By Michael Wood
Last updated 2011-02-17
Two of the most fascinating figures in history are the beautiful Nefertiti and her husband the 'heretic' pharaoh Akhenaten. He broke with the old gods and built a new capital, where he could worship in a new way, at a place known now as Tell-el-Amarna, between Luxor and the Delta.
The great creator god, according to Akhenaten, was no longer Amun, but the most life-giving power of all, the sun (the Aten). In El-Amarna the king and Nefertiti could make a clean break with the past and commune with this new life spirit. Was this the first experiment with monotheism in history? Whether this is the case or not, certainly after just a few years the king and queen were both dead, the old rule was restored, and this city of religious dreams was abandoned forever. The lonely plain of El-Amarna is now a place to send shivers down the spine - especially in the abandoned royal tombs hidden up the arid wadis (water channels) to the east.
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