Moses, Monotheism–and Akhenaten

I recently read the book, “Akhenaten and Tutankhamun: Revolution and Restoration” (Silverman et. al. 2006). The book is 188 pages long. About half of those pages are taken up by image, the other half by text. Thus, in about 90-100 pages you can get an excellent introduction to history’s first monotheist—-or at least proto-monotheist—-accompanied by relevant photographs and maps.

Akhenaten’s story is quite compelling, and the text tells his story in a fluid, academically measured, and intelligent manner. I loved the way the writers walk you through the archeological evidence. I found myself thoroughly immersed in the text, and was able to finish it in half-a-day. Because Akhenaten built a city to his god Aten, and on the Pharoah’s death, the city was abandoned, there is a tidiness to the story, where you can enter into Akhenaten’s city and his life, as if entering another world for awhile.

Though the title of this book might suggest that an equal amount of time is given to Tutankhamun, in actuality this book is mostly about his father. Tutankhamun is only given one chapter out of nine–the last one.

The only weakness that I detected in the text is this: I would have liked to have seen a more thorough discussion of the aesthetics of Akhenaten’s representations in art and why they were so feminine–such as his rounded belly and mother-like hips–and what was being communicated by these gestures (perhaps he and his wife Nefertiti were sharing a co-regency?). In any case, the authors briefly touched on these things, but I had to search out other sources for more discussion and clarity on them.

Here’s the Amazon link to the book:

About Santi Tafarella

I teach writing and literature at Antelope Valley College in California.
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