A HYMN TO ATEN
During the Eighteenth Dynasty, Pharaoh Amenophis IV abandoned Egypt’s gods for a brand new religion. His new name was Akhenaten, which meant ‘living spirit of Aten.’ Akhenaten, with his queen Nefertiti at his side (shown below), created a revolutionary period in Egyptian history now known as the Amarna Interlude. A new naturalistic form of art (as seen in the vignette) accompanied a religious revolution. Akhenaten promoted the worship of the sun god Ra in the form of the cult of the sun disc Aten. With Nefertiti’s support, he established themselves as living gods. Only by worshipping the royal couple could his subjects access the Aten. Aten, the solar deity, was given a status above all the other Egyptian gods and the priesthood became irrelevant. For a short while, they established their capital of Akhetaten in modern-day el Amarna and outlawed the worship of the old gods. This made Akhenaten and Nefertiti many enemies and, after their deaths, their images were expunged from the hieroglyphic records.
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