skip to content
 

COMMUNICATING AND INTERPRETING CHANGE: THE ARCHAEOLOGY OF RADICAL RELIGIOUS REFORM IN THE ANCIENT EGYPTIAN AMARNA PERIOD

Tuesday 15 October: 1:00pm - 2:00pm

McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research, Seminar Room, Downing Street, CB2 3ER

Some time around 1350 BC a young Egyptian king called Amenhotep decided to radically reform ancient Egyptian religion. The pantheon of gods that had been worshipped for over 1500 years was replaced by the cult of the visible sun disk, the Aten. Images and names of earlier gods were systematically erased on monuments throughout Egypt, the king changed his name to Akhenaten and work was started on a new royal capital named Akhetaten, ‘Horizon of the Aten’, at a site in Middle Egypt now known as Amarna. At the same time very significant changes were made to artistic style, temple architecture and building methods, and even the written language changed, becoming more reflective of spoken language at the time.

Akhenaten’s religious changes were short lived. Less than 20 years later, in the reign of Tutankhamun (almost certainly Akhenaten’s son) the traditional gods and religious practices of Egypt were restored. Despite the wealth of archaeological, artistic and textual evidence surviving, the reasons for Akhenaten’s changes are poorly understood, as is the nature of that religious change: can Atenism be considered a monotheistic religion?

This talk by Dr Kate Spence, will consider how Akhenaten’s changes were effected and what this tells us about Egyptian religion, society and culture. By looking particularly at Akhenaten’s methods of communicating his agenda we can edge closer to understanding this fascinating early example of major religious change.

Booking Information

No need to book.

Accessibility

Accessible toilet, Full access

Additional Information

Age: 16+, Talk, Arrive on time, Free

Map