Ancient History 402 Topic Chosen: Akhenaten.
The Amarna age may have only lasted fewer than 20 years towards the end of the 18th Dynasty, but this period of time saw a great change in the Ancient Egyptian Religious beliefs. Akhenaten, previously known as Amenhotep IV, launched a religion purely based on monotheism. He was famous throughout the world for his change in religion and was known to many as the Heretic King. Using a range of books, primary sources, articles and websites a hypothesis can be made. In this particular essay, the hypothesis is that Akhenaten was a religious visionary. He conveyed an idea of Atenism, which can be identified as "the first step in a logical evolution of religion from many minor gods to one major god." (www.sis.gov.eg/egyptinf/ history/html/akhen.htm) This essay will prove whether or not Akhenaten was a monotheist and if he was the first monotheist. Also it will confirm if the changes in the religion were unique and his relationship to the Aten.
According to many scholars and "The Great Hymn to the Aten," Akhenaten was believed to be a monotheist. Possibly not the first to believe in just one god, he was the first pharaoh to establish a religion that replaced the concept of polytheism to a monotheistic religion. Polytheism can be defined as "the belief in the existence of many gods or divine beings". (Microsoft Encarta Encyclopedia 2000). He created a new god known as the Aten also known as the sun god or sun disk to replace the previous gods and goddesses. Akhenaten name was transformed after the establishment of his new god from Amenhotep IV to Akhenaten which means "he who is devoted to Aten." He also dedicated a city to the Aten by the name of Akhetaten which in this time is called Tel-Amarna and ordered a vicious attack on any hieroglyphs, temples and other means devoted to any of the previous polytheistic gods such as Amun-Re, Tefnut and Shu. After the obliteration of all traces of the previous religion he fought against the priests who wished to maintain the worship of the polytheistic religion.