Personalities Option B: Akhenaten

Personalities Option B: Akhenaten

Personalities In Their Time: Option B- Akhenaten

Akhenaten is commonly viewed as one of the most polarising figures of ancient Egypt. He is cast as a heretic, an innovator, a madman, a revolutionary and as one of the most original thinkers of his time. What is certain though, is that his reign was characterised by social, political and religious uSculpture of the face of Akhenatenpheaval.

Akhenaten ascended to the throne around 1353BCE and ruled for approximately 17 years during the 18th Dynasty of Egypt’s New Kingdom. Akhenaten was originally crowned as Amenhotep IV, following in the tradition of his father Amenhotep III and named for the god Amun. In the early years of his reign, Akhenaten continued the work of his father in regards to public building projects in the capital Thebes, keeping with the traditional and established decorative, iconographic and architectural styles of his predecessors. However, within a few years he transformed Egyptian kingship, religion and culture by imposing a new religious ideology based only around the god Aten, the King and the Queen. He changed his name to Akhenaten (Akhen-Aten) and relocated Egypt’s capital to a newly founded site in Middle Egypt, Akhetaten (Akhet-Aten), known today as Tell el-Amarna. Akhenaten overhauled religious rituals and festivals, royal iconography, architecture, artistic styles, foreign policy, funerary customs and more.

The tumultuous nature of Akhenaten’s reign and the effects it had on the subsequent Ramesside Period has captured the fascination of both scholars and the public alike. The reasoning behind his transformation of Egyptian society and culture remains a hotly contested source of debate.

Image: Sculpture of the face of Akhenaten. Creative Commons cc-icon


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