"Akhenaten's impact on religion, art and building was significant, but temporary"

Essay by Rhiannon_LavenderHigh School, 12th gradeA+, April 2004

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"Akhenaten's impact on religion, art and building was significant, but temporary"

It cannot be denied that Amenhotep IV, or Akhenaten as he is more widely known, had a very large and significant impact on Egyptian religion and art during his reign as pharaoh. The effects and impacts of his reign spread across many aspects of Egyptian life and ranged from the art of Akhenaten and to religion and the Cult of Aten to building at this period.

Amenhotep IV changed his name Akhenaten and began a revolutionary period in Egyptian history called the Amarna Period. Although this period lasted only a relatively short time, had a profound impact on Egyptian civilisation. The fact that it is seen as a curious interlude in Egyptian history and due to the fact that great efforts were made to later to obliterate this period from existence, leaves us with many unanswered questions. In result there are many conflicting theories as to why this interlude took place, why it failed and what was its overall significance in Ancient Egyptian history.

The first I will discuss is religion, which ties in heavily with art. Evidence of the new revolutionary art style co-existing with the more traditional art styles familiar to the Egyptians is seen in the art work of Akhenaten's early reign (It is believed for a time he ruled as co-regent with his father Amenhotep III ). A modified emphasis on different gods and cults was quite normal but Akhenaten once established in power, altered the entire emphasis from traditional ways to the worship of Aten (Sun god) in a very direct and monotheistic manner. It is generally thought that this emanated from a power struggle between the ruler (Akhenaten) and the growing power of the priesthood of Amun. His father had noted this...