Monday, November 07, 2005

The Amarna Site

The Amarna Site - Discusses the 'Heretic Pharaoh' Akhenaten, his family, and the Amarna revolution. Includes original photographs and information on Amarna collections.

The historical focus on this Pharaoh is very much a product of Western bias. I remember studying this ruler in elementary school and the teacher making a big deal about how enlightened Akhenaten was because he advocated the worship of only one god. The view was that the change from polytheism to monotheism was a big enlightened move. The Egyptians did not think so though. As soon as the Pharaoh died, his religious revolution was undone.

And it makes one wonder, if the change from multiple gods to one god was progress, then isn't the move from one god to none even better? I would argue that it is not. However, this example shows how ancient history is often viewed through a western religious lense. Ankanaten would be a minor Pharaoh today with few studying him without this bias.

From the site:

Virtually no phase in the history of our planet's civilisations has so many unanswered questions, and attracts so many theories, as the Egyptian 'Amarna Period' when the Heretic Pharaoh Akhenaten turned away from the traditional gods and embraced his one god, the Aten sun disk.

Why did he turn his back on the existing Gods and close their temples, what was the relationship between Akhenaten and Tutankhamun, and what was the real reason for the apparent massive anti-Atenist backlash that followed his death?


Anonymous said...

I would argue that religious dogma today sugessts a re return to belife in multiple dieties.

Take for instance these three dominant "allegendly monotheistic" religions today: Islam, Christianity and Judaism. While all three claim to worship only one God, each of them claims the God it worships is bigger, badder and better than either-or God of the other two.

To me, that defeats the purpose of monotheism!

Anonymous said...

Any academic discussion of mono vs poly theisms ought-to consider the premises of the following book I strongly suggest you read: The Origins of Consciousness In The Breakdown Of The Bicameral Mind by Julian Jaynes.

If memory serves me correctly:

Jaynes was a Psychologist teaching at Princeton in 1976 when he published this book.

Jaynes uses The Illiad to demonstrate what he calls a turning-point in human brain evolution 3,000 years ago in terms of what we think of as consciousness today---

a single dominant voice vs voices we hear in the brain as the result of a merger of right and left hemispheres functioning in unison through the corpus collustrum.


Anonymous said...

Now that I've pulled the book from the shelf and re-read the blurb, according to Jaynes' hypotheses:

Conciousness as we know it today-is not the result of "animal evolution" but rather a learned behavior as a result of 'human history and cultural experience.'

Because our ancestors were unable to think introspectively as we do today, they were "not conscious" and, as such: "they experienced auditory hallucinations, voices of the gods actually heard as in the Old Testament or the Illiad---which, coming from the brain's right hemisphere told a person what to do in times of novelty or stress."

That is how Jaynes defines the machinations of the 'bicameral mind.'

Anonymous said...

Before I conclude my Blog this morning:

Given that consciousness is a learned behavior as a result of external events, something I recently heard in a lecture on TV about the Myan civilization might seem to fly in the face of Jaynes' hypotheses.

For instance, whereas one segment of the Mayan civilization evidently managed to develop an intricate calendar, another segment relatively close-by was only able to develop it's calendar to a much lesser-advanced degree.

Hence, consciousness as a learned behavior may develop to varying degress and times in among populations world-widea.

Finally, Jaynes' premeses suggest so-called "contemporary forms of throwbacks to bicamerality" include: "hypnotism, schitzophrenia, poetic and religious frenzy."

In fact, one might speculate that if so, bicameral throwbacks may also be the cause of sociopathic behaviors of people who don't seem to have any conscious at all.

In other words, if bicameral throwbacks also include sociopathic behaviors, they might explain the behaviors of certain people who are able to do whatever they want, whenever they please with blatent disregard for any consequences as a result of their actions.