Amenhotep IV

Circa 1385 a son was born to the pharaoh Amenhotep III and his wife, Tiy. His name was Amenhotep IV. He was one of six children bore to Amenhotep III by Tiy. The throne of Egypt was to belong to his elder brother, but his death at an early age allowed Amenhotep IV to acquire the throne with the help of his mother. He was 14 years old when he became pharaoh and it is speculated that he ruled as a co-regent with his father for a short period.

Shortly after becoming pharaoh Amenhotep IV set into motion a series of events that would drastically alter the Egyptian culture of the day. The Egyptian pantheon at the time of Amenhotep IV was crowded with many gods and goddesses. The most powerful religion when Amenhotep IV ascended the throne was that of Amon. It was in the second year of his reign when Amenhotep IV changed the official Egyptian religion to monotheism, the worship of one god and that god was Aton, the sun god. He outlawed the worship of all the other gods to the point of razing their temples.. This was the first instance in Egyptian religion in which a physical object, the sun, was revered. Until this time the gods were ideals.

Amenhotep IV wanted a total separation from the old religion. He changed his name to Akhenaton, which means 'pleasing to Aton'. In the fifth year of his reign he moved the capital from Thebes to a site known as El Amarna. The city itself was called Akhetaton, which means 'horizon of Aton'.

Amenhotep IV also introduced a new style of art. This new art style, known as the Amarna period, allowed Egyptian artists a greater freedom of expression. The Amarna period was influenced by the Minoan culture. It stressed nature and greatly humanized Egyptian art. For the first time the pharaoh and his wife, Nefertiti, were shown as they appeared and not as tradition dictated.

The reign of Amenhotep IV ended approximately in 1358 B.C., but the exact reasons are not known. It is widely believed that he was murdered, perhaps by vengeful priests of Amon. After his death his city and temples were destroyed and his name erased from existance.