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Amarna, Ancient Egypt’s Place in the Sun
January 27, 2009, Volume 55, No. 19



This Saturday’s gallery tour at the Penn Museum, will focus on Egypt of the Pharaohs (see Update January AT PENN). Above, Monumental wall relief of the royal family worshipping Aten, possibly from Amarna, Dynasty 18, reign of Akhenaten (1353-1336 BCE), quartzite.

Recycling: Nothing New
This monumental wall relief depicts the solar diety Aten as a disk hovering above the pharaoh Akhenaten and a female member of the royal family. The Aten’s rays descend toward the figures, each terminating in a hand. Some time after the restoration of the traditional religion, this relief was cut down, placed face down on the ground, re-inscribed, and reused, probably as a base for a statue in the shape of a sphinx for the later pharaoh Merenptah (1213-1204 BCE). Ironically, this recycling accidentally preserved the decorated front of the relief from total destruction.

The exhibit, Amarna, Ancient Egypt’s Place in the Sun, has been given a long-term extension, as a complement to the Museum’s refurbished Upper and Lower Egyptian galleries. Tutankhamun, ancient Egypt’s famous boy pharaoh, grew up 3,300 years ago in the royal court at Amarna, the ancient city of Akhet-aten, whose name meant the “Horizon of the Aten.” This extraordinary royal city grew, flourished—and vanished—in hardly more than a generation’s time. This offers a rare look at the meteoric rise and fall of this unique royal city during one of Egypt’s most intriguing times.

Related: RecycleMania; Update: January AT PENN

Almanac - January 27, 2009, Volume 55, No. 19