The American Research Center in Eygpt

ARCE Orange County Chapter Welcomed Prof. Barry Kemp

ARCE Orange County Chapter Welcomed Prof. Barry Kemp

ARCE Orange County Chapter Welcomed Prof. Barry Kemp


September 14

The ARCE Orange County Chapter was privileged to host Professor Barry Kemp for an extraordinary study day in conjunction with his recently published book The City of Akhenaten and Nefertiti: Amarna and Its People (New Aspects of Antiquity).

Prof. Kemp, Emeritus Professor of Egyptology, Cambridge University McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research, and Director of the Amarna Project, has studied and excavated at the ancient Egyptian city of Amarna for over 35 years, making him the leading expert in the world on this lost city.  Kemp was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 2011 New Year Honours for services to archaeology, education and international relations in Egypt

In this full-day chapter event, Prof. Kemp delivered four illustrated talks, giving more than 165 attendees a fascinating look into new findings from his team about the layout of the city, the lives of its inhabitants, their interaction with the Royal Family, and the worship of the Aten. Did everyone worship the new god, the Aten? How much of Egypt’s wealth was diverted to the rituals of this new god? What role did the police force play in daily life? What does a map of a 3300 year old city look like?

Early in his reign, Pharaoh Akhenaten began building a brand-new capital city for Egypt on a virgin site, now known as Amarna. Occupied for less than twenty years, it provides a perfect snapshot of an ancient Egyptian city. Once young Pharaoh Tutankhamen moved the capitol back to Thebes, Amarna lay dormant, the sands covering the secrets of Nefertiti, the five princesses, and its inhabitants. Kemp shed light on aspects of religion at Amarna, including the mounting evidence that people had a degree of choice with religious imagery, often looking to traditional deities for protection, in life and in death.

With the Great Aten Temple, something emerged in the spring excavation season that made Kemp and his team wonder even more how much of the intended grand stone buildings were, in fact, finished or at least used for a significant length of time. A hieratic jar label of 'year 12' turned up in material that was part of the foundations for the final and largest phase of the main stone temple. How long would it have taken to finish the building? Allowing 2 or 3 years for construction, then Akhenaten, dying in his 17th year, would not have had much time to enjoy it. Kemp drew attention to a graffito in a limestone quarry at Deir el-Bersheh, north of Amarna, that names Nefertiti and is dated to year 16. What was that stone for? It implies plans to continue building near the very end of Akhenaten's reign. As Kemp’s work at Amarna continues, he hopes to clarify further the internal chronology of the site.

The ARCE Orange Chapter wishes to thank ARCE members from both the Arizona chapter, who staffed the registration desk, and from the Washington DC chapter for joining them in this memorable event.

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