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Egyptian relief with a boat scene

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: Egyptian
: Amarna Period, 18th Dynasty, 1353-1336 B.C.
: Limestone
: Height: 22.2 cm Length; 52.7 cm

Ex-Royal-Athena Galleries, 1990


This fragment belongs to the representation of a river scene as it can be concluded from the zigzag lines on the upper part filled with blue color which indicate the ripples of water. There are also elements of a large boat which could be the state boat: on the left side one can see the fragment of the great steering pole surmounted by the head with the crown serving as its terminal. Only the back of the crown is preserved, and it is not clear if it belonged to the royal person or a deity. Next to this a crew member is standing and holding diagonally the spar, a pole of wood to provide support for the sails. He is probably commanded by the two soldiers who approach him and hold their clubs and swords. The guards are wearing skirts knotted at the front.

The Amarna Period in Egyptian art was strongly influenced by the ruling couple, the king Akhenaten (Amenhotep IV) and his wife Nefertiti, who made several important changes in the religious practices and the construction policy. The sun-god Aten became the supreme god to be worshipped above all the others, and the royal residence was moved to Akhetaten, Horizon of Aten, what is now Amarna. As for the style and the iconography themselves, it is marked by the realistic approach in the representations, especially those of the royal personalities and their domestic life, and the introduction of several novel scenes involving momentary action and natural settings. The technique of sunk relief employed for the multi-figured representations achieved a higher level in the differentiation of lines and shapes, as a result a remarkable subtleness of three-dimensional rendering defines the best images created at this period.



ALDRED C., Akhenaten and Nefertiti, New York, pp. 133-135, nos. 55, 57.

COONEY J. D., Amarna Reliefs from Hermopolis in American Collections, New York, 1965, pp. 80-86, nos. 50-51.

ROBINS G., The Art of Ancient Egypt, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1997, pp. 149-165.

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