Amenhotep IV – Echnaton – pharaoh of the eighteenth dynasty, son of Amenhotep III and queen Teje.
His main wife was the mysterious Queen Nefertiti, perhaps a Hurricane princess, with which he had 6 daughters (he later married two of them) and with another, the less important wife of Taduhep, he had a son named Tutankhamun.
Until the reign of Amenhotep IV, little is known about his life. It is believed, that he may have suffered from the rare Marfan disease since childhood, characterized by poor immunity, by which sick (especially children) he often required isolation from other people. Moreover, this theory would explain, why the pharaoh was depicted in sculptures so completely different from other people: he had an exceptionally elongated face, wide hips and long fingers and toes, just like patients with Marfan syndrome.
Shortly after assuming power, Amenhot announced, that Aton the sun god appeared to him in his sleep and said, that he is the only true god. From that moment on, nothing in the state was to be the same as before – Pharaoh took the new name Akhenaten (“the light of Aten”) and vigorously began reforming religion, culture and art. At the same time, he was so dedicated to his vocation, that he had completely neglected all other areas, which the ruler should deal with, and showed no interest in the Egyptian economy or foreign diplomacy.
Under Akhenaten's reckless rule, Egypt quickly lost its dominant position in the Middle East. Moreover, the pharaoh vowed never to leave the city, thus he could not lead troops against the enemies of Egypt or deal with affairs, that would require him to travel to other cities. The country began to plunge into chaos, a lud, increasingly disappointed with the new ruler, he began to rebel.
Akhenaten's religious reform was based on the introduction of monotheism and belief in one god, Aten, and the elimination of all remnants of the worship of the old gods. So he demolished the temples, and in their place he put new ones dedicated to Aton, he forced the people to adopt a new religion and did not notice, that the inhabitants of the state only outside accepted the new faith, secretly still worshiping the old gods. This is confirmed by the latest discoveries and excavations, and the fact may also prove it, that immediately after the death of Pharaoh everything returned to the old order and the people returned to their former order with relief, polytheistic religion.
Akhenaten's second major reform was his departure from the canon in art, ordering to present the ruler in a rigid manner, strictly defined way as beautiful, divine essence. Pharaoh ordered to be realistic in art and to present things and people in a natural way, what they actually look like. The figure of Pharaoh as a hero and hero was replaced with the image of the king with all his human weaknesses, often surrounded by family and friends.
In addition, Akhenaten became famous as the creator of some of the most beautiful poems of the time. The most famous is “Hymn do Atona”, which today is called one of the most outstanding intellectual achievements of the ancient world.
Another important act of Akhenaten was the transfer of the capital from Memphis to the new city of Akhetaton (Horizon of Aten), today known as Tell el-Amarna from the name of the Bedouin tribe. Pharaoh consecrated the new capital to Aton and started to build his tomb himself, which was to be intended not only for him but also for the entire royal family.
Besides, following his father's example, Akhenaten raised his wife Nefertiti to a level almost equal to himself. So they were equal, and Nefertiti could advise and rule her husband with him. It is not known today, how great was her power, but more than once it was depicted on bas-reliefs in a headdress peculiar only to the pharaohs. Paintings and statues were frequent, showing Nefertiti and Akhenaten equals, and it seems, that the Queen had powerful influence. Also her father Aja, bearing the title “Father of god”, he was held in high esteem at the ruler's court and, like his daughter, had a great influence on the decisions of the pharaoh. It is also likely, that together with his son-in-law (the husband of my daughter Mutnodjme), General Harembab, he exercised real power in Egypt and was to become a pharaoh in the future.
At the end of his reign, Akhenaten ruled together with the co-regent of Semenechkare. During this period, for unknown reasons, the image of his wife began to blur and Nefertiti began to disappear from the pages of history.. Her statues have been reworked, and her figure was replaced by Meritaton, daughter of Akhenaten, which he married.
It is not known, what happened to Nefertiti, nor where Akhenaten was buried – he died in 18 year of his reign, and so far his body and no document of the cause of his death have been found. Although the pharaoh ordered a magnificent tomb to be forged near Akhetaton, however, it turned out to be empty when it was discovered. Perhaps Akhenaten was buried in the Valley of the Kings, however, as yet no evidence confirms this. Both Akhenaten and his wife were largely erased from Egyptian history after their death, because their statues and images have been destroyed or altered, and Pharaoh's enemies gladly removed his name from writings and carvings and destroyed his statues. All that, what Akhenaten had achieved in his lifetime was forgotten and turned to dust – Egypt has returned to its former order, to ancient religion and canon in art. Everything was old again, and all traces of the pharaoh considered a heretic were to be erased forever.
Akhenaten's successor was briefly Semenkhkare, and then Tutankhamun, husband and half-brother of his daughter Anchesenamon.