that Akhenaten was mad. In many of the Aten texts the god is addressed as
'Father', and it is possible that Akhenaten actually believed the sun disk
to be the physical incarnation of Amenhotep III.
His lack of foreign campaigns
Much is made of Akhenaten's lack of action in outlying areas of the
Egyptian Empire. Much of this blame arises from the so called Amarna
Letters, diplomatic correspondence from outlying governors to the
Pharaoh. The evidence of these every day communications should, however,
be taken in context. They provide a 'warts and all' look at diplomacy in
the age unlike the glorifying tomb writings of other periods. The basic
theories about this are as follows. It is likely that Akhenaten's control
over the outlying stated was so solid that no major intervention was
required. Interestingly there is no evidence that any of the cities
pleading for help in the Amarna Letters were lost to Egyptian control at
He allowed Egyptian influence to crumble
a lack of evidence of any foreign campaigns during the reign of Akhenaten.
It has been suggested that the king was so involved with his new religion,
and his new city, that much needed resources were diverted from the rest
of the empire.
He has been misrepresented
The artistic style of
the Amarna period differed from earlier styles in that the images were
much more lifelike, and conquest played a smaller part. Images of the
Pharaoh Smiting Asiatics would not have been in the spirit of
Atenism. Akhenaten may have wished to be remembered as a family man rather
than a warrior. Interestingly a block from the Aten temple used as filling
in a pylon at Karnak contains the unusual image of Queen Nefertiti
'smiting' unfortunate foes.
He was unaware of the situation
Akhenaten may not
have been fully aware of the situation. The priests of the old temples may
have deliberately withheld information from him to try to weaken his rule
to an extent where the old order could be reestablished
What happened after his death
There is also uncertainty about events after Akhenaten's death.
Evidence indicates that he was originally interred in the royal tomb at
Akhetaten, along with his daughter Meritaten, and that he was later moved
(by Tutankhamun possibly)
to another location, probably the Valley of the Kings. It is possible that
after his original burial the Mummy was moved to tomb KV55 in the Valley
of the Kings to protect it from the anti-Atenist backlash. It is also
possible that his tomb in the Valley of the Kings is yet to be
What happened to the Mummy
Akhenaten's mummy has
never been positively identified. The most likely candidate was thought to
be the mummy found in the tomb KV55 in the Valley
of the Kings but it is very unlikely that this body is Akhenaten's.
Research has shown it to be that of a young man. It is more likely that
this body is of Smenkhkare. A
piece of gold foil bearing Smenkhkare's cartouche, stolen when the tomb
was opened, has recently surfaced in Germany which would seem to confirm
the identity of the occupant.
The burial seems to have been hastily
arranged using a coffin originally intended for a woman. The length of
Smenkhkare's reign probably means that there was little time to make