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Akhenaten's World

nd the lands of Syria and Kush and Egypt, thou appointest every man to his place... All the distant foreign lands also, thou createst their life.

This passage from Akhenaten's "Hymn to the Aten" expresses a universalistic sentiment nearly as revolutionary in Egyptian thought as Atenism itself. The heretic pharaoh's sole god was credited with creating and maintaining all life--plant, animal, and human--abroad as well as within the borders of the Two Lands.

Yet once established in his new city, Akhetaten, "the Horizon of the Aten", Akhenaten seemed to turn his back on the rest of the world that his god had created. During his seventeen-year reign, known today as the Amarna period, he neglected foreign affairs and did little to arrest the crumbling of the mighty empire of his ancestors.

Today those interested in the Amarna period often share Akhenaten's myopic perspective, focusing on the court's activities at the new capital. But life went on elsewhere in Egypt and the world, and it was an exciting and tumultuous time. Plague was raging in the Levant, states all over Syria-Palestine were in revolt or threatened by invaders, and the age-old Egyptian gods were under attack. The focus of this site is beyond the Horizon of the Aten, to events in Egypt and the Near East during the Amarna period, and the role Akhenaten played in them.

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Aurelien Joly is a Tunahead.