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The Pharaoh Akhenaten

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Akhenaten
Statue of Amenhotep IV (Akhenaten)
Yellow stone Musée du Louvre
Akenhaten
Akhenaten, Egyptian Museum, Cairo

Amenhotep IV came to the throne of Egpt after the death of his father, Amenhotep III in around 1353 B.C. Within a year or two he changed his name to Akhenaten in honor of Aten, the sun god. He banned worship of other Egyptian dieties and took power and privilege away from the priests. Aten was the only god who could be worshipped. It was forbidden to speak of god in the plural. This is the earliest known form of monotheism. It is not certain where this idea came from, but many believe that it was Akhenaten's own understanding, because Aten was the creator god - the one source of everything, the self-creator even of Aten.

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Who makes seed grow in women,
Who creates people from sperm;
Who feeds the son in his mother's womb,
Who soothes him to still his tears.
Nurse in the womb,
Giver of breath,
To nourish all that he made.
When he comes from the womb to breathe,
On the day of his birth,
You open wide his mouth,
You supply his needs.
When the chick in the egg speaks in the shell,
You give him breath within to sustain him;
When you have made him complete,
To break out from the egg,
He comes out from the egg,
To announce his completion,
Walking on his legs he comes from it.

How many are your deeds,
Though hidden from sight,
O Sole God beside whom there is none!
You made the earth as you wished, you alone,
All peoples, herds, and flocks;
All upon earth that walk on legs,
All on high that fly on wings,
The lands of Khor and Kush,
The land of Egypt.
You set every man in his place,
You supply their needs;
Everyone has his food,
His lifetime is counted.
Their tongues differ in speech,
Their characters likewise;
Their skins are distinct,
For you distinguished the peoples.

Excerpts from Great Hymn to the Aten- tomb of Ay, no. 25 at Amarna


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Great Hymn to Aten - Primary Source

Part of Monotheism in Egypt: The Cult of Akhenaten, a HistoryWiz exhibit

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