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Akhenaten: Egypt's False Prophet [Paperback]

Nicholas Reeves
3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
Price: 14.95 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

4 April 2005
One of the most compelling and controversial figures in history, Akhenaten has captured the imagination like no other Egyptian pharaoh. Much has been written about this strange, persecuted figure, whose freakishly elongated and effeminate appearance is totally at odds with that of the traditional Egyptian ruler-hero. Known today as a heretic, Akhenaten sought to impose upon Egypt and its people the worship of a single god the sun and in so doing changed the country in every way. In this immensely readable re-evaluation, Nicholas Reeves takes issue with the existing view of Akhenaten, presenting an entirely new perspective on the turbulent events of his seventeen-year reign. Reeves argues that, far from being the idealistic founder of a new faith, Akhenaten cynically used religion for purely political ends in a calculated attempt to reassert the authority of the king to concentrate all power in his own hands. Backed up by abundant archaeological and documentary evidence, Reevess closely written narrative also provides many new insights into questions that have baffled scholars for generations the puzzle of the body in Tomb 55 in the Valley of the Kings; the fate of Nefertiti, Akhenatens beautiful wife, and the identity of the mysterious successor, Smenkhkare; and the theory that Tutankhamun, Akhenatens son and true heir, was murdered.

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Akhenaten: Egypt's False Prophet + Akhenaten: King of Egypt + Akhenaten and the Religion of Light
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Product details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Thames & Hudson (4 April 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0500285527
  • ISBN-13: 978-0500285527
  • Product Dimensions: 24.1 x 16.9 x 1.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 594,739 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


"'Akhenaten presents ingenious archaeology as a racy, irresistible detective story full of hidden clues (and bodies), magic geometry and ruthlessness masked as mysticism' - The New York Times Book Review 'Reeves leads the reader adeptly through archaeological finds and the latest research on the Amarna period... an entertaining and informative volume' - THES 'A tremendous read... brings factional division in ancient Egypt vividly to life' - Birmingham Post 'Substantial and comprehensive... written approachably and with an eye for human interest' - Antiquity"

About the Author

Nicholas Reeves is Director of the Amarna Royal Tombs Project, Valley of the Kings, and Curator of Egptian and Classical Art at Eton College.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Mostly balanced but sometimes extreme 8 Oct 2007
Akhenaten has to be one of the most fascinating characters in Egyptian history and the deliberate destruction of much the documentation of his historical legacy by subsequent Pharaohs often leaves the Amarna period open to the wildest of speculations. Nicholas Reeves presents a wealth of information in this book, often including many quotes from original sources and photos of original art work so that the readers can judge some of his conclusions for themselves.

The book is carefully researched and the general argument that Akhenaten used his religious beliefs to legitimate his power is well supported by the evidence quoted. This does not of course preclude the notion that Akhenaten was sincere in his beliefs and Reeves does not suggest this. In fact it seems far from illogical that a ruler of ancient Egypt could have believed he was the son of god.

Many of the conundrums of Amarna history are argued in a very balanced way in the book. Reeves effectively debunks the theories that Akhenaten was homosexual or that his appearance in statuary was due to Froehlich's syndrome. He provides interesting evidence in relation to suggestions that Akhenaten may or may not have suffered from Marfan's syndrome and that Nerfertiti may or may not have been promoted to the status of co-regent. At times, however, Reeves takes fairly extreme positions based on somewhat flimsy evidence. He claims that Akhenaten's 'dictatorial rule' led Egypt to the 'brink of disaster', that Akhenaten's rule involved 'wanton destruction' and 'deliberate neglect'. He describes the later years of Amarna as a 'terror' and suggests that Pharaoh's lover Kiya had an evil personality and may have been pulling strings behind the scene.
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14 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Amarna through Akhenaten 21 Jan 2003
By Mr. M. A. Bowles VINE VOICE
Akhenaton, Nefertiti and Tutankhamun have achieved the Egyptian goal of eternal life because they seem to be constantly on television in BBC specials through to History Channel and Discovery. The casual reader soon learns that Akhenaton is an enigmatic character who apparently turned Egyptian life upside down, so much so his general-come-pharaoh Horemheb decided to remove him and his family from history. Nicholas has produced top notch work on Tutankhamum in the form of a lavishly illustrated "The complete Tutankhamun, the king, the tomb the royal treasure" and Akhenaton is sound stuff also.
Unfortunately, the subject of Akhenaton can spiral into (extreme) speculation but in this case Nicholas keeps us in safe hands. The information within the book is sensational from the point of view that Akhenaton did things his way and carried out the equivalent of a one-man revolution. However, Nicholas goes to great lengths to provide objective evidence to support his views and this gives the work a down-to-earth feel. For those readers looking for confirmation that Akhenaton was really Moses you will be presented with facts that give a different picture. For those seeking more knowledge about the Armarna period here is a book that is difficult to put down once you read the first chapter. Here is a book I would gladly recommend because the writing style is good, it is well illustrated and packed with facts, figures and references. For those who would like a different view point on the 'Armarna period', consider "Tutankhamun, the life and death of a boy King" by Christine El Madhy.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent history, reads like a novel 7 Sep 2007
By gilly8
If you are fascinated with ancient Egypt, do not miss this non-fiction book about Pharaoh Akhenaten,which reads like a well-written novel. The mysterious Pharaoh Akhenaten, tried to introduce one god,the sun-disc, the Aten, and overthrow the all the other gods, became known as the "great heretic" is one of the most interesting and debated historical figures of all time. His wife and great queen was the beautiful and mysterious Nefertiti.

Akhenaten began a revolution in religion in his ancient empire that can best be compared to the Protestant reformation in the Western Europe. It overthrew the security and faith of a generation of devout people, but more than that, those who would not bend to his new god were cruelly persecuted and killed. As in the days of King Henry VIII in England, those priests of the old gods were thrown out of their temples and had to go into hiding or convert or be killed. It was a time of terror, and the loss of a good part of the empire due his obsession with his religious mania. Once venerated by historians as the first monotheist in history, now seen as more of a mystical tyrant, he remains a fascinating figure, one who demanded for the first time ever for an ancient king, that he be portrayed as he really looked, as a real human being, and that he be shown as a loving husband and father, not in the traditional form of the great pharaoh of traditional Egyptian artwork. A radical, yet cruel, considered after his death the "Great Heretic" and stamped out completely from history until rediscovered in modern times.

All of this is laid out in clearly readable prose, along with great illustrations and photographs of the surviving artwork, carvings, statues and jewelry. The illustrations alone are worth the price of the book.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars This is a great book to dip in and out of
Delivery was prompt and I have had great reads since I've had it. Easy to understand but still soffisticated enough to quench the scholar's interest in us
Published 5 months ago by Tina Isufi
4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable read of a slant on history
The summary as written on line prepared one for this book. No great surprises. Enjoyable to read if this is your taste in literature
Published 17 months ago by pat neale
3.0 out of 5 stars False prophet or covert Epicurean?
"Akhenaten: Egypt's false prophet" is an immensely tedious, boring and scholarly book, about half of which doesn't even deal with Akhenaten. Read more
Published on 25 Dec 2010 by Ashtar Command
2.0 out of 5 stars A false prophet?
I didn't enjoy this book, in fact I didn't finish it. I think the title is very missleading, if the Pharoah changed the religion in order to maintain power, does this automatically... Read more
Published on 4 Mar 2004 by Amazon Customer
3.0 out of 5 stars Not up to Dr Reeves' usual standards
Although this is a good introduction to the life and times of Akhenaten, it falls far short of the definitive account I was expecting from Nicholas Reeves. Read more
Published on 7 Aug 2001 by eric.secker@ecng.co.uk
4.0 out of 5 stars well researched and written.
Nicholas Reeves has gone into depth about the life of one of Egypts most famous kings including his famous wife Nefertiti and the mysterious connection between her and the mummy of... Read more
Published on 7 Jun 2001 by A. Hobson
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