Akhenaten (Box, Carter Archive 001K)

Status
Closed

Corvidius

Ad Honorem
Jul 2017
3,047
Crows nest
As these statues are normally shown in publications from odd angles and lighting conditions for "effect", it's interesting to see them presented more normally, and here it's very difficult not to see the right hand statue as Nefertiti. Though it is apparently unfinished and a kilt would have been added, and, though I cannot remember right now were I read this, these statues would have been mounted higher than we see them now and that from below the distortions would not seem so great, but I'm not sure about that as I think they would look weird from any angle.

 
  • Like
Reactions: Kyla
Apr 2019
215
UK
I’ve seen 4 of those statues in museums displayed at the correct height and as you stand under them the shape changes radically, as the king stares down at you. This however does not change the fact that representations of Akhenaten from temples, tombs and chapels all show the same elongated proportions as the statues.
 
Nov 2016
1,592
Germany
For a long time it was controversial whether the strange physical appearance that Akhenaten's depictions convey was naturalistic or aesthetically exaggerated. In 2004 (´Who was Akhenaten?´) Reeves was still of the opinion that the ugliness of the depictions corresponded to the real appearance. In 2010, based on CT analysis, Hawass came to the conclusion that the mummies studied, including (most likely) Akhenaten's, show no physical abnormalities that could explain the strange appearance of the images of Akhenaten or other family members.

One theory says that the androgynous appearance of Akhenaten perceptible on representations is only a manifestation of the Aton ideology in the sense that the double gender of the deity, as it is expressed at least in one place in the well-known hymn ("You are Mother and Father"), must also be shown in his prophet and "son", Akhenaten. That the king had underdeveloped genitals is most likely a misinterpretation. That the impression can arise is probably more due to the aforementioned artistic intention to make the king appear androgynous. After all, he had fathered at least six children, which indicates a fully fledged sexual life.

The egg-shaped heads, which can be seen in depictions of daughters, but also of the king and of Nefertiti, may also be a product of religiously motivated artistic expression, with the egg shape being related to the egg as a symbol of fertility. It is well known that the Aten (the sun disk) was originally an aspect of Ra, which also appears in the didactic name of the Aten ("Ra-Horakhty who rejoices in his horizon in his name of Shu which is in the Aten in Karnak'") conceived by Akhenaten. In this respect it is possible that the egg-shaped heads are an expression of the intention to symbolically represent the figures as sources of an original cosmic fertility. Older coffin texts indicate that there was the idea of equating the Aten with a divine golden egg (e.g. Coffin Text Spell 335, according to Orly Goldwater 1997)). Possibly such an idea also played a role in the artistic design of the heads. In contrast to Ra, however, the Aten in Atenism is not considered to have arisen (e.g. out of an egg), but to have existed timelessly.

Nefertiti:

1562777919196.png

As far as the bust of Nefertiti is concerned, one should not give in to the illusion that she really was as beautiful as her bust. In any case, it is an artistically calculated idealization which, however, stands in a strange contrast to the exaggerated distortion of the features of Akhenaten. I don't have an explanation for this, perhaps the aesthetic difference is related to a stylistic change in art that was not pursued further because political developments prevented it.

Hawass, National Geographic, 2010:

Our renewed CT scanning of the mummies also put to rest the notion that the family suffered from some congenital disease, such as Marfan syndrome, that might explain the elongated faces and feminized appearance seen in the art from the Amarna period. No such pathologies were found. Akhenaten's androgynous depiction in the art would seem instead to be a stylistic reflection of his identification with the god Aten, who was both male and female and thus the source of all life.
 
Last edited:

AlpinLuke

Forum Staff
Oct 2011
27,599
Italy, Lago Maggiore
About "the egg-shaped heads" it depends on when ...

If we go back to Huya's tomb [a guy who lived the passage from Amenhotep to Akhenaten], we can see Nefertiti with a nice round head [The rock tombs of El Amarna .. : Davies, Norman de Garis, 1865-1941 : Free Download, Borrow, and Streaming : Internet Archive]. The same about Akhenaten ... may be before of Tiye they didn't elongate their heads!

The same here: The rock tombs of El Amarna .. : Davies, Norman de Garis, 1865-1941 : Free Download, Borrow, and Streaming : Internet Archive

Personally, also considering the mummies, I tend to think to a canon of representation.
 

Ayrton

Ad Honorem
Jan 2017
4,268
Bendigo
As to depictions of the Royals. I found the following really interesting:

The Beautiful One is Come: How Bride Exchange Helped Create Amarna by CANDISE VOGEL University of California

Submitted in Fulfillment of Requirements for ANNEA 175: Race in Ancient Egypt June 10th, 2019.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Kyla
Mar 2019
264
Peterborough, Ontario Canada
As these statues are normally shown in publications from odd angles and lighting conditions for "effect", it's interesting to see them presented more normally, and here it's very difficult not to see the right hand statue as Nefertiti. Though it is apparently unfinished and a kilt would have been added, and, though I cannot remember right now were I read this, these statues would have been mounted higher than we see them now and that from below the distortions would not seem so great, but I'm not sure about that as I think they would look weird from any angle.

In terms of how these statues would have been viewed from below, or from different angles (and what they would have looked like from those angles), perhaps you were thinking of Lise Manniche’s work on the colossal statues which studies them at length and is a great read:
Manniche, The Akhenaten Colossi of Karnak

Or the Petrie-Carter fragments discussed by Marsha Hill?

The Petrie-Carter Fragments from the Sanctuary Zone of the Great Aten Temple: the decoration of Amarna Sacred Architecture.
 
Mar 2019
264
Peterborough, Ontario Canada
About "the egg-shaped heads" it depends on when ...

If we go back to Huya's tomb [a guy who lived the passage from Amenhotep to Akhenaten], we can see Nefertiti with a nice round head [The rock tombs of El Amarna .. : Davies, Norman de Garis, 1865-1941 : Free Download, Borrow, and Streaming : Internet Archive]. The same about Akhenaten ... may be before of Tiye they didn't elongate their heads!

The same here: The rock tombs of El Amarna .. : Davies, Norman de Garis, 1865-1941 : Free Download, Borrow, and Streaming : Internet Archive

Personally, also considering the mummies, I tend to think to a canon of representation.
An interesting video on the subject:

 

AlpinLuke

Forum Staff
Oct 2011
27,599
Italy, Lago Maggiore
A link to the work mentioned by Ayrton: The Beautiful One is Come: How Bride Exchange Helped Create Amarna

About this work, I find curious this new iconographic path: the Mitannian depictions of deities would be similar to the way they depicted Akhenaten and Nefertiti in the Amarna art. A clue that the Beauty came from Mitanni?

Like for the Canadian author, my knowledge of Semiotics makes me cautious about similar lines of inquiry. Nothing would have impeded to the artists in Akhetaten to imitate a foreign style [even if, checking how they represented the goddess Arinna, I'm not that persuaded that there are great similarities].
 
Last edited:
  • Like
Reactions: Ayrton

AlpinLuke

Forum Staff
Oct 2011
27,599
Italy, Lago Maggiore
The author, in my opinion, reaches a conclusion which can be matter of discussion: KmT in that period was an Empire with a wide sphere of influence and relevant trade / cultural / artistic relationships with the surrounding countries. That Mitannian artistic and cultural influence appeared in that historical moment is not that curious: there were good relationships between Egypt and Mitanni and Mitannian women reached the Egyptian Court [as we know Akhenaten got married with a daughter of King Tushratta]. Like it wasn't odd that there was a cultural influence from South [Nubia] with the clan of Akhmin as bridge.

Egypt wasn't an isolated entity [we can add the artistic works from Crete, probably a part of the Keftiu of the Ancient Egyptians].

I quote the author:
At this moment, there simply is not enough documentation to definitively prove the origins of the most powerful Amarna women
And this is what we should keep in mind. Also in Ancient Rome there were "fashions" imported from abroad [or adopted from the conquered lands], but this didn't indicate a certain origin of the members of the imperial family.
 
Status
Closed