The pharaoh Akhenaten, who ruled Egypt in the mid-fourteenth century BCE, has been the subject of more speculation than any other character in Egyptian history. Often called the originator of monotheism and the worlds first recorded individual, he has fascinated and inspired both scholars of Egyptology and creative talents as diverse as Sigmund Freud and Philip Glass. This provocative new biography examines both the real Akhenaten and the myths that have been created around him. It scrutinises the history of the pharaoh and his reign, which has been continually written in Eurocentric terms inapplicable to ancient Egypt, and the archaeology of Akhenaten's capital city, Amarna. It goes on to explore the pharaohs extraordinary cultural afterlife, and the way he has been invoked to validate everything from psychoanalysis to racial equality to Fascism. It makes the point that our view of Akhenaten has never been purely based on historical or archaeological knowledge, but is a cultural hallucination, influenced by western desires about ancient Egypt and modern struggles for legitimation and authority.
Combining up-to-date historical synthesis with extensive new archival research, Akhentaen: History, Fantasy and Ancient Egypt is the first book to assess critically why the archaeology of ancient Egypt continues to fascinate. Theoretically astute yet engagingly written, and illustrated with many striking images never previously published, it will appeal to anyone with an interest in Akhenaten or in the archaeology of ancient Egypt.