Akhenaten changed the world


Courtesy of Kurt Lange 1968
Courtesy of Kurt Lange 1968

Updated 1st May 2012

Akhenaten the Sun worshiper

Akhenaten was the ninth Pharaoh in the eighteenth dynasty, in the last part of the New Kingdom. Number nine was an ominous number in ancient Egypt. Captives were assigned to the nine Gods of On, and hence the symbol of the the 'nine captives' in the tomb of Tutankhamen. This because a pharaoh was the castodian of the these 'nine clan' and therefore held the key to their health and sustenance. The house of the pharaoh was the tenth clan. It owed its existence to the 'sun God' and its descendants were the 'daughters and sons of the sun.

According to Collier J. (1970, p. 252), this dynasty was started by Akhenaten’s ancestor, Ahmosis in 1559 BC. Collier (1970, p.33) suggests that Akhenaten’s ancestors were from Arabia, Asia Minor or Syria but she does not explain how she formed that opinion. Akhenaten's features are clearly negroid as are those of his son Tutankhamen.

It has bee suggested that Akhenaten's mummy may be in Egypt in what is referred to as KV55:

"It is now generally believed that the mummy found inside the tomb was Amenhetep IV/Akhenaten." (http://www.thebanmappingproject.com/sites/browse_tomb_869.html)

I wish to state that his mummy or remains may never be found in Egypt. It is more likely in Ethiopia or Lamu island. When Akehnaten disappeared from Egypt around 1362 BC, a young boy took over the throne. For a nine year old to take a throne without an elaborate burial of his predecessor is an indication that the man fled but did not die.

My theory is that Akhenaten, being a member of the tenth clan is the reason why the number TEN is a suffix of the name Akehnaten. The term has been passed on through the Phoenicians, Greeks and the Latin of the Romans (who congured England) into modern English. Latin is from LA-TENE, a culture that was an offshoot of Akhenaten's disappearance.

It is very likely that Akhenaten disappeared in the Egyptian month of Mycore. This definitely caused a lot of MYSERY and (maithori - kikuyu word for tears) TEARS for those of his followers that were either left behind or for some reason lost their way and ended up elsewhere.

African folklore

From my interpretation of African folklore Akhenaten fled with the entire 'royal herd' (cattle) of Egypt. It is very likely that he hid for some time on an island on lake Tana (named after him) in Ethiopia. While he sojourned there, his craftsmen, especially masons imparted their stone curving skill to the Ethiopians. It should be recalled that rock cut tombs were a specialty of the 18th dynasty kings. When Ethiopia was eventually Christianized, those skilled rock cutters turned their craft into building the famous rock cut churches of Lalibela. Whether he passed on while in Ethiopia we may never know. But it is likely that he got out alive. His family moved to the Island of Lamu (ancient Amu) for some time and probably ruled part of the mainland from there. It is only in Lamu that a breed of cat similar to Bast (Bubastis) as depicted on monuments can still be seen today. While crossing from Lamu into the mainland, the largest river that they encountered was named after him -the Tana.

Below is a list of the months in Coptic, which is close to the language spoken in the New Kingdom.

Thout, Paopi, Hathor, Koiyak, Tobi, Msehir, Paremhat, Paremoude, Pashons, Paoni, Epip, Mesore.

Note the month of Mesori and ponder the following:

Mysery - English

Majonzi (mysery) - Kiswahili

Maithori (tears) - Kikuyu

Machozi - (tears) - Kiswahili

Did something that could cause mysery and tears happen in the month of Mesore in ancient Egypt? I think so. That event was the departure of Akhenaten from Egypt causing the displacement of many of his followers. If there were people ready to hack his name from monuments, they would definitely have harmed his followers.

According to Kikuyu folklore, Gikuyu a grandchild of the original Gikuyu Who had ruled during the times of Tene (Read Akehnaten) and Ago (diviner priests) was overthrown for being tyranical. The implication here is that some of Akhenaten's relatives moved inland where they attempted to rule over the natives. One day, evidence of rock cutting will be found in Mount Kenya area. Besides, the Kikuyu had a 'hebsed' thirty year festival that only ended when it was outlawed by the british colonialists. This Kikuyu 'Hebsed' is called 'ituika' which translates to 'the becoming.' This is the same meaning that has been attributed to the word 'Hebsed' by Egyptologists.

Akhenaten's lineage

The Kings of the eighteenth dynasty who reigned before Akhenaten are listed as follows (Collier J. 1970, p. 252):

1. Amosis (1559 – 1531).

2. Amenhotep I (1534 – 1504).

3. Thothmes I (1514 –1502)

4. Thothmes II (1504 – 1489). Hatshepsut is said to have started her reign in this, her husband’s reign.

5. Thothmes III (1590 – 1496). Hatshepsut continued to rule on behalf this son of her husband, Thothmes I until her death. She made the often-quoted trip to Punt and built a temple at Deir el Bahri.

6. Amenhotep II (1444 – 1412).

7. Thothmes IV (1414 – 1412).

8. Amenhotep III (1405 – 1367). His mother was Mutemwiya (Giles F. J. 1970, p.65)

9. Amenhotep IV (1378 – 1362). He later changed his name to Akhenaten and ruled in a co-regency with Smenkhare.

The original name given to Akhenaten was Amenhotep IV. Collier J. (1970, p. 80) states that a Pharaoh had several titles, the first one being a pre-nomen; a son of Ra title, a Horus title; a two ladies title; a golden Horus title and a coronation title. The coronation or jubilee is known as a Hebsed Festival. This festival took place on the thirtieth year of the reign. The Kikuyu had a similar festival, the ituĩka that came at the end of a generation’s reign. The details are in the section on the Kikuyu. The Kikuyu festival was primarily for the new generation to take over in a power handing over ceremony and it also took place after thirty years.

Akhenaten has been translated by Adams (1999, p.101) to mean “servant of Aten.”

Akhenaten’s coronation name was Neferkheperure (Collier, p.80) and his reign according to Giles (1970, p. 6) lasted for about seventeen years. Giles gives Akhenaten’s prenomen as Neferkheperure Uanre. Akhenaten’s father was Amenhotep III, who is said by Giles to have named his “royal barge Tehen Aton (the Aton gleams)”. In Kikuyu, the word ‘henia’

means shine, a synonym for gleam. Tahenia would mean, ‘do shine’ and it seems like the Egyptian term, Tehen and the Kikuyu word henia share the same root.

Mutemwiya, the Great Olive

Akhenaten’s great Grandmother, mother of his father, Amenhotep III was called Mutemwaya, (Collier, p.51) a name that is very close to the word Mũtumiya for woman in Kikuyu. In the book ‘Ikhnaton’ the name is spelled as Mutemwiya (Giles F.J. 1970, p. 65). According to Collier, J. (1970, p. 51) several Egyptologists suggest that she was not of royal ancestry.

It is known that the Olive tree was sacred in Egypt and was designated as 'female.' Interestingly, the olive tree was the sacred tree for Kikuyu women and is called a 'mutamaiyo.' This leads me to believe that Mutemwiya was not the queen's real name. It was merely a title to mean the 'great olive' since she was herself a living goddess.

Akhenaten was crowned king at about the age of twenty-six (Collier, J. 1970, p.81). His reign presided over a period that is commonly known as the Amarna period, and is also acknowledged as the one of the most peaceful period in the dynasty. Amani means peace in Kiswahili and it can be noted that Amenhotep is a compound word – Amun and Hotep, indicating allegiance to the God Amun. Collier, J. (1970, p. 253) implies that the last major war campaign before Akhenaten’s reign was during the reign of his grandfather, Thothmes IV when a revolt in Kush was crushed and many captives taken to Thebes. This was about half a century before the reign of Akhenaten. Another earlier raid on Kush had be carried out by Thothmes II.

Egypt was a polytheist nation, with hundreds of deities. The sun god was the principal god “with seventy five names of RA” (Collier F. J. 1970, p. 83). RA was prefixed with many names, among them Amun, Atum and later Aten. It is generally accepted that Amun was the god of Thebes, and the most powerful and richest of the gods, riches that were controlled by the priests. According to Adams L. S. (1999, 101), Akhenaten moved his capital from Thebes to escape the influence of priests of Amun.

Monotheism - only one God to be Worshiped

In a country that had hundreds of Gods, Akhenaten is credited with starting monotheism and making great efforts to enforce it. Every Pharaoh proclaimed a god to whom he paid allegiance. The prefix or Suffix of Pharaoh’s name indicated his official God. Thothmes (Akhenaten’s Great Grandfather) subscribed to Thoth. Amenhotep III, (Akhenaten’s father) subscribed to Amun as Akhenaten did at the point of taking over the leadership. He later changed his allegiance and therefore his name. Akhenaten’s official god became the Aten, manifested in the rising sun as Aten-Ra. Giles F. J., (1970, p.16) says that Akhenaten even avoided war and turned “more and more to religions matters. The difference with his predecessors was that only Aten was to be worshiped after the proclamation. The other pharaohs had allowed the existence and worship of all the other gods besides the official one. This fanaticism with the god Aten, whom Akhenaten is often shown worshiping, is termed ‘Atenism.’ Like all pharaohs Akhenaten also had divine qualities. Aldred (1968 p.27) states that "Akhenaten's henchmen refer to their king as 'the god who made them', and the vizier Rekh-mi-re declares that Thutmosis [Thothmes] III was 'a god [through] whose guidance men live, the father and mother of mankind, unique, peerless."

Collier J., (1970, p. 85) traces the first evidence of Atenism as a cult in the reign of Amenhotep II’s son, Thutmosis IV. “Thutmosis [Thothmes] arouses himself to fight with Aten before him; he destroys mountains ... in order to bring the inhabitants of foreign lands like subjects to the rule of Aten forever.” Giles, F. J. (1970, p. 115) reports an even earlier mention of Aten in the reign of Hatshepsut from text translated from her temple at Deir el Bahri. “Hail to thee sovereign of Ta Meri (Egypt) female Re [Ra] who shines like the Aton.” Hatshepsut was Akhenaten’s great-grandmother. Akhenaten’s own father is reported by Giles (1970, p. 32) to have named his boat “Tehen Aton.” Akhenaten may have popularised Aten worship but he did not invent it. Mohammend Osman (2006), a modern Egyptologist, believes that Akhenaten was Moses. The following is a quotation from Osman on Freud’s theory on Akhenaten;

“…Moses and Monotheism, published in 1939, [in which he, Freud] argued that biblical Moses was an official in the court of Akhenaten, who was an adherent of the Aten religion. After the death of the king, Freud's theory goes, Moses selected the Israelite tribe living east of the Nile Delta to be his chosen people, took them out of Egypt at the time of the Exodus and passed on to them the tenets of Akhenaten's religion (Osman 2006).”

Upon establishing Akhenaten’s only god, Akhenaten supposedly sent workmen to hack way at the names of Gods. He did not leave his own father’s name which was prefixed with Amun (Giles P.21). Giles goes on to state that Akhenaten composed two hymns to Aten which are among the outstanding feats of his reign. Only Aten would be worshipped.

Dethroning Amun as the national god, rendered Amun’s priests jobless and friction between the Pharaoh and the powerful priesthood of Amun was inevitable. It was perhaps due to this friction that he moved his capital from Thebes to an uninhabited place where he built another city. Giles (1970, p. 69), states that the new city was under construction from about year five of Akhenaten’s reign. He called the new city ‘Akhetaten’ which was translated by Giles (1970, p. 16) as “Brightness of Aton”. He dedicated this city to Aten, far from the Amun priesthood. The location of this city is today’s site of ‘Tel el Amarna,’ where the ‘Amarna letters’ in cuneiform text on clay tablets were found. These letters were between the Egyptian state and its vassals in Palestine.

The Amarna letters

One of the Amarna tablets is quoted by Giles (1970, p. 68) to have Akhenaten’s prenomen besides those of his father and the words “the book of the sycamore and the olive.” This writer postulates that the “sycamore” may have been in reference to Akhenaten’s father and the “olive” to Akhenaten’s mother, since Giles attributes the find to the reign of Amenhotep III, besides the fact that queen Tiy, Akhenaten’s mother is also mentioned. This is farther proof that Mutemwiya was 'the Olive' in her time and that it was merely a religious title. This would make Akhenaten a ‘son of the sycamore’ and a sycamore himself when he took over the reigns. Note that a sycamore is a Mukuyu in Kikuyu language and that the Gikuyu, means 'the great sycamore,' and Gikuyu was also the initiator of the tribe, the first ever ancestor.

Some Egyptologists see the depiction of Akhenaten as having feminine features. This is besides him always having women around in almost all the scenes. Giles (1970, p.49) states that by the ninth year Akhenaten already had six daughters with his wife, Nefertiti. Jimmy Dunn (2005) however finds that the women are portrayed almost always in “a cult-ritual or state ceremony” carried out by the Akhenaten in honour of the sun god. Regarding this closeness with women, Dunn, J. (2006) notes that Nefertiti was not the only queen to be treated well. Each of the royal women had her own sanctuary, which was frequently called a sunshade temple.” Maspero, one of the early Egyptologists, is quoted as having said “since the 12th Dynasty, female power in succession matters had increased perhaps due to a time when all males of a family had perished (Collier p. 40)”. Akhenaten was depicted on reliefs accompanied by the women of his household - his wife Nefertiti and their six daughters. Aldred, (1968, p.138) wondered why Akhenaten’s daughters were always associated with their mother in texts. Dunn is surprised that Akhenaten who kept a harem, as was the practice with kings, was unable to beget a son. In the picture where Akhenaten and Nefertiti are riding a chariot, two of the people running ahead of the horses are women.

At about the fourteenth year of his rule (Giles, F. J. 1970, p.23), Akhenaten picked on his son-in-law, Smenkhare, to rule with him due to his supposed failing health. Giles F. J. 1970, p.94) also supports the view that Akhenaten, Smenkhare and Tutankhamen were brothers, sons of Amenhotep III and queen Tiy. This researcher has not found evidence to support ‘a failing health’ proposition for Akhenaten. It seems more probable that Pharaoh Akhenaten sidestepped tradition and appointed Smenkhare to be a chief Priest of Aten.

Akhenaten Dissappears

The city of Akhetaten was eventually abandoned. Collier (1970, p. 190-191) sums up the suddenness with which Akhenaten disappeared as hinting “at a tragedy of classical proportions.” Collier implies that the disappearance was with “startling suddenness” in Akhenaten’s seventeenth year. The end of Akhenaten’s reign culminated in the rise to power of young Tutankhamen, a boy of about nine years old (Giles, F. J. 1970, p. 24).

While Collier suggests that the city of Akhetaten was abandoned suddenly, Gilles (1970, p.150) suggests that the departure was not hurried because;

“…Archaeologists have found that the population made preparations for their departure and closed up their houses, as though they were uncertain whether they might not be coming back one day.”

Young Tutankhaton, the young boy who took the throne upon the disappearance of both Akhenaten and Smenkhare, changed his name to Tutankamen (Giles, F. J. 1970, p. 24), an indication that he had switched his allegiance from Aten to Amun as can be seen from the suffix of his name.

From hieroglyphic texts interpreted by Giles F. J., (1970) it would appear that the disappearance of Akhenaten and Smenkhare caused a great break down of law and order. Giles theorises that the disappearance was due to “treachery and bloodshed (Giles F. J. p.208-209).” Giles also suggests that Epidemics and disease were rife in Egypt’ at about that time. Collier (1970, p.208) ascribes this information to the hieroglyphic text, which describes, “neglected and deserted temples overgrown by grass and weeds; of a country in ruins” and “wrong-doers unpunished.”

Recent discoveries in the Valley of Kings

The recent discovery of a new tomb in the Valley of Kings may shed light or add to the controversy on the whereabouts of Akhenaten’s tomb. According to the online edition of the Archaeologist (2006), Work on the tomb named KV 63, started in 2006. A corner of the shaft was first noticed on March 10th, 2005 (Archaeologist, 2006). This according to the on-line publication is the only tomb to be found there since Howard Carter discovered Tutankhamen’s tomb in 1922. Ertman, a University of Akron archaeologist maintains that KV-63's design points to the 18th Dynasty. He has noted that the tomb is also similar to two other tombs of the period, KV-46 and KV-55. The latter is believed by some scholars to belong to Smenkhare. Ertman like Aldred maintains that KV-55 is Akhenaten's (Archaeologist, 2006). Giles was aware of Aldred’s supposition when he said that that such a deduction (that KV – 55 belongs to Akhenaten) is ‘ an excursion into fantasy [because Aldred does not explain how the body found its way to Thebes and into] …a miserable uninscribed little tomb…(Giles, F. J. 1970 p. 106).” In the light of the theoretical framework of this research, this writer is in agreement with Giles.

KV-46 was the tomb of Yuya and Tjuyu, parents of Queen Tiye. This Queen was the wife of Amenhotep III and the mother of Akhenaten. Archaeology (2006) reports that seals from KV-63 bear an image of “the jackal and nine captives, the sign of the necropolis priests.” This symbols were, according to Collier (p.209) were also found in the tomb of Tutankhamen.

As explained in “Archaeology”, the contents of the coffins in KV 63 had not been established at the time of writing due to the painstaking job in progress. They however have "yellow-faced” images curved on them, which in Egyptian convention depicted females, the yellow skin implying “no sun exposure.”

Read more on Akhenaten in my hubs:




1. Adams, L. S.,1999, Art Across Time, McGraw-Hill College, New York.

2. Cagnolo, C.,1933, The Akikuyu, Their customs, Traditions and Folklore, Mission Printing school, Nyeri.

3. Collier, J., 1970, In search of Akhenaten ,Ward Lock Limited - London

4. Giles, F. J., 1970, Ikhnaton: Legend and History, Hutchinson, London.

5. Lange. K., 1968, Egypt, Architecture, Sculpture and Painting, Phaidon press, London.

6. Routledge, W. S., and Routledge K., 1910, With a Prehistoric People, the Akikuyu of British East Africa, Edward Anorld, London.

7. http://www.crystalinks.com/horus.html for images of the gods of Egypt.

8. http://www.thenileandegypt.com. for information on Egyptian Gods.

9. http://www.virtual-egypt.com/newhtml/hieroglyphics/sample/determinative.htm

More by this Author

Comments 6 comments

Emmanuel Kariuki profile image

Emmanuel Kariuki 4 years ago from Nairobi, Kenya Author

Tutankhaton, later renamed Tutankhamen took over the throne.

randomguy 4 years ago

Did it say who took over the throne when he died?

i didn't see it.

Emmanuel Kariuki profile image

Emmanuel Kariuki 5 years ago from Nairobi, Kenya Author

Here are some Gods of Egypt:

(1) Atum-ra (2) Shu (3) Tefnut (4) Geb

(5) Nut (6) Osiris (7) Isis (8) Seth (9) Nepthys

You can learn more about them by googling. www.touregypt.com is a good place to start. Jimmy Dunn is another knowledgeable writer in the web about Ancient Egypt.

kiarie 5 years ago

very interesting topic .id like to know more about their gods though

Emmanuel Kariuki profile image

Emmanuel Kariuki 5 years ago from Nairobi, Kenya Author

Thanks Multiman I will update the article soon. Now read more conjecture in a related hub here :


Multiman 5 years ago

Wonderful and complete article and interesting historical conjectures.

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No HTML is allowed in comments, but URLs will be hyperlinked. Comments are not for promoting your articles or other sites.

    Click to Rate This Article