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Quiz about Akhenaten the Heretic Pharaoh
Quiz about Akhenaten the Heretic Pharaoh

Akhenaten, the Heretic Pharaoh Quiz


Young Amunhotep was never meant to be pharaoh. But the death of his older brother catapulted the young man and his unorthodox religious views into unparalleled power, and as Akhenaten this young pharaoh changed the face of Egypt.

A multiple-choice quiz by CellarDoor. Estimated time: 6 mins.
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Author
CellarDoor
Time
6 mins
Type
Multiple Choice
Quiz #
258,905
Updated
Dec 03 21
# Qns
10
Difficulty
Average
Avg Score
7 / 10
Plays
1651
Awards
Top 5% quiz!
Last 3 plays: Guest 68 (6/10), Zannie7 (9/10), Guest 207 (7/10).
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Question 1 of 10
1. The man who would later rule as Akhenaten was named Amunhotep at birth. His father was a pharaoh of Egypt's powerful Eighteenth Dynasty; his mother was not a concubine, but rather the Great Royal Wife, wielding substantial power in her role. Who were this child's parents? Hint


Question 2 of 10
2. On the death of his older brother, Crown Prince Thutmose (now best known for the sarcophagus of his pet cat), the future Akhenaten was unexpectedly next in line to the throne. What step is his father thought to have taken to prepare him for pharaohdom? Hint


Question 3 of 10
3. The future Akhenaten clearly spent much of the early part of his reign planning the upheaval of the old religious order, but one tradition he had no trouble with was that of the pharaoh having multiple wives. It is, however, his main wife who has captured the imagination of the modern world. Who was his Great Royal Wife, a woman of legendary beauty? Hint


Question 4 of 10
4. In Year 4 of his reign, Amunhotep IV launched religious reforms that would change the heart of Egyptian life. Breaking with hundreds of years of worship of gods like Amun, Ra, and Osiris, the pharaoh decreed that his god -- the Aten -- was supreme. In the traditional religion of ancient Egypt, who was the Aten? Hint


Question 5 of 10
5. In Year 5 of his reign, the pharaoh made still more bold changes. He changed his own name from Amunhotep IV to Akhenaten ("Servant of the Aten") and made arrangements to move his capital to a completely new location, one untainted by the old gods. He named his capital Akhetaten, "Horizon of the Aten." What is the modern name of this planned city? Hint


Question 6 of 10
6. In Year 9 of his reign, Akhenaten decided to raise the stakes. No longer arguing that the Aten was merely the supreme god of the Egyptian pantheon, he declared that the Aten was the _only_ god. He banned all idols except for the symbol, surrounded by rays of light, that represented his god. In the art of the time, with what did the rays of light commonly end? Hint


Question 7 of 10
7. The art of Akhenaten's reign is vibrant and distinctive. Portraits of the royal family showed them in natural poses, even going so far as to demonstrate affection for each other! The portrayals of Akhenaten himself are particularly unusual. How was he represented in art? Hint


Question 8 of 10
8. Akhenaten's later reign was marred by a plague that struck both Amarna and the whole of Egypt before spreading to the rest of the Middle East. At least two of his youngest daughters perished in the pandemic, along with the king of what nation opposed to Egypt? Hint


Question 9 of 10
9. Despite important events in foreign and domestic politics, Akehnaten is best remembered for his dramatic reform of his nation's religion. Did his reforms endure beyond his death? Hint


Question 10 of 10
10. In the last century, some scholars have been eager to assign Atenism greater influence than there is direct evidence for. Headed by Ahmed Osman, some even argue that Akhenaten himself was one and the same as what major figure of monotheist religious history, a man who is traditionally associated with Egypt? Hint



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Quiz Answer Key and Fun Facts
1. The man who would later rule as Akhenaten was named Amunhotep at birth. His father was a pharaoh of Egypt's powerful Eighteenth Dynasty; his mother was not a concubine, but rather the Great Royal Wife, wielding substantial power in her role. Who were this child's parents?

Answer: Amunhotep III and Tiye

Amunhotep III, known as Amunhotep the Magnificent, ruled all Egypt for some 38 years (between approximately 1388 and 1350 BCE), with his Great Royal Wife Tiye at his side. The royal couple had at least two sons (Thutmose and Amunhotep/Akhenaten) and four daughters; some Egyptologists have theorized that Amunhotep may have had one or two much younger sons, Smenkhare and/or Tutankhamen. Genealogies become very complicated when records have had more than three thousand years to be lost!

Amunhotep the Magnificent's reign was peaceful, prosperous, and filled with brilliant artistry. Egypt was at a peak of its power, and this was reflected in the pharaoh's public works and ambitions. Sadly, his son's reign would not be marked by peace ...
2. On the death of his older brother, Crown Prince Thutmose (now best known for the sarcophagus of his pet cat), the future Akhenaten was unexpectedly next in line to the throne. What step is his father thought to have taken to prepare him for pharaohdom?

Answer: A coregency, where father and son ruled together for several years

The coregency of Amunhotep III and Amunhotep IV lasted either two or twelve years; partly because of the purposeful destruction of so many of Akhenaten's records, it's been very difficult for Egyptologists to pin down the exact succession. A coregency was not uncommon for the era, but was often - well - psychologically difficult for both principals.

It has been suggested that a rivalry with his father - living or dead - may have driven many of Akhenaten's excesses.
3. The future Akhenaten clearly spent much of the early part of his reign planning the upheaval of the old religious order, but one tradition he had no trouble with was that of the pharaoh having multiple wives. It is, however, his main wife who has captured the imagination of the modern world. Who was his Great Royal Wife, a woman of legendary beauty?

Answer: Nefertiti

Nefertiti, probably the daughter of Akhenaten's adviser Ay, married her husband before he ascended the throne. Her name means "The beautiful woman has come," and the surviving busts of her only add to her reputation. There is evidence that Akhenaten trusted and respected her, giving her an unusual amount of power; art of the period shows her in poses that were usually reserved for pharaoh himself.
4. In Year 4 of his reign, Amunhotep IV launched religious reforms that would change the heart of Egyptian life. Breaking with hundreds of years of worship of gods like Amun, Ra, and Osiris, the pharaoh decreed that his god -- the Aten -- was supreme. In the traditional religion of ancient Egypt, who was the Aten?

Answer: The disk of the sun

The Aten was the sun itself -- thus the word "the," which wouldn't have been attached to a more personal god like Horus. There was already a sun god, of course, the powerful and widely worshipped Ra (an Egyptian Apollo to the Aten's Helios), but for reasons that baffled his contemporaries, Amunhotep IV gave his allegiance to the Aten instead.

By decreeing that the Aten was supreme (and, later, that the Aten was in fact the only god), the pharaoh made enemies of the enormous religious industry in his country. At the same time, of course, he was co-opting their vast power, wealth, and influence to himself. As the only son of the Aten, the pharaoh was the only one who could intercede with him; all of Egypt had to direct their worship through their king. The advantages to the pharaoh were obvious.
5. In Year 5 of his reign, the pharaoh made still more bold changes. He changed his own name from Amunhotep IV to Akhenaten ("Servant of the Aten") and made arrangements to move his capital to a completely new location, one untainted by the old gods. He named his capital Akhetaten, "Horizon of the Aten." What is the modern name of this planned city?

Answer: El-Amarna

The city was planned and built by Akhenaten, and was abandoned fewer than ten years after his death. (There is some evidence that it was partially inhabited for somewhat longer, but this was probably to facilitate raiding the city for building materials.) It was also, briefly, occupied by the Romans.

El-Amarna (named after the Beni Amran nomads, who lived on this part of the Nile from the 1700s forward) is an important archaeological site, not only because of interest in Akhenaten's rule, but also because it is the most pristine existing ruin of an ancient Egyptian city. It's unclear, of course, whether this city was really representative of ancient Egypt -- it was founded under highly unusual circumstances -- but it is still a fascinating and fruitful area to study.
6. In Year 9 of his reign, Akhenaten decided to raise the stakes. No longer arguing that the Aten was merely the supreme god of the Egyptian pantheon, he declared that the Aten was the _only_ god. He banned all idols except for the symbol, surrounded by rays of light, that represented his god. In the art of the time, with what did the rays of light commonly end?

Answer: Hands

The ubiquitous rays may have represented the Aten's omnipresence as an unseen spirit; the hands, drawn especially on those rays that fell on the Aten's royal worshippers, may have indicated support and benediction.

In addition to banning the idols that had graced the tombs and temples of Egyptians for centuries, Akhenaten ordered the destruction or defacement of numerous temples to Amun, and even arranged the removal of inscriptions that referred to "gods" in the plural.
7. The art of Akhenaten's reign is vibrant and distinctive. Portraits of the royal family showed them in natural poses, even going so far as to demonstrate affection for each other! The portrayals of Akhenaten himself are particularly unusual. How was he represented in art?

Answer: As a strangely shaped man, with narrow limbs and face, a round belly and feminine hips

Breaking with the almost universal royal tradition of heroic poses, handsome faces and well-formed bodies, Akhenaten preferred to be portrayed with almost exaggerated ugliness. There are several theories as to his motivation. Perhaps it was religious; Akhenaten may have wanted to show himself as representing both male and female characteristics in his embodiment of the Aten on Earth. Perhaps he merely desired artistic accuracy; unlike other pharaohs, he was never known for his athleticism, and the apparent shape of his body is consistent with Marfan's syndrome.
8. Akhenaten's later reign was marred by a plague that struck both Amarna and the whole of Egypt before spreading to the rest of the Middle East. At least two of his youngest daughters perished in the pandemic, along with the king of what nation opposed to Egypt?

Answer: The Hittites

The Hittites were a powerful ancient people whose civilization began as a confederation of trading states in what is now central Turkey. From one generation to the next, the emperors expanded their sphere of influence and power until they controlled the Mediterranean's eastern shores and bordered on Egypt itself. Egyptian foreign relations of this period were heavily guided by apprehension about their neighbors, who were justly famed for their prowess in shaping iron and building chariots. These tensions peaked in the Battle of Kadesh (1274 BC), only about sixty years after the end of Akhenaten's reign. Perhaps the largest chariot battle in history, this fight between Rameses II and Muwatallis ended inconclusively; one of the earliest known international peace treaties followed sixteen years later.

Suppiluliuma I was the king who fell prey to the Egyptian plague, which may have been the world's first outbreak of influenza. Suppiluliuma had spent his reign gobbling up Egyptian vassal states in what is now Syria and Israel, so Akhenaten cannot have been sorry to see him go. His heir, Arnuwanda II, perished soon after.
9. Despite important events in foreign and domestic politics, Akehnaten is best remembered for his dramatic reform of his nation's religion. Did his reforms endure beyond his death?

Answer: No. The old gods were restored during the reign of Tutankhamun, the next pharaoh who ruled for a significant period of time.

Almost immediately after Akhenaten's death, Akhenaten's capital was abandoned and the old gods (with the associated priesthood) were restored to prominence. Akhenaten had raised the child Tutankhaten as his successor, but the boy (advised by Akhenaten's own advisor, Ay) changed his name to Tutankhamun in Year 3 of his reign, signaling a clean break with Atenism and a return to the old religion. Over the course of the reigns of Tutankhamun, Ay, and Horemheb, temples to the Aten were destroyed for reuse as building materials, and Atenist inscriptions were defaced and erased. Horemheb went still further, attempting to erase Akhenaten and his successors from history: the official lists of pharaohs claimed that Amenhotep III was followed directly by Horemheb.

As we'll see in the next question, some students of the period have a tendency to get overexcited about Akhenaten's innovations, calling him a founding father of monotheism. These ideas seem to overstate his importance: while his reforms are interesting, and clearly caused a several-decade upheaval in Egyptian society, his religion did not survive his death and did not spread beyond a few elite members of the royal circle -- and there is evidence that even those elite members did not really believe! (See, for example, Akhenaten's chief advisor Ay, who is almost certainly responsible for Tutankhamun's return to tradition.) Akhenaten was not a prophet; his was, ultimately, a failed experiment.
10. In the last century, some scholars have been eager to assign Atenism greater influence than there is direct evidence for. Headed by Ahmed Osman, some even argue that Akhenaten himself was one and the same as what major figure of monotheist religious history, a man who is traditionally associated with Egypt?

Answer: Moses

Sigmund Freud began this craze, positing that Moses was an Atenist priest who had fled Egypt with his followers after the old Egyptian gods were restored. Ahmed Osman and his supporters extended this idea to argue that Akhenaten was Moses himself. In defense of this speculation (which is completely unsupported by mainstream Egyptologists), they point out a similarity between the word "Aten" and the Hebrew name "Adonai" for God; a resemblance between the Great Hymn to the Aten and Psalm 104 of the Bible; and the fact that Akhenaten's reign seems to predate the first archaeological evidence for Judaism.

There are, of course, vast discrepancies between this tale and the history of Moses as it has been recorded in the Book of Exodus (which is, after all, the sole written record of Moses's existence -- what's the point of talking about Moses at all if the account in the Torah is rejected?) For example, the story told in Exodus cannot be separated from the idea that Pharaoh and Moses represented two different people -- else why would Pharaoh reject Moses's demands out of hand, and why would Pharaoh's army chase the Israelites? Even the most basic outlines of the story are markedly different; the Atenists were the powerful elite of Egyptian society under Akhenaten, bearing no resemblance to the brick-baking Jewish slave laborers described in Exodus. One must also question why the Great Hymn / Psalm 104 would have survived nearly intact, when the origin story of Judaism changed so very much; Moses was not the founder of Judaism or the first monotheist in the Bible, after all. An argument of literary license will only take one so far: it's hard to see why God showing Himself to Pharaoh wouldn't have made a pretty good story, too.

I will not comment on those overexcited individuals who claim in Akhenaten "the first example of the scientific mind" or the "first romantic." He was a man, an interesting one, but a real one. He had grand and mystical ideas but could not build a solid enough foundation for them to survive him. He was hardly the first human being whose visions were larger than he or his people could support; in the whole history of mankind, uncountable dreams have crumbled to dust.
Source: Author CellarDoor

This quiz was reviewed by FunTrivia editor DakotaNorth before going online.
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