Court Musicians from the Amarna Period

A fragment of a relief depicts court musicians from the Amarna Period and attendants of the royal family, six ladies in waiting and gentlemen sunshade-bearers.

During the Amarna Period the need for speedy erection of new temples for Aten led to the use of smaller, now called Talatat, blocks of stone, which were easier to transport and carve. Such reliefs come from the temples and palaces at Akhetaten (Tell el-Amarna), the capital of Egypt under Akhenaten, but after the destruction of the site were re-used as foundation blocks.

Attendants of the Royal Family
Attendants of the Royal Family

Amenhotep IV, who succeeded his father Amenhotep III in 1353 BC, was officially responsible for an unprecedented move in the history of ancient Egypt. He introduced a new cult, that of Aten, the sun disc, and imposed it as the state religion in place of the cult of Amun, the main god of Thebes.

Akhenaten (the new name of Amenhotep IV) and his entourage completed the break with the political-religious apparatus that had prevailed in the New Kingdom until then by moving the capital from Thebes to Amarna, 350 km to the north. Here they built a new city, Akhetaten, the ‘Horizon of the Aten’. The need to build new sacred buildings in a very short time determined, here as at Thebes, the use of smaller than normal blocks of limestone, called talatat, like those shown in the window.

Court Musicians from the Amarna Period
Court Musicians from the Amarna Period

New Kingdom, 18th Dynasty, Amarna Period, reign of Akhenaten, ca. 1353-1336 BC. Sunk relief in limestone. Schimmel Collection, New York.

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