House Altar wih Akhenaten, Nefertiti and Three Daughters, detail with Sun Disk, Neues Museum. Berlin.

The stone plaque titled Akhenaten, Nefertiti, and Three Daughters was made in 1350 B.C.E., which was during a period known as the New Kingdom. During that time, the ruler, Akhenaten, had changed the religion of Egypt from polytheistic to monotheistic. This monotheistic religion worshipped solely the sun god Aten, who was heavily incorporated into the art of the period.

This piece was found in the archeological site of Amarna, which was the capital of Akhenaten’s empire. The plaque, which was made of limestone, was most likely used as a home altar.

An interesting quality of this piece is that it allows historians a glimpse of the private life of a Pharaoh.

Depicted in the plaque is Akhenaten and his wife Nefertiti both holding their daughters.

In the plaque, the god Aten is represented as a sun disc with rays beaming down on the scene.

While most of these rays have only hands at the end of them, the rays that end in front of the noses of the king and queen have hands holding ankhs, which were the Egyptian symbols of life.

This has been interpreted as the sun god giving life to those two rulers alone. Another factor that makes this piece stand out is the way the bodies are carved.

While Egyptian art prior to this piece had been very geometrical, focusing mainly on straight lines, the engravings on this plaque show curvature around the stomachs and bodies, which sets this period of Egyptian art apart from the rest. The thrones of the rulers also say a lot about the piece as well.

The throne of Nefertiti, who was born a commoner, is actually more detailed than that of her king, signifying that they rule equally and together.

The detailing on her throne represents her rule over both Upper and Lower Egypt..

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