Our review of the documentary Akhenaton, the secrets of the forgotten pharaoh on RMC Découverte

A film chronicles the most iconoclastic of the new Egyptian empire’s pharaohs and his controversial legacy. To see on RMC Découverte.

For having reigned for about sixty years at the height of the New Kingdom, Ramesses II is sometimes nicknamed “the Louis XIV of Ancient Egypt ». A century before the pharaoh, star of the exhibition currently taking place under the Great Hall of La Villette, in Paris, another dynasty had also shone with a thousand lights. His name was Akhenaten.

A harsh light on the divine monarch

Contrary to the golden legend of the great Ramses, the lights of the unholy king faded soon after his death. The secrets of the forgotten pharaoh cast a harsh light on the divine monarch. By his idolatrous devotion to the sun – the Aten – pure and perfect god, this king of the XIVe century before our era dealt a blow to the immemorial cults of Egypt. Monotheism? Not yet. His exclusive veneration of the solar disk was henotheism, ” that is to say, he favored one god among the others explains Egyptologist Salima Ikram. And Akhenaton arrogated to himself a place of choice in this system.

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The bas-reliefs thus present the pharaoh alone, or with his wife Nefertiti, in front of the divine star. This cult caresses heresy, advances the film without shuddering at anachronism. But, in the shadows, the Theban priests murmur against the new order. There is politics in religion, and mystical crises do not excuse misdeeds. However, before changing his name to Akhenaten, the young Amenhotep IV had undertaken to embellish the sanctuary of Amun at Karnak. He does better and installs the first temple of Aten within the complex. When he died, the clergy took revenge and smashed frescoes and statues. Akhenaten’s solar memory disappears in the night.

Revenge of the clergy

Since then, new remains have from time to time anathema this unloved pharaoh, father of Tutankhamun. The film focuses on those discovered in the greatest secrecy, near Thebes, in 2020. Archaeologists have unearthed a complete economic sector there, with workshops bordered by sinusoidal walls. The Egyptian authorities jumped at the chance and claimed, the following year, to have found “City of Gold”as Zahi Haw, the star researcher and boaster of Egyptian archeology, calls him.

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Were the Inca emperors lost along the Nile? At all. It was actually the“City of the Golden Age” of the New Empire, built under Amenhotep III then embellished for a time by his son, the future Akhenaten – until the day when he suddenly evacuated the city in favor of Amarna, his short-lived residence. A new god was worth a new capital.

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