Akhenaten Was One of the Great Pharaoh's Term Paper

Download this Term Paper in word format (.doc)

Note: Sample below may appear distorted but all corresponding word document files contain proper formatting

Excerpt from Term Paper:

Akhenaten was one of the great pharaoh's of Egypt that is still the object of much introspection, question and mystery. Akhenaten's reign has been characterized as notable in relation to the many unusual changes the pharaoh instituted while leading the people of Egypt. Many authors have theorized that the pharaoh was a revolutionary, though somewhat of a self-absorbed leader. Indeed many aspects of the pharaoh's reign are still the subject of much speculation and contemplation. Supposition and theory even exists as to the physical well being and stature of the pharaoh, depicted by many historians as unusual or strange in appearance. The idea that Akhenaten may have suffered from a disorder of the psyche or from a lack of self-esteem due to his physical appearance is one that warrants further exploration.

Akhenaten is often not credited as being one of the great pharaoh's, his name is not as well-known as that of the boy king, Tutenkhamen. However, he should be credited with being a revolutionary. The former pharaoh is most well noted as being a religious zealot and instigator of change, if only temporary change, within the country of Egypt. Many historians have noted or credited Akhenaten with single-handedly being responsible for initiating a religious revolution in Egypt. Though his efforts have been defined as the first true attempt at establishing a monotheistic state in a polytheistic society, his efforts were not permanent. The reasoning behind his decisions to change Egypt's religion is still questioned however to this day. The most notable theme and historical resources suggest that Akhenaten was a self absorbed individual who revolutionized religion in Egypt during his reign to benefit his own idealisms and truisms. These ideas as well as the thoughts and theories of historians are explored further below.


Most of the literature that has been written surrounding Akhenaten focuses on themes related to speculation regarding why the pharaoh would attempt to move Egypt to a more monotheistic culture. Most of the authors have structured their work to include a brief synopsis of the Akhenaten's life, including a great deal of description regarding his family life and family values. By far the most common or prevalent fact that has been unearthed is that Akhenaten worshiped one god, a sun god, perhaps because his family was very involved in sun worship.

Most historians have also theorized that the former pharaoh was likely a family man, justified in part by the author's analysis and description of the artwork found in Ancient Egypt, which often depicted the king entertaining his wife, family and children.

A great deal of the theory surrounding the king also suggests that Akhenaten was perhaps not a popular pharaoh of ancient Egypt. He is in fact, much less well-known than some of the other great pharaohs. The idea has surfaced that he was not popular because of his religious fervor in fact, and that only the Egyptian elite had a tendency to follow or go along with his monotheistic religious revolution.

Most historians and the authors telling the story of Akhenaten agree and theorize that the vast majority of Egyptian people still operated according to a polytheistic belief system, and this idea was proven in part when the reign of the king ended, and Egypt as a whole once again returned to a polytheistic establishment.

These themes and ideals are taken from a variety of places. Most of the authors have gathered information regarding the former pharaoh from ancient texts, historical artifacts, hieroglyphs and similar drawings that often depict the life and times of the king. Some have drawn conclusions based on the ideas of Freud and early philosophers. An analysis of any previously written history of ancient Egypt clearly shows a tendency of the Egyptian people to worship many gods, not just one as Akhenaten seemed so inclined. Still others have consulted archeologists and genealogical lines to assess the true lineage of the king. Most historians and authors have come up with similar theories related to the late pharaoh's lifestyle, rule and habits.

In the second millennium before Christ there lived an Egyptian King, Amenophis IV (Akhenaten), who deserves to be recognized as the first revolutionary of whom we have much knowledge."

This early historian, Ernest, goes on to say that Akhenaten succeeded in overthrowing the "local prevailing religion" whose worship focused on Amun and his main point is that "his ideals did indeed support the beginnings of a type of monotheism."

According to another author, the religious revolution that occurred at the hands of Akhenaten was "particularly destructive," because much Akhenaten focused much of his attention and energy on "expanding his cult" and in fact, "erasing the history and worship of Amun from the records of the land."

Another idea that has surfaced as a common theme among historians is the idea that Akhenaten was basically asexual, or struggled with his sexual identity in some way. He is indeed often portrayed softly, in a somewhat feminine fashion. In recent work, one author points out that Akhenaten was certainly "extremely feminine in disposition" and claims that the king had perhaps a type of negative self-image and disposition which was responsible for some of his behavior and actions.

The author, Strachey, supposes that Akhenaten indeed exhibited hatred toward Amun and instead offers the "adoration of the universal and omnipotent Aten." Interestingly, the author psychoanalyzes the pharaoh suggesting that Akhenaten exhibits "maliciousness, hatred and cowardice often associated with destructive revolutionary moves that result from an internal sense of guild."

One critic notes the following, "An analysis of Akhenaten by Freud's Schreber in 1911 suggests that Akhenaten exhibited some signs of paranoia related to sex inversion, and suggests that perhaps he had generalized anxiety related to homophobic tendencies of other sexual phenomena."


The ancient Egyptian pharaoh Akhenaten ruled in Egypt approximately 3, 400 years ago during the eighteenth dynasty.

His reign has been characterized as controversial and as one of revolution, most notably with respect to religion.

Some people have characterized the former pharaoh of Egypt as remarkable, while others have noted that he was merely a figurehead who for a brief moment in time changed the scope of worship in Egypt. He is regardless a distinguished character that many people have commented on, someone who has been referred to as mysterious, fanatical, eccentric and strange by different historians and authors.

Akhenaten is most notably known as the pharaoh that overthrew years of Egyptian belief in polytheism or many gods in favor or a more Christian outlook, the worship of a single god whom he referred to as Aten. Interestingly, his desire to pay respects to one god, the sun god, could not have been drawn from Christianity, as the pharaoh reigned before the time of Christ. One may argue instead that perhaps the great pharaoh of Egypt was responsible for inspiring the religious fervor of Christianity that developed many years after his rein.

Akhenaten was raised by the name of Amenhotep III which he changed to Akhenaten later, which means "He Who is of Service to Aten." Aten was not only known as a sun-god but is also referred to as the "solar disk itself."

The reasoning behind his revolution and change in ideals however is uncertain, and therefore historians and authors have been attempting to determine and theorize the inspiration that lead Akhenaten down this road of revolution.

Some historians have claimed that Akhenaten was inspired by Jewish belief systems, "particularly the idea of Moses or Joseph."

This is a possibility, but one that is very unlikely. Redford points out however that Akhenaten "did not place much emphasis on faith, but Joseph and Moses of the Jewish faith did, and therefore the relationship is less likely to be direct." It seems in fact that the pharaoh's desire to worship one god had little do in fact with faith at all, and more to do with personal idealisms and philosophical perspectives. This point is still debated among historians today.

In her work Red Land, Black Land, Barbara Mertz argues that Akhenaten was not very aware of the "political climate and surroundings in which he lived," and therefore he would not have chosen a single god for political reasons, as some historians have argued. This sentiment is also pointed out by many other historians. At one point or another each of the authors has pointed out that Akhenaten virtually closed the temples of other gods, such as the temple of Amun. Amun was a very popular deity worshiped by a large cult following in Egypt at about the same time that Akhenaten took the throne.

Akhenaten did not just close the temples however, he also "confiscated the revenues associated with the temples, destroyed statues of the other god" and "desecrated the worship sites." These actions in and of themselves clearly demonstrate a leader not in tune with the political climate of the era.

Most of the historians and authors that wrote about the king have stated again and again that…[continue]

Cite This Term Paper:

"Akhenaten Was One Of The Great Pharaoh's" (2003, November 24) Retrieved December 5, 2016, from http://www.paperdue.com/essay/akhenaten-was-one-of-the-great-pharaoh-157305

"Akhenaten Was One Of The Great Pharaoh's" 24 November 2003. Web.5 December. 2016. <http://www.paperdue.com/essay/akhenaten-was-one-of-the-great-pharaoh-157305>

"Akhenaten Was One Of The Great Pharaoh's", 24 November 2003, Accessed.5 December. 2016, http://www.paperdue.com/essay/akhenaten-was-one-of-the-great-pharaoh-157305

Other Documents Pertaining To This Topic

  • Ankh Is One of the Most Familiar

    Ankh is one of the most familiar and one of the most mysterious Egyptian artifacts and hieroglyphs. The meaning of the ankh is associated in various ways with "life" and regeneration. There are numerous explanations of its meaning; for example, "The Egyptian ankh, 'oath,' means literally an 'utterance of life,' quite in the sense of the oath sworn by a genius." (Kristensen and Kraemer 428) In appearance the ankh resembles a

  • Egyptian Influence on Judaism and

    . This was to lead to the inevitable interaction and cross -- cultural pollination between the cultures. Kline states that; " No wonder that such a large number of Egyptian loan words, phrases and intellectual ideas should be preserved in the Old Testament, along with a large number of idiomatic expressions, and two Egyptian units of measure" (Kline). However, while cultural interaction and the adoption of various phrases and

  • King Tutankhamen Image Source Http Homepage powerup com au ancient Tut1 htm...

    Other theories are that he died after having been sent into battle. Other scholars state that a hole found in the King's head indicates foul play but experts believe that the hole was made after his death. (Tutankamun: Life and Times) Another mysterious aspect of the life of King Tutankhamun that still lingers in the modern consciousness is the famous, or rather infamous, curse that is associated with his name.

  • Egypt as We Know Egyptian

    We have numerous proofs that Egyptians already used contracts, testaments and other important institutes of developed society. Also any citizen was allowed to bring lawsuits against guilty person and try to prove that his right or interest was threatened by that person. This was a very important institute of a democratic society because open court was the only legal state organ of justice. The New Kingdom is also characterized by

  • History of Economic of the 4 Periods in Ancient Civilization

    Economics in Ancient Civilization It is said that "Rome was not built in a day." Indeed, the Roman Empire was the last of a series of civilizations to emerge in the Mediterranean by the First Millennium, B.C. Precursors to the culture most identified as the seat of Western political economy, the Ancient Egyptians, Etruscans, Greeks, Syrians, Carthaginians and Phoenicians all had contact with the Romans, and eventually were incorporated through territorial

  • Debate the Ethics of Repatriation Egyptian Artifacts

    Ethics of Repatriation-Egyptian Artifacts Egyptians making efforts to get their artifacts back The artifacts that get stolen from a country are hard to get back as, the country from which they are stolen would have to ask the authorities of the other country to help them find those artifacts or fight a legal battle in the courts of the other country which can not only be very time consuming but also

  • Senwosret III Faces on the Statues of

    Senwosret III Faces on the statues of Senwosret III (circa 1878-41 BC) show more individualized features than those of his predecessors, and also portray the image of a king exhausted by service to his people and country. At the same time, though, his body was always portrayed as powerful and muscular, befitting a great warrior and leader of men in battle. Hymns, monuments and inscriptions celebrated his courage in battle,

Read Full Term Paper
Copyright 2016 . All Rights Reserved