The new capital city of Akhetaten, also known as Amarna, was constructed by Pharaoh Akhenaten, utilizing brand-new architectural methods. Akhenaten established a single religion based on worshiping the sun disk, or “Aten.” Researchers were able to recreate 3D models of several of its buildings for the first time.
Pharaoh Amenhotep IV, commonly known as Akhenaten, was regarded as a mystic and shrewd politician by others. He radically transformed New-Kingdom Egypt during his rule. He brought about a great architectural and artistic revolution. He caused a religious upheaval by enforcing the monotheistic worship of the sun disk, Aten, as opposed to the pantheon of gods adored by other pharaohs.
A look into the reign of Akhenaten, one of the most contentious pharaohs in Egyptian history, may be found in the city of Akhetaten, one of ancient Egypt’s most important religious and cultural centers.
From roughly 1353 to 1336 BCE, Pharaoh Akhenaten governed Egypt during the 18th dynasty. He is renowned for enacting significant changes in religion, including worshiping only one deity, Aten, and eradicating Egypt’s native polytheistic faith. Akhenaten constructed Akhetaten as a place of worship for Aten, the sun disk he thought to be the one god and the origin of all life.
Capital Of Akhenaten: Akhetaten
Although Akhetaten, the city he built for himself and his religion, could be more well preserved, it is where most people know about Akhenaten’s life and times are found. It isn’t. Later monarchs who were hostile to the social and religious institutions Akhenaten put on Egypt, and the Amarna civilization purposefully destroyed Akhenaten and the records of his administration. Ironically, though, that destruction program preserved the city and the name of its founder, and for the most part, that rapid rise and fall of the town accounts for its preservation.
The reason for that is due to the vast scale of change Akhenaten attempted—a radical change in religious, political, and social traditions—which required him to have an entirely new capital that was fully functional from which he could rule the nation without the burden of tradition pressing down on him and stifling him. To succeed, revolutions frequently need to “seize the day” and move forward rapidly.
Since it is easier and faster to raise a structure using many small pieces rather than a few large ones, relatively small blocks or stones, now known as talatat, were used to build Akhenaten’s city and shrines at such a breakneck pace. More than 45,000 talatat from Akhenaten’s buildings have come to light.
Source: World History Encyclopedia
The ready destruction—and preservation!—of Akhenaten’s city and religion was influenced by other forces. His talatat was utilized as fill in other people’s construction projects by those who wanted to destroy all remnants of Amarna civilization to erase all memories of Akhenaten. However, by concealing the talatat within the framework of other structures, they unintentionally protected and preserved them until modern archaeologists discovered them.
As a result, a large portion of Akhenaten’s buildings and artwork can be recreated. Therefore, what goes down readily likewise comes back up effortlessly in the other direction.
In addition, if one considers things from his point of view, it is easy to comprehend why he would desire a metropolis such as this. To begin with, isolated areas like el-Amarna have a long history of drawing religious sectarians of Akhenaten’s caliber. Environments like that undoubtedly appealed to different groups of American pioneers and the desert fathers of early Christianity, who all felt at home in locations remote from conventional communities and accepted practices of government and worship. Additionally, from Akhenaten’s perspective, Akhetaten had his charms.
The site, tucked away in a valley in the highlands bordering the Nile, offers breathtaking dawns. In fact, at certain times of the year, the sun appears to rise from a yoke in the mountains, magnificently embodying the solar imagery found in much of the art produced during the Amarna period. Overall, it’s easy to envision Akhenaten waking up on his royal barge while cruising down the Nile, looking for a location to create a new city and seeing this vista, a spot suited to his solitary nature and fixation with the sun.
Iconography And Art During Akhenaten’s Reign
The Aten was a central figure in the religious iconography of Akhenaten’s new worldview. The sun disk, which stands for the universe’s source of life, is frequently represented in abstract or personified forms, or even both at once. The Aten is commonly depicted as a simple circle with downward-pointing light rays. Still, it can also occasionally be seen with little hands attached to the ends of its solar beams, holding out to devotees the ankh, the Egyptian symbol for life. In other cases, the hands even push the ankh somewhat roughly up the blessed people’s noses, perhaps metaphorically implying that the sun provides the “breath of life.”
If this sacrament didn’t resemble an incontinent ear swab so much, it would be less amusing today. Even while it may seem humorous to some people, the meaning of this symbol is severe and was likely revolutionary to an Egyptian at the time. The sun worship Akhenaten was advocating undoubtedly brought to mind Old Kingdom doctrine, which had a false but widely-held reputation for despotism and had been around for more than a millennium.
The art and architecture of the city represented Akhenaten’s innovations in religion. The Aten was portrayed as the only source of life and power in reliefs and carvings that adorned the temples and palaces.
Compared to the stiff, formal style of preceding periods, the art of the time was more naturalistic and informal.
Source: Wikimedia Commons
The Years Following Akhenaten’s Rule
Despite the city’s sacred importance, Akhetaten only served as Egypt’s capital for a brief time. After his father’s passing, Tutankhamun, Akhenaten’s son, relocated the capital to Thebes and reinstated the ancient polytheistic faith. It was in the 19th century that Akhetaten was rediscovered after it had been abandoned and decayed.
Pharaoh Akhenaten, one of the most contentious pharaohs in Egyptian history, may be seen through the lost city of Akhetaten. For anybody interested in the history of Ancient Egypt, the city’s bold religious changes and distinct architectural style make it a must-see destination.