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The Armana Period

November 30, 2011

 The art that came out of Egypt during the Armana period (1353-1336 BCE) was the art we covered this quarter that intrigued me the most. Apart from transforming Egypt’s religion and his influence in politics, Akhenaten drastically altered the style of royal art during his reign.

The depiction of the human figure in Armana period art is possibily the most obvious element that drifted from the Egyptian norm. If you compare the Colossal Figure of Akhenaten (3-25) with Menkaure and a Queen (3-9) from the Old Kingdom period, you’ll identify the distinctions quite easily. Akhenaten’s form is much more relaxed and stylized, with a sagging stomach and almost no visible muscle. Menkaure on the other hand is very rigid in his stance, his strong arms parallel to his strong torso. In typical royal Egyptian art, the shoulder and overall posture of humans is very proper, but in the Armana period the heads are commonly in front of the shoulders with an elongated neck.

Though I personally prefer the visual style of the Armana period over that of the traditional Egyptian style, the real reason the Armana period intrigued me the most is contemplating why such a drastic change in style took place. The Egyptian civilization existed 1700 years before Akhenaten made his mark, and it existed roughly 1000 years after (let’s remember that the U.S. is 235 years old). In all this time, royal artistic conventions pretty much stayed the same. It’s hard for me to imagine Akhenaten as anything less than a wildly eccentric individual with the entire Egyptian civilization in his hands.  

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One Comment
  1. I love the Amarna style too, for the reasons that you mentioned. The style is visually appealing and interesting. It also is a drastic departure from the rest of the artistic conventions that persisted in Egypt for thousands of years. You did well to point out how America is a terribly young country in comparison to the ancient Egyptian civilization.

    I hope you enjoyed this course! I enjoyed teaching you and your classmates.

    -Prof. Bowen

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