Akhenaten, Eclipses and the Chronology of the Egyptian XVIII Dynasty


According to the conventional chronology for the Egyptian VXIII Dynasty, this period coincides with a statistically rare concentration of total eclipses visible from Egypt. In addition, a boundary stela from Amarna links the building of the city to a series of ‘evil omens’. This paper considers whether these omens could have been the eclipses; and discusses the consequences both for the conventional chronology of this period and the evidence for changes to the Earth’s rotation.


Many would view the Eighteenth Dynasty pharaoh Akhenaten as a great religious reformer, the first monotheist; others might prefer to see him as a tyrant. It is known that in the first year of his reign, Amenhotep IV, as he then was, abandoned the old Egyptian gods and declared that henceforth he would worship solely the Aten: an aspect of the sun-disk. In the fourth year of his reign, he renamed himself Akhenaten, or ‘Spirit of the Aten’ and proclaimed Atenism as the official state religion, shunning Amun and the all the old gods. What is most surprising is that the Egyptian people went along with this heresy and indeed, it would persist into the reign of his successor Tutankhamun.

A dawn eclipse at Amarna?






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This paper was originally written in 2006. Additional information is available in the book Under Ancient Skies and an update is available in a new 2022 article: Troy or Amarna? The Oldest Recorded Solar Eclipse.

Tags: Akhenaten, eclipse, dawn eclipse, Egyptian chronology, Aten, Amenhotep III, Thutmose, Hittites


Dunbavin, Paul (2020) Akhenaten and Eclipses, in Prehistory Papers, pp 85-97, Third Millennium Publishing, Beverley, ISBN: 978-0-9525029-4-4

Paul Dunbavin & Third Millennium Publishing, November 2019, V1.3