Tuesday, March 10, 2015

New Discovery, Minya: The layout of Al-Amarna Ancient City Revealed

Remains of a Temple at Tel Al-Amarna
A Belgium archaeological mission reveals the layout of the ancient Egyptian city of Al-Amarna, the capital of the monotheistic king Akhenaten

A Belgium archaeological mission working at Tel Al-Amarna area in Al-Minya governorate, 300 km south of Cairo, revealed through satellite imagery how the ancient Egyptians built such a historically controversial and mysterious city.

Tel Al-Amarna  was the short-lived capital built by the henotheistic 18th dynasty Pharaoh Akhenaten after he abandoned the traditional Egyptian polytheism and introduced the worship of one deity, the power of the sun God- Aten. The city was deserted shortly after Akhenaten's death in 1332 BCE.

Tel Al-Amarna is historically interesting as it remains the largest readily accessible site dating from ancient Egypt. It is thus simultaneously the key to a chapter in the history of religious experience and to a fuller understanding of what it was like to be an ancient Egyptian. Though long periods of excavation work have previously unearthed remains of temples, chapels and tombs, no one had uncovered the details of the city until this week when the Belgium archaeological mission revealed its layout.

Amarna was built more than 3,300 years ago by Akhenaten. 
He was a revolutionary pharaoh who focussed Egyptian religion 
around the worship of the sun disk, the Aten. 
The city was abandoned not long after he died.
Minister of antiquities Mamdouh Eldamaty described the discovery as " great" and asserted that it will not only reveal how the ancient Egyptians built their monotheistic capital but it will also help in discovering more edifices of the city. He explained that the satellite images show that the northern side of the city was an industrial province which extended 12 kilometres and also included a large collection of mines.

Harco Willems, head of the Belgium mission, told Ahram Online that their work succeeded in determining the location of several ancient corridors and roads of the ancient city which were too hard to discover through normal material used in excavation because the surface of the land is very solid. Ramps and transportation paths from the mines to the city's main road were also discovered as well as others leading to the Nile Valley.

Willems said that a harbour was found close to the river. The harbour was constructed to transport Talatat blocks to the eastern side of Al-Amarna to be used in the construction of temples and other edifices.

Eldamaty told Ahram Online that more studies are now taking place in order to understand these images in more detail which could lead to further major discoveries in the future.

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