The area is located on the east bank of the Nile River in the modern Egyptian province of Minya, some 58 km (36 mi) south of the city of al-Minya, 312 km (194 mi) south of the Egyptian capital Cairo and 402 km (250 mi) north of Luxor. The city of Deir Mawas lies directly west across from the site of Amarna. Amarna, on the east side, includes several modern villages, chief of which are el-Till in the north and el-Hagg Qandil in the south.
The area was also occupied during later Roman and early Christian times; excavations to the south of the city have found several structures from this period.
The name Amarna comes from the Beni Amran tribe that lived in the region and founded a few settlements. The ancient Egyptian name was Akhetaten.
(This site should be distinguished from Tell Amarna in Syria, a Halaf period archaeological tell.)
English Egyptologist, Sir John Gardner Wilkinson visited Amarna twice in the 1820s and identified it as 'Alabastron', following the sometimes contradictory descriptions of Roman-era authors Pliny (On Stones) and Ptolemy (Geography), although he was not sure about the identification and suggested Kom el-Ahmar as an alternative location.