The Amarna Project developed from a long-running archaeological excavation formerly carried out under the auspices of the Egypt Exploration Society and now in the name of the McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research (University of Cambridge), under an annual permit from the Ministry of State for Antiquities of Egypt. It embraces several areas of interest that reflect the human occupation of this part of the Nile Valley. Primarily they concern the ancient city of Amarna itself, its private houses, its royal buildings, its cemeteries and all the evidence that can be used to reconstruct the kind of a place it was and what it was like to live there. The Project is involved in:
Much of the city was built from sun-dried mud bricks (adobe). Once exposed they steadily degrade through weathering. In contrast, the palaces and temples used decorated stonework for walls and columns. This was removed for re-use after the city was abandoned, though leaving sufficient traces of foundations for the outlines of buildings to be recognised. Many of the buildings have been exposed since the earlier decades of the 20th century. Over many years the Amarna Project has cleaned and repaired a selection of them, where appropriate marking the outlines of lost walls with new brickwork or fresh limestone blocks:
This type of work needs to be extended to other buildings, and consideration given to reburying others, a cost-effective way of reducing their continuing decay. At the site of Kom el-Nana care takes the form of enclosing it within a barbed-wire fence to safeguard it from agricultural extension.
At Amarna itself (on the waterfront at El-Till) a large Visitor Centre has been constructed by the Ministry of State for Antiquities. The Amarna Project is co-operating in furnishing the displays and developing an educational outreach programme.
Akhenaten and his people were not the only ones to have lived at Amarna. Although it is not a natural population centre other people at other times have made it their home. It supported a flourishing monastic society in the early centuries of Christianity in Egypt. Centuries later the present spread of villages appeared whose changing way of life reflects the dynamics of modern Egypt.