Politics junkies may like this post. So will art history nerds.
Last spring, during ancient to medieval art history, I came across an interesting find connecting President Obama to the Egyptian king Akhenaten. Akhenaten was originally Amenhotep IV, but changed -hotep to to -aten, the name of the sun deity. Akhenaten moved the capital to Amarna and outlawed worship of the other gods, temporarily turning Egypt’s religion monotheistic with Re-Horakty-Aten in the place of honor. This period of Egyptian history is called the Amarna period.
Why is this important? It just so happens Akhenaten’s reign and the change to Aten-worship coincides with an unusual change in Egyptian art. Aside from numerous appearances of the sun disc, Amarna depictions of the human figure become exaggerated with elongated heads, drooping features, emaciated arms, swooping curves and short lower legs. This stylistic change towards a more effeminate and corpulent human figure is hypothesized to have stemmed either from a diseased Akhenaten or a desire to incorporate the androgyny of the creator god Aten’s simultaneously male and female identity.
This transformation of style didn’t last long. After Akhenaten was dead and his son Tutenkhamun (the famous Boy Pharaoh Tut) took over, art, religion, and capital quickly reverted back to pre-Akhenaten times. Now that you’ve had your art history lesson (and I’m sorry if it was boring) you can have your cake. The thing you’ve probably been waiting for and the picture that spurred this post, I present you with: Obemenaten!