Head of a Princess from Tell el-Amarna

Portrait head of a princess of one of the daughters of Akhenaten and Nefertiti from a composite statue, it was discovered within the workshop of the royal sculptor Thutmose at Tell el-Amarna, or Akhetaten.

In Amarna art the daughters of Akhenaten and Nefertiti express the tenets of the new religion. Gathered playfully near their parents, they suggest creative force, emphasize the sacred grouping that is the royal family, and enact the intimacy that was a subject for the newly expressive art.

Head of a Princess from Tell el-Amarna
Head of a Princess from Tell el-Amarna. Photo: Sandra Steiß

The artistic style of this sculpture is in direct contrast to traditional Egyptian art and reflects the revolutionary character of the Amarna Period, when the emphasis in religious thinking shifted from mythology of cosmic origins to a concept of the gods’ continuing creative activity on earth.

In Ancient Egypt, humans were drawn and sculpted the same way for thousands of years. During the Amarna Period, this briefly changed. Certain features, such as the neck, arms, and hands, were elongated. Depictions of people became almost caricatures, as the conventional Egyptian style was briefly abandoned in favor of this unusual new art style

During the excavations in Amarna, between 7000 and 10,000 objects were discovered, 5000 of which are now located in Berlin. Most of them have not been restored or studied, even to this day. So far, those that have been exhibited have been a few key objects, such as the famous model heads made of stucco, as well as some sculptures.

Head of a Princess from Tell el-Amarna. Now in the Neues Museum, Berlin. 21223
Head of a Princess from Tell el-Amarna

The daughters of Akhenaten and Nefertiti: Meritaten, Meketaten, Ankhesenpaaten/Ankhesenamen, Neferneferuaten Ta-sherit, Neferneferure and Setepenre.

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.

“When the chick is in the egg, speaking in the shell,

You [Aten] give him breath within it to cause him to live;

And when you have made his appointed time for him, so that he may break himself out of the egg,

He comes out of the egg to speak at his appointed time and goes on his two legs when he comes out of it [the egg].”

Texts from the Amarna Period in Egypt, by William J Murnane (#aff)

New Kingdom, 18th Dynasty, Amarna Period, reign of Akhenaten, ca. 1353-1336 BC. Now in the Neues Museum, Berlin. 21223