Top Recommended Reading for the Amarna Period
The Amarna Period was not only a religious but also an artistic one. The art of this era is recognizable by its unmistakable sinuous shapes and the singular expressiveness of faces and gestures, which end up surviving, albeit in a less marked manner, in the following epoch.
It lasted less than twenty years: with the advent of the still-child Tutankhaten (‘living image of Aten‘), soon to be renamed Tutankhamun (‘living image of Amun’), traditional cults were restored. Akhetaten was abandoned and became a quarry for building material. The Amarna interlude, however, marked the transition to a new political, cultural and artistic phase.
No other period of Egyptian history has been as debated and discussed as the Amarna. So much has been written about the Amarna period that scholars have produced books addressing the modern reception of the Amarna period.
- Akhenaten: History, Fantasy and Ancient Egypt by Dominic Montserrat
- Akhenaten: A Historian’s View by Ronald Ridley
- Nefertiti’s Face: The Creation of an Icon by Joyce Tyldesley
There is a list of a few of the major publications about the Amarna period below. Egyptologists have found it difficult to remain impartial about Akhenaten, and some admire him while others openly despise him, so it is best to read more than one.
- Akhenaten and the Origins of Monotheism by James Hoffmeier
- Akhenaten: Egypt’s False Prophet by Nicholas Reeves
- Akhenaten, the Heretic King by Donald Redford
- Amarna Sunrise: Egypt from Golden Age to Age of Heresy by Aidan Dodson (focuses heavily on genealogy)
- Amarna Sunset: Nefertiti, Tutankhamun, Ay, Horemheb, and the Egyptian Counter-reformation by Aidan Dodson (ditto)
Art and archaeology
- The City of Akhenaten and Nefertiti: Amarna and Its People by Barry Kemp (written by the director of the excavations at Amarna)
- The Royal Women of Amarna: Images of Beauty from Ancient Egypt (free PDF)
- Akhenaten and Tutankhamun: Revolution and Restoration (exhibition catalogue)
- Pharaohs of the Sun: Akhenaten, Nefertiti, Tutankhamen (exhibition catalogue)
- Technology and Urbanism in Late Bronze Age Egypt by Anna Hodgkinson
- Religion and Ritual in Ancient Egypt by Emily Teeter (chapter 10)
- Egyptian Solar Religion in the New Kingdom: Re, Amun and the Crisis of Polytheism by Jan Assmann (doesn’t focus exclusively on the Amarna period, but it’s discussed quite a bit)
- Private Religion at Amarna by Anna Stevens
Foreign relations and diplomacy
- Brotherhood of Kings: How International Relations Shaped the Ancient Near East by Amanda Podany
- Amarna Diplomacy: The Beginnings of International Relations edited by Raymond Cohen and Raymond Westbrook
- Letters of the Great Kings of the Ancient Near East: The Royal Correspondence of the Late Bronze Age by Trevor Bryce
- International Relations in the Ancient Near East by Mario Liverani
- The Reign of Tudhaliya II and Suppiluliuma I: The Contribution of the Hittite Documentation to a Reconstruction of the Amarna Age by Boaz Stavi
- Texts from the Amarna Period in Egypt by William Murnane
- The Boundary Stelae of Akhenaten by William Murnane
- The Amarna Letters by William Moran
It’s perhaps also worth reading about the reign of Akhenaten’s father Amenhotep III, as in many ways he laid the foundation for Akhenaten’s emphasis on the Aten and administrative and religious changes.