The Amarna Period

The Amarna period of Egyptian history began during the reign of the pharaoh Amenhotep III nearly 3,400 years ago. This was a period of tremendous artistic and architectural achievement. The famous Colossi of Memnon were built, wonderful additions were made to the temples at Luxor and Karnak, and seeds were sown for a monotheistic religion.

Upon the death of Amenhotep III, his son Amenhotep IV became pharaoh of Egypt. This "heretic king" changed his name to Akhenaten, quickly abandoned the pantheon of Egyptian gods and declared the sun-god, Aten, to be the only god. He and his queen, Nefertiti, built a new city, known as Akhetaten (Horizon of the Aten) at the present site of Tell el-Amarna. From there he ruled all Egypt and directed the worship of his one god, Aten.

Following the death of Akhenaten, Tutankhamun (who was born Tutankh-aten, and is believed by a great many Egyptologists to have been Akhenaten's son), returned the religious capital of Egypt to Thebes. The monuments of the "heretic king" were destroyed and the memory of his reign was erased. But the eighteen year reign of Akhenaten had touched upon a religious philosophy and an artistic style that still echoes today.

The Amarna Research Foundation is dedicated exclusively to the advancement of interest and research in this fascinating slice of ancient history.

Amarna Royal Court by David Pepper