Facts about Egyptian pharaohs, King Akhenaten (Amenhotep IV)

Ancient Egypt facts, king Akhenaten

Here we are going to talk about some interesting facts about one of the most important Egyptian pharaohs, who is king Akhenaten, originally (Amenhotep IV).

Both of Egyptians and scholars know him as Akhenaten in modern times. He is famous for his religious revolution. This religious revolution considered the only one in the ancient Egyptian history.

Because of this revolution, some scholars thought that he was one of the prophets sent by the God, but there is no evidence.

  1. Ancient Egyptian facts: Co-regency with his father

Akhenaten was not meant to rule the Kingdom, as his father King Amenhotep III made Amenhotep IV’s older brother a co-regent, but his brother died during the lifetime of Amenhotep IV, so Akhenaten became the heir to the throne.

No one can identify the duration of his co-regency with his father, but the scholars said that it might be from 1 to 2 years.

  1. Facts about Egypt pharaohs: King Amenhotep IV at Thebes
Ancient Egypt facts about Akhenaten
Facts about Egyptian pharaoh king Akhenaten

He married Queen Nefertiti and became the pharaoh of Egypt at the age of 16. The historical resources mentioned that his mother Queen Ti was his backbone at the time of his reign.

At the beginning of his reign, he presented the full loyalty to god Amun as we know from the stela located at the North of Kom-Ambo city.

  1. King Akhenaten and the religious revolution
Ancient Egypt facts, god Aten
Facts about ancient Egypt, god Aten
King Akhenaten was very patient till the 4th year of his rule, then he replaced god Amun by the new one, god Aten.

According to King Akhenaten, god Aten was the sole and only god in the universe (monotheism). It took the shape of sun disk.

King Akhenaten and his family considered the personification of this god on Earth.

King Akhenaten started in building the new capital of ancient Egypt, which replaced Thebes, the old one. It was called “Akht Itn”, which means the horizon of the sun, and also he changed his name from Amenhotep to Akhenaten, which means the living image of god Aten.

He made some decisions related to this god, which were:

  • He built a new temple for this god in his new city, but unfortunately, this temple was demolished now by the followers and priests of god Amun after the death of the king.
  • He made some additions to the Karnak temple for god Aten.
  • He closed all the temples which were built for the worship of god Amun.

It is noteworthy to mention that god Aten was not first introduced by King Akhenaten, but it was known during the Middle Kingdom, specifically in the 12th dynasty.

The scholars found a scene in King Amenhotep III’s tomb represents the personification of a sun disk, under it is Hieroglyphic inscriptions named this disk Aten, but the inscriptions do not mention that Aten was a god.

That means King Akhenaten was the first king to make this sun disk a sole god of the universe, but he was not the first one to introduce it, and this is undeniable fact about ancient Egyptian pharaohs.

Egyptian facts, facts about god Aten
Ancient Egyptian facts, a scene represents the sun disk of Aten

Before the reign of King Akhenaten, Aten was represented by two notions, which were:

  • The planet of the sun.
  • The god who was resident on this planet.

King Akhenaten left out the first notion and confirmed the second one. The word “Aten” replaced the word “nṯr”, which means “god” in the ancient Egyptian language. He gave himself a title “the first servant of god Aten”.

In the beginning, the priests of the god Amun allowed the King to build new temples for god Aten because they thought that Aten was a merely different shape of god Amun, but lately, they realized that this god was the substitute of Amun and all gods in Egypt.

God Aten was represented by the sun disk with its rays which ends with human hands.

These hands touch the king and his family to show:

  • The god gave the love and affection to the royal family.
  • The king was the mediator between the god and the people.
  • The god was the protector of the king.
Facts about Egypt, god Aten and Akhenaten
Ancient Egypt facts, a scene shows god Aten with its hands and King Akhenaten

On the other hand, King Akhenaten did not pay attention to the foreign policy and campaigns, so the kingdom lost parts of its North.

King Akhenaten died after ruling the kingdom for 17 years. After his death the priests of Amun destroyed the new capital “Akht Aten”, and Thebes became the capital of ancient Egypt again.

They also destroyed the temples which were dedicated to god Aten, and Amun returned to be the main god again.

Among the reasons which led to the end of this new religion was that King Akhenaten made himself as the sole mediator between the god and the people, so after his death the people could not find any other mediator, so they abandoned the new religion (monotheism) and turned back again to their old one (polytheism).

Ancient Egypt has a lot of facts, and King Akhenaten represented a very distinguished fact about ancient Egypt pharaohs.