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Offering to the Aten, c. 1345 BCE

Akhenaten, Nefertiti and two daughters offering to the Aten from El-Amarna

Offering_to_the_Aten

The sun disc, the Aten, was the only deity at the center of the new religion of King Akhenaten. The simplicity of its form caused some difficulties for the artists whose task was to create the new religion’s images but they solved the problem brilliantly. The sun disc was shown with a multitude of rays radiating from it and these terminated in human hands, some holding the traditional symbols of life (ankh) and dominion (was). The king and his family were included in the main religious icon of the Amarna period, shown offering to the Aten and receiving its blessing through the rays extended towards them. These linked the deity and its main proponents just as effectively as the earlier representations which showed a king being embraced by a god. The illustrated relief was found as a loose slab of stone in the royal tomb at El-Amarna and may have served as a pattern to be imitated in the tomb’s decoration. In the central part of the scene are the remains of a grid. This was perhaps used to copy the representations or parts of them onto the walls, or even conceivably to transfer the scene onto this slab from elsewhere. The figures display the exaggerated features characteristic of the early phase of Amarna art.

Egyptian Museum, Cairo

Malek, Jaromir, Egypt; 4000 years of Art. London- Phaidon Press, 2003.

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