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In 1353 or possibly 1351 BCE Amenhotep IV ascended to the throne of Egypt. In the fourth year of his reign, he changed his name to Akhenaten and created a new [[How did Monotheism Develop?|monotheistic religion]] that was devoted to a single god he named the Aten. The pharaoh’s loyalty was not enough, however, and soon Akhenaten required that all of Egypt adopt his new god and abandon their old pantheon in favor of sun worship. His reign was consumed by this religion, and the changes he made were remarkable. The most notable effects of his conversion included an entirely new religious philosophy and style of artistic expression, the establishment of a new capital city, and a ruinous disregard for foreign policy. His efforts would ultimately prove to be futile, as Akhenaten and his sun cult were all but forgotten in the years following his death.
==Akhenaten’s New Religion ====
Akhenaten’s program was not launched immediately upon his accession, but there were early signs that Amenhotep IV intended to institute major religious changes in Egypt. An upright commemorative slab from his early reign, known as a stela, describes Akhenaten's plan to erect a building that would be dedicated to the deity he called “Ra-Horakhty in his name of Shu, who is the Aten”. This early version of Akhenaten’s god was a composite of the Aten and the Egyptian gods Ra and Horus, the sun god and sky god respectively. It was common in ancient Egypt for gods to merge identities and Akhenaten may have been attempting to ease Egyptians into the idea of sun worship by associating the Aten with gods that were already familiar.