The First Capital of Monotheism
King Amenhotep IV (c.1352–1336 BC) led what is often described as a “religious revolution” that was primarily aimed at the god Amun, whose main cult center was in Thebes (modern Luxor). During his rule, the sun-disk, “Aten”, came to be the only god that he worshipped. These changes coincided with the king changing his name to "Akhenaten", which was followed by the founding of a new capital on virgin soil in Middle Egypt (in modern al-Minya Governorate): “Akhetaten” (The Horizon of Aten). Boundary stelae, sixteen of which have been discovered so far, were carved in the hills and mountains surrounding the city, delimiting its territory. Akhetaten lies on the east bank of the Nile, where it is bordered by the hills into which the tombs of high officials were carved. Akhetaten has a clear layout: spanning the north-south length of the city is the Royal Road, on either side of which lie the most important royal, religious, and administrative buildings. At the southern end of the Royal Road was the Royal Palace, and farther down the Great Aten Temple. Akhenaten’s high officials lived in luxurious homes surrounded by gardens, and even the homes of artists and their studios have been unearthed as well. After Akhenaten’s death, the city was abandoned and destroyed.