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The City of Akhenaten and Nefertiti: Amarna and Its People

Overview

“In the process of reconstituting a long-vanished city, the meticulously assembled book also brings to life the exotic, almost alien society once housed there.” —Publishers Weekly
A city of temples, royal palaces, civic offices, and elite tombs—and of small-scale mud-brick dwellings too—Amarna was an urban village where most of its citizens were only two or three steps removed in the social scale from the king. Barry Kemp evokes the sights and smells of Amarna itself, bringing to life its people—not only the ...

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Overview

“In the process of reconstituting a long-vanished city, the meticulously assembled book also brings to life the exotic, almost alien society once housed there.” —Publishers Weekly
A city of temples, royal palaces, civic offices, and elite tombs—and of small-scale mud-brick dwellings too—Amarna was an urban village where most of its citizens were only two or three steps removed in the social scale from the king. Barry Kemp evokes the sights and smells of Amarna itself, bringing to life its people—not only the royal family, but also prominent citizens such as the high priest Panehsy, the vizier Nakht, the general Ramose, and the sculptor Thutmose, whose bust of Nefertiti is one of the masterpieces of ancient art.The excavations reveal that, although Akhenaten had overturned the old religion and introduced worship of the Aten, the sun’s disk, beneath the surface the old belief in the traditional Egyptian gods continued. Likewise themes of abundance and prosperity depicted in the art are contradicted by new cemetery evidence showing malnutrition in childhood, skeletal injuries, and early death. Insights such as these, together with the beautiful and profuse illustrations, make this volume essential reading for anyone interested in the history of urbanism, the mysterious Amarna interlude, and the enigmatic Akhenaten and Nefertiti, who have fascinated writers as diverse as Sigmund Freud and Noel Coward.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Kemp (Ancient Egypt: Anatomy of a Civilization), a distinguished emeritus professor of Egyptology at Cambridge University, brilliantly combines history, archeology, and art history to develop a complete picture of the onetime capital of ancient Egypt. Because it only filled this role for 14 years, Amarna has not played a major role in scholarship until now. After devoting 35 years to the site’s still ongoing excavation, however, Kemp can describe a place abandoned for more than 3,200 years with great familiarity. In the process of reconstituting a long-vanished city, the meticulously assembled book also brings to life the exotic, almost alien society once housed there. In addition to portraying the vast wealth of the sun-worshipping pharaoh, Kemp also covers the daily life of commoners. Kemp doesn’t neglect Nefertiti, Akhenaten’s consort and this reign’s best-known feature due to the famous bust of her. A generous selection of illustrations including photographs, architectural plans, and axonometric drawings, combined with accessibly presented archeological theory, make for a beautiful and informative book, a rare find for experts and general readers alike. (Dec.)
Library Journal
Kemp (Egyptology, Univ. of Cambridge; Ancient Egypt: Anatomy of a Civilization) has devoted decades of his distinguished career to the Egypt Exploration Society's excavations at the site of Amarna in Middle Egypt. In this study he uses the archaeological evidence to bring to life the 14th-century B.C.E. city built in the desert wilderness by the heretic pharaoh, Akhenaten, to be his capital, and for the most part abandoned soon after his death. Monumental and residential architecture, the quality of life for royal and non-royal residents, and the spiritual life of the city are among the topics explored. Competing theories about this controversial period are discussed, such as the identity of the ephemeral King Smenkhkare. VERDICT Highly recommended for anyone fascinated by ancient Egyptian civilization and, in particular, those with an avid interest in Akhenaten, his consort Nefertiti, and the Amarna revolution. Kemp has masterfully accomplished for the later part of Akhenaten's reign what Donald B. Redford did for its inception in Akhenaten: The Heretic King (1984), based on his excavations at East Karnak.—Edward K. Werner, St. Lucie Cty. Lib. Syst., Ft. Pierce, FL
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780500291207
  • Publisher: Thames & Hudson
  • Publication date: 1/6/2014
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 320
  • Sales rank: 229,266
  • Product dimensions: 7.40 (w) x 9.70 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Barry Kemp is Emeritus Professor of Egyptology at Cambridge
University and has been conducting research and excavation at Amarna since 1977. He lives in England.

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Table of Contents

Prologue 7

Acknowledgments 8

Explanatory Notes 11

The Cast of Characters 14

Introduction: The City of the Horizon 16

1 Building a Vision 22

Akhenaten's Crime 23

What Lay in His Mind? 25

Akhenaten the Teacher 29

Akhenaten's Appearance 30

Akhenaten's Vision: The Written Version 32

Akhenaten's Vision: The Implementation 35

The Coming of the Crowds 41

2 Akhenaten's Resources 46

The Landscape 47

The Greening of Amarna 50

The Imitation of Nature 55

Building in Stone 59

Gypsum 64

Brick 69

Timber 73

Human Resources 74

Quality Control 75

3 The City of the Sun-God 78

The Object of Devotion 79

The Temples of the Aten 84

The Small Aten Temple 86

The Great Aten Temple and Its Parts 87

Ancient Views of the Temples 95

Not Just Architecture 105

Fixation with Food 110

How Did it All Work? 114

Communal Feasting or Takeaway? 117

Not All Temples Were for the Aten 117

'Sunshades' 119

4 The Apartments of Pharaoh 122

What is a Palace? 124

The Accommodation of Office 125

Bridging Two Worlds 131

Stage Management 135

The Great Palace 137

The Palace Occupants 144

Feasting and Banqueting 145

The North Palace 146

The North Riverside Palace 151

The Royal Progress 153

5 City of People 154

Control without Walls 155

The Tomb of a Policeman 156

Roads or Boundaries? 158

How the City Grew 161

The Alternative City 163

Consent Rules 166

How it was Done 169

Continuing Development 181

The Amarna House 182

Light and Colour 188

The Outlying Villages 190

Missing Experiences 194

6 The Quality of Life 196

Life from Objects 197

Living the Low Life 199

The Smell of the Air 206

Material Signs of Success 207

Storing Possessions 212

Eating in 218

Looking Your Best 222

Impressions of a Good Life 225

A Darker Side 227

7 Spiritual Life at Amarna 230

Loyalty to the Regime 231

Divine Trespassers 235

Friendly Forces 239

Ancestors-To-Be 245

Death and the Sense of Occasion 251

Existence After Death 254

Amarna's Citizen Cemetery 256

In Summary: Living in the 'Place of Truth' 263

8 What Kind of City? 264

The Preindustrial City 265

Comparing Amarna 267

Amarna's People 268

How Many People Lived There? 271

Not All 'Houses' Were Houses 281

A 'vast But Loosely Structured Factory Serving the State' 283

Manufacture and Status 292

For Whom Were All These Busy People Working? 296

The Urban Village 299

9 An End and a Beginning 301

The End 301 The Seed of Atenism 302

Visiting Amarna 304

Chronology 304

Abbreviations of works cited more than once in the notes and captions 305

Notes 306

Further Reading 312

Sources of Illustrations 314

Index 315

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