What was the nature of Akhenaten's religious beliefs?

Essay by neddy96University, Bachelor'sA-, March 2006

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During the XVIIIth Dynasty of New Kingdom Egypt (1550-1295BC), Amun became known as the 'King of Gods'. He was the father of the Pharaoh and the ruler of conquered lands. Religious belief was tied into every aspect of New Kingdom society. Akhenaten (Amenhotep IV, 1353-1337) completely changed the nature of this society - he proclaimed the Aten as the sole god of Egypt and abolished all others. Although different forms of sun worship had existed since the Vth dynasty, Akhenaten's religious reforms were completely new to Egypt. The Pharaoh moved the capital, changed burial practices and introduced a new style of art that was used in representations of the royal family worshipping the Aten. The Amarna age, as it is known, was short lived. After the death of the king all traces of Atenism were abolished and the kingdom was quickly restored to its former state, under the watchful eye of Amun.

A thousand years prior to the reign of Akhenaten the sun god is mentioned in the pyramid texts. Early worship of the sun god in the form of the Aten can be traced back to the reign of Amenemhat I (1963-1943), whom upon his death was said to have been united with the Aten on the horizon, and during the reign of Amenhotep II (1427-1401) the image of the Aten as the sun disc with extended arms first appeared. In the reign of Thutmose IV (1401-1391) the Aten became known as the exalted god of the sky , but it was Amenhotep III (1391-1353), father of Amenhotep IV, who first gave the Aten a prominent position within the Egyptian pantheon. Under his rule the name of the Aten was given to a palace ('The Aten is Resplendent'), the state barge ('Radiance of the Aten), an army corps, and...