Ripe barley

New Kingdom, Amarna Period

On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 121

Beginning in the Old Kingdom, the harvest of grain is a typical motif in private tombs. Although temple scenes showing the pharaoh ritually cutting stalks of grain, usually held by a priest, are known from other periods, fields of the living plant are unknown in royal or temple architecture except during the Amarna Period, when representations of wild animals and living plants were common in both palaces and temples. This fragment gives no clue as to its original context. The ears of barley are lifesize and have been very naturalistically carved so that they seem to bend in a gentle breeze coming from the left. The scale and the superb quality of the relief suggests that the block formed part of a prominent scene, perhaps filling a role similar to that of the wild animals greeting the sunrise (1985.328.21)

Ripe barley, Limestone, paint

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