In May of 2011 my wife Linda and I went on a trip to Egypt. The trip was a mixture of tourism, geopolitical, and mystical aspects. As a result we visited both common touristic sites, as well as less known ones, and experienced private visits to some of the sites as part of our mystical pilgrimage.
The Amarna ruins are important because they are all that remains of Akhetaten the capital of pharaonic Egypt built by Akhnaten the pharaoh that declared monotheism in ancient Egypt. He and his more famous wife, Nefertiti, tried, unsuccessfully to overthrow the cast of priests that fundamentally ruled Egypt through their influence on the pharaoh. The sole god of Egypt would be from then on the sun-god, Aten, sometimes spelled Aton. Akhnaten who until the time of his revolution was known as Amenhotep IV, changed his name to signify "effective for Aten". As one of the way to establish a new order the couple decided to build a new capital, far away from the established centers of worship. The Amarna site was chosen because the pharaoh saw the sun disk rise in the morning from a cut in the hills east of Amarna.
The cut just to the left of the tall column is the location of the sunrise.
To get to the site of Akhetaten one must cross the river Nile on a ferry, since there are no bridges nearby. In the following picture you can see a new building. It is meant to be a museum to house the findings of the Amarna site. I have no idea if the work was ever completed. It is fair to say that without the leadership of Zahi Hawass, who was fired as the head of the Antiquity department as a result of the Arab Spring upheaval, the development and restoration in the department is far less efficient.
Since the site is rarely visited by foreign tourists, the facilities are primitive. Do not expect souvenir shops, food outlets of any significance, or even restroom facilities up to western standards. The new building would remedy the situation.
The first site we visited was the tomb of the high priest of Aten that, as can be seen from the following photo, is high on the hills of Amarna.
Here is Linda showing you the amaturistic marker describing what the tomb is.
The next photo gives you an idea of how high from the desert floor the tomb is situated. In many cases our tour required people to be fit, not only in order to clime and walk, but also to fit into very small passages inside temples and pyramids. In this case the ascent was made easier by a well defined path.
The major fresco inside the tomb is well preserved and can be seen in some documentaries about Egypt. It shows the pharaoh on his chariot blessed by the rays of Aten. Note the form of the rays that end with hands. This is typical of fresco done during the Akhnaten era. Unfortunately after his death the priests quickly regained power and destroyed or attempted to do so, every vestige that would witness the existence of Akhnaten. Thus relatively little remains of this very important historical and mystical leader.
In order to speed up the building of the new capital, mud bricks as those that can be seen in the following picture, were used in the construction of the city. They have not stood up to time, as marble or clay bricks would have. Mud bricks also made the work of those intent in destroying the new capital much easier.
Only the foundations remain of the royal palace that, at the time, was on the bank of the Nile. The river has changed its course throughout the centuries and is now quite far. But it is possible to appreciate the size of the palace and develop a vision of its splendor.
As it was tradition, a ceremonial road joined the royal palace to the temple of Aten that can be seen in the distance. The following photo shows what remain of the road.
The next photo should also be familiar since you can find them illustrated in many books. It is all that remains of the temple to Aten.
The next photo shows some of the members of our Rosicrucian group admiring the cut in the hills from where Aten rose each morning. It is almost exactly in the middle of the remains of the two columns. By the way, the man on the left wearing a suit is our security guard. The coat hides the weapons. We were often escorted by guards. In addition to him, especially when traveling from one site to another, a pickup truck with man armed with heavy machine guns preceded the bus.
Much archeological work remains to be done in Amarna. The final photo is a wide angle photo of the ruins at Amarna. As you can judge is was an ample town. As I have already noted, lthough it now is about half a kilometer from the Nile, it was on its banks at the time of its creation.