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Click Here to Create a Custom Cartouche of Your Name or Phrase with the Fun and Popular Hieroglyph Translator
Reported by: Iain @ the Akhet Internet Site
Akhenaten was a Ruler of Egypt during the period known as the 18th Dynasty. He ascended to the throne as Amenhotep IV, succeeding his father Amenhotep III. Akhenaten's brief reign, only about 16 years, happened at a difficult time in Egyptian history and many scholars maintain that Akhenaten was responsible for this decline, but evidence suggests that it had already started.
Akhenaten, possibly in a move to lessen the political power of the Priests, introduced the worship of one god, the Aten, or Sun disk. The Pharaoh, not the priesthood, was the sole link between the population and the Aten which effectively ended the power of the various temples.

It is interesting to note that when Akhenaten's successors, the generals Ay and Horemheb re established the temples of Amun they selected their priests from the military, enabling the Pharaoh to keep tighter controls over the religious orders.
The cult of the Aten is considered by some to be a predecessor of modern monotheism.

Not a Pharaoh to do things by half, when Akhenaten established his new religion he built an entire city dedicated to the Aten. This city was Akhetaten, the Horizon of the Aten. At the peak of Akhenaten's reign over 20,000 people lived there. The city was built in middle Egypt, on a site not tainted by the worship of other gods.

After the death of Akhenaten the city was abandoned, and the old religions which had been suppressed quickly re-established their control over Egypt. This return to the old ways may have been helped along by the Pharaohs who followed Akhenaten, who allowed the priesthood to re establish control. Akhenaten's immediate successor was Smenkhkare about whom little is known, followed by Tutankhaten. Shortly after gaining the throne Tutankhaten changed his name to Tutankhamun and moved his capital from Akhetaten to Memphis.

Akhenaten is not credited with being a particularly successful Pharaoh. Records seem to indicate that he allowed Egyptian influence wane, but this may not be true as these ideas are based on the famous Amarna letters found in Akhetaten. These letters show day to day communication within the Egyptian empire and give a more detailed look at events during Akhenaten's reign than we can obtain from other Pharaohs. In most cases the information on different leaders comes from inscriptions and paintings in their tombs, and if a Pharaoh was having problems abroad this is hardly likely to be included with the decoration to remind him of his difficulties in the afterlife.
Later Pharaohs attempted to erase all memories of Akhenaten and his religion. Much of the distinctive art of the period was destroyed and the buildings dismantled. It is interesting to note that this was directed at Akhenaten personally and not the Aten. In later dynasties it returned to it's original position in Egyptian religion.

The backlash against the religion of Akhenaten led to the widespread destruction of his palaces and temples. Work began on dismantling Akhetaten shortly after it was abandoned and, along with many other of Akhenaten's monuments, it's stone was re-used by later Pharaohs.
Restoration work on the great pylons of Ramesses II at Karnak showed that they used 'recycled' Aten temples for the filling. This has left modern Archaeologists with the worlds biggest jigsaw puzzle. When the Pylons were restored the filling was replaced with concrete. A section of a temple wall has now been restored and is on display in the Luxor Museum.

'Royal' Ring

The Egyptian display in the NMS contains a section devoted to jewelry, with many complex and beautiful items on show. Amongst these almost unnoticed, lies potentially one of the most interesting and significant items in the entire collection.

Several rings are on display from various sites, but one fine gold ring could have once belonged to one of the most famous Queens in Ancient Egypt, Nefertiti. This ring, bearing the Queens royal cartouche, was found just outside the royal tomb at Akhetaten in a small cache with some other jewelry.

Mysteries of Akhenaten | Timeline of Akhenaten

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