Exploration: el Amarna


Claude Sicard, a French Jesuit priest travelling through the Nile Valley, describes the first known boundary stela from Amarna.


Napoleon’s corps de savants prepare the first map of Amarna, subsequently published in Description de l’Égypte between 1821 and 1830.


Sir John Gardiner Wilkinson explores and maps the city remains.


The copyist Robert Hay and his surveyor G. Laver visit the locality and uncover several of the Southern Tombs from sand drifts, recording the reliefs. (The copies made by Hay and Laver languish largely unpublished in the British Library).

1843 and 1845

The Prussian expedition led by Richard Lepsius records the visible monuments and topography of Amarna in two separate visits over a total of twelve days, employing drawings and paper squeezes. The results are ultimately published in Denkmäler aus Ægypten und Æthiopien between 1849 to 1913. Despite being somewhat limited in accuracy, the engraved Denkmäler plates nonetheless form the basis for scholastic knowledge and interpretation of many of the scenes and inscriptions in the private tombs and some of the Boundary Stelae for the remainder of the 19th century.


A cache of nearly 400 clay tablets inscribed in cuneiform are discovered by an Amarna woman – the Amarna Letters.


Sir Flinders Petrie works for one season at Amarna, working independently of the Egypt Exploration Fund (EEF). Excavating primarily in the Central City, Petrie investigates the Great Temple of the Aten, the Great Official Palace, the King’s House, the Records Office and several private houses. Although frequently amounting to little more than a sondage, Petrie’s excavations reveal additional cuneiform tablets, the remains of glass factories, and a great quantity of discarded faience, glass and ceramic in sifting the palace rubbish heaps (including Mycenaean sherds). Publishing his results and reconstructions rapidly, Petrie is able to stimulate great interest in the site’s potential.


Norman de Garis Davies publishes drawn and photographic descriptions of private tombs and boundary stelae from Amarna.


Led by Ludwig Borchardt, the Deutsche Orient-Gesellschaft excavates the North and South suburbs of the city. The famous bust of Nefertiti – now in Berlin’s Ägyptisches Museum – is discovered amongst other sculptural arteftacts in the workshop of the sculptor Thutmose. The outbreak of the First World War in August 1914 terminates the German excavations.


The Egypt Exploration Society (EES) returns to excavation at Amarna under the direction of T.E. Peet, Sir Leonard Woolley, Henri Frankfort and J.D.S. Pendlebury. The renewed investigations focus on religious and royal structures.


The Egyptian Antiquities Organization (now the Supreme Council of Antiquities) undertakes a number of excavations at Amarna.

1977 – present

The EES returns once more to excavation at Amarna, now under the direction of Barry Kemp.

In 1980, a second, shorter expedition led by Geoffrey Martin describes and copies the reliefs from the Royal Tomb, later publishing its findings together with objects thought to have come from the tomb.

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