Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Head from a statuette

New Kingdom, Amarna Period
Dynasty 18
reign of Akhenaten
ca. 1353–1336 B.C.
From Egypt, Middle Egypt, Amarna (Akhetaten), House no. 68 (T36.68), Egypt Exploration Society excavations, 1930–31
Limestone, paint
H. 3.5 cm (1 3/8 in.); W. 3.1 cm (1 1/4 in.); D. 3.2 cm (1 1/4 in.)
Credit Line:
Gift of Mrs. John Hubbard and Egypt Exploration Society, 1931
Accession Number:
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 121
The statue from which this small head is broken was probably a private icon. Such icons represent probably a revered, perhaps deceased, relative, overlord or other person, and were displayed in the home or other suitable places and received attentions and address from the living. This head was found in an unimpressive private house in a crowded area of the North Suburb: if it originated there, such a fine statue may have been commisioned by the person represented and given to those who were his dependents. See also 11.150.21.

In fact, it has long been discussed whether this head represents a non-royal male or a royal female. The subject wears a type of wig popular among royal women, but not exclusively so - it is also found on officials. The red skin color would point to a male, but skin color may not be a reliable indicator of sex in the Amarna Period. If a female were represented, it should be a princess forming part of a group and would be be placed in a shrine to the royal family at some home. But the preserved group statues all depict the princesses as young children - whatever their actual age. Given these considerations, it seems more likely the head is that of a male.
Excavated at Tell el-Amarna by the Egypt Exploration Society, 1930-31. Received by the EES in the division of Finds. Donated to the MMA in 1931 by the EES and Mrs. John Hubbard (a sponsor of the EES).

Heywood, Ann 2016. "A Statuette of Two Men and a Boy from the Amarna Period, Part II: Materials Analysis and Imaging." In The Art and Culture of Ancient Egypt: Studies in Honor of Dorothea Arnold, edited by Ogden Goelet and Adela Oppenheim. New York: Egyptological Seminar of New York, p. 383.

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