Two princesses

This talatat depicts two princesses of king Akhenaten and his wife Nefertiti. Their youth is represented by the hairstyle Egyptologist’s have dubbed the ‘side lock of youth’, a plaited strand or strands of hair on an otherwise shaven head or short hairstyle.

This piece was found among the foundations of the Pylon of Ramesses II at Hermopolis (Al Ashmunin), after having been usurped from the purposely dismantled city of Akhetaten (modern el-Amarna), Akhenaten’s experimental ‘new capital’ city.

Relief of Two princesses. Met Museum. 1985.328.6
Met Museum. 1985.328.6

The demonstration of affection in this detail showing two of Akhenaten’s daughters is typical of the intimacy allowed in representations of the royal family during the Amarna Period.

Although affectionate gestures are not entirely unknown in royal art of other eras, the casual pose and the fully frontal depiction of the older sister’s torso are unparalleled among royal figures and are extremely rare in any type of representation during other periods of Egyptian art.

In Egyptian art, “talatat” refers to small rectangular blocks of stone that were commonly used in the construction of walls and buildings during the reign of king Akhenaten in the 14th century BC. These blocks were often decorated with relief carvings or inscriptions and were used to create large-scale decorative panels.

The use of talatat allowed for quick and efficient construction, as they could be easily transported and assembled. The most famous example of the use of talatat is in the construction of the Karnak Temple complex in Luxor, Egypt.

Talatat depicts two princesses. New Kingdom, 18th Dynasty, Amarna Period, reign of Akhenaten, ca. 1353-1336 BC. Now in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. 1985.328.6