Painted limestone stela depicting Amenhotep III and Tiy seated before offering-table.

Museum number

EA57399

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Painted limestone stela depicting Amenhotep III and Tiy seated before offering-table.

© The Trustees of the British Museum

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  • Painted limestone stela depicting Amenhotep III and Tiy seated before offering-table.

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  • COMPASS Title: Shrine stela of Amenhotep III and Queen Tiye

    Unknown

  • Limestone stela with Amenhotep III and Tiy: richly adorned with a row of cobras bearing sun disks atop the cornice, flowers and leaves bound to the side pillars or jambs, and bunches of grapes hanging, as in an arbor, from the lintel. Inside the frame, the royal couple sit before an extravaganza of food and floral offerings piled on three stands. Across the top are inscriptions with cartouches containing their names and versions of the Aten's names that date this work late in Akhenaten's reign, after his twelfth regnal year. At centre top shines the Aten itself, in the form ordained by Akhenaten: a uraeus-bedecked sun disk with rays extending downward and outward and ending in hands.The two that come closest to the faces of the king and (passing behind his head) the queen hold out little 'ankh' signs. The figures sit relaxed, almost slouching, on cushioned furniture. Characteristic Amarna touches include the differentiation between the couple's left and right feet, the complicated rendering of the king's hanging hand, and the detailed representation of several heads of grain, which are consequently shown as enormous.Somewhat surprisingly, the couple to be worshiped here are not Akhenaten and Nefertiti, but Akhenaten's parents, Amenhotep III and Queen Tiy. Amenhotep is identified only by his prenomen, Nebmaatre, because his second name incorporated the name of Amun, anathema to his son. Amenhotep is shown as a full-bodied man wearing the diaphanous, front-tied robe shown on several plump representations made late in his life. He wears a domed shaped blue crown is comparable to that on his other images. Tiy, much of whose head and upper body have been lost, wears a wig that was fashionable among Amarna women. One hand is around her husband's shoulders, with her fingers resting beside his neck. The position of her other arm is unclear. Also unclear is the owner of the hand on her lap, which, however, seems scaled to fit Amenhotep better than the slightly smaller figure of his wife. The monument has been reassembled from the numerous fragments into which it was broken. The upper left-hand corner, much of the upper portion of the queen's body and parts of the right-hand panel and base are missing. A considerable amount of the original paint is still visible: blue and red on the uraei, cavetto cornice, architrave, bunches of grapes, side panels and offerings; blue on the top of the shrine (representing the sky), the queen's headdress, the king's bead collar, the mat beneath the cushions and on some of the hieroglyphs and dividing lines; red on the bodies and dresses of the king and the queen and on the cushions beneath their feet. The ?prš helmet is painted black.

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