Travel impressions VI


The positivist philosophy of Amenofis IV, influenced the poetry, music and especially sculpture, endowing them with a naturalism that broke with the usual fees, it deploying new concepts and new forms affected of a  humanism,  outside the stereotyped classical formalism,until the point of constituting an  own style,  the Amarna style.
Politically, Amenhotep IV revived the old confrontation with the clergy of Thebes, which dated to Tuthmosis III, marrying  Taduhepa, a princess Mitannian (referred to hereafter as Nefertiti, although there are differing opinions, I personally think that the Nefertiti profile seems not Egyptian) but this was nothing compared with the tremendous conflict which immediately organized when he ordered to ruin with picks and hammers, all the effigies of the traditional gods in the main temples in order to imply that he was serious, there was no god but Aten.

Also ordered, close all temples and expropriating properties and privileges of clergy and  the oligarchy, then he delivered the management and administration of all of those things,to new persons from poor backgrounds. The powerful priesthood of Amun was abolished (amazing!), Pharaoh becomes from that moment in the only representative of god and state, at Heliopolitan style, establishing himself as a populist dye absolutism. Aten, as did Ra during  XIIth dinasty, proclaims the equality of all men and even  also required fraternity. With the worship of Aten is abandoned the usual enigmatic language of the clergy of Amon , in order to speak in street slang, with the evident intention of making himself understood. Also were replaced the old cults that were held behind closed doors inside the temples, with public rites outdoors, in   opened   solar temples , at XIIth dinasty style.
The clergy of Amun was entertained, meanwhile, spreading dark omens and defamations among the people, poisoning the atmosphere with the abject purpose of causing alarm. Amenhotep IV disgusted, decided to abandon the ambience of Karnak and found a  city entirely new, in northern, between  Tebas and Menfis, which called Akhetaton (Aten horizon) better known as Tell el Amarna, rounding with this action what it was revealed really as a real revolution directed from the state itself against the power of the clergy.

Amenhotep III had developed an effective policy for peace with neighboring Asian kingdoms, granting loans everywhere, but Amenhotep IV, made the terrible mistake of denying to its Asian allies this money with that his father kept them happy. Denying those loans (probably to meet the huge expenditure involved in building a city entirely new) unexpectedly triggered a series of events those generated an enormous instability in the vicinity of its borders in Asia.
He missed the “friendship” from  Hatti that his predecessor had established so hard,  and he abandoned to his fate to  Dushratta, King of  Mittani quien sería asesinado por su hijo Mattiwaza, circumstances that their neighbors took advantage, the Hurrians, to invade the country with the help of Assurballit who would establish an assyrian protectorate in the area, although Mattiwaza escaped and found refuge in Babylon.

Amenhotep IV in view of the situation, was forced to deal directly with Assurballit, which in practice meant acknowledging the existence of the kingdom of Assur, something that greatly angered to Babylon, which until then regarded Assur almost as an  province, a vassal state.  Burnaburiash II, king of Babylon, to ensure the route to the Mediterranean had to recognize the independence of Assyria, establishing formal relations with the new kingdom, by marrying his son and a daughter of Assurballit. Burnaburiash’s son died before him, so at king’s death, under the pretext of securing the kingdom for his grandson, Assurballit seized Babylon. Mattiwaza once again fled,this time in the direction of Hatti, finding to Suppiluliuma very willing to support it.
The disallowance of Amenhotep IV, urged the king of Hatti to look elsewhere for those resources that the pharaoh denied him, passing to establish relationships directly with Amurru y Kadesh, vassal states of Egypt, which was unacceptable and explicitly prohibited by international treaties,  that linked the two countries. Faced with the passivity of the king of Egypt, Assyria began its rise as nation, spreading terror everywhere through blood and fire, a threat against which, the Egyptian presence was quickly diluted within the Asian provinces , Tiro y Biblos became independent in front of the absence of protection, Amurru rebelled with the instigation of Hatti and the cities of Palestine  facing each other. Amenhotep IV always wanted to keep the peace but ultimately had to send  the general Horemheb to put some order.

Parallel to these developments, the pharaoh kept constant clashes with the clergy of Amun and so difficult had to be these relations than the king near the end of his reign, initiated a rapprochement to the clergy, to minimize the boycott of the priests of Thebes, although it did not work . It appears that then the king maintained a co-regency with Smenkhare, who was married with one of the daughters of the king, Meritaten, with the intention of departing himself step aside  from power, to restore the relations with Amon, but he only got that the queen Nefertiti, faithful to Aten,  was separated from him.
On the death of Amenhotep IV (causes actually remain unknown) and the  Smenkhare  a little later, During three years, barely, Nefertiti  took the regency on behalf of Tutankhatón, who had been given in marriage to the daughter of Amenhotep IV, Ankhesenpaatón, but the clergy of Amon snatched him when I was twelve years old, taking him to Thebes, where he would be enthroned as Tutankhamen and used to legitimize the restoration of Amun. The result for the Egyptian people  was appalling, the pharaoh who still was a child was deliberately involved in the goings-on of Karnak which unleashed the whole institutional perversity imaginable: a word in favor of social justice was automatically associated to the former regime and inmediately disqualified if not even pursued.
All the privileges of the clergy and the oligarchy were restored and even increased significantly and all what had been confiscated from the temples was exponentially compensated. Misery swept through Egypt, mafias and absolute corruption of the administration, devoured the treasure of the state. Tutankhamun sometime raised his voice against injustice for to the followers of Aten: he died at eighteen, He was succeeded by Ay,
an ephemeral and dark official, a staff member of the palace, who apparently had married Ankhesenpaatón, at the Tutankhamun’s death, after the failed attempt of the widow, to marry a son of the king of Hatti, who would be killed during the journey, thereby completely infuriate to Suppiluliuma,  who openly declared war on Egypt,however, Horemheb once again halted the offensive effectively, defeating troops of Arnuwanda, Crown Prince of Hatti, son of Suppiluliuma.

It was intended to make dissapear the reign of Amenhotep IV from history, Akhetaton town of Amenophis IV was abandoned, were times of “progroms”, were times of mass conversion, within repression and abuse without measure, even Horemheb himself, sole owner of the army and certainly the most popular and powerful character of the moment was declared himself servant of Amun, coming to stand as the direct successor, obviously anachronistic, of Amenofis II (whom clergy of Amun adored), once attained the throne.

Horemheb came to power thanks to his personal merits, and through the timely intervention of an oracle from Amun, nor lacked to him the support of the oligarchy, after all he was a descendant of a prominent family, representative of the most ancient nobility, although had lost their hereditary privileges, two hundred and fifty years back.

However Horemheb plans  did not go through to become a puppet of Karnak, and it became clear the same day of his coronation, when he  presented himself with great ceremony  as the son of Horus, the old royal god y  patron god from the  nome of Hutnesut (Nemty)
where his family had exercised the sovereignty,showing himself as a faithful follower of tradition, not precisely from Amun . In fact, his intention, despite appearances, was to continue in the manner possible, the reviled policy of Amenhotep III and IV.

Horemheb was a man  close to Amenhotep IV, and although he may be not agree in the radical manner of doing , sympathized with his doctrine. Throughout his reign was concerned to restore justice, placing it in the hands of men chosen by himself from among the best judges of Egypt. Were promulgated decrees against arbitrary taxes that some governors had set for his own benefit and against the bribes to judges and officials,  as well as misappropriations of the harvest. In the other hand, Horemheb  bolstered the traditional feudal polytheism versus monotheism that affected the clergy of Amun, probably to assert himself on the throne, by virtue of their lineage rights, fact that obviously favored to the oligarchy.   Numerous privileges were granted to the clergy of Thebes as well. Once all, both Amun clergy and oligarchy, were more or less satisfied, he snatched the power to prospective candidates of the oligarchy, and sidestepping the religious jurisdiction in dynastic matters, he adopted a man of his choice, Ramses, oblivious to the nobility, from militar career and appointed him his successor .

Horemheb was actually who opened the Ramesside era, he forged the political person of Ramses, who really was only a commander, a warrior who nevertheless conducted the commissioned work promptly, arguably it was only the instrument of Horemheb but surely it was not thus, he had to see something in him that persuaded him to promote him to this job. The clergy of Amun had to accept the unusual decision reluctantly but on the other hand, all their rights had been restored and after all, the theological scheme needs the royal figure of the king, however from the first moment the clergy and the kings were quartered each one in their own positions. The political pretensions of the clergy of Amon showed a strong nationalism and bet for a kind of manorial economy, more closed, less commercial and simultaneously monarchy instead, employed all their efforts, including military ones, to keep open the trade routes and practicing openly  a sort of religious heterodoxy, approaching in ritual matters to the Asian customs, what certainly was close to heresy.

Ramses I, was old when he came to power, so he associated  the throne to his son Seti soon, whom he would begin a new era of prosperity in Egypt, but the external environment had changed since the last times of Amenhotep IV and Hatti was preparing for war. It started when Muwatalli pushed the Bedouins (shasu) from Palestine to take, which they did, the twenty-three Egyptian fortresses that guarded an important militar route across the zone, though Seti regained control in a few months, taking many prisoners, whose leaders were sacrificed publicly to Amun at Karnak. Seti was ready to face Muwatalli, but before he had to undo an attempted invasion of the Delta by a heterogeneous army consisting of Libyans and Europeans, although later he returned to Syria and defeated the Hittites at Kadesh, at the same time he would obtain from Bentesina, king of Amurru oath of allegiance, although  Muwatalli, dethroned him right away, putting in his place to Sabili, faithful of Hatti,  converting the triumph of Seti in a partial victory.
Seti, as his father before, associated  to Ramses II to the throne soon. He enjoyed the fabulous epoch that economic policy of Seti had brought to Egypt ,so Ramses II was undoubtedly the richest monarch of his time and his army, the most powerful in the world.
The Muwatalli’s movements, those treaties with neighboring vassal states that he was making, were followed with attention by the Egyptian military staff and pending the appropriate time, Ramses organized his army and strengthened his borders, personally inspecting their bases and ports in Palestine and Phoenicia, while Hatti in the meantime is prepared in the north. Ramses trusted in his army and he believe in his final triumph around the city of Kadesh, but in his impatience had paid attention to some false reports and he crossed the Orontes only with the division of Ra, without waiting to the division of Amun,neither to the division of Ptah nor the division of Seth,still far behind,(Ramses I had replaced the old dual division of the army, North and South, by three divisions, each under the patronage of a god, Amun, Ra and that of Ptah, Seth’s being added later, which was mainly composed by Libyans, Europeans and Asians). Fortunately for Ramses II, some hittite spies were caught and forced to confess, informing to the king of the precarious situation in which he was. Quickly sent messengers to the lagged divisions in order to they would expedite the march, while the division of Re was splitted in two by the offensive Hittite and assaulted the own camp of Ramses , who nevertheless handled appropriately their chariots to make flee disorderly to the army of Muwatalli.

Hatti, lost the bellow and the surprise, waived to inflict more wear to his troops and finally is retired, while Ramses also turned and retreated, licking their wounds. Muwatalli avoided new confrontations and he spent the rest of his life to keep busy to Ramses, promoting successive uprisings throughout Palestine. Hatti really could not afford a direct confrontation against Egypt,because he needed his army to defend his own country against the ruthless Assyrian expansionism. On the death of Muwatalli, there was a dynastic crisis from which emerged triumphant Hattusil, aware of the Assyrian threat, sought to restore diplomatic relations with Egypt, inexistent since the times of Amenhotep IV, requesting by letter to Ramses “I took the sovereignty, but you have not sent your ambassador and have not done what is use among kings when they ascend to the throne, like sending rich presents, royal fabrics and perfumed oils”. Ramses responded him politely without ceasing to march to the north, of course. Hattusil got a brief respite he used to forge an alliance with Babylon in order to keep within its borders to the Assyrians. Immediately reinforced the garrison of Tunip to stop the advance of Egypt, but could not slow Ramses, who took the city. The Assyrian Shalmaneser taking advantage of that nobody had no eyes on him, advanced to the Euphrates, threatening Mittani.

Hattusil had no choice but to seek peace with Egypt, he was unable to face Egypt and the Assyrians at the same time, so it agreed to peace with Ramses through a historic treaty, from which says a stele at Abu Simbel, as if Ptah would talk to Ramses: “there are secret annals in the libraries, from the times of Ra to your majesty, but the country of Hatti devise their destinations in a single will with Egypt, this had never happened”, in fact this treaty brought decades of peace in all countries of the region, Shalmaneser seeing himself imprisoned within his own borders, decided to use his energies for internal affairs: he moved the capital from Assur to a new city, Nineveh, although drowned his imperialist ambitions, his frustration would have to be evident.