Aten (city)

By the Editors of the Madain Project

Aten, also known as "The Dazzling Aten", is the ruins of an ancient Egyptian city located on the west bank of the Nile in the Theban Necropolis near Luxor. The city was named after the Egyptian sun god Aten and has remained relatively intact for over 3000 years. Recent excavations began in late 2020 and have revealed that Aten is the largest city of its kind in ancient Egypt with an exceptional level of preservation, drawing comparisons to the preserved city of Pompeii.

Overview

The site was situated between the mortuary temple of Ramses III to the east and Amenhotep III to the west. The excavation has revealed extensive parts of the southern quarters of the ancient city of Aten.

To date several distinct neighbourhoods, formed by zigzagging mudbrick walls, have been uncovered, including a bakery quarter, replete with items of everyday life and work related to the town's artistic and industrial life. Three distinct palaces have been identified. As of April 2021, the northern quarters and the town's cemetery have been located, but are unexcavated.

Brief History

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The establishment of the city can be traced back to approximately 3,400 years ago, during the reign of Amenhotep III between 1386-1353 BCE. Archaeologists were able to determine the exact timeline of the city's history through various inscriptions, one of which dates back to 1337 BCE, coinciding with the reign of Akhenaten.

It is believed that Akhenaten moved to his new capital at Akhetaten the following year. Evidence suggests that the city was subsequently ruled by Tutankhaten, who later changed his name to Tutankhamun, and was later used by Ay, the penultimate ruler of the Eighteenth Dynasty. The presence of four distinct settlement layers indicates that the city was inhabited until as late as the Coptic Byzantine era, between the third and seventh centuries CE.

Archaeology

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The remains of the city were accidentally discovered while the team was searching for the funerary temple of Tutankhamun. This discovery revealed the greatest administrative and industrial center of that period, which is believed to be part of Amenhotep's palace complex known as Malkata or "the Dazzling Aten" located just north of the area. Hawass confirmed the discovery on April 8, 2021, and Egyptologist Betsy Bryan called it the most important archaeological discovery in Egypt since Tutankhamun's tomb.

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References

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