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AKHENATEN: Beautiful Child of the Sun Disc

The seventeen year reign of Pharaoh Akhenaten was arguably the most extraordinary in Egyptian history. Rejecting religious traditions and the hundreds of gods and goddesses the ancient Egyptians worshipped, Akhenaten adored one deity the Aten (sun disc). His religious revolution, which shook Egyptian society to its core, was accompanied by a revolution in the arts. On the deaths of Akhenaten and his ephemeral successor Smenkhkare, the 'boy-king' Tutankhamun took the throne of a land in chaos and set in motion the re-establishment of traditional practices. This work was completed by his successors, Ay and Horemheb.

The story of Akhenaten and his successors is one of the most fascinating in Egypt's long history - made all the more so for us today by the supposed monotheistic nature of the religion Akhenaten triumphed and the discovery of Tutankhamun's wondrous tomb.


A plethora of modern theories have been proposed to explain the extraordinary events and personalities involved: was Atenism monotheistic or polytheiestic in nature?; was Akhenaten related to Moses?; was Smenkhkare Akhenaten's homosexual lover?; was Akhenaten's great queen, Neferititi made king?; was Tutankhamun murdered by Ay?; was Tutankhamun's widow, Ankhesenamun, the greatest traitor in Egyptian history?; is the body found in tomb KV55 in the Valley of the Kings that of Smenkhkare, Akhenaten, or Akhenaten's mother, Queen Tye? The School will examine these and other questions within the light of current research and discoveries. The School consists of a series of PowerPoint illustrated lectures, discussion groups and activities. Participants receive an extensive information kit containing: maps; glossary; suggested reading; summaries of each session; free copies of various articles related to specific topics; and an illustrated Royal Family Tree.


School Day 1: Sunrise

Who was Akhenaten? A 'heretic' or 'the first individual in history'? Akhenaten's successors labelled him 'the damned one'. Some modern scholars call him 'the first individual in history' and 'the first monotheist'. Some gay activists say he was the first ruler to 'come out', other groups claim he was the precursor of Moses or the grandson of Joseph. What is so special about this pharaoh? Why does he evoke such differing views and such powerful feelings?

The Birth of the Egyptian Empire - a survey of Egyptian history and religious thought from the expulsion of the Hyksos to the reign of Amenhotep III.

Amenhotep III and Tiye -a detailed examination of the life and times of Akhenaten's parents: Pharaoh Amenhotep III; and the Chief Royal Wife Tiye.

The Aten Rises what was the nature of the Aten? How was this solar deity worshipped? What were the Sun Disc's attributes and what theology surrounded its worship? Was Akhenaten a monotheist or an atheist? To what extent was the new religious order embraced? Click here to return to the Menu for this


School Day 2: The Servant of the Aten

Akhetaten, the Horizon of the Sun Disc - a new capital of the Two Lands was built by Akhenaten in Middle Egypt from where he ruled the Two Lands. What was his reign like for Egypt and her neighbours?

The Art of Amarna - an examination of the art of Amarna Period, its place in the history of Egyptian artistic expression, and an exploration of the issue of its interpretation.

Exquisite Deformities: A Genetic and Psychological Profile of Akhenaten - was Akhenaten the victim of a genetic disorder? Does incest within the royal family help to explain his extraordinary appearance and behaviour? What sort of man was he? Why are we of the 21st Century so attracted by this man of the 14th Century BCE and his dreams?Ę

Nefertiti and the Women of Amarna - an examination of the roles and lives of the women of the royal court: Chief Royal Wife Nefertiti; Queen Kiya and other minor queens; the royal daughters; and the Queen Mother, Tiye.


School Day 3: The Eclipse of the Aten

Smenkhkare - Akhenaten's ephemeral successor and the mysteries of Tomb KV 55 will be examined. Was Smenkhkare Nefertiti under a different name? Was he Akhenaten's male lover? Whose mummy lay in KV55 - Tiye's? Kiya's? Smenkhkare's? or that of Akhenaten himself?

Tutankhamun the most talked about pharaoh of Egypt, but what do we really know about this ruler and his brief reign?

Ay, Horemheb and their successors in ancient Egypt returned to her ancient religion and traditions. The 'heretic', his reign and all things associated with him were 'deleted' from history. Why and how was this done?

The Legacy of Akhenaten: what was the impact of the Amarnan Period on Ancient Egypt and why is it so important in the 21st Century?

Feed-back from Some Participants of this School:


"The content knowledge of the topic from both Mike & Patricia was first class."

"The style was very appealing."

"Mike has so much knowledge and information."

"I loved the lecture and how it was set out. It was very interesting and had my attention all the time."

"Wonderful organisation, hugely impressive scholarship, excellent information."


"I had a great time."

"I enjoyed the lectures immensely."

"Immaculately prepared."

Suggested Reading:

Aldred C. Akhenaten: King of Egypt (Thames & Hudson Ltd., London, 1988)

Arnold D. The Royal Women of Amarna: Images of Beauty from Ancient Egypt (The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 1996)

Atrens D.M. & Curthoys I.S. The Neurosciences and Behavior: An Introduction (Science Press, Sydney, 1978)

Bauval R. & Gilbert A. The Orion Mystery (BCA, London, 1994)

Brier B The Murder of Tutankhamen: A 3000-Year-Old Murder Mystery (Weidenfeld & Nicolson, London, 1998)

Budge E.A.W. Tutankamen: Amenism, Atenism and Egyptian Monotheism (Martin Hopkinson, London, 1923)

Christie A. AKHENATON: A Play in Three Acts (Collins, London, 1973)

Clayton P.A. Chronicle of the Pharaohs (BCA, London, 1994)

Dodson A. Monarchs of the Nile (Rubicon Press, London, 1995)

Edwards I.E.S. Tutankhamun: His Tomb and its Treasures (Victor Gollancz Ltd., Italy, 1979)

Fletcher J. Egypt's Sun King: Amenhotep III an Intimate Chronicle of Ancient Egypt's Most Glorious Pharaoh (Duncan Baird Publisher, London, 2000)

Freed R.E, Markowitz Y.J & D'Auria S. H Pharaohs of the Sun: Akhenaten; Nefertiti; Tutankhamen (Thames & Hudson, London, 1999)

Harrison R.G. An Anatomical Examination of the Pharaonic Remains Purported to be Akhenaten (JEA Vol. 53 1966), pp.95f..

Holland T. The Sleeper in the Sands (Little, Brown & Co., U.K, 1998)

Hornung E. Akhenaten and the Religion of the Light (Cornell Uni. Press, Ithaca, 1999)

Khrauss R. Akhenaten: Monotheist? Polytheist? (BACE Vol. 11 (2000)), pp. 93f.

el Mahdy C. Tutankhamen: The life and Death of a Boy King (Headline, London, 1999)

Manley B. The Penguin Historical Atlas of Ancient Egypt (Penguin Books, Harmondsworth, 1996)

Montserrat D. Akhenaten: History, fantasy and ancient Egypt (Routledge, London, 2000)

Moran W.L. The Amarna Letters (John Hopkins Uni. Press, Baltimore, 1992)

Osman A. Stranger in the Valley of the Kings: Solving the Mystery of an Ancient Egyptian Mummy (Harper & Row, San Francisco, 1987)

Porter D. Akehnaten (Uni. Of Queensland Press, St. Lucia, 1992)

Redford D.B. Akhenaten: The Heretic King (Princeton University Press, New Jersey, 1984)

Reeves N. & Wilkinson R.H. The Complete Valley of the Kings (BCA, London, 1996)

Samson J. Nefertiti and Cleopatra: Queen Monarchs of Ancient Egypt (Rubicon Press, London, 1985)

Schulz R & Seidel M. Egypt: The World of the Pharaohs (Kšnemann, Germany, 1998)

Shaw I. & Nicholson P. British Museum Dictionary of Ancient Egypt (BCA, Spain, 1995)

Siliotti A. Egypt: Splendours of an Ancient Civilization (Thames & Hudson, London, 1994)

Sobhy G.P.G. Miscellenae (The Persistence of Ancient Facial Types Amongst Modern Egyptians) (JEA, Vol.XVI, 1930), pp.3f..

Tyldesley J. Nefertiti: Egypt's Sun Queen (Viking, London, 1998)

Weigall A. The Mummy of Akhenaton (JEA Vol. VIII, 1922), pp.193f..

Wilkinson R.H. Reading Egyptian Art (Thames & Hudson, London, 1992)