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The Aten and a Symbol of a Goddess or Queen

Egyptian, Classical, Ancient Near Eastern Art

Egyptian religion during the Amarna Period is often characterized as monotheistic, but a detail on this block found at el Amarna casts some doubt on this interpretation. At the far right is a column capital of a traditional type found in temples and shrines of Hathor, one of Egypt's major goddesses. Was Hathor worshiped at el Amarna, or could the building where this column stood have been dedicated instead to Queen Nefertiti?

MEDIUM Limestone, pigment
  • Place Excavated: Tell el-Amarna, Egypt
  • DATES ca. 1352-1336 B.C.E.
    DYNASTY late Dynasty 18
    PERIOD New Kingdom, Amarna Period
    DIMENSIONS 9 × 13 1/2 × 5 1/2 in., 36.5 lb. (22.9 × 34.3 × 14 cm, 16.56kg) mount (dimensions as installed): 10 3/4 × 16 × 7 3/4 in. (27.3 × 40.6 × 19.7 cm)  (show scale)
    INSCRIPTIONS yes
    MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
    ACCESSION NUMBER 36.886
    CREDIT LINE Gift of the Egypt Exploration Society
    RIGHTS STATEMENT Creative Commons-BY
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    CAPTION The Aten and a Symbol of a Goddess or Queen, ca. 1352-1336 B.C.E. Limestone, pigment, 9 × 13 1/2 × 5 1/2 in., 36.5 lb. (22.9 × 34.3 × 14 cm, 16.56kg). Brooklyn Museum, Gift of the Egypt Exploration Society, 36.886. Creative Commons-BY (Photo: , 36.886_PS9.jpg)
    IMAGE overall, 36.886_PS9.jpg., 2018
    "CUR" at the beginning of an image file name means that the image was created by a curatorial staff member. These study images may be digital point-and-shoot photographs, when we don\'t yet have high-quality studio photography, or they may be scans of older negatives, slides, or photographic prints, providing historical documentation of the object.
    CATALOGUE DESCRIPTION White limestone block with sunken relief and inscriptions, apparently part of a large scene. Slightly to the left of the center is a very deeply sunk relief of the sun with the customary rays. On each side is a lotiform column with the royal cartouche on the outer sides. At the extreme right is a Hathor-headed column. Above these runs a plain cornice on which remain traces of a very brilliant blue paint. This fragment probably represented the facade of a temple or was at least architectural in form. Remains of tomato red paint can be found below the rays for the sun. The piece appears to have been mutilated in ancient times. Condition: The piece is very fragmentary and the surface is extensively chipped.
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