The Discovery of Aten near Luxor.

Aten was a sun god in ancient Egypt. It was also the name of a city discovered since the lockdowns in September 2020, some 3,400 years after its abandonment. This accidental, but extraordinary archaeological discovery has sent me spinning.

“An Egyptian Pompeii without any signs of destruction’ – Egyptologist Professor Salima Ikram. ‘Golden’ Aten is the largest ancient Egyptian city ever found – a huge conurbation left intact ‘as if it was yesterday’ because once abandoned it was quickly covered by sand & only recently rediscovered. It’s perseverance and huge range of artefacts is ‘an Egyptologist’s dream’ (Ikram).

Its’ research potential is immeasurable.

Built and founded by pharaoh Amenhotep III (Tut’s grandfather) in 1391 BC, it is the most important discovery since that of Tutankhamun tomb in 1922. In fact, Tut. would have known this city from boyhood and possibly reinvigorated it much later in his adulthood.

Aten’s city layout.

Streets, houses, rooms, a cemetery, tombs have been unearthed. The high zigzag walls (053 e.) remind me of the curvy ‘crinkle crankle’ walls familiar to Suffolk.

Objects found at Aten

Objects found at Aten include coloured pottery, amphora, and tools in workshops for glass making, weaving, spinning, sewing, tanning and metal work.

The Butcher, the Baker, the Candlestick Maker…

The outstanding perseveration of cultural objects in Aten included a large bakery with ovens and an actual container of prepared, boiled meat complete with the butcher Iuwy’s inscription: ‘Year 37, dressed meat for the third Heb Sed festival from the slaughterhouse of the stockyard of Kha made by the butcher luwy’.

So Many Workers

The Great Royal Wife or Queen Tiye was Tut’s grandmother. The many statuettes or figurines of her have been discovered at Aten were probably ‘shabti’. Shabti were placed in a tomb as workers to help the deceased in their afterlife.