Of the XVIIIth dynasty became the monotheist Akhenaton; discarding all the gods of Egypt, and especially persecuting Ammon the arch-god, he devoted himself to the purer and more sublime worship of Aton, the sun.
A few years after the reformer's death, the old cults were re-established and the monuments of Aton studiously defaced.
Amenophis began his reign in Thebes as an adherent of the traditional faith, but after a few years he abandoned that town and built a new capital for his god Aton 200 m.
Amenophis even changed his own name, of which the name of Ammon formed an element, to Akhenaton, the brilliancy of the Aton, and the capital was called Khitaton, The Horizon of the Aton.
The new dogmas were known as the Teaching, and their tenets, as revealed in the poems composed in honor of the Aton, breathe the purest and most exalted monotheistic spirit.
Thrusting aside all the multitudinous deities of Egypt and all the mythology even of Heliopolis, he devoted himself to the cult of the visible sun-disk, applying to it as its chief name the hitherto rare word Aton, meaning sun; the traditional divine name Harakht (Horus of the horizon), given to the hawk-headed sun-god of Heliopolis, was however allowed to subsist and a temple was built at Karnak to this god.
He changed his own name from Amenhotp, Ammon is satisfied, to Akhenaton, pious to Aton, erased the name and figure of Ammon from the monuments, even where it occurred as part of his own fathers name, abandoned Thebes, the magnificent city of Ammon, and built a new capital at El Amarna in the plain of Hermopolis, on a virgin site upon the edge of the desert.
This with a large area around he dedicated to Aton in the sixth year, while splendid temples, palaces, houses and tombs for his god, for himself and for his courtiers were rising around him; apparently also this son of Aton swore an oath never to pass beyond the boundaries of Atons special domain.
In all local temples the worship of Aton was instituted.
The confiscated revenues of Ammon and the tribute from Syria and Cush provided ample means for adorning Ekhaton (Akhetat on), the horizon of Aton, the new capital, and for richly rewarding those who adopted the Aton teaching fervently.
One more adherent of his named Ay, a priest, ruled for a short time, but now Aton was only one of many gods.
At length a general named Harmahib, who had served under Akhenaton,came to the throne as a whole-hearted supporter of the old religion; soon Aton and his royal following suffered the fate that they had imposed upon Ammon; their monuments were destroyed and their names and figures erased, while those of Ammon were restored.