Egypt, Akhenaten, Aton Monotheism
In an earlier article titled “Egypt, Ethiopia – Sudan, Abyssinia, the Freemasonic Orientalist Fallacy of Ethiopianism, and Nubia”, I expanded on the colonially masterminded project of fake identity projection on both, the Arabic speaking populations of Central Sudan, and the Semitic Amhara and Tigray Abyssinians.
Pan-Arabism was the fake doctrine fabricated by the colonial Orientalist academia in order to project the fake Arab identity onto the former.
Ethiopianism was the fake doctrine fabricated by the colonial Orientalist academia in order to project the fake Ethiopian identity onto the latter.
Then, in two subsequent articles titled “The Common Origins of Egypt, and Ethiopia – Sudan. Oromos, Arabic Speaking Sudanese, Nubians. I” and “Hamitic-Kushitic Origins of Egypt and Ethiopia / Sudan. Oromos, Arabic Speaking Sudanese, Nubians II”, I expanded on early periods of Prehistory and History (A-Group, C-Group, Kerma kingdom) of Ancient Kush – Ethiopia (Sudan).
I explored the earliest phases of Kushitic – Ethiopian civilization, the interaction with Egypt, and the mistaken use of the term ´Nubian´ for the monuments built and the historical states formed in Ancient Kush / Ethiopia, i.e. today´s Northern Sudan.
In Part III of the series, entitled “Egyptian Rule over Kush-Ethiopia, and Ahmose Nefertari, Foremother of Oromos and Sudanese. Part III” (http://www.buzzle.com/articles/egyptian-rule-over-kush-ethiopia-and-ahmose-nefertari-foremother-of-oromos-and-sudanese-part-iii.html), I focused on the period of Egyptian occupation of Kush – Ethiopia, which corresponds with the New Egyptian Kingdom, Egypt´s most glorious period of History.
I expanded on the Anti-Egyptian alliance between the Kushitic / Ethiopian kingdom of Kerma and the Asiatic invaders of Egypt, the notorious, Hyksos, and its implication with modern colonialism, on the liberation of Egypt from the Hyksos rulers, and on the cooperation of the Egyptian throne with the Kushite / Ethiopian noblesse opposing the Kerma rulers in view of the eradication of the latter. The interaction between the Hamitic – Kushitic Egyptians with the Kushite / Ethiopian noblesse was mainly a spiritual – religious – ideological search for authenticity, and for them all, the “good” had to prevail on both, Kemet (Egypt) and Kas (Kush / Ethiopia).
The Kushite / Ethiopian noblesse was present in the pharaonic court and high priestess Ahmose Nefertari, a Kushite / Ethiopian noble lady, was the Queen Mother of Amenhotep I. Backed by this cooperation, Thutmose I put an end to the “evil” kingdom of Kerma, and the entire Kas (Kush / Ethiopia) became part of Egypt – for more than 1000 km alongside the Nile, south of today´s Egyptian – Sudanese border, up to the vicinity of Atbarah.
In the present article, I will the rise and fall of the Egyptian imperial power, and the religious – spiritual revolution of Akhenaten of Egypt, who preached the monotheistic system that pre-modeled the Kushitic / Ethiopian monotheism and the later monotheistic Kushitic religions.
Egypt – Glory and Decadence of the New Kingdom
If one wants to summarize in one brief sentence three centuries of Egyptian radiation throughout the Middle East and Northeastern Africa, the following is quite sufficient:
A permanent strife between two priesthoods for prevalence and authenticity.
The two opposite priesthoods permeated the temples´ personnel, the court, the administration, the army and the society. They viewed their rightful rejection of one another in terms of human authenticity and orientation. Their views were diametrically opposed, and each of them considered their perception of the world as the only reflecting the purpose of the Creation, and of the existence of the Mankind.
This spiritual – religious – intellectual – ideological clash did characterize other countries as well; Mesopotamia, Anatolia, Canaan and other parts of the Middle East and the world have become the theater of similar debates and strives. In Egypt and Kush / Ethiopia, we identify the beginning of the opposition in the 4th millennium BCE.
It all reflects an opposition between a monotheistic approach to the perception and description of the Divine and a polytheistic system that highly personalizes the aspects of the Divine, and favours the use of pictorial representation of the Divine. The monotheists are virtually aniconic, which means they reject / oppose the use of icons, idols, statues and bas-reliefs. Polytheism and idolatry are identical.
The systematization of the two approaches in 4th – 3rd millennium BCE Egypt and Kush / Ethiopia involved the rise of the Heliopolitan, the Hermupolitan and the Memphitic dogmas and doctrines; the former two were monotheistic of character, whereas the latter represented an early polytheistic idolatry.
With the liberation from the Hyksos and the rise of Thebes a religious and political center for Egypt and Kush / Ethiopia, the different monotheistic and polytheistic concepts, principles and dogmas have been transferred within the same context of the Amunite mythology, namely the Theban doctrine which evolved around Amun of Thebes.
As Heliopolitan, Hermupolitan and Memphitic elements of theology have been projected onto Amun of Thebes, many different Amuns emerged, and people worshipped God differently while invoking Amun. To some, Amun was kind of Atum – Ra of Iounou (Heliopolis); to others, Amun was a replica of Ptah of Memphis.
This terrible schism would soon trigger dramatic sociopolitical earthquakes, as it did. The pharaonic family became soon a mirror of this religious clash. The son of Thutmose I, Thutmose II, got married with his fully royal half sister Hatshepsut to strengthen his claim to the throne because his mother was a lower rank wife of Thutmose I. The opposition between the son of Thutmose II, Thutmose III, and his aunt, Hatshepsut, reflects precisely the ideological clash of the aforementioned two priesthoods.
From Hatshepsut´s Theogamy to Akhenaten´s Monotheism
Thutmose III was the son of a secondary wife of Thutmose II, and to counter-claim the throne, Hatshepsut claimed she was the product of Theogamy (intercourse between a god and a human). According to her extensive narratives, in reality, her father was not Thutmose I (the grandfather of Thutmose III) but God Amun himself who appeared to her mother, Ahmose, in the form of the pharaoh, and within a nebulous environment of fine perfumes awakened her only to let her see him (god Amun) placing the non-material Ankh (life) in her nose. This divine intercourse ended in the immaculate conception of Hatshepsut, the foremost of the ladies, as her own name means in Ancient Egyptian.
The concept of immaculate conception is typically polytheistic and idolatrous of character, and Hatshepsut´s rise to the throne, after Thutmose II died, ushered Egypt into a period of polytheistic rule in the name of the Memphitic version of Amun. Thutmose III was too young to rule, Hatshepsut ascended to regency first, and ruled for 20 years, persecuting Thutmose III, who was saved by the monotheistic faction of the Theban priesthood of Amun. Typically for a polytheist, Hatshepsut denied to include in her pharaonic title the expression “Strong Bull” (although she was typically depicted with a manly beard!), because this associated the pharaoh with the Heliopolitan doctrine (the mythical Bull was perceived as son to Isis), a most loathed dogma for Hatshepsut.
When after 20 years of Hatshepsut´s reign, Thutmose III rose to power (regicide was widely practiced in the pharaonic court at those days), Egypt was a country that looked closer to the Hyksos evilness, and far from the wishes of the founding fathers of the ruling dynasty.
Aton: the rise of the world´s first spiritual – religious – ideological – political entirely monotheistic system
To eliminate the power of the polytheists, the monotheistic priesthood pursued a more radical approach, fully rejecting every idea of possible depiction of the Divine. But this could not happen all at once, and this could not happen with Amun, a corrupt material at the hands of the polytheistic priesthood.
The long rise of Aton (pronounced Iten in Ancient Egyptian), started at the times of Thutmose III. During the successive reigns of Amenhotep II (´Amun is satisfied´), Thutmose IV, and Amenhotep III (each succeeding his father in the throne after some years of regency, which shows the extreme concern for continuity), the references to, the evocations of, and the pleads for Aton (: the solar disc) were multiplied in geometric procession.
Then, at the times of Amenhotep IV, we attest a globally unique phenomenon, a revolutionary king proclaiming a totally new state, and launching a religious, spiritual, intellectual, political and social revolution of unequaled order. The Amun Theban polytheism was prohibited, the temples desecrated, the priests abolished, the practices prohibited, and the pharaoh, changing his name from Amenhotep to Akhenaten (“Spirit of Aton”) became the new religion´s foremost preacher, high priest, and public defender.
A new capital was erected in no-time, Akhetaten (´the city of the Horizon of Aton´, in today´s Tel el Amarna, ca. 320 km south of Cairo), the palace and the state administration were transferred there, and throughout the vast country, only temples dedicated to Aton were allowed to function, hosting no other rituals than hymns composed by Akhenaten and his monotheistic custody of Aton priests. The only possible depiction was abstract, a solar disc with rays ending in palms offering Ankh (Life).
Aton and the related spiritual – religious – intellectual – sociopolitical system, which is rather known as Atonism, represent the most authentic, the most complete and the more reliable system of monotheistic character that was ever imposed in a country worldwide.
Atonism had a colossal impact on the formation of the Biblical monotheism and the system preached by Moses to Egyptian monotheists and Hebrews in the Sinai. Entire sentences and verses from the Psalms are literal translations from the Hymns to Aton.
Atonism represents precisely the part of the Mosaic Law that attracted the interest of Jesus most, if we take into account the texts of the Gospels.
Atonism consists in the nucleus of the Islamic faith preached by Muhammad – more than 2000 years after Akhenaten; the revolutionary Egyptian Pharaoh fulfils all the Islamic criteria of Prophethood.
In addition, Atonism stands as the most comprehensive systematization of Hamitic – Kushitic monotheism preserved down to our days; all the later Hamitic – Kushitic systems of spirituality, faith, ideology and socio-behavioural values originate – through different channels – from Atonism.
This does not mean that Atonism was the earliest monotheistic conception ever; not at all. But it was the earliest known reassessment and systematization of earlier monotheistic faiths and systems that have not been preserved as such down to our times.
Atonism has distinct, Hamitic – Kushitic, characteristics of monotheism that make it look very different from the Semitic monotheisms, namely the Akkadian, the Sargonid Assyrian, the Biblical Hebrew, and the Islamic monotheisms.
In fact, the History of Ancient Kush / Ethiopia (and more particularly the Meroitic period) is impossible to be properly understood without a deep understanding of Atonism. Modern systems of Kushitic, non-Islamic, monotheism, notably the Oromo Waaqeffannaa and the Sidama religions, are impossible to be assessed in their true and diachronic dimensions without an extensive comparative study with Atonism.
No one is closer to the Oromo Waaqo and to the Sidama Kalaqaa Kaaliiqa than Aton.
When one understands that the elements chosen by Jesus in the Mosaic Law are all of Atonic origin and nature, one realizes how useless and vain it is for Oromos and Sidamas to accept Christianity, a polytheist idolatrous compilation in direct opposition to Jesus´ preaching, instead of preserving and reassessing their own traditional Kushitic monotheism in the light of Atonism and the Aton-related Egyptian Hieroglyphic texts that have been unearthed, deciphered and studied.
Atonism offers today´s Oromos and Sidamas an inexorable authenticity and an unmatched historicity that totally eclipses the insignificant past of Axumite Christianity, and that of the Axumite pre-Christian Yemenite Antiquity – let alone the fallacious compilation of Kebra Negast which serves as basis for the heretic, pseudo-Christian Amhara and Tigray racism.
Atonism: a Rift inside Egypt
But Atonism was at the times of 14th BCE Egypt an unprecedented rift. The shock of the clash with Amun Theban polytheism determined the Ancient Egyptian History for many centuries.
Atonism caused an unparalleled revolution in the Egyptian daily life; the forces of polytheism and idolatry were defeated, but not exterminated. The international environment could not possibly favour such a great break from polytheistic practices that were omnipresent in Mesopotamia, Canaan, Anatolia and elsewhere. Aton pacifism and tolerant spirit, along with the Atonist abstract universalism, absolute moral order, and spiritual focus on the non-material world and the Hereafter (which was not viewed as “death”) did not allow this doctrine to permanently survive in a world that had not yet experienced the worst.
The survival of Amun priests and military officers, who were loyal to the old polytheistic system, was the obvious reason for which Atonism collapsed; beyond the typically Egyptian practices of regicide, the system was weakened during the last years of Akhenaten, because the lack of great military exploits in Canaan was used by the Amun Theban polytheists as a means to politically discredit and publicly defame the pacifist monotheist Akhenaten.
After Nefertiti´s death (or assassination?), Akhenaten´s system did not last much. Following Akhenaten´s death, his younger brother Tutankhaten rose to power. The boy pharaoh was too young to possibly oppose the machinations of Ay, the old Amun priest, and the complots of Horemheb, an army officer. Tutankhaten was forced to change his name to Tutankhamen, as a sign of abolition of Aton´s monotheism, transfer the capital to thebes, and reinstitute the Theban polytheism. Ay and Horemheb succeeded the young pharaoh whose tomb unveiled unprecedented wealth and detrimental curse to the excavators.
Post-Aton Egypt was a deeply divided country whereby terror was extensively practiced against the supporters of the monotheistic religion who were still very numerous. It took less than 50 years after Akhenaten´s death for a pharaoh to sit on the throne of Egypt under the name of Seth, the Egyptian Satan (Seti I). In fact, the Amun Theban counter-revolution brought Egypt back to the days of the evil ideology of Hyksos pseudo-pharaohs (when one of these aliens was ruling under another Egyptian name for Satan, Apope / Apophis).
This could not be accepted by the monotheists, and we have many indications for social unrest, particular at the times of Ramesses II, whose extensive building activities seem to have been due to a need to keep people busy, and freeze the religious and political passions. This was not achieved, and we have clear indications that at the times of the successor of Ramesses II, Merenptah (1213 – 1203 BCE), Egyptian monotheists and foreign workers who shared the same monotheistic faith (Hebrews) left the country whereby life had become almost impossible for them.
The terrible strife totally destabilized the country. At the international level, the storm was gathering. When Ramesses III rose to power, Egypt had to face the menacing alliance of the Sea Peoples who “made a conspiracy in the midst of their islands” (according to the Annals of Ramesses III) and thence attacked and destroyed the Hittite Empire in today´s Central Turkey, Ugarit (the famous Canaanite city – library and foremost trade center on today´s Syrian Mediterranean coast, 5 km before the Turkish border), Amurru (Northwestern Syria), and the rest of Canaan.
Ramesses III had to fight three successive battles, and one naval battle to finally destroy the Sea Peoples (an alliance involving the Peleset – Pelasgians – Palestinians, the Tsekker – Teucres, the Sherden, the Sekelesh and the Washash / Ashuwa) and their Libyan allies. At the end of the reign of Ramesses III (ca. 1170 BCE), Egypt was totally exhausted and unable to control its Asiatic territory.
The Sea Peoples, the major threat against the World Civilization as identified for more than two millennia before this historical event, were dispersed (the Tsekker in Byblus, in today´s Lebanon; the Peleset in Palestine as modern Palestinians´ real ancestors; the Shelesh in Sicily to which they gave their name; the Sherden, originating from Sardes of today´s Western Turkey, to Sardinia to which they gave their name as well), but Egypt entered a long period of decadence (usually called Intermediate Period).
Kush / Ethiopia was still part of Egypt but the administrative rule could not be effective, after the end of Akhenaten´s reign. In the 8th year of Seti I, the Egyptian army was sent to defeat a Kushitic / Ethiopian rebellion. The Pharaoh did not accompany the army, but the young crown prince Ramesses II did replace his father. Here we probably have the proof of a reaction undertaken by the monotheistic Kushitic / Ethiopian noblesse that had not coped with the changes in Egypt after Akhenaten´s death, and the Amun Theban polytheistic re-instauration.
After his enthronization, Ramesses II campaigned again and quite extensively in Kush / Ethiopia (not Nubia, as erroneously said in the wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ramesses_II#Campaigns_in_Nubia). Two of his younger sons, Amuner Khepesof and Khaemwaset, accompanied him. Ramesses II carried out extensive architectural work in the area between the first and the second cataracts of the Nile, so in the vicinity of the Egyptian theoretical border. This suggests for careful changes in the local administration, and testifies to an interest to attract the sympathies of the local population. Ramesses II had temples built at Beit el Wali, Wadi es Sebua, Gerf Hussein, and the most famous of all, at Abu Simbel.
See details here:
The situation became dangerous at the times of Merenptah´s successor, Seti II, when Amenmesse rose as opposite king in Thebes. With Seti II losing control of his capital for two years (the third and the fourth of his reign) or perhaps even more, we can realize that the terrible conflict had not ended, despite the polytheistic re-instauration. Perhaps, Amenmesse was greatly supported by Messuwy, the Viceroy of Kush, who had been appointed by Merenptah, and Messuwy´s death (tomb S90) facilitated the efforts of Seti II to gain control over his disparaged capital. Siptah´s rule was very weak, and Asiatic military, Kushite / Ethiopian noblesse, priests and local administrators assumed greater control over the country´s affairs. Queen Twosret´s reign ended with a civil war, and thus this daughter to Merenpath and royal wife to Seti II failed to repeat Hatshepsut´s exploits. The only exception to them all was Ramesses III, Egypt´s most critical pharaoh who vanquished the Sea Peoples; but his concern was monopolized by the needs of Egypt´s defense from the North, the East and the West, as the Sea Peoples were the most lethal threat Egypt faced in its millennia long History.
Among his many successors who, due to the success of Ramesses III, bore the same pharaonic name, only Ramesses X campaigned in Kush / Ethiopia and left an inscription at Aniba and Ramesses XI faced a Nubian (Medjay), not Kushitic /Ethiopian, rebellion under Sermont. We know that Piankhy, the high priest of Amun of Thebes, returned from a campaign in Kush /Ethiopia, but we don´t know whether he was sent there by Ramesses XI or acted on his own; even less known are the reasons for this campaign.
At the days of Ramesses XI, Egypt was effectively divided into two parts with the Delta seceding from Thebes under Libyan influence; the South became thus somewhat isolated from the Mediterranean world, and more closely intertwined with Kush /Ethiopia. At the end, Ramesses XI exerted nominal power and Horihor the high priest of Amun become de facto the pharaoh of Upper Egypt. Horihor´s relations with Smendes, King of Lower Egypt, were characterized by both leaders´ minimal power and mutual impossibility to eliminate one another, as they both would have wished.
These were the days of Wenamun, a priest of Amun of Thebes, who traveled (ca. 1075 BCE) to Byblus of Phoenicia (still under Tsekker – Sea Peoples´ dominion) and left a Report of his trip that greatly clarifies the situation that prevailed in Egypt and Eastern Mediterranean.
Kush / Ethiopia remained united with Upper Egypt for several centuries but the prevailing forces were priestly and diffused the polytheist version of the Theban Amun doctrine; the mutual interest for cooperation prevailed in order to ensure a successful opposition to the Delta kings of Lower Egypt who with the support of Libyans repeatedly attempted to reunite Egypt under a monotheistic Heliopolitan doctrine.
Gradually the power shifted from Thebes to Napata that was not viewed anymore as only the ancestral center of Pre-dynastic Egypt and as the eternal abode of Amun, but also as a wealthy commercial center and a rising economic powerhouse. Progressively, the power shifted from Thebes to Napata, and a dynasty rose there to protect not only Kush / Ethiopia but also Thebes, against Heliopolis, the Delta Kings of Lower Egypt, and their Libyan allies. This will be the subject of a forthcoming article.
However, the monotheistic heritage of Atonism was not uprooted from Kush / Ethiopia; it was only oppressed. It would take centuries until it re-appeared again to turn Kush / Ethiopia into a battlefield between polytheistic priests and monotheistic qore (kings).