Monday, September 30, 2013

Elizabeth Donnelly Carney, Arsinoë of Egypt and Macedon: A Royal Life - A Bryn Mawr Classical Review

Bryn Mawr Classical Review 2013.09.54

Elizabeth Donnelly Carney, Arsinoë of Egypt and Macedon: A Royal Life. Women in antiquity.   Oxford; New York:  Oxford University Press, 2013.  Pp. xvii, 215.  ISBN 9780195365511.

Reviewed by Jens Bartels, Universität Zürich

Writing a biography is a difficult task, all the more when the object of study is a person of antiquity. Evidence is usually scarce, fragmentary and distorted. Thus, reconstructing an ancient life from birth to death, even tracing the protagonist’s character or at least his / her motives, seems quite impossible. More often than not, the situation is additionally exacerbated by the lack of an ancient biography or the absence of a dense historiographical tradition. As this is exactly the case with Arsinoë II, one wonders, how one could try and write a biography about her. The (very aesthetic) design of the cover of the book by Olivia Russin could be a hint at the difficulties: the upper half shows a wonderful early Hellenistic bronze head of a woman. It may depict Arsinoë II, but also Arsinoë I or any other Hellenistic queen of that time, or simply a goddess.1 In order to be able to relate the life of Arsinoë II one has to squeeze every bit of evidence to the last drop and is still far from any continuous narration on her life let alone any hints on her motivation or her character. Of course, Elizabeth Carney is well aware of these problems. In the appendix (137-145) she thus presents a concise and critical survey of the relevant sources and the related scholarly discussion, showing the rather desperate situation. In her own words (10): “Looking at Arsinoë’s life is a bit like trying to meet someone at a big party, but somehow always missing them though, perhaps, getting a whiff of their perfume and hearing a lot of stories about them. In a sense, Arsinoë is always in the other room.”

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Egyptian goddess statue unveiled in İzmir’s Red Basilica

IZMIR - Doğan News Agency

Photocredit: DHA photo
An almost nine-meter long lion-headed Egyptian goddess Sekhmet has been revived in the Red Basilica (Kızıl Avlu) in the largest structure of the ancient city of Pergamon in İzmir’s Bergama district, and opened to visits on Sept. 26. The statue has already drawn great interest from tourists in the area. 

German Excavation Institute Chairman Ferix Pilson said it would contribute to Bergama’s inclusion in the UNESO Cultural Heritage list in June next year. 

The Egyptian statue pieces found during the excavations since 1930 in the Red Basilica are among the most important statues from the Roman Empire. Among them, the lion-headed goddess statue was reconstructed thanks to the support of the Studiosus Foundation. The statue was raised last year for trial purposes and with further works, and it reached an impressive height of 8.5 meters.


Saturday, September 28, 2013

Egyptian years and days

Many Egyptians continue to use several yearly calendars, the heritage of the country’s different religious traditions, writes Samia Abdennour

“The Egyptian calendar is certainly the only rational calendar that has ever been devised,” wrote the ancient Greek historian Herodotus after his visit to Egypt in the fifth century BCE.
The ancient Egyptians were one of the first nations to use a solar calendar, in around 3,000 BCE, and this shows their great regard for science and the high level of scientific knowledge they had attained. Their calendar was based on the phases of the River Nile and the associated activities in the fields of flooding, seedtime and harvesting, these making up three distinct seasons of four months each. 
These seasons shaped the lives and character of the Egyptian fellaheen (peasants) who were so engrossed in agriculture and the land that they left all other matters — social, political and economic — to outsiders. It was this that facilitated the foreign control of the country and that led to the peasants’ eventual oppression.
Egyptians today use three calendars, the Islamic, Coptic and Western calendar, the last being used by people of both faiths for most secular or official purposes. The Islamic calendar is used only for religious purposes, while the Coptic calendar is used to mark the events of the Christian year and the agricultural almanac by farmers of both faiths. 
The names given to the Islamic months were largely adopted from those of the jahiliya (the “time of ignorance” before the coming of Islam), while the names of the Coptic months are derived from the names of ancient Egyptian gods.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Ancient Egyptian Fortress Yields New Finds

Archaeologists at the ancient Egyptian fortress at Jaffa in Israel uncover new clues to understanding a monumental city gate complex

Since 2011, a team of achaeologists have been uncovering some tantalizing new finds at the remains of a fourteenth century B.C. Egyptian fortress gate complex at the coastal city of Jaffa in Israel. It is today the only Egyptian gate ever excavated in Israel, and excavation co-directors Aaron A. Burke of the University of California, Los Angeles and Martin Peilstöcker of the Israel Antiquities Authority are convinced that the site may tell an important story about how an Egyptian enclave survived and persisted within Canaanite territory well over 3,000 years ago.

"New archaeological data combined with well-known historical texts of the Late Bronze Age are now shedding light on the nature of interactions between the Canaanite inhabitants of Jaffa and its environs and the Egyptian inhabitants of the New Kingdom fortress built atop the city’s earlier remains," reports Burke and Peilstöcker. "The resulting picture is one colored by episodes of violence and peaceful social interactions in Jaffa over a period of more than 300 years, from ca. 1460 to 1130 BC."

Excavations in 2012 revealed strong evidence of a violent destruction event, with clues to its extent indicated when excavators discovered a commemorative scarab of Amenhotep III dated to the mid-fourteenth century B.C., found within the upper destruction layers and apparently fallen from what the archaeologists interpreted as a second story administrative office floor. In 2013, they exposed the city gate’s passageway below more than 1.5 meters of destruction debris. The finds included arrowheads, a spearhead and lead weight, decorative ivory inlays, numerous charred seeds, a number of ceramic vessels, antlers from deer, and nearly two dozen cedar timbers thought to have once made up the gate’s roof and upper story. The seeds, identified as those of barley, olive pits, grape pips, and chick peas were a welcome find, as they provide an insight to the foods consumed at the site.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Philippa Lang, Medicine and Society in Ptolemaic Egypt. Studies in Ancient Medicine - A Bryn Mawr Classical Review

Bryn Mawr Classical Review 2013.09.48

Philippa Lang, Medicine and Society in Ptolemaic Egypt. Studies in Ancient Medicine, 41.   Leiden; Boston: Brill, Pp. xii, 318.  ISBN 9789004218581.  $151.00.

Reviewed by Michaela Senkova, University of Leicester

Medicine and Society in Ptolemaic Egypt is the latest title published by Brill in their ‘Studies in Ancient Medicine’ series.1 It presents a rich overview of the forms of healing employed across all strata of society in Ptolemaic Egypt, from ‘temple medicine’ to scientific approaches to medical issues. The term ‘society’, however, means here primarily the Egyptians and the Greeks, whose testimony to healing practices and theory presented in literary, archaeological, papyrological and epigraphic evidence represents the core source material for the book. Medical traditions and theoretical approaches of social minorities like the Jewish communities, for instance, do not find their way into the text for ‘simplicity’s sake’ (xi). Consequently, much of the volume is concerned with the contrast between ethnic and cultural approaches to medicine among the native Egyptians and the Greek settlers, and the evaluation of arguments for and against the possible influences these two medical cultures may have had upon each other. Lang covers a broad canvas in this compact study, recognizing a number of socio-cultural factors as medically relevant (namely agriculture, botany, demography, linguistics and religious practice) in order to explore how inhabitants of Ptolemaic Egypt might have experienced and dealt with disease.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Wednesday Weekly # 2

Welcome to the Wednesday Weekly, your weekly dose of links to Egyptology news, articles, blogs, events and more.


Call for Papers: Current Research in Egyptology XV

The 15th Current Research in Egyptology conference will be held at UCL and KCL in April 2014 for which a call for papers is announced with a deadline of 15 November 2013.

For more information:


New addition to Julia Thorne's blog: Meet the gods: Sekhmet


New addition to the blog by Julia Budka: Nehi at Elephantine


New additions to the ROM's blog by Matthew Church: 

Amarna Artifacts in the ROM's Ancient Egypt Collection

Restoring a Rebel Pharaoh's Kingdom: In the field with Prof. Barry Kemp


by María Rosa Valdesogo Martín

Hair, Mourners and Light in Ancient Egypt

Hair, Mourners and Secret in Ancient Egypt


New Exhibition: The Mystery of the Albany Mummies - 21 September 2013/8 June 2014

The story of the Albany Mummies centers on two Ancient Egyptian mummies and their coffins, one dating from the 21st Dynasty and the other from the Ptolemaic Period.

For more information about the exhibition:


New contribution to the British Museum blog by curator Richard Parkinson:

Reading an ancient Egyptian poem


EES Finance & Business Manager: Recruitment Information

The UK’s leading Egyptological organisation, the Egypt Exploration Society, is looking for an enthusiastic and well-organised Finance & Business Manager to fill a key role within the team.

For more information:


Pre-order Bob's new book "Egyptomania" available November 12.


New episode: Episode XIX: The Beloved of Re - Pepy


New exhibition: Egypt's Mysterious Book of the Faiyum - 6 October 2013/5 January 2014

The Book of the Faiyum is an exquisitely illustrated ancient papyrus depicting Egypt’s Faiyum oasis, a center of prosperity and ritual during the Greco-Roman period. Major sections of the manuscript—reunited for the first time in 150 years—are displayed alongside Egyptian statues, reliefs, jewelry, and ritual objects to illuminate the religious context that gave rise to the enigmatic tale of Sobek, the crocodile god who brings sun to the Faiyum.

For more info about the exhibition:


New addition to the blog:

Exclusive footage: Sphinx Avenue ongoing work and issues


Lecture: Women's Health in Ancient Egypt

Date: 26 September 2013, 7 p.m.

Place: Alliance for Arts & Culture
#100 – 938 Howe St
Vancouver, BC 

More info and tickets:


New blogpost by Timothy Reid:

The Search for Alexander: An Exhibition

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Egyptian Dog Mummy Infested with Bloodsucking Parasites

By Jeremy Hsu, LiveScience Contributor   |   September 23, 2013

A dog mummy has revealed the first archaeological evidence of bloodsucking parasites plaguing Fido's ancestors in Egypt during the classical era of Roman rule.

The preserved parasites discovered in the mummified young dog's right ear and coat include the common brown tick and louse fly — tiny nuisances that may have carried diseases leading to the puppy's early demise. French archaeologists found the infested dog mummy while studying hundreds of mummified dogs at the excavation site of El Deir in Egypt, during expeditions in 2010 and 2011.

"Although the presence of parasites, as well as ectoparasite-borne diseases, in ancient times was already suspected from the writings of the major Greek and Latin scholars, these facts were not archaeologically proven until now," said Jean-Bernard Huchet, an archaeoentomologist at the National Museum of Natural History in Paris.

Mentions of dog pests appear in the writings of ancient Greeks and Romans such as Homer, Aristotle and Pliny the Elder, and a painting of a hyenalike animal in an ancient Egyptian tomb dated to the 15th century B.C. shows what is likely the oldest known depiction of ticks. But evidence of ticks, flies and other ectoparasites that infest the outside of the body has been scarce in the archaeological record — until now. (The only other known archaeological evidence of ticks comes from fossilized human feces in Arizona.)

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Museum Pieces - Bust of Prince Ankhhaf

Photocredit: Boston Museum of Fine Arts
Bust of Prince Ankhhaf

Egyptian, Old Kingdom, Dynasty 4, reign of Khafra (Chephre, 2520–2494 B.C.

Giza, Egypt

Height: 50.48 cm (19 7/8 in.)

Painted limestone



George D. and Margo Behrakis Gallery (Egypt Old Kingdom) - 207

In ancient Egypt, artists almost never created true portraits. This bust of Ankhhaf, therefore, breaks the rule. It is made of limestone covered with a thin layer of plaster, into which details have been modeled by the hand of a master. Rather than a stylized representation, the face is of an individual. From inscriptions in his tomb, we know that Ankhhaf was the son of a king, probably Sneferu, brother of another, Khufu, and that he served Khafre as vizier and overseer of works. In this last capacity, he may have overseen the building of the second pyramid and carving of the sphinx.

Ankhhaf's features are those of a mature man. His skull shows a receding hairline. His eyelids droop slightly over eyes originally painted white with brown pupils. Puffy pouches are rendered underneath. Diagonal furrows set off a stern mouth. Apparently, he once had a short beard made from a separate piece of plaster. It was lost in antiquity, as were his ears. His gaze is that of a commanding and willful man, someone who was accustomed to having his orders obeyed. It was the way he wanted to be remembered for eternity.

Ankhhaf's mastaba was the largest in the great Eastern Cemetery at Giza. His bust was installed in a mudbrick chapel attached to the east side of the tomb and oriented so that it faced the chapel's entryway. The chapel walls were covered in exquisitely modeled low relief. It has been suggested that Ankhhaf's arms were sculpted on the low pedestal on which he sat, thereby making him appear even more lifelike. Passersby left more than ninety models of food and drink for Ankhhaf to enjoy in the afterlife. 

Ankhhaf is unique, and by the terms of the Museum's contract with the Egyptian government, he should have gone to the Cairo Museum. However, he was awarded to Boston by the Antiquities Service in gratitude for the Harvard-Boston Expedition's painstaking work to excavate and restore objects from the tomb of Queen Hetepheres.


From Giza, tomb G 7510. 1925: excavated by the Harvard University-Boston Museum of Fine Arts Expedition; 1927: assigned to the MFA in the division of finds by the government of Egypt. 

(Accession Date: July 7, 1927)


Harvard University—Boston Museum of Fine Arts Expedition


Friday, September 20, 2013

Looted artefacts recovered in sting operation

by Aaron T. Rose

More still missing from Mallawi museum

The Ministry of State for Antiquities announced on Wednesday that it has recovered 13 artefacts recovered from the looted museum in the Minya city of Mallawi.

With the help of the Tourism and Antiquities Police, the ministry was able to recover items that were stolen from the museum after it was attacked by a mob and ransacked during protests on 14 August.

The artefacts were recovered in Giza on 16 September when Essam Al-Sakkat, 36 year-old butcher from Mallawi, attempted to sell the stolen items to an undercover law enforcement agent posing as a buyer, reported the Egypt Independent.  Al-Sakkat was arrested, the first arrest of someone in possession of looted items from the Mallawi museum.

According to the statement by the Antiquities Minister Dr Mohammed Ibrahim, the artefacts recovered include “a statue of Jehuty, the god of wisdom, a group of Terra-cotta statues’ heads made of pottery and limestone in addition to six lanterns and pieces of flint and stone objects.”

Of the 1,050 artefacts stolen, nearly 900 have been recovered, according to Ibrahim. Reports indicate that mummies in the museum were vandalised and burned, and items too big to be carried out of the museum were destroyed.  UNESCO and Interpol both have lists of the missing items to deter black market dealing.

Mallawi is located 300 km south of Cairo in the Minya governate.  Its museum housed items spanning from the Pharaonic era to the Islamic caliphates.

Al-Sakkat has been referred to prosecution after admitting to the charges, reported the Egypt Independent.  He has criminal convictions in cattle theft, drug trafficking and possession of unlicensed weapons.


Thursday, September 19, 2013

Some assembly was required

Ancient Egyptian artifacts come together for institute exhibit

By Amy Biancolli


Reunions require complicated planning. But the Albany Institute of History & Art has pulled off a doozy by reuniting the far-flung coffin parts of Ankhefenmut, a 3,000-year-old 21st Dynasty Egyptian priest and sculptor in the Temple of Mut, who had long been separated from two important pieces of his funerary box.

The lid came from the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna. The mummy board, or inner lid, vacated its usual public display at the British Museum in London. The coffin bottom — and Ankhefenmut himself — have resided at the institute since their 1909 arrival from Cairo with a second, partially wrapped Ptolemaic-era mummy that dates to around 300 B.C.

Separated for over a century, Ankhefenmut and his sundry coffin parts have been reassembled for "GE Presents: The Mystery of the Albany Mummies," a show seven years in the making that opens Saturday, runs through June 8 and explores the life, afterlife and archeological saga of AIHA's most popular denizens.

"It's putting the mummy and coffin into context and reuniting the parts," said guest curator Peter Lacovara, an Egyptologist who lives in Albany but works for the Michael C. Carlos Museum at Emory University in Atlanta. "It's putting all the pieces back together again. Part of an archeologist's work is to reconstruct the past — so this is a more physical version of what we do."

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Wednesday Weekly # 1

This is the first edition of Wednesday Weekly, your weekly dose of links to Egyptology news, articles, blogs, events and more.


82nd & Fifth: Idolized by Diana Patch

A closer look at a cult image of the God Ptah. You can view a video and see close ups of this little statue of Ptah.


Amazing site by María Rosa Valdesogo Martín

Read the latest additions to her site:

Hair, Mourners and Opening of the Mouth in Ancient Egypt


Blog by Carolyn Graves-Brown

Her latest addition to her blog:


Egypt Gift of the Nile. New exhibition starting 12 September 2013 untill 5 January 2014.


Learn all about Luxor and its splendours brought to you by Jane Akshar in a series of 13 lectures.

Hidden Luxor - Karnak Temple: Module 1


Join world renowned Egyptologist Barry Kemp as he discusses the most recent discoveries at the enigmatic ancient Egyptian capital of controversial Pharaoh Akhenaten.

Lecture: 19th September 2013, Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto

for more info and tickets:


New article: King Tutankhamun and the Royal Family of the Eighteenth Dynasty of Ancient Egypt


New article: Radiocarbon dating tightens Egyptian chronology


New additions to the blog: 

Exclusive footage: A walk down the Avenue of Sphinx

13 more objects from Mallawi Museum are back


CLEOPATRA - Special screening in honor of their new Hall of Ancient Egypt

Date: 20th September - 6:30 P.M.

For more info:

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Egypt's ancient artifacts feel nation's ills

by Nancy A. Youssef

Yasmin el Shazly, an Egyptologist, last gave a VIP tour through the Egyptian Museum two years ago, before the uprising just outside the museum doors in Tahrir Square led to the fall of former President Hosni Mubarak.

Before that, el Shazly once lectured Paris Hilton and Charlize Theron about the world's greatest collection of Egyptian artifacts. Now the museum is an empty monument to a nation shunned by tourists and unwilling, or perhaps unable, to preserve its history, both recent and ancient.

As el Shazly prepared to return to work after a 15-month maternity leave, she stopped by her office and discovered a museum all but abandoned since the ouster July 3 of former President Mohammed Morsi, a development that officials say killed the last vestiges of tourism here.

Shocked by the emptiness of the world's oldest museum building, el Shazly offered to give her friends a VIP tour last week. As she spoke about the artifacts, she and her friends discovered that even Egypt's rich history, which gave rise to modern civilisation, hasn't been spared from today's volatility: Ten army tanks and long strings of barbed wire lined the streets to protect the already-once-looted building and its collection, a visual reminder of where Egypt's past and present collide.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

A century with the Penn Museum’s Sphinx

By Heather A. Davis

In 1913, a massive piece of granite arrived in Philadelphia that forever changed the scope of the Penn Museum’s collection.

This was the arrival of the Sphinx, an approximately 15-ton single piece of red granite from Memphis, Egypt. The Sphinx—the largest such stone sculpture in the Western Hemisphere and the sixth largest in the world—caused a stir when it landed in the city. According to a Philadelphia Inquirer article from October of 1913, “Its coming was unheralded and street car motorists, taxicab chauffeurs and pedestrians stopped all work to see the strange, solid sphinx, oblivious to the furor it was causing.”

It also helped put the Penn Museum and its then-fledgling Egyptian collection on the map.

“It helped us begin the Egyptological program, both at the Museum and at the University itself, and established this as the center for Egyptology as it is today,” says David Silverman, curator-in-charge of the Penn Museum’s Egyptian Section and the Eckley Brinton Coxe, Jr., Professor in the Department of Eastern Languages and Civilizations. “It anchored the Museum in a fantastic place.”

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Archaeologists Recover Ancient Boat Near Great Pyramid in Egypt

Wed, Sep 11, 2013

Team races time to uncover 4,500-year-old royal bark.

It was like looking at wood planks and timbers that were cut from their trees and shaped just a few decades ago. But these pieces were thousands of years old. About 4,500 years old, in fact. 

With a sense of urgency, a team donned in special white hazmat-like suites, gloves and face-masks, like surgeons, swiftly yet methodically removed, handled and examined scores of carefully and artfully cut pieces of wood. They were priceless, because these specimens were as old as the pyramids of Egypt and they were in danger of beginning to disappear before their excavator's eyes, like phantoms, if they weren't handled and processed appropriately. These were parts of Pharaoh Khufu's solar funerary vessel, anciently disassembled and packed meticulously into a stone pit grave beneath the sand at the foot of Khufu's great pyramid over 4,500 years ago. Khufu was ancient Egypt's Old Kingdom pharaoh at that time, or WAS before this boat was buried. But in 1987 the seal of the entombed boat had been breached and water, insects and fungi began to degrade the ancient, vulnerable wood. Severe damage had occurred as a result to some parts of the wood, and scientists found themselves in a race against time to recover the vessel before the outside world did more damage.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Museum Pieces - Mummy portrait of a young girl

Photocredit: Allard Pierson Museum (UvA)
Mummy portrait of a young girl

Painted on wood with laurel of gold leaf in her hair
Hight 302 mm
Roman Period, 50 - 75 AD
Inventory nr: APM00724

Allard Pierson Museum


Current exhibition at the Allard Pierson Museum:

Eternal Egypt Experience

Discover the vast history of Ancient Egypt in an unexpected way
12 July 2013 to 5 January 2014 

Eternal Egypt Experience. Discover the vast history of Ancient Egypt in an unexpected way. The heart of the experience is Culturama, a large multimedia show with nine, metre-high screens and a 180° view. In just 20 minutes a guide will take you through the highlights of Ancient Egypt - from prehistory, pharaohs and the great pyramids to the early-Christian Coptic era.

This exciting show is combined with a review of current Dutch and Flemish archaeological research in Egypt. Seven presentations allow visitors to experience work behind the scenes. What factors play a role in these archaeological excavations? How do the archaeologists go about their job, have their findings confirmed existing ideas and what new insights have these discoveries produced? A unique aspect of these excavation presentations is the overview they provide of the chronology of Ancient Egypt, reinforcing the narrative of the experience. Top pieces from the museum's own Egyptian collection, including a mummy, beautifully painted sarcophagi, crisp reliefs and sophisticated bronzes, illustrate the presentations.

Eternal Egypt Experience can be seen in the Allard Pierson Museum from 12 July 2013 to 5 January 2014.

Visiting address: Oude Turfmarkt 127, Amsterdam
Postal address: 94057, 1090GB Amsterdam
Telephone: + 31 (0)20 52 52 556
Fax: + 31 (0)20 52 52 561

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

8 Rulers of Ancient Egypt: Most Precise Timeline Revealed

By Laura Poppick, Staff Writer   |   September 03, 2013

The most precise chronology of Early Egypt yet suggests the country formed much more quickly than previously thought.

The new finding reveals a robust timeline for the first eight kings and queens of Egypt, including, in order of succession Aha, Djer, Djet, Queen Merneith, Den, Anedjib, Semerkhet and Qa'a. The accession of King Aha to the throne is often thought to define the start of the Egyptian state, with the new study suggesting (with 68 percent probability) that he became king between 3111 B.C. and 3045 B.C.

Existing timelines of Egypt's transition from a nomadic community along the Nile River to a permanent state are mainly based on changes in pottery artifacts found at various locations around the country. However, such timelines are flawed due to the subjectivity required to distinguish one pottery style from another, and because styles might vary from site to site without signifying a change in time period.

To create a more reliable timeline, archaeologists based at the University of Oxford have developed the most comprehensive chronological analyses of Early Egypt artifacts yet based on a computer model of existing and newly measured radiocarbon dates. The analyses suggest the rise to statehood occurred between 200 and 300 years faster than previously thought, beginning between 3800 B.C. and 3700 B.C., rather than the past estimate of 4000 B.C. The findings, which also suggest the preceding Neolithic period lasted longer than thought, are detailed Sept. 4 in the Proceedings of the Royal Society A.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Akhenaten: Egyptian Pharaoh, Nefertiti's Husband, Tut's Father

By Owen Jarus, LiveScience Contributor   |   August 30, 2013

Akhenaten was a pharaoh of Egypt who reigned over the country for about 17 years between roughly 1353 B.C. and 1335 B.C.

A religious reformer he made the Aten, the sun disc, the center of Egypt’s religious life and carried out an iconoclasm that saw the names of Amun, a pre-eminent Egyptian god, and his consort Mut, be erased from monuments and documents throughout Egypt’s empire. 

When he ascended the throne his name was Amenhotep IV, but in his sixth year of rule he changed it to “Akhenaten” a name that the late Egyptologist Dominic Montserrat translated roughly as the “Benevolent one of (or for) the Aten.”

In honor of the Aten, he constructed an entirely new capital at an uninhabited place, which we now call Amarna, out in the desert. Its location was chosen so that its sunrise conveyed a symbolic meaning. “East of Amarna the sun rises in a break in the surrounding cliffs. In this landscape the sunrise could be literally ‘read’ as if it were the hieroglyph spelling Akhet-aten or ‘Horizon of the Aten’ — the name of the new city,” wrote Montserrat in his book "Akhenaten: History, Fantasy and Ancient Egypt" (Routledge, 2000).

He notes that this capital would quickly grow to become about 4.6 square miles (roughly 12 square kilometers) in size. After his death, the pharaoh’s religious reforms quickly collapsed, his new capital became abandoned and his successors denounced him.

Akhenaten, either before or shortly after he became pharaoh, would marry Nefertiti, who in some works of art is shown standing equal next to her husband. Some have even speculated that she may have become a co-, or even sole, ruler of Egypt.