Amarna period art can often look alien and bizarre, but this scene also has a sense of elegance and grace. Akhenaten and Nefertiti stand beneath the rays of the Aten making offerings, serenely receiving the gifts the Aten bestows on them.

Quite a lot of paint survives, enough to let us picture how it would’ve looked. The couple clearly made a matching pair – not the same, but complementary. Both wear blue crowns, Akhenaten’s is what we refer to as “the blue crown” and Nefertiti wears her distinctive headdress.

They both receive life from the hands of the god at the ends of the rays coming from the sun disk (which I’ve cropped out of this image). They are both also being patted on the head, which I think is to do with conveying the idea that their crowns were bestowed by the god.

And the hands of the god also reach out to the offerings that Akhenaten proffers – he’s pouring water (or perhaps some other liquid) into vessels into which the hands reach.

Facade of a Small Shrine from the House of Panehsy in Amarna. New Kingdom, Dynasty 18, reign of Akhenaten, c. 1351-1334 Acc. No.: JE65041

This is the decoration on the facade of a small shrine or altar which was found in the house of Panehsy at Amarna and it’s now in the Cairo Museum (JE65041). The whole facade looks a bit like a pylon of a temple.

See it on my photo site: and there are another couple of photos, less close up, to the left.

Jigsaw puzzles:

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