Two Princesses, New Kingdom, Dynasty 18, reign of Akhenaten, ca. 1349–1336 b.c.
Limestone with remains of paint; H. 8 3/4 in. (21.2 cm), W. 11 1/2 in. (29.2 cm)
Gift of Norbert Schimmel, 1985 (1985.328.6)
This relief depicts two of the king's young daughters in a sisterly embrace. The touching demonstration of affection is typical of the intimacy allowed in representations of the royal family during the Amarna period. Although affectionate gestures are not entirely unknown in royal art of other eras, the casual pose and fully frontal depiction of the older sister's torso are unparalleled among royal figures and rare in Egyptian art overall.
Akhenaten's drive to build temples to the new chief deity, Aten, made his architects choose blocks that were smaller than those traditionally used in Egyptian monuments. A single man could carry a block, which must have accelerated the process of construction. The relatively small size of the building blocks also meant that when Akhenaten's successors demolished his temples the blocks were easily reused in later building projects throughout Egypt. The relief fragments in the Museum's collection were probably recycled as fill for a Rameside temple at Hermopolis, a site close to Amarna.