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The Amarna Period was an era of Egyptian history during the latter half of the Eighteenth Dynasty when the royal residence of the pharaoh and his queen was shifted to Akhetaten ('Horizon of the Aten') in what is now modern-day Amarna. It was marked by the reign of Amenhotep IV, who changed his name to Akhenaten (1353–1336 BC) in order to reflect the dramatic change of Egypt's polytheistic religion into one where a sun-god Aten was worshiped over all other gods. Aten was not solely worshiped (the religion was not monotheistic), however, it was close as the rest of the gods were worshiped to a significantly lesser degree. The Egyptian pantheon of the equality of all gods and goddesses was restored under Akhenaten's successor. Other rulers of this period include Amenhotep III, Smenkhkare, Neferneferuaten, Tutankhamun, Ay, and Horemheb.
Akhenaten instigated the earliest verified expression of monotheism, (although the origins of a pure monotheism are the subject of continuing debate within the academic community and some state that Akhenaten restored monotheism while others point out that he merely suppressed a dominant solar cult by the assertion of another, while he never completely abandoned several other traditional deities). Scholars believe that Akhenaten's devotion to his deity, Aten, offended many in power below him, which contributed to the end of this dynasty; he later suffered damnatio memoriae. Although modern students of Egyptology consider the monotheism of Akhenaten the most important event of this period, the later Egyptians considered the so-called Amarna period an unfortunate aberration. Religion prompted many innovations in the name and service of religion. They viewed religion and science as one in the same. Previously, the presence of many gods explained the natural phenomena, but during the Amarna period there was a rise in monotheism. With people beginning to think of the origins of the universe, Amun-Re was seen as the sole creator and Sun-god. The view of this god is seen through the poem entitled "Hymn to the Aten"; "When your movements disappear and you go to rest in the Akhet, the land is in darkness, in the manner of death... darkness a blanket, the land in stillness, with the one who makes them at rest in his Akhet. The land grows bright once you have appeared in the Akhet, shining in the sun disk by day. When you dispel darkness and give your rays, the Two Lands are in a festival of light." (Pg. 4) From the poem, you can see that the nature of the god's daily activity revolves around recreating the earth on a daily basis. It also focuses on the present life rather than on eternity. After the Amarna reign, these religious beliefs fell out of favor. This was partly because access to Amun-Re limited only to the king and his family. Only they were allowed to worship, and the rest were left to worship the king and his family.  Paraphrased and direct quotes from: Arnold, Dorothea, James P. Allen, and L. Green. The Royal Women of Amarna: Images of Beauty from Ancient Egypt. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1996. Print.
The royal women of Amarna have more surviving text about them than any other women from ancient Egypt. It is clear that they played a large role in royal and religious functions. These women were frequently portrayed as being very powerful. Many of the king's daughters (Amenhotep) had influences as great if not greater than his wives'. Tiye and Nefertiti were the most influential of his wives, and Nefertiti was said to be the force behind the new monotheist religion. Nefertiti, whose name means "the beautiful one is here", bore six of Amenhotep's daughters. There is a debate whether the relationship between Amenhotep relationship with his daughter's was sexual. Although there is much controversy over this topic, there is no evidence that any of them bore his children. Amenhotep gave many of his daughters titles of queen. Tiye, the king's chief wife, came to be known as the "commoner queen" for the lack of "royal blood". Tiye came from a military family, and her influence even after Amenhotep's death.  Paraphrased and direct quotes from: Arnold, Dorothea, James P. Allen, and L. Green. The Royal Women of Amarna: Images of Beauty from Ancient Egypt. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1996. Print.
The art of this time had many commonalities that tie the works together. The figures tended to be physically distorted with large thighs, slim torso, poked out belly, long arms, large hands, ceremonial bead (men)/headdress, hollow cheeks, and long/thin nose. The women look extremely similar to the king with exception of their hair and royal adornment. The women are not portrayed as soft or feminine. The authors of The Royal women of Amarna state, "If the pharaoh was the all-important human link with the divine, then the queen's resemblance to the king must has assured her share in his close relationship to the god." (Pg. 18) After Amenhotep moved the capital from Karnak to Amarna the style in art changed. "Such changes can only be explained by the presence at Amarna of new people groups of artist whose background and training were different from those of the Karnak sculptors." (Pg. 22) The lines became more fluid and the facial features were livelier. The artist gave more depth using shadows and the play of light. They were also able to create texture, and the body shape is reminiscent of "the great mother earth". The garments reflect the Egyptian linens that were beautifully made, and considered a wonder of the ancient world. Paraphrased and direct quotes from: Arnold, Dorothea, James P. Allen, and L. Green. The Royal Women of Amarna: Images of Beauty from Ancient Egypt. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1996. Print.
The events following Akhenaten's death are unclear and the identity and policies of his co-regent and immediate successor are the matter of ongoing scholarly debate.
Tutankhamun died before he was twenty years old, and the dynasty's final years clearly were shaky. The royal line of the dynasty died out with Tutankhamun. Two fetuses found buried in his tomb may have been his twin daughters who would have continued the royal lineage, according to a 2008 investigation. An unidentified Egyptian queen Dakhamunzu, widow of "King Nibhururiya" is known from Hittite annals. She is often identified as Ankhesenamun, royal wife of Tutankhamun, although Nefertiti and Meritaten have also been suggested as possible candidates. This queen wrote to Suppiluliuma I, king of the Hittites, asking him to send one of his sons to become her husband and king of Egypt. In her letters she expressed fear and a reluctance to take as husband one of her servants. Suppiluliumas sent an ambassador to investigate, and after further negotiations agreed to send one of his sons to Egypt. This prince, named Zannanza was however murdered, probably en route to Egypt. Suppiluliumas reacted with rage at the news of his son's death and accused the Egyptians. Then, he retaliated by going to war against Egypt's vassal states in Syria and Northern Canaan and captured the city of Amki. Unfortunately, Egyptian prisoners of war from Amki carried a plague which eventually would ravage the Hittite Empire and kill both Suppiluliumas I and his direct successor.
The last two members of the eighteenth dynasty - Ay and Horemheb - became rulers from the ranks of officials in the royal court, although Ay may have married the widow of Tutankhamun in order to obtain power and she did not live long afterward. Ay's reign was short. His successor was Horemheb, who had been a diplomat in the administration of Tutankhamun and may have been intended as his successor by the childless Tutankhamun. Horemheb may have taken the throne away from Ay in a coup. He also died childless and appointed his successor, Paramessu, who under the name Ramesses I ascended the throne in 1292 BC and was the first pharaoh of the Nineteenth Dynasty.
Arnold, Dorothea, James P. Allen, and L. Green. The Royal Women of Amarna: Images of Beauty from Ancient Egypt. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1996. Print.
After the death of Ay, Horemheb assumed the throne. A commoner, he had served as vizier to both Tutankhamun and Ay. Horemheb instigated a policy of damnatio memoriae, against everyone associated with the Amarna period. He was married to Nefertiti's sister, Mutnodjmet, who died in child birth. With no heir, he appointed his own vizier, Paramessu as his successor.