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Marion Hesse's Die Privatgräber von Amarna

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Joined: 28 Jan 2015
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Location: Barranquilla, Colombia

PostPosted: Wed Dec 27, 2017 8:54 am    Post subject: Marion Hesse's Die Privatgräber von Amarna Reply with quote

Hello. Does anyone know if there is an English edition for Marion Hesse's book Die Privatgräber von Amarna: zum Wandel des Grabgedankens in Zeiten eines religiösen Umbruchs. Archaeopress, 2013, 137 pp.? Or at least an equivalent publication by Hesse in an academic journal written in English?

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Joined: 02 Sep 2007
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Location: Berlin, Germany

PostPosted: Thu Dec 28, 2017 6:08 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

No, there isn`t. So far she probably only published in German... The topic itself (otherworldly ideas during the Amarna period) is not very well edited, I guess because of the difficult situation with the supporting documents. German-speaking Egyptology is clearly leading on this field.

There is an interesting article by Thomas von der Way : Überlegungen zur Jenseitsvorstellung in der Amarnazeit. - In: Zeitschrift für Ägyptische Sprache und Altertumskunde - ZÄS 123(2). - 1996. - pp. 157-164

and another one by

Marion Hesse : Grabsitten und Jenseitszeugnisse in Amarna. - In: Bestattungsbräuche, Totenkult und Jenseitsvorstellungen im Alten Ägypten. - Berlin : EB-Verlag, 2015. - pp. 129 - 154.

Worth reading is with security the english translation of a book from 1995...

Erik Hornung : Akhenaten and the Religion of Light. - [Translated by David Lorton]. - Ithaca, NY : Cornell University Press, 1999. - ISBN : 0801436583. - XII, 146 p. :
OEB : This book is a concise study of the theology of the Amarna religious reform. In chapter 1 the author points out how this revolution had already faded from memory in Classical times. However, Jean-François Champollion and Carl Richard Lepsius got some vague idea of this revolution, and this prepared the way for the return of king Akhnaton on the stage. The heretic became to be seen as a precursor of modern ideas, and after discoveries, mostly through the excavations at Amarna, the Amarna religion got more shape, and soon the first study of Akhnaton appeared. After the Second World War the reformer king was less positively judged.

In chapter 2 the author sketches the religious background of the New Theology of the Sun and the religious policy and conceptions under his father Amenhotep III (i.a., the sed-festivals) which led to the Amarna reform: in that period one was in search of divine nearness and new mediators between the human and divine worlds. After his accession, Akhnaton expressed through the medium of the royal protocol his programme, which created the god Aton from the traditional sun god, originally still anthropomorphic and with the falcon head of Re-Horakhte. The evidence for these first steps, which involved an all-important religious position of the king and Nefertete, comes from the early Aton sanctuaries at Karnak (i.a., the Gempaaton), in the decoration of which the sed-festival celebrated by Akhnaton in the company of his god Aton is prominent. The decoration on the talatat and the colossal statues from Karnak are the first testimony of the king's reform of the art, which is characterized by motion and emotion. The coexistence of Aton with the other gods lasted only a short while, and soon the symbol of the radiating sun disk was the only divine image admitted. In the 3rd to 5th regnal years Akhnaton carried through a deliberate reform deeply affecting the important aspects of life and culture. Also, Akhnaton raised Late Egyptian to the status of the language used for the inscriptions, a reform with a lasting effect, which confined Middle Egyptian to religious and official inscriptions.

Chapter 4 is exclusively devoted to the new religious doctrine, Akhnaton's (oral) "Instruction" (sebait), since no trace of a written revelation can be found. Still, the few sources show a clear and simple doctrine: one image connected with one name only; the continuous creator and "king" Aton rather as light than as sun disk, without a nightly course through the netherworld; Aton as the personal god of Akhnaton, who, as his son, is a god himself; personal piety is loyalty towards the king as sole mediator; Nefertete as Akhnaton's personal goddess, who forms a triad with the king and Aton. At the end of the chapter the question of possible other private and royal persons engaged in the conception of the new religion.

In chapter 5 the author turns to the city of Amarna, founded in the 5th regnal year and speedily constructed with an original city plan, in which comfortable living quarters enclosed the official centre with temples and palaces. The city of Akhetaten was a city for Aton, the god of light, whose hands should be able to reach everywhere. Hence open altars, a processional road for the king without roof, no dark halls etc., but also a relentless sun burning on the heads of commoners. The city saw the birth of the mature Amarna style.

The perfected doctrine lived by in the city of Amarna is the subject of chapter 6. Since the Aton has no cult statue, there is no daily ritual in the typical Aton-temple which allowed contact with Aton above at every spot and in which the procession road is not destined for the transport out of the cult image, but for the entrance of the king into the temple. The royal Holy Family scenes replace and continue the scenes of gods, but the private officials cannot partake in the cult and remain outside the temple. Four years after the king had changed his titulary, Aton received a new royal protocol, which reflected the perfection of the doctrine. The nature of the god Aton is pregnantly described in the Great Hymn to the Aten (translated here): mythology is replaced by imagery from nature; the centre is the light as the universal god, though the religion had no universal claims and seemed to have had a very restricted reach.

Chapter 7 is devoted to the question of monotheism and the persecution of the other gods. It is certain that Akhnaton strictly and ruthlessly pursued a policy to realize monotheism, or rather the "one" god. The author briefly discusses scholarly opinion on the problem of certain religious signals in this direction; in any case, the conception of the "one", the cosmic god, is present in the Ramesside hymns, no doubt under the influence of Akhnaton's attempt. For Akhnaton the light is the cosmic principle, on which all is dependent and from which all is derived. Most interesting are the Amarna funerary beliefs without an actual hereafter. In the early stage of the Amarna doctrine the attitude to Osiris is most reserved, which shows a change leaving no room for Osiris. In a religion of light the dark side of the world is a problem. The dark phase is now no longer the regeneration time of light, but simply its absence; the waking up of the dead into new life does not take place in the Netherworld, but in morning at sunrise, together with the living world. The orientation is east; the west has vanished. The Hereafter, the Netherworld does not exist anymore; the world of the dead is not distinct from that of the living, and is situated in the Aton temple of Akhetaton; temple and palace represent the new world of the dead. The ba of people buried elsewhere would head for some, or the, Aton temple, to participate in the offerings and the presence of the king. However, funerary customs such as the shabti are retained, but on the royal sarcophagus, e.g., the protective goddesses are replaced by the queen. Furthermore, the grace of the king substitutes the judgment of the dead. In short, at night the dead sleep, and during the day they accompany Aton, the king and his family to the great temple, where they receive the provisions. Aton, "gone away" in the night, is settled in the heart of the king, his abode. The sceptical attitude towards the Hereafter in the Harper's Song in the tomb of Paatenemheb (translated) is a product of Akhnaton's religion of light.

In chapter 9 the author notes that with the persecution of the ancient deities the religion reaches at the same time its zenith and the point where the decline began. He deals with the last official monuments of the king dating from his 12th regnal year, the position of the second queen Kiya, the Dahamunzu-Zannanza affair in the time of the Hittite king Suppiluliuma, possible satirical objects from Akhetaten ridiculing the heretic king, the presence of traditional divine images in Amarna houses etc.

Chapter 10 is concerned with the succession: many princesses but no male pretender, Tutankhaton/Tutankhamon and the return to the traditional religion, and the kings Ay and Horemheb. In the epilogue the author remarks that, although the religion died with the king, the long-term influence in many aspects of the Ramesside and later periods is evident. It forced to a reconsideration of funerary conceptions, and stressed the bond between the sun god Re and Osiris. A final remark is devoted to Akhnaton as the first historical fundamentalist.

Bibliography, general as well with reference with the various chapters, and index added.

Greetings, Lutz.
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