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Gallery 20: Case 5

Amarna: the royal family

The 'Amarna period' takes its name from the modern Egyptian name for Akhetaten, a city founded by King Akhenaten (1351 - 1334 BC). It is often seen as a period that introduced radical changes in both art and religion.

Amarna period images of the royal family show such features as swollen abdomens, skulls and hips, rounded thighs and exaggeratedly elongated fingers. Some of these features already appear in the reign of Akhenaten's father, Amenhotep III. Amenhotep's powerful wife, Tiye, survived her husband, and remained an influential figure in the early years of her son's reign.

Akhenaten first reigned as Amenhotep IV. Soon, however, he moved the site of his capital city from Thebes to Akhetaten. He introduced the worship of just one god, the Aten or sun disk, through himself and his principal wife, Nefertiti. Many royal images are relaxed family groups including the three royal daughters, playing or embracing under the protective rays of the Aten.

Objects with database records from this case