"The Realm of Millions of Years": The World of an Atenist Egypt

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: Before 1900' started by NikoZnate, Dec 27, 2011.

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  1. NikoZnate γνῶθι σεαυτόν

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    The Realm of Millions of Years
    The World of an Atenist Egypt

    PREFACE

    “… I decided to look around for something else to worship. Something I could really count on… And immediately, I thought of the sun. Happened like that. Overnight I became a sun-worshipper. Well, not overnight, you can't see the sun at night. But first thing the next morning, I became a sun-worshipper. Several reasons. First of all, I can see the sun, okay? Unlike some other gods I could mention, I can actually see the sun. I'm big on that. If I can see something, I don't know, it kind of helps the credibility along, you know?”
    ~ George Carlin

    So… This is my timeline. It’s been knocking around in my head for some months, so now begins the laborious process of getting it from in there to on here. Hopefully, obligations such as school and work won’t interfere more than they have to in order to allow semi-regular updates, and more importantly those who read said updates find this TL enjoyable to read. Comments and (constructive) criticism are welcomed and encouraged (as are any questions, of course)!

    As the title suggests, this is the alternate history of an Egypt where the religious (and political) reforms of the (in)famous pharaoh Akhenaten persists beyond his death. In fact, they will do more than persist; they will flourish, and the Atenist religion that comes to be institutionalized and firmly ingrained in Egyptian society by Akhenaten’s alt-successors will come to have a lasting and notable impact well beyond the borders of the Twin Kingdoms. Naturally, this will release a horde of butterflies so vast it risks blotting out the sun; but then I suppose I’ll be able to speculate in the shade. :cool:

    The point at which the history of this world diverges from our own does not, in fact, take place during the reign of Akhenaten himself, but rather during the reign of his father, Amenhotep III. This pharaoh, Amenhotep III, was a giant in his day, but is often overlooked by history, which tends to cover ancient Egypt in a rather cursory manner in order to move on to his more “interesting” son. This is unfortunate, as Amenhotep’s life and reign without a doubt laid the groundwork on which Akhenaten would stage his revolution.

    Amenhotep III ruled the Egyptian Empire at its height, in terms of territory, political clout, and possibly even its wealth. He was the first ruler of his dynasty who did not have to partake of a military campaign in the Near East. No Middle Eastern monarchs challenged Egyptian rule over the Levant while he reigns, not even the ambitious and famously belligerent Hittites. The great kings of Mesopotamia sent their daughters to him as tribute, and lesser princes scraped and bowed before him without hesitation. His armies of diplomats built a web of commercial and political alliances across the eastern Mediterranean, exercising the full extent of Egypt’s soft power after decades upon decades of his ancestors had flexed the nation’s military muscle. The Pax Aegyptica he oversaw allowed the wealth of three continents to pour into his coffers, and he was soon putting it to use. Amenhotep III was one of the most prolific builders in OTL Egypt’s history, out-done only by Ramesses II.

    But even Ramesses II never dared to do that which Amenhotep did in the 30th year of his reign, during the celebration of his jubilee. While Egypt’s kings had long claimed to be the avatars of the god Horus on earth, Amenhotep III used his jubilee celebrations as a stage for an elaborate ceremony, symbolically (and later, through name changes, outright) announcing his metamorphosis into the creator deity: Amen-Ra. His devotion to the solar creator god (who he now literally WAS, as far as state theology was concerned) had manifested itself throughout his reign in the form of nods and honors bestowed here and there both upon the aforementioned deity and his more concrete manifestation, the Aten – the literal disk of the sun. Amenhotep named royal barges and palaces after the “Orb of the Dazzling Sun”, and by the time of his jubilee had adopted the Aten as a sort of personal totem. Clearly, it is evident that his heir’s fascination with the sun disk did not spring from nowhere.

    But we’re getting ahead of ourselves, here… The jubilee and metamorphosis do not take place until 16 years after the point of divergence. So, let’s have a seat, sift through the sands of time, and celebrate a birthday that will go slightly differently from how it went in our world…
     
  2. NikoZnate γνῶθι σεαυτόν

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    First Update! Woot!

    The Realm of Millions of Years
    The World of an Atenist Egypt

    Chapter 1
    The Birth of a Prince

    Regnal Year 14 Under His Majesty King of Upper and Lower Egypt Nebma’atre, Son of Ra Amenhotep-Heqawaset Given Life, Stability, and Dominion

    Cliffs, dry and dead, painted red by the receding twilight sun hemmed the lush, green valley. The sun, the giver of all life, was going into the West, to do battle with the demons of the underworld, that it might by born again the next morning, bathed in the natal blood of Nut, the sky goddess, and bringing with it the renewal and restoration of life and order in the eternal struggle against death and chaos.

    A death in the West, as beneath the opulently painted ceiling of a palace a very real birth foreshadowed the symbolic one promised by the next morning. “The Palace of the Dazzling Sun”, they called it; “The House of Rejoicing” [1], as it was known. These names rang hollow in the ears of the expectant father, whose mind was consumed by dark anxiety for the fate of his beloved wife and the child she was in the midst of bearing, both of them risking the death the Sun god now faced.

    The father was none other than Amenhotep-Heqawaset Nebma’atre [2], the mother to be was the Great Royal Wife Tiye, daughter of Yuya and Tjuya. The queen’s labor had begun not too early that morning, as she was reviewing the other royal children with her handmaidens. The contractions had grown progressively more intense, as was normal, and the entire day she had been cloistered in the Mammisi [3] with none but the midwives – all priestesses of Hathor [4] – and the royal physician permitted to attend to her.

    Now the king sat like stone in a chair beneath a flowering acacia in the pavilion before the Mammisi. Tjawy, the royal butler, had suggested that it might ease his majesty’s nerves to at least be close to the birth house, even if he was not permitted to enter. It was having quite the opposite effect, as each of his wife’s cries of pain reverberated from the chapel and throughout the courtyard, despite the best efforts of the midwives to drown out the sound with their bone castanets and metal sistrum rattles [5].

    Suddenly, a cry louder than any that had preceded it pierced the twilight air. The king’s nerves got the better of him and he rose with the swiftness of lightning, knocking over the chair in which he had just previously been fretting. Tiye’s screams of agony reverberated from the birth house, the encouragements of the physician and chief midwife just barely audible over the din of the priestesses’ instruments.

    Then the exclamations of pain ceased, replaced by the reinvigorated clattering of castanets and shaking of sistra, and accompanied by the ululating of the midwives. The king stood deathly still in the dimming light, not daring to worry, not daring to hope, not daring to feel anything more until he heard news, good or ill. The door of the Mammisi cracked open, casting flickering torchlight and a cloud of incense into the courtyard around the pavilion. A waiflike priestess, her coarse black hair tied back and her brow slicked with sweat, emerged. She started upon seeing the king, and after a quick bow of deference, shot a whisper back into the chapel. The royal physician emerged at her call, wiping blood from his hands with a wet cloth. Upon seeing his majesty, he inclined a light bow, and beckoned him into the chapel.

    It was hot inside, and it stank of incense and blood. The royal physician ushered the king of Upper and Lower Egypt past the main chamber – where he caught but a glimpse of the midwives fussing over what seemed to be a bundle of cloth, and heard a newborn’s cry – to a side room, wherein the Great Royal Wife had been laid on a soft bed, the priestesses attending to her needs. She looked tired, but she had given birth thrice before, and had known what to expect, so she summoned what strength she could and smiled for her husband as he entered. His majesty knelt by the bed, kissed his wife’s hand and grasped it tightly.

    The queen turned her head slightly to face him, and with a quivering voice uttered “It’s a boy…”

    “A boy?” Replied the king.

    “She speaks the truth.” Said the royal physician, pulling back the curtain separating the side room from the main chamber. Three priestesses stepped gingerly through the door, the middle one gently cradling a red-skinned baby boy wrapped tightly in swaddling clothes.

    With care and deference, the priestess handed the newborn to the king, who took the baby tenderly in his arms. Amenhotep and Tiye exchanged a look that communicated more than words ever could. Even though this would be their fourth child together, if he survived, the feeling at seeing new life that they had created felt no less exhilarating.

    “Has His Majesty chosen a name?” Inquired the physician.

    The king and queen exchanged another look, and smiled. They had indeed discussed names many times.

    “We were to call the baby ‘Iset’, if it was a girl…” The king said after a while.

    “As for a boy… Well, our eldest boy is named Thutmose, after my father... Our youngest son, as you well know, carries the name Amenhotep, the name my grandfather held… Great kings of the Two Lands, all of them…” The king raised his newborn son into the air before him “… This one deserves such a name too.”

    Amenhotep cast another look at Tiye, she nodded with a light smile. The king turned to the physician.

    “My newborn son shall be called Iahames [6] after the founder of this great dynasty! Let it be recorded, let it be known!”

    *****************************************************************

    And on that note, history as we know it has changed. In OTL Tiye gave birth to a girl: princess Iset. In this alternate world, prince Iahames has been born is Iset’s stead. His elder brother, Amenhotep, will become the heir to the throne after prince Thutmose dies prematurely as in OTL. While Thutmose’s destiny will be unchanged, that of Amenhotep (later called Akhenaten) will be altered significantly by the presence of Iahames on the Egyptian political scene. What will happen, you ask? Read further updates of “The Realm of Millions of Years” to find out!

    ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    [1] OTL Sources most often refer to it as the Palace of Malkata; its ruins stand today on the western bank of the Nile across from the modern city of Luxor. It was really more of a palace-city, extending over a square mile, comprised of an administrative district, spacious villas and pavilions for courtiers and visiting dignitaries, a primary and secondary palace structure, an artificial lake, and a raised causeway connecting it to the “Mansion of Millions of Years” (Amenhotep III’s mortuary temple) before continuing on for another mile and a half to a ceremonial throne upon a raised dais graced by twin staircases, symbolizing Upper and Lower Egypt.

    [2] Amenhotep III – The Egyptians distinguished kings of the same personal name from one another by the use of individual “Throne Names” taken upon their accession rather than by numerical denomination. Throne Names were sometimes changed over the course of a king’s reign.

    [3] “Birth House” – Often a small, sanitary chapel attached to a temple or palace.

    [4] A goddess associated with childbirth, among other things.

    [5] Which naturally carried the added bonus of driving away any evil spirits that might want to interfere with the birth.

    [6] A variant transcription of the name “Ahmose” that I just happen to prefer – the name means “Born of the Moon”. Ahmose I was Amenhotep III’s great (x5) grandfather, known for expelling the Hyksos from Lower Egypt and establishing the 18th Dynasty.
     
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  3. Bartholome de Fonte Melaninly challenged

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    Excellent! I've often wondered why I haven't seen an Atenist TL, but here it is, like a belated Christmas gift! :D
     
  4. NikoZnate γνῶθι σεαυτόν

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    Here's hoping it turns out to be satisfactory :)
     
  5. Daeres Well-Known Member

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    Aug 16, 2010
    Now here's an interesting and little-used PoD, the more butterflies the merrier!
     
  6. Kaiphranos Hydraulic Despot Donor

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    Well, I'm in. Maybe there will be Hittites somewhere along the way? :D
     
  7. Cuāuhtemōc Instagram Fiend

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    Me gusta muy mucho.
     
  8. B_Munro Member

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    An interesting notion...how far into the future are you planning to take this?

    Bruce
     
  9. NikoZnate γνῶθι σεαυτόν

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    In that case, there'll be much merriment to be had!

    Oh yes... I have plans for the Hittites... They'll have a massive role to play.

    ¡Gracias! :D


    All the way to the *present day, assuming it doesn't do me in first...
     
  10. B_Munro Member

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    Oooh. Maps, I hope?

    Bruce
     
  11. Bartholome de Fonte Melaninly challenged

    Joined:
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    I recommend if you are to try and map out the TL that far, don't get *too* specific for the varying nations and areas, since it will become too hard to work out after while.

    Best of luck though! :)
     
  12. Henriksson Happy-Go-Commie

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    I like your style. :D

    I beg you not to do any of the "glimpse of the future" trick some TL authors like to pull. Completely destroys the reading experience for me.
     
  13. NikoZnate γνῶθι σεαυτόν

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    INTERLUDE 1: On the Egyptian State

    The civilization referred to as “Ancient Egypt” is often presented as an enigma – a romantic mystery buried in the sands of time, requiring the dashing charm and total lack of archaeological scruples of an Indiana Jones to uncover. This, unsurprisingly, is not entirely accurate. While there is a great deal about the Ancient Egyptians and their prodigiously long-lived civilization that contemporary scholars have yet to uncover, chances are that much of it is simply buried in the staggering amount of primary sources through which modern historiographers are still sifting. These same sources have already revealed so much to those alive today that from a standpoint of accrued knowledge (who was doing what, where, why, etc.) the Ancient Egyptians are no more – and in some cases less – remote from us than medieval Europeans.

    However, some scholars of Egyptian history (or in the case of this writer, amateur enthusiasts thereof) can’t help but notice one particularly puzzling (or, more accurately, interesting) feature of this ancient civilization. It’s a feature that lies not in questions as to how they were able to build staggeringly precise monuments or why they felt compelled to spend vast resources in life in preparation for their deaths, but rather as to how their state was organized.

    That fact, that we can look at the ancient Egyptians and identify for most of their history a single, monolithic state, is telling. Almost from the beginning of what we recognize as their civilization, the Egyptians were organizing themselves into a single state. This stands in sharp contrast to their neighbors in the Fertile Crescent. Like the Egyptians, common languages, cultures, and religious practices united many of these Near Eastern peoples; yet unlike the Egyptians, unification of these ancient ethnic groups into singular all-encompassing polities was the exception rather than the norm. The Sumerians, Akkadians, and Canaanites were for the vast majority of their history divided into feuding city-states (to say nothing of the Mycenaeans, Chaldeans, and Greeks who would co-exist with the Egyptians farther down the timeline). Occasionally, some warrior-king or nomadic tribe would go on a conquering spree and build an empire out of the patchwork, but these were ephemeral creations, and the city-states would swiftly reassert their independence once the dynasty “du jour” lost its footing, whereas for the Egyptians such political disunity of a single people was considered abhorrent, and a symptom of great disruption in the cosmic order.

    There are of course arguments from the standpoint of geographic determinism that seek to explain this. Mesopotamia and the Levant are lands where expansion, movement, relocation, and establishment of a defensive position were relatively easy: open plains, multiple rivers (two of them, the Tigris and Euphrates, positively massive), easily defendable hill regions and plenty of mountain ranges to spice things up were the norm. Early states in these areas could carve out spheres of influence in all directions, and compete with each other for dominance on a geographic stage with many employable set pieces. Egypt, by contrast, was far more limited. There was one river: The Nile [1]. This solitary artery of communication and commerce was in turn hemmed in by desert that kept wandering, disruptive nomads out, and agrarian, village dwelling proto-Egyptians in.

    Of course, early in Egyptian history there were several polities. Chiefdoms and petty kingdoms at Tjeni, Nubt, Nekhen, and Djebaut [2] emerged along the course of the Nile, from the southern chataract to the lush, northern delta. It was ultimately the kings of Tjeni, after their conquest of Nekhen (and subsequent abandonment of Tjeni in favor reestablishing themselves at their new prize), who sailed up and down the one river, subduing “The Marshland” and uniting all Egyptians under their singular rule by approximately 3000 BCE.

    It was what happened next that truly set the Egyptians apart from their fractious neighbors. An entirely new capital city was built at “The Balance of the Two Lands”, the point where Tjeni-led “Upper Egypt” and Djebaut-led “Lower Egypt” had once met. The city, called Ineb-hedj [3], played host to a dynasty that claimed to rule by divine right, and symbolically knotted the “Two Lands” together as one. The kings from Upper Egypt even began to abandon their own traditional necropolis at Abdju [4] in favor of a new site at Saqqara [5], not far from the new capital. It was perhaps these symbolic moves that put the power of the new state not in the South, nor in the North, but in a geographic sense literally balanced the two, that prevented the Egyptian state from splintering back along a north-south line immediately after unification.

    In fact, the Egyptian state did quite the opposite of splintering: it consolidated. In the period of time known as the “Old Kingdom”, the country was divided into provinces called “sepats” [6], each with a governor residing in a fixed regional capital who answered directly to the king in Ineb-hedj. While Mesopotamian empires were largely hegemonic, with the king constituting the flavor of the month lording it over other, lesser kings through brute force, political marriages, and economic pacts, the Egyptian state had quickly evolved into a centralized absolutist monarchy that had the power to draw arbitrary administrative lines on a map and actually enforce them through the power of proclamation alone. Mesopotamian city-states had their priestly and scribal castes that oversaw the affairs of the city, a powerful king always deferred the workings of another city to his vassal-kings therein. By contrast, in Old Kingdom Egypt, a powerful bureaucracy soon emerged (headed by the king and his viziers in Ineb-hedj) that spread its administrative tentacles across the entire country.

    It was Egypt’s centralized government and bureaucracy that allowed the entire country to be taxed, the entire able-bodied workforce to be mobilized to facilitate the construction of the country’s many monuments, and in later periods (such as the New Kingdom) even allowed for the creation and maintenance of what was arguably the world’s first professional standing army. The whole system was backed by theology: the king was the earthly incarnation of Horus, who in Egyptian mythology had vanquished Set (the god of chaos) and united the nation. The kings role as Horus-incarnate was to uphold “Ma’at” (cosmic order) and abate “Isfet” (cosmic disorder) upon his stage – his stage being, conveniently enough, the Egyptian state. The Egyptian state became a symbolic mirror of the cosmos; as long as it was united and orderly, all was well – when disunity and anarchy reigned, it wasn’t merely the country, but the universe itself that was destabilized.

    So, let’s review… In an ancient world dominated by feuding tribes, city-states, and hegemonic, ephemeral empires, the Egyptian people were:

    A) United into a single, ethnically and culturally homogenous (for the most part) polity that was…
    B) … Presided over by an absolute monarch claiming divine right backed by theology, who in turn…
    C) … Oversaw the machinery of a centralized bureaucratic administration that could mobilize the entire country into either a workforce or a military machine at the tip of a hat.

    Huh… Ancient Egypt is sounding quite a lot like an absolutist nation-state… But, that doesn’t make sense… “Nation states” as they are known in OTL today are generally considered to be a product of the European Renaissance and Enlightenment, both of which occurred long after the last “ancient Egyptian” was dead and gone. This is the true enigma of Ancient Egypt: It fit many of the criteria of a modern nation state before the idea of nation states even existed [7].

    What does this have to do with the “Realm of Millions of Years” timeline? Well, given the Egyptian POD, quite a bit… The Egyptian nation at the point of divergence is at the height of its wealth an power, and is perfectly poised to influence the world around it in more ways than being yet another transient pacifier of the Levant. New Egyptian ideas could very well spread, and backed up by the formidable machinery of the New Kingdom Empire, the tide of alternate history could have quite a time turning them back.

    ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    ***Actual update soon, I promise… Just getting in some more historical background to set the framework for future developments!

    ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    [1] The Egyptians simply called it “Iteru” – “The River” – for they knew no other.

    [2] Thinis, Naqada, Hierakonpolis, and Buto, respectively.

    [3] “The White Citadel” – The Greeks of OTL would later call it “Memphis”, a corruption of “Men-nefer”, the name the Egyptians gave to a nearby plateau now called “Giza” in OTL.

    [4] Abydos

    [5] Saqqara was sometimes given the same “Men-nefer” name as Giza, but I have elected not to conflate the two for the sake of clarity.

    [6] The Greeks called them “nomes”, but in case it’s not already evident, I’m doing my best to avoid non-Egyptian terminology like the plague.

    [7] I expect this assertion could stir up some debate, but I consider that a good thing.
     
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  14. NikoZnate γνῶθι σεαυτόν

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    The Realm of Millions of Years
    The World of an Atenist Egypt

    Chapter 2
    The Feast of the Tail


    Regnal Year 30 Under His Majesty King of Upper and Lower Egypt Nebma’atre, Son of Ra Amenhotep-Heqawaset Given Life, Stability, and Dominion

    The pavilions of the Palace of the Dazzling Sun were abuzz with activity. Perfumed nobles and court dignitaries clad in the finest linen flitted affectedly about the gardens, conversing, drinking, and exchanging utterly meaningless pleasantries amidst the din of musicians and acrobatic dancers. Among one group of partygoers, reclined on couches near where the royal family stood receiving the obligatory tributes of the day, a single voice – that of a court official called Minemheb, master of ceremonies – carried over the others.

    “Generations of people since the time of the ancestors have not celebrated such jubilee rites! [1] Such a spectacle! Truly, the gods will grant His Majesty unsurpassed life, health, and strength after beholding such grand honors! Did you all have a good view of His Majesty and our beautiful queen as they alighted on the Sha-Hapu? [2] Were they not resplendent? Clad in gold and fine fabrics, gleaming like the sun…!” Minemheb spoke excitedly, like a child telling a hyperbolic tale, as the other officials listened deferentially.

    “The humble man flourishes, and he who deals uprightly is praised. The innermost chamber is opened to the man of silence. Wide is the seat of the man cautious of speech, but the knife is sharp against the one who forces a path, that he advance not, save in due season.” [3] Spoke another voice, terse and cold, interrupting Minemheb as he took a breath to continue.

    The master of ceremonies deflated like a pierced waterskin, turning abruptly to face the interloper, and ungracefully turning his indignant rotation into a low, scraping bow that sent a ripple of kow-towing through those around him.

    “Prince Iahames, forgive me, I did not see you there.” He spluttered. Prince Iahames, the king’s third son by his Great Royal Wife, eyed the target of his ire frigidly as he responded to his welcome.

    “That you saw me or not is irrelevant, Minemheb. Commendable as your efforts in organizing these jubilee rites may or may not be, the honor of the day belongs to His Majesty, not to you. You would do well to remember this, and to hold your tongue lest its unrestricted bragging reflect poorly on your character. His Majesty does not care for show-offs… Your naked boasts will reach his ears, and he will think ‘Look, here is a high-backed one! [4] I cannot trust that his performance will again match his claims!’ and His Majesty’s gaze will pass you over. Is that what you want, Minemheb?” He said, his stare eviscerating the master of ceremonies like a knife.

    “I live only to serve His Majesty, the Son of Ra, the Lord of the Two Lands…” Answered Minemheb, bowing low once again “… I wish only that this jubilee be the first of millions in His Majesty’s, and that my humble efforts to honor the gods with today’s ceremonies accomplish that aim…”

    Prince Iahames articulated an unimpressed tut, and with a nod to the nobles standing statue-like behind Minemheb uttered “Carry on…” before making his way back to the front of the party, where his family sat.

    “You sounded angry, brother…” Said prince Amenhotep, Iahames’ elder brother.

    “It was not his place to highlight the events of the ceremony when he organized them. A man lets his good work speak for itself; he does not speak for it.” Iahames retorted.

    “Perhaps…” Said Amenhotep softly. The elder prince sipped from his goblet, surveying the scene. The king and queen were still receiving congratulations from provincial governors who had journeyed to Waset [5] for the Feast of the Tail [6]. His eyes carried on to two women, sisters to each other, named Nefertiti and Mutbenret. Nefertiti was his wife, Mutbenret his brother’s; they too were watching the parade of dignitaries, whispering to each other and giggling as handmaidens braided their hair. The king’s two foreign wives, Tadukhepa and Gilukhepa, both of them princesses from Naharin [7] were also scanning the scene. Prince Amenhotep deposited his goblet, rose from his couch, and touching his younger brother lightly on the shoulder whispered “Let’s get out of here”.

    Prince Iahames shot his elder brother a slightly perplexed look, bur followed nonetheless. Quietly, the princes slipped from the central pavilion into a smaller garden in the shadow of the queen’s palace. Amenhotep leaned casually against a date palm by the edge of a pool, and looked at his brother inquisitively.

    “Something’s wrong, Iahames… I can tell.” He said. Iahames scuffled awkwardly at the statement. He plucked a hyacinth from a nearby flowerbed and stood at the pool’s edge, absentmindedly shredding the petals into the water.

    “This feels wrong… This festival… Thutmose has just gone into the West [8] and here-… Here we are celebrating.” Answered the younger prince, sedately.

    “Of course we’re celebrating!” Said prince Amenhotep, shocked. “Our father, with this jubilee, has become the ‘Dazzling Orb of all Lands’, the ‘Perfect God’! May he celebrate a million more!”

    “The Creator he may be, brother, but one day he will become as Osiris [9] like those before him, and you will have to rule.” Iahames replied quietly.

    “Brother! Don’t say such things!” Amenhotep retorted.

    “You know it to be true…” Said Iahames, tossing the last of the mangled hyacinth into the pool. A pregnant silence followed, interrupted only by the occasional sound of a laughing party guest carried on the breeze. Amenhotep stood straight, scrutinizing his younger brother.

    “You’re right, of course…” He whispered “… But I don’t want to say it out loud… I’m terrified, Iahames… Absolutely terrified. It was Thutmose who was to succeed father, and now he’s dead… I worry that I don’t-…”

    “You’ll do fine…” Iahames interrupted, tilting his head at his brother “I’ve always looked up to you, brother… Always aspired to be like you. You always looked out for me, never hesitated to explain anything that confused me, never wavered from steering me on the right path… You’ve had all the same training as Thutmose, and father will be with us more than long enough for you to overcome your worries.”

    “That’s not it…” Said Amenhotep, heaving a sigh. “I know I could rule as Thutmose would have, but…” He paused, looking at his brother. Iahames nodded, encouraging him to continue. “But I want to rule in my own way… I have a vision for Egypt, brother… A grand one… I want to make this country the most perfect there ever was… I just fear that I can’t.”

    “Does this have anything to do with your ‘ideas’ you were telling me about? About the Aten, and all it gives to us without fail?” Inquired Iahames. Amenhotep nodded slowly in the affirmative.

    “Yes! And this jubilee, and father’s ascendance to divinity, only have me pondering them even more… More certain am I than ever of my vision!” Responded the elder prince, breathlessly.

    “Your fears are unfounded, then…” Said Iahames. “The Aten will bless you as it has blessed father. You will have the aid of heaven. And, for what few merits it has, you will have my aid…” Iahames bowed before his elder brother “Whatever you will do when you take the throne, brother, you will have naught but my unwavering support and service.”

    “Together…” said Amenhotep, excitedly “… Together, with you at my right hand, brother, we will change Egypt for the better!”

    *****************************************************************

    This conversation that never occurred in OTL (due to the rather notable impediment of Iahames never having existed in OTL) takes place after Amenhotep III’s first jubilee celebration (“Feast of the Tail”, as the Egyptians knew it), an event which set an important theological and political precedent for the reforms that Amenhotep IV, later called Akhenaten, would introduce during his reign.

    Egypt’s state theology had always maintained a distinction (though an admittedly slight one) between the king as the avatar of Horus, and Horus himself; between his status as “Ra’s chosen deputy”, and Ra who made the choice. The monarch had the title “Netjer Nefer” (“Perfect God”) but that was a mere title, not a state of being; Egyptian kings became full gods only in death.

    Amenhotep III, at his jubilee, did what no other king had before dared to do and denied the existence of that distinction completely. In using his first Feast of the Tail as a stage to act out the “daily miracle” of the Sun’s progression along the sky, with himself and queen Tiye in the starring roles, Amenhotep III was symbolically stating that in life he had mutated into the solar god, that he had assumed the form of the creator (and he would go on to state this outright on a number of his monuments). This unprecedented jubilee celebration had a great effect on the future Akhenaten in OTL, and it will have the same effect in this alternate history.

    ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    [1] Minemheb in OTL would repeat this boast on a commemorative statue of himself.

    [2] “Hapu’s Pond” - The artificial lake adjacent to the Palace of the Dazzling Sun. Today it’s known by its Arabic name: Birket-Habu

    [3] The speaker is quoting the “Instructions for Kagemni”, an Old Kingdom “wisdom text” outlining proper protocols and behavior for Egyptian court officials.

    [4] To call some one “high of back” or a “high-backed one” was an Ancient Egyptian colloquialism for calling them “arrogant”.

    [5] Ancient Thebes/modern Luxor – The Egyptians also called it “Niut-resut” (“Southern City”) and “Iunu-shema” (“Upper Heliopolis”).

    [6] The “Sed Festival” / “Heb Sed” (which literally means “Feast of the Tail”) was a jubilee celebration held upon the 30th year of a king’s reign and every three years thereafter. The name derives from an artificial tail that was attached to the king’s regalia for the ceremony; a tail was in fact a vestigial remnant of a full animal costume that kings had worn for the same ceremony much earlier in Egyptian history. The original Sed Festival was designed as a test of the king’s physical prowess, and if he failed then he was felled by ritual regicide, that a more capable ruler might replace him. Though by the late Old Kingdom (at the very latest) they had morphed into purely allegorical ceremonies meant to rejuvenate the aging monarch, replenishing his strength and stamina while celebrating his continued success on the throne.

    [7] “Naharin” is the Egyptian term for the Mitanni kingdom.

    [8] To “Go into the West” is an Egyptian euphemism for death. Prince Thutmose, Amenhotep III’s crown prince and designated successor, died shortly before the king’s jubilee in the 30th year of his reign, propelling Prince Amenhotep, the eventual Akhenaten, into the position.

    [9] Another euphemism for death, more specific to kings, who were said to become “like Osiris” in death.
     
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  15. Reichenfaust Unhinged Thunder God

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    Jan 10, 2011
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    At the End of All Realms
    This is a good POD, and solid story so far. Keep it up.
     
  16. Cuāuhtemōc Instagram Fiend

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    Brooklyn
    For God's sakes, DO NOT abandon this timeline for it is glorious, well written and original!
     
  17. Reichenfaust Unhinged Thunder God

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    SECONDED!!!:D
     
  18. General Tirpitz Well-Known Member

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    May 17, 2010
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    The Kingdom of Finland
    Thirded. :D

    I had actually just read Mika Waltari's the Egyptian which takes place in Egypt and Mesopotamia during Akhenate's reign. I would recommend it albeit it's not entirely accurate.
     
  19. Kaiphranos Hydraulic Despot Donor

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    Oct 9, 2009
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    That's one of those ones that I think counts as "fair for its day" given what they knew at the time.

    In any case, I am interested to see where this is going! Keep it up!

    Though my inner grammarian really wants to point out that you keep capitalizing "said" where it shouldn't be...
     
  20. rottengreekfire Well-Known Member

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    Mar 18, 2008
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    IMPERIVM AMERICANVM
    Quite goodly! I am anticipating more of this timeline!
     
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