National Geographic : 1941 Oct
The Aten Shines, King Akh-en-Aten Dreams, and the XVIIIth Dynasty Draws to a Close AS THE XVIIIth Dynasty passed Before he died, Akh-en-Aten at into its third century, Egypt, im- tempted to reconcile himself with the bued with Asiatic ideas and Asiatic much persecuted, but still powerful, blood, which now flowed even in the priesthood of Amfn, and in so doing veins of the royal family, turned incurred the displeasure of Queen momentarily from its old traditions Nefret-ity, who removed herself to and its old gods, and set up a new a palace in the extreme southern sec religion devoted exclusively to the tion of Akhet-Aten, and took with worship of the vital force emanating her thither her second daughter, from the disk of the sun, "the living 'Ankh-es -en-pa-Aten, and the latter's Aten." husband, young Tft-'ankh-Aten. Simpler and more general in its Following the brief reign of Akh appeal than the old Amfin cult, which en-Aten's elder son-in-law, Semenkh it attempted to replace, this mon- ka-Re', Tfit-'ankh-Aten came to the otheistic solar religion concerned it- throne, moved the royal residence self not at all with morality, but back to Thebes, altered his name to placed its emphasis on "harmony," Tuit-rankh-Amfin, and permitted the joy of living, love of nature, intel- old religion and the old order of lectual liberty, individualism and things to be restored. spontaneity. Brief as was its exist- At the end of a short and otherwise ence, its effect on Egyptian life, and insignificant reign, Tfit-rankh-Amiin particularly on Egyptian art, endured famous principally because his tomb for many centuries after the "heresy" miraculously remained intact until its itself had been forgotten. discovery in 1922-died at the age The chief exponent of the worship of eighteen, and was himself suc of the Aten was King Amen-hotpe ceeded by the same Ay who appears III's effeminate son, Amen-hotpe IV, in the foreground of the plate on page who came to the throne of Egypt in 501, now a decrepit old man. 1375 B. c. For four years this sensi-b ad te tive idealist ruled at Thebes, and Har-em-hab and the XIXth then, accompanied by his beautiful Dynasty wife, Queen Nefret-ity, and a large Ay did not last long, and about group of devoted courtiers, withdrew 1340 B. c. the government was taken to the quiet isolation of Tell el-'Am- over by the Quartermaster-General airneh (El 'Amrna), some two hun- HIar-em-hab, a man of great vigor, ex dred miles down the Nile, where he perience, and administrative ability, caused to be built for himself and for who during his twenty years as phar his god a wonderful new city, named aoh repaired most of the damage Akhet-Aten, "Horizon-of-Aten." wrought during the "'Amarneh ((Am Here, having changed his own name arna) Period" and died leaving Egypt to Akh-en-Aten ("Spirit-of-Aten"), and the Empire once more sound and the pharaoh dreamed away the re- prosperous. maining fifteen years of his reign, At the death of Har-em-hab in 1320 while the empire of his fathers, ig- B. c. the throne passed to his old com nored and forgotten, fell slowly to panion-in-arms, General Pa-Ramessu, pieces and disorder, and lawlessness better known as King Ramesses I, overran the land of Egypt. founder of the XIXth Dynasty.