Akhenaten and the Religion of Light

Akhenaten and the Religion of Light

Erik Hornung
This is an ancillary book to the Great Book Writings from Ancient Egypt
Reading Year: 2023
Book # 10
Pages: 128
Suggested By: Jason Staples
Version: Cornell University Press
Date Started: April 16, 2023
Date Finished: April 18, 2023
3h 1m 1s
Curious about this "heretic king" who apparently took a different direction during his rule.

My Thoughts

The thing that has startled me most about my reading of Egypt is the relative consistency of belief and art during the 3,000+ years of pharonic history. I saw that very loosely – obviously things changed – but I was amazed at how the rules for art were more or less followed for vast expanses of time. And how people related to the Pharaoh for most of that time.

Throw that all out the window for a period of 17 years during the reign of Akhenaten from 1353 – 1336 BC. The art changed. Beliefs about god, the pharaoh, the afterlife, and the number of deities changed. Architecture changed. The locus of religion changed.

Akhenaten introduced monotheism to a culture steeped in polytheism. His entrance into history was jarring, short, and strange. His successor, Tutankhamen (yes, King Tut), almost immediately reversed all of Akhenaten’s reforms. His name started to be wiped from history. But that sudden jolt around 1350 BC was to have lasting changes. Introducing a shift in belief, art, and ideas would play out in myriad ways throughout the rest of ancient Egypt’s history and even into today.

Sometimes, the best way to learn about a civilization, culture, or country is to study the antithesis, to study someone like Akhenaten and what he believed and instituted.

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