Buildings of Akhenaten: A Reflection of His Monotheistic Beliefs?

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To what extent are the buildings of Akhenaten a reflection of his monotheistic beliefs? Akhenaten’s monotheistic beleifs are clearly demonstrated though extensive evidence from in both his buildings and statuary. The claims of Bek, Akhenaten’s chief sculptor, inscribed at Aswan and Hermopolis, to be “the apprentice whom his majesty taught”, demonstrates the integral part Akhenaten played in his own portrayal in statues, reliefs and inscriptions. His addition of 2 extra units to the register, which elongated his proportions, the hermaphroditic features Akhenaten displays and the familial scenes have been speculated on as realistic and symbolic portrayals. Lefebvre suggested Akhenaten was a woman, arguing the feminine anatomical features he displays and the sporadic wearing of a long clinging robe in depictions were Akhenaten depicting ‘herself’ how ‘she’ was. Smith suggested Akhenaten was a sufferer of Frohlich’s Syndrome which would result in his feminine appearance, under bite and perhaps the Hydrocephalus condition seen in the elongated skull, as well as infertility. The significant devotion Akhenaten shows to ma’at as a concept in the Hymn of the Aten may support Akhenaten depicting himself realistically, considering the promotion of absolute truth as paramount. However this approach to the realistic style argument is unlikely considering the description of Akhenaten’s daughter’s to Nefertiti as “the daughter of the King, of his loins, born to his chief wife Nefertiti” and the suggestion that Akhenaten was either a woman or a Frohlich’s sufferer would mean a betrayal of this devotion to ma’at and as such would suggest that how Akhenaten portrayed himself was not realistic. Hurley suggests this devotion to ma’at may have caused an abstract portrayal of Akhenaten, where Akhenaten portrayed himself in a radical new way to demonstrate the new ‘truth’ of Atenism. This may be why Akhenaten portrayed himself in such an extreme style earlier in his reign. An...
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