Akhanaten & Nefertiti
Generations to come dubbed Akhanaten "the criminal of Amarna", for what he accomplished in Egypt had seemed impossible. He overthrew the old gods and replaced them with one figure: Aton. He dedicated temples throughout the land to Aton, constructing a new home for the god. At the side of the king was Nefertiti, one of the most beautiful and mysterious women in antiquity. She supported her husband's faith and became, with him, one of the most important evangelists of the new god. But the social structure was becoming unstable, for Akhanaten tended to reward the poor and destitute who transferred their allegiance to Aton with high positions. In contrast, he dismissed the wealthy people who supported the traditional supreme deity, Amon. And since he believed Aton was the only true god and the god of peace, Akhanaten prohibited any kind of warfare. As a result Egypt lost its dominant position in the region.
S01:E01 - The Sun was the Only Witness
When Akhanaten became Pharaoh of Egypt, around the year 1360 B.C., he kindled a religious revolution: He wanted to restrict worship to the Sun-god, Atun. Egypt had been a polytheistic realm for more than 2,000 years. It was an immense risk, here of all places, to attempt to found a religion with a single god. The visions of the ruler on the Nile opened up a new chapter of human history. The great temple of Thebes. This is where the Pharaoh initiated the struggle for his new religion. He sent a momentous message to the High Priest of Amun: The king ordered the construction of a new sanctuary honouring the hitherto insignificant god Atun. It was the largest place of worship ever planned in Egypt.
S01:E02 - The Curse of Amarna
A new chapter of Egyptian history began with the rule of Pharaoh Akhanaten. His visions would plunge the realm into an unpredictable crisis. The young king forced a revolutionary new faith on the people: They had to believe that only a single god could bring salvation: Atun, the burning sun. Only the ruler was Atuns mouthpiece on Earthit was the law. By Akhanatens side ruled Queen Nefertiti. Had the Pharaoh succumbed to her magical beauty? Even 3,000 years later, the final verdict has not been passed: Did the king lead his realm to disaster fully conscious, or was he only a puppet in the hands of a ruthless woman?
S01:E03 - The Mummies of the Heretics
The first rumours about a forgotten Pharaoh reached Europe in the middle of the 19th century. Was it Akhanaten? The first evidence was found by the scholar Richard Lepsius. He began documenting the treasures of Egypts ancient art in 1842. In tomb complexes and temples, his staff copied wall paintings and took casts of bas-reliefs. From Cairo, his journeys took him south. He kept an exhaustive diary about the work of the Royal Prussian Expedition at the stops on their journeyfollowing the Nile further and further upstream. In Middle Egypt, near the town of Asyut, Lepsius made an astonishing discovery. On both banks of the Nile he found traces of a Pharaoh whose name was missing from the traditional lists of kings. His curiosity was arousedfeverishly, he followed what hints the locals could give him.
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