The Fall of the Egyptian Empire

In my opinion, the fall began when the Pharaohs got smart to the setup the priests had. Try reading (The Curse of the Pharaoh!) first for a background on Akhenaton. Akhenaton was the first pharaoh in a long time to take charge of the kingdom again. He was a new-kingdom pharaoh and, previously, pharaohs were sheltered in their palace while priests took care of everything economical, and any decision that king should make. The king was only their to perform rituals to ensure stability in the universe (read: Daily Rituals of the Pharaoh for further background).

Akhenaton was originally named Akhenamen, after the god amen. Amen was the alpha-god in a pantheon of smaller gods. They were still gods, but not as important. Akhenamen took the god Aton (a god that as not very important) and made him the only god. He tried to convert the whole kingdom to monotheism. Then he changed his name to Akhenaton, after the god Aton. With only one god, their only needed to be one figure of power. He no longer needed or wanted priests ruling with him. The priests didn't like this. He changed the capital from Thebes to a city built for Aton, Amarna (now called Tell el-Amarna).

After Akhenaton's death, his city was thouroughly abandoned and then torn down. The traditional religion reigned, but only after king Tut came around. King Tutankhamen was very young when he became king; not even 9. At this young age he was very easily influenced. That's why the priests started when he was young. King Tutankhamen ruled for a decade until he was eighteen. It is most likely that he was the son of Akhenaton by a minor wife. He does hae some of the distorted bodily features as Akhenaton and he wears the same style of clothing that Akhenaton invented. Obviously the priests thought it was ok. There are DNA analysese being conducted currently to prove that Tutankhamen was the son of Akhenaton but until the results are made public, we don't know yet. Anyways, remember how Akhenaton's name used to be Akhen-amen. Well, the famous king Tutkhamen's name used to be Tutankh-aton. He was originally named after Aton as his father wanted. So was his wife, but it was then changed by the priests who coerced him into reinstating the old religion in Egypt.

Now let's fast-forward to a more zealous king, Ramses II. He happens to be just about the last great pharaoh. The first, noticable thing we mention he did was proclaim himself a "full god" during his life-time. Now, we all know the kings were supposedly descendants of the gods, but they were not officially "full gods" until they died and fused with Osiris. This is shown in his sculpture. The front of his temple is four gigantic sculptures of himself. They are very blocky and undetailed compared to small sculptures but that's just because they are so large. It also does give him a more intimidating look. The gods shown around him are all much smaller than him. This is highly unusual. Normally, the rest of the pharaoh's family and his subjects are all smaller than him, which is normal. But usually gods are shown much large than the pharaoh, unless they are in animal form, in which case they are shown in a higher position or in some form of protective position.

So, after the last great king, Egypt started having trouble. Not at first, but soon it developed. It began with internal conflict, between the city-states that made up Egypt. The king returned to his position as a solitary ritual-performer with no real power and the leaders of the individual city-states started defying the king. THey made their own laws, collected taxes for themselves and disregarded any orders from the king's palace.

Then the conflicts became international and Egypt, in its weakest state ever, had little to call an army, and it was invaded several times; first, by the Assyrians, then the Persians. They both eventually left and the Greeks took over, until finally the Romans came and wanted to add Egypt to their huge Empire (and we all know how that turned out).

I think that the outright religous defiance of King Ramses II was Egypt's "blaze of glory" before it fell and it was the last straw before corruption completely took over, became fat, and eventually helpless. Ramses II was famous, but not for this. He was the king who enslaved the Hebrews and made them build his temple (remember the whole thing with Moses?). Some might also say that God cursed the kingdom after that. (I don't know about that.)

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