Akhenaten's Hymn to Aten

Worship (Re-Horakhty who Rejoices in the Horizon) (In his Name as the Shu who is in the Aten Living forever and ever, the  Living Aten, the Great One who is in Jubilee, Master of all that the Aten encircles, Master of Heaven, Master of the Earth, Master of the Per-Aten in Akhet-Aten; and the King of Upper and Lower Egypt, the one Living on Maat, Master of Regalia (Akhenaten), the long Lived; and the Foremost Wife of the King, whom he loves, the Mistress of Two Lands (Nefernefru- Aten Nefertiti), living, well, and young forever and ever. He says:

The praise of the sun-god Thou appearest beautiful in the horizon of the sky, O living Disk, beginning of life! When thou risest in the eastern horizon, Thou fillest every land with thy beauty. Thou art beautiful, great, Resplendent and exalted over every land. Thy rays encompass the lands To the extent of all things which thou hast made; (Since) thou art Re, thou bringest then all, Thou subjectest them to thy beloved son (though) thou art afar, thy rays are on earth; Thou art on their faces (and thus they feel?) thy steps.

(When) thou goest to rest in the western horizon, The earth is in darkenss, in the condition of death. (Men) lie in their chambers with their heads wrapped up; One eye seeth not the other. Their belongings are stolen (even when) lying under their heads, And they notice it not. Every lion cometh from his den, All serpents bite, Darkness (is their protection?) The earth (resteth) in slience (While) he who made them is in his horizon.

The earth is bright when thou risest on the horizon, Resplendent as the sun disk in day-time. Thou removest darkness (When) thou sendest thy rays. Both lands are in festival joy, Awakening and standing on (their) feet; Thou hast raised them up. Their limbs being bathed, they take (their) clothing; their arms are (lifted) in worship at they rising; (Thereupon) all the land perform their toil. All cattle rejoice in their grass; Trees and herbs are greening The birds are flying from their nests (seshu) Their wings are (lifted) in worship to thy being; All (wild) animals skip on their feet; the birds and all things fluttering (Feel) alive when thou hast arisen for them. The ships sail (on) the stream up and down alike; Every way is open when thou arisest. The fish in the rivers leap before thee; Thy rays are in the innermost of the great ocean.

Creator of issue in women, Maker of seed in men, who preserveth alive the son in his mother's womb And keepeth him quiet that he weep not, A nurse (for him even) in the (maternal) womb. Who giveth breath to keep alive all that he maketh; (When) it descendeth from the womb on the day of its birth; Thou openest its mouth, giving it voice; Thou makest what it doth need.

The young bird crieth in the shell (Because) thou givest it breath within to preserve its life. When thou hast given it strength to open the egg, It cometh from the egg to cry with full strength. It runneth on its feet When it cometh forth from it.

How manifold are (the things) which thou hast made! They are mysteries before Thou only god, whose place none else can take!

Thou hast created the earth according to thy heart Thou being alone Men, flocks, and all animals, Whasoever is on earth, Going on feet, Whatsoever is high in the air, flying with its wings, The foreign lands, Syria and Ethiopia, (And) the land of Egypt.

Thou assignest every man to his place, Thou makest what they need. Each one hath his food, and his lifetime is counted. The tongues are distinguished in speech; their forms and their skins are differentiated; (Thus) thou didst distinguish the strange nations.

Thou madest the Nile in the lower world. Thou bringest him according to thy liking. For furnishing life to mankind, As thou hast made them for thyself, Thou, their lord, (lord) of them all, Resting among them, Thou lord of every land Who ariseth for them, O sun-disk of the day, great of power!

All foreign countries, the remote, thou makest life for them; (Because) thou has placed a Nile in the sky, It descendeth for them; It maketh waves on the mountain like the great ocean, irrigating their fields in their towns.

How excellent are thy plans, O lord of eternity! Thou (hast established) the Nile in the sky for the foreign lands and for the wild beasts of every mountain country wandering on their feet; (But) the Nile cometh from the underworld for Egypt.

Thy rays nourish every green spot; (When) thou risest, they live and they grow for thee.

Thou hast made the seasons To produce all that thou makest; The winter to cool them, The (season of) heat (when) they (really) taste thee. Thou didst make the sky far away to rise in it and to behold all that thou makest.

Thou art alone, rising in thy forms as a living disk, appearing, shining, departing, and (again) drawing nigh. Thou makest millions of forms from thyself alone, Cities, villages, and tribes, Highways and rivers; every eye beholdeth thee before them (When) thou art the disk of day-tiem above (them). "Thou art in my heart. None other is there who knoweth thee except thy son, Akh-en-aten; Thou hast made him wise in thy plans and in thy power.

The (whole) earth is at thy command as thou hast made them. When thou hast risen, they (feel) alive. When thou hast set, they (feel) deed. (Thus) in thyself thou art lifetime; People live from thee; (All) eyes (are fixed) on they beauty until thou settest; All work is stopped (when) thou settest in the west.

Arising, thou makest (everything good) grow for the king Who hath been a servant following thee for thou hast founded the earth And raised it up for thy son, the one who came forth from thy limbs, the king of Upper and Lower Egypt,  Living in truth, lord of both countries,

Nefer-khepru-re (The Best of the Forms of the Sun) Ua-n-re (The Only One of the Sun) Son of the sun, living in truth, the lord of diadems, Akh-en-aten. Long (be) his life, And the chief royal wife, beloved of him, The mistress of both countries, Nefer-nefru-aten, Nefert-iti, Who liveth and flourisheth for ever and for eternity.

The City of Akhenaten (Amarna)

Pharaoh Akhenaten, his beautiful wife Queen Nefertiti, and his son Tutankamun were all part of this dynasty. During this time one of the most dramatic changes in Egypt took place: Akhenaten built a new city, Amarna, for a god named the Aten, and outlawed all other gods. The Amarna period, sometimes called “The Amarna Experiment,” resulted in some of the best-known art, tombs, writing and records of ancient Egypt. That is why, even though the period was only around 30 years long, it is one of the most famous in Egyptian history.

Imagine you could have the power to shape the world around you to build a city, change a religion and live as the representative of god on earth. It’s hard for people today to think of this kind of power, but it was the power that Pharoah Akhenaten wielded in Egypt during the Amarna period.

During his rule, from 1353 to 1336 BCE, Akhenaten changed Egyptian life in a big way. He moved the capital city of Egypt from Thebes to Amarna, then known as Akhetaten, a city he constructed on what had been just a piece of desert. There he created a new religion, new religious leaders and new temples. His influence lived on beyond his death.


Visualization  of  an  Atenist  temple

You may know that throughout their history, ancient Egyptians worshipped many gods and goddesses. These deities each had histories and Egyptians believed they interacted with each other. Together, they were believed to influence everything from health to rainfall to the afterlife.

Everyday Egyptians kept images of the gods and goddesses in their homes, and communicated with them. Making offerings, celebrating religious holidays and preparing complex funerals were all a part of Egyptians’ constant interactions with their gods.

Akhenaten was born into this world of many gods. At that time, Amun Re was the most important of the Egyptian’s gods. Amun Re was a mysterious god with many abilities, but he appeared to the people as the sun. A powerful group of priests served Amun-Re.

When Akhenaten became king around 1353 BCE, he began to make changes. He declared that there was only one god who could be worshipped - the Aten —- and he declared that as the pharaoh he was the only person who could communicate with this god. Why did Akhenaten make this huge change? Some people think he wanted to get rid of the powerful priests of Amun Re, whose power could challenge the pharaoh’s. Other people think that Akhenten was totally dedicated to the Aten, and that he was one of the first people in history to express unique and personal thoughts on spirituality. The Aten literally meant “the disk of the sun.” Akhenaten searched for a place to build a new city for the Aten.He found it in a spot where the sun appeared to rise from an eastern valley and spread its light over a broad piece of land in front of the Nile River. The new city was named Amarna, “horizon of the Aten.”

The pharaoh lived at Amarna with his family. As a result, all the government officials, artists, builders and families who served the king moved there, too. Life in Amarna revolved around the Aten.

As the population grew, the city stretched north and south along the Nile, which was the source of water for the wells the people of Amarna dug into the desert. Official royal buildings and the temples of the Aten were concentrated in the heart of the city. Suburbs, where most people lived, surrounded the center of the city.