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Tutankhamen: Amenism, Atenism and Egyptian…
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Tutankhamen: Amenism, Atenism and Egyptian Monotheism

by Ernest A. Wallis Budge

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In 1923, six months after the opening of the virtually unmolested tomb of King Tut, Sir E. A. Wallis Budge published this small collection of scholarly monographs to counter the spate of misinformation that had sprung up in the wake of Howard Carter's spectacular discovery.

Both excited scholars and the popular press seem to have overstated and indeed romanticized the role of youthful King Tutankhamen among the pharaohs of the Eighteenth Dynasty (1580-1350 BC). Budge's work places his reign in the historical and cultural context of his predecessor Amenhotep IV. That antitraditionalist king, also known as Aakhunaten, rejected Egypt's established religion and devoted himself and all his resources to the cult of the Sun-God (Aten) alone, neglecting both his subject people and his nation’s allies in his single-minded fanaticism. It was Tutankhamen, following the brief reign of an insignificant intervening ruler, who reinstated the older religion, with Amen-Ra as its supreme lord. He restored the forms and customs of worship to which the people had remained covertly loyal. This, and not the happenstance of having a well-concealed burial place, constitutes King Tut's historical importance.

As keeper of the Egyptian and Assyrian antiquities in the British Museum, Budge had a lifelong commitment to faithful, detailed scholarship. He published numerous books and articles in his field, including primers in Egyptian hieroglyphics, one of which I studied assiduously back in the 1960s. His work is amply illustrated with careful, handsomely styled renderings of lengthy passages of hieroglyphics, translated word for word in accompanying text. They look a lot like this example, although this is taken from a different source.

This volume was a gift to me from my husband on our first ("paper") wedding anniversary in 1979. I reread it just now not only for sentimental reasons but as research for a plot element in a story I'm working on. A bonus was its interesting resonance with chapter 2 of Camille Paglia's luminous Sexual Personae: Art and Decadence from Nefertiti to Emily Dickinson, "The Birth of the Western Eye," which I read just a couple of weeks ago. Paglia credits Egyptian art, and its apex the iconic painted sculpture of Akhenaten's sublimely beautiful queen, as the origin of the Western aesthetic sensibility. Budge's work of nearly a century ago locates it in history.

Of little likely appeal to the casual reader, Tutānkhamen, Amenism, Atenism and Egyptian Monotheism satisfies an interest that goes beyond glamour and fad. Budge's volume of Egyptological research and interpretation exhibits the intense dedication of a scholar to his subject that I admire as I admire the work of any whose life is exalted by a defining passion. ( )
  Meredy | Jan 22, 2014 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0517233800, Hardcover)

Noted Egyptologist's careful account, written to counter flurry of misinformation after 1922 discovery of Tutankhamen's tomb, of the known facts about the reign of Tutankhamen, the cults of Amen and Aten, and Egyptian monotheism. Over 50 illustrations and hieroglyphic texts of most important hymns to Amen and Aten.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:24:17 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

Noted Egyptologist's careful account, written to counter flurry of misinformation after 1922 discovery of Tutankhamen's tomb, of the known facts about the reign of Tutankhamen, the cults of Amen and Aten, and Egyptian monotheism. Over 50 illustrations and hieroglyphic texts of most important hymns to Amen and Aten.… (more)

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