By Dominic Montserrat
The pharaoh Akhenaten, who governed Egypt within the mid-fourteenth century BCE, has been the topic of extra hypothesis than the other personality in Egyptian historical past. This provocative new biography examines either the genuine Akhenaten and the myths which were created round him. It scrutinises the background of the pharaoh and his reign, which has been regularly written in Eurocentric phrases inapplicable to historic Egypt, and the archaeology of Akhenaten's capital urban, Amarna. It is going directly to discover the pharaoh's outstanding cultural afterlife, and how he has been invoked to validate every little thing from psychoanalysis to racial equality to Fascism.
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Extra resources for Akhenaten: History, Fantasy and Ancient Egypt
The evidence suggests otherwise. Akhenaten portrays Amunhotep III positively at the new capital Akhet-aten, and seems to have taken care over moving his funerary cult there and maintaining it. If anything, the anti-Oedipal picture is more plausible: that Akhenaten continued to hold his father in considerable esteem and was keen to acknowledge his descent from him and his 35 HISTORIES OF AKHENATEN ancestors. At Akhet-aten the 'houses' of other Eighteenth Dynasty rulers including Amunhotep were established, sometimes in association with temples which apparently provided them with offerings.
One relief shows a royal birth, where the child survives but the mother dies. This woman is not Nefertiti, but may be one of Akhenaten's daughters or his co-wife Kiya. 23 Certainly Meketaten, and probably Neferneferure', seem to have predeceased their parents. Other members of the family, including Tiye, also fade out. There was a plague epidemic in the Near East about this time, but nothing to suggest that it caused deaths in the royal family. By year 14 of Akhenaten's reign, c. 1339 BCE, Nefertiti too has disappeared from the documentation, at least under her familiar name.
Yet biographers continue to propose that Akhenaten's invisibility on his father's monuments is because 'he was intentionally kept in the background because of a congenital ailment that 31 HISTORIES OF AKHENATEN made him hideous to behold'. 37 This kind of speculation comes partly from overliteral readings of Akhenaten's official iconography later in his reign, but also from presumptions about the shame and horror associated with disability that the Egyptians did not necessarily share. New Kingdom burials of severely disabled children show that great care had been taken of them during life, even by relatively poor parents.
Akhenaten: History, Fantasy and Ancient Egypt by Dominic Montserrat