By Dominic Montserrat

ISBN-10: 1134690347

ISBN-13: 9781134690343

The pharaoh Akhenaten, who governed Egypt within the mid-fourteenth century BCE, has been the topic of extra hypothesis than the other personality in Egyptian historical past. This provocative new biography examines either the genuine Akhenaten and the myths which were created round him. It scrutinises the historical past of the pharaoh and his reign, which has been constantly written in Eurocentric phrases inapplicable to old Egypt, and the archaeology of Akhenaten's capital urban, Amarna. It is going directly to discover the pharaoh's striking cultural afterlife, and how he has been invoked to validate every little thing from psychoanalysis to racial equality to Fascism.

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Efforts to deny Akhenaten's existence by omitting him from some official records begin at this time. An inscription raised by Tutankhamun in the Hypostyle Hall at Karnak Temple gives a rather allusive version of Akhenaten's reign, never mentioning his name, and saying that neglect of the gods had led to disaster abroad: The gods were ignoring this land: if an army was sent ... to extend the frontiers of Egypt, it met with no success; if one prayed to a god to ask something from him, he did not come at all.

On some of the Karnak reliefs, Akhenaten appears with a consort, Nefertiti. Her prominence here anticipates her importance on official monuments throughout Akhenaten's reign. Her name, 'The-radiant-one-has-come', is curious. Other Egyptian names ending in -iti honour important goddesses, such as Bastiti, 'Bast-has-come'. The nifer- element of the name has associations with beauty, completeness and vitality, and becomes a much-used word in the vocabulary of the Aten cult. Although Nefertiti's name is unusual and her parentage and origins are unknown, there is no evidence that she was a foreigner, as has been suggested (often in support of dubious racial theories).

Estimates of its population vary from 20,000-30,000 to as many as 50,000 people, who lived in domestic buildings ranging from the large, imposing 24 HISTORIES OF AKHENATEN and comfortable to the poky, institutional and basic. The domestic buildings at Akhet-aten in some ways bear the burden of proof for extreme interpretations of the site as being either a unique aberration or completely normal architecturally. The elite houses, some of them architecturally different from those at other Egyptian sites, seem to show how environmental factors as well as ideology shaped the city: Some of their features may be responses to living in a severe desert environment which builders, accustomed to conditions in the Nile valle~ had not had to consider before, but the houses still reflect the traditional elite ideal of rus in urbe.

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Akhenaten: History, Fantasy and Ancient Egypt by Dominic Montserrat


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