Amarna (Akhetaton)

The surveyors walk up and down narrow transects with complex instruments; only after downloading and processing the data the results of these efforts will become clear:
My task was to assist with laying out the grids and locating these so that they could be related to each other as well as to existing aerial photographs and plans of the ancient city:



Objective of visit:
  To assist in the geophysical survey of the Central City, the Southern Cemetery, and the Stone Village.
Date of visit:
   - January 2011
 - October/November 2012
   (for survey work at the Great Aten Temple)
Fellow visitors:
  Project director Barry Kemp, archaeological geophysicist Jason Herrmann (2011), and students of the Tell el-Amarna Geophysical Field School.
A large number of geophysical maps created with different techniques (gradiometry, conductivity and ground penetrating radar) combined with low-level aerial imagery from a helium balloon.
Approximate position and date of the site:   The ancient Egyptian city Akhetaton (modern Tell el-Amarna, or simply Amarna) was founded around 1347 BCE by Pharaoh Akhenaton as part of his efforts to install new religious practices in Egypt and reduce the power of the priests. To symbolize his break with the past Akhenaton changed his name from Amenhotep IV and moved the capital of Egypt to Akhetaton. Amarna is located on the east bank of the Nile in Minya Province, about half-way between Cairo and Luxor (ancient Memphis and Thebes). Apart from palaces for the Pharoah and administrative buildings, the city also had several temples dedicated to the worship of the Sun (Atonism). Shortly after the death of Akhenaton, around 1332 BCE, the capital was moved back to Memphis and Thebes (modern Cairo and Luxor) and Amarna was abandoned. Following that, most of the monuments, inscriptions and other remains of the period were destroyed in an effort to erase the memory of Akhenaton from history.
Short description of the site:   Amarna is located just east of the Nile, on a flat stretch of desert, about 5x10 km. in size, between the Nile Valley and the escarpment marking the edge of the Eastern Desert. The limits of the ancient city is marked by numerous boundary stelae. The city comprises the North City, the Central City and the South Suburbs; further east are the North Tombs, the Royal Wadi, the Workmen's Village, the Stone Village and the South Tombs. As the city was mostly built of mudbrick and purposefully destroyed after the death of Akhenaton its remains are mostly limited to its foundation levels. Amarna is unique as it provides a snapshot of Ancient Egypt, the remains of which furthermore are mostly tombs and temples with only very few settlements available for research. The most important finds from Amarna include a painted limestone bust of Queen Nefertiti (now in Berlin) and the Amarna Letters (in cuneiform).
Additional remarks:
Unfortunately our stay in Egypt was cut short by the political events of 2011 in the region. My participation in this project would not have been possible without the support of the Amarna Trust, the Center for Advanced Spatial Technologies, the Cotsen Institute of Archaeology, and many individuals.
The field school in October/November 2012 concentrated on cleaning and surveying the gypsum foundations of the Great Aten Temple, excavated by John Pendlebury in the 1920s.