Ancient Egypt Akhenaten

Akhenaten was an ancient Egyptian pharaoh who abandoned traditional Egyptian polytheism and introduced worship centered on the Aten.

Akhenaten tried to change Egypt’s tradition to his culture, but most did not accept it. 
After his death, his monuments were dismantled, his statues were destroyed, and his name was excluded from the king lists.

Until the discovery of Akhetaten, the city he built and designed for worshipping Aten at Amarna, Akhenaten had been forgotten. 

Akhenaten’s mummy was found in KV55 (tomb in the Valley of the Kings), but its identification as the father of King Tutankhamun is disputed.

He died in 1336 or 1334 BC and is buried in the Royal Tomb of Akhenaten.

Akhenaten Facts for Kids

  • Akhenaten was a Pharaoh for 17 years
  • His father was Amenhotep III, who was also called Amenhotep the Magnificent
  • Akhenaten was known as the ‘Rebel Pharaoh’ because of his views
  • Akhenaten’s wife Nefertiti was said to be the most beautiful woman in the world
  • Akhenaten tried to stop Egyptians from following their old gods.  He also had the old temples broken down.
  • Art had to look realistic
  • The Egyptians tried to hide the fact that Akhenaten had ever been a Pharaoh
  • Akhenaten’s son was called Tutankhaten or King Tut

Young Akhenaten

Akhenaten was not very happy as a child.

He liked his mum but did not get on very well with his dad.

Some historians believe that his dad did not love Akhenaten.  But other historians think that they did like each other.

As a boy, Akhenaten was taught to believe in lots of different gods called, Amun, Horus, and Thoth.

When he grew up, Akhenaten did not believe in all these gods, he believed in a single god called Aten.

Akhenaten felt that Aten was the only god that people should believe in.

Making Changes

Art depicting a family of Akhenaten making offerings to the Sun

When Akhenaten was crowned Pharaoh, he was still called by his birth name, Amenhotep IV.

After being in power for about five years, Amenhotep IV changed his name to Akhenaten.

He changed his name to show his belief in a new god called Aten.

His new name meant ‘Living spirit of Aten’.

When Akhenaten was first crowned as Pharaoh, the people of Egypt could still follow their old gods.

But after he had changed his name, he wanted the people of Egypt to only believe in Aten as well.

Akhenaten closed the temples for the old gods and had new temples built for his god.  He also had the statues and paintings of the old gods destroyed or broken.

This did not make the Egyptian people very happy with Akhenaten.

As well as new temples, Akhenaten also built a city for his new god.  The town was called Akhetaten, but it is now known as Amara.

The city was huge and became the capital of Egypt when Akhenaten was Pharaoh.

A new royal palace and the Great Temple of Aten were built in the city of Akhetaten.

After Akhenaten’s death, the new capital city was abandoned, and people did not return to live there.

The Royal Beauty

Like many other Pharaohs, Akhenaten had lots of wives.  His main wife was called Nefertiti, and she ruled with him.

Nefertiti was mighty and very beautiful.  She was thought to be the most beautiful woman in the whole world.

After Akhenaten

After Akhenaten died, his oldest son Smenkhkare became the new Pharaoh.

However, his time as King only lasted for about a year, and he died.

Art from this time shows that after Smenkhkare died, there was a female Pharaoh.  Lots of historians have said that the female Pharaoh was Nefertiti, but it is not really known who she was.

The female Pharaoh was in charge of Egypt before Tutankhaten became the new Pharaoh.  Tutankhaten was one of Akhenaten’s sons, and he helped Egypt to go back to following their old gods.

Akhenaten’s name was taken off the list of people who had been Pharaohs because the Egyptians felt very upset with what he had done.

What did you learn?

What was the name of the god that Akhenaten wanted everyone to follow?

Queen Nefertiti was the most beautiful woman in the whole world.  True or false?

Akhenaten had a new city built.  True or false?

How long was Akhenaten the Pharaoh for?
17 years

Who was Akhenaten’s famous dad?
Amenhotep III