Amenhotep Iii’s and Akhenaton’s Religious Exploitation Essay

Father and Son: Amenhotep III’s and Akhenaton’s Religious Exploitation Samantha Walker NMC101Y1 Professor Goebs November 20, 2008 Enduring for 250 years, the Eighteenth Dynasty was the greatest period in Egypt’s civilization in terms of the extent of its empire and in material achievement. [1] By the time Nebmaatra Amenhotep III became pharaoh, there wasn’t much for him to do in terms of progressing the nation. However, that didn’t stop him from issuing radical change and establishing greater power.

Amenhotep III made a visible statement of his empire by moving the power center from Memphis to Thebes.Thebes is adorned with many of Amenhotep III’s artistic and architectural achievements. These achievements were propaganda that depicte power, wealth, and ability. Religion was an important part of Egypt’s existence and so ,understandably, the exploitation of religion was a large part of the king’s propaganda. Amenhotep III’s son, Akhenaton, continued this religious exploitation during his reign as well. Amenhotep III had used Thebes as a center for religious propaganda, leading to Akhenaton`s religious exploitation, and ultimately his monotheistic religion, Atenism.Amenhotep III had always shown a desire to challenge the current state of affairs.

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It must have been obvious to him that the influential Amun clergy, who were based at the Karnak temple in Thebes, would oppose him. [2] There would have been no better place to move the power center then Thebes so that he could keep the powerful religious group under control. One of the reasons Amenhotep III continued his father Tuthmois’s emphasis on solar worship was most likely in efforts to please the Amun clergy.Loosening the effective power of the Amun Clergy could have been late on. attained by his growing connection and influence over the solar deity, which may stand as another motive for his artwork, and another intention for his use of propaganda. This theory is supported by his later defiant act of giving his servant and close official, Amenhotep son of Hapu, extensive religious power, thus allowing a ‘chosen man’ outside the Amun’s clergy to act as an intermediary between the people, bypassing the priesthood during his rule.

[3]Amenhotep III knew how to propagandize in the form of writing. His ability to use propaganda in one form affirms his ability to do so in another, such as art, as well. Since Amenhotep III ruled in the Golden Age when Egypt was very prosperous, there were very few wars to be fought. Because of this, he instead boasted of such things as his hunting skills, as he did in the Lion Hunt Scarab. [4] He used this sort of propaganda to demonstrate his strength and bravery. The Lion Hunt Scarab may also be seen as religious propaganda.Lions usually lived on the edges of the desert, and so they became known as the guardians of the eastern and western horizons, where the sun rose and set.

[5] This shows that lions are related to the solar deities. By conquering these solar guardians Amenhotep III established himself as ruler over them, proving his further connection to the sun god and the divine right the god had bestowed upon him. One form of propaganda is known as black and white thinking. Black and white thinking is when an ultimatum is given but in reality there are more than two options. 6] Amenhotep III used this form of propaganda when he defied tradition. By defying the norm he gave the people of Egypt the option of either agreeing with him or the option of opposing him. The fear of opposing the favoured ruler of the gods was not a practical solution, and so Amenhotep was able to secure his power even further simply by making radical changes and forcing people to accept them.

One of the ways in which he enforced this fear was by repeatedly depicting himself in artwork presenting maat, the symbol of truth and order, back to the gods. 7] This prevented people from opposing him, since he sustained the order of their world, and since it indicated his right and ability to rule. This gave him the ability to defy the status quo without being reprimanded. He defied custom in a number of ways. He moved the power center from Memphis to Thebes, in which he overshadowed previous pharaoh’s work when he built his own. His monuments embellished or replaced monuments constructed by Hatshepsut and Tuthmosis III.

[8] This was perhaps also the reason for which he furthered the power of the sun god in the first place.Amenhotep pursued a systematic religious policy aimed at reorganizing Egypt’s pantheon of deities to emphasize the god’s solar attributes. He changed the traditional way in which temples were built as a part of this. [9] By forcing a change upon religion, he further showed his ability to defy and not be crossed. At el-Riziquat Amenhotep III erected a great temple in honour of the god Sobek. In it, a statue depicts the god embracing the standing figure of the king. Amenhotep III often sought to emphasis connections like this to solar-related deities, such as Sobek who was the ‘lord of the horizon’.

10] By associating himself with them he further established his divine status and cosmic power. When Amenhotep III erected statues depicting himself with different deities, he made the deities share similar facial features, further fashioning an intimate relationship and direct lineage to them. During Amenhotep’s reign, Egypt found itself propelled into a new cosmopolitan era fraught with political, ideological, and theological changes in which the king himself played no small role.These ideologies are reflected in temple and tomb decorations in the form of iconographic innovations and changes in basic artistic connections.

[11] As he did with the Lion Hunt Scarab, Amenhotep boasted of these advancements and innovations, this time through his artwork. One of the greatest examples of Amenhotep III’s religious propaganda is Luxor temple. Luxor temple was built in three artistic phases: Tuthmoside in Essence, Mature Naturalism, and the Baroque phase. The artwork evolved in a predictable fashion until the Baroque Phase.Although Amenhotep III was fairy old during this phase, he is drawn and sculpted with extreme youthfulness.

This youthfulness shows how he was immortalizing himself, thus creating an even greater connection to Amen-Ra’s growing power, meshing it with his own, within the art. [12] To further prove this as an example of Amenhotep III’s propaganda, the date of these changes coincides with the jubilee festival he issued, marking a rejuvenation process. [13] Also, in the Baroque Phase, Amenhotep III is shown wearing gold shebyo-collars.

These re only worn after death to identify that a deceased king has joined the sun god in the afterlife as part of the sun. [14] Yet, Amenhotep III was wearing it before his death. In this way Amenhotep III used his artwork to establish that he had already become part of the sun god. After this point, the propaganda in his artwork increased a step further.

Now that he was depicted and the living form of the sun god, he, himself, was deified and worshipped. [15] The Aten that Amenhotep’s son based his monotheistic religion on is the sun disk, the physical part of the sun.To expand his religious power even further Amenhotep used propaganda to strengthen the popularity of this particular aspect of the sun god, since he himself in a way was now accepted as the physical aspect of the god.

In the new decorative program, only the king and the royal family were centered under the rays of the sun, and only they were the sole communicants with the god. [16] Although it is not yet clear whether Akhenaton shared power with his father, it is clear that the elder king’s particular solar theology had a dramatic impact on his son. 17] By the time Amenhotep III’s successor Akhenaton became pharaoh, the sun god had grown so powerful and popular due to his father that it is understandable why he favoured the god as well.

The corgency theory further supports Akhenaton’s exposure to the religious propaganda to benefit politically. Amenhotep’s use of nepotism supports the theory, as does the timeline of the art and architecture created by each pharaoh. However, since Akenhaten was only second in line to thrown, he wasn’t necessarily brought up to be king.

At present this theory is improvable due to this, but the possibility of its truth is informative.Regardless, Akhenaton would have been exposed to his father’s ruse, and the power he gained through it. Also, he was a young king, making him for vulnerable to follow in the ways a previous successful ruler. Through Akhenaton’s own artistic campaigns in Thebes, and his own use of propaganda, it is apparent that he was aware of the power gained from that said exploitation.

Akhenaton, named his religion Atenism after that aspect of the sun-god. This supports the influence of artistic propaganda since this aspect was prominent in the forms of Amenhotep III depicted on the walls of places such as Luxor temple.This might also be relative since his father was the tangible form of the sun god, represented by the Aten. By making the Aten the official god, Akenhaten reaches yet another extreme of intentional religious exploitation.

Being a direct ancestor of a once living God would have many political benefits within and outside Egypt. Since it was Amenhotep III who claimed to be the living physical form of Amun-Ra, Akhenaton needed a different angle to establish himself as intimately connected to the Aten of whom he had given so much power.By analyzing some of Akhenaton’s portraits in comparison to the characteristics of the pharaoh’s portraits of the past, very prominent differences are visible. The art from the past was idealized figures with perfect proportions and features. In figure 1. 1 the artist has tried to draw the king so brutally honest that it has gone to an extreme on the other end of the spectrum.

His lip and chin are especially over-proportioned. In figure 1. 2, the idealized, slender, simple body shape given to most Egyptian figures has been replaced by a realistic body with wide hips and a round stomach.Since such a depiction of Akhenaton could only have been created with his approval, it might be that his physical appearance figured prominently into his religion. He called himself Wa-en-Re, or “The Unique One of Re,” thus emphasizing the fact that he was not like anyone else. [18] He had also placed a lot of emphasis on the unique nature of the Aten.

It could be that he believed that his peculiar physical appearance had divine significance, and somehow linked him to the Aten because it made him ‘”unique” like the god was. At the beginning of his reign Akhenaton had a tendency to make family members look like clones of him. 19] Just as connecting himself to his Father had helped him gain power, connecting his family to the lineage of the Aten would remind Egypt of how the blood of the first sun-king flowed through his successor as it did through the rest of the family. Akhenaton used propaganda in his art in a radical and fascist way. In order to establish the Aten as the only God, thus gaining more power because of his father’s connection to the Aten, Akhenaton had many of the names of the various gods removed.

The names were scratched off the beautiful motifs of temples and tombs.By removing the names of the Gods he not only demeaned them and lowered people’s consciousness of them, but he showed fearlessness in their wrath. When the Gods did not smite him for his actions, it probably convinced the people that the other gods were either powerless or none existent, strengthening his campaign. Amenhotep III’s art at Thebes was responsible for Akhenaton’s exploitation of the Aten, and was responsible for his use of propaganda in order to achieve his Atenism.

By using propaganda to increase the power of the sun god and then associating himself as the physical attribute of the god Amenhotep III gained power.His son’s exposure to his propaganda, religious exploitation, defiance of tradition, and lineage to the sun god caused him to do the same. By following in his father’s footsteps in these aspects, as well as following his tendency to go a step further, regardless of the amount of power and achievements already attained, he was able to progress to the extreme of making the polytheistic Egyptian religion, monotheistic. [pic] [pic] Bibliography 1) Blankenberg, C..

The Large Commemorative Scarabs of Amenhotep III. Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1960. 2) Turner, Evan H.Turner, Arielle Kozloff, Lawerence Berman, Claude Vandersleyen, Christine Seeber, Karol, Mysliwiec, Raymond Johnson, James Romano, Betsy Bryan, William Simpson, Bernard Bothmer.. The Art of Amenhotep III: Art Historical Analysis (1987) 3) Fletcher, Joann.

Chronicle of a Pharaoh: The Intimate Life of Amenhotep III. United States: Oxford University Press, 2000. 4) Kozloff, Arielle. Egypt’s Dazzling Sun.. Cleveland: The Cleveland Museum of Art, 1992. 5) Dunn, J (2003). The Lions of Egypt.

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The Art of the Amarna Period. Retrieved November 27, 2008, from The Art Of Pharaoh Akhenaten’s Reign Web site: http://www. heptune. com/art. html ———————– [1] Kozloff, Arielle.

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[12] Turner, Evan H. Turner, Arielle Kozloff, Lawerence Berman, Claude Vandersleyen, Christine Seeber, Karol, Mysliwiec, Raymond Johnson, James Romano, Betsy Bryan, William Simpson, Bernard Bothmer..The Art of Amenhotep III: Art Historical Analysis (1987)p. 35.

[13] Turner, Evan H. Turner, Arielle Kozloff, Lawerence Berman, Claude Vandersleyen, Christine Seeber, Karol, Mysliwiec, Raymond Johnson, James Romano, Betsy Bryan, William Simpson, Bernard Bothmer.. The Art of Amenhotep III: Art Historical Analysis (1987)p. 37. [14] Beckford, Donald, The Sun-Disc in Akhenaten’s Program: Its Worship and Antecedents (1976)p. 49.

[15] Aldred, Cyril, Akhenaten, Pharaoh of Egypt: A New Study. London(1968)p. 58. [16] Brewer, D. J. , & E. Teeter (2007). Egypt and the Egyptians.

N.Y, N. Y. : Cambridge University Press. p. 52. [17] Brewer, D.

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[18] Lorenz, Megaera (Jan. 15, 2000). The Art of the Amarna Period. Retrieved November 27, 2008, from The Art Of Pharaoh Akhenaten’s Reign Web site: http://www. heptune. com/art.

html [19] Lorenz, Megaera (Jan. 15, 2000). The Art of the Amarna Period. Retrieved November 27, 2008, from The Art Of Pharaoh Akhenaten’s Reign Web site: http://www. heptune. com/art. html ———————– Figure 1.

1 Figure 1. 2