After this latest round of research into the Genesis story, it seems unlikely that the original Garden of Eden, if such a thing truly existed, was anywhere near the Near East. Kingship was imported rather abruptly into the Near East from someplace else. It was such a radical event for this region that in Genesis it is depicted as a new creatiion - a repetition of a far earlier event.
If the "Out of Africa" theory is correct, then mankind originated in the heart of Africa over 200,000 years ago. I'm not convinced that this theory is correct (for example, why couldn't there have been multiple Adam's/Eve's with identical mtDNA?), but it would at least be interesting to look for a candidate spot in the interior of that continent. Africa has experienced such radical climate change that it might be futile to attempt such a study.
I was brainstorming last night, and wondered whether the entire planet itself was the Garden of Eden and the four rivers were cosmic rivers that bring their life-giving elements. This occurred to me after reading the translation of Genesis by Fabre d'Olivet in "The Hebraic Tongue Restored". So, I'm sure this is not an original thought.
Regarding Akhenaten, each new generation and especially each new dynasty of the ancient royal family replayed the mythic cycle. I have not read Ralph's new book, but it wouldn't surprise me to find evidence that Akhenaten decided to assume the role of a new Adam, a "repetition of births" in Egyptian terms. Amarna/Akhet-aten was intended to be something of a Paradise, and certainly a place where things went terrible wrong and Akhenaten was unceremoniously kicked out.
In Part III of my book, I presented evidence that Akhenaten was known in Babylon as Nebuchadrezzar (the first, not the more famous second). So, it appears that he was playing out his assumed role both in Egypt and at the more expected location of Babylon in Mesopotamia.
© Charles N. Pope, US Library of Congress. All rights reserved.