History Summarized: Akhenaten


Ancient Egyptian mythology is a complex beast, with hundreds, if not thousands of deities, and a sophistocated bureaucracy of priests overseeing the management of religion across the empire. What happens when that entire polytheistic system gets forcibly co-opted into monotheism instead? Well, one king actually tried to do it, and he would have gotten away with it too, if it weren’t for those meddling polytheists. But before we make a mess of the natural order of things, we should probably know what exactly we’re making a mess OF. Let’s do some history. (:D) Five generations since the reign of Hatshepsut, for those of you keeping track at home, Egypt is doing REALLY WELL for itself. Sources being what sources usually are, we don’t have a super full picture of what Egypt was like, but based on what we DO know about the reign of the King Amenhotep lll in particular, we can make some educated guesses. Trade was booming, thanks to Hatshepsut’s reforms, and food was in good supply, The kingdom’s more far-flung regions were consolidated and protected from Northern invasions thanks to Hatshepsut’s stepson, Thutmose lll, and religious life, centered on the ancient and recently renovated city of Thebes was booming. Not only that, but art was also prolific, which is always great. 🙂 Many Egyptologists consider Amenhotep lll’s reign to be among the kingdom’s most prosperous, and with a laundry list like that, it’s not hard to see why his namesake Amun would have been pleased indeed. Which, speaking of Amun, who IS Amun? That question is actually quite apt, because in the Egyptian pantheon of gods, Amun’s whole deal was that he was “The Hidden One.”
(Amun: You can’t see me) Earlier in Egyptian history, he was just another run-of-the-mill deity, but over time, his role increased. Since he was god of all things hidden, everything that wasn’t specifically in the perview of a different god could very well fall to him. So he picked up a lot of attributes, and came to be seen as a creator god. After the Second Intermediary Period ended, and the occupying Hyksos were expelled by Ahmose l around 1500 BC, he gave thanks to Amun for his victory. And, since the Egyptians were no strangers to combining the attributes of various gods into composite figures, it made sense for Ahmose to combine Amun with one of Egypt’s then most prominent creator gods, Ra. In the New Kingdom period, Amun-Ra was the biggest and most nationally important god in the entire Egyptian pantheon, and he soon acquired the priesthood bureaucracy to prove it. Anyway, Amenhotep lll was an all-around cool dude, and when he died in 1351 …ish, the dates aren’t exact– his son Amenhotep IV became Pharoah of Egypt after which he got to work making a total mess of the place ^^’. In his first couple of years, things were fairly normal, but in a few places, you could get the sense that something fishy was going on

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