Atenism

Atenism, or the "Amarna heresy", refers to the religious changes associated with the eighteenth dynasty Pharaoh Amenhotep IV, better known under his adopted name, Akhenaten. In the 14th century BC, Atenism was Egypt's state religion for around 20 years, before subsequent rulers returned to the traditional gods and the Pharaohs associated with Atenism were erased from Egyptian records.

La salle dAkhenaton (1356-1340 av J.C.) (Musée du Caire) (2076972086)
Pharaoh Akhenaten and his family adoring the Aten

History of Aten before Akhenaten

Aten, the god of Atenism, first appears in texts dating to the 12th dynasty, in the Story of Sinuhe. During the Middle Kingdom, Aten "as the sun disk...was merely one aspect of the sun god Re."[1] It was a relatively obscure sun god; without the Atenist period, it would barely have figured in Egyptian history. Although there are indications that it was becoming slightly more important during the eighteenth dynasty, notably Amenhotep III's naming of his royal barge as Spirit of the Aten, it was Amenhotep IV who introduced the Atenist revolution in a series of steps culminating in the official installment of the Aten as Egypt's sole god. Although each line of kings prior to the reign of Akhenaten[2] had previously adopted one deity as the royal patron and supreme state god, there had never been an attempt to exclude other deities, and the multitude of gods had always been tolerated and worshipped. During the reign of Thutmosis IV, it was identified as a distinct solar god, and his son Amenhotep III established and promoted a separate cult for the Aten. There is no evidence that Amenhotep III neglected the other gods or attempted to promote the Aten as an exclusive deity.

Atenist revolution

Amenhotep IV initially introduced Atenism in the fifth year of his reign (1348/1346 BC), raising Aten to the status of supreme god, after having initially permitted continued worship of the traditional gods.[3] To emphasise the change, Aten's name was written in the cartouche form normally reserved for Pharaohs, an innovation of Atenism. The religious reformation appears to coincide with the proclamation of a Sed festival, a sort of royal jubilee intended to reinforce the Pharaoh's divine powers of kingship. Traditionally held in the thirtieth year of the Pharaoh's reign, it possibly was a festival in honour of Amenhotep III. Some Egyptologists think that he had a coregency with Amenhotep IV of 2-12 years.

The name of god Amun was erased, probably during Amarna era of Akhenaten. Detail of stela of Djeserka, a doorkeeper of the Amun temple at Thebes. From Thebes, Egypt. The Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology, London
The name of god Amun was erased, probably during Amarna era of Akhenaten. Detail of stela of Djeserka, a doorkeeper of the Amun temple at Thebes. From Thebes, Egypt. The Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology, London
Hieroglyphs on the backpillar of Amenhotep III's statue. There are 2 places where Akhenaten's agents erased the name Amun, later restored on a deeper surface. The British Museum, London
Hieroglyphs on the backpillar of Amenhotep III's statue. There are 2 places where Akhenaten's agents erased the name Amun, later restored on a deeper surface. The British Museum, London

The fifth year is believed to mark the beginning of Amenhotep IV's construction of a new capital, Akhetaten (Horizon of the Aten), at the site known today as Amarna. Evidence appears on three of the boundary stelae used to mark the boundaries of this new capital. Then, Amenhotep IV officially changed his name to Akhenaten (Spirit of the Aten) as evidence of his new worship. The date given for the event has been estimated to fall around January 2 of that year. In the seventh year of his reign (1346/1344 BC), the capital was moved from Thebes to Akhetaten, but construction of the city seems to have continued for two more years. In shifting his court from the traditional ceremonial centres, he was signalling a dramatic transformation in the focus of religious and political power.

The move separated the Pharaoh and his court from the influence of the priesthood and from the traditional centres of worship, but his decree had deeper religious significance too. Taken in conjunction with his name change, it is possible that the move to Amarna was also meant as a signal of Akhenaten's symbolic death and rebirth. It may also have coincided with the death of his father and the end of the coregency. In addition to constructing a new capital in honor of Aten, Akhenaten also oversaw the construction of some of the most massive temple complexes in ancient Egypt, including one at Karnak and one at Thebes, close to the old temple of Amun.

Detail of funerary stela of Amenemhat. The name of God Amun was erased by Akhenaten's agents. Limestone, painted. From Egypt, early 18thh Dynasty. The Burrell Collection, Glasgow
Detail of funerary stela of Amenemhat. The name of God Amun was erased by Akhenaten's agents. Limestone, painted. From Egypt, early 18thh Dynasty. The Burrell Collection, Glasgow

In the ninth year of his reign (1344/1342 BC), Akhenaten declared a more radical version of his new religion, declaring Aten not merely the supreme god of the Egyptian pantheon but the only God of Egypt, with himself as the sole intermediary between the Aten and the Egyptian people. Key features of Atenism included a ban on idols and other images of the Aten, with the exception of a rayed solar disc in which the rays (commonly depicted ending in hands) appear to represent the unseen spirit of Aten. Aten was addressed by Akhenaten in prayers, such as the Great Hymn to the Aten: "O Sole God beside whom there is none". Aten's name is also written differently after the ninth year of the Pharaoh's rule to emphasise the radicalism of the new regime. Aten, instead of being written with the symbol of a rayed solar disc, now became spelled phonetically.

The details of Atenist theology are still unclear. The exclusion of all but one god and the prohibition of idols was a radical departure from Egyptian tradition, but most scholars see Akhenaten as a practitioner of monolatry rather than monotheism, as he did not actively deny the existence of other gods. He simply refrained from worshiping any but Aten.

It is known that Atenism did not attribute divinity only to Aten. Akhenaten continued the cult of the Pharaoh, proclaiming himself the son of Aten and encouraging the Egyptian people to worship him.[4] The Egyptian people were to worship Akhenaten, and only Akhenaten and Nefertiti could worship Aten directly.[5]

Contrast with traditional Egyptian religion

Akhenaten carried out a radical program of religious reform. For about twenty years, he largely supplanted the age-old beliefs and practices of the Egyptian state religion, and deposed its religious hierarchy, headed by the powerful priesthood of Amun at Thebes. For fifteen centuries, the Egyptians had worshiped an extended family of gods and goddesses, each of which had its own elaborate system of priests, temples, shrines and rituals. A key feature of the cults was the veneration of images and statues of the gods, which were worshipped in the dark confines of the temples.

The pinnacle of the religious hierarchy was the Pharaoh, both king and living god. Administration of the Egyptian kingdom was thus inextricably bound up with and largely controlled by the power and influence of the priests and scribes. Akhenaten's reforms cut away both the philosophical and economic bases of priestly power, abolishing the cults of all other deities and, with them, the large and lucrative industry of sacrifices and tributes that the priests controlled.

At the same time, he strengthened the role of the Pharaoh. Dominic Montserrat, analysing the various versions of the hymns to the Aten, argues that all versions of the hymns focus on the king; he suggests that the real innovation is to redefine the relationship of god and king in a way that benefited Akhenaten, quoting a statement of Egyptologist John Baines: "Amarna religion was a religion of god and king, or even of king first and then god".[6][7]

Initially, Akhenaten presented Aten to the Egyptian people as a variant of the familiar supreme deity Amun-Ra (itself the result of an earlier rise to prominence of the cult of Amun, resulting in Amun becoming merged with the sun god Ra), in an attempt to put his ideas in a familiar religious context. Aten is the name given to the solar disc, and the full title of Akhenaten's god was Ra-Horus, who rejoices in the horizon in his name of the light which is in the sun disc. (That is the title of the god as it appears on numerous stelae, placed to mark the boundaries of Akhenaten's new capital at Akhetaten.)

However, in the ninth year of his reign Akhenaten declared a more radical version of his new religion by declaring Aten not merely the supreme god but the only god, and Akhenaten was the son of Aten was the only intermediary between the Aten and his people.[8] He ordered the defacing of Amun's temples throughout Egypt. Key features of Atenism included a ban on idols and other images of the Aten, with the exception of a rayed solar disc in which the rays, commonly depicted as ending in hands, appear to represent the unseen spirit of Aten. New temples were constructed in which the Aten was worshipped in the open sunlight rather than in dark temple enclosures, as the old gods had been.

Although idols were banned, even in people's homes, they were typically replaced by functionally equivalent representations of Akhenaten and his family venerating the Aten and receiving the ankh (breath of life) from him. The radicalisation of the ninth year, including spelling Aten phonetically instead of using the rayed solar disc, may be a determination on the part of Akhenaten to dispel a probable misconception among the common people that Aten was really a type of sun god like Ra. Instead, the idea was reinforced that such representations were representations above all of concepts, of Aten's universal presence, not of physical beings or things.

Amarna art

Styles of art that flourished during the brief period are markedly different from other Egyptian art. They bear a variety of affectations, from elongated heads to protruding stomachs, exaggerated ugliness and the beauty of Nefertiti. Significantly, for the only time in the history of Egyptian royal art, Akhenaten's family was depicted in a decidedly naturalistic manner. It is clearly shown displaying affection.

Images of Akhenaten and Nefertiti usually depict the Aten prominently above that pair, with the hands of the Aten closest to each offering Ankhs. Unusually for New Kingdom art, the Pharaoh and his wife are depicted as approximately equal in size, with Nefertiti's image used to decorate the lesser Aten temple at Amarna. That may suggest that she also had a prominent official role in Aten worship.

Artistic representations of Akhenaten usually give him an unusual appearance, with slender limbs, a protruding belly and wide hips. Other leading figures of the Amarna period, both royal and otherwise, are also shown with some of these features, suggesting a possible religious connotation, especially as some sources suggest that private representations of Akhenaten, as opposed to official art, show him as quite normal. It is also suggested by Bob Brier, in his book "The Murder of Tutankhamen", that the family suffered from Marfan's syndrome, which is known to cause elongated features, which may explain Akhenaten's appearance.

Decline

The collapse of Atenism began during Akhenaten's late reign, when a major plague spread across the ancient Near East. This pandemic appears to have claimed the life of numerous royal family members and high-ranking officials, possibly contributing to the decline of Akhenaten's government. The events of this period are not well known due to a paucity and fragmentary nature of surviving sources. According to the most likely scenario, the widespread deaths due to plague caused Akhenaten to appoint two co-regents in quick succession: Smenkhkare and Neferneferuaten. The origin of both is not attested, though it has been speculated that Smenkhkare was a younger brother of Akhenaten, whereas Neferneferuaten was in fact Queen Nefertiti. Smenkhkare died after a short reign, eventually leaving Neferneferuaten as the acting regent of Egypt.[9]

Though Akhenaten's last years saw possibly the most aggressive repression of Amun and, less likely, other gods, his death quickly resulted in the resurgence of the old cults. Neferneferuaten appears to have attempted to reach some accommodation with the Amun priesthood, while still preserving a less exclusivistic form of Atenism.[10] After a few years, however, Neferneferuaten disappeared, and her successor Tutankhaten (with Akhenaten's old vizier, Ay, as regent) changed his name to Tutankhamun in the third year of his reign (c. 1330 BC), restored power to the Amun priesthood, and moved to capital away from Akhetaten, perhaps to Memphis, or, less likely, Thebes.[10]

The following two decades saw Atenism's terminal decline. Most of the temples that Akhenaten had built from talaat blocks, including the temple at Thebes, were disassembled, reused as a source of building materials and decorations for other temples, and inscriptions to Aten were defaced. Though Akhetaten was not fully abandoned, and the local Aten temple continued to function, most residents left over time. After Ay's short rule as pharaoh in his own right following Tutankhamun's death, Horemheb came to power. He ordered a purge of the Amarna Period rulers, removing Akhenaten, Smenkhkare, Neferneferuaten, Tutankhamun, and Ay from the official lists of Pharaohs, and destroying their monuments, including most remaining Aten temples.[11] Nevertheless, the Aten temple in Akhetaten was still in use during Horemheb's first years, suggesting that the purge was not universal, perhaps leaving some small pockets of Atenism in Egypt.[12]

Though this marked the de facto end of Atenism, the revolutionary cult left some lasting impact on Ancient Egyptian religion. For example, some changes of funerary rites during the Amarna Period remained in place under Horemheb and his successors.[13]

Link to monotheism in Abrahamic religions

Because of the monolatristic or monotheistic character of Atenism, a link to Judaism (or other monotheistic religions) has been suggested by various writers. For example, psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud assumed Akhenaten to be the pioneer of monotheistic religion and Moses as Akhenaten's follower in his book Moses and Monotheism (see also Osarseph). The Egyptian author Ahmed Osman went as far as to claim that Moses and Akhenaten were the same person.

Atenism in modern culture

Atenism in literature

  • Mahfouz, Naguib, Akhenaten: Dweller in Truth ISBN 0-385-49909-4
  • Prokopiou, Angelos, Pharaoh Akhenaton Theatr. Play. 1st ed. 1961 Athens. ISBN 960-7327-66-7

See also

References

  1. ^ Rosalie David, Handbook to Life in Ancient Egypt, Facts on File Inc., 1998. p.124
  2. ^ Rosalie David, op. cit., p.124
  3. ^ Rosalie David, op. cit., p.125
  4. ^ "Ancient Egypt Gods: The Aten". www.ancientegyptonline.co.uk. Retrieved 2018-03-19.
  5. ^ Hart, George (2005). The Routledge dictionary of Egyptian gods and goddesses (2nd ed.). Routledge. p. 39. ISBN 978-0-415-34495-1.
  6. ^ Montserrat, Dominic (2002). Akhenaten: History, Fantasy and Ancient Egypt. Routledge. p. 40. ISBN 978-0415301862.
  7. ^ John Baines (1998). "The Dawn of the Amarna Age". In David O'Connor, Eric Cline (eds.). Amenhotep III: Perspectives on His Reign. University of Michigan Press. p. 281.CS1 maint: Uses editors parameter (link)
  8. ^ Reeves, Nicholas, Akhenaton: Egypt's False Prophet ISBN 0-500-28552-7, pg 146
  9. ^ Dodson (2016), pp. 143–146.
  10. ^ a b Dodson (2016), pp. 144–146.
  11. ^ Dodson (2016), pp. 146–150.
  12. ^ Dodson (2016), p. 150.
  13. ^ Dodson (2016), p. 151.

Works cited

Further reading

  • Aldred, Cyril, Akhenaten, King of Egypt (1988) Thames & Hudson. ISBN 978-0-500-05048-4
  • Assmann, Jan (1995). Egyptian Solar Religion: Re, Amun and the Crisis of Polytheism. Routledge. ISBN 978-0-7103-0465-0
  • Hornung, Erik (1999). Akhenaten and the Religion of Light. Cornell University Press. ISBN 978-0-8014-8725-5
  • Redford, Donald B. (1984). Akhenaten: The Heretic King. Princeton University Press. ISBN 978-0-691-00217-0

External links

Akhenaten

Akhenaten (; also spelled Echnaton, Akhenaton,Ikhnaton,

and Khuenaten;

meaning "Effective for Aten"), known before the fifth year of his reign as Amenhotep IV (sometimes given its Greek form, Amenophis IV, and meaning "Amun Is Satisfied"), was an ancient Egyptian pharaoh of the 18th Dynasty who ruled for 17 years and died perhaps in 1336 BC or 1334 BC. He is noted for abandoning traditional Egyptian polytheism and introducing worship centered on the Aten, which is sometimes described as monolatristic, henotheistic, or even quasi-monotheistic. An early inscription likens the Aten to the sun as compared to stars, and later official language avoids calling the Aten a god, giving the solar deity a status above mere gods.

Akhenaten tried to shift his culture from Egypt's traditional religion, but the shifts were not widely accepted. After his death, his monuments were dismantled and hidden, his statues were destroyed, and his name excluded from the king lists. Traditional religious practice was gradually restored, and when some dozen years later rulers without clear rights of succession from the 18th Dynasty founded a new dynasty, they discredited Akhenaten and his immediate successors, referring to Akhenaten himself as "the enemy" or "that criminal" in archival records.He was all but lost from history until the discovery during the 19th century of the site of Akhetaten, the city he built and designed for the worship of Aten, at Amarna. Early excavations at Amarna by Flinders Petrie sparked interest in the enigmatic pharaoh, and a mummy found in the tomb KV55, which was unearthed in 1907 in a dig led by Edward R. Ayrton, is likely that of Akhenaten. DNA analysis has determined that the man buried in KV55 is the father of King Tutankhamun, but its identification as Akhenaten has been questioned.Modern interest in Akhenaten and his queen Nefertiti comes partly from his connection with Tutankhamun (even though Tutankhamun's mother was not Nefertiti, but a woman named by archaeologists The Younger Lady), partly from the unique style and high quality of the pictorial arts he patronized, and partly from ongoing interest in the religion he attempted to establish.

Ancient Egyptian deities

Ancient Egyptian deities are the gods and goddesses worshipped in ancient Egypt. The beliefs and rituals surrounding these gods formed the core of ancient Egyptian religion, which emerged sometime in prehistory. Deities represented natural forces and phenomena, and the Egyptians supported and appeased them through offerings and rituals so that these forces would continue to function according to maat, or divine order. After the founding of the Egyptian state around 3100 BC, the authority to perform these tasks was controlled by the pharaoh, who claimed to be the gods' representative and managed the temples where the rituals were carried out.

The gods' complex characteristics were expressed in myths and in intricate relationships between deities: family ties, loose groups and hierarchies, and combinations of separate gods into one. Deities' diverse appearances in art—as animals, humans, objects, and combinations of different forms—also alluded, through symbolism, to their essential features.

In different eras, various gods were said to hold the highest position in divine society, including the solar deity Ra, the mysterious god Amun, and the mother goddess Isis. The highest deity was usually credited with the creation of the world and often connected with the life-giving power of the sun. Some scholars have argued, based in part on Egyptian writings, that the Egyptians came to recognize a single divine power that lay behind all things and was present in all the other deities. Yet they never abandoned their original polytheistic view of the world, except possibly during the era of Atenism in the 14th century BC, when official religion focused exclusively on the impersonal sun god Aten.

Gods were assumed to be present throughout the world, capable of influencing natural events and the course of human lives. People interacted with them in temples and unofficial shrines, for personal reasons as well as for larger goals of state rites. Egyptians prayed for divine help, used rituals to compel deities to act, and called upon them for advice. Humans' relations with their gods were a fundamental part of Egyptian society.

Aten

Aten (also Aton, Ancient Egyptian: jtn) is the disk of the sun in ancient Egyptian mythology, and originally an aspect of the god Ra. The deified Aten is the focus of the monotheistic religion of Atenism established by Amenhotep IV, who later took the name Akhenaten (died ca. 1335 BCE) in worship and recognition of Aten. In his poem "Great Hymn to the Aten", Akhenaten praises Aten as the creator, giver of life, and nurturing spirit of the world. Aten does not have a Creation Myth or family but is mentioned in the Book of the Dead. The worship of Aten was eradicated by Horemheb.

Creator deity

A creator deity or creator god (often called the Creator) is a deity or god responsible for the creation of the Earth, world, and universe in human religion and mythology. In monotheism, the single God is often also the creator. A number of monolatristic traditions separate a secondary creator from a primary transcendent being, identified as a primary creator.

Great Hymn to the Aten

The Great Hymn to the Aten is the longest of one of a number of hymn-poems written to the sun-disk deity Aten. Composed in the middle of the 14th century BC, it is attributed to the 18th dynasty Pharaoh Akhenaten, who radically changed traditional forms of Egyptian religion by replacing them with Atenism.

The hymn-poem provides a glimpse of the religious artistry of the Amarna period expressed in multiple forms encompassing literature, new temples, and in the building of a whole new city at the site of present-day Amarna as the capital of Egypt. Egyptologist Toby Wilkinson said that "It has been called 'one of the most significant and splendid pieces of poetry to survive from the pre-Homeric world.'" Egyptologist John Darnell asserts that the hymn was sung.Various courtiers' rock tombs at Amarna (ancient Akhet-Aten, the city Akhenaten founded) have similar prayers or hymns to the deity Aten or to the Aten and Akhenaten jointly. One of these, found in almost identical form in five tombs, is known as The Short Hymn to the Aten. The long version discussed in this article was found in the tomb of the courtier (and later Pharaoh) Ay.The 18th dynasty Pharaoh Akhenaten forbade the worship of other gods, a radical departure from the centuries of Egyptian religious practice. Finally, Akhenaten issued a royal decree that the name Aten was no longer to be depicted by the hieroglyph of a solar disc emanating rays but instead had to be spelled out phonetically. Akhenaton's religious reforms (later regarded heretical and reversed under his successor Pharaoh Tutankhamun) have been described by some scholars as monotheistic, though others consider it to be henotheistic.

Great Temple of the Aten

The Great Temple of the Aten (or the pr-Jtn, House of the Aten) was a temple located in the city of el-Amarna (ancient Akhetaten), Egypt. It served as the main place of worship of the deity Aten during the reign of the 18th dynasty Pharaoh Akhenaten (c. 1353-1336 BCE). Akhenaten ushered in a unique period of ancient Egyptian history by establishing the new religious cult dedicated to the sun-disk Aten. The king shut down traditional worship of other deities like Amun-Ra, and brought in a new era, though short-lived, of seeming monotheism where the Aten was worshipped as a sun god and Akhenaten and his wife, Nefertiti, represented the divinely royal couple that connected the people with the god. Although he began construction at Karnak during his rule, the association the city had with other gods drove Akhenaten to establish a new city and capital at Amarna for the Aten. Akhenaten built the city along the east bank of the Nile River, setting up workshops, palaces, suburbs and temples. The Great Temple of the Aten was located just north of the Central City and, as the largest temple dedicated to the Aten, was where Akhenaten fully established the proper cult and worship of the sun-disk.

Hemsut

In Egyptian mythology, Hemsut (or Hemuset) was the goddess of fate and protection. She is representative of the ka. Her headdress bears a shield, above which are two crossed arrows.

Medjed (god)

Medjed is a god in Ancient Egyptian religion, mentioned in the Book of the Dead.

Meryneith

Meryneith (beloved of [the goddess] Neith), also named Meryre (beloved of [the sun-god] Re) was an Ancient Egyptian official who lived in the Amarna-Period, around 1350 BC. He is mainly known from his tomb found in 2001 at Saqqara. He is perhaps identical with the high priest of Aten Meryre, who is known from his tomb at Amarna.

Not much is known of Meryneith's family background. He was perhaps born under king Amenhotep III. His father was an official called Khaut. The name of his mother is not known. In the oldest parts in his tomb Meryneith bears the titles steward of the temple of Aten (imy-r pr n pr-jtn) and later steward of the temple of Aten in Memphis. This office Meryneith might have hold at the beginning of the reign of king Akhenaten.Perhaps around year 9 in the reign of king Akhenaten, Meryneith changed his name to Meryre. Under king Akhenaten only the sun was worshiped and Meryneith was either forced to change his name or changed the name voluntary to fit the new royal religious politics. In his tomb at Saqqara, the name Meryneith was in the inscriptions changed to Merire. Most likely under king Akhenaten he was bearing the titles scribe of the temple of Aten in Akhet-Aten (and?) in Memphis and Greatest of seers of the Aten. The latter designation is the title of the high priest of Aten. A high priest of Aten with the same name is well known from his tomb at Amarna. It is possible that both Meryre's are one and the same person. At the end of his career, at the beginning of the reign of king Tutankhamun he moved back to Memphis and changed his name to Meryneith. He now became first priest of Neith. It seems that Meryneith died in the early years of Tutankhamun's reign. Most parts of the decoration of his tomb were finished in these years. It is possible that he felt at the end of his career in dishonor and was never buried in his tomb. In the burial chambers of his tomb were found no parts of any objects of funerary equipment with his name.

Meryre

The Egyptian noble Meryre (also Merire) was the only certain High Priest of the Aten. Amongst his other titles were Hereditary Noble and High Official and Fan-bearer on the Right Side of the King which emphasise his closeness to the king.He had a tomb constructed at Amarna, Tomb 4, although his remains have never been identified. (See Tombs of the Nobles.)

It is possible that he is identical to an official known from a Memphite tomb. This official appears in his tomb with two names: Meryneith and Meryre. The latter name he was bearing in the Amarna period, while Meryneith was his name before this period and after. In his inscriptions Meryneith bears also the title of a high priest of Aton.

Monolatry

Monolatry (Greek: μόνος (monos) = single, and λατρεία (latreia) = worship) is belief in the existence of many gods but with the consistent worship of only one deity. The term "monolatry" was perhaps first used by Julius Wellhausen.Monolatry is distinguished from monotheism, which asserts the existence of only one god, and henotheism, a religious system in which the believer worships one god without denying that others may worship different gods with equal validity.

Monotheism

Monotheism is defined as the belief in the existence of only one god that created the world, is all-powerful and intervenes in the world. A broader definition of monotheism is the belief in one god. A distinction may be made between exclusive monotheism, and both inclusive monotheism and pluriform (panentheistic) monotheism which, while recognising various distinct gods, postulate some underlying unity.Monotheism is distinguished from henotheism, a religious system in which the believer worships one god without denying that others may worship different gods with equal validity, and monolatrism, the recognition of the existence of many gods but with the consistent worship of only one deity. The term "monolatry" was perhaps first used by Julius Wellhausen.The broader definition of monotheism characterizes the traditions of Bábism, the Bahá'í Faith, Balinese Hinduism, Cao Dai (Caodaiism), Cheondoism (Cheondogyo), Christianity, Deism, Eckankar, Hindu sects such as Shaivism and Vaishnavism, Islam, Judaism, Mandaeism, Rastafari, Seicho no Ie, Sikhism, Tengrism (Tangrism), Tenrikyo (Tenriism), Yazidism, and Zoroastrianism, and elements of pre-monotheistic thought are found in early religions such as Atenism, ancient Chinese religion, and Yahwism.

Nebtuwi

Nebtuwi is an Ancient Egyptian goddess personifying fertility, wife of Khnum. Her name translates as "the lady of the fields." The cult centre of her was Latopolis. Functions of Nebtuwi were close to the functions of goddesses like Isis, Hathor, Menkheperre. Subsequently Nebtuwi's cult was gradually relegated to the cult of Neith.

North City, Amarna

The North City was an administrative area in the Ancient Egyptian city of Amarna in Upper Egypt, the short-lived capital of Pharaoh Akhenaten of the 18th Dynasty. It contains the ruins of royal palaces, especially the Northern Palace and other administrative buildings and occupies an area between the river and the cliffs that terminate the plains to the north of the city itself.Akhetaten was the capital city of the Dynasty XVIII king, Akhenaten, called by some ‘the heretic king’. Akhenaten, formerly Amenhotep IV, built his city in a bay of cliffs on the east bank of the Nile as a centre for the worship of his ‘new’ religion, Atenism. The archaeology of the city is defined by low excavated or reconstructed walls and in some cases only bare outlines of the structures can be made out on the sand-covered plain, since most of the stonework was removed in ancient times and any remaining mudbrick is badly decayed. Only one generation after Akhenaten’s death, there were few physical remains of his superb innovative structures, for a short moment in history one of the greatest cities of ancient Egypt. The brief Age of Amarna was a period of startling artistic and cultural breakthroughs. Amenhotep IV came to the throne about 1350 B.C. and redirected the state religion to the worship of one god, the sun god Aten, and suppressed the worship of others. Some have called him the world's first monotheist. Amenhotep IV changed his name to Akhenaten ("One Who Serves Aten") and moved his capital from Thebes down the Nile to an area he named Akhetaten ("Horizon of the Sun-Disk"), today known as Amarna. It was previously unoccupied and thus was a blank page upon which the pharaoh could write his new history of the world. Despite his radical beliefs (monotheism), Akhenaten did not abandon all tradition, and he apparently prepared a royal tomb for himself and his family in the cliffs of Amarna. His mummy is yet to be found.

Religions of the ancient Near East

The religions of the ancient Near East were mostly polytheistic, with some examples of monolatry (for example, Yahwism and Atenism). Some scholars believe that the similarities between these religions indicate that the religions are related, a belief known as patternism.Many religions of the ancient near East and their offshoots can be traced to Proto-Semitic religion. Other religions in the ancient Near East include Ancient Egyptian religion, the Luwian and Hittite religions of Asia Minor and the Sumerian religion of ancient Mesopotamia. Offshoots of Proto-Semitic religion include Assyro-Babylonian religion, Canaanite religion, and Arabian religion. Judaism is a development of Canaanite religion, both Indo-European and Semitic religions influenced the ancient Greek religion, and Zoroastrianism was a product of ancient Indo-Iranian religion primarily the Ancient Iranian religion. In turn these religious traditions strongly influenced the later monotheistic religions of Christianity, Mandeanism, Sabianism, Gnosticism, Islam, and Manicheanism, which inherited their monotheism from Judaism and Zoroastrianism.

Small Aten Temple

The Small Aten Temple is located in the abandoned city of Akhetaten (modern Amarna in Egypt). It is one of the two major ancient temples in the city, the other being the Great Temple of the Aten. The edifice is situated close to the King's House and the Royal Palace, in the central part of the city.

Original known as the Hwt Aten or Mansion of the Aten, it was probably constructed before the larger Great Temple.

Like the other structures in the city, it was constructed quickly, and hence was easy to dismantle and reuse the material for later construction.

Temple of Amenhotep IV

The Temple of Amenhotep IV was an ancient monument at Karnak in Luxor, Egypt. The structures were used during the New Kingdom, in the first four years of the 18th dynasty reign of the Egyptian Pharaoh Akhenaten, when he still used the name Amenhotep IV. The edifices may have been constructed at the end of the reign of his father, Amenhotep III, and completed by Akhenaten.

Thutmose (prince)

Thutmose (or, more accurately, Djhutmose) was the eldest son of Pharaoh Amenhotep III and Queen Tiye, who lived during the Eighteenth dynasty of Egypt. His apparent death led to the reign of Akhenaten, his younger brother—as the successor to the Egyptian throne—and the intrigues of the century leading up to Ramesses II, the start and ultimately the failure of Atenism, the Amarna letters, and the changing roles of the kingdom's powers.

Tutankhamun

Tutankhamun (; alternatively spelled with Tutenkh-, -amen, -amon; c. 1341 – c. 1323 BC) was an Egyptian pharaoh of the 18th dynasty (ruled c. 1332–1323 BC in the conventional chronology), during the period of Egyptian history known as the New Kingdom or sometimes the New Empire Period. He has, since the discovery of his intact tomb, been referred to colloquially as King Tut. His original name, Tutankhaten, means "Living Image of Aten", while Tutankhamun means "Living Image of Amun". In hieroglyphs, the name Tutankhamun was typically written Amen-tut-ankh, because of a scribal custom that placed a divine name at the beginning of a phrase to show appropriate reverence. He is possibly also the Nibhurrereya of the Amarna letters, and likely the 18th dynasty king Rathotis who, according to Manetho, an ancient historian, had reigned for nine years—a figure that conforms with Flavius Josephus's version of Manetho's Epitome.The 1922 discovery by Howard Carter of Tutankhamun's nearly intact tomb, funded by Lord Carnarvon, received worldwide press coverage. It sparked a renewed public interest in ancient Egypt, for which Tutankhamun's mask, now in the Egyptian Museum, remains the popular symbol. Exhibits of artifacts from his tomb have toured the world. In February 2010, the results of DNA tests confirmed that he was the son of the mummy found in the tomb KV55, believed by some to be Akhenaten. His mother was his father's sister and wife, whose name is unknown but whose remains are positively identified as "The Younger Lady" mummy found in KV35. The deaths of a few involved in the discovery of Tutankhamun's mummy have been popularly attributed to the curse of the pharaohs.

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