Travel impressions V.

As an anecdote, some time during the reign of the first hikso ruler  of Egypt, called Salitis, there was a general commotion in the Eastern Mediterranean, caused by huge volcanic eruption that made explode , literally, the Thera island, producing a tsunami that devastated coastlines and ports of  Creta, and whose immediate effects were in Egypt nine days of darkness that surely produced a huge scare to more than one, over the country of the god Sun .
For over a hundred years or so,  the successive kings hicsos governed,  and already completely egyptianized towards 1530,  it opens a period of occasional popular revolts against them that although they were severely repressed by Apofis,  convinced the king Sequenenre of Thebes, that it was time to confront the invaders. In his mummy was found five wounds, each of them fatal, that illustrate what was the final result of their bellicose efforts, besides the fact, anecdotal or not, that the Egyptian kings of this period, were involved actively in the battles. the body of Sequenenre was taken to Thebes where he received honors of hero. following its wake, his successor Kamose even plunder Avaris, before the amazement of everyone, but died without completing the task that ultimately a son of Sequenenre , with the final expulsion of hicsos, fact by which it is agreed that Ahmosis
should was inaugurating a new dynasty, the eighteenth, beginning with the New Empire.

After some signs of rebellion were crushed at Nubia, Ahmosis was determined to end the threat of the aamu, so that after conquering Avaris, chased the remnants of the hikso army to Sharuhen in the Canaanite coast, where they were   strong and devastated the city to such an extent that would never rebuilt. Once extinct in danger of a new invasion, the king spread the devastation to all the cities of Canaan that he could access, in order to build a real policy of terror, both abroad and in the interior, from the beginning, inside the own Egyptian territory was applied to do piles with the hands cut from the bodies of the supporters of Seth, collaborators of the Asian Dynasties (this was an abhorrent behavior that had the practical purpose, of facilitating to the scribes the computation of enemies killed, such as still reflect the bas of Medinet Habu to the time of Ramses III). His successor Amenofis I maintained a protectorate over the cities of Syria, Nubia and the country of Kus (a part of the current Sudan), and he was well remembered in statues and monuments by the subsequent monarchs, but not too much is known of his reign, it seems that here can be applied the English proverb, “no news are good news”.

The influence of the clergy of Amon evolved during the reigns of the several Amenhotep and Thutmosis consecutive, although Amón never again pose a problem because from the beginning, the monarchy left the administration in the hands of officials, so the priests just had got certain control in the exclusive circle of the religion, although determinated political aspects of the succession were so connected to God, due to their intimate relationship with the king, which in some way conditioned its resolution to the approval of the clergy.

The priests were no longer noble, now  they are sons of officials, new people, Amun is the supporter of the clergy and monarchy.  Amun is the head of the gods of each prefecture and as the representative of the god is the king, therefore the prefectures are subordinated to the monarchy, and by a  mystical algorithm similar, clergy supports the monarchy as long as it is who represents Amon. According to some authors, at this time,regarding dynastic issues, Amon is considered the father of the king, if he would have a male descendant (with a real princess, preferably a sister), the new king would take the name of Amenophis (Amenhotep) , if not, then a son of some concubine of the king should marry a real princess and then would take the name of Thutmosis, in fact the clergy of Amon had no objection to make prevail to the wife and sister of  Thutmosis II, the famous Queen-king  Hatshepsut against Thutmosis III who despite having been chosen when he was a child for the post, though not willingly, he agreed to reign just after the death of the queen. So, they who were called Amenophis, they were directly sons of the King (Amon) and they who were called Thutmosis, they were sons of the law (Thot was the god of law), these sons were “legal” as long as they were married to royal princesses,in order to keep the blood of Amon (of the King, of course) in the dynastic line. Hatshepsut took advantage of this opportunity to assert their rights and to keep the throne to herself, invoking his lineage (of Amon) and the clergy not only did not object, but actually they encouraged the queen, in fact during his reign existed a rather than sacred bond between the monarchy and clergy, for instance, the second high priest of Amon and real great architect, Senmut, fue el amante de la reina y el constructor del impresionante mausoleo que edificó para ella, al lado del templo funerario de Mentuhotep IV en  Deir-el-Bahari.

The large size and the sumptuous look that from this time acquired the sacred enclosure of Karnak with the continuing contributions of  the several Thutmose and Amenhotep (the ends of the obelisks and a pylon even came to be coated with an alloy of gold and silver called electron), can give us an idea of the magnificence that surrounded the court of the priests of Amun, true kings in their own world.

By accessing the throne Thutmosis III, at start, initially he worked hard in to restore the Egyptian hegemony beyond its borders, thing that he got it when undid the plans of a coalition of cities that tried to face him, and then launched himself to an authentic work of conquest, leading Egypt to become a true empire. Retenu was conquered (the Lebanese-Palestinian coastal strip), and secured his position in the coastal cities of the area to take advantage of the newly confiscated fleet, to use it to transport troops and tasks of supply. Obviously it was not therefore a new preventive raid, this time, Egypt comes to stay. Thutmosis not deposes the native princes in most cases, making efforts to maintain frequent contact with their new Asian provinces without forget harvesting the taxes, of course. Then became entangled with Mitanni, that on several occasions had organized revolts against Egypt, so  first conquered Biblos in whose shipyards, he would build boats with cedar wood to cross the Eufrates in order to face the army of Mitanni, who defeated several times, show of force that led automatically to neighboring countries, Hatti, Assur y Babilonia to seek friendship with the king of Egypt,  flooding him with gifts, as was customary in such situations. Thutmose III established military bases every 65 km, along the Syrian coast, with the purpose of maintaining the Egyptian presence in the area permanently. However Thutmosis is not only an able military leader, but also showed a well-oiled diplomatic machine, which was applied to establish a policy of conciliation, of good relations with the conquered provinces, beginning a period of stability of what commerce was the direct beneficiary. Moreover, in some ways was the forerunner of a new stage in relations with the clergy, which during the sucesive reigns of the Amenhoteps and Thutmosis , they reduced the political influence of Amon, which it had culminated during the reign of Hatshepsut.

Thutmosis III, during his reign, strived to delete all references he could find of Hatshepsut at temples and monuments,and threw to the quarries, previously mutilated images and statues of the queen. This was not only a mere tantrum child, but that resulted in a stealthy and gradual return to the meaning and religious conception of Heliopolis, more appropriate for the absolute monarchy, although this antique religious centre depended,at this period, of the clergy of Karnak.

Egypt was the principal economic and military power in the known world, but the international language of business was not the egyptian language but the Akkadian, the language of Babylon. On the islands of the Aegean and the Greek coast on the contrary, the Egyptian currency was used, the kedet, and this was well due to the marked economic relations, that from the Twelfth Dynasty Egyptian kept with traders minoans and later with mycenaeans, to the point of being the origin of the port Pharos, that eventually would become Alexandria, Built exclusively for trade with the eastern Mediterranean island. The Egyptian influence is evident in the first doric temples and largely in the  own Greek mythology:  Cecrops the mythical founder of the first Athens, came from Egypt and also Erechtheus, like Danaus, Egypt’s twin brother, who was settled in the Mycenaean city of Argos, etc.

Waterfront Babylonian commercial empire, which connected India and Anatolia to the Syrian coast, Egypt developed an intense commercial activity thanks to the islands as far as Alasia (Cyprus), even it has discussed the possibility that would exist some kind of protectorate since there is evidence that Egypt recieved taxes from the princes of the islands.

Amenofis II,  after the death of Thutmose III, had to quell a rebellion from the Asian provinces, later in order to produce more fear, he ordered to sacrifice publicly six rebel princes in Thebes and one in Napata, the capital of the viceroyalty of Nubia.

Amun, during the reign of Amenhotep II, enjoys with the bloodshed and at the temple of the god were slaughtered the enemies of the monarchy, once, before a battle, that night, while the king piously prayed to Amun “It was ordered to capture victims alive. It was ordered to do two pieces of each one of them all. And here it was all burned. His Majesty was alone, no one was with him. Apart from the palace guard, the troops were already far from the king “(big trail of Mit-Rahineh. Vl. Vikentiev” crossing the Orontes “). Fortunately religious terrorism of Amenhotep II was only a macabre parentheses and Thutmosis IV did not act the same way, he gave way to diplomacy, as had the previous Thutmose, ignoring the rights of the clergy, he bypassed the influence of Amun in dynastic issue, by marrying Mutemuia, a princess of Mitanni, instead of having married a royal princess of Egypt, Mitanni, which at that time feared more danger from the North Hittite, chosen in this way, establishing cordial relations with Egypt, its former enemy.

Amenofis III deepened the divide between royalty and the clergy, mimicking what was done by Thutmose IV, when marrying foreign princesses from all the influential monarchs of the time, indiscriminately ,in a unprecedented diplomatic effort. International relations demanded a kind of religious synthesis which equated to Amun-Ra, with the cult of Shamash, so that the  Pharaoh (it is from then when it was start to use the term) as representative of Amun, now a universal god, will appear in the Asian provinces, endowed with a certain mystique additional legitimacy. “The sun …” “my Sun …”, was called the Pharaoh in the protocols and the international diplomatic correspondence; an example of the syncretism reached in this period  is the winged Sun disk such as it appears at the top in the mythological pantheons of all the relevant monarchies of this moment.

Book of What is in the Underworld” although it began during the Twelfth Dynasty, was completed in the time of Amenhotep II and reflects the solar theology own dynasties of Thebes. This book describes the daily journey of the two boats of Ra on the primordial waters of Mu that surround the two worlds, the upper and lower,  crossing  as Ra-Horakhti in one of them,the sky during the day, and as Iufu (Afu-Ra) through the underworld with the other boat during the night. Every night, Ra, aged, with his aspect of ram, once lost the character of subtle spirit, is assassinated by his own creatures, but if Ra dies, dies with the existence itself, so in order to create it again, Ra, have to reborn each morning, and do it emerging from the mouth of the goddess Mut, with the appearance of a child. All this is very different from the traditional mystique, both Heliopolitan, and that of Hermopolis or Memphis, with which it shares, however, the essence of the solar cult.

The Amun Hymn, was one of the weapons wielded by the monarchy against the clergy, with which distanced itself radically from the elaborated symbolism, such as liked to the priests of Amun, in order to keep in the darkness to the secular world. It was written in colloquial language with the object that could be understood by everyone. Amenhotep III imposed the return to Heliopolitan theology (by which sovereignty resides in the crown without the direct intervention of Amun, removing in this way any authority to the clergy) and prepared the advent of  Atón, the radiant solar disk, in order to assimilating it to solar deities of Asia, as already mentioned, trying to establish some religious uniformity in his empire. The sirian Adonai could be a remnant of this intent, given the etymological similarity (Adon in Hebrew means “lord”, Adonai is the royal plural, used to refer to the deity).

Amenofis IV, Akhenaten, would lead to its ultimate consequences, those religious ideas that were sketched by his father, drastically cutting any ties to the classic religious dogma, with the purpose to set up a militant monotheism, completely new, in its place.

Bibliography:    Jacques Pirenne      “Ancient Egypt History”

Paul Garelli               “Middle East History”