To begin this story we must travel back to around 1380 BCE – to the zenith of the 18th Dynasty, of the New Kingdom – ‘The Golden Age of Egypt’; to a time when the great pharaoh Amenhotep lll ruled over a vast empire; a time when the pharaoh’s influence extended far beyond the confines of Egypt to encompass a large areas of the Near East and the Levant.
Amenhotep lll ascended the throne when Egypt was powerful, peaceful and calm; inheriting one of the most glorious and wealthy dynasties ever to rule Egypt – the mighty 18th Dynasty.
Like his modern counterparts – ‘The Sun Kings of France’, Amenhotep lll was self-indulgent, self-aggrandising and self-promoting. Known as a king who loved ease, the arts and building on a vast scale, he built monuments, temples and palaces – at a rate that had not been witnessed in Egypt since the early, great pyramids of the 4th Dynasty of the Old Kingdom, some 1500 years earlier.
However, developing the sun-cult and associating himself ever-closer to the Sun God, he set in train religious changes, which some believe were to lead to cataclysmic events that were matchless in the entire 3000-year-long story of Ancient Egypt; events which, ultimately, led to chaos and turmoil across the land – chaos which was generated by his own son, Akhenaten.
And in my next talk: Akhenaten – Renegade or Religious Revolutionary – we see how Akhenaten, his son and heir, deeply entrenched in his own religious revolution, only accelerated that dangerous and calamitous slide towards destruction.