Qatar provides Libya's MB with sophisticated weapons to assassinate Haftar    Closure of Al-Karama library is state's retaliation against my political views: Gamal Eid    Doctors Syndicate undersecretary Mona Mina acquitted of charges    Egypt: Army destroy smuggling tunnels & terrorist targets in Sinai    281 ships transit the Suez Canal in 6 days carrying 15.8m tonnes    Egypt's journalists announce solidarity with 2 Tunisian journalists    HDB graduates first batch in the SMEs financing training course    Youth unemployment — who's to blame?    Shoukry visits US to warm up relations prior to Trump's inauguration    Boko Haram conflict has 4.5M in NE Nigeria needing food aid, expert    Gazan-Jihadi: Expect more 'Lone Wolf' attacks like Ohio    Egypt sees Trump vision "corresponds" with its objectives    Shoukry: Egypt against any foreign interference in Syria    UN report warns Arab countries could face further uprisings    Constitutional Court annuls Interior Ministry's right to ban protests    Humanitarian failure in Mosul    Goalless week for Egyptians abroad    Seven out of 10    Can they do it again?    Behind the smokescreen    Dream city?    Ally or opportunist?    Like what you have    Poison in the honey    ‘Precautionary measures'    Maternity leave and the meaning of life    Art    Of death and laughter    Egypt heads to finals of Women's World Team Squash Championship    Egyptians collect 9 medals at Sahl Hasheesh Triathlon    Al-Sisi praises progress of UAE in recent years    Mohamed Aly elected member of World Karate Federation    Crown prince Vajiralongkorn proclaimed king of Thailand    13 defendants referred to criminal court in Ismailia prison break case    EU delivers over €221 MM in support to Egypt & others    Cairo hosts Fulbright regional conference on natural resources    US & Egypt stress on protecting human antiquities against 'treachery'    Parliament's Foreign Affairs Committee refutes British MP's statements concerning Brotherhood    MP Abdul Rahim Ali demands boycotting EU suspicious meeting    U.S., Egypt to sign cultural property protection agreement today    Sisi meets Eritrean counterpart to discuss means of developing bilateral ties    Iran, Iraq at loggerheads with Saudis ahead of OPEC meeting    Kerry signs cultural agreement with Egypt    Brazil football team Chapecoense in Colombia plane crash    HRW: Sisi must refuse to sign Egypt's civil society draft bill    From poor organisation to award-winning films: round-up of 38th Cairo International Film Festival    Aziz Maraka concert a big hit in Cairo    Egypt organises American football league, first time in the Middle East    







Thank you for reporting!
This image will be automatically disabled when it gets reported by several people.





El-Amarna and the story of Akhenaten
Published in The Egyptian Gazette on 19 - 03 - 2012

Cairo museum is too big for just one visit. Trying to see everything in one go is sure to leave the visitor bewildered and exhausted. The best plan is to choose one section of the museum for your visit and then return another day to see something else.
Behind a colossal group of limestone statues of King Amenophis III, his wife Tyi and three of their daughters, from the temple of Medinat Habu on the West Bank at Luxor, there is a small section of the Egyptian Museum of Antiquities dedicated to Pharaoh Amenhoptep IV.
Even the lighting in this section of the museum is different, suggesting to us something special about this Pharaoh.
Who on earth was Amenhotep IV? Well, this Pharaoh, who ruled Egypt from 1351 to 1334 BC and abolished the worship of many gods and replaced them with the worship of one god only, is better known to Egyptians as Akhenaten. Surrounded even to this day by mystery, Akhenaten's strange reign is represented in this part of the museum by unusual objects.
A large coloured photo on the back wall cleverly sets the scene. It is of a panel showing the king worshipping the sun. There are four large carved statues of the Pharaoh, some of them from a lined row of colossi at Karnak, showing the king with an elongated body, protruding stomach and extended face and jaw.
Scholars' speculation has worked on overdrive here, ranging from suggestions that Akhenaten suffered from different illnesses to the idea that the exaggerated artistic style is thought to have a religious significance.
The remarkable story of this Pharaoh's reign is the story of a man who single-handedly tried to destroy the worship of numerous deities which had existed in Egypt for centuries, as well as sweeping away the power of its priesthood and converting many of its temples.
Five years into his reign he moved from Thebes, the ancient capital of Egypt, and created a new capital city, Akhetaten, providing it with palaces, temples, government buildings and homes for its citizens. For a brief time, Egypt was ruled from here.
Within twenty years, the city was empty, the old religion had been re-established and the name of Akhenaten wiped off every tablet and monument, as if he had never existed. So cleverly had his successors air-brushed him off the face of history that Egyptologists knew nothing about him or his family until relatively recently.
The ruins of Akhenaten today stand eerily at El-Amarna on the East bank of the Nile, near to El-Minya, about 312 kilometres south of Cairo. There are no vast crowds of tourists here or coaches lining up for visits. What remains of the city is laid out roughly north to south along a 'Royal Road.' The city was built in a hurry, so whitewashed mud-brick was used for many of its buildings.
Most of these buildings, ravaged by time, have now returned to the clay of the earth they came from, so that the city has a ghost-like feel to it, more a collection of mounds and broken walls than the fantastic centre of a great empire. If visitors came here, what would they come to see?
The city was in a valley between steep cliffs on the east bank of the Nile. The sun rises in the east, unlike the Valley of the Kings, for example, which is on the west bank, where the sun goes down. It was more fitting to celebrate the rising of the Aten, the one god represented to men as a sun-disc, than to worship the sun's setting.
The city was divided into three sections. The private residence of the Pharaoh and his family were in the North. The administrative buildings and the ceremonial areas were in the central district. Here was the Great Royal Palace and the official Royal Residence. Across a bridge from these was the Great Temple of the Aten, unlike the other temples in Egypt.
The sacrifices to this god were not carried out in dark, secret chambers, but in the open air, on altars in view of everyone. A great obelisk was all there was to focus attention.
In what are the windswept remains of the city today there is a narrow valley to the east, hidden in the cliffs. It was here that the royal tombs were to be located. Only one was completed, perhaps for a royal wife, and also a tomb for Akhenaten himself, who was hastily buried here, before being removed back to Thebes by his successors and then lost to public memory.
Back in the Egyptian Museum, there are two statues which seem to sum up the fragile beauty of this period of Egypt's history. The first is a bust of Nefertiti, one of Akhenaten's wives. Unlike the more famous statue now on view in Berlin, this statue is unfinished. It is only partly carved and even has lines drawn on it to show where the sculptor would finish his work. “Nefer,” in the language of the Ancient Egyptians, means beauty.
This statue shows the queen as not only very beautiful, but also very peaceful. In this and other statues, both she and her husband-king are both serene and youthful.
The other small object in this part of the museum which sums up the reign of Akhenaten is an unfinished limestone statuette depicting the Pharaoh embracing and kissing one of his daughters, who sits on his knee, in the style of family intimacy so unique to this period.
Time alone may one day unravel the mystery of this remarkable Pharaoh. Covered up and brushed aside for centuries by those wishing to maintain the status quo, he has an extraordinary appeal to our modern age, not least to those who worship One God.
Muslims read in the Holy Qur'an in Surat Al-Ikhlas:
Say: He is Allah, the One; Allah, the Eternal, Absolute; he begetteth not, nor is He begotten; and there is none like unto Him.
Holy Qur'an 112:1-4
This is the central belief of Muslims. In Akhenaten, they see an image, all of those thousands of years ago, of the message revealed to mankind by countless Prophets. It is a touching idea that Akhenaten, who countless Pharaohs tried to silence and write out of history, is now a precursor of something believed in by billions of people. In viewing those small statues of him in the museum in Cairo, we come to realise that the truth can never be silenced, and that goodness will always prevail.
British Muslim writer, Idris Tawfiq, is a lecturer at Al-Azhar University. The author of eight books about Islam, he divides his time between Egypt and the UK as a speaker, writer and broadcaster. You can visit his website at www.idristawfiq.com.


Clic here to read the story from its source.