View of the Small Temple from the North

TEMPLE AND ALTAR FIELDS: The Great and Small Temples were both cult Temples to the Aten. The Great Temple was the main cult temple with a slaughter court for animals and small altars for offerings by common people near the entrance. The Gem-Pa-Aten was a later offering-building perhaps dedicated to the King’s cult. The Small Temple contained the dedication altar of the town, and acted perhaps as a mortuary chapel for the King.

TEMPLE STOREHOUSES AND BAKERIES: The storehouses contain the offerings to the god, and the Bakeries were where offering-breads were baked in clay ovens. Offerings would be made daily to the Aten, and then the surplus used to feed the priests and temple servants.


The central temple of the city area, called the 'Hwt Aten' or Mansion of the Aten it is aligned with the Royal Tomb in the Royal Wadi and was probably a Royal Mortuary Chapel as well as containing the city's foundation altar. The Small Aten Temple has been studied since 1987 by the EES mission it has been re-excavated, planned and restored.

Small Temple today after restorations.

The mudbrick walls have been covered with new bricks, the spoil heaps removed and the stone elements which had been removed a few decades after the death of Akhenaten marked with lime stone blocks. The columns were restored from fragments discovered in the destruction layers.

Temple Elements:

The chief elements of the temple are the Great Altar, which was probably the foundation altar for the city and which although destroyed during Akhenaten's reign as the temple took over this dedicatory function still was recorded in the ancient wall reliefs. The surrounding small altars may have been for members of the court to make their daily offerings. The Pylons, which were mudbrick structures up to 15m tall with flag poles these were whitewashed and had a ritual purpose of protecting the sanctuary and were symbols of the mountains between which the sun rose and set each day. Staircases lead to their roofs from inside the side doors. The Gateways, these were decorated with images and names of the aten and the royal family carved stone blocks surrounds.They were addedtowards the end of the Amarna period replacing wooden structures. The Enclosure Wall, this was heavily buttressed and recalls the town walls of the Middle Kingdom Forts. It is a symbolic defense against the outer world. It was surrounded by an avenue of trees, the pits for which were discovered recently. The Slaughter Court, this was located to the north of the main sanctuary and here animals were killed and prepared for offering. The Priest's Houses locatedto the south of the Sanctuary and in the central court would have been ritual robing and purification rooms rather than homes. The Offering Stele were probably located within each court, fragments indicate they were made of yellow and red quartzite a hard sandstone suitable for fine carving. Processional Shrines were located each side of the sanctuary and probably contained ritual gilded objects related to the cult. That to the South may have been used for the royal ceremonial chariot.

View of Great Altar from the East.

The King's offering was made in the inner courtyard of the temple known as The Sanctuary. Click on this item to see a detailed restoration.



Photographs: Copyright EES Expedition to Tell El Amarna, Gwil Owen.

Computer Drawings, films and Models: Copyright Redvision, Mallinson Architects, EES Expedition to Tell El Amarna.