The site was discovered in 1887 when a local woman digging for sebbakh uncovered a cache of 300 tablets (now known as the Amarna Tablets or Letters). These tablets were diplomatic correspondence of the Pharaoh and were written in Akkadian, the language commonly used in the Near East in the Late Bronze Age for such communication.
It is the only ancient Egyptian city for which we have great details of its internal plan, in large part because the city was abandoned after the death of Akhenaten, and remained uninhabited thereafter.
Amarnan art is unique among the Egytian world for its realistic depiction of its subjects, instead of the strict idealistic formalism universal in Egyptian art up until that point, as well as for depicting many informal scenes such as the royal family playing with their children. Although the Amarna heresy was completely suppressed, the artistic legacy had a more lasting impact.
Famous landmarks at the site include: