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Reconstruction of a group of houses in the North Suburb that look out on to a desert wadi (drawn by Seton Lloyd and Brian O'Rorke 1929).

North Suburb


The name North Suburb has been given to a large area of ancient housing that lay separated by empty desert from the Central City to the south, and from the North Palace to the north. It has the distinction of having been completely excavated, between 1926 and 1932, by the Egypt Exploration Society.

In modern times it has been divided into two sectors by a wadi that drains flash floodwaters from the high desert. It is not clear whether the ancient houses ran across the wadi floor. Those that lay on the south edge seem to have faced towards it, as if its course provided a means of access to the river, and were provided with staircases down to its floor that then lay a few metres further below.

The houses were also separated into zones by broad ‘streets’ running north-south, as if in continuation of the broad streets of the Main City although the Central City lay between and broke the continuity. To judge from the amount of archaeological debris associated with the various parts of the North Suburb, including quantities of pottery lying on the surface and around the excavation spoil heaps, the different parts were occupied for different lengths of time. The houses that lay closer to the river, basically those to the west of West Road North, were occupied for longer than those further back. A few houses seem not to have been finished. The eastern part of the North Suburb was therefore in the process of being extended by newly arrived inhabitants at the time that the city was abandoned.

Map of part of the North Suburb, south of the wadi. North is to the left Map of part of the North Suburb, south of the wadi. North is to the left

Reconstruction of a group of houses in the North Suburb that look out on to a desert wadi (drawn by Seton Lloyd and Brian O'Rorke 1929).

The North Suburb contains houses across a broad range of size. Those on the west were also especially closely packed together. A few of the houses along the southern edge of the wadi seem to have sacrificed surrounding private walled space in favour of the location at the wadi edge. One of them, T35.9, in possessing eleven grain silos, ought to have been the house of rich man. The house of the chief builder Hatiay (T34.1 & 4) is notable for its complete and brightly painted door lintel (now in the Egyptian Museum, Cairo).

Plan of Hatiay’s house and the lintel from above one of the doorways Plan of Hatiay’s house and the lintel from above one of the doorways

Plan of Hatiay’s house and the lintel from above one of the doorways  

Plan of Hatiay’s house and the lintel from above one of the doorways  

Not all of the buildings are houses. A large enclosure lying north of the wadi (T33.9–12) looks, from its plan, to have been more of an administrative building.

Map of part of the North Suburb, north of the wadi. The house of Hatiay is at the bottom left; the large building T33.9–12 is top right. North is to the left Map of part of the North Suburb, north of the wadi. The house of Hatiay is at the bottom left; the large building T33.9–12 is top right. North is to the left

Amongst the objects found in the North Suburb were:

A limestone statuette (18 cm high) of a seated official (house T35.4) (Frankfort and Pendlebury 1933, 43, Pl. XXXVII, object 29/331).

The head of another small private statuette (house T36.68) (Frankfort and Pendlebury 1933, 62, Pl. XLIV.1–3, object 30/300).

A statuette (12 cm high) of the god Bes made of steatite (house U35.31) (Frankfort and Pendlebury 1933, 35, Pl. XXXVIII.1–3, object 29/283)

A limestone seat always identified as coming from a lavatory (house T35.22) (Frankfort and Pendlebury 1933, 47, Pl. XLII.3, object 30/182).

A sealed pottery jar filled with gold and silver bars and twists, and a tiny silver statuette of what has been identified as a Hittite god (Frankfort and Pendlebury 1933, 59–61, Pl. XLIII, objects 30/488–91).

A small part of the North Suburb (T34.3) had been built over in the Late Roman Period by a well-constructed brick tower and ancillary structures that might have been a guard tower, perhaps connected with a monastery. The surrounding area had also served as a cemetery of the same period.

Oblique aerial photograph of the North Suburb taken in March 1932
Oblique aerial photograph of the North Suburb taken in March 1932

The North Suburb, because it lies so close to the modern village of Et-Till, has considerably deteriorated since it was excavated. It is visible as low sandy mounds, heaps of loose bricks and occasional lengths of wall.

References

The report on the entire excavation of the North Suburb is contained within the single-volume, H. Frankfort and J.D.S. Pendlebury, The City of Akhenaten, Part II. The North Suburb and The Desert Altars (London, Egypt Exploration Society 1933).

The Late Roman rebuilding is discussed in J. Faiers, et al., Late Roman pottery at Amarna and related studies (London, Egypt Exploration Society 2005), 40–1, 181–3,

Aerial Photo


Aerial photograph of the southern part of the North Suburb, taken in 1935
click to enlarge

 
 

Website first posted September 2000; last updated November 2010 | enquiries concerning website: email bjk2@cam.ac.uk