It is the place chosen by Akhenaton on
the eastern bank of the Nile to build the capital of his kingdom
called Akht Aton ( Horizon of Aton
) for the worship of A ton which is represented by the Sun disk emitting
rays which end with human hands bestowing life on the universe . This
area still has monuments of the temple and places where Akhenaton
and his wife Nefertiti lived and also the royal tombs of which the
of which the most important are Huya and Mery RaII tomb and the tomb
of the high prieat Mery
Ra 1st .
Parts of the temples palaces and tombs
still stand despite attempts by Haremhab to destroy those
monuments after Akhenaten's death.
provisional period, called also the Amarna time, produced
eminent artistic representations. Among other things, the famous
bust of Queen Nefertiti. After the death of Akhenaten (1364-1347
BC), the newly established residential city was deserted and the
court of his son-in-law Tutankhamun was re-established at Luxor.
Hasan to Tell Al-Amarna
Forty-eight kilometres south of Minya on
the west bank, Mallawi is infamous in Egypt as the
home town of President Sadat’s assassin, Khalid al-Islambouli. A
centre of armed rebellion throughout the early 1990s, the town is
now calmer, but there’s little to linger over, even in the
two-storey museum (admission EŁ20/10;
9am-2pm Sat-Tue & Thu, to noon Fri), which displays tomb
paintings, glassware, sculpture including a limestone statue of a
Ptolemaic priest, baboon and pencil-thin ibis mummies, and other
artefacts from nearby Hermopolis and Tuna al-Gebel, in no particular
Eight kilometers north of Mallawi, near
the town of Al-Ashmunein, Hermopolis is the site of
the ancient city of Khemenu. Capital of the 15th Upper Egyptian nome,
its name (Eight Town) refers to four pairs of snake and frog gods
that, according to one Egyptian creation myth, existed here before
the first earth appeared out of the waters of chaos. This was also
an important cult centre of Thoth, god of wisdom and writing, whom
the Greeks identified with their god Hermes, hence the city’s Greek
Little remains of
the wealthy ancient city, the most striking
ruins being two colossal 14th-century-BC
quartzite statues of Thoth as a baboon.
These supported part of Thoth’s temple,
which was rebuilt throughout antiquity. A
Middle Kingdom temple gateway and a pylon of
Ramses II, using stone plundered from nearby
Tell al-Amarna, also survive. The most
interesting ruins are from the Coptic
basilica, which reused columns and even the
baboon statues, though first removing their
giant phalluses. The ‘open-air museum’ is
officially free, but if you arrive with a
police escort you will be expected to pay
south of Hermopolis and then 5km along a
road into the desert, Tuna al-Gebel
(admission EŁ25; 8am-5pm)
was the necropolis of Hermopolis. Given the
lack of tourists in the area, check with the
Minya tourist office that the site is open.
At one time Tuna
al-Gebel belonged to Akhetaten, the
short-lived capital of Pharaoh Akhenaten,
and along the road you pass one of 14 stelae
marking the boundary of the royal city. The
large stone stele carries Akhenaten’s vow
never to expand his city beyond this western
limit of the city’s farmlands and associated
villages, nor to be buried anywhere else. To
the left, two damaged statues of the pharaoh
and his wife Nefertiti hold offering tables;
the sides are inscribed with figures of
three of their daughters.
South of the
stele, which is located about 5km past the
village of Tuna al-Gebel, are the
catacombs and tombs of the
residents and sacred animals of Hermopolis.
The dark catacomb galleries once held
millions of mummified ibis, the ‘living
image of Thoth’, and thousands of mummified
baboons, sacrificed and embalmed by the
Ptolemaic and Roman faithful. The
subterranean cemetery extends for at least
3km, perhaps even all the way to Hermopolis.
You need a torch to explore the galleries.
Tomb of Isadora at Tuna Gebel
Tomb of Petosiris
Royal Tomb at Tell el Amarna
Tomb of Petosiris was built by a
high priest of Thoth from the early
Ptolemaic period. His temple like tomb, like
his sarcophagus in the Egyptian Museum in
Cairo, shows early Greek influence. The
wonderful colored relief's of farming and
the deceased being given offerings also show
Greek influence, with the figures wearing
The guard may open
several other tombs (for a tip), the most
interesting being the Tomb of
Isadora, a wealthy woman who
drowned in the Nile during the rule of
Antonius Pius (AD 138–161). The tomb has
few decorations, but does contain the
unfortunate woman’s mummy,
its teeth, hair and fingernails clearly
The Tombs of Tell Al-Armarna
Those 25 rock-cut tombs can be divided into
a northern and southern group. Many of them
were not finished because of the re-shift of
power. the colorful reliefs are famous,
because of a newly adopted artistic language
of expression, unique to that period.
Akhenaton's royal tomb is in a ravine about
13km up Wadi Darb Al-Melek, the valley that
divides the northern and southern sections
of the cliff.
The Great Temple of the Aten
Great Aten Temple is on the northern edge of the Central City.
It is partly covered over by the modern cemetery of el-Till. The
enclosure wall for this temple extended back from the modern
road for some 750 meters, and is now represented by a low,
straight ridge. Within, the sanctuary was very similar to that
in the Small Aten Temple and is marked by a group of isolated
rubble heaps near the back.
The Small Temple of the Aten
recent years, some consolidation and restoration has been
carried out at the Small Aten Temple. This included the erection
of a replica column. A prominent brick enclosure wall also
remains, which was once strengthened by towers on the outside.
There are brick pylons at the entrance, and others which
subdivided the interior of this building. In the back of the
temple stood the sanctuary originally built of limestone and
This temple had a foundation layer of
gypsum that is now covered over by sand. However, modern stone
blocks have been laid atop the sand in order to provide the
basic outlines of this temple.
A circular walk beginning at the
middle of the north side of this small temple's enclosure wall
reveals other parts of the Central City. There is a tall ridge
of sand and some rubble that runs northward from across the
street through the middle of a small palace built of mud brick.
Known as the King's House, it probably accommodated the Royal
Family on their visits from their North Palace.
Behind the King's House and the Small
Aten Temple (further from the Nile River) were a group of
government buildings built of mud brick. This is actually where
the famous Amarna Letters were discovered by a peasant lady in
At the end of this ridge is the
massive foundations for a bridge that crossed the so called
Royal Road in front of the King's House by means of brick piers.
There remains some ancient timbers that once bound the brickwork
together. On the far side of the road was the Great Palace,
consisting of a complex of courts and halls of which only
The Royal Tomb
The Royal Tomb built for Akhenaten
lies in a narrow side valley leading off of the Royal Wadi some
six kilometers form its mouth. Its basic design and proportions
are not unlike those of the royal tombs in the Valley of the
Kings on the West Bank at Thebes (modern Luxor). However, it was
intended for several people, including the king, a princes and
probably Queen Tiy so there are additional burial chambers.
There is also an unfinished annex that may have been intended
Here, the quality of the rock is poor,
and so the decorations of the tomb were cut into a thin layer of
gypsum plaster. Hence, most of the decorations have not survived
and most of what is left is in the chambers of princess
At Kom el-Nana, south of the main city
and east of the modern village of el-Hagg Qandil is an enclosure
thought to have surrounded another of Akhenaten's sun temples.
Recent excavations have revealed brick ceremonial buildings and
the foundations of two stone shrines. The northern side was
occupied by a Christian monastery during the 5th and 6th
is also far south of the city an unusual cult center known as
the Maru-Aten. While it has completely disappeared under the
cultivated land, this appears to have been a special function
Amarna is unique in Egypt. Even cities
built up by foreign rulers did not suffer its fate. It was
established most probably from scratch, and appears to have been
completely abandoned a short time after Akhenaten's death.
Today, considerable research continues at this location that
should eventually uncover more of the secrets of the most
interesting pharaoh's reign.
Batroun, on the coast south of
Tripoli, was known as "Batruna" in the famous Tell al-Amarna
letters of the 14th century B.C., although its history goes back
even further. The town was called "Borrys" in Greco-Roman times
and during the Crusader era it was a seigniory dependent on the
County of Tripoli.
Batroun's fishing port, undoubtedly of
great antiquity, still supplies local markets with fresh fish.
Along the sea front starting from the north end of town you will
find the century-old Maronite cathedral of St. Stephan (Mar
Stefan), the beautiful 19th century Greek Orthodox Church of St.
George and the tiny chapel known as ``Sadiyat al-Bahr," or Our
Lady of the Sea. This simple white-washed building has a wide
verandah overlooking the sea and an excellent view of Batroun's
sea wall, which is what remains of a huge quarry famous in
Hellenistic and Roman times.
Near the roadside just above the town
is the ancient church of Mar Nohra built into the rock. From the
wooden door fashioned from tree slabs to the yard shaded with a
large Mediterranean oak .