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The Aten - The Sun Disc

 

The Aten is shown here reaching down with rays in the form of hands to touch Nefertiti and Akhenaten.

amarna.jpg (9008 bytes)

Ra lives, the ruler of the horizon, rejoicing in the horizon in his aspect of Ra the father who returns as the Aten

- later reading of the name of the Aten, appearing in the ninth year of Akhenaten's reign

The Aten was not a new invention of Akhenaten - rather, it was portrayed as a sun disc even in his father's time. It has been identified with various pharaohs in previous times, and it has even be argued that Akhenaten equated the Aten with his father, Amenhotep III.  Others believe Akhenaten hated his father, as he removed his name from monuments when he took power.

Akhenaten worshipped the Aten as the sun, and gave many offerings; in fact, a regular grid of 920 mud-brick offering tables has been found south of one of the large temples. While Akhenaten was still at Thebes, he built temples there also, many showing Nefertiti performing as the Aten's high priest. However, the common people did not worship the Aten directly, it is believed. Rather, they worshipped Akhenaten himself as the semi-divine son of the Aten. Or perhaps we should say, Akhenaten wished them to worship him. For the religious reformations had little affect on the common people. Even at Akhet-Aten, in the workman's village prayers to Amun have been found. The commoners continued to live according to their old relgious customs.

Akhenaten is said to have written the very beautiful Great Hymn to the Aten, which has been compared to Psalm 104. It was found inscribed in the tomb of an important court figure, Aye. The beauty of the art and writing devoted to the Aten, and Akhenaten's own charisma, stirs the hearts of many. Since Akhenaten tried to move his kingdom toward apparent monotheism, much speculation has led some to believe Moses met Akhenaten or even that Moses is Akhenaten.  Also, the Rosicrucian Order and many other cults and religions trace their roots to the cult of the Aten. Even more wild speculation has taken place: for instance, that Tutankhamun is Jesus!

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This page is part of The Akhet-Aten Home Page
maintained by Kate Stange (email / webpage)
Content Copyright 1996-2000.
Last updated March 1, 2000.