“Perhaps the legacy of Akhenaten, that changer of religion yet “Dweller in Truth” ( with a capital “T”), lies in that all humans ought to search for. Intrigued by the ruins of Akhetaten, the young noble Meriamun resolves to find out the truth about the heretic pharaoh Akhenaten. Akhenaten: Dweller In Truth. Written by Naguib Mahfouz Review by Michael I. Shoop. The story of the “heretic” Egyptian pharaoh Akhenaten and his fabulously .

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Written in the lively coffee houses of the Khan el-Khalili bazaar, his stories are full of colourful characters.

Akhenaten, Dweller in Truth (Naguib Mahfouz) – book review

So far, he is the only Nobel Prize winner for Arabic literature. But besides the lives he describes in the alleys of modern Cairo, he wrote a small number of novels set in ancient Egypt. Dweller in Truththe tale is recounted of the rise and decline of king Akhenaten and his new religion, which placed the sun disk Aten above all other gods. Not the controversial pharaoh himself speaks, but his family members, loyal servants and enemies.

He is in turn described as a seer, weakling, philosopher, asexual, childhood friend and lover. Every character has their own background and agenda, leaving the truth in the middle.


Finally, the beautiful Nefertiti has her say. She stays behind as an outcast between the crumbling walls of Akhetaten, the former capital built for the greater glory of the sole god.

Mahfouz lets Akhenaten perform as a misunderstood mystic and prophet, who single-handedly takes on the powerful priesthood of Amun. One is reminded of Jesus vs. Like other prophets, he understands that God is omnipresent and need not be honoured inside gloomy temple halls.

But just like any other who radically tries to break with tradition, he is ultimately denounced and his legacy undone.

Amarna As an Egyptology student I have visited Amarna the former Akhetatenand I was highly impressed by the vastness and tranquility of the infertile stretch of desert where Akhenaten instructed his city to be built. The sun beats down mercilessly on this barren landscape.

Akhenaten: Dweller in Truth

But although akhenatwn settlement was dismantled stone by stone, you will find traces of its former glory. Boundary stelae with life-sized images of Akhenaten and his queen Nefertiti mark the borders of the area, and the royal tomb lies forgotten in the hills.

dqeller The foundations of the palaces and a townhouse have been partly reconstructed, a single column still pointing towards the heavens. Whether Akhenaten was ultimately a visionary or a megalomaniac, the art of the Amarna period belongs to the most splendid in history.


He was a visionary, promising a paradise irreconcilable with human nature.

Akhenaten, Dweller In Truth

He confronted people with their mediocrity and provoked their deepest fears. So they pounced on him with animal anger and desperation. One of the boundary stelas of Amarna with images of the royal pair. Relief of Akhenaten and his family in adoration of the Aten, inside the royal romb.

Akhenaten: Dweller in Truth – Nicky van de Beek

Foundations of the North Palace at Amarna. Your email address will not be published.

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Notify me of new posts by email. Perhaps the description of Akhenaten by the physician of the king is most striking: Leave a Reply Cancel reply Your email address will not be published.