Akhnaton, or Ikhnaton, a pharaoh of the 18th Dynasty of Egypt, reigning from about 1379 to 1362 B.C. He was one of the first men in history to advocate the worship of a single god. Akhnaton believed that Aton was the only true god, creator and father of all life. After coming to the throne as Amenhotep IV, he changed his name to Akhnaton (“Aton is satisfied”) and abolished the worship of other Egyptian gods. Because Thebes was associated with the old religion, he built a new capital city, Akhetaton (“the horizon of Aton”). Later the site was called Tell el' Amarna, giving the name “Amarna Age” to Akhnaton's reign.
Akhnaton and his wife, Nefertiti, devoted themselves to the worship of Aton and to the support of the arts. They encouraged a departure from the traditional stiff art forms, inspiring a brief period of realistic sculpture and greater use of natural poses and situations. (For example, see Nefertiti, picture.) Akhnaton neglected foreign affairs and lost part of his empire. His religious and artistic reforms died with him. Akhetaton was abandoned.