Akhenaten: Egypt's False Prophet

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More About This Textbook


Much has been written about this compelling, controversial pharaoh whose appearance—elongated and effete—is totally at odds with that of the traditional Egyptian ruler. Scholars have speculated that he was perhaps a eunuch or a sufferer from a genetic disorder or even a woman. Known today as a heretic, Akhenaten sought to impose upon Egypt and its people the worship of a single god, radically affecting the country in every way, from art to the written language.

In this immensely readable reevaluation, Nicholas Reeves presents an entirely new perspective on the turbulent events of Akhenaten's seventeen-year reign. Reeves argues that Akhenaten cynically used religion for purely political ends in a calculated attempt to reassert the authority of the king, thus concentrating power in his own hands. Ultimately his revolution failed as political, financial, and moral corruption overwhelmed the regime. His traditionalist successors showed little mercy, and with a ruthless determination systematically expunged all traces of Akhenaten's existence. 141 illustrations, 23 in color.

Author Biography: Nicholas Reeves founded the Amarna Royal Tombs Project, Valley of the Kings. His books include The Complete Tutankhamun and, with Richard H. Wilkinson, The Complete Valley of the Kings.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780500285527
  • Publisher: Thames & Hudson
  • Publication date: 5/15/2005
  • Pages: 208
  • Product dimensions: 6.64 (w) x 11.16 (h) x 0.21 (d)

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 15, 2007

    Insight into a fascinating historical subject

    Nicholas Reeves, who has written much about ancient Egypt-- especially the era around Akhenaten-- now writes a book that seems to be definitive for the layperson. It starts with the an overview of the background of several centuries then leads up to what is actually known and the current contraversies about Akhenaten and his family. The argument about a genetic disorder is not new, just which genetic disorder---and I don't believe it was Mr Reeves who originated the Marfan syndrome theory. People with Marfan's are tall and have very elongated limbs, they often have bad hearts and are prone to have their aorta's rupture,and therefore may live a short lifespan. They are prone to mental illness in some but not all cases. Abraham Lincoln is believed to also have suffered from Marfan's. It has many POSSIBLE symptoms so no one can say at this point whether Akenaten had poor eyesight though that idea brought forth in the book is interesting: visualize him him staring into the blinding light of the sun 'the Aten' and able to do so due to his weak or blind eyes. But I think a totally blind king would have been known of and mentioned in written works of the time, or in the courts of other nations. Raised in the book--no way around it---is the continual problem with the incest issue---many pharaohs married sisters and daughters and it was normal and accepted for them to do so, but it seems to be unfortunate but true that Akhenaten married some of his daughters when they were still quite young. For Akenaten to do so, after 6 daughters by Nefertiti and no son, especially if he was re-making the rules as he went along, and considering himself more of a god than the previous pharaohs had done perhaps he wanted a pure blooded line and a son from that line. I think too many people are judging him by our standards and morals. The son he did have was most likely Tutankhaten, by a lesser wife, Kiya, and one can imagine he would have preferred a son of Nefertiti's or of the more 'pure' blood of his and Nefertiti's daughters. That is just what I glean from the book and my other reading, but unlike another reviewer I don't think it means Reeves dislikes Akhenaten to say he married his daughters. Especially when there is so much documentation from his own era to state that he did. One thing particularly good about this book is the amount of photography and illustrations included. These alone are worth the price of the book. The book is, in my opinion, very readable, not at all dry or 'text-bookish.' Well worth buying and reading.

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