Painted plaster from the exterior of a house

From Tell el-Amarna, Egypt
18th Dynasty, around 1345 BC

From a colourful doorway

Finds of painted plaster show that Egyptian houses were originally decorated using many colours. This fragments shows that some areas, such as around the door, were moulded. This doorway was made to look like the entrance to a temple, with characteristic curved cornice with black, red and blue bands. The rounded horizontal moulding below this represents the lintel of the temple. This was made of reeds bound together with rope in ancient times, when temples were made of organic materials rather than stone. This feature was incorporated into the decoration when stone was used, and is shown here as a red zigzag pattern.

Relatively few city sites have been found in Egypt. Tell el-Amarna, ancient Akhetaten, was the capital built by Akhenaten, and occupied only during his reign. The abandoned houses, temples, palaces and administrative buildings were left standing and were gradually covered by sand. Archaeological investigation of the city has provided a great deal of information about town planning, and the construction of different types of building in the late Eighteenth Dynasty. Some houses were preserved to a height of over a metre, with staircases and emplacements for columns and granaries still intact.

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Painted plaster from the exterior of a house

Painted plaster from outside a house, from Tell el-Amarna, around 1345 BC


More information


T.G.H. James, Egyptian painting and drawing (London, The British Museum Press, 1985)

M. Stead, Egyptian life (London, The British Museum Press, 1986)


Museum number

EA 58846



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