About Akhenaten

The Amarna Project

is currently excavating and preserving Akhenaten’s city, ancient Akhetaten, modern Tell el-Amarna

Akhenaten, the humanitarian Pharaoh of Egypt in the fourteenth century BC, first recognised the universality of God.  In his famous Hymn to the Aten (which shows similarity in thought and sequence to [the later] Psalm 104 of the Hebrews), Akhenaten saw the Aten as ‘the father and the mother of all that he had made’ and he based the universal sway of God upon his fatherly care of all people alike, Syrian, Nubian and Egyptian. –Jill Kamil, Christianity in the Land of the Pharaohs, The Coptic Orthodox Church.

Hymn To The Sun
By Pharaoh Akhnaton, c. 1360 BCE

Your dawning is beautiful in the horizon of heaven,
O Living Disk, beginning of life. When you dawn
In the East, you fill every land with your beauty.
Fair, mighty, dazzling, exalted above the lands,
You embrace all creation to your beloved son.
You are afar, yet your rays are on earth; our eyes
Enjoy you, yet we do not know your ways.
When you set in the western Land, the earth
In darkness lies like death. Heads wrapped, men sleep;
The eye knows not his fellow. Thieves may steal
Their goods beneath their heads: they know it not.
The lion prowls from his lair, all serpents sting.
The darkness is their only light in silence.
Their creator rests beyond the dark horizon. Earth brightens when your gleams rise in the East!
You banish night, shining as Aten of the daytime.
The Two Lands are in festival, darkness dispelled!
They wake and stand on their feet: you have raised them up.
They wash and dress, their arms raised in adoration.
The earth performs its labours: cattle graze
In peaceful pastures, trees and herbs grow green.
Birds rise from their nests, their wings raised in praise of
your spirit.
Beasts gambol, the winged ones live when you shine for them.
Boats sail upstream and down, all ways are open
At dawn: fish leap before your face, your rays
Plunge to the depths of the sea. O you, creator
Of seed to man, issue to woman, nurse,
That you soothe weeping from the womb, give breath,
Opening the child’s mouth completely coming forth
At birth, as you provide for all it needs.
The chick chirps in the shell–you give him breath,
Create his term and give him strength to peck,
Emerging to chirp and hop upon his feet. By how much your works pass our understanding,
Sole God, who has no like: there is no other.
Alone, you’ve made the earth and all that lives,
The lands of Syria, of Kush, of Egypt, All foreign lands, their different tongues and colours,
Their needs and nurture, natures, and their lifetimes,
For different men and women each a place.
For you we’re made, for us you are made weary ,
Great in majesty, Sun-Disk of the day,
With bringing the Nile from under the earth at your
pleasure.
Excellent your designs, O Lord of Eternity,
Sustaining alike the Egypts and foreign lands:
While Nile wells from the underworld for Egypt,
For foreigners a Nile falls from the sky!–
Down hills in waves like ocean’s, watering their fields,
Villages, and wild beasts that go on feet.
Your rays give suck to fields that grow to greet you.
To nourish us all, you created seasons,
Winter to cool, the summer to taste of your quality.
And for yourself, you have created a heaven,
To shine in alone, in your forms as Living Sun-Disk,
Dazzling, far-off, moving, an eye to behold them.
From you alone the myriad forms you created:
Towns and villages, fields, roads, and the river
All eyes behold you as Sun-Disk of the Day.
As you are, they see; you look through their sight. Oh, you are in the king’s heart, none else knows you
As he, entrusted with your plans and power,
How earth took life when you stretched out your hands.
When you shine they live, when you set, they die.
Yourself are lifetime, and in you all lives.
Eyes gaze on your beauty until you have set.
You bear yourself anew that they may work,
Rejoicing in your sight, as does your son,
To whom you did entrust them, Akhnaton,
Living on Ma’ at, on the Way of Things,
Lord of the Two Lands, Nefer-Khepru-Re,
To Wa-en-Ra, and so to her he loves,
Nefer-Neferu-Aten, Nefertiti,
Lady of the Two Lands, living and young forever.

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