Fragment of Paving from Tell el-Amarna

Fragment of a painted paving from the southern palace at Amarna, the Maru-Aten (which was built for Meritaten, King Akhenaten’s eldest daughter). It is made of painted plaster, and depicts a marsh scene with wild ducks flying over tufts of reeds and papyrus which intermingle with the floating leaves of a flowering plant. Realism abounds in a fragment of painted plaster floor, showing ducks among lotuses and papyri.

A number of fragments of paving decorated with high quality paintings of plants and animals come from the South social hierarchy. The symbolism of aquatic plants and papyrus as being the first forms of life in the Egyptian version of the of primeval disorder and thus triumph over death.

Fragment of Paving from Tell el-Amarna
Fragment of Paving from Tell el-Amarna

In the New Kingdom, the symbolism of victory over the dark forces of chaos became more widespread and is seen in the famous portrayals of Ankhesenamun (the wife of Tutankhamun) clutching wild ducks on the outer walls of the gilded shrine found in the tomb of her husband in the Valley of the Kings. In Amarna, this Palace in Tell el-Amarna, one of the secondary residences of the royal family.

Fragment of Paving from Tell el-Amarna
Fragment of Paving from Tell el-Amarna

Creation had been known since the earliest stages of Egyptian culture, when the depiction of hunting scenes with the harpoon or throwing sticks (a sort of boomerang) in tomb paintings meant that the occupant of the tomb would magically defeat the negative forces symbolic interpretation was overlaid with the simple and touching description of the miraculous apparition of life in all its aspects and celebrated in the great hymn to Aten, the apotheosis of the natural philosophy championed by King Akhenaten.

New Kingdom, 18th Dynasty, Amarna Period, reign of Akhenaten, ca. 1353-1336 BC. Now in the Egyptian Museum, Cairo. JE 33030/1