Akhenaten: Imperishable Art of an Iconoclast: Age of Extravagance in Amarna—Part II

Akhenaten: Imperishable Art of an Iconoclast: Age of Extravagance in Amarna—Part II

The monuments Akhenaten constructed were no less impressive than those of his father, Amenhotep III. But all his buildings were dismantled and destroyed during the Amarna backlash—including the city of Akhetaten, which vanished beneath the desert sands for millennia. But art ultimately resurrected the pharaoh’s memory in our time.

A Karnak Temple relief from early in Akhenaten’s reign shows him with Ra-Horakhty, traditionally depicted with a hawk’s head. Neues Museum, Berlin. (Right) An inscribed limestone fragment from Amarna shows an early Aten cartouche, “the Living Ra-Horakhty”. Petrie Museum, London. (Photo: Osama Shukir Muhammed Amin FRCP(Glasg)/CC BY-SA 4.0).

A Karnak Temple relief from early in Akhenaten’s reign shows him with Ra-Horakhty, traditionally depicted with a hawk’s head. Neues Museum, Berlin. (Right) An inscribed limestone fragment from Amarna shows an early Aten cartouche, “the Living Ra-Horakhty”. Petrie Museum, London. (Photo: Osama Shukir Muhammed Amin FRCP(Glasg)/CC BY-SA 4.0).

ZENITH OF ATEN ADORATION

During the first five years of his reign, Akhenaten decorated the southern entrance to the precincts of the temple of Amun-Re with scenes of himself worshipping Ra-Horakhty the falcon-headed aspect of the sun. From an examination of the Gem-pa-aten reliefs in Karnak, Egyptologists discovered the remnants of four distinct structures. Beginning 1925, Maurice Pillet, French architect and director of works for the Egyptian Antiquities Service at Karnak discovered huge colossi in the drainage ditch east of the eastern gate of the enclosure wall of the Karnak Temple. Later, Egyptologist and Inspector of Antiquities at Karnak from 1925 to 1952, Henri Chevrier, unearthed even more destroyed statues of Akhenaten.


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