Hymn to the Aten  


O  The Great Hymn to the Aten  O
Last Updated 17/11/01: Richard Grosser: cadre@xtra.co.nz


Akhenaten Sphinx
Fig 1. Akhenaten as a sphinx

    Probably from Amarna
    Reign of Akhenaten, 1353 - 1336 B.C. Limestone;
h. 51 cm, w. 105.5 cm, d. 5.2 cm
    Egyptian Curator's Fund. Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, 1964 64.1944

    The sphinx, an incarnation of Ra-Horakhty, the god of the rising sun,
was an appropriate image for use by Atenists.
Akhenaten was frequently depicted as a sphinx worshiping Aten.

- Inscription -
West wall of the tomb of Ay,
Tell el-Amarna.

When you set in western lightland,
Earth is in darkness as if in death;
One sleeps in chambers, heads covered,
One eye does not see another,
Were they robbed of their goods,
That are under their heads,
People would not remark it,
Every lion comes from its den,
All the serpents bite;
Darkness hovers, earth is silent,
As their maker rests in lightland.
Earth brightens when you dawn in lightland,
When you shine as Aten of daytime;
As you cast your rays,
The Two Lands are in festivity.
Awake they stand on their feet,
You have roused them;
Bodies cleansed, clothed,
Their arms adore your appearance.

Royal Face
Fig 2. Fragment of a royal woman's face

Reign of Akhenaten, 1353 - 1336 B.C. Jasper;
h. 13 cm, w. 12.5 cm, d. 11.5 cm Purchase, Edward S. Harkness Gift, 1926.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

The semiprecious stone and superb carving of this fragment indicate that it was part of a statue depicting a royal woman, possibly Queen Tiye or Nefertiti. While the face was of jasper, the remainder of the statue would have been made of other stone. The sensuous beauty of this fragment has made it one of the most renowned objects from the Amarna Period.

The entire land sets out to work,
All beasts browse on their herbs;
Trees, herbs are sprouting,
Birds fly from their nests,
Their wings greeting your ka,
All flocks frisk on their feet,
All that fly up and alight,
They live when you dawn for them.
Ships fare north, fare south as well,
Roads lie open when you rise;
The fish in the river dart before you,
Your rays are in the midst of the sea.
Who makes seed grow in women,
Who creates people from sperm;
Who feeds the son in his mother's womb,
Who soothes him to still his tears.

Column Drum
Fig 3. Fragment of a column drum featuring the royal family worshiping

Amarna, found at Hermopolis Reign of Akhenaten, 1353 - 1336 B.C. Limestone;
h. 22.4 cm, w. 52.5 cm, d. 6.1 cm Mary S. and Edward J. Holmes Fund. Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, 1967 67.637

Nurse in the womb,
Giver of breath,
To nourish all that he made,
When he comes from the womb to breathe,
On the day of his birth,
You open wide his mouth,
You supply his needs.
When the chick in the egg speaks in the shell,
You give him breath within to sustain him;
When you have made him complete,
To break out from the egg,
He comes out from the egg,
To announce his completion,
Walking on his legs he comes from it.


[Lichtheim, M. (1976) #97-8]

Grimal, N. , (1992)  A History of Ancient Egypt
Translated by Ian Shaw. Oxford, UK.


AEL: The Great Hymn to the Aten - Geoffrey Graham

AEL: Discussion List on Hymn to the Aten

Literature of the Amarna Period

Brooklyn College: Hymn to the Aten

Hymn to the Aten: from the tombs of Api & Tutu in Akhetaten

The Ancient Egyptian Bibliography: The New Kingdom

Texts & Philology:Egypt


Dedicated to
- The Afghan Refugees, Saturday, 16th November 2001 -

= Music of the Aten =