Archaeologists have discovered the remains of an important ancient Egyptian city near the modern city of Luxor.
The archaeological excavations began in September 2020 and seem to be revealing the “lost golden city” of Akhenaten.
National Geographic reports: “Three thousand four hundred years ago, a contentious ancient Egyptian king abandoned his name, his religion, and his capital in Thebes (modern Luxor). Archaeologists know what happened next: The pharaoh Akhenaten built the short-lived city of Akhetaten, where he ruled alongside his wife, Nefertiti and worshipped the sun. After his death, his young son Tutankhamun became ruler of Egypt—and turned his back on his father’s controversial legacy. But why did Akhenaten abandon Thebes, which had been the capital of ancient Egypt for more than 150 years? Answers may lie in the discovery of an industrial royal metropolis within Thebes that Akhenaten inherited from his father, Amenhotep III.”
According to The New York Times, “Archaeologists said on Thursday [8 April 2021] that they had uncovered a large ancient pharaonic city that had lain unseen for centuries near some of Egypt’s best-known monuments. The city was built more than 3,400 years ago during the opulent reign of Amenhotep III, one of Egypt’s most powerful pharaohs, according to the Egyptian archaeologist overseeing the excavations, Zahi Hawass.”
Betsy Bryan, Professor of Egyptian Art and Archaeology (Johns Hopkins University) has called the find the “second most important archaeological discovery since the tomb of Tutankhamun.”
“The site dates from the era of 18th-dynasty pharaoh Amenhotep III, who ruled between around 1386 and 1353 B.C. and presided over an era of extraordinary wealth, power and luxury. In Amenhotep III’s final years, he is thought to have briefly reigned alongside his son, Akhenaten. But a few years after his father’s death, Akhenaten, who ruled from around 1353–1336, broke with everything the late ruler stood for. During his 17-year reign, he upended Egyptian culture, abandoning all of the traditional Egyptian pantheon but one, the sun god Aten. He even changed his name from Amenhotep IV to Akhenaten, which means ‘devoted to Aten.’ The heretic pharaoh didn’t stop there. Akhenaten moved his royal seat from Thebes north to a completely new city he called Akhetaten,” according to National Geographic.
BBC News, The New York Times, DW, and National Geographic report on the excavations. Professor Betsy Bryan’s profile is available at the Department of Near Eastern Studies webpage at Johns Hopkins University.