It was founded by 18th Dynasty king Akhenaten as his new capital, but was deserted about thirty years later, after his death. He named it after Aten, the god whom he worshiped.
The Great Temple of Aten dominated the centre of the city. It was open to the sun and had no shrine or cult statue. A series of courts led across a huge enclosure to a high altar in the sanctuary. Here, there were offering tables that were used by people who were not allowed to enter the sanctuary. Other temples in the city followed the same plan.
The images of the royal family throughout the city showed the king not only as a ruler but also as a family man. The court revolved around the Great Palace. The palace had a special window from which the family appeared before the public. The family also had other palaces for their private residences.
Government offices and temples were in the central city. A business district was to the north, and a residence area was to the south. The city itself was spacious, with houses set in gardens of trees, flowers, and ornamental ponds. Tombs for wealthy citizens were located in nearby hills.
(This page was updated in December 2012.)