Kemet Klub

Amarna Stories


Professor Barry Kemp
Rescheduled now: Saturday 2 Dec 2pm, & Sunday 3 Dec 9.30 am

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Amarna Stories

Re scheduled now 2 x Sessions. 2 December at 2pm, & 3 December at 9.30 am (UK)

We love to see you for the live lectures, but if you have to miss one, don't worry, you can of course catch up (or watch again) at your leisure via the recordings. You will have access to the recorded lectures for a whole month after the last live lecture. Recordings will be available until 1st January 2024.

Amarna Stories. The reign of Akhenaten offers the promise of a grand narrative. At the same time the archaeological evidence from Amarna provides the raw material for stories that illustrate the lives of people who once lived there and the processes that nowadays lead to discoveries and the better understanding of the past. Join us for a set of 4 lectures as we use recent archaeological evidence to try to understand new stories about life at Akhetaten.

1A. The keeping of pigs and the hunting of game. The people who lived somewhat isolated lives at the Workmen’s Village devoted much energy to the keeping of pigs and even perhaps hunted them. At the North Palace, a whole wing was laid out to accommodate a range of animals. What justified this?

1B. After the founder: what happened to Amarna after Akhenaten died? A record of an inscribed potsherd found in 1923 but then forgotten has recently resurfaced. It opens a surprising window on how a community which was no longer centred on the cult of the Aten continued to live in the city.

2A. The ghost shrine. The first set of boundary stelae at Amarna refer to the new city (Akhetaten) as the Aten’s ‘place of the primaeval occurrence, which he made for himself’. Did these words inspire a ceremony at the Great Aten Temple at Amarna in which, for a brief time, wooden buildings of archaic form were erected? A story of belated discovery.

2B. Busy doing what? Across the huge space that surrounded the stone buildings that made up the Great Aten Temple, excavation brings to light evidence of people being busy, setting up temporary structures, burning incense and using large quantities of pottery including wine jars with decorated sealings. Does this point to popular festivals? A story in progress.

Notes on diagrams

  1. Ibexes resting and being hunted. Limestone manger from the North Palace (Cairo JdE 48060) and a section of the gold sheath from one of Tutankhamun’s daggers.
  1. Part of Mr Newton’s cartouche pot (current whereabouts unknown, copy by F.Ll. Griffith and Marc Gabolde). For the full text and report see Horizon 22 (2022) 27–37.

Professor Barry Kemp

Barry Kemp lectured at the University of Cambridge between 1963 and 2007, finally as Professor of Egyptology. He has regularly undertaken fieldwork in Egypt, concentrating on Tell el-Amarna since 1977, first under the auspices of the Egypt Exploration Society and subsequently for the Amarna Project. His interest is primarily in the city itself and what it tells us about life and ideas in Egypt three and a half thousand years ago. Since 2012 he has concentrated on the Great Aten Temple and how it guides us towards a deeper understanding of Akhenaten’s mind. (Photo:A.Mesli)

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