Definitions

akhenaton

akhenaton

Akhenaten was an Egyptian Pharaoh who ruled during the Eighteenth Dynasty of ancient Egypt. Akhenaten was the son of Amenhotop III and Queen Tiye. Akhenaten's name was initially Amenhotep IV but he changed it multiple times over the course of his reign, settling on the royal name of Akhenaten.

It is believed Akhenaten married his half-sister, Nefertiti. It was an ancient Egyptian tradition for pharaohs to marry the eldest daughter of his father to keep the royal bloodline in tact. Akhenaten had other wives but Nefertiti was his chief wife. Akhenaten is the father of at least 9 children, the most famous of them being Tutankhamen.

Akhenaten ruled for 17 years and is best known for introducing the idea of worshiping a single God rather than the polytheistic gods Pharaohs before him endorsed. He was the only Egyptian Pharaoh to endorse monotheistic worship and was the last ruler of Egypt to do so until the Roman Empire took control and instituted Christianity as the state religion.

When Akhenaten was a young child he was raised to worship the god Amon, who was the chief god of Egypt at the time. Akhenaten worshiped Amon at the beginning of his reign but soon began promoting the worship of a new deity called Aten. Akhenaten identified Aten as the Sun God from which all power came. He changed the capital of Egypt to a newly built city named Akhetaten, which is today known as Amarna. Akhenaten banned the worship of Amon in Egypt and closed down any temples or places of worship devoted to Amon. These changes were not popular with the majority of the Egyptian people and only remained in place until Akhenaten died and the priests and royal families re-instituted the old polytheistic form of religious worship. They also moved the capital of Egypt back to its original location in Thebes.

Akhenaten is a deeply controversial figure in Egyptian history. Subsequent Pharaohs tried to have his name removed from all official records of Egyptian Pharaohs and destroyed any temples or shrines dedicated to Akhenaten. His history is still largely debated but the one thing historians agree upon is that he was the first and only Egyptian Pharaoh to introduce the idea of worshiping a single God.

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