Reforms of Akhenaten - History of the East

4.6. Reforms of Akhenaten

Started by the reign of Thutmose III, who spent 54 years on the throne (the first 22 of them actually rules Hatshepsut, hated him), the brilliant period of the political power of imperial Egypt lasted for quite some time, and the foreign policy successes and internal political changes that were associated with it determined serious changes in the structure of the country , in particular in the traditional correlation of sociopolitical forces. The leitmotif of the changes was, as mentioned, a significant shift in the center of gravity of the administration and the whole support of the pharaoh's power to the untitled layers of people from officials, soldiers, farmers, from nemhu, if not even from slaves. The result of this process was a noticeable weakening of the position of the priestly nobility. True, priests and temples in general prospered. Suffice it to recall how the flow went to the temple economy, including the capital's temple of Amun (Amon-Ra), looted property and slaves. But, firstly, there is reason to believe that the treasury put more and more pressure on the temples and, moreover, tried to use their incomes to keep officials and soldiers, and secondly, still a huge property wealth was not, as mentioned, adequate political the role of the priesthood, which declined. Having lost influence on the current policy, the temples became more and more clearly becoming the main regional economic centers, the base bases of the state sector of the economy.

It is clear that yesterday the former highly influential priesthood could not reconcile with this. There was a serious economic and socio-political conflict that began with the fact that the political claims of the priests of the temple of Amun-Ra were not only rejected by the new Pharaoh Amenhetep IV, who came to the throne in 1372 BC, but and served as a pretext for decisive persecution. Pharaoh demonstratively supported as a counterbalance to the temple of Amun-Ra a new cult of the little-known to the god of the solar disk Aton, convenient for him by the fact that there were no influential forces behind him. Declaring himself to be the high priest of Aten, Amenhetep changed his name to Akhenaten (and "pleasing to Aton") and, leaving Thebes, 300 kilometers to the north of them founded the rapidly rebuilt for him new capital Ahetaton (present-day fortress Tell - Amarna). From the point of view of religion, this was perhaps the first attempt in history to replace all the gods by one, to create a cult of a single, universally binding for all, the officially recognized and exalted god of a large country. But the monotheistic trend of reform was by no means the main one. Its main goal was to strengthen the centralized administration by eliminating the separatist tendencies of the influential temple nobility.

In an effort to break the tradition decisively and quickly, Akhenaten made desperate attempts to update everything. This manifested itself in the creation of a new god, in the building of a new capital, in the nomination of new people, and in the creation of new cult-canonical norms, even in a new and highly artistic school of art (it is enough to recall such a masterpiece of portrait sculpture as image of the wife of the reformer of the beautiful Nefertiti). It is difficult to say what the final results of the reform could have been had it not been for the premature death of Akhenaten, who reigned for about 17 years. During the life of Akhenaten, the reforms of open resistance were not met, although, like any radical reforms in the traditional society, they were not perceived at once by everyone, especially with glee. For reforms, you always need time. Akhenaten was clearly not enough. His successors were not strong rulers, besides they were young people and did not rule for long, while resistance to reforms increased. The case ended in the fact that Tutankhamun was forced to change his name (earlier he was called Tutankhaton) and move the capital to Memphis, giving the Theban priests Amon-Ra all the rights and privileges they lost. All the old traditions were restored, the name of the heretic pharaoh was betrayed and oblivious, and the city of Aeteton built by him was demolished.

After the death of Tutankhamun, who did not leave the heir (the tomb of the deceased, as we know, was excavated by archaeologists at the beginning of the 20th century, it was untouched, and the mummified body of the pharaoh testified to his young age), his young wife tried to hold onto the throne, marrying the Hittite prince who was invited by her. But her attempt was not successful. The prince was killed and the throne was soon occupied by the powerful Theban priest Horemheb, who spent about 30 years on the throne and managed to achieve considerable. He skillfully extinguished the passions connected with the confrontation with the reforms of Akhenaten and with the separatist tendencies that appeared on this basis, so convenient for them. At the same time, he did not quarrel with the service nobility, soldiers and officials from the number of nemhu, who were the support of Akhenaten and his predecessors. All this played an important role in the achievements of the pharaohs of the nineteenth dynasty, one of the most powerful in the history of ancient Egypt. Networks I, using a well thought-out policy, made a successful trip to the borders of the Hittite kingdom. After the death of Seti I, his young son, Ramses II, reigned.

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