Akhenaten by Alex Urquhart

Geography and topography

Akhenaten known before the fifth year of his reign as Amenhotep IV, was an Ancient Egyptian pharaoh of the 18th Dynasty who ruled for 17 years and died perhaps in 1336 BC or 1334 BC. Akhenaten lived at the peak of Egypt's imperial glory.

This is a map showing the location of where the capital of Akhenaten is.

He was born to Amenhotep III and his Chief Queen Tiyee and was their younger son. Akhenaten was not originally designated as the successor to the throne until the untimely death of his older brother, Thutmose. Amenhotep IV succeeded his father after Amenhotep III's death at the end of his 38-year reign, possibly after a short coregency lasting between either 1 to 2 years.

Pharaoh Akhenaten was known as the Heretic King. He was the tenth King of the 18th Dynasty. Egypt had never been richer, more powerful, or more secure. Up and down the Nile, workers built hundreds of temples to pay homage to the Gods. They believed that if the Gods were pleased, Egypt would prosper. And so it did.

Background and rise to prominence

Akhenaten was the son of Amenhotep III and his wife Queen Tiye. During their rule, Egypt ruled an empire that stretched from Syria, in west Asia, to the fourth cataract of the Nile River in modern-day Sudan.

At the site of Akhenaten’s new capital about 350 tablets known as the “Amarna letters” were uncovered in 1887, showing the diplomatic correspondence between Akhenaten, his fellow kings in west Asia, as well as those of vassals who owed the Egyptian king allegiance.


Siblings: The Younger Lady, Smenkhkare, Sitamun, Thutmose, Beketaten, Nebetah, Henuttaneb, Iset

Children: Tutankhamun, Ankhesenamun, Smenkhkare, Meritaten

Spouses: Nefertiti, Kiya

Akhenaten was married to Queen Nefertiti, one of the most famous of all ancient Egyptian women. Nefertiti was one of the most influential queens. Paintings show her conducting religious ceremonies with Akhenaten as an equal.


Akhenaten was the younger son of Queen Tiye and Pharaoh Amenhotep III. Though his parents wanted to crown their eldest son Prince Thutmose, Akhenaten was the one who succeeded his father since Thutmose had died at a young age.

Akhenaten was an Egyptian Pharaoh who ruled for 17 years and died perhaps in 1336 BC or 1334 BC. While most rulers would think of invading neighbouring kingdoms to expand their territory, Akhenaten’s interests solely lied within the confines of Egypt. In his long tenure, Akhenaten focussed more on making ‘Atenism’ (a religion for the followers of the Sun god) the only religion of Egypt.

Akhenaten was formally announced as ‘Amenhotep IV’ in the Egyptian city of Thebes. It’s still a debate amongst historians and researchers, whether Akhenaten was crowned the prince after his father’s demise. It’s also believed that he shared the throne with Amenhotep III even before the latter’s death. During his reign, Akhenaten tried his best to establish Aten as the supreme god of Egypt. He also diverted the funds meant for other gods and cults towards the service of the sun god. This vision of Akhenaten came to be known later to the world as ‘Judaism’.

Akhinaten married Nefertiti during the early part of his reign. Historians claim that the couple had six daughters. Few sources also say that the Pharaoh had another wife by name Kiya. It was also recently discovered that Akhinaten had a son with one of his biological sisters. The child was later known as Tutankhamen who was also a pharaoh.


Akhenaten built several structures at Karnak during the early part of his reign , while he was still using the name Amenhotep (IV). He built the temple "Rud-menu"("Enduring in monuments of Aten for eternity") and a palace complex called Gempaaten ("the Aten is found in the mansion of the Aten") where the royal family lived during the winter months.

In the fifth or sixth year of his reign, he changed his name to Akhenaten, and constructed a new capital city, Akhetaten ("Horizon of Aten") at modern Armarna, in an area not associated with any other god. He vowed never again to leave the boundaries of the city. Then, in the ninth year of his reign, he declared that Aten was the only god, and that he was the only intermediary between the Aten and the people. He ordered Amun's name to be cut from his temples throughout Egypt and even defaced the name of his father because it contained the name of Amun. In a number of instances inscriptions containing the plural "gods" were also removed.


Created with images by miriam.mollerus - "Head of Akhenaten"

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