Small diversion.. Akhenathen

[ 2 ] Comments


Reading my previous posts in this blog, I realize that you may have the feeling that my life is all about astronomy… it is mostly true especially right now (!), but I still have interest in other subjects than the stars and the planets. I am very found of history in general and I tried to watch, read, listen podcast/video/books about this subject. This morning while coming to work, I listened to a podcast about the Pharaoh called Akhenathen. We know that the Ancient Egypt had various pharaohs so why this one deserves more interest than any others? Well Akhenathen was apparently the first king who tried to impose a monotheist religion. Aten, the disk of the sun, was the god that he chose to worship because he recognized that it was the source of life of our planet which brings heat and light necessary to help plants growing and life to flourish. Additionally, it was an easy god to worship since it was visible by everybody.

This happened  more than 3450 years ago and decrypting the hieroglyphs, the historians tried to understand his motivations. The ancient texts revealed that despite the ambitious construction of temples, a new city dedicated to his god, and a giant obelisk (now located in Rome), Akhenathon failed to impose his monotheist religion. After his death, his successors erased his work destroying all the infrastructures related to this cult and the history of Egypt went back to “normality”.

We will never know the motivation of Akhenaton, it is clear that his task was not a success and was not understood by his peers. One against a system can barely change it, but one can bring a new concept that grow in tour mind with times. It may even change the world…


About Franck Marchis

Dr. Franck Marchis is a Senior Researcher and Chair of the Exoplanet Group at the Carl Sagan Center of the SETI Institute since July 2007. Over the past 19 years, he has dedicated his research to the study of our solar system, specifically the search for asteroids with moons, using mainly ground-based telescopes equipped with adaptive optics. More recently, he has been also involved in the definition of new generation of AOs for 8 -10 m class telescopes and future Extremely Large Telescopes. He has developed algorithms to process and enhance the quality of images, both astronomical and biological. His currently involved in the Gemini Planet Imager Exoplanet Survey, which consists in imaging exoplanets using an extreme AO system for the Gemini South telescope. This new instrument is capable of imaging and recording spectra of young Jupiter-like exoplanets orbiting around nearby stars.

2 Responses to Small diversion.. Akhenathen

  1. Arnaud says:

    Franck, thanks for sharing this. Interesting that it still relates to Astronomy with the Sun playing such an important part of their lives.

  2. David says:

    There is a quite good movie based on an excellent novel: Sinuhe the Egyptian, by Mika Waltari. The story of a Egyptian doctor is used to narrate the changes that happened in the fertile crescent during that period, specially around the Nile, and the political situation before and during the Akhenaton brief reing.

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