Many aspects of the religious reform introduced by the Pharaoh Akhenaten during his reign (1352 - 1336 BC) were initially seen as revolutionary upon their discovery last century . At a stage when the successful military campaigns of his forebears into Asiatic territories had brought the Egyptian Empire to the height of its power, the times 'demanded a strong king like the conquering Pharaohs of the earlier half of the dynasty' . Akhenaton's virtual abandonment of the military in order to focus on a new monotheism , the cult of Aten, led to his initial description by modern eulogists as 'a pacifist visionary, eager to preach the brotherhood of mankind...'
Recent works concerning the king's new religion, particularly those of Cyril Aldred, explore the evidence that Akhenaton's reign was more truthfully a return to conservatism involving the reintroduction of old ideas such as self-deification and Aten-worship held by earlier rulers of Egypt, and that in this way Akhenaten wished to associate himself with their former glory.
Born Amunhotep IV as the son of the pharaoh Amunhotep III and his Chief Queen Tiye , the young prince inherited a situation that would have proved a challenge to any new heir. To assess whether his reform was to ancient tradition or all of his own, it is necessary to glance over the cultural situation that he entered, later to change it dramatically.
Dynasty 18 into which Akhenaten came had undergone a change of increased globalisation from the Egypt that had preceded it. The Asian occupation of Lower Egypt, the accession of the Egyptian Throne by Hyksos kings and the introduction of the horse-drawn carriage had all brought about changes leading to a greater mobility of forces within the empire.
The expansion of Egypt into a world empire during the dynasty and the...