20 Things You Should Know About Akhenaten

Akhenaten was one of ancient Egypt’s most influential and controversial pharaohs. He is considered one of the world’s most important religious innovators. He was a Pharaoh of the Eighteenth dynasty and he was the father of Tutankhamun, husband to Queen Nefertiti.

Here are some interesting facts about this controversial Pharaoh.

He was a Pharaoh of the Eighteenth dynasty of Egypt and ruled for 17 years.

Akhenaten was known as the “great heretic”.

Early on in his reign, he was known as Amenhotep IV, but he changed his name to Akhenaten to reflect his close link with the new supreme deity of his making.

Akhenaten was married to Queen Nefertiti, one of the most famous of all ancient Egyptian women.

Nefertiti was one of the most influential queens. Paintings show her conducting religious ceremonies with Akhenaten as an equal.

Nefertiti’s mummy was never found. Archaeologist June Fletcher claimed she found Nefertiti’s badly-mutilated mummy in a side chamber of the Tomb of Amenhotep II in the Valley of the Kings. Most scholars are not convinced.

Akhenaten elevated Nefertiti to divine status. Scholars suggest that she may have been only 12 when married to Akhenaten.

Akhenaten halted foreign military campaigns and dramatically scaled down Egypt’s military defenses.

He is noted for abandoning traditional Egyptian polytheism and introducing worship centered on the Aten.

Akhenaten claimed, “There is only one god, my father. I can approach him by day, by night.”

Akhenaten could have been the first monotheist in all of history.

According to Egyptian Mythology, he descended from the gods who arrived on Earth at the time of Tep Zepi.

Even today people still believe that this Pharaoh did, in fact, come from “The Stars”.

Akhenaten, upon becoming Pharaoh ordered all the iconography of previous gods to be removed.

According to writings by Akhenaten and poems that were written about him later on, he was visited by beings that descended from the sky, these beings told Akhenaten what he needed to do and how he needed to rule over his people.

Akhenaten claimed to be a direct descendant of Aten and regarded himself to be divine and was himself a God, but not only did he believe himself to be a god, the whole nation worshiped him like one.

Akhenaten ordered the construction of a new capital city which he called Amarna and he dedicated it to the sun.

Akhenaten instituted changes in art and culture and one of the most notable changes was how he would be publicly depicted, not as a strong “untouchable” Pharaoh, but as he really was, “weak” , elongated skull, long neck, sunken eyes, thick thighs, long fingers, backward-turned knee joints, a pot belly and female-like breasts.

After his reign, the city of  Amarna was abandoned and temples to the sun were destroyed, images of Akhenaten were deliberately defaced.

In 1907, the actual body of Akhenaten was discovered in Egypt’s Valley of the Kings by British archaeologist Edward Ayrton.

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  1. Joann Fletcher, not June. If you can’t get the simple things correct, what value should we put on your work?

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