Sphinx V - Legends of History: Akhnaton and Nefertiti

Generations to come dubbed Akhenaton "the criminal of Amarna", for what he accomplished in Egypt had seemed impossible. He overthrew the old gods and replaced them with one figure: Aton. He dedicated temples throughout the land to Aton, constructing a new home for the god.

At the side of the king was Nefertiti, one of the most beautiful and mysterious women in antiquity. She supported her husband's faith and became, with him, one of the most important evangelists of the new god.

But the social structure was becoming unstable, for Akhenaton tended to reward the poor and destitute who transferred their allegiance to Aton with high positions. In contrast, he dismissed the wealthy people who supported the traditional supreme deity, Amon. And since he believed Aton was the only true god and the god of peace, Akhenaton prohibited any kind of warfare. As a result Egypt lost its dominant position in the region.

Apparently indifferent to all this, in his new palace Akhenaton composed the famous "Sun Hymns" in praise of the power and benevolence of his god. This idyllic situation, which poses many a problem for experts today, lasted for almost 20 years.

How could the idea of a single all-powerful god develop in ancient Egypt, of all places? Was Akhenaton breaking with the traditions of his forefathers?

New archaeological finds indicate that both Akhenaton's father and his grandfather had worshipped the god Aton. So did Akhenaton really spread the word about his god? Was he the founder of a new religion, a great revolutionary on the throne of Egypt - or was there some greater power behind him?