Relief Depicting the Purification of Queen Kiya (?)

Period: New Kingdom, Amarna Period

Dynasty: Dynasty 18

Reign: reign of Akhenaten

Date: ca. 1353–1336 B.C.

Geography: From Egypt; Probably from Middle Egypt, Hermopolis (Ashmunein; Khemenu); Probably originally from Amarna (Akhetaten)

Medium: Limestone, paint

Dimensions: H. 22.8 × l. 47 × d. 2.5 cm (9 × 18 1/2 × 1 in.)

Credit Line: Gift of Norbert Schimmel, 1985

Accession Number: 1985.328.8


This fragment is from a scene showing a royal woman undergoing a ritual of purification. The zigzag lines represent water being poured over her head from a jar held by the small hand at the upper left of the relief. The woman originally wore a Nubian wig similar to the one carved on a canopic jar lid from this period (see 30.8.54). Later the wig was filled in with gypsum plaster, which was modeled and recarved into the elaborately dressed side lock of hair worn by Akhenaten's daughters, but some of the plaster has fallen out. Judging by the facial features and the original wig, the figure probably was intended to represent Queen Kiya, a beloved secondary wife of Akhenaten. This queen seems to have died several years before the end of the king's reign, and her images were invariably altered to represent one of his older daughters, as on this relief.