How Akhenaten Changed The Social Order During The Amarna Period

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How Akhenaten radically altered artistic representations of royalty to influence the social order during the Amarna period.

Physical art forms and the written word that may accompany them are the result of a society or individual representing itself in a controlled manner. It is for that reason that, in looking at how Akhenaten changed the Egyptian social order during the Amarna period, I will be focusing particularly on his changes to artistic representations of the royal family, and how they were used to effect social changes. I will also look into his changes to religion within the kingdom, however this will be the secondary focus of my essay, used to support my analysis of the effects of artistic changes. During his time as the Pharaoh, Akhenaten radically changed the ways in which royalty was depicted, artistically speaking, and these changes of course lined up with the other stark changes he brought into place with Egyptian society – the most widely known of which is religion. As such, I don’t see that it is possible to fully separate the changes in these two areas, particularly given how closely Akhenaten intertwined new ideas of the god Aten with those of himself and his family. Another element that makes his changes to art within the Amarna period so fascinating is that, unlike his religious reforms – which his successors attempted to eradicate as much from memory as from ongoing daily life – some elements of Akhenaten’s artistic changes remained after his reign…

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