Monday, May 25, 2009

The Life and Times of Akhnaton


Arthur Weigall
Kennikat Press
NY/London
1910
Edition 1970
ISBN 0-8046-1102-5

This book originally published in 1910 was updated in 1922 by its author the late famous Egyptologist Arthur Weigall. The book opens with Mr. Weigall's 1922 preface in which he discusses the discovery of tomb 55 in the Valley of kings and the authors belief that the occupant found in the tomb was indeed the Pharaoh Akhnaton.

Mr. Weigall has a good argument of the identity of this mummy as he was the government inspector who oversaw the clearance of the contents of KV55. The author than goes on to a quick run down of the founding of the XVIII Dynasty leading up to Thutmosis IV and the introduction of the Aton in this reign.

From there the author moves on to an interesting examination of the art of the period and its connection with early dynastic styles as well as the influence of the young Kings Mother Queen Tiye over her sons early reign and the development of the religion of the Aton. As interesting as this is the suggestions of Mr. Weigall of the developments of the ensuing battle with the priesthood of Amen are from a highly enlightened man and reasonable.

The developments that were taking place during the kings 10th to 12 years of his reign including the great hymn to the Aton as well as other accompanying hymns are made suitable for the decorating the tombs of the nobles and the prominent role played by Queen Nefertiti are discussed. Mr. Weigall's view of Akhnaton is that of a sickly gentle enlightened homebody who completely in his pacifist ideals sacrificed his empire for his beliefs. The book culminates with the sad downfall of the visionary Pharaoh leading to his death.

In the last chapter Mr. Weigall finishes his description of the events and the many opening and closings of tomb 55 in the Valley of kings. The authors views in this matter is some of the most fascinating read of the book.

The life and times of Akhnaton by Arthur Weigall was fascinating and recommend it for people who may or may not be interested in ancient Egypt.

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