Akhenaten was an Egyptian pharaoh who died around 1334-1336 BC. It is believed he was the father of Tutankhamen. Akhenaten was previously known as Amenhotep1V. He changed the religion of Egypt from that of a polytheistic (worshipping many gods) to worshipping just one Aten (the sun god). He moved his court to a place called Amarna just outside of Thebes near Luxor.
The change did not work, the people did not like it and after his death the changes he made were all changed back, all reference to his name and his reign as Akhenaten was removed, scratched out and chiselled off the monuments. His name was not allowed to be on any king lists. It’s tempting to remove all evidence of historical discord from society as witnessed this week in the US and attempt to wipe from history events that can serve as a reminder to us all why things are how they are. After the Second World War some concentration camps have been left as an historical reminder to remind of the horror that occurred. Visiting these monuments does not glorify what happened but serves as vivid reminders of how we, as human beings can get things so terribly wrong and how it is so important to ensure that history is never repeated.
We have to learn to embrace our mistakes and learn from them. I show my new nursing students pictures of the polio wards around the world from the 1930’s to the 1950’s and how ward after ward of patients in iron lungs were nursed during this epidemic before vaccination. They are always amazed that they haven’t seen them before. Sometimes it’s tempting to pretend that something bad didn’t happen as it is evidence of human or systemic failure that is too tempting to forget. And then what happens, history repeats itself because the lessons have not been remembered. Luckily, we know a lot about Akhenaten now as the site of his court at Amarna was discovered by Sir Flinders Petrie in 1907 and is still being excavated today. A mummy was discovered in tomb KV55 that DNA evidence shows is related to Tutankhamen and may be the mummy of Akhenaten. Tutankhamen, of course is the pharaoh whose tomb was discovered intact by Howard Carter in 1922. So much of what we know about Ancient Egyptian life comes from what has been found in this tomb.
So apart from being a history lesson this blog is about learning from our mistakes, embracing them, discussing them and doing all that we can to remember them so they are not repeated. We have to be courageous about this.
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