By Barbara Waterson
Last updated 2011-02-17
Aten was the sun-disk, the body in which the essence of the divine being was made visible. He rose to prominence in the reign of Amenhotep IV, who thought of himself as the embodiment of Aten. The king changed his name from Amenhotep ('Amun-is-satisfied') to Akhenaten ('Glorified-Spirit-of-the-Aten'), and designed an iconography in which Aten was depicted as a sun-disk with rays ending in hands.
Akhenaten and his wife, Nefertiti, moved to a new city, Akhetaten (Horizon-of-Aten - Amarna), where a trinity consisting of Aten, Re and Akhenaten himself was worshipped. Atenism was exclusive to the royal family, with no appeal to ordinary Egyptians: when Akhenaten died, it too died.
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