Tony Forgey - Akhenaten: Mysteries and Speculations

Style of Thutmose

The heretic king Akhenaten is bathed in controversy, mystery, and speculation. He took the Egyptian throne in 1352 B.C. after his father Amenhotep the III. Immediately, he began to make radical changes in religion, art, and foreign policy. Akhenaten changed his name from Amenhotep IV, and proceeded to radically change the Egyptian religious system from polytheistic to monotheistic worship of one god—Aten:

Art of the culture also changed immensely, now instead of portraying people ideally with perfect physiques,
people were portrayed with brutal honesty:

Nefertiti in her later years

It is speculated that Moses, who was alive at the time, may have influenced Akhenaten’s religious reforms. Also, it has been theorized that Akhenaten tried to erase the prevailing god Amun and instill his god Aten to relinquish the growing power and wealth of the priests of the time. Some believe that Akhenaten was just at the right place at the right time, and whether or not he had been at the throne these reforms would have happened. Though, most believe because of the violent reactions after his untimely death, that Akhenaten was a crucial piece in the religious changes that took over Egypt during his 18-year reign.

The radical changes in Egyptian art also have many theories and mysteries. After Akhenaten took the throne, art became very realistic, and his whole family would be in many of the pictures with him:

Stele of Akhenaten and Family

Not to mention, Akhenaten’s appearance itself is extremely strange and unconventional. He is portrayed has having long arms and fingers, rounded thighs, large breasts, a long neck, and a sharp chin--definitely not an ideal physique. It is thought that he may have suffered from Froehlich’s Syndrome (a disease of the endocrine system), or more probably Marfan’s Syndrome. This would account for his unusual stature, as well as his death.

After Akhenaten’s death in 1336 B.C., he was succeeded by Smenkhkara, who may have been Nefertiti (Akhenaten’s wife) posing as a man, or may have been the brother of Tutankhaten (King Tut). Regardless, life in Egypt went back to normal. Religion went back to polytheistic worship with Amun being the head god, art went back to the traditional style (though it would be influenced by the Amarna period), and Akhenaten was basically erased from Egyptian history. Akhenaten called himself Wa-en-Re, "the unique one of Re", and though after his time he was shunned as a rebel, he is certainly an extremely unique and mysterious figure of Egyptian history.

Further Reading:
Akhenaten - The Glory of the Aten at Katherine Strange
Akhenaten: Mad, Bad, or Brilliant? at The Telegraph
Akhenaten at Ancient History Encyclopedia
The Art of the Amarna Period at Heptune
Pharaoh Akhenaten at Crystal Links

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