House of Panehesy at Akhetaten, Egypt

During ancient Egypt's 18th Dynasty, Pharaoh Amenhotep IV (Akhenaten), in 1346 BCE, built a new capital city of Akhetaten (Tell el-Amarna), located on the east bank of the River Nile, 402 km (250 mi) north of Luxor, and 312 km (194 mi) south of the current Egyptian capital, Cairo.

Akhenaten dedicated his new city to a new religion of the sole worship of Aten (the Sun god, the creator, giver of life, and nurturing spirit of the world), relegating the previous polytheistic religion to oblivion. He was the first world ruler to establish a monotheistic state religion, and in this regard he was considered an iconoclast in his time. After his death in 1332 BCE, his son, King Tutankhamun forced the abandonment of the city, and re-established Egyptian state religion of the former polytheism. The last pharaoh of the 18th Dynasty, Horemheb, eradicated the worship of Aten.

The CG model shown here is a reconstruction of the "official residence' of the High Priest of the Aten, Panehesy, located in Akhetaten. In its central room is a small personal altar—evidence that worship of Aten was also performed in the privacy of the residence, not only in the City Temples, as with Egyptian polytheism. The altar is in the form of a miniature chapel, comprising a doorway with 'broken' lintel and ureaus (cobra) cornice, approached by steps with balustrades. Behind the door jambs low walls, with cavetto cornices, extended to the wall of the room. The altar jamb faces were decorated with incised and painted figures of Akhenaten, his queen, Nefertiti, and three princesses worshipping the sun disc. The shrine was about 1.5 meters high and built entirely of stone.

Elevation: close to sea level on the bank of the River Nile.

Construction materials: house mud brick walls faced with local stone or white washed; altar of stone.

Data for CG model:
1. Stevens, Anna, 2003; The Material Evidence for Domestic Religion at Amarna and Preliminary Remarks on its Interpretation, The Journal of Egyptian Archaeology, January 2003.
2. Stevens, Anna, 2015; Visibility, private religion and the urban landscape of Amarna, Visibility, Amarna Project & Department of Ancient Egypt and Sudan, The British Museum, in Dalton M, Peters G and Tavares A, edits, 2015; Seen & Unseen Spaces,
Archaeological Review from Cambridge 30.1.
3. Stevens, Anna, 2006; Private Religion at Amarna. The Material Evidence, BAR International Series 1587, Oxford: Archaeopress.

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© 2009, Dennis R. Holloway Architect