Akhenaten – meaning “living spirit of Aten” – known before the fifth year of his reign as Amenhotep IV (sometimes given its Greek form, Amenophis IV, and meaning Amun is Satisfied), was a Pharaoh of the Eighteenth dynasty of Egypt who ruled for 17 years and died perhaps in 1336 BC or 1334 BC. He is especially noted for abandoning traditional Egyptian polytheism and introducing worship centered on the Aten, which is sometimes described as monotheistic or henotheistic. An early inscription likens him to the sun as compared to stars, and later official language avoids calling the Aten a god, giving the solar deity a status above mere gods.
He was born to Amenhotep III and his Chief Queen Tiyee and was their younger son. Akhenaten was not originally designated as the successor to the throne until the untimely death of his older brother, Thutmose. Amenhotep IV succeeded his father after Amenhotep III’s death at the end of his 38-year reign, possibly after a short coregency lasting between either 1 to 2 years.
Pharaoh Akhenaten was known as the Heretic King. He was the tenth King of the 18th Dynasty. Egyptologists are still tying to figure out what actually happened during his lifetime as much of the truth was buried after he died.
Akhenaten lived at the peak of Egypt’s imperial glory. Egypt had never been richer, more powerful, or more secure. Up and down the Nile, workers built hundreds of temples to pay homage to the Gods. They believed that if the Gods were pleased, Egypt would prosper. And so it did.