Akhenaten: The Amarna Period

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During the 18th dynasty, Egypt experienced a radical shift in religion, politics, and art under the reign of the pharaoh Akhenaten. While his rule only lasted from the early 1350’s BCE to around 1334 BCE, Akhenaten is well known for abandoning the polytheism in favor of worship of Aten, a deity represented as a solar disk. He is therefore credited for introducing a quasi-monotheistic system in Egypt, although many argue that Akhenaten acknowledged all gods but only actively worshipped Aten. This would classify the religious system of the time period as a monolatry. The rule of Akhenaten and contemporary artistic style is now known as the Amarna period, named after the location to which the king and queen relocated their royal residence. While …show more content…
Since the city was only occupied for a short period of time and and only during Akhenaten’s reign, it serves as a sort of time capsule. This provides more confidence in the analysis of patterns obtained from the study of ancient Egypt. However, throughout the study of history, strong limitations have been found for the application of archaeology. While it is known that Akhenaten created a new social and religious system, the impacts on the economy and society at large are greatly unknown. There are little to no written recordings of what occurred in the city during this time period, and what writing archaeologists have found was likely written by those trying to erase Atenism. Additionally, there is little comparative evidence from other regions, so it is difficult to contrast life in Amarna with life in any other Egyptian city under any other pharaoh. Without a firsthand account, much of the history of ancient Egypt is inaccessible and historians are left with limited knowledge. Barry Kemp, an Egyptologist who recently worked in Amarna, has pointed out that the city has already began to decay since excavation began. Tourism is also a considerable factor for any archaeological site, and some artifacts from nearby areas in Egypt were destroyed once tourists were allowed to explore sites. These two factors have launched a debate as to whether the site should be rebuilt, reburied, or remain untouched (Archaeological Institute of America 2006). If the third option is chosen, Kemp indicates that Amarna might not be a viable source for much

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