The second son of Amenhotep III and Tiye, Amenhotep IV was not likely to have been the first choice of the pharaoh and his wife to become the next pharaoh of Egypt. This responsibility would no doubt have fallen to his older brother, Thutmose V, had the child not died under unknown circumstances at an early age (Aldred, 1988). .
Amenhotep IV's story begins at a time when the brave new dynasty of warrior pharaohs which had reined in the end of the second intermediate period (a period of foreign rule) was likely beginning to become stagnant and troubled. The reconquering of Egypt and the forging of a new empire, started off by the pharaoh Ahmose and the beginning of the 18th dynasty, had raised the god Amun to a position of unprecedented power. The pharaohs of the dynasty felt that it was to Amun that they owed their big, flashy, and ultimately expensive and troublesome new empire. According to Dr. Donald B. Redford, .
The single most striking feature in Egyptian religion under the early 18th dynasty is the prominence of Amun. The kings of the period never tired of piling the booty from foreign campaigns at the feet of Amun, since they ascribed the success of their military ventures to him alone. The god's coffers bulged with wealth in quantities never experienced before in Egypt. In the leveling atmosphere bred by the war of liberation, the king could not safely lay claim to it, nor was it advisable to disperse it among members of one class of the population. (1984).
To further complicate things, with the ascent of king Ahmose to the throne, a new tradition was established -- that of always taking on the High Priestess of Amun (who bore the title of "God's Wife") as the chief queen. Theoretically, every queen of the 18th dynasty was a descendant of the first queen of that dynasty, Ahmose-Nefertari, and also inherited her post as a priestess of Amun (Aldred, 1988). These things helped to reinforce Amun's power and influence.