a settlement 287 km south of Cairo, on the eastern bank of the Nile, near which are the ruins of the city of Akhetaton (Horizon of Aton), the capital of ancient Egypt in the late 15th century B.C., under Amenhotep IV (Ikhnaton), who had moved the capital to Akhetaton from Thebes.
Excavations were begun in 1891 under the direction of W. M. F. Petrie, who identified the ruins as Akhetaton, and were continued by H. Frankfort, C. L. Woolley, and others. A large mud-brick palace was located in the center of the city, and villas, made of mud brick, were located on the outskirts; in the north stood the palace of Queen Nefertiti, also made of mud brick. There was an office for official correspondence in the central part of the city that contained numerous cuneiform tablets, which have been preserved (seeTELL EL-AMARNA TABLETS). In the western part of the city were the quarters for the police, an arsenal, and a parade ground. In the southern part of the city were the dwellings of the nobility, as well as the sculptors’ section; the workshop of the chief sculptor, Thutmose, yielded the famous sculptures of Amenhotep and Nefertiti. To the north were the dwellings of the officials and merchants. Farm buildings lined the river embankment, and there was a royal necropolis in the hilly part of the city. The necropolis workers lived in a separate section of the city, which was surrounded by a high wall with one gate and which had narrow streets and small houses.
Akhetaton existed for about 15 years. After Amenhotep’s death and repeal of his religious reforms, it was abandoned.
REFERENCESDavies, N. de Garis. The Rock Tombs of El Amarna, parts 1–6. London, 1903–08. (Archaeological Survey of Egypt, memoirs nos. 13–18.)
Peet, T. E., C. L. Woolley, and J. D. S. Pendlebury. The City of Akhenaten, parts 1–3. London, 1923–51.