Tell el-Amarna was briefly the capital of ancient Egypt during the reign of the pharaoh Akhenaten, who abandoned most of Egypt's old gods in favor of the Aten sun disk and brought in a new and more expressive style of art. Akhenaten, who ruled Egypt between 1379 and 1362 BC, built and lived in Tell el-Amarna in central Egypt for 15 years. The city was largely abandoned shortly after his death and the ascendance of the famous boy king Tutankhamun to the throne.
Among the many treasures kept in the Egypt Exploration Society's Lucy Gura Archive is the 'film record' of excavations at Tell el-Amarna, which was made over the course of three seasons from 1930 to 1933.
The excerpts used in this case were selected for what they show of the character of the expedition Director, John Pendlebury, and his love of athletic competition and play-acting.
The footage is also accompanied by the voices of Julia Samson and Margaret Drower both of whom worked with Pendlebury at Amarna. Their reminiscences were recorded by Rosalind Janssen during the 1990s and digitized recently as part of the Society's Oral History Project. The Society is very grateful to Mrs Janssen for her generosity in allowing the digital recordings to be added to the Society's archives, and for permission to use the sections included here.
Tell El-Amarna was formally known as Akhetaten. The new name came from a local village called El- Till. The word Amarna came from the Bedouin tribe that settled in this village. The word Tell, in Arabic, means a mound or a small hill. But interestingly enough, Tel El-Amarna is a flat piece of land beside the Nile Valley. The ancient name, Akhetaten, means the horizon of the solar disk. It is very similar to the meaning of Amun Dwelt at Thebes, Ptah at Memphis and other gods at their favored places. King Akhenaten offered this place to be the home for his god Aton. The area is a plain field, separated from the Nile Valley by a strip of palm trees. It stretches 12 kilometers from north to south. The area is covered mostly with sand and outlined with ruins of temples, palaces and houses that archeologists discovered or are trying to find. Some tourists considered it one of the most romantic places they have ever seen because of the silence and the peaceful beauty that the area gained through the centuries.
There are more than twenty five tombs facing the base of the cliff front. Six tombs are located at the north side near Darb El-Malik. Nineteen of them are located at the south side. If you are going to navigate through the tombs, we do recommend a tour guide to be with you for safety reasons. These tombs were built highly complicated to protect them from the thieves, therefore a visitor could get lost. Most of the tombs start with an open court that leads to three chambers. Some of the tombs are decorated with papyrus columns that meet at a recess in the rear end which have a statue of the deceased looking toward the entrance. The famous lyrics of the Hymn to the Sun, which was composed by Akhenaten, is always found in the decorations of each tomb. The following section describes the famous tombs located in Tel El-Amarna.