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 Two Princesses? 

Amarna Period, found at Hermopolis. Reign of Akhenaten, 1353 - 1336 B.C.

Limestone; h. 23.2 cm, w. 29.2 cm, d. 2.2 cm

Picture Courtesy: Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

According to some Egyptologists, this is a carved relief image of a young princess gazing up at her big sister, thus demonstrating the innovative poses and intimate gestures that are characteristic of Amarna art. However, I disagree with this assessment. The larger figure wears a pleated gown that is gathered under her right breast. She has a heavy side lock embraced by a metal clasp. Most unusual, her breasts are shown frontally, which is a departure from both classic Egyptian and Amarna art in carved relief. If you look closely, you will notice that the smaller figure has a side lock over her left shoulder (which is also a departure from the norm) and this side lock is attached to an elongated skull, which was a typical portrayal of an Amarna princess. If the larger figure was an older sister of this young princess, she also would be portrayed with an elongated skull. This is clearly not the case here, so the larger figure is not a royal female. Also very noticable is that the smaller figure is clasping the larger figures arm, whose own arm is around the shoulders of the smaller. A close and loving relationship is depicted in this relief. I would guess that this is a depiction of a young princess and her royal nurse. From a similar relief found at Hermopolis, this could very well be Ankhesenpaaten and her nurse Tia, the only Royal Nurse to be named in hieroglyphic text.


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