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  • Object type

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  • Description

    Lower part of a sculptured head from a limestone figure of Akhenaten: on this fragment, the smooth, softly modeled facial planes and the exquisitely complex mouth, which in profile looks as if it is about to open, give the impression of an actual face. But the mouth, especially when compared with the width of the nose, is extremely large; and it is not wholly integrated with the face. In front view, the sharp edges of the lips serve to isolate them from the cheeks and chin, and to focus attention on the mouth as a unit, as if it were a hieroglyphic sign. The fragment appears to lack (at least, on the undamaged proper right side) the stylized crease from nostril to mouth corner found on almost all of Akhenaten's sculpture, from the earliest to the latest. The chin, though badly damaged and difficult to imagine complete, appears to have been less long and pendulous than on the king's representations. The breaks at the sides of the neck, especially on the proper left side, are sharp and quite straight and slant slightly forward. They may follow the lines of a headdress. The only intact feature here, the mouth, is also the most enigmatic. The upper lip is as thick as the lower lip and describes a very full double curve, rising steeply from each corner.


  • Authority

  • Culture/period

  • Findspot

  • Materials

  • Technique

  • Dimensions

    • Height: 15.5 centimetres
    • Depth: 12.5 centimetres
    • Width: 10.5 centimetres
    • Height: 22.5 centimetres (with base)
    • Width: 10.5 centimetres (with base)
    • Depth: 12.5 centimetres (with base)
    • Weight: 4 kilograms
  • Curator's comments

    This particular piece of limestone was brittle and treacherously veined. The head appears to have broken off from the body, perhaps during manufacture, and to have been reattached by means of a long dowel inserted through a drilled hole, partly preserved as a channel running down the back of the fragment. Considering the unusual technical difficulties of his material, the sculptor's achievement here was nothing less than a triumph.

    C. Aldred, ‘Akhenaten and Nefertiti’ [exhibition catalogue] (New York, 1973),no. 2, p. 90;
    H. Moore, 'Henry Moore at the British Museum' (New York, 1981), pp. 40-41;
    B. Porter & R. Moss, 'Topographical Bibliography of Ancient Egyptian Hieroglyphic Texts, Reliefs and Paintings' IV (Oxford, 1934), p. 197;
    W. Seipel, 'Gott. Mensch. Pharao' [exhibition catalogue] (Vienna, 1992), pp. 268-269 [98];
    'Temples and Tombs' [exhibition catalogue] (American Federation of Arts, 2006): 54, cat no.12.


  • Bibliography

    • Russmann 2001 57 bibliographic details
  • Exhibition history


    2006 7 Sept-26 Nov, Oklahoma City Museum of Art, Temples & Tombs
    2006 21 Dec-2007 18 Mar, Jackonsville, Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens, Temples & Tombs
    2007 15 Apr-8 Jul, Raleigh, North Carolina Museum of Art, Temples & Tombs
    2007 16 Nov-2008 10 Feb, New Mexico, Albuquerque Museum, Temples & Tombs
    2014 July - October, Oxford, Ashmolean Museum, Discovering Tutankhamun PROMISED

  • Condition

    good (incomplete)

  • Conservation

    See treatments 

    Treatment date

    24 May 2000

    Treatment proposal

    Remove lower part of two stage base. Tidy neck fill. Clean.


    The fragment is in good condition. The areas of make up upon which the head has been mounted are unsightly. There are two areas of make up on the remaining part of the chin.

    Treatment details

    The lower section of the base was sawn away and the dowel removed. Futher treatment is to be discussed. The areas of make up on the chin were refilled and retouched with acrylic Cryla colours. The areas of plaster make up below the head were cut down and in areas refilled with polyester Jubilee paste, regraded, and painted with a grey paint. The alabaster base was similarly filled and painted. The head was returned at a later date as the designer for the AFA Loan required the alabaster base to be higher. A second piece of alabaster was added, abhered with Jubilee polyester resin. The base was redoweled.

    About these records 

  • Associated names

  • Acquisition name

  • Acquisition date


  • Department

    Ancient Egypt & Sudan

  • BM/Big number


  • Registration number


COMPASS Title: Fragmentary limestone face of Akhenaten


COMPASS Title: Fragmentary limestone face of Akhenaten

Image description



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Object reference number: YCA71713

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