Jacquelyn Williamson on site at Tell el-Amarna
Isolated in the desert of Egypt, the ancient city of Tell el-Amarna is one of the most exciting archaeological sites in the world. The “heretic” Pharaoh Akhenaten created the city to serve as the center of the cult of worship of a single deity, a sun god called the Aten. Due to its extraordinary level of preservation, Tell el-Amarna is the most revealing city from Ancient Egypt, providing an unmatched window into daily life and religious practices.
Egyptologist Jacquelyn Williamson, a senior member of the Tell el-Amarna archaeological team, examines the latest discoveries at the site and reveals truths about life in this remarkable ancient city.
9:30–10:45 a.m. Tell el-Amarna in Context
Explore the history and archaeology of Amarna, including the origins of Akhenaten’s radical monotheism, as well as roles played by his wife Nefertiti and their son Tutankhamun.
11 a.m.–12:15 p.m. A King’s Vision
The temples and palaces of Tell el-Amarna preserve the king’s vision: a new society that revolved around the royal family and the worship of the sun. This ideology is also reflected in the tombs of wealthy courtiers, who expressed extreme devotion to the royal family.
12:15–1:15 p.m. Break
1:15–2:30 p.m. A Queen’s Temple
Williamson surveys her latest archaeological discoveries from the sun temple of Nefertiti at Amarna and the new light they shed on the queen.
2:45–4 p.m. In the Shadow of the Sun
Excavations in the houses and in the cemeteries of the common people at Amarna reveal that the vision of the king stopped at the doorsteps of private homes. In addition, the cemeteries also reveal a population suffering from disease and neglect.
Williamson is assistant professor of art and archaeology of the ancient Mediterranean world and director of the ancient art and archaeology minor at George Mason University.
World Art History Certificate elective: Earn 1 credit*
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