Who was Akhenaten?

Becoming Pharaoh
Worship of Aten
Building Akhetaten
After Akhenaten
Final Perspectives


We will briefly outline here the life of Akhenaten, an Egyptian pharaoh of the 14th century BCE. The course of a person's life is a reflection of many factors: the age in which they live, the social community, cultural roles, family, associates, and their own personality. A theme that was intimately integrated with Akhenaten's life and his religious world view was the contrast between a living, active, universal divine presence and its outward manifestation. We hope that our combined lights will help illuminate the living personality shining through the mask.

Pharaohs were considered to be divine incarnations of the great sky god Horus whose falcon wings spanned the heavens. Both religious and political power was focused in the position of pharaoh, but in practice a longstanding establishment of officials and priests maintained the state. Other divinities or aspects of divinity were worshipped in different locations with their associated priesthoods.

The result was that there were different conceptions of God in theory, and different rituals, sacred objects, and forms of worship in practice. The pharaoh reconciled these divergent tendencies, as seen in the central and dominant role of the pharaoh in their society.

The queens also played a crucial role. The right of accession to the throne was passed down on the maternal side and sealed by marriage. We sometimes see the queen depicted with equal stature to the pharaoh, and documents demonstrate her exercise of power. There is evidence that Queens Hatshepsut, Tiye, and Nefertiti made significant contributions in support of the pharaoh during the New Kingdom.

click here to play video on Akhenaten


"The modern world has yet adequately to value or even to acquaint itself with this man who, in an age so removed and under conditions so adverse, became the world's first idealist and the world's first individual."

--Breasted, History of Egypt

Ancient Mystery Schools (Part I) Group Project--Akhenaten's Life