Explain Why Akhenaten Moved His Capital to Amarna

Topics: Akhenaten, Ancient Egypt, Amarna Pages: 5 (1816 words) Published: July 30, 2007
Historians' views as to why Akhenaten moved his capital to Amarna are distinctly contrasted, and the suggestions are numerous. These include three predominant theories promoted by various historians with divergent views of Akhenaten. These theories are all conceptually based on the concept of Akhenaten using Amarna to develop his religious ideals. Firstly, it is believed that having his revolutionary religious reforms reached their goals; Akhenaten employed the city of Amarna as an escape from Amun dominated Thebes. This would remove the distractions of other Gods and Deities still around in Thebes, and leave people free to worship the Aten. Secondly it is suggested that Akhenaten repositioned his capital to Amarna in order to escape the Amun Priesthood, as he felt that his beliefs and principles could not fully flourish whilst they still retained a prominent role within society. Finally, and most commonly, it is believed that Akhenaten moved his capital to Amarna to create a place where his religion could thrive without the pressure of established temple communities; and thus he created a brand new centre of religion aimed at spreading his radical beliefs. James Henry Breasted's reverence of Akhenaten was such that he described him as "the first individual in history." A staunch deist and strong believer in pacifism, Breasted believed he had a great deal in common with Akhenaten's style of leadership. Breasted suggested that Akhenaten used a form of deism with the Sun represented as the sole god – a god that was open to all and seen by all. Akhenaten's headship throughout his reign in his foreign and economic policies; and his stances on warfare strongly reflected the morals of Breasted – for example Breasted asserting that "We have come to speak habitually of an Amarna age, in religion, in life, in art, and this fact in itself is conclusive evidence of the distinctive intellectual attitude of Akhenaten." Akhenaten took very important steps in world religion towards Breasted's preferred beliefs – "he might entirely recast the world of religion" These shared beliefs in turn mean that Breasted's views must be considered with allowance for bias or distortion. Breasted entertains a variety, however ideologically similar, arguments for Akhenaten's reasons for the move of his capital. One theory presented is that Akhenaten progressed to Amarna to eliminate distractions of other religions, so concentrated in Thebes. Breasted states, "Finding Thebes embarrassed with too many theological traditions, in spite of its prestige and its splendour, Akhenaten forsook it and built a new capital…" This specifically demonstrates Akhenaten's determination to rid his capital of all evidence of other gods and deities . Breasted declared that "Thebes was now compromised by too many old associations to be a congenial place of residence for so radical a revolutionist." Cyril Aldred briefly discusses Akhenaten leaving Thebes to escape the domain of Amun. He claims "Akhenaten defied…that of the wealthy god Amun-Ra of Thebes." Aldred uses boundary stelae descriptions to determine Akhenaten's motivation, on which it is said that Akhenaten moved to Amarna to rid himself of ‘things' that were ‘against my father'. Erik Hornung succinctly suggests that Akhenaten may have moved his capital to Amarna to break away from the realm of Amun and Egyptian religious tradition. He maintains that Akhenaten's Aten cult was obviously in direct competition with the cult of the Amun, which had grown in strength in the reign of his father Amenhotep III . Consequently, Akhenaten moved his capital to Amarna where he could not allow himself to be goaded by the ever present glories of the Amun cult. The conception that Akhenaten moved his capital to Amarna to escape the Amun priesthood is both affirmed and denied by various historians. Breasted states there was existent and traditional conflict between Pharaoh and the priesthood . Amenhotep III is described as...

Bibliography: 1. Breasted J.H, Development of Religion and Thought in Ancient Egypt, University of Pennsylvania Press, Philadelphia, 1912
2. Breasted J.H, History of Egypt, Hodder and Stoughton, Revised, London, 1951
3. Aldred C, Akhenaten: Pharaoh of Egypt – a new study, Thames and Hudson, Lengarich (Germany), 1968
4. Aldred C, Akhenaten and Nefertiti, Thames and Hudson, London, 1973
5. Hornung E, Akhenaten and the Religion of Light, Cornell University Press, London, 1995
6. Bradley P, Ancient Egypt: Reconstructing the Past, Cambridge University Press, Melbourne, 1999
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