Heads of Akhenaten & Nefertiti

These heads, discovered within the remnants of the studio of the sculptor Thutmose at Tel el-Amarna, clearly depict king Akhenaten and his Great Royal Wife Nefertiti. Despite no markings, based upon appearance alone we can almost certainly identify the royal pair.

The heads are made of plaster (stucco) and are life-sized. Stucco is applied wet and hardens into a dense solid. It is utilised as a decorative coating for interior and outdoor walls, as well as a sculptural and creative material in architecture and art (sculpture).

Plaster head (stucco) of Akhenaten
Plaster head (stucco) of Akhenaten
Dimensions: 27.7 x 19.6 x 19 cm
From the workshop of the Sculptor Thutmose, Tel el-Amarna.
Ägyptisches Museum. ÄM 21348

The Sculptor Thutmose

Thutmose, also known as “The King’s Favourite and Master of Works, the Sculptor Thutmose” (also spelt Djhutmose, Thutmosis, and Thutmes), was an Amarna style sculptor. He lived around 1350 BC and is supposed to have been the official court sculptor of Egyptian pharaoh Akhenaten in the later half of his reign.

In early December 1912, a German archaeological expedition digging in Akhenaten’s deserted city of Akhetaten (now known as Amarna) discovered a ruined house and studio complex (labelled P47.1-3); the building was identified as Thutmose’s based on an ivory horse indicator found in a pit in the courtyard inscribed with his name and job title.

Plaster head (stucco) of Nefertiti
Plaster head (stucco) of Nefertiti
Dimensions: 25,5 x 14 x 17,3 cm
From the workshop of the sculptor Thutmose, Tel el-Amarna.
Ägyptisches Museum. ÄM 21349

Twenty-two plaster casts of faces—some with whole heads, some with just the face—were discovered in Rooms 18 and 19 of Thutmose’s workshop, with another in Room 14.

Eight of these have been recognised as members of the royal family, including Akhenaten, his second wife Kiya, his late father Amenhotep III, and his ultimate successor Ay. The rest are unknown people, most likely Amarna’s then current residents.


Plaster heads (stucco) of Akhenaten & Nefertiti
New Kingdom, 18th Dynasty, reign of Akhenaten, c. 1353–1336 or 1351–1334 B.C.
From the workshop of the sculptor Thutmose, Tel el-Amarna.
Ägyptisches Museum. ÄM 21348. ÄM 21349