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Akenaten and his Family, Nefertiti praying to the sun-god Aton who provided his rays to the king and the queen. The sun rays end up with hands holding the key of life offering it to the royal family.
Akhenaten was a philosopher and a thinker, much more so than his forebears. His father Amenhotep III had recognised the growing power of the priesthood of Amun and had sought to curb it - Akhenaten however took matters a lot further by introducing the new "monothesitic" cult of worship to the sun-disc Aten. This was not a new idea, as a minor aspect of the sun god Ra-Horakty, the Aten had been somewhat venerated in the Old Kingdom. A large scarab belonging to Tuthmosis IV (Akhenaten's grandfather) has a text that mentions the Aten.
The major religious innovation of this reign was the worship of the sun disc Aten to the exclusion of the rest of the Egyptian gods, even Amun. Art took on a new distinctive style - the reliefs and stelae in the tombs and temples of Akenaten's reign show Akhenaten, his wife Nefertiti and the royal princesses worshipping and making offerings to the Aten, which was displayed as a sun-disc with radiating arms and hands stretched downwards (see pictures above). The names of other deities were removed from temple walls in an attempt to reinforce the idea of the Aten as a single supreme deity.
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