The Amarna Period was an era of Egyptian history during the latter half of the Eighteenth Dynasty when the royal residence of the pharaoh and his queen was shifted to Akhetaten ('Horizon of the Aten') in what is now modern-day Amarna. It was marked by the reign of Amenhotep IV, who changed his name to Akhenaten (1353–1336 BCE) in order to reflect the dramatic change of Egypt's polytheistic religion into one where a sun-god Aten was solely worshipped. The Egyptian pantheon of gods and goddesses was restored under Akhenaten's successor. Other rulers of this period include Amenhotep III, Smenkhkare, Neferneferuaten, Tutankhamun, Ay, and Horemheb.
The first recorded formal relations of Egypt with foreign countries were under Amenhotep III. Under his reign, Egypt enjoyed an economic boom. He built many temples and monuments across Egypt to honor his favorite deity, Sobek, who was always depicted as a crocodile. Some records of his relations were included in the el Amarna letters many of which were scattered before they could be protected properly.
Akhenaten instigated the earliest verified expression of monotheism, (although the origins of a pure monotheism are the subject of continuing debate within the academic community and some state that Akhenaten restored monotheisim while others point out that he merely suppressed a dominant solar cult by the assertion of another, while he never completely abandoned several other traditional deities). Scholars believe that Akhenaten's devotion to his deity, Aten, offended many in power below him, which contributed to the end of this dynasty; he later suffered damnatio memoriae. Although modern students of Egyptology consider the monotheism of Akhenaten the most important event of this period, the later Egyptians considered the so-called Amarna period an unfortunate aberration.
The events following Akhenaten's death are unclear and the identity and policies of his co-regent and immediate successor are the matter of ongoing scholarly debate.
Tutankhamun and the Amarna Succession
Tutankhamun died before he was twenty years old, and the dynasty's final years clearly were shaky. The royal line of the dynasty died out with Tutankhamun. Two fetuses found buried in his tomb may have been his twin daughters who would have continued the royal lineage, according to a 2008 investigation. An unidentified Egyptian queen Dakhamunzu, widow of "King Nibhururiya" is known from Hittite annals. She is often identified as Ankhesenamun, royal wife of Tutankhamun, although Nefertiti and Meritaten have also been suggested as possible candidates. This queen wrote to Suppiluliuma I, king of the Hittites, asking him to send one of his sons to become her husband and king of Egypt. In her letters she expressed fear and a reluctance to take as husband one of her servants. Suppiluliumas sent an ambassador to investigate, and after further negotiations agreed to send one of his sons to Egypt. This prince, named Zannanza was however murdered, probably en route to Egypt. Suppiluliumas reacted with rage at the news of his son's death and accusing the Egyptians he retaliated by going to war against Egypt's vassal states in Syria and Northern Canaan and captured the city of Amki. Unfortunately, Egyptian prisoners of war from Amki carried a plague which eventually would ravage the Hittite Empire and kill both Suppiluliumas I and his direct successor.
The last two members of the eighteenth dynasty - Ay and Horemheb - became rulers from the ranks of officials in the royal court, although Ay may have married the widow of Tutankhamun in order to obtain power and she did not live long afterward. Ay's reign was short. His successor was Horemheb, who had been a diplomat in the administration of Tutankhamun and may have been intended as his successor by the childless Tutankhamun. Horemheb may have taken the throne away from Ay in a coup. He also died childless and appointed his successor, Paramessu, who under the name Ramesses I ascended the throne in 1292 BCE and was the first pharaoh of the Nineteenth Dynasty.
- ↑ "Bodies found in the tomb of 'boy king' Tutankhamun's tomb are twin daughters". Times Online. London. 2008-09-01. http://entertainment.timesonline.co.uk/tol/arts_and_entertainment/specials/tutankhamun/article4648589.ece. Retrieved 2008-09-01.
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