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Where did Akhenaten Go?

Updated on December 26, 2016
Portrait of the Great Akhenaten
Portrait of the Great Akhenaten | Source

updated Sept 2013

In Search of the Sun Worshiper

We need to first agree that Akhenaten’s tomb will not be found in Egypt, now or later. He went out of the borders and vanished. This article will try to explain why he had to leave. For conjecture on where he could have gone, read <> and < >

We need to go further back to understand the dilemma in which Akhenaten found himself.

Akhenaten was first called Amenhotep IV, which means he subscribed or paid homage to Amun, the National God at the time, just like his father before him. Now, Amun was a God of war. Recall that Menes, or Mena, the Pharaoh who unified Northern and Southern (Upper) Egypt was allied the Amun. It is even likely that it was Menes himself who was deified as Amun after blazing his way from East Africa to the north to form a unified state. My theory is that after the war, Menes needed a peaceful time to consolidate his gains; a time when no war could be waged. He probably started a tradition of a war period, followed by a peace period. The Hebsed festival most likely punctuated these periods, every thirty years. A war period would then end after celebrating the next hebsed and a peaceful period would begin. This peaceful period was represented by the Ankh – the symbol of life, since peace meant that life would be protected and the people and their livestock would thrive. At the next hebsed, the peaceful period would end and the Pharaoh at the helm must expand Egyptian borders by declaring war on all the kings who had resisted subjugation by then.

Here we go to the Kikuyu for help on further conjecture. The Kikuyu say that Maina begets Mwangi and Mwangi begets Maina. Since the Kikuyu also had a festival that was celebrated every thirty years just like the Egyptian hebsed, we must assume that Maina stands for Menes (Amun) and therefore war. In the same breath Mwangi stands for Ankh and therefore peace.You can see the Ankh in the suffix of Mwa-ngi.

It should be noted that the Egyptians also named their children in the Kikuyu fashion - the first born boy is named after the father's father (who is the boy's grandfather) and the first born daughter is named after the father's mother (who is the girl's Grandmother). War begets peace, peace begets war: father begets the son, the son begets the father.

Here is a list of the 12th Dynasty kings to show this naming system:

1. Amenemehat I – 1991-1962

2. Senusert I – 1956 - 1911

3. Amenemehat II – 1911 – 1877

4. Senusert II – 1877 -1870

5. Senusert III – 1836 – 1817

6. Amenemehat III – 1817 - 1772

7. Amenemehat IV – 1772 – 1763

8. Neferusobek – 1763 - 1759

Senusert I named his son Amenemhet II, after the boy’s Grandfather, Amenemhet I; Amenemhet II named his son Senusert II after the boy’s Grandfather Senusert I.

After Senusert I, we get a completely different story. Instead of Senusert I having his own son take the throne, a stepbrother bearing the same name as his took the throne. This is possible in a polygamous society, where even today, a Kikuyu man with several wives will have all the first born sons bearing the same name, that of their Grandfather. Therefore, Senusert III and Senusert II had the same father. It is therefore not easy to tell whether the Amenemhet III who took over from Senusert III was his son, or his stepbrother’s (Senusert II). Any how, the boy fell into the same problem as his predecessors and was succeeded not by a son but by a step- brother.

Now Back to Akhenaten. Since his original name was Amenhotep, we can rightly assume that he was allied to Amun the God of war and not to Ankh. He should have been out campaigning to enlarge Egypts borders but did he?

So Amenhotep IV changed his name to Akhenaten and he did not go out to enlarge the borders of Egypt. Instead he decided that only Aten was to be worshiped, and he, Akhenaten, was a chief priest of Aten. it was not long before Akhenaten started to think of himself as a 'son of Aten' and therefore a god. Aldred (1968) says that "Akhenaten's henchmen refer to their king as 'the god who made them'. The only war that Akhenaten fought was against the God Amun and his priests. Akhenaten supposedly sent workmen to hack away at the names of gods and not even his own father's name was spared- it was prefixed with Amun. Around Egypt, peace reigned so much that the period is called 'Amarna' - the peaceful period and it is from this word that the Swahili word for peace - Amani - comes from; Arabic 'al-amnu.'

One of the many reasons that Akhenaten lost face with priests and nobility alike was for not extending the borders of Egypt as was ordained by the thirty period of Amun in which he reigned. He spent hours composing hymns to his god, Aten which are among his most remarkable feats (Giles 1970). This antagonism with the Amun priests must have become so antagonistic that the only way he could escape and have the peace that he so desired was to move out of Thebes the capital. But he was still the Pharaoh and moving out of Egypt was not an option at the time. This was something he would consider later. At the time, he still had the resources to build another capital for himself. And so in his fourth year on the throne, Akhenaten started to build a new capital which he called 'Akhetaten.' Giles sums up Akhenaten’s story with the words “here [Akhenaten] he still may lie in a tomb yet undiscovered.” (p.55).

Aldred thinks that the tomb ascribed to Smenkhare belongs to Akhenaten. As recently as February 2011 when riots were rocking Egypt, Dr. Hawass mentioned KV 55 and ascribed it to Akhenaten. I beg to difer and so does Giles. Giles who wrote in 1970 said that Aldred's conjecture was an excursion into fantasy because Aldred cannot explain how the body found its way to Thebes in a “miserable uninscribed little tomb ------ (Giles 1970 p.106).

We know that Akhenaten eventually abandoned the capital. This will be covered in detail later. In the meantime, they say that History repeats itself. Read the following text about Dingane King of the Zulus and see if it is a mirror of what may have happened in Akhetaten:

Without further delay the evacuation of the capital commenced. The indluenkulu and other seraglio huts were set alight as Dingane, accompanied by his subjects, crossed the Umkumbane stream, skirted kwaMatiwane, the hill of execution, and entered emaKhosini - the place of Kings. Joined by the populace from kraals in the valley he set out in a north- westerly direction reaching a hill named Isihlalo- the Chair- from the summit of which Dingane gazed upon columns of smoke rising from emGungundlovu. A momentous era in his eventful reign had ended. ( Decker, Rule of Fear - P. 236)

The City that Akhenaten Built

If Akhenaten had never planned to flee, he would have built a very permanent city. Evidence from Amarna indicate that most of the City was a temporary nature. They used burned bricks. The only permanent man man made structures remaining intact are the tombs in the hillside, which were never occupied, as Egyptologists admit. We know that even even priests and other nobles bult themselves tombs with the intention of being buried in them. How is it possible that not even a noble man or a priest in Akhenaten's palace, decided to use one of the already built tombs to save himself the trouble of having to build one? Because, when Akhenaten left, no one remained behind. The departure was fore-planned and well organized. The tombs were a red herring. They were never meant to be occupied. There must have been a threat to Akhanaten and his household that was so big that he needed to divert attention by building an entire city and moving out of Thebes. This Threat, i suspect strongly was Horemhab the army General. How else could akhenaten be succeeded by a nine year old?

Nine Year olds are preteens not Pharaohs

Previously when a child was not old enough to rule, someone else ruled as regent until the child came of age. That is how Hatshepsut came to power. Though she was meant to be there until her nephew came of age, she usurped the power and ruled for 21 years and nine months. It is not possible even today, for a child of nine years to take the reigns of government alone. Someone abducted Tutankhamen from Akhenaten's household which was a signal for Akhenaten to flee. When he fled, the boy was installed on the thrown as a puppet until his master was ready to rule. Not able to wait, Horemhab planned Tut's demise a few years later and installed Aye, the Vizier. After another brief moment, Aye disapeared and Horemhab Took over.

Horemhab the Horrible

I suggest that the English word Horrible has a direct link to the name Horemhab. Even the Arabic word Haram may have the same roots. he did terrible things. He caused Akhenaten to flee. He installed a young boy as pharaoh then killed him by using the Vizier Aye as an accomplice. When Aye outlived his usefulness, he caused his disappearance. He must have killed him as well. How do you explain that when he took over the throne, he tried to change the records to show that after Akhenaten's father Amenhotep III), there was no other pharaoh, but him. He erased Akhenaten Tutankhamen and Aye - three Pharaohs in all. How more horrible could he have been?

Akhenaten beat the odds and fled

Akhenaten emerged the sharpest of them all. He had known Horemhab's plans for a long time. He planned to flee from the south. I read somewhere that a tablet was found with the words to the effect that "I will be burried next to the mountains and evven if my wife tries to dissuade me, I will not listen to her." I hope to cite the source when I find it. If you find it sooner, leave a comment. We know there are no mountains in Egypt. His entourage ended up in the Ethiopian highlands where they took refuge in an island on a lake name after him - the lake Tana. But they knew the journey was not over until they reached the mountain known by his name - the the Kenya (read akhena). He probably ordered his scouts to name the largest river flowing from that mountain after him - the Tana. When it was time to move on, his people scouts planned that emigrating groups should use the Tana as a meeting point before they could be directed to the destination near the mountain. That is why the Tana is called 'thagana' - (receive visitors) in the Kikuyu language.

Linguistic evidence from Kenyan communities indicates that Akhenaten moved southwards for reasons that will be explained. Stay with me. In the meantime, read the hub - Akhenaten and the Kikuyu ( ), and Mentuhotep and the Kisii and Meru people of Kenya - ( )

A pharaoh's herd in Egypt was enormous. We cannot begin to imagine how many days it would have taken to drive it to East Africa
A pharaoh's herd in Egypt was enormous. We cannot begin to imagine how many days it would have taken to drive it to East Africa | Source

Where did akhenaten Go? More evidence

The Chaga people of Mt. Kilimanjaro may have handed to us an account of what happened to Akhenaten. They have a folklore about a person called Tenu (Akhenaten?), at a time when God was called Ruwa (sun). Here is the story collected by Charles Dundas who published it in 1968. I have retold the story with my own interpretations underlined. It is quite possible for others to come up with a different interpretation. I have tried to be as objective as possible, though the reader may be surprised to find that the story has confirmed some of my theories. I take this story as further proof that the remains of Akhenaten will one day be found at a point near the two Snow Mountains of East Africa.


Long ago there was no mountain. In that time there lived a man named Tone, a skeptic and mocker, who in audacious mood expressed the wish that the God ‘Ruwa’ would bring famine on the land that he might see it. The people reproved him, bidding him have a care lest presently he should see his mocking made truth. But tone gave no heed and called the louder for famine. Then Ruwa sent a great famine which distressed both man and beast and many died. And now the people resolved to kill Tone, whom they blamed for their suffering. Tone heard of the daughter that threatened him and ran from one to the other for succor, but none would have mercy on Tone, but threatened to kill him with his own hand.

Who is Tone?

In my opinion, tone here represents Akhenaten. We know that Akhenaten had decreed that only Aten, the sun God should be worshipped. This had infuriated the Amun priests whose establishments lost revenue and prestige. It should not be lost on the reader that Amun was also solarised (a Sun God) and carried the suffix – RA as Amuna-Ra. It would appear then, that it was not clearly understood why he wanted people to Worship his Sun God, when all along they had worshipped what to them was the true Sun God, Amun-Ra. Akhenaten was warned that Amun’s anger would lead to Famine but Akhenaten, here called Tone, would not relent. Apparently even his own daughters attempted to put some sense into him. It seems, and this can be verified from historical facts, that a famine preceeded Akhenaten’s disappearance, which was seen as Amun’s retribution. The only way to stop the suffering was to kill Akhenaten. Akhenaten must have got wind of the plot to kill him and so made good his escape. I have always maintained that Akhenaten did not die in Egypt, and this folklore offers a gleamer that this may be true. This may explain how Tutankhamun, a lad of only nine years was installed on the throne soon after his disappearance. The story continues:

Then Tone went into the forest to the great animals the elephant and the buffalo but all rejected his pleadings and drove him away. At last Tone found a refuge with a solitary dweller of the forest who had pity and took him in, hiding him within his hut so that his pursuers could not find him. Now this man had two heifers which had been stones but were miraculously transformed into cattle. His rescuer bade Tone never to open the cattle-stall and the milk store where the heifers were kept, warning him that on the day he did so he would die. Now Tone laughed in his heart at this warning and one day when the owner was away, he let the heifer out. Immediately both Meruand Tenu ran off.

In which direction did Tone go?

I interpret this to mean that Akhenaten, with a band of supporters, took off Southwards with his antagonists in hot pursuit. The highlands of Ethiopia would have the same wildlife that we find in East Africa today. The mention of being rejected by elephants and buffalos merely means that they were dangerous beasts to be avoided. Note that his benefactor had previously only two stones that turned into cattle. This means that Akhenaten’s benefactor was poor, but upon helping the former monarch was rewarded with cattle. Pharaohs were in charge of large royal herds that can be seen being counted by the herder on monuments of Egypt. This could have been in Ethiopia, in the island of Tana. I would seem that he gave Akhenaten some conditions – never to attempt to leave or else it would bring calamity to all. Here leaving has been symbolized with the opening the cattle krall. Clearly it was not lost on the benefactor that if ever Akhenaten left, his own (the benefactor’s) security would be in jeopardy. The Egyptians had a reputation of following the Amentiu (whom I believe were the progenitors of present day Imenti), the Kush and Aaamu south of Egypt and teaching them a lesson. But Akhenaten, believing in the power of his God Aten, took the advice with a pinch of salt. It would appear he had a destination in his mind that was further south, and he planned to take his own people and cattle with him. So when the time was ripe for departure, Akhenaten left with Meru and Tenu, the two heifers. The one of the heifers stands for thousands of cattle in my opinion. It is significant that one is called Meru. The Meru people of Kenya have a tradition of coming from a place called Mbwaa, which according to some accounts was in Egypt. After tone leaves with Meru and Tenu, we do not hear of Meru again in the account. This may imply that the Meru were the advance party, scouting and preparing ground, even appeasing the tribes on the way to pave way for Akhenaten.

Tone being afraid that they might be lost ran after Tenu, but Tenu ran on. Then Tone called out ‘Tenu’ wait for me. Tenu answered, ‘come here, I wait for you. But when Tone got near to the heifer she threw up the hill Soko and Tone had to climb the hill to get near her. Exhausted, he got to the top only to see Tenu running on. ‘Tenu’ Tenu’ wait for me; he cried - and Tenu stood bidding him to come. But when he got near to Tenu, she threw up the hill Soweko and ran on. Again, he ran after her over the great hill and she stopped when he bade her, but once more she threw up the hill lyeshimbo between herself and Tone. So they ran on, Tone pleading with Tenu and each time she stopped but each time created a hill as he neared her, first the hill lasoe, the pofu, next lego, lyakishonyi, Ngangu, Kitembonyi and so on, finally the hills of Mwika and Rombo.


This forklore needs to be deciphered further to get all he hidden meanings. This will take time, and I hope that my readers will help. However, tenu that can be esily ascribed to Akhenaten himself while the term Meru probably has a connection with the Meru people who claim to have come from Misri - Egypt.


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  • Emmanuel Kariuki profile image

    Emmanuel Kariuki 5 years ago from Nairobi, Kenya

    Thanks Wanjau. We need to dig deeper into our souls for the truth. See also my post on Akhenaten and the Kikuyu

  • profile image

    Wanjau 5 years ago

    You are a great historian...keep it up!!!!!!! The kikuyu culture should not be forgotten & it is up to us to revive it for our future generations

  • Emmanuel Kariuki profile image

    Emmanuel Kariuki 5 years ago from Nairobi, Kenya

    I have copied the text on that site to contemplate further and will get back to you.

  • profile image

    Alex 5 years ago

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