About Tell El Amarna
Egypt, generally speaking, can be considered as an open-air historical museum. Having this long rich diverse history tourists spending their vacation in Egypt usually can never explore all the monuments of the country in only one visit.
There are a lot of hidden treasures that the land of the Nile can offer to its guests. One of these treasures is Tell El Amarna or the ruins of Akhenaten, the capital established by Akhenaton in the 14th century BC.
Akhenaton had marked and important turning point in the Egyptian history. This was when he changed the multi gods system of ancient Egypt into the worship of one god, Aten, the god of the sun. Although not much has survived from his great city of Akhenaten, many travelers touring Egypt would visit this historical site.
Geographical Location of the Tel El Amarna
The historical site of Tell El Amarna is situated inside the governorate of El Minya near an important city called Malawy that can be reached by public transportation or by a private hired taxi.
El Minya is situated around 250 kilometers to the South of Cairo, 400 kilometers to the North of Luxor, 600 kilometers to the north of Aswan, and only 140 kilometers to the South East of El Fayoum.
The History of Tell El Amarna
When Akhenaton became the king of Egypt in 1369 BC, he changed his name from Amenhotep V, to Akhenaton or the one loyal to the god Aten, the god of the sun. Akhenaton changed the whole worship system in ancient Egypt when he unified the multi gods of the Pharaohs into one god Aten that was worshiped all over Egypt.
When Akhenaton recognized that it would be impossible for him to continue living in Thebes as the priests of the god Amun showed their clear refusal towards his new god, he chose Akhenaten to be his new capital.
The king established Akhenaten in 1363 and he relocate the capital from Thebes to his new city. Akhenaton took his wife, Queen Nefertiti, and his mother, Queen Aye to his new capital.
However, after a few years passed by, Queen Nefertiti was separated from him due to political reasons most probably as the priests of the god Amun would never let Akhenaton get away with what he did.
In the last three years in the ruling period of Akhenaton, many waves of haltered and violence towards the god Amun started emerging in Egypt and his name as removed from many locations from various temples around the country.
When king Akhenaton passed away in 1354 BC, the famous mysterious king Tut Ankh Amun became the ruler of Egypt. Although he was called Tut Ankh Aten at the beginning of his ruling period, the name soon changed to become Tut Ankh Amun, or the son of the god Amun.
The city of Akhenaten was demolished and damaged after the death of the Akhenaton as the worshipers of Amun wanted to destroy anything that has to do with the cult of Aten. Moreover, the capital was transferred once again to Thebes.
When Ramses II became the king of Egypt and although he is quite famous to be a great builder, he destroyed everything in the city of Akhenaten.
The Description of Tell El Amarna
The city of Akhenaten, constructed by Akhenaton and his Queen Nefertiti, used to occupy a surface area of more than 15 kilometers that was filled of magnificent temples and palaces.
The ruins of this marvelous city are now scattered over a large area of land that is bounded by the River Nile to the West and many high cliffs all over this piece of Egyptian desert.
At the bottom of the Tell, or the cliff in the Arabic language, there are the ruins of the once named Great Temple of the God Aten that had no ceiling in a custom that was different from all the other temples of ancient Egypt. However, since Aten is the god of the sun, his worshipers wished to look at the sun directly during their prayers.
Shortly to the South, there are the ruins of the Smaller Temple of the God Aten that is now undergoing restoration. Near this temple, two palaces can be easily identified.
One of the best-preserved sections of Tell El Amarna is the Northern Temple of Queen Nefertiti with its remarkable original mosaic floors.
However, the most notable parts of Tell El Amarna today are the two cliff tombs. The first groups of tombs are called the Northern tombs. The most remarkable among them is the tomb of Huya, the steward of the Queen Tiya, the mother of the king Akhenaton.
The tomb of Huya has some amazing wall painting especially this of the Queen having dinner with her son and other family members.
Another good example of ancient Egyptian architecture can be found in the tomb of Mery Re with scenes showing Akhenaton offering gold to the highest priest of the god Aten. There are also reliefs showing the king Akhenaton in the Great Temple of Aten; an indication of how great and magnificent this city once was.
The Southern tombs situated at the other end of the historical site of Tell El Amarna are less often visited than the northern ones. However, the tombs are never less wonderful.
One of the tombs in that section is that of Ay, the Vizier of Akhenaton that is considered to be the most remarkable tomb of Tell El Amarna. The walls are decorated with scenes of the tomb owner and his wife receiving gold collars from Akhenaton and Queen Nefertiti.
A few number of tourists spending their holidays in Egypt visit Tell El Amarna today. Although there are only some ruins of the temples and the palaces and some remarkable tombs, the Romantic story and the feeling of the place is still there!