USU 1320: History and Civilization
©Damen, 2013
A Guide To Writing in History and Classics
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That we know about Amunhotep III's illness from his portraiture raises an important issue here. Except for a few rare finds like the Amarna letters, a trove of correspondence between Akhenaten and foreign potentates which provides rare insight into daily business at Akhetaten, relatively few documents in the traditional sense of the word ("written evidence") survive from this period of Egyptian history. This is largely due to the work of Akhenaten's later detractors bent on obliterating all record of Amarna culture. Thus, much of the history of this age derives from what art historians have been able to deduce through careful analysis of changes in the depictions of the royal family and their retinue. This includes not only how governmental structures evolved but when those shifts, sometimes very subtle ones, occurred. While it may frustrate some historians that we are forced to rely on friezes and architecture in order to recover the history of the Amarna period, the benefit of having to depend so much on art is that it's beautiful to look at, in a way paperwork often isn't.

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