Artistic Revolution (Episode 112)

Akhenaten (Part 5): Amarna Art, An Introduction.

By the time of his Sed-Festival, Amunhotep IV’s reforms had begun to gather serious momentum. The King was even introducing new forms of representation, reshaping the human body and altering conventions at a fundamental level. In these early phases of Amarna Art, the pharaoh’s vision manifested in some bizarre and distorted imagery…

112. Logo Text - Copy.jpg
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Cairo Museum figures with grid
Akhenaten, Nefertiti and daughters worship Aten before offering tables – traces of the red grid are visible around the King’s figure (Cairo Museum). This piece dates from the King’s residence at Amarna, after he changed his name.


112. Manniche (3)

Nefertiti and Meritaten worship the Aten (ATP).

112. Style Early ATP - Akhenaten Temple Project (23)

A figure of the King, showing the exaggerated features of early Amarna Art (ATP).

112. Style Early ATP - Akhenaten Temple Project (24)

The King worships Aten, who holds ankh (life) to his nose (ATP).

112. Style Nefertiti Comparison (1)

Nefertiti comparison: in the “traditional” style (left) and in the early Amarna style (right) (ATP).

112. Ramose (frontispiece)
The Vizier Ramose, from his tomb (Davies 1941).


Mourners in the tomb of Ramose, a famous scene (Davies 1941).


Ramose’s funeral procession: porters carry a bed, boxes, chair, scribal palette, vases, portable shrines, stools and sandals (Davies 1941).

112. Ramose (full)

Ramose and his wife Meryt-Ptah, with female relatives before them (Davies 1941).

112. Ramose (Vizier)

Servants anoint Ramose, who wears the garb and accessories of the Vizier (Davies 1941).

112. Ramose rewarded (Davies)

Ramose, now depicted in the Amarna style, adorned with gold dispensed by the King and Queen (Davies 1941).

112. Davies Ramose plate 33

Amunhotep IV (now Akhenaten) and Nefertiti dispense rewards to Ramose (Davies 1941).

112. Bek and Men (Aswan) before A3 and A4
Bek (left) and his father (right) make offerings to Akhenaten and the Colossi of Amunhotep III, respectively.

112. Bek and Taheret (Berlin)

Bek and his wife Taheret (Berlin).

Pharaon_Akhénaton,_Louvre - Wikipeida.jpg

One of the “Akhenaten Colossi,” enormous statues of the King from Karnak (Wikimedia).

112. Colossi (Manniche 1 edited).jpg
A colossal statue of Amunhotep IV, from Karnak (Manniche 2010).
112. Frontal colossus (Manniche 118) - Copy.JPG
The “wrong” way to view the colossi: front-on, the statues appear misshapen and grotesque (Manniche 2010).
112. Manniche (1)
The right way: viewed from below, the proportions of Akhenaten’s face appear more consistent and now radiate a sort of “detached authority.” With the original colours, these statues probably appeared quite evocative (Manniche 2010).


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Select Bibliography

Cyril Aldred, Akhenaten King of Egypt, 1988.

Dorothea Arnold, Lyn Green and James Allen, The Royal Women of Amarna: Images of Beauty from Ancient Egypt, 1999 (MetMuseum).

N. de Garis Davies, The Tomb of the Vizier Ramose, 1941.

Aidan Dodson, Amarna Sunrise, 2014.

Earl L. Ertman, “Images of Amenhotep IV and Nefertiti in the Style of the Previous Reign,” in Causing His Name to Live: Studies in Egyptian Epigraphy and History in Memory of William J. Murnane, 2009 (Google Books).

James K. Hoffmeier, Akhenaten & the Origins of Monotheism, 2015.

Lise Manniche, The Akhenaten Colossi at Karnak, 2010.

Dominic Montserrat, Akhenaten: History, Fantasy and Ancient Egypt, 2005.

Donald B. Redford, Akhenaten: The Heretic King, 1987.

Donald B. Redford, The Akhenaten Temple Project vol. II: Rwd-Mnw and Inscriptions, 1988.

Donald B. Redford, “Akhenaten: New Theories, Old Facts,” Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research (2013): 9-34. JSTOR.

Nicholas Reeves, Akhenaten: Egypt’s False Prophet, 2005.

Gay Robins, Proportion and Style in Ancient Egyptian Art, 1994.

Gay Robins, The Art of Ancient Egypt, 1997.

Ray Winfield Smith and Donald B. Redford, The Akhenaten Temple Project vol. I: Initial Discoveries, 1976.

Joyce Tyldesley, Nefertiti’s Face: Creation of an Icon, 2018.

Richard H. Wilkinson, The Complete Gods and Goddesses of Ancient Egypt, 2003.

4 Comments Add yours

  1. Dominique Steger says:

    It is a pity the bibliography quoted is only in English and sources in other languages are ignored.

    1. DominicPerry says:

      Hi Dominique, as the Podcast is English-language I generally only provide my English language sources. If you are looking for French or German materials I can recommend some.

  2. Paul says:

    Much appreciated. I first read of the mysterious and unique Akhenaten bcak in high school in the mysterious anthology ‘urantia book’. Since then, his life intrigues . Any illumination into his life is much appreciated.

    1. DominicPerry says:

      Thanks for listening!

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