The Amarna Period

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Assess the reasons for the Amarna revolution and its subsequent failure. It has been argued that the most remarkable period of ancient Egypt’s profound history was that of the Amarna period. Amenhotep III’s son and successor Amenhotep IV or Akhenaten (reigned 1379 - 1334 BC) was the infiltrator of the Amarna revolution. This ‘revolution’ refers to the radical changes to the Egyptian religion, art, architecture, politics and foreign policy. Among professional Egyptologists, the mere mention of this period brings passionate reactions and controversial opinions emphasising the enormity of the change in history. Sir Flinders Petrie, the great English Egyptologist, was the first to understand Akhenaten’s historical importance. He described him as “a man who was indisputably a genius and who managed to crush the thousand-year-old shell of habits, superstitions and conventions of society” enforcing him as a courageous individual. The profound changes to the Egyptian way of life was revolved around the elevated status of the Aten, the sun-disk, as a single, exclusive deity. Before Akhenaten’s monotheistic modification to Egyptian society, the country was at its height during the 18th dynasty. Polytheism, the worship of thousands of gods, was the basis for religion, the Temple of Amun at Karnak was the largest in Egypt, the pharaoh himself was seen to be a god-king, the priests were correspondingly very rich and Egyptian art and architecture was very standardised. Akhenaten came to be regarded as the ‘heretic pharaoh,’ since he broke with a long established religious tradition and created one of his own. The pharaoh declared all of the other gods as ‘false’ and placed an extreme emphasis on the sun-disk Aten due to the belief that the god was the universal creator of all life. Its visible symbol was the rays of the sun that of which was reflected throughout

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