The Life and Times of Akhnaton by Arthur Weigall

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The Life and Times of Akhnaton by Arthur Weigall
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The Life and Times of Akhnaton by Arthur Weigall

From the intro: “The reign of Akhnaton, for seventeen years Pharaoh of Egypt (from BC 1375 to 1358), stands out as the most interesting epoch in the long sequence of Egyptian history. We have watched the endless line of dim Pharaohs go by, each lit momentarily by the pale lamp of our present knowledge, and most of them have left little impression upon the mind. They are so misty and far off, they have been dead and gone for such thousands of years, that they have almost entirely lost their individuality. We call out some royal name, and in response a vague figure passes into view, stiffly moves its arms, and passes again into the darkness. With one there comes the muffled noise of battle; with another there is laughter and the sound of music; with yet another the wailing of the oppressed drifts by. But at the name of Akhnaton there emerges from the darkness a figure more clear than that of any other Pharaoh, and with it there come the singing of birds, the voices of children, and the scent of many flowers. For once we may look right into the mind of a king of Egypt and may see something of its workings; and all that is there observed is worthy of admiration. Akhnaton has been called “the first individual in human history”; but if he is thus the first historical figure whose personality is known to us, he is also the first of all human founders of religious doctrines. Akhnaton may be ranked in degree of time, and, in view of the new ground broken by him, perhaps also in degree of genius, as the world’s first idealist; and, since in all ancient Oriental research there never has been, and probably never will be, brought before us a subject of such intellectual interest as this Pharaoh’s religious revolution, which marks the first point in the study of advanced human thought, a careful consideration of this short reign deserves to be made. The following pages do not pretend to do more than acquaint the reader with the subject, as interpreted in the light of recent discoveries. A series of volumes have been issued by the Egypt Exploration Fund, in which accurate copies are to be found of the reliefs, paintings, and inscriptions upon the walls of the tombs of some of Akhnaton’s disciples and followers. In the year 1893 Professor Flinders Petrie excavated the site of the city which the Pharaoh founded, and published the results of his work in a volume entitled “Tel el Amarna”.

The Life and Times of Akhnaton by Arthur Weigall is one of Henry Miller’s favorite books.