Sadigh Gallery: The Amarna Period – Ancient Egypt
The Amarna Period was an era of Egyptian history during the latter half of the Eighteenth Dynasty when the royal residence of the pharaoh and his queen was shifted to Akhetaten (‘Horizon of the Aten’) in what is now Amarna. Sadigh Gallery notes that it was marked by the reign of Amenhotep IV, who changed his name to Akhenaten (1353–1336 BC) in order to reflect the dramatic change of Egypt’s polytheistic religion into one where the sun disc Aten was worshipped over all other gods. Aten was not solely worshipped (the religion was not monotheistic), but the other gods were worshipped to a significantly lesser degree. The Egyptian pantheon of the equality of all gods and goddesses was restored under Akhenaten’s successor, Tutankhamun.
During Akhenaten’s reign, royal portraiture underwent dramatic change. According to Sadigh Gallery, sculptures of Akhenaten deviate from conventional portrayal of royalty. Akhenaten is depicted in an androgynous and highly stylized manner, with large thighs, a slim torso, drooping belly, full lips, and a long neck and nose. Some believe that the break with convention was due to “the presence at Amarna of new people or groups of artists whose background and training were different from those of the Karnak sculptors.
The events following Akhenaten’s death are unclear and the identity and policies of his co-regent and immediate successor are the matter of ongoing scholarly debate, notes Sadigh Gallery.