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Neferkheperurewaenre (Amenhotep IV/Akhenaten)



As genetics and biology play a heavier role in archeology and history, we may identify many historical figures to newly discovered genetic diseases for our understanding of psychological and physical attributes of individuals. This is not an art yet, and as many problems that genetics seems to fine, we get as many more questions. One of the hardest pieces of the puzzle of genetics is frequency or strength of certain ailments from a mutant or dormant genes. One disease is not standard in strength; in fact it may have different levels of manifestation. A genetic marker strongly associated to a certain disease found in the DNA of an individual can only be produced with a sample from the body.  Akhenaten’s body has never been positively identified. We had to look to art of his time and to the body of his son.  One things that should be noted is that because his  uniqueness was in radical political and spiritual change to a different system of living than the Egyptians could handle, ( Were used to )  bringing on a catastrophic backlash to his changes,  possibly sheds light to why his family burial tomb’s were never finished, and why his body was never recovered.  We also look to the family structure and upbringing to shed light on his most peculiar activities.  In the New Kingdom, the power structure of politics in the society were now waning for the Pharaoh and focusing in on the power of the regional priests. This power that refocused its influence on a decentralization of the Pharaohs men, now focused away from them. . In this piece, I will try to outline a political agenda to that of possible disease associated with him. Also his family upbringing dominated by his mother and women from his religious untimeliness that nearly shattered a society. Akhenaton was a complicated man, and texts of the leaders were closely censured so that the public would see one side of the story. We can only speculate as to the man behind the persona who radically changed his societies ebb and flow and nearly brought-on a total civil war.


Most common beliefs at the moment about Akhenaton  was suffering from a disease or just a genetic disposition commonly known trait that manifests male feminism.  Hormones in a male body that are genetically transferred by alleles in the makeup of his parents genetics that cause a man to have more female hormones than male, causing overweight and feminine tissue buildup and feminine disposition. This build up of feminize hormones may have an affect on the Hypothalamus cycle and reproduce emotional reactionary episodes in a female life that colored his solution solving than the more male oriented reasoning and logic side of the brain. For example,  “When the first portraits of Akhenaton and his wife Nefertiti was uncovered they were thought to represent two women because of Akhenaton's body style. Akhenaton's sculptures usually show him with an elongated neck, protruding belly and a lower body form more closely related to the way women were depicted. In addition, Akhenaten was often shown in art with swollen hips and feminine breasts. For a while it was thought that Akhenaton was actually a “woman.” (Preston). It is also known through the enormous amount of art of his wife, Nefertiti, in a more masculine role, that she might have wore the pants in the family and indeed encourage a feminism side in him. It is also possible that this was at his own beckoning. The there is the more real possibility he was influenced by an over powerful mother who reared him while his father was usually away on business. He married a wife who mirrored his mother. In fact, Akhenaten may have had control over the more important kingdom decisions in his day, when he made them, but she may have had a more day-to-day authority to his outlook on life. On of the newer revelations of why was Akhenaten presented this way in the art was he may have suffered from some sort of disease.


One theory is of stunting sexual development of a disease known as Froehlich's Syndrome, an endocrine disorder found most commonly in men.  “The reason that Froehlich's Syndrome causes this lack of sexual development is that the gonads or sex glands (the testes, in men) don't function properly as a result of the impaired functioning of the pituitary. Froehlich's Syndrome also results in infertility, a lack of sex drive, and feminine fat distribution” (Aldred, C. 1988, Pg. 232).

“ If Froehlich's Syndrome occurs as a tumor in the hypothalamus, then hunger metabolism is affected, and obesity occurs” (Britannica, Vol. 5, 1992, Pg. 19). “Since the hypothalamus regulates the pituitary gland, it then also has the effect of stunting sexual development. Stunted physical growth occurs in either situation. Diabetes can also occur along with Froehlich's Syndrome. Sometimes the pituitary will become overactive and cause an overgrown jaw and skull deformities” (Aldred, C. 1988, Pg. 232).


“The most recently suggested possibility for Akhenaten's supposed pathology is a genetic disorder known as Marfan's Syndrome. This is a more likely possibility than Froehlich's Syndrome, as it does not affect intelligence or fertility” (Burridge, A., 1995), (Redford, D., 1994).

”Marfan's Syndrome was first described by a French doctor named Antione B. Marfan, who reported that some of his patients had especially long fingers (he called this arachnodactyly, or spider-fingers), skeletal abnormalities (including arms that were disproportionately long), and high, arched pallets. He also noticed spine defects” (Wieczorek, Riegel, & Quattro, 1996).

“Antione noted that these traits seemed to be inherited, and it is now certain that Marfan's Syndrome is a hereditary disease, and the gene for it is autosomal dominant” (Wieczorek, Riegel, & Quattro, 1996).

“Akhenaten, despite the fact that he is shown as a eunuch in some of the artwork from his time, seemed to be quite fertile (we know that he fathered six children, possibly more), did not seem to show stunted physical growth, and was definitely not obese. Another symptom of Froehlich's is severe mental retardation” (Burridge, A., 1995), and it is apparent from literary works by the king that he was not at all retarded.  Therefore, it is unlikely that Akhenaten had Froehlich's Syndrome, and historians have turned to another option: Marfan's Syndrome.


Marfan Syndrome is an inherited disorder of the connective tissues which affects many organ systems, including the skeleton, lungs, eyes, heart and blood vessels. The condition, first described by Dr. Marfan in 1896, can affect both men and women of any race or ethnic origin. Connective tissue "connects", provides structural support, and determines the elasticity of the body's organs, bones, and ligaments. In Marfan Syndrome, the connective tissue in the heart, lungs, eyes and skeletal systems can stretch and weaken. It is now known that a single abnormal gene located on chromosome 15 and containing the coding for fibrilin, a connective tissue protein, is responsible for the syndrome. Most of the time this gene is inherited from a parent who is affected. About 30% of cases occur when the abnormal gene arises in an egg or a sperm of an unaffected parent. Each child of a Marfan sufferer has a 50-50 chance of inheriting the syndrome” (Marfan p.1)

“Skeletal abnormalities that have been noticed in Marfan's patients are a long face, an unusually tall stature, a short upper body in comparison to the lower body (because they have a short ribcage), and overgrown ribs. The latter results in chest deformities such as Pectus Excavatum (funnel chest) or Pectus Carnatum (pigeon breast). A wide pelvis, elongated skull, and prominent shoulder blades are other symptoms” (Burridge, A., 1995). One of the most distinctive characteristics of Marfan's Syndrome is unusually long arms, fingers, and toes. These skeletal problems can show up in either childhood or adolescence, and sometimes they do not show up at all (Wieczorek, Riegel, & Quattro, 1996).  It should be noted that Akhenaten had an older brother, Tuthmose, who died at an early age. Perhaps if Marfan's Syndrome did run in the family, Tuthmose's early death was a result of some of the complications associated with the disease. As well, Radiograph and X-rays of Tutankhamun’s body found an “absent ribs and sternum that possibly could have caused a massive cardiovascular failure as a consequence of Marfan’s Syndrome” (Reeves p. 188).


Did Akhenaten really have any kind of ailment at all? There is certainly a possibility that there was nothing wrong with him. Any conclusions drawn simply from looking at artwork are highly questionable.  If historians three thousand years in the future were to come to the same sorts of conclusions from looking at today's political cartoons, for instance, they would probably think that just about every president or political leader that the U.S. has ever had suffered from some kind of bizarre disorder. A good many people have offered alternative explanations as to why Akhenaten was portrayed so strangely.


”One theory is that it was some form of religious symbolism. Because the god Aten was referred to as "The mother and father of all human kind," it has been suggested that Akhenaten was made to look androgynous in artwork as a symbol of the androgyny of the god” (Aldred, C. 1988, Pg. 235). Akhenaten posing as the god himself on earth surely would need to poses the androgynous qualities of the creator god. Out of the primordial water came both ‘male and ‘female.’ It was extremely important for Egyptians to establish themselves as pictures of the ‘first cause.’ This is the reason that national gods were moved and usurped in importance throughout Egyptians history. ““Egyptian religions were both personal and nationalistic. It was personal to each individual or family; private and  interwoven with a sense of personal right and wrong; with a  personal shrine or "niche" in every house to the personal gods or  goddesses. It was nationalistic because usually the place of the  national seat of government determined the overall thought and  public morality of the period”” (Poe, Sec II).


In this case the term “primordial mound,” Atum, a neter of primordial light, emerged from the dark sea of Num through an act of self awareness and the first rays of Atum’s light fell upon this primordial mound. This concept held that ruler ship came-out from this location, so the moving of the “primordial mound” was a big deal politically. Effectively, this religious aspect was the tie-into the political arena that establishes dictatorship that ran the Egyptian society - Something that the Americans are aware of, the battle between the separations of church and state. With Akhenaten’s father trying to fix cracks in his kingdoms that were developing, Akhenaten’s mother raised him and most possibly influenced him a great deal.


Tiye, the beautiful Chief Queen of Amenhotep III and mother of Akhenaten, was the matriarch (in which the line of descent goes through the women rather than the men) of the Amarna family. “Tiye was probably not full Egyptian. While her mother bore distinctly Egyptian features, her father did not. He had an unusual build for an Egyptian, so some have speculated that he may have been Asiatic” (Lorenz p.1). Although Akhenaten father was a powerful masculine ruler he did however succumb to Tiye’s subtitles. Tiye must have viewed her son as special in the feminine qualities and did nothing to discourage this. Amenhotep III was too busy with his projects to pay too much attention to his budding daughter-son. In fact, most of his fathers reign was not at his knee in tutelage, but off away from him prepping for the kingship. This was possibly a huge mistake and not unusual as some fathers just don’t like their sons and under pressures of societies make a plastic face of approval.

Family therapists say that many of the problems that women have with men can be traced to how men were reared by their mothers. The old adage "like father, like son" needs correcting in Akhenaten’s upbringing. More appropriate is "like mother, like son." For the mother-son connection determines to a great extent not only what sons think about themselves but also what they think about women in general. Indeed, “wise women have always known that the best way to determine the quality of a man is to evaluate his relationship with his mother” (Norment).

Dominant women have sprung up in history over and over again, and it is not far-fetched to understand this was the case in not only his mother, but his choosing a mother-like- figure as his main wife in Nefertiti. For here in one poem we get a picture of his mother’s influence over ones father in Egyptian culture at that time.


“Teye, your mother, knows all the words that I spoke with your father. No one else knows them. You  must ask Teye, your mother, about them so she can tell you. . . . And may my brother listen to nothing  from anyone else” (Amarna Tablet 28, Trans. by Alder, in Moran, 1992). From this we can gather that Tiye was not only Amenhotep III's trusted adviser and confidant, but that she also played an active part in politics abroad” (Moran).


Women in ancient Egypt would be ahead of their time. Later they could not only rule the country, but also had many of the same basic human rights as men. For example, One of the first women to hold the rank of pharaoh was Hatshepsut, who began her rule in about 1,500 B.C.E.  This treatment of women would have a profound affect in the future of Egypt and most likely started at this time.


The Hereditary Princess, Great of Favor, Mistress of happiness, Gay with the two feathers, At hearing whose voice one rejoices, Soothing the heart of the King at home,
Pleased at all that is said, The great and beloved wife of the King, Lady of the two lands, Neferfefruaten Nefertiti, Living forever” (Amenhotep IV, poem about his wife, Queen Nefertiti).


It is most likely that Nefertiti told Akhenaten, what to eat, how to walk, and how to look.  Most probability   Akhenaten was deeply in love and was controlled on all levels and his own version of religion didn’t affect his wife in the least because all she was looking for was a powerful man who she could project herself, mirrored in him, to the world.  Akhenaten was accused of not facing the priests who wanted more control of the Egyptian society. He would have to go to war with them soon and this is possibly one reason he changed from the establish religion to a monotheist perspective trying to out psych the opposition for his advantage. It has long been proven that the female half of our species is less combative and more peace-loving on the whole.

This caused one fascinating dilemma for the man. He was not like his predecessors. In order for one to be a Pharaoh of Egypt, you needed a strong manly authority and tireless strong arm resolve. No! Akhenaton was none of this. This is one reason why invasions plague his reign from all over the regions of Egypt.  He was a purely intellectual who combined liberal values in exchange of a conservative past, thus disrupting for a short time Egypt’s long standing traditional culture which has brought upon him immortality, historical recognition, wonderment, puzzlement, and need to know abnormality of the human condition from all who study ancient Egypt.


Here was a man who didn’t want to acknowledge his biological parents or connections with them. He threw all the old traditions away and began an unseen or heard from religion. 2000 plus gods holds the Egyptian pantheon of antiquity, yet what fascinates us about Akhenaton is that somehow he wanted to change all this for a new religion that he knew would upset the establishment. Was he bold or was he searching his soul for self recognition because he could not live up to his predecessors? I tend to view the later as fact.


Akhenaten does not seem to have claimed that he was the biological offspring of Amenhotep III and Tiye. He may have been inventing the ‘virgin birth’ scenario to give him one-upsmanship to all his detractors. According to John Tuthill, a professor at the University of Guam, Akhenaten's reasons for his religious reform were political.


Amenhotep IV changed his name to Akhenaton, meaning "the Servant of Aten" early in his reign. Whereas his father, Amenhotep III, had sought to reduce the increasing power of the priesthood, Akhenaton practically dismantled it. Akhenaton started his reign as most Egyptian kings. But fairly early in his reign he introduced a monotheistic worship of Aten, the Sun God. At first he attempted to place temples for next to temples for other gods. Eventually he closed all the other temples and took their revenues.

In the process of this religious revolution, Akhenaton placed him self as the intermediary between Aten and the people. This helped eliminate the need for the priesthood. As the only one with access to the god, Akhenaten established himself as a god-king and became the first king to be called Pharaoh. For example, both the Bible and Qur'an agree that the King of Egypt was called Pharaoh during the time of Moses. Other gods were abolished, their images smashed, their names excised, their temples abandoned, and their revenues impounded. The plural word for god was suppressed. This is a complex dilemma in that we seen this behavior in the 20th Century of the communistic empire leaders of China, Cambodia , Laos and U.S.S.R. They literally changed the books of history nearly destroying the entire past of its peoples. When Akhenaten was destroying the statues of Amun at the temple of Luxor, the people were not too happy.

One thing that this politically turnabout caused was revenue of all now went to the young Pharaoh. The priesthood was the old established community go betweens that created jobs and looked after the publics interest as well as mediating the kings wishes. Now the centralized alter was Akhenaten himself and his proclamation that he was the go between of the only god in heaven. Akhenaten being the king had considerable traditional power and the public could not just over through him for it was incomprehensible to go after a position that had such a historical mainstay of the Egyptian peoples. This did not mean that the populous was happy. In fact, most hated him as a megalomaniac, but keep tight-lipped in order not to get in trouble with him.

He preached love and peace and worship of the sun, but underneath he kept to himself most of the time of his fathers reign. If he demanded that you worship him, you could only see that the people did not like an obviously different picture of a weak-king to that of a more worshipped masculine –warrior king. This caused him to move away from the major cities in search of solitude where he knew he would not be assassinated – something that possibly happened to his son, Tutankhamen.

The politics resulting in an effort to move away from a growing established cult of Amun caused nearly a civil war. On thing in particular was that the new god, Aten, was only accessible to Akhenaten himself. He made this a rule over his people. This meant that others could have no spiritual attachment with Aten.

'Thou arisest fair in the horizon of Heaven, 0 Living Aten, Beginner of Life…there is none who knows thee save thy son Akhenaten. Thou hast made him wise in thy plans and thy power”( Hymn to the Aten ). No longer did the dead call upon Osiris to guide them through the after-world, for only through their adherence to the king and his intercession on their behalf could they hope to live beyond the grave.

One thing in politics I believe in and is a mainstay of American governing system is a need for approval polls, something that Akhenaten did not take into consideration. If he did, he would have found out that the majority was in disfavor and only the small elite of criminals that monetarily benefited from his excessive revenue rules would agree. This brings to mind the modern Iraqi leader who took tens of billions of dollars in the last 12 years and built lavish palaces at $1 billion apiece and let over one million of his people die of exposure and starvation.

”The standard bureaucracy continued its endeavors to run the country while the king courted his god. Cracks in the Egyptian empire may have begun to appear in the later years of the reign of Amenhotep III; at any rate they became more evident as Akhenaten increasingly left government and diplomats to their own devices. Civil and military authority came under two strong characters: Ay, who held the title 'Father of the God' (and was probably Akhenaten's father-in-law), and the general Horemheb (also Ay's son-in-law since he married Ay's daughter Mutnodjme, sister of Nefertiti). Both men were to become pharaoh before the 18th Dynasty ended. This redoubtable pair of closely related high officials no doubt kept everything under control in a discreet manner while Akhenaten pursued his own philosophical and religious interests.”

“At first, the king built a temple to his god Aten immediately outside the east gate of the temple of Amun at Karnak, but clearly the coexistence of the two cults could not last. He therefore proscribed the cult of Amun, closed the god's temples, and took over the revenues.  He then sent his officials around to destroy Amen’s statues and to desecrate the worship sites. These actions were so contrary to the traditional that opposition arose against him. The estates of the great temples of Thebes, Memphis and Heliopolis reverted to the throne. Corruption grew out of the mismanagement of such large levies. To make a complete break, in Year 6 the king and his queen, left Thebes behind and moved to a new capital in Middle Egypt, half way between Memphis and Thebes. It was a virgin site, not previously dedicated to any other god or goddess, and he named it Akhetaten-The Horizon of the Aten. Today the site is known as el-Amarna.” (Lorenz).

It is from here that he will continue the destruction of the past and subsequent murder of the old system for the new. In a move to further distance he created a new capital at Akhenaton now known as el-Armana. This sacred city had never been occupied prior to Akhenaton's moving his capital nor did it outlast Akhenaton's reign. After Akhenaton's death the backlash forced his son, Tutankhamen to reverse the move to monotheism and return to the worship of many gods. Then they possibly killed him for the hatred of his father. This period of change during Akhenaton's reign has become known as "The Armana Revolution" or "The Armana Interlude".

Amenhotep III (1391-1353 BC) reigned for nearly forty years, an extremely long time when compared to other pharaohs. He and his wife Queen Tiye had at least six children: two sons and four daughters. The eldest son, Thutmose V died at a young age and Amenhotep IV became the prince regent. The art and religion of Amenhotep III's rule will be discussed shortly, but it should be noted that in the celebrations of the three jubilees held in his 30th, 34th, and 37th regnal years it is noted that the king took pride in the fact that he had consulted the 'writings of old' for their planning (Epigraphic Survey , 1980). So, at least in politics it seems that Amenhotep III was quite traditional if not a bit “conservative” (University of Southern California).When Akhenaten’s father was now dead Akhenaten changed to the Aten almost overnight. “With the celebration of the Karnack jubilee, a significant change occurred in the manner in which the Aten was represented. The old, falcon-headed god disappears, replaced by the new, hieroglyphic form seen in the Ramose relief’s: the soon-to-be ubiquitous solar disc extending rays of life and dominion to the noses of the Pharaoh and his queen. Accompanying the new depiction of the god is the same didactic name encountered in the earliest of Amenhoteps IV’s representation of the god – the mantra which lays such particular emphasis on the light which, for the new pharaoh, was considered the true essence of the solar theology. Now, significantly, this mantra is contained within Akhenaten’s two cartouches” (Reeves, p. 400). The new shift brought on by the king nearly destroyed the kingdom. The Amun priesthood fought with surprising resistance. This may have hardened Akhenaten that is seen in his move to Amarna and his isolation. The worst thing to due when ones a ruler is show no difference to your subjects, noted in Marie Antoinette isolation and “let them eat cake” attitude to her subjects.

Coming off the heals of possibly knowing about a concept of monotheism, the extraordinary different young king of Egypt, felt, the inner difference of his soul. He was not a traditional warrior god like his ancestors or father. In effort for him to make up his importance in order to stand out in the crowed to be noticed, he may have latched on to an already established system of belief by the Hyksos people.

Egyptian texts make no distinction between Hebrews and Canaanites. They are simply grouped together as 'Hyksos (Sherperd Kings) and Asiatics,' or 'people of the bow,' or 'the people beyond the sands [of Sinai]. No reference to Joseph or Moses has been found in Egyptian records. The solitary reference to Israel (Ysraer, r = L), in a stele of Mer-En-Ptah or Mineptah (ca. 1225 B.C.E.) seems to refer to Israel in Palestine rather than in Egypt.  Herodotus tells us that “Egyptians are religious, far beyond any other race of man," - a characteristic manifestly displayed in all their records (Carter p.8)

Whatever fascinates us about the history of this man of Egypt, only thing in I can say about Akhenaten is that of the feminine and masculine differences in his person caused major shifts in political possibilities of succeeding generations of women rulers in Egypt. Jesus’ new covenant known to the world as Christianity takes a peaceful and objective stance in face of aggression, where as women ruled civilizations are known to champion peace and abstain from promoting or engaging war, while feminizing or regulating men to a inferior position, in which the men become more artistically creative and imaginative and the women more logical in reason. We cannot disregard the battle over the priesthood escalating regional power and Akhenaten’s insecurities that forced him to make this radical change from tradition.

The symbolism seen here could be reminiscent of brother Set take-over of Egypt and the title, ‘God of the Living,’ that of “Osiris’” banishment. Akhenaten was not well liked by his people, something that cannot be said of Jesus or Moses followers. “Akhenaten's religious ideas did not survive his death. His ideas were abandoned in part because of the economic collapse that ensued at the end of his reign. To restore the morale of the nation, Akhenaten's successor, Tutankhamen, appeased the offended gods whose resentment would have blighted all human enterprise. Temples were cleaned and repaired, new images made, priests appointed, and endowments restored. Akhenaten's new city was abandoned to the desert sands” (Library of Congress Country Studies).

Akhenatens diseases are disputed by a change in the art depicting him during his earlier years and that of later years. The later years show grotesque aspects of his appearance on the monuments. One may attribute this to the field of artistry of the later years and not a realist rendition of the man. However, toward the building constructed during his final years of his reign, show a more orthodox portraiture of his family. Was he concerned about the future of his legacy?  At this time we know that most of the country objected to the Aten and was a time of upheaval in the kingdom. Things were on the change.

One may argue that the pictures of him in the company of his wife and six daughters points not to Frohlich’s Syndrome at all, yet their is one more aspect to look at. He may have just wanted to present a picture of himself as a moral family man to his subjects, something that is not beyond a political ploy. Another point is, that it has been suggested that the co-regent of his later time as Pharaoh, ““Semenkhkare, fathered two daughters of Akhenatens two daughters, named Meritaten-ta-sherit and Ankhesenpaaten-ta-sherit, "ta-sherit" meaning junior”.  The timing considerations of Semenkhkare seem improbable”” (Aldred p. 234).  This brings up the question that incest was practiced in part by possibly more than just Akhenaten in Egyptian royal circles possibly leading to many genetic incompatibilities with normalcy.

Modern science has noted many disfiguring DNA strings due to indiversity (not diverse) of DNA codons due to family s breeding within the family circle. This includes many decades of study by scientists at animal kingdom level. Many deformities arise in physical aspects of the body, but most notably the brain wiring can be affected as well. Inheriting a gene defect by your family produces a ratio significantly much higher than from someone not in your family genes. As well, mutations are more prevalent due to complications of no diversity in allele mixing. The Consequence of inbreeding is that two alleles are copies of an identical ancestral allele. For example: in biology, mating of closely related organisms. Inbreeding is chiefly used as a means of insuring the preservation of specific desired traits among the offspring of purebred animals, but continued inbreeding through many generations reduces the chances for diversity of characteristics in the offspring and tends to reduce vigor and fertility. The fact that Akhenaten was not a warrior like his father points a picture that inbreeding was in fact his cause of his ways of pacifism. In English history, many documented facts that inbreeding caused defects in royal families that showed no normal traditional aspirations. Therefore, the necessarily uncontrolled cases of inbreeding among humans (as in closed societies or within royal families) have generally proved deleterious, and inbreeding is therefore discouraged in most societies?

Akhenatens six daughters may prove that he was in fact vary fertile man. So why was he so different? I tend to look back on the love of the mother figure and her control that affected him. As well incest over generations of one side of his family may have caused his pacifism as the real cause of his self-centeredness and isolationism from facing the priests in his kingdom to iron out differences and to come to a compromise to the recognition of his new religion. He therefore hid himself away and didn’t want to face the circumstances avoiding his duty and relying on the notion that kings of past of Egypt always got what they wanted. This was not the case for him. Egyptians at this time were changing from pharaoh dominance to priestly control. His line fell away almost immediately after his death. Although the art style of Amarna eventually vanished after the reign of Akhenaten, “it continued to influence Egyptian art far longer than his other reforms had influenced any other aspect of Egyptian culture. The beauty of Amarna art, especially that of the later Amarna period, still fascinates people today.” (Moran).





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