Trial piece of Akhenaten, on the reverse a horse's head

Period: New Kingdom, Amarna Period

Dynasty: Dynasty 18

Reign: reign of Akhenaten

Date: ca. 1353–1336 B.C.

Geography: From Egypt, Middle Egypt, Amarna (Akhetaten), Sculptors' workshop near south end of the town, Petrie/Carter excavations, 1891–92

Medium: Limestone

Dimensions: h. 17 cm (6 11/16 in); w. 13.5 cm (5 5/16 in)

Credit Line: Gift of Edward S. Harkness, 1921

Accession Number: 21.9.13


This unfinished study of the head of Akhenaten was one of a number excavated by Flinders Petrie and Howard Carter in 1891–92 from the sculptors' workshops at Tell el-Amarna, the new royal capital founded by Akhenaten. It came to the Museum from the collection of Lord Amherst, who sponsored the excavations. It shows the king in the later, more naturalistic Amarna style. The characteristic attributes of the portraits of the king—long almond-shaped eyes, full lips, elongated jaw and chin, and sloping brow—are present but without the exaggeration of the earlier portraits. These studies may have served as models for or practice pieces by the sculptors carving the reliefs for the huge Aten temples that the king was building in order to worship according to his own unorthodox interpretation of the religion of ancient Egypt; it is also possible that some may have been employed as donation pieces.