Sunday, August 9, 2015

Carpe Diem #793 Amarna (City of Aten)

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

First I will give you all a sneak preview on the months to come here at CDHK. Next month, September, I have chosen to tell you all a little bit more about the 88 known constellations. We will explore the universe and I hope to lead you into the mythology behind the constellations. In October we will celebrate our third anniversary with all Japanese festivals and holidays. A very festive month that will be and I am looking forward to that anniversary month. I hope to reach 600.000 views before October and than the celebration will be even better.
As you all know this week we will start with our first Carpe Diem Renga Party. I have chosen to create/compose a classical kasen-renga with those who have registered to participate. As a gift to you from Jane Reichhold I have got the opportunity to re-form her "Bare Bones School of Renga" into an CDHK e-book which I hope to get ready this week and ready for downloading at CDHK. I feel honored that Jane has given me the permission to do that.

Ok ... back to our journey on The Nile. Yesterday we entered the 18th Dynasty under Pharaoh Akhenaten, who is the "founder" of the monotheistic religion of The Aten (or Aton) and "The Right Eye of Horus" mysteryschool. Yesterday I told you that Akhenaten build a city in the region around Karnak and Luxor. That city he gave the name "Amarna" which means "The Horizon of the god Aton". Amarna is the prompt for today to inspire you all to write new haiku or tanka (or maybe some other Japanese poetry form).

Credits: Amarna (city of Aten)
 Amarna is the modern name for the city built by Akhenaten, a Pharaoh of the 18th dynasty of ancient Egypt. In modern terms, that places his reign around 1350 BCE (1353 to 1336 BCE, Freed 1999:13). Akhenaten held different religious views than his predecessors. In his theological view, the Aten (the sun disk) was supreme over all deities. However, his view is not a true monotheism, but rather the concept that the Aten had subsumed the essence of all of the other deities. This ideology was not universal, and many resisted it. None, however, were more resistant than the clergy. Priests were a largely herditary society with a great deal of financial and political power in their established bases. This was especially true at Memphis, the traditional seat of power in this time period, and Thebes, where Akhenaten's father Amenhotep III built his palace and temples. Akhenaten recognized this after building initially at Thebes, and thus chose to build a city on land that had never before been dedicated to another god or goddess. This site was what later came to be called Amarna, though it was known as Akhetaten, or "Horizon of the Aten". Amarna is located on the Eastern side of the Nile, approximately one third of the distance between Cairo and Aswan, south from Cairo.

The religious conviction that brought about the building of Amarna, though, later served to preserve it so well. The funerary structures here were devoid of the traditional gods and goddesses to preserve the dead on their journey through the underworld. Akhenaten did not truly convert his people to his religious ideology, and thus they were unwilling to risk their souls in his form of burial. Consequently, the city was abandoned shortly after Akhenaten's death.

Credits: Akhenaten depicted as a sphinx (found in Amarna)
Later Amarna became an archeologist's dream. While many of the structures were damaged to one extent or another, either due to the ravages of time or the fact that abandoned buildings were effectively convenient quarries for difficult to obtain stone, more remained in Amarna of non-religious buildings than in virtually any other site. Since later people did not build on top of the ruins, there is very little trouble in dating the artifacts found. Furthermore, the walls of mud brick survived better than virtually anywhere else, which adds a certain touch of realism to this site. Part of the reason that the average person conjures up images of stone burial chambers when they think of Ancient Egypt is that this is largely what survived. Since the tomb was to be the eternal home of the soul, and since temples were built as homes for the gods, they were made out of the most enduring substance available--stone. Ordinary buildings were made of mud brick--rectangles of varying compositions of clay and sand left to bake in the sun. While quite durable, such bricks are not up to thousands of years of wear and tear. Amarna, then, is virtually unique in allowing a snapshot view of life as it existed in the Egypt of the Bronze Age. (Source: USC)

Tomb of Akhenaten (found in Amarna) 
The area of the city was effectively a virgin site, and it was in this city that the Akhetaten described as the Aten's: 

"seat of the First Occasion, which he had made for himself that he might rest in it."

The city was built as the new capital of the Pharaoh Akhenaten, dedicated to his new religion of worship to the Aten. Construction started in or around Year 5 of his reign (1346 BC) and was probably completed by Year 9 (1341 BC), although it became the capital city two years earlier. To speed up construction of the city most of the buildings were constructed out of mud-brick, and white washed. The most important buildings were faced with local stone.
It is the only ancient Egyptian city which preserves great details of its internal plan, in large part because the city was abandoned after the death of Akhenaten, when Akhenaten's son, King Tutankhamen, decided to leave the city and return to his birthplace in Thebes (modern Luxor). The city seems to have remained active for a decade or so after his death, and a shrine to Horemheb indicates that it was at least partially occupied at the beginning of his reign, if only as a source for building material elsewhere. Once it was abandoned it remained uninhabited until Roman settlement began along the edge of the Nile. However, due to the unique circumstances of its creation and abandonment, it is questionable how representative of ancient Egyptian cities it actually is. The entire city was encircled with a total of 14 boundary stelae detailing Akhenaten's conditions for the establishment of this new capital city of Egypt. (
It may be that the Royal Wadi's resemblance to the hieroglyph for horizon showed that this was the place to found the city.) (Source: Wikipedia)

city of the Sun -
a mirage

a mirage
lasted for only 15 years

© Chèvrefeuille

Not as strong as I had hoped, but I enjoyed creating this episode of CDHK and I hope it will inspire you to create "your own Amarna" in a haiku or tanka.

This episode is open for your submissions RIGHT NOW and will remain open until August 12th at noon (CET). I will publish our new episode, Hymn to the Aten (CD Distillation), later on. For now have fun!


  1. Sounds like we'll have great adventures in September and October ... Loved this inspiring post ... Cheers! Bastet

  2. Wow .... echoing Bastet here ... September and October look great!
    Thanks for another wonderful post :)