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Amarna, Before and After


Wistman

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2 hours ago, Wepwawet said:

Bedoyere is good at making his points very clearly, and including background information that is often not included in some of the more popular books out there, for instance referencing earlier practises in the 18th Dynasty and explaining them rather than either ignoring them or just saying something was so with no explanation. Here I'm talking about the status of crown princes who have no "theological place" even if they certainly do have a place in practice. I'll add to Bedoyere by pointing out that in all the instances were we would expect to see a crown prince, we do not because of the theological nature of those places, for instance on temple walls. Who would this "Son of Horus" be when Horus never had a son. The appearance of crown prince Thutmose at the funeral chapel of Apis I is a rare exception. Clearly in the 19th Dynasty this "hiding" of princes stopped.

I also like his point that, until her tomb was discovered in 1996 by Alan Zivie, there was no record of Maia at all.  As such it exemplifies the chance and probability that other tombs with their epigraphic information will be uncovered and more of the Amarna mystery will be understood.  Zivie's splendid excavations on the Saqqara escarpment, unpicking the Ptolemaic cat catacomb built there, the Bubasteion, and revealing the New Kingdom elite tombs of nobles underneath, reveals to us the exceptional placement of Maia's tomb and her relative importance compared to, say, such high functionaries as Horemheb (during Tut's reign) and Maya (Tut's treasurer) whose tombs were located southwest of hers and without the panoramic view of Memphis and further on toward Heliopolis, which she enjoyed.  In fact, this circumstance displays to us the high nobility of blood necessary for Maia (as with Tey) to be honored with the position of wet-nurse to the next pharaoh.

Zivie himself is so impressed by this tomb and its occupant that he, in 2015, articulated a curious proposal:

Quote

According to Alain Zivie, the French archaeologist who discovered Maia's tomb almost 20 years ago, King Tut's wet nurse was also his sister, Meritaten.

"Maia is none other than princess Meritaten, the sister or half-sister of Tutankhamun and the daughter of [Pharaoh] Akhenaten and [Queen] Nefertiti," Zivie told reporters on the weekend.

The Egyptologist bases his claim on markings within Maia's tomb in Saqqara, a mass burial ground south of Cairo. Zivie says carvings depicting Tutankhamun and Maia in the wet nurse's tomb reveal a family resemblance between the pair.

"The extraordinary thing is that they are very similar. They have the same chin, the eyes, the family traits," Zivie said. "The carvings show Maia sitting on the royal throne and he is sitting on her [lap]."

https://www.sciencealert.com/king-tutankhamun-s-wet-nurse-was-his-sister-archaeologist-claims

 

Edited by Wistman
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I've seen that idea from Zivie before, but I don't see it as it just doesn't add up, more problems with some authors and their math skills unfortunately.

Firstly, I would have thought that if Meritaten changed her name to an Amun name then it would have been to Meritamun.

Now the maths. Tutankhamun is born in year 8 or 9 when Meritaten would only have been seven or eight, far too young to be a wet nurse. I would have thought that a wet nurse is going to be into her mid to late teens at the youngest.

Now some stretching. Let's say that Meritaten was in some way acting as wet nurse without the feeding aspect, just a sort of nanny, then for how long would Tutankhaten have needed a nanny, or a real wet nurse, before he ended up with the royal tutor. Well, according to the Instruction to Any, he would have needed a wet nurse for up to three years, longer than actually needed, but the relevant instruction says, "When you were born after your months, your mother was still yoked to you, her breast was in your mouth for three years.". Without evidence, I suspect that even if the wet nurse morphed into a nanny after her feeding duties were over, and it seems this was so, then the prince would have been passed into the care of the royal tutor at around aged eight. So, if in the unlikely event Meritaten was looking after Tutankhaten up to the age of about eight, she was very busy needing to juggle those duties with being GRW to first Smenkhkare and then Akhenaten. Then, if Maya, she would need to have conveniently totally forgotten ever having been Meritaten and married to two kings.

On the other hand, I do not doubt for one moment that Maya was anything other than a very close family member, hence a similar look, but just not Meritaten as she was far too young, and I wonder if he is basing his idea on the erroneous contention by his fellow Frenchman Marc Gabolde that Tutankhaten is the baby in TA26 chamber gamma. And on that, and going back to stretching things, even if he were that baby and Meritaten his wetnurse, she still has to juggle being GRW to two kings on the trot, when one of the reasons for having a royal wet nurse is to leave his mother, a queen, time for royal duties.

Edited by Wepwawet
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On 11/28/2022 at 6:07 PM, Wepwawet said:

I've seen that idea from Zivie before, but I don't see it as it just doesn't add up, more problems with some authors and their math skills unfortunately.

Firstly, I would have thought that if Meritaten changed her name to an Amun name then it would have been to Meritamun.

Now the maths. Tutankhamun is born in year 8 or 9 when Meritaten would only have been seven or eight, far too young to be a wet nurse. I would have thought that a wet nurse is going to be into her mid to late teens at the youngest.

Now some stretching. Let's say that Meritaten was in some way acting as wet nurse without the feeding aspect, just a sort of nanny, then for how long would Tutankhaten have needed a nanny, or a real wet nurse, before he ended up with the royal tutor. Well, according to the Instruction to Any, he would have needed a wet nurse for up to three years, longer than actually needed, but the relevant instruction says, "When you were born after your months, your mother was still yoked to you, her breast was in your mouth for three years.". Without evidence, I suspect that even if the wet nurse morphed into a nanny after her feeding duties were over, and it seems this was so, then the prince would have been passed into the care of the royal tutor at around aged eight. So, if in the unlikely event Meritaten was looking after Tutankhaten up to the age of about eight, she was very busy needing to juggle those duties with being GRW to first Smenkhkare and then Akhenaten. Then, if Maya, she would need to have conveniently totally forgotten ever having been Meritaten and married to two kings.

On the other hand, I do not doubt for one moment that Maya was anything other than a very close family member, hence a similar look, but just not Meritaten as she was far too young, and I wonder if he is basing his idea on the erroneous contention by his fellow Frenchman Marc Gabolde that Tutankhaten is the baby in TA26 chamber gamma. And on that, and going back to stretching things, even if he were that baby and Meritaten his wetnurse, she still has to juggle being GRW to two kings on the trot, when one of the reasons for having a royal wet nurse is to leave his mother, a queen, time for royal duties.

Most definitely a crazy overreach by Zivie; I suppose the finesse of the tomb and its decorations sent him searching for a more exalted name for its occupant.  She could be a royal cousin for all we know,  with an Akhmin name.  Surely Meritaten would have been buried at Thebes with the rest of her family.

Can we assume from this grand solitary tomb that Maia was not married, or would this have been usual for high-status ladies, married or not?

 

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8 hours ago, Wistman said:

Most definitely a crazy overreach by Zivie; I suppose the finesse of the tomb and its decorations sent him searching for a more exalted name for its occupant.  She could be a royal cousin for all we know,  with an Akhmin name.  Surely Meritaten would have been buried at Thebes with the rest of her family.

Can we assume from this grand solitary tomb that Maia was not married, or would this have been usual for high-status ladies, married or not?

 

Well it's Amarna so it's complicated. Being married was the norm, as was being buried with your husband, notable examples being Yuya and Thuya, Kha and Merit, and a number of noblemen named Ramose with their respective wifes. So it's odd that she has a tomb to herself, and I can see the mental gears turning trying to explain this. Playing Devil's advocate it could be thought that she had been married, but to an "unmentionabe", who could in this scenario only have been either Akhenaten or Smenkhkare, which makes her Meritaten, and then we have the age problem of her being wet nurse to Tutankhaten, and therefore not Meritaten, and the merry-go-round goes around and around and around.

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This is just some idle nonsense.

Psalm 104 is linked to the Great Hymn to the Aten even though the two are separated in time by about 800 years give or take whatever you think. The similarities between the two compositions give rise to erroneous assumptions that psalm 104 is taken directly from the Great Hymn, and therefore is "proof" that Akhenaten, or his elder brother Thutmose, escaped to that part of the Levant now known as Israel and passed on the concept of monotheism to the natives, all of whom were subjects of the Egyptian Empire at the time, but let's forget about that, or not. However, the Aten never went away and it's cult lasted into the reign of Ramesses II. While the way the Aten was depicted with it's rays ending in hands holding an ankh was never used after Akhenaten, but Sun disks, without a uraeus, still technically the aten, but rendered in modern languages with a lower case "a",  continued to be used in tombs, the straight lines of the rays now giving way to the zigzag lines that had always been used to portray light. It's that the dead are bathed in light, and in this context for eternity, that I find interesting. The depictions of light bathing the dead do bridge that centuries long gap between Akhenaten and historical Hebrews, so, here we get to psalm 129 and this:

Requiem aeternam dona eis Domine et lux perpetua luceat eis

Eternal rest give unto them O Lord: and let perpetual light shine unto them

Now of course the Lord here is the Abrahamic god, but is the concept of this god bathing the dead in it's light for eternity original to the Hebrews, or have they borrowed it.

"Requiem aeternam dona eis Atene et lux perpetua luceat eis" would fit well into the Great Hymn with it's motifs of eternity and perpetual light. Just a thought.

Edited by Wepwawet
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8 hours ago, Wepwawet said:

This is just some idle nonsense.

....The similarities between the two compositions give rise to erroneous assumptions that psalm 104 is taken directly from the Great Hymn, and therefore is "proof" that Akhenaten, or his elder brother Thutmose, escaped to that part of the Levant now known as Israel and passed on the concept of monotheism to the natives, ..... but let's forget about that, or not. However, the Aten never went away and it's cult lasted into the reign of Ramesses II. 

Wepwawet,

The 10th century BCE in the bible is a better era (i.e better than Akhenaten and his brother Thutmose in the 14th century BCE) to look for transplanted traditions from Egypt, arriving into the northern and southern Hebrew kingdoms.  (note:  Some scholars say some biblical stories about Solomon were patterned after the Egyptian reign of Amenhotep III and Sitamun.  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pharaoh's_daughter_(wife_of_Solomon)#Parallels_with_Amenhotep_III_and_Sitamun  )

 

Biblical king Solomon married an Egyptian princess of Egypt's 21st dynasty.  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pharaoh's_daughter_(wife_of_Solomon)

Then Egypt's 22nd Dynasty seized control of Egypt, with Shishak as the first pharaoh of the the 22nd dynasty.  Shishak did not want the 21st dynasty to regain control of Egypt (i.e. reviving the 21st dynasty through Solomon and his 21st dynasty Egyptian princess wife).

 

Shishak played king-maker after Solomon died -- seizing all the valuable objects from the southern kingdom of Judah, but releasing and supporting Jeroboam, a political opponent of Solomon, who had previously obtained sanctuary in Egypt to avoid persecution by Solomon.  Jeroboam became king of the 10 northern tribes of Israel.  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jeroboam#Biblical_background

citing from: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shishak#Biblical_narrative

"Shishak was also related by marriage to Jeroboam. The wife of Jeroboam is unnamed in the Masoretic Text, but according to the Septuagint, she was an Egyptian princess called Ano:

     And Sousakim gave to Jeroboam Ano the eldest sister of Thekemina his wife, to him as wife; she was great among the king's daughters... [5] "

Edited by atalante
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2 hours ago, atalante said:

 

The 10th century BCE in the bible is a better era (i.e better than Akhenaten and his brother Thutmose in the 14th century BCE) to look for transplanted traditions from Egypt, arriving into the northern and southern Hebrew kingdoms.

 

What I was more interested in was how Egyptian religious thought, specifically light and eternity, found it's way into Hebrew thought and then into Christianity, not really in trying to correlate the Bible to Egyptian history as that is a somewhat circular argument with no agreement in sight.

Btw, I "miswrote" in ascribing the introit to the Missa Defunctorum to psalm 129, just crosswires as the lines I quoted from the introit come from the Apocrypha. What I was doing was moving away from the oft quoted Psalm 104 to look for other instances of original Egyptian religious thought that has survived to the present day, though in the case of the Apocrypha this is a step away from the Hebrew tradition, though based on it. The fact that this is hidden sacred writings also appeals as it looks rather Egyptian, but I know that just "looking" Egyptian does not make it so at all.

While I don't link psalm 104 to an actual presence of Akhenaten or any of his relatives, either pre or post dating him, in Palestine, and certainly not as "refugees" from the Amun priesthood, I am convinced that the psalm is based on the Great Hymn to the Aten, and that Egyptian concepts made there way into Hebrew writings, and so into ours via them.

In John 8:12 we have Jesus saying Ego sum lux mundi "I am the light of the World", meaning, I believe, that he is literally light, that God is light and that Jesus is the light of this otherwise invisible God. This, I contend, is entirely Egyptian in origin, not convergent thinking, but the result of the transmission of Egyptian religious thought.

The motifs in the Great Hymn to the Aten are not all unique to Akhenaten, the hymn is based on previous solar hymns, but Akhenaten put light into a position of prominence that it never had before, and while the Aten after his death eventually reverted to just being the aten, the visible sundisc, the light, which you could say was lit by Akhenaten, never went away, as we see in tombs until the end of Egyptian civilization. The question is did the Hebrews, or rather them from proto-Hebrews, accept to an extent the vision of Akhenaten that there was one god and that god was the god of light, the light of the world, as it were, and that god, in a distorted form, still survives.

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On 12/5/2022 at 2:54 PM, Wepwawet said:

.... In John 8:12 we have Jesus saying Ego sum lux mundi "I am the light of the World", meaning, I believe, that he is literally light, that God is light and that Jesus is the light of this otherwise invisible God. This, I contend, is entirely Egyptian in origin, not convergent thinking, but the result of the transmission of Egyptian religious thought.

The motifs in the Great Hymn to the Aten are not all unique to Akhenaten, the hymn is based on previous solar hymns, but Akhenaten put light into a position of prominence that it never had before, and while the Aten after his death eventually reverted to just being the aten, the visible sundisc, the light, which you could say was lit by Akhenaten, never went away, as we see in tombs until the end of Egyptian civilization. The question is did the Hebrews, or rather them from proto-Hebrews, accept to an extent the vision of Akhenaten that there was one god and that god was the god of light, the light of the world, as it were, and that god, in a distorted form, still survives.

Wepwawet,

Your focus on the religion of "light" might deserve to focus on the Hebrew root word for light and shining.  https://www.abarim-publications.com/Dictionary/a/a-w-r.html

But I am curious; how far can you trace the aten in Egyptian pharaohs after Akhenaten?

 

Edited by atalante
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As the Hebrews come after the Egyptians, and also being neighbours and subjects to the Egyptians, I don't doubt that their religious thought was influenced by Egypt, specifically the ex nihilo creation and the use of light. Everything beyond this, as it was in Egypt, is just an add on without fundamental value, as Akhenaten worked out, though to other Egyptians he got it very very wrong about Osiris.

The last Greatest of Seers of the Aten lost his job during the reign of Ramesess II. From which temple he had been operating I have no idea, potentially Akhetaten, though I don't think there is any archeological evidence for it's occupation, even on a small scale, after Horemheb.

The issue with an Aten priesthood, and why it would have been closed down, is that it perpetuated Akhenaten's act of turning the aten into a god in it's own right, probably a heresy. The aten is properly the Sun, and as the word aten means orb or globe, not disk, a terminology we use, shows the Egyptians knew the Sun was a globe, not a two dimensional disk in the sky. The aten is not Ra, but can contain Ra, and texts detail Ra entering into his aten to traverse the sky, presumably including the Day Barque. Amunhotep III depicts himself as Ra within the aten on a seal impression from Malqata, which I cannot find a linkable version of, and so becomes one with the aten shining his light down on the world. The sun disks that appear in the Netherworld texts, and do not have a determinitive attached to them to indicate that this is Ra, are the aten, so the aten exists after Akhenaten, it has to as it's the Sun. Mostly it is depicted as just a disk without it's rays of light, but even the rays of light did not entirely dissapear with Akhenaten as can be seen on the sarcophagus of the Late Period official Djehapimu. So the light never went away.

t30_0813_m.jpg

 

Edited by Wepwawet
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@Wepwawet  That's interesting.  So the sun and its rays as shown on the sarcophagus is the aten and not Re?  It seems so very prominent on this late artifact.  And btw, what or who is the human headed vulture shown there?  It (he) seems to be wearing one of those Ptah-style tight fitting caps.  It doesn't look like a ba bird to me, but perhaps it is?

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3 hours ago, Wistman said:

@Wepwawet  That's interesting.  So the sun and its rays as shown on the sarcophagus is the aten and not Re?  It seems so very prominent on this late artifact.  And btw, what or who is the human headed vulture shown there?  It (he) seems to be wearing one of those Ptah-style tight fitting caps.  It doesn't look like a ba bird to me, but perhaps it is?

I'm pretty sure it's a ba bird. By the Late Period commoners were giving themselves what used to be royal iconography, for instance the shen rings, and there is I think a case were Ptah could be included in a scene like this, but I'll have to do some checking.

I have to admit that on the sun disk I cannot give an adequate answer without some rambling and meandering post full of caveats. So, and this is my take on this, I think that this is the aten partly because it is not unequivocaly Ra, and, I believe, it is only the aten that is shown with visible light emanating from it.

By the Late Period the "Light of Ra" was believed to be omnipresent in all living beings, therefore his light does not need to be shown as any depiction of this would mean that the medium, tomb or temple wall or papyrus, was just light. The aten is the final form of Ra, not in the sense that Ra has evolved into the aten and that this is now his eternal form, but that there are no more forms beyond the aten that Ra can be manifest in. An issue here is where does Ra end and the aten begin, if at all if they are one. But are they one, the very rare depictions of the aten in anthropomorphic form show him as exactly the same as Ra as a falcon headed man with a sundisk over his head, except for his nametag. On the other hand in the Coffin Texts we have Ra entering his aten, along with the Day Barque and it's crew, to traverse the sky during the day. Then in the Netherworld Books the now dead Ra is on the Night Barque, and named as Flesh, his rams head indicating that this is the ba of Ra, why, because rams go baa for Egyptians just as they do for us, and some things are not as complicated as they seem. However, floating around like the giant ball in "The Prisoner" are solar disks, and the texts, while not naming them, state that they shine light onto the inhabitants of the Duat. But, Ra is dead and his "flesh" is on the Night Barque, so what or who are the solar disks. Where does the aten go at dusk? nobody says, but as it is a light emitting body I believe that the sundisks in shown in the Netherworld Books are in fact the aten, and that is debatable of course.

A further issue that can obscure what we mean by Ra and aten is how hieroglyphs are translated, and what we may have also thought was a depiction, either literary or artistic, of Ra may not be. I mention this as I'm sure the vast majority of people will see a sundisk and assume this is Ra, including on the sarcophagus lid shown above. Ra, when in the text, is still Ra, but the term solar disk is used very widely, and is assumed to be synonymous with Ra.

Here is part of an 19th Dynasty Solar Hymn:

You have hidden yourself as Amun the great

you have withdrawn in your transformation as the sun disk

Tatenen, who raises himself above the gods.

Use of the term sun disk is universal, and I think hiding the underlying reality of what is happening here. Sun disk is a mistranslation as it should be, and this is pedandic, orb, as I mentioned in the previous post. William Murnane is just about the only Egyptologist who consistently uses the word orb, everybody else using solar disk, and I believe we all think we know exactly what is meant, yeah, Ra. However, the hieroglyphs just say itn which is of course aten, not Ra. Therefore, it would seem to me that in many texts were we are presented with the term solar disk, this is not Ra but the aten. I suspect that if aten were used than it would cause confusion as the aten is for most people synonymous with Akhenaten and the Amarna Period. So we are perhaps unconsciously led into seeing Ra all over the place when in a number of these instances it is in fact the aten. Therefore, the solar disk on the sarcophagus lid should be the aten as it has visible light coming from it, though it's possible that the rays of light might be a reference to Khepri, and the reasons for this are..... but I've been boring enough I think, and probably wrong here and there  :)

 

Edited by Wepwawet
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Returning to the target era of this thread, how far did these distinctions between Ra and the Aten go in Akhetaten and AIII's court?  The royal nomens of the time still contain the Ra (Re) component where appropriate; did they signify a difference with the Aten components of the royal nomens, other than tradition and custom?   I know that Ra was still supported in Heliopolis...was the Aten worshiped there, as far as is known?  Was there worship or even designation of Ra at Akhetaten, as distinct from the Aten?  etc...  Did Akhenaten recognize Ra as within the Aten, or did he see the Aten as solitary?  :o oh....:D

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I have no idea if the Aten was worshipped at Heliopolis as the sole god, but perhaps not as it would have become just another Aten temple as the presence of the other solar gods with the Aten will be incompatible with the nature of the Aten as literally the sole god, or as the visible manifestation of Ra as sole god.

I'll have to come back to the rest as it needs some thought to make a reasonably coherent answer because it involves answering the question of not just was Akhenaten the first monotheist, but remains the only true monotheist, at least in comparisson to the three Abrahamic faiths.

 

Edited by Wepwawet
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This is going to sound like a boring religious polemic, but it's not the intention, which is to try to explain "Atenism" in as concise a way as I can. It will fail, in part certainly, and some folks will think it fails in full, so I invite constructive criticism if anybody thinks I am "blaspheming".

Ra, ruler of the two horizons, who rejoices in the Horizon, in his name of light, which is the Aten

Ra = God

Aten = the visible manifestation of God, and the only manifestation that is acknowledged and worshipped, so Aten also = God

The light of Ra as emitted by the Aten shines on and into all creatures.

Ra is unknowable and unseen to all creatures, except Akhenaten, and so is not an object of worship in himself, only his light, the Aten, and though his light shines on all, can only be reached via "his son" Akhenaten, ("I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.)

This, as has been pointed out by many people over the years looks a bit like God the Father and God the Holy Spirit. As Amunhotep III portrayed himself as Ra within the Aten, and he is the father of Akhenaten, then it also looks like Akhenaten is God the Son, and so we have the Christian Trinity, an analogy which I know is hated and derided. However, the more I look at "Atenism", the more I find that looks like the Trinity, and is as difficult to properly explain.

I'm not saying of course that the Christian Trinity has been copied from Atenism, it's impossible, but I find it the best way to try to explain what is going on in Atenism, even if it's not a perfect fit.

Akhenaten can be seen as not just the first monotheist, but also the first Puritan, though the god he has created is heretical and atheistic as it is based on a man, just like, uh, better leave that for somewhere else :)  However, the man is of course his father Amunhotep III who has, it seems, usurped Ra rather than become associated with him, but that cannot be known other than asking Akhenaten what is in his mind.

Akhenaten is a puritan because he has removed all the props, other deities, statues to them and also forms of worship which diffuse the worship of "The One" into "The Many" to borrow from Hornung. All the Christian saints, essentialy minor deities, and thus not monotheism, the elaborate forms of worship, including the magic act of transsubstantiation, and the higly decorated churches looking at bit like polytheistic temples, all fell victim to the puritans, and by that term I mean Protestants at the Reformation in particular, not the "black hats" of the 17th Century, though in England they did move things on even more in their desire to concentrate soley on "The One".

The fact that Akhenaten allowed the worship of other gods to continue is used to try to say that he was not a monotheist. This is wrong as it is sloppy reasoning. If a country with a state religion, say the UK with it's Church of England governed by the monarch, and saying prayers before each session of Parliament, allows other faiths to operate, does that them make the Church of England no longer a Christian monotheist church as it's controller, the State, allows polytheists and forms of Christianty in opposition to Protestantism. Well it does not, though an argument could be made in modern England that the Church is in a terminal state of heresy and degeneracy, oops, some polemics.

Therefore, I contend that as Akhenaten threw out everything from the old religion, he was in fact a true monotheist, with the Abrahamic faiths with their saints and angels and hobgoblins, and yes, Satan, not being truely monotheist in the way Akhenaten was. However, there is still the huge issue of whether Akhenaten's Ra was the real deal, or his father. If the later, then his religion was as atheistic as Christiantiy with it's worship of a man, at face value, then we get to arguments about the nature of the Trinity. Looking at all the discussions on this, going by, say, Ahmed Osman and many others, the three Abrahamic faiths today could in fact all be based on Amunhotep III being "God".

Edited by Wepwawet
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On 12/9/2022 at 3:05 PM, Wistman said:

And btw, what or who is the human headed vulture shown there?  It (he) seems to be wearing one of those Ptah-style tight fitting caps.  It doesn't look like a ba bird to me, but perhaps it is?

If the cap that Djehapimu wears does in fact reference Ptah, then this would fit into Late Period mortuary practise as Ptah will be giving the deceased an eternity of "life" in the Duat. This eternity is vast, beyond the death and life cycles of any god, except Ptah, whose existance Egyptologist Eric Uphill has suggested can in years be expressed as 10 to the power of infinity, in fact Ptah, according to the Egyptians, has always been and will always be, even the collapse of their known universe and the death of Atum falling within the span of Ptah's existance. I thought I would elaborate as I think it has bearing on the nature of what the Egyptians thought "God" was, and makes Ptah look even more like the later parvenue pretender, and it's prototype.

I always thought that the Egyptian's "Ragnarok" with Atum sinking back into the waters of Nun and becoming a snake was misunderstood as a metaphor for the end of time, when it is the end of a cycle of time, and a god like Atum can emerge again from Ptah's creation of the fabric of the universe, ie, Nun. I prefer this view of the vastness of time that is the universe to our own, where I think we are guilty of a conceit when we say we know when the universe came into being and when it will end. The Egyptians I think had a better conception of eternity than us, and knew that it has always been, and will always be, in fact, I think it would be fitting to put these words into the mouth of Ptah, "I am what I am".

Edited by Wepwawet
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On 12/9/2022 at 12:39 PM, Wistman said:

I know that Ra was still supported in Heliopolis...was the Aten worshiped there, as far as is known?  Was there worship or even designation of Ra at Akhetaten, as distinct from the Aten?  etc...  Did Akhenaten recognize Ra as within the Aten, or did he see the Aten as solitary?  :o oh....:D

Wistman,
 
Here is a link that discusses the archaeological data for Akhenaten's various Aten temples away from Amarna.
 
Evidently Ramesses II reused the talatat blocks from most (or perhaps all) of the regional Aten temples in Ramesses II's constructions.
 
Since Amarna's High Priest of Aten (Meryre) was basically a steward for Amarna's Aten temple -- it seems likely that all of the distant regional Aten temples also had their own stewards (priests of Aten).  If so, then a widespread Aten cult in Egypt presumably lasted at least until the reign of Ramesses II.   
 
 
Edited by atalante
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I'll add to the article posted by @atalante that in the list of Atem temples it is noticable that these are new foundations, not conversions of existing temples to whatever god. This I think can be linked to Akhenaten not closing temples until later in his reign as he needed the revenues from those temples, even from Amun, the biggest source of wealth.

As worship of the Aten needed a temple open to the sky, conversion of existing temples would essentially have meant them being demolished and the ground cleared for the new type of temple. This would have been an added expense to the building of a new capital city, and taken time, with no revenues being generated during this process.

A modern analogue to this temple building/replacement process would be one in which, for sake of argument, all the supermarkets in a country, a good analogue for a temple anyway, ultimately belonged to the state. If the state, for whatever reason, decides that it wants to radically redesign how a supermarket should be, and the new design is so radical that no existing supermarkets can be converted, they will all have to be demolished. This is such a disprutive process that it will mean that state revenues will cease and the population have nowhere to buy goods, and this will result in the collapse of the state and a revolution. I would say that as Akhenaten did not change everything in one go clearly indicates that he and his advisors were well aware of the financial constraints if not the danger to the state itself, and so, while changes did occur, and at lighting speed for Egypt, and perhaps many countries today, they mostly involved changes within the royal court and locations closely associated with the court, for instance we see two Aten temples appear at Karnak early on, but not yet everywhere in the country. Everything associated with the Aten seems to be with the royal family and not society in general. The big project is the building of a new capital, and this will take huge resources, too many to allow a huge temple building project in the entire country to take place at the same time. Akhenaten only had 17 years before he died, too short a period to have completed the project, a project so big that it may not even have been thought that it could have been completed in his lifetime even if he had lived another twenty years. I think this gets overlooked and so we get, IMO, nonsense about him not being a monotheist, or "fights" with the Amun priesthood. We expect to much of him, and then condemn him for not meeting our expectations of what he should have achieved, when he was probably the greatest organizer and builder between the 4th Dynasty pyramid builders and the Romans.

There is also an otherwise unmentioned implication of the existance of a cult to the Aten existing into the reign of Ramesses II. The wealth of a temple, it's means of being able to stay open and operate, is the goods and offerings generated from the land it owns and the willingness of the local population to provide for the temple. Only a few people in a temple were what we today would call a professional priest, in the temple for Amun at Luxor this would be the First to Fourth Prophets and a Sem if he were not also one of the prophets, plus a lector or two, and they had other jobs as well. Most of the staff at a temple were the wab priests, essentially laymen who performed the mundane jobs not associated with ritual in the "Holy of Holies". This was not forced labour, it was voluntary, so for any temple to function properly it must draw upon the services of a local population who had the desire to spend some of their time working for the temple. This means that into the reign of Ramesses II, depending on how many Aten temples were still operating, and that there was still a Greatest of Seers of the Aten still in position, there will have been a reasonable number of the population who had no issues with serving the Aten, though in general terms the vast majority of authors would have us think in black and white terms that the Aten, it's temples and priests, were discarded, even destroyed and cast out, in the early part of the reign of Tutankhamun. The reality of what happened eludes us.

Edited by Wepwawet
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On 12/11/2022 at 3:14 AM, Wepwawet said:

....  Everything associated with the Aten seems to be with the royal family and not society in general. The big project is the building of a new capital, and this will take huge resources, too many to allow a huge temple building project in the entire country to take place at the same time. Akhenaten only had 17 years before he died, too short a period to have completed the project, a project so big that it may not even have been thought that it could have been completed in his lifetime even if he had lived another twenty years. I think this gets overlooked and so we get, IMO, nonsense about him not being a monotheist, or "fights" with the Amun priesthood. We expect to much of him, and then condemn him for not meeting our expectations of what he should have achieved, when he was probably the greatest organizer and builder between the 4th Dynasty pyramid builders and the Romans.

 

Wepwawet,

I can extend your line of thought about Akhenaten's huge task and limited resources, which I have quoted here.

If the first 8 years of Akhenaten's reign was a coregency with his father Amenhotep III.  And if his father authorized Akhenaten specifically to build Akhetaten during the coregency -- then the traditional Amun priesthood would NOT be greatly antagonized during at least the first 8 years of Akhenaten's reign.

Smenkhare's coregency might involve in a similar "delegation", of a specific task.  Smenkhare's activity might fall into a government bureau called Ankhkeperure (which can be loosely understood as "the existing manifestations of Re").

 

In this line of thought, Smenkhare-djeserKeperu would be a bureaucrat with a specific range of authority connected with his functional name, "power involving the manifestation of Re - the holy forms (other than Aten)". https://pharaoh.se/pharaoh/Smenkhkara

i.e. Smenkhare would be the hammer who greatly antagonized the traditional Amun-Re priesthood, by seizing some of their revenue and closing some of their temples - to provide cashflow for Akhenaten's Aten program. 

 

 

 

Edited by atalante
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On 12/13/2022 at 8:52 PM, atalante said:

Wepwawet,

I can extend your line of thought about Akhenaten's huge task and limited resources, which I have quoted here.

If the first 8 years of Akhenaten's reign was a coregency with his father Amenhotep III.  And if his father authorized Akhenaten specifically to build Akhetaten during the coregency -- then the traditional Amun priesthood would NOT be greatly antagonized during at least the first 8 years of Akhenaten's reign.

Smenkhare's coregency might involve in a similar "delegation", of a specific task.  Smenkhare's activity might fall into a government bureau called Ankhkeperure (which can be loosely understood as "the existing manifestations of Re").

 

In this line of thought, Smenkhare-djeserKeperu would be a bureaucrat with a specific range of authority connected with his functional name, "power involving the manifestation of Re - the holy forms (other than Aten)". https://pharaoh.se/pharaoh/Smenkhkara

i.e. Smenkhare would be the hammer who greatly antagonized the traditional Amun-Re priesthood, by seizing some of their revenue and closing some of their temples - to provide cashflow for Akhenaten's Aten program. 

 

 

 

I can see your point, but the mechanisms for this had already been in place since the OK, namely the offices of the royal treasurer, the viziers, the Overseer of Cattle, town mayors and the HP of the local temple, if he were not also the mayor. Between all these functionaries regular convoys of large barges travelled up and down the Nile collecting taxes which then was not money of course, but primarily grain. There are records of the temples still giving their "offerings" to the royal treasury well into Akhenaten's reign, and it looked like old mechanisms for tax collection functioned as normal, but probably with more activity as building a new city does not come cheap.

It gets murky later in the reign with phrases like, "The statues no longer work", possibly a euphanism meaning that offerings were no longer being made to them. My take on this is that if an Aten temple had been set up, then it had taken over the ownership of the land previously held by the old temple, therefore that portion of produce that used to go the old temple as offerings, taxes, went instead to the new Aten temple. It could be then that an old temple did not need to be shut down by proscription, it just needed it's lifeblood of offerings cut, what today we may call sanctions. However, we need to remember that the temples and their land were the property of the king anyway, and while there was an aristocracy that he needs to keep on side, we are in the 18th Dynasty still short of the situation at the end of the NK with the 1st Prophet of Amun, and other HP of other temples, looking like German prince bishops.

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From the paper atalante linked to above, I'm wondering why images of Hathor in temple districts were attacked by iconoclasts; was it simply that these examples were found in Amun sanctuary precincts and thus focused upon relevant to that god's intended extinction, or were her images in her own Hathor sanctuaries and shrines attacked as well? 

Besides that, although the aten actually originated far earlier, a solar focus seems to arise in TIV's reign and furthered under AIII.  But though this is evident and under him became prominent, AIII not only respected and built for the traditional gods, but he expanded some programs - notably the first tomb for Apis bulls (Ptah) and the court at Luxor temple for Amenmenope (syncretic Min, possibly to give Min a prominent placing at Thebes) - all of which shifted around the occurrence of the first heb-sed.  I am beginning to wonder, noting how much changed at the royal court at this time, if AIII didn't suffer a psychotic split, causing him to make such drastic changes in the focus of kingship/religious structures including declaring himself a living god (also Queen Tiye).  The circumstances surrounding the loss of prince Thutmose may have instigated this (remember all the Sekhmet statues), the feeling of powerlessness in the face of it, could have impacted his psyche.  In this scenario AIV, having risen to Crown Prince by the same circumstance, might have readily embraced his father's transformation of self and the radical changes to the nation's religio-social structures, and in time developed deeper ruptures in the old traditional forms of religion and state, until it all came undone.  Not provable of course, just a notion.

 

Edited by Wistman
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I cannot think why images of Hathor would be attacked, except in cases where hotheads have perhaps gone too far or misinterpreted pronouncements by Akhenaten. Tiye is still alive to year 12, and she was portrayed as Hathor, as was Nefertiti early on, and Hathor is a core part of the solar religion. That the solar religion was cut down to only the Aten, with Ra "hiding" inside it, would mean that Hathor had to go, and she is less important than Ra-Horakhty who was shown the door, but I see no reason to attack her name or image. As to whether her images were attacked in her own temples I could not say, though I doubt it. The problem here is that Dendera is the only temple for Hathor that survives other than rubble, and Dendera is Ptolemaic anyway. I'm not aware that Hathor was attacked in any of the existing temples where she had her own chapel within it, for instance the images of Hathor in Hatshepsut's temple had not been attacked.

I wonder if all those Sekhmet statues are something directly to do with Tiye as if she is declared to be Hathor, then technically she is also Sekhmet, but that I think depends on how much separation between manifestations of a deity the Egyptians acknowledged. Both goddesses are one being, but have two entirely different personalities and cult practices attributed to them, but, just as Amunhotep III can clearly state that he is The Dazzling Aten, or maybe it should be read that he is Ra within the Dazzling Aten, and he was also Khonsu, son of Ra, the living Horus blah blah blah, why could not Tiye be Hathor and Sekhmet for a purpose that is lost, except if it is linked to the death of prince Thutmose.

Thutmose I builds a temple at the Great Sphinx which he orientates on it's axis to Heliopolis. Amunhotep II does the same, building over the temple of Thutmose I. There is no sign that any king had built a temple at the Great Sphinx, let alone orientating it to Heliopolis, since  it was built. The Sphinx seems to have been left, at least as far as building goes, all through the Middle Kingdom, and then we have the first Thutmosid build there, and then his great grandson, and his son then clears the Sphinx enclosure and says that in the form of Ra-Horakhty it told him to do so. A question here is that if Thutmose I and then Amunhotep II build a temple at the Sphinx, would this not indicate that it was not Thutmose IV who cleared the Sphinx enclosure, but Thutmose I, he had to otherwise how could he have known were to put the foundations for his temple if the entire area was covered in sand up to the Sphinx's neck. A factor not, for some reason or other, ever seen in the published literature.

The question then is why did Thutmose I build a temple at the Sphinx, and why was it so deliberately alinged with Heliopolis, and in the process ruining the symetry of the Sphinx, it's enclosure and two original temples. In fact a temple at that spot will have ruined the entire look and even obscured the Sphinx from the NE. The Egyptians liked symetry and things looking right, so this temple with it's Heliopolis alignment must have had profound importance, IMO.

So with all the prominence of Amun-Ra, and just Amun to the Thebans, there seems to be an undercurrent of something from the OK, and probably augmented by the current state of solar theology at Heliopolis, and I think the appearance of the "Ra centric" Amduat in the early 18th Dynasty is part of this.

To cut this short as I can see it going on and on and on, maybe this resurgance of OK solar worship within the royal court, hidden under a veneer of Amun, as we see with the obelisks of Hatshepsut where she dedicates them to Amun, but otherwise they are entirely solar and nothing to do with Amun, silently snowballs until we get to Amunhotep III. Here we may see a crisis of belief with AIII still supporting fully the old gods, but more and more realising that they are all either manifestations of Atum-Ra, or creations of them and so are not full blown gods at all. In public he still believes, but in private he does not, but could not make the break. Enter Akhenaten who with the energy and enthusiasm of youth "sees the light", literally, and sets about sweeping millenia of "hooha and superstition" away.

 

Edited by Wepwawet
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  • 3 weeks later...

Online lecture given by Aidan Dodson last month with the title "The Amarna Sunset", after his book and covering the same ground. All 90 minutes are interesting, and anybody viewing it will find parts more interesting to them than others. What struck me was his views on the identity of Smenkhkare and the nature of the co-regency with Akhenaten, and this starts at the 25 minute mark. Dodson believes that Smenkhkare was a brother of Akhenaten, and has done so for a while as it goes with his belief that KV55 is Smenkhkare. What Dodson says about the nature of the co-regency is that Akhenaten wanted to secure his "revolution" and in what was clearly a difficult period after the year 12 durbar, appointed not a son as co-ruler, but a younger brother. Dodson then says that when Tutankhaten became king on the death of Akhenaten, then Smenkhkare would become co-ruler with Tutankhaten as senior king. I entirely disagree with this and say that as this opinion is contra everything we know about how succession worked, it needs good evidence, including precedent.

I can imagine a conversation between Akhenaten and this younger brother going something like this:

Akhenaten - Okay Smenkh, I'm going to make you my junior king just in case I kick the bucket early, but when that happens you'll step down so Tut can be the main man, okay?.

Smenkhkare -  Sure, anything you say bro, I'll step down from being king, who wouldn't, eh ;)

 

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On 1/7/2023 at 4:44 AM, Wepwawet said:

Online lecture given by Aidan Dodson last month with the title "The Amarna Sunset", after his book and covering the same ground. All 90 minutes are interesting, and anybody viewing it will find parts more interesting to them than others. What struck me was his views on the identity of Smenkhkare and the nature of the co-regency with Akhenaten, and this starts at the 25 minute mark. Dodson believes that Smenkhkare was a brother of Akhenaten, and has done so for a while as it goes with his belief that KV55 is Smenkhkare. What Dodson says about the nature of the co-regency is that Akhenaten wanted to secure his "revolution" and in what was clearly a difficult period after the year 12 durbar, appointed not a son as co-ruler, but a younger brother. Dodson then says that when Tutankhaten became king on the death of Akhenaten, then Smenkhkare would become co-ruler with Tutankhaten as senior king. I entirely disagree with this and say that as this opinion is contra everything we know about how succession worked, it needs good evidence, including precedent.

I can imagine a conversation between Akhenaten and this younger brother going something like this:

Akhenaten - Okay Smenkh, I'm going to make you my junior king just in case I kick the bucket early, but when that happens you'll step down so Tut can be the main man, okay?.

Smenkhkare -  Sure, anything you say bro, I'll step down from being king, who wouldn't, eh ;)

 

Thanks, a good, enjoyable lecture.

However, where did Dodson propose (hypothetically) that Smenkhkare should step down for Tut's sole rulership, as your mock-conversation shows?

We've gone on and on about the succession and precedence in an era where precedence and tradition was often abandoned, while confronting the reality of Nefertiti's succession and sole kingship (no I don't think Hatshepsut is a precedent; Nefertiti was never a daughter of the king's body, nor did she as far as we know even have Thutmosid blood), or the emergence of Ay and Horemheb as kings themselves on the Thutmosid throne.  Wasn't Akhenaten, by possibly raising his younger brother to co-ruler status, attempting to keep his royal, Thutmosid bloodline on the throne to avert what would, in fact, eventually happen?

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13 hours ago, Wistman said:

Thanks, a good, enjoyable lecture.

However, where did Dodson propose (hypothetically) that Smenkhkare should step down for Tut's sole rulership, as your mock-conversation shows?

We've gone on and on about the succession and precedence in an era where precedence and tradition was often abandoned, while confronting the reality of Nefertiti's succession and sole kingship (no I don't think Hatshepsut is a precedent; Nefertiti was never a daughter of the king's body, nor did she as far as we know even have Thutmosid blood), or the emergence of Ay and Horemheb as kings themselves on the Thutmosid throne.  Wasn't Akhenaten, by possibly raising his younger brother to co-ruler status, attempting to keep his royal, Thutmosid bloodline on the throne to avert what would, in fact, eventually happen?

At 27:33 Dodson goes on to say that on the death of Akhenaten, then Smenkhare, if still alive, would have become co-ruler to Tutankhamun with the way he phrases this meaning that Smenkhkare would become the junior king. However, in his latest book, Dodson phrases this somewhat differently, and this is actually splitting hairs somewhat, and writes "The likely intention was that Tutankhuaten would immediately become Smenkhkare's coregent should Akhenaten die", making it seem that he thinks Smenkhkare will be the senior king. That this excercise in semantics can occur is I think the fault of Dodson who should clearly state exactly what he thinks the situation would have been, as after watching the video and reading the book I just don't know as he is too vague.

On my reading of all his published works, Dodson is claiming that Smenkhkare is a brother of Akhenaten based on the majority position of a younger age for KV55, early 20s, which would exclude it from being Akhenaten. Other than this, no evidence is put forward for a younger brother for Akhenaten. While Dodson believes that Tutankhamun is the son of Akhenaten, he excludes Smenkhkare from being an older son on the basis that both Smenkhkare and Meritaten would have been only about ten years old by the time of Tutankhamun's birth, if they were his parents. I had to re-read this several times as it is I think a bizarre conclusion as Dodson himself does not think that Smenkhkare and Meritaten were the parents of Tutankhaum, and does not at any point address the possibility that Akhenaten could have had a son early in his reign, and that this son does not have to be, and cannot be, the father of Tutankhamun.

Dodson does of course think that Smenkhare was installed as a co-ruler in order to "preserve the revolution", though does not explain why his putative younger brother needed to be made a full king when he could have acted as regent behind the scenes, much as Ay had probably been for Tutankhamun. The huge issue of appointing your brother over your own son is not addressed at all, and this to me is also bizarre as it needs a full technical explanation as to why this can ever happen, even in Amarna, as we have here a recipe for at least infighting within the royal family, and possible civil war, the very thing their succesion rules were meant to prevent, vide the Contendings of Set and Horus and the problems of the Second Dynasty which may have given rise to the creation of the Contendings.

 

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17 hours ago, Wepwawet said:

At 27:33 Dodson goes on to say that on the death of Akhenaten, then Smenkhare, if still alive, would have become co-ruler to Tutankhamun with the way he phrases this meaning that Smenkhkare would become the junior king. However, in his latest book, Dodson phrases this somewhat differently, and this is actually splitting hairs somewhat, and writes "The likely intention was that Tutankhuaten would immediately become Smenkhkare's coregent should Akhenaten die", making it seem that he thinks Smenkhkare will be the senior king. That this excercise in semantics can occur is I think the fault of Dodson who should clearly state exactly what he thinks the situation would have been, as after watching the video and reading the book I just don't know as he is too vague.

On my reading of all his published works, Dodson is claiming that Smenkhkare is a brother of Akhenaten based on the majority position of a younger age for KV55, early 20s, which would exclude it from being Akhenaten. Other than this, no evidence is put forward for a younger brother for Akhenaten. While Dodson believes that Tutankhamun is the son of Akhenaten, he excludes Smenkhkare from being an older son on the basis that both Smenkhkare and Meritaten would have been only about ten years old by the time of Tutankhamun's birth, if they were his parents. I had to re-read this several times as it is I think a bizarre conclusion as Dodson himself does not think that Smenkhkare and Meritaten were the parents of Tutankhaum, and does not at any point address the possibility that Akhenaten could have had a son early in his reign, and that this son does not have to be, and cannot be, the father of Tutankhamun.

Dodson does of course think that Smenkhare was installed as a co-ruler in order to "preserve the revolution", though does not explain why his putative younger brother needed to be made a full king when he could have acted as regent behind the scenes, much as Ay had probably been for Tutankhamun. The huge issue of appointing your brother over your own son is not addressed at all, and this to me is also bizarre as it needs a full technical explanation as to why this can ever happen, even in Amarna, as we have here a recipe for at least infighting within the royal family, and possible civil war, the very thing their succesion rules were meant to prevent, vide the Contendings of Set and Horus and the problems of the Second Dynasty which may have given rise to the creation of the Contendings.

 

I admit I'm somehow confused about this.  Dodson contends, at @ 33:50 - 36:00, that KV55 mummy is none other than Smenkhkare, and that the mummies of both Queen Tiye and Akhenaten (he supposes) had been previously removed and the tomb resealed.  Otherwise, we already know that the DNA testing shows KV55 is the father of Tutankhamun.  How then does Dodson conclude, I suppose from his book and which you've summarized above, that Smenkhkare was not the father of Tut?  And further, that Tut was rather the son of Akhenaten.  Whose mummy he thinks was probably destroyed, at least according to the lecture.  Is Dodson in contradiction with himself re KV55's identity?  Or am I missing something?

 

Edited by Wistman
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