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Transition 18th - 19th dynasty; Role Amun priesthood
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VBadJuJu
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 29, 2005 8:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

maahes wrote:
Horemheb was ill informed and his actions and inactions left us with Seti and his ways. Egypt never recovered.


Methinks the decline of Egypt began long before Horemheb. The vast expansion begun under the early Thutmosides led to a long golden age of prosperity and peace. But early signs of decline can be seen in the reign of Amenhotep III.

If anything, Horemheb forestalled and even faster decline by restoring a modicum of luster to Egypt's reputation in the region.
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 29, 2005 3:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

VBadJuJu wrote:
If anything, Horemheb forestalled and even faster decline by restoring a modicum of luster to Egypt's reputation in the region.


And maybe even set Egypt on the road to a recovery towards another golden age under Seti I and Ramses II?

I still find it rather peculiar that there are (to my knowledge at least) any great buildings constructed during Horemheb's reign. The largest building project may have been the Speos? That one seems to have been built at the site of an ancient quarry. Interesting, but it doesn't leave me with the impression that it's a grand monument.

I'm sure he added on to the site at Karnak and Luxor. But still considering the time he spent on the throne, erecting monuments seems to have been rather low on his list of things to do Very Happy

Maybe busy with other affairs?
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VBadJuJu
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 29, 2005 6:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

anneke wrote:
And maybe even set Egypt on the road to a recovery towards another golden age under Seti I and Ramses II?


Possibly, but I see it as more of a brief respite in an inevitible decline. The 'empire' was never so large, wealthy or peaceful as it was at the start pf Amenhotep III's reign. Neither Horemheb nor Ramssses reclaimed the territory and vassals lost under A-III and Akhenaten though they did restore some of their reputation in the region.

I think one of the factors in its decline was the profligate building under A-III and spending under Akhenaten on ephemeral monuments and Nefer-NeferLand. Later when Ramesses II had to outdo A-III as proof of his own Greateness (when coupled with a too long of reign) you get a kingdom unable to pay workmen under Ramesses III a mere 100 years later.

I cant remember who, but someone offered the idea that the Phaorah was essentially bankrupt by the middle of Akhenaten's reign. This was due to his building projects but also the giant donations to the priesthoods by T-III et al. In effect, Egypt was a victim of its own success. This also may have been part of the motivation behind Akhenaten's actions.
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 30, 2005 1:00 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The Egyptian Empire had to decline like all earthly empires must decline.
I remember from reading Daniel about all the great kingdom.
It's like this soldier said in an Sign of the Cross. "Egypt, Babylon,Greece...Rome.What empire can be stronger yet?" The guy next to him says. "A stronger faith, perhaps?"
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 30, 2005 3:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

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This also may have been part of the motivation behind Akhenaten's actions.


How so?
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 30, 2005 4:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The book I read that in went into great detail on it from T-I to Akhenaten's time, but basically it goes like this:

There was a somewhat natural growth in attention to the Aten From Thutmosis I thru III. In that time is when it begins to include the divine determinative indicating it is a god, not just a disk. At some point a priesthood must have formed making it a formal cult, though it would be small and minor and exactly when is hard to tell.

The Amun priesthood got a big windfall via thanks from the early Thutmosides after they expelled the Hyksos and extended the Egptian boundaries. Then they began dabbling in politics. The successor to Thuthmosis II being uncertain, the statue (god) of Amun nods or winks to Thuthmosis III at a festival thus giving him the omen he needed to gain the throne. They were also complicit in providing support for Hatshepsut's usurpation-light via the creation scene in her tomb.

The Amun pristhood thus gets another HUGE windfall in the reign of T-III from his many successful campaigns. Maybe partly as a payoff, who knows.

But their growing power and wealth (by one estimate they had 75%+ of the farmland) by the time of Amenhotep III made the king jealous and nervous. So his early and many references to "The Splendor of the (divine) Aten" may have been a subtle way of raising up an eventual rival to the Amun cult. His elder son (the good one) was also given a spot in the Amun cult.

That the king was running out of money is suggested by the 2 and 3 month stays in various other cities where the local nomarch would have to feed and house the king during his stay. Other monarchs in history have done the very same thing when strapped for cash.

By the time of Akhenaten, there was certainly already an Aten priesthood, some special Tjehen Aten city (whereabouts unkown) and even some sort of Army regiment named after the divine Aten.

Thus, the possibility exists that Akhenaten siezing the gold and wealth (but apparently not the land) from the Amun cult it was a political act and much like that of Henry VIII siezing the wealth of the monastaries, simple greed. In usurping the role of the Aten priests and putting himself center stage he was preventing substitution of one cult for another.

The question is whether it was a planned thing between A-III and Akhenaten or whether Akhenaten's role was on his own and sort of trying to one up his father (Pharaohs were quite fond of trying to outdo their predecessor, so dont scoff), or whether he just went overboard.

The possibility exists that aquiring the throne where the once glorious wealth and power now lay with the Amun priests, that Akhenaten just reached out and took the gold back that other kings had bequeathed, and did so under the guise of religious reform. It would certainy explain the shabby and barbones theological aspects of Atenism.

HTH
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 30, 2005 4:26 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
This also may have been part of the motivation behind Akhenaten's actions.


This makes sense to me from that perspective. It must have been vexing to many pharaohs to have to donate so much land and wealth to the temples (and really that means the powerful priesthoods), knowing that the lands as well as animal herds could not be taxed by the state. This would have been draining on the economy. Akhenaten's closing of certain temples and especially the burgeoning Temple of Amun would have been a practical albeit regrettable scheme to lessen the load on the economy.
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ImageOfAten
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 30, 2005 4:31 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

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But their growing power and wealth (by one estimate they had 75%+ of the farmland) by the time of Amenhotep III made the king jealous and nervous.


The Amun priests would have made me nervous too!

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The question is whether it was a planned thing between A-III and Akhenaten or whether Akhenaten's role was on his own and sort of trying to one up his father (Pharaohs were quite fond of trying to outdo their predecessor, so dont scoff), or whether he just went overboard.



It could have been a little bit of both. It is possible that Amenhotep III and Akhenaten had planned something together, and once A3 died Akhenaten may have pushed things as far as he could for the sake of his theological beliefs and at the same time trying to out-do his father.
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 30, 2005 4:48 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
The book I read that in went into great detail on it from T-I to Akhenaten's time, but basically it goes like this:


A very interesting post, VBadJuJu. Puts the deliberate rise of Atenism in a whole new light, and provides another good example of the state using religion to strengthen its hold (and your mention of the Henry VIII example is quite apropos).

I don't know that I'm convinced the priesthood of Amun controlled 75% of the arable Nile land (seems to me that alone would absolutely cripple the government), but there can be no question it held significant lands and wealth.

This argument also throws Akhenaten in a new light. Given this he's not some religious nut with a zealous agenda but a calculating and scheming monarch (again, like Henry VIII Very Happy ). I would probably agree with ImageOfAten that it wasn't quite so cut and dried and in fact was a combination of factors...all of them politically expedient to Akhenaten, though.
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VBadJuJu
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 30, 2005 5:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

kmt_sesh wrote:
I don't know that I'm convinced the priesthood of Amun controlled 75% of the arable Nile land (seems to me that alone would absolutely cripple the government), but there can be no question it held significant lands and wealth.-

That figure is via Brier and from some census type document on the cusp of the 18th/19th dynasty. It is actually higher, but I just dont recall it hence the 'plus'.

My understanding of the way it worked though wouldnt cripple the government. As long as it was being worked, it was providing both jobs to the peasants and taxes to the crown. Since the Pharoah technically owns everything in the land, it is essentially being given to them in trust.
Getting it worked, taxed, overseen and administered by the priests is actually cheaper than setting up a bureaucracy to do it for the crown.

kmt_sesh wrote:
I would probably agree with ImageOfAten that it wasn't quite so cut and dried and in fact was a combination of factors...all of them politically expedient to Akhenaten, though.

Yes, that was the point. Many factors converged to elevate the Amun priests into -- literally -- king makers and 'corner' the later kings. In this way, later Pharoahs were victims of Egypt's earlier success. As a politcal move, Akhenaten was doing what later English monarchs like George III wanted to do - wrestle power back from Parliament.

However, I still think there is ample room to paint Akhenaten as inept if not distrubed, for he did not put the gold to good use for the benefit of the state, but built a city to himself with it and handed it out as shebyu collars to bribe followers. Even as a political reformer he lacked a coherent plan.
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 30, 2005 5:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

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However, I still think there is ample room to paint Akhenaten as inept if not distrubed, for he did not put the gold to good use for the benefit of the state, but built a city to himself with it and handed it out as shebyu collars to bribe followers. Even as a political reformer he lacked a coherent plan.


You don't think Akhenaten put the gold to good use in building his city? I always thought that was a genius idea! Not only because of the sheer beauty of it but it also kept the priests of Amun from getting their hands on it. Even if it did hurt the economy in some way, if you took one look at the city you would never know it. In fact just from observation a person from a foreign land would think the economy was doing quite well, and possibly fear the power that a "wealthy" country like that might contain. Now I will stop rambling on....The bottom line is I always thought that Akhenaten put the gold to the best use possible.
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 30, 2005 5:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

ImageOfAten wrote:
You don't think Akhenaten put the gold to good use in building his city? I always thought that was a genius idea!
No I do not. It was not long lasting, barely outlasting him.

The empire was in decline in part due to the enormous building projects of A-III and profligate spending by Akhenaten. A little investment in the military and attention to foreign affairs was what was called for, not self indulgent monuments to self.

ImageOfAten wrote:
Not only because of the sheer beauty of it but it also kept the priests of Amun from getting their hands on it.
Given the paucity of remains of other palaces etc, we dont know for a fact that it was more "beautiful" than other complexes. The use of talatat instead of stone argues for the opposite.

ImageOfAten wrote:
In fact just from observation a person from a foreign land would think the economy was doing quite well, and possibly fear the power that a "wealthy" country like that might contain. Now I will stop rambling on....The bottom line is I always thought that Akhenaten put the gold to the best use possible.

Just the opposite appears to be the case. Foreign envoys would see the self indulgent, self centered king secluded in the city and focused on his pet projects and report back that this king seems unlikely to march out to protect its vassls and territories.

And they were right: In the time of Akhenaten, the kingdoms of Nii, Nuhasse and Mitanni were lost to the Hittites as were the cities of Ugarit, Sumur, Qadesh, Byblos and Tunip. Some of this may have started while A-III was still alive. According to kitchen it got bad about Year 9 but all went to crap starting in Year 12 of Akhenaten. I find it more than passing strange that Year 12 is the time for which there is the best evidence for Akhenaten starting his sole reign.

Aziru is a good example: after ignoring the king's demand to present himself at court he delayed complying for as much as TWO YEARS and finally had to be fetched. His crimes had been: a) allying with rebel city state kings b) attacking and burning Sumur and running the Egyptian ribsi (commissioner) out of town c) leading a band of mercenaries to kill a city's prince d) entertaining Hittite envoys and e) making moves towards Byblos and fomenting rebellion.

After a 'trial' of some sort he was detained for some time then released. Whereupon he returned home and after negotiation allied with the Hittities. He was thouroughly unimpressed with the resolve of the king of Egypt and perhaps understood the limitations inherent with an inbred, pampered high-priest who would be "king".
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 31, 2005 3:14 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
A little investment in the military and attention to foreign affairs was what was called for, not self indulgent monuments to self.


I see it differently, Amenhotep III was not ridiculed for any of his own extensive building so why should his son be?

Quote:
The use of talatat instead of stone argues for the opposite.


I don't know about anyone else but I kind of like the talatat blocks. I think they look nicer than stone becuse they ar smaller in size.


Quote:
Aziru is a good example: after ignoring the king's demand to present himself at court he delayed complying for as much as TWO YEARS and finally had to be fetched.


Two years is really not that long of a time span. Modern governments of today have taken longer than that on some issues.
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 01, 2005 8:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

ImageOfAten wrote:
I see it differently, Amenhotep III was not ridiculed for any of his own extensive building so why should his son be?
If we were rating on a curve you'd be correct, but we arent. Besides I think A-III was as indolent in some important matters of state as Sunny, and I am not alone.

A-III made everyone feel good with all his building projects (several hundred statues just for his jubilee) but at the edges things were unravelling. A-IV made everyone feel depressed (if not oppressed) and meanwhile things were falling apart rapidly. Its just a matter of degrees.

Quote:

Quote:
Aziru is a good example: after ignoring the king's demand to present himself at court he delayed complying for as much as TWO YEARS and finally had to be fetched.


Two years is really not that long of a time span. Modern governments of today have taken longer than that on some issues.


You dont understand: Aziru, an obstensibly loyal vassal of Egypt ignored orders of the king to rebuild Sumur after he burned it and ran off the governor and Egyptian comminissioner. Then after he recieved a Hittite envoy he was ordered to present himself to the court to face charges. He then ignored that order for well over a year and had to be fetched back to Egypt.

That cant be spun as effective ruling in any way.
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 02, 2005 6:06 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I don't see Amenhotep III or Akhenaten as indolent in any way. They both made contributions to the state in some way.

Quote:
A-IV made everyone feel depressed (if not oppressed) and meanwhile things were falling apart rapidly. Its just a matter of degrees.


Maybe things began to get so out of hand that oppression was necessary.

Quote:
You dont understand


Sorry, I read the post wrong, but I don't think it can be spun as ineffective ruling either since we do not know the reason behind the actions that were or were not taken.
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