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“In the Light of Amarna: 100 Years of the Nefertiti Discovery” by Friederike Seyfried (Editor).

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DESCRIPTION: Hardcover with printed boards (no dustjacket, as published). Publisher: Michael Imhof Verlag (2013). Pages: 496. Size: 10¾ x 9¼ x 1¼ inches; 5½ pounds. Summary: To mark the anniversary of the discovery of the bust of Nefertiti on 6 December 1912, the Egyptian Museum and Papyrus Collection presented an extensive special exhibition on the Amarna period at the Neues Museum on Berlin's Museum Island, and produced an accompanying catalogue of the same title. The exhibition focuses on never-before-seen discoveries from the collections of the Berlin museums, supplemented by loans from other museums abroad, allowing Nefertiti's time to be understood within its cultural-historical context. All aspects of this fascinating period are illuminated and explained in detail. Not only are the often-discussed topics of the period's theology and art covered, but also everyday life in the city.

The name 'Amarna' refers to the ruins of the ancient Egyptian city of Akhetaton, which today is known as Tell el-Amarna. This city was founded by Pharaoh Akhenaton (Amenhotep IV) in order to establish a new capital with places of worship for his own 'religion of light', whose sole deity was the god Aton. The city was built within three years and was populated in the year 1343 BC. At the beginning of the 20th century, extremely successful excavations took place there under the direction of Ludwig Borchardt, and the finds were shared between Cairo and Berlin.

The exhibition places the discovery of the bust of Nefertiti within the context of Borchardt's excavations in 1912 and 1913, thus providing a deeper archaeological understanding of the excavations and the city of Akhetaton. Visitors can experience the Amarna period as a social, cultural-historical and religious phenomenon. The exhibition illuminates the context of the discovery of the bust of Nefertiti in the sculpture workshop of the ancient Egyptian artisan Thutmose, along with numerous related objects, including even the pigments and tools used by the sculptors. Along with the exhibition's main focus on archaeology, it also critically examines the history of the depiction of the bust of Nefertiti both as an archaeological object and as a widely marketed ideal of beauty.

During the excavations in Amarna, between 7000 and 10,000 objects were discovered, 5000 of which are now located in Berlin. Most of them have not been restored or studied, even to this day. So far, those that have been exhibited have been a few key objects, such as the famous model heads made of stucco, as well as some sculptures. By contrast, this anniversary exhibition will offer a comprehensive overview of life during this fascinating period using objects from the collections of the Berlin museums. For example, ceramics, jewelry, inlays, fragments of statues and architectural elements will be painstakingly restored, and in some cases expanded upon using additions and models, offering visitors a deeper and more vivid understanding of the city, its buildings and its residents. The exhibition comprises approximately 400 objects, including 50 loans from museums such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Louvre and the British Museum.

CONDITION: NEW. HUGE New hardcover (in printed board, no dustjacket, as published). Michael Imhof Verlag (2013) 496 pages. Still in manufacturer's wraps - never even opened! Unblemished except for faint edge and corner storage shelfwear to covers. Pages are pristine; clean, crisp, unmarked, unmutilated, tightly bound, unambiguously unread. Condition is entirely consistent with new stock from a bookstore environment wherein new books (particularly large, heavy books like this) might show minor signs of shelfwear, consequence of simply being shelved and re-shelved. Satisfaction unconditionally guaranteed. In stock, ready to ship. No disappointments, no excuses. PROMPT SHIPPING! HEAVILY PADDED, DAMAGE-FREE PACKAGING! #8962a.

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PLEASE SEE PUBLISHER, PROFESSIONAL, AND READER REVIEWS BELOW.

PUBLISHER REVIEWS:

REVIEW: To mark the anniversary of the discovery of the bust of Nefertiti on June 12, 1912, the Egyptian Museum and Papyrus Collection is showing a large-scale special exhibition on the Amarna Period in the Neues Museum on Berlin’s Museum Island.

REVIEW: An accompaniment to the Egyptian Museum of Berlin’s special exhibition celebrating the discovery of the Nefertiti bust in 1912, this catalog presents never-before-seen artifacts and objects from the Amarna period of Egyptian history. The book also explores religion, craftsmanship, daily life, and sculpture in Amarna and the world famous Nefertiti bust.

REVIEW: Celebrating the 100th anniversary of the 1912 discovery of Nefertiti's bust, a special exhibition about the time of Amarna in the Neue Museum at the Museumsinsel Berlin. Exhibition and catalogue focus on the artifacts in the Berlin Museum which have never been shown before and describe the age of Amarna in its culture-historical context. All facets of this era are explained. Theology, art and everyday life are the main focus.

REVIEW: Friederike Seyfried is an Egyptologist and the director of the Egyptian Museum of Berlin.

TABLE OF CONTENTS:

I. Introduction:

"In the Light of Amarna: 100 Years of the Nefertiti Discovery" - An Introduction to the Exhibition by​ Friederike Seyfried.

Before and After Amarna: The Beginnings and Consequences of the Cult of the Aten by​ Christina Hanus.

II. History And Archaeology Of A City:

An Outline of the Research and Excavation History of Tell el-Amarna before 1914 by​ Friederike Seyfried.

Tell el-Amarna from 1914 to Today by​ Barry Kemp.

III. Living In Amarna:

Amarna: The City and Surrounding Area by​ Christian Tietze.

Amarna: Palaces, Houses and Outlying Settlements by​ Kate Spence.

IV. Religion In Amarna:

A New State Theology: The Religion of Light by​ Jan Assmann.

Akhet-Aten or the Horizon of the Aten: An Innovation in Sacred Architecture by​ Robert Vergnieux.

Private Religion in the Amarna Suburbs by​ Anna Stevens.

V. Craftsmanship In Amarna:

Egyptian Faience and​ Quartz Ceramics: Manufacture and Use Up Until the End of Amarna by​ Bircit Schlick.

Class: From the Beginning to the End of the Amarna Period by​ Bircit Schlick-Nolte.

Metal objects in the Berlin Amarna Collection by​ Iris Hertel.

Craftsmanship at Amarna: Production, Repertoire and Distribution by​ Pamela Rose.

Cobalt Blue Pottery Painting of the Amarna Period by​ Nina Loschwitz.

Leatherwork at Amarna by​ Salima Ikram.

VI. Masterpieces From Amarna - The Sculpture:

From Karnak to Amarna: An Artistic Breakthrough and its Consequences by​ Dorothea Arnold.

Statues: Repertoire and Purpose by​ Marsha Hill.

New Forms of Composition - Composite Statues by​ Kristin Thompson.

The Workshop Complex of Thutmosis by​ Friederike Seyfried.

VII. Nefertiti:

Nefertiti: What Remains but beauty? by​ Friederike Seyfried.

Nefertiti's Last Documented Reference [for now] by​ Athena Van Der Perre.

CATALOGUE.VIII. Nefertiti in the 20th Century.

100 Years of the Discovery of Nefertiti by​ Mariana Jung, Ludwig Borchardt, James Simon.

Dealings With the Colorful Nefertiti Bust in the First Year After Her Discovery by​ Olaf Matthes.

The Excavation Campaigns in Tell el-Amarna by​ Klaus Finneiser.

Nefertiti in Focus: The first Photographs of the Nefertiti Bust by​ Lars Petersen.

Futurists, Bow your Heads! Amarna fever in Berlin, 1913-14 by​ Benedicte Savoy.

The 1925 Demand of the Return of the Nefertiti Bust, a German Perspective by​ Susanne Voss.

Amarna in Literature by​ Sylvia Peuckert.

The Thirties - Trouble with Nefertiti by​ Hannelore Kischkewitz.

PROFESSIONAL REVIEWS:

REVIEW: Berlin’s Egyptian Museum celebrated the centenary of the discovery of the 3,400-year-old fabled bust of Egypt’s Queen Nefertiti amid an ongoing feud with Cairo over its ownership. An exhibition and catalogue honoring the famous sculpture and other jewels of the Amarna period in its collection on the German capital’s Museum Island were both presented in 2012. “The exhibition focuses on never-before-seen discoveries from the collections of the Berlin museum, supplemented by loans from other museums abroad,” it said, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Louvre in Paris and London’s British Museum.

Nefertiti, renowned as one of history’s great beauties, was the wife of Pharaoh Akhenaton, remembered for having converted his kingdom to monotheism with the worship of one sun god, Aton. The bust is at the top of a “wish list” of five major artifacts exhibited abroad that Egypt wants returned as part of its cultural heritage. Germany says the sculpture was bought legally by the Prussian state, and that there are documents to prove it. Amarna refers to the ruins of an ancient city founded by Akhenaton, where Borchardt and his team excavated up to 7,000 archaeological objects, about 5,500 of which made their way to Berlin, according to the museum.

REVIEW: One hundred years ago yesterday, 6 December 1912, this limestone bust of Nefertiti was unearthed by a German archaeological team led by Ludwig Borchardt. The team were excavating in Armana, and came upon the ancient sculptor Thutmose’s workshop in the ancient capital. Frequently described as the most famous face from antiquity, this bust of Nefertiti is perhaps rivaled only by Tutankhamun’s death mask.

Although there are no identifying inscriptions on the bust, the characteristic crown is one that is worn by Nefertiti in other identifiable representations of her. As iconic as this representation of an ancient Egyptian woman has come to be, for feminine beauty and culture in Berlin, it has not been without controversy. The lack of any specific identification and that the bust did not appear in public until 1924 (an 11 year period from the date of its discovery for which there no records of the bust) has lead some to suggest that the bust is a modern forgery. But few specialists and Egyptologists working with the bust give much credence to these views.

More recent research using CT Scans shows that the sculpture has a limestone core rendered by a gypsum stucco layer. The scan revealed that the inner face was carved showing bags under the eyes, creases around the mouth and cheeks and a swelling on the nose. The painted stucco layer eradicates these natural signs of ageing producing a more perfect image. Despite repeated requests for the repatriation of the bust since its 1924 public unveiling in Berlin, Nefertiti’s bust is still on display in the German capital. Thutmose’s bust of Nefertiti is part of the Egyptian Museum and Papyrus Collection, which along other prehistoric and classical collections, is housed in the newly restored Neues Museum.

REVIEW: On the occasion of the centenary of the discovery of Nefertiti’s bust portrait by German archaeologist Ludwig Borchardt, the Neus Museum organizes an exhibition dedicated to the stepmother of famous Tuthankhamun, held from 7 December 2012 to 13 April 2013, titled “In the Light of Amarna: 100 Years of the Nefertiti Discovery”.

It was in December 1912 when Ludwig Borchardt during excavations in former Amarna, now Tel El-Amarna, discovered the bust portrait of Nefertiti, Akhenaten’s wife. This 3,400 years old royal portrait was discovered in sculptor’s atelier. Nefertiti spent her life next to the most controversial Pharaoh in the Egyptian history. After coming to power, in the fifth year of his reign, Amenhotep IV becomes Akhenaten — incarnation of the only god Aten. He in fact abandoned traditional Egyptian polytheism, introducing the worship of Aten, and moved the capital from Thebes to Amarna: place of cult of the “religion of the light”.

The exhibition “In Light of Amarna” wishes to present the era of Nefertiti in its cultural and historic context. In fact all aspects of life are here displayed, including some new technologies introduced by Akhenaten. Through the objects on display the visitors are confronted with the “social, cultural and religious phenomenon”. The discovery of the bust is honored, as well as the excavations undertook almost 100 years ago. The portrait of Nefertiti is not only an archaeological discovery but also a symbol of ideal beauty renowned throughout the world. Moreover it reflects the artistic changes of the period, another novelty introduced by Akhenaten characterized by elongation and narrowing of the neck, sloping of the forehead and nose, prominent chin, large ears and lips.

During the excavations in Amarna, 7,000 up to 10,000 objects have been discovered and 5,000 of them are currently in Germany. Only a part is being exhibited but all were meticulously renovated. This event dedicated to Nefertiti consists of 400 objects including 50 loans from international museums such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Louvre or the British Museum.

REVIEW: ON December 6th 1912 Ludwig Borchardt, a German archaeologist, and his excavation team uncovered a spectacular bust of Queen Nefertiti. They were digging in the ancient Egyptian city of Akhetaton (now Tell el-Amarna), founded by Pharaoh Amenhotep IV, later known as Akhenaten. “You cannot describe it with words. You must see it,” wrote Borchardt in his diary. This winter the Neues Museum in Berlin, home to the Egyptian Museum and Papyrus Collection, is commemorating the 100th anniversary of the discovery with a major exhibition of artifacts from the Amarna period (between 1353 BC and 1336 BC).

Borchardt's team of 200 workers spent five years excavating the city, and collected between 7,000 and 10,000 artifacts. According to international archaeological rules of the time, these finds were divided equally between the archaeologists and the country of origin—in this case the German Oriental Company (Borchardt’s employer) and the French Service des Antiquités, which represented the interests of the Egyptians until 1952. The painted plaster and limestone bust of Queen Nefertiti, whose name translates into “the beautiful one has come”, was sent to Berlin alongside 5,000 other objects. It was donated to the Egyptian Museum in Berlin by James Simon, patron of the arts and sponsor of the excavations, and displayed to the public in 1923. Since then it has become commonly known as Berlin’s “most beautiful Egyptian ambassador”, attracting a million visitors each year.

In 2007 Zahi Hawass, the former secretary-general of Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities, unsuccessfully campaigned for the bust to be repatriated. But neither the current director of the Egyptian Museum in Cairo nor the Egyptian government have made such demands. The German media have recently rekindled rumours that Borchardt tricked the Service des Antiquités about the true value of the bust in order to keep it. But Hermann Parzinger, president of the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation, declared recently that his foundation is “without any doubts the legitimate owner of the Nefertiti bust” and that it will stay put “because she is so fragile”.

Now at Neues Museum in Berlin some 400 objects from the Amarna period are being displayed together for the first time, including Borchardt’s trove and loans from the British Museum, the Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and the Louvre in Paris. The show features various busts of Akhenaten and Nefertiti, blue-painted ceramics, glass jewellery, Egyptian faience, and artefacts in metal and leather, all alongside books, photographs, newspaper clippings and videos that place everything in context. Plenty of ink is spilled over the significance of Atenism, a religion established under Akhenaten, which defined Aten (the sun) as the supreme deity, and marked an important shift from polytheism to monotheism.

The bust of Nefertiti is the inevitable centerpiece of the show, not only for its beauty but also because it is so contentious. A full section of the show details the history of the excavation and the diplomatic issues that have troubled the discovery ever since. After the first world war Germany lost its excavation licence for Egypt. The Service des Antiquités swiftly issued several restitution requests, which nearly led to an exchange of the bust for two remarkable objects from the Cairo Museum in 1930. But the information was leaked to the Berlin press, which prompted a storm of protest. And so the bust has remained. Germany has since regained excavation licences for Egypt, but not for the Amarna site. Last year, however, German scientists started working on a British excavation project there led by Barry Kemp, whose progress is explored in the exhibition.

This show seems to be an opportunity to smooth ruffled feathers. At the opening of the exhibition on December 6th, Mohamed Higazy, Egypt’s ambassador to Berlin, declared that he was happy to see the bust in Berlin. He avoided the controversy and instead praised the long-lasting archaeological relationship between Egypt and Germany. Nefertiti, he said, was an important ambassador, not only for Ancient Egypt but also as a symbol for timeless beauty and grace. “Nefertiti belongs to all of us," added Mr Parzinger. "She is part of the world’s cultural heritage.”

REVIEW: The most beautiful woman in Berlin is celebrating her centenary: the famous bust of Nefertiti was discovered on 6 December 1912 during excavations conducted by the German Oriental Society in Tell Amarna and has been housed on the River Spree since 1913. The Egyptian Museum on the Museum Island will be celebrating the anniversary with a special exhibition, "In the Light of Amarna: 100 Years of the Nefertiti Discovery". Another highlight of the anniversary year will be an exhibit containing an exact replica of the tomb of Pharaoh Tutankhamen, Nefertiti's son.

As part of its large-scale exhibition the Egyptian Museum will be displaying until August 4th, 2013 some 400 objects to illustrate the life and art of the ancient Egyptian city of Akhetaten, now Tell el-Amarna. Among the objects on display will be items from world-renowned museums such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Louvre and the British Museum. Statues, jewelry, ceramics and building fragments will be accompanied with models to help create a vivid picture of the city, its people and their homes.

REVIEW: On 6 December 2012, exactly 100 years to the day after the discovery of the Nefertiti bust in Tell-el Amarna, the exhibition 'In the Light of Amarna - 100 Years of the Nefertiti Discovery' was officially opened at the Neues Museum on the Museumsinsel Berlin. The exhibition immediately drew a big interest from Berliners and visitors. But for “In the Light of Amarna” the exhibition is worth the effort to get in. In the basement - where the shop is too – one can find the story behind the excavation efforts in Egypt. Who financed what, who got what out of the excavated treasures and what eventually happened to them.

The famous Nefertiti bust originally came in the hands of James Simon, who started funding Ludwig Borchardt's excavations in 1912. Thanks to Simon's patronage and Borchardt's perseverance, the excavations resulted in the discovery of Nefertiti 100 years ago. As a consequence of the division of finds, some 5500 objects from the Amarna period came into the possession of James Simon, who later donated them to the Royal, now National Museums in Berlin (the Staatliche Museen). While the bust was in Simon's possession it was sitting above the fire place in his living room where other artefacts had a home too. There actually is a photo showing this, which – for today's eyes – looks somehow odd.

On the second floor just in the rooms situated before the round room which is solely dedicated to Nefertiti's bust, the visitor finds artefacts and descriptions about the time when Nefertiti and her husband Echnaton, the Pharaoh of Egypt, lived. Echnaton founded his own sun cult which had only one God: Aten. For him – and himself – Echnaton build a new city called Akhetaten (the horizon of Aten). Nefertiti was the strong woman on Echnaton's side. Without her he could not have build this new empire. After his death the cult and the city died.

REVIEW: One of the most famous museum artifacts in Berlin, is the bust of the Egyptian Queen Nefertiti, which ‘lives’ in the Neues Museum (within the Egyptian Museum collection) on Museum Island. She even features in several of MuseumBaby’s children’s picture books about Berlin. No wonder then, that the museum has put on a grand exhibition to celebrate the 100th anniversary of her discovery. Obviously Nefertiti herself is the highlight of the exhibition, and get’s her own hall no less, but the rest of the exhibition all about life in Ancient Egypt at her time and the archaeological dig itself that led to her discovery is pretty interesting too.

In the introduction, we learn that Amarna was the name of the new capital city established by Pharaoh Akhenaten in Egypt during the late Eighteenth Dynasty (1550 – 1292 BC). Akhenaten also happened to be Nefertiti’s husband, but a timeline and family tree help you to get your head around the royal couple’s family relations. In the section about “Living Worlds” we find out more about Amarna, through a reconstructed city map. Amarna was abandoned after Akhenaten’s death and the most valuable artifacts and furniture were taken. This misleadingly gives the picture of a declining metropolis in the archaeological findings, showing just how important contextual information can be. “Religious Worlds” sheds some more light on the doctrines of the new religion Akhenaten founded, which prompted him to build the city in the first place. And the section on “Craftsmanship” shows off some of the stunning skills and designs in faience (a type of ceramics), leather, metal, jewelry and stonework – “one of the most exceptionally developed crafts in Egypt since the 4th millennium BC”.

Moving on then from life in Ancient Egypt, the exhibition takes you through the archaeological excavations at the Amarna site, and the workshop of Thutmose where the painted bust of Nefertiti was discovered on 6th December 1912 by an excavation team of the German Oriental Society. The sole financer and permit holder of the excavation – James Simon – donated all finds allotted to the German team in the official divisions, to the Egyptian Museum in Berlin in 1920. Ludwig Borchardt, the director of the excavation, wrote in his diary:

“Life-sized painted bust of the queen, 47cm high. With the blue wig cut straight on top, and garlanded by a ribbon half-way up. Colour look like freshly painted. Really wonderful work. No use describing it, you have to see it.”

Prior to donating the excavation finds, Simon made them available as permanent loans, and they were shown in their entirety, save for the famous bust, at the Egyptian Museum in 1913. Just over ten years later, in 1924, a newly constructed exhibition in the museum showed Nefertiti as its centre piece. Little is actually known about the woman behind the name, including her eventual fate, but Nefertiti’s bust has become an icon of beauty across the whole world. The exhibition closes with a look the press coverage Nefertiti has generated – including a campaign against the museum director’s plan to repatriate the bust in exchange for other artifacts in 1930 – and the fascination that Nefertiti holds until today, both in Egypt itself and worldwide. As the exhibition states, the “scientific, literary, artistic and popular discussions have taken every possible form”, from art object to advertising medium, as the subject of literature, theatre, opera and film, and as part of mass produced souvenirs.

REVIEW: To mark the 100th anniversary of the discovery of the bust of Nefertiti, the Egyptian Museum and Papyrus Collection are presenting a special exhibition at the Neues Museum. At the same time persists the dispute with Cairo over the work’s ownership. Neues Museum on Berlin’s Museum Island is presenting its most legendary treasure, the archetype of female beauty created 3.400 years ago. This bust of Nefertiti is considered the most famous representation of a female face in the world after Leonardo da Vinci’s La Gioconda.

Part of the antiquities brought to light by archaeologist Ludwig Borchardt on 6 December 1912 are also exhibited. Some objects from the Amarna period are presented for the first time, a loan from The Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Louvre and the British Museum. “There are works of art that belong to the collective conscience. Nefertiti is such a work”, declared the Minister of Culture, Bernd Neumann, during the exhibition’s inauguration that bears the title «In the Light of Amarna».

Nefertiti, who lived in the 14th century BC, was married to Pharaoh Akhenaton, famous for having introduced monotheism to his kingdom and also for imposing as exclusive the adoration of the sun’s god Aton. The bust of this queen who played an important political and religious role in her time, is so very fragile and so invaluable that it is placed under a glass cover. It attracts a million visitors per year since exhibited at the Neues Museum, which has opened again to the public in 2009 after being restored by the famous British architect David Chipperfield.

The sculpture carved in limestone has been placed at the end of a long hallway while a dim light creates a dramatic impression: her one inset eye of quartz makes you think she’s alive –the other eye is lost- same is true of her fine nose, her high cheekbones, her smile painted red, as well as her blue crown decorated by a red, grey and gold ribbon. Her ears cut at their ends are strangely the only obvious damage on the bust.

This sculpture is the most important of the works of art claimed by Egypt on an international level. However Egyptian authorities are less pressing at the aftermath of the Arab Spring and the fall of Hosni Mubarak. The political priorities have changed. The dispute nonetheless goes on behind the scenes according to German officials, although Berlin claims possessing documents, which prove that Nefertiti’s bust had been bought legally at the time from the Prussian state.

“Nefertiti legally belongs to the Foundation for the Cultural Heritage of Berlin, there is no doubt whatsoever about it”, declared Neumann, adding that Berlin takes very seriously its responsibility about the bust’s conservation. Friederike Seyfried, Director of Berlin’s Egyptian Museum housed in Neues Museum, noted that the political instability created by the Arab Spring in Egypt has been an impediment to the collaboration with the Egyptian experts towards preparing this exhibition.

In Berlin’s exhibition, that will last till April 13th, more than a thousand objects are presented, among them the restored Akhenaton’s bust. Nefertiti’s bust is one of the over 7.000 archaeological objects brought to light by Ludwig Borchardt and his team in the Amarna site, Akhenaton’s capital. Over 5.000 of these objects had been sent to Berlin.

REVIEW: Both the exhibition and its accompanying catalogue "In the Light of Amarna: 100 Years of the Nefertiti Discovery" I warmly recommend to everyone even vaguely interested in archeology and ancient Egypt. The special exhibition on the Amarna period, organized by the ‘Egyptian Museum and Papyrus Collection’ at the Neues Museum, located on the “Museum Insel”, marks the 100th anniversary of the discovery of the bust of Nefertiti on December 6, 1912. With approximately 400 objects from the period, including the borrowed artifacts from other museums such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Louvre, and the British Museum, the exhibition places the time, in which Queen Nefertiti lived, within the historical context of the city of Amarna, the capital of ancient Egypt during Akhenaten’s rule, and celebrates the discovery of the famous bust during the excavations in 1912 and 1913, led by Ludwig Borchardt, a German Egyptologist from Berlin.

At the center of the Neues Museum archeological collection on ancient and modern Egyptian history, stands an embodied history––the bust of Nefertiti, the Great Royal Wife of pharaoh Akhenaten. My fascination with ancient Egypt and my interest in Nefertiti as a prominent female figure in its history has been part of my life ever since childhood. However, it was not until after I began researching the “New Kingdom” dynasty period for my final project as a high school senior last year, that I started to truly share the admiration for her legacy with a number of Egyptologists who made her history known and presentable to us here and now in Berlin. Who was this woman exactly of whose influence we still hear today and why are her bust and life story the central focus of the Egyptian collection at the Neues Museum?

Nefertiti was the royal woman of Amenhotep IV, better known as Akhenaten and the pharaoh who introduced the monotheistic religion of god Aten (thus the name AkhenAten). She was one of the most famous elite queens of the 18th dynasty and well known for her astonishing beauty. Ever since her time, she has represented an ideal of a beautiful face, still admired in the form of a bust by the thousands of visitors who come to the special chamber, which resembles a temple of worship within the Neues Museum.

Nefertiti’s power did not lie simply in her looks, but also in her self-confidence and inborn ability for leadership. Nefertiti was an uncommonly powerful queen, even the guiding force behind the throne. Scenes from Aten’s temple at Karnak and papyrus collections from the Neues Museum narrate of her active role in the religious and political life of the state. She lived with her husband Akhenaten in Amarna, the new capital he established for his monotheistic religion, with the Sun as the only deity. The city of Amarna bears many imprints of the past time of Nefertiti and Akhenanten’s rule, many left in their unfinished portraits and granite heads, some of which can be found either as an original or a reconstructed sample at the Amarna exhibition.

Seeing the artifacts of Nefertiti’s time, situated around her bust chamber, inclines one’s imagination to take a stroll down the memory lane, which is filled with vivid images of both the everyday life dishes and the exclusive royal jewels as symbols of status. The exhibition awoke the inner Egyptian in me too, and for a moment I felt like a resident of the extraordinarily artistically and archeologically rich Amarna period, infused with the spirit of Nefertiti in every statue, stele, and hieroglyph.

I remember being powerfully influenced by Nefertiti during the writing process of my paper on the grand women of the “New Kingdom” period last year. Many speculations were made throughout history on whether she in fact ruled side by side with Akhenaten. At the time I could find no substantial evidence or reference clearly indicating that in addition to her powerful role in society, Nefertiti was also formally recognized by her husband as a Queen Regent, or as an equal ruler by his side. Nonetheless, I have always had a strangely strong belief that such was indeed the case. Given the recent evidence from 2012, the Amarna exhibition, set in honor of Nefertiti, proved my intuition right.

The excavations in Amarna last year proved successful in affirming once and for all the importance of Nefertiti during the Akhenaten rule. The Amarna Egyptologists found a document, in which Akhenaten assigns Nefertiti as his co-regent and thereby equally shares the power and influence over the state with her. In the time when women could not be pharaohs, and men almost always held the leading positions, Nefertiti’s status represented a revolutionary turning point that proved women can be just as capable as men in state leadership.

Altogether, it is no wonder that Nefertiti is still highly popular in Egypt and worldwide. The exhibition shows a number of references to Nefertiti in popular culture, from statues to comic books. There are several excavated documents speaking of various names and descriptions for the Queen Regent: Great of Favor, Beloved One, Soothing the King’s Heart in His House, Soft-Spoken in All, Mistress of Upper and Lower Egypt, Great King’s Wife, Lady of the Two Lands and others. They are a testament of her popularity amongst the people and her importance for the nation, as they imply her position and political influence through the rule with her husband. Her legacy spread over the succeeding dynastic periods and ultimately reached contemporary times thanks to Borchardt’s excavations in 1912 and 1913. The beginning of the 20th century, therefore, brought Nefertiti back to life thanks to the discovery of her bust and the records of her atypically important, given the historical context, political role.

Nefertiti marked the “New Kingdom” period as the most beautiful and beloved Egyptian queen. In the Light of Amarna: 100 Years of the Nefertiti Discovery gives us, the mere spectators into the well of the times past, an opportunity to go back to the glorious days of the Amarna period and consider how one woman, despite the social norms and her gender, could climb the social ladder with her skill and honor, and always managed to astonish people with her strength, beauty, and unique aura––even thousands of years after her death.

READER REVIEWS:

REVIEW: This is a monumental volume encompassing current studies in Egypt's fascinating Amarna period. It celebrates the 100th anniversary of the discovery of the famous bust of Nefertiti. The full-page color photographs of the portrait heads found in Thutmoses' workshop at Amarna are alone worth the relatively modest price. The photographs are so spectacularly focused it is almost like holding these enigmatic treasures in your hands.

There are 29 chapters written by 26 scholars covering just about everything one could wish: from monumental sculpture to exquisite faience amulets, from photos of the early excavations to detailed models of the temples and palaces, from new discoveries to unpublished finds, from insights to controversies, all with an emphasis on Ludwig Borchardt's excavations (1911-1914) and the fabulous collection of the Egyptian Museum in Berlin. All in all the volume is a treasure trove for Amarna students.

REVIEW: This book was wonderful to just browse through. See Amarna as it is today and the wonders that were found there. Ancient Akhetaten, the Horizon of the Sun, was built by Akhenaten to be his refuge from the world outside and a world of its own. Here he could worship his god and feel that he was free to do so. And wherever the Pharaoh was so was the center of the Egyptian world. It was a hundred years ago when the beautiful ones face came out of the sands of Tell El-Amarna and this book celebrates that find. Nefertit has become an icon of beauty as her name suggested ever since she was discovered. This book shows rare photos of the discovery scarcely minutes after her unearthing from the sands that filled the studio of Thutmose the Atheist. The book shows that it was not all the beauty found in Amarna though, for Akhenaten inspired a new sense of their love of beauty on walls vases and in a variety of media from glass to paintings. Here you can see what artistry the Egyptians freed from the stylizations of tradition could do.

REVIEW: "In the Light of Amarna: 100 Years of the Nefertiti Discovery" is an exhibition catalogue released in conjunction with Egyptian Museum of Berlin's special exhibit centred around the infamous bust of Nefertiti. It's beautifully presented and packed with detail. The essays cover a variety of topics, from following the Nefertiti bust since its rediscovery and the excavations at Amarna to exploring life, religion and craftsmanship in the city of Akhet-Aten and a brief overview of Nefertiti's life. There is real insight to be found in these essays – including the revelation of the last attested year of Nefertiti's existence – not Year 12-14 as has been previously thought, but Year 16 of Akhenaten's reign.

REVIEW: A beautifully illustrated book, a little like a museum I could explore for days. I'm still reading though and think I will be for a while as there is so much information packed into the pages. I love the Amarna period and thought I had seen everything that has been discovered there. Not so as the book has photographs of discoveries I didn't have any idea about. A worthwhile purchase for any amateur Egyptologist who wants more than the usual stunted information that is out there.

REVIEW: This is a beautiful coffee table book that will satisfy the appetites of archeologists, Egyptologists, and lovers of fine art and culture in general. The photographs of the artifacts are of fine quality. Of course, the inside photo of the bust of Nefertiti is wonderful. This volume might even be used as a good starting point for further exploration and research into the Amarna Period, not only of the nobility but also the common people as well.

REVIEW: Awesome book, glad I noticed a review of it online because it's a steal at any price. If you're into Ancient Egyptology then this is an incredible value and must have, even just to have it lying around as a muse for creative endeavors.

REVIEW: Really enjoying this book. So many beautiful pictures! Interesting articles by respected scholars. I believe that this may have been translated from German? There have been a few occasions when the wording was awkward, but understandable.

REVIEW: A lavish and stunningly illustrated book with details and new discoveries I was surprised I hadn't come across before. A must have book for any 18th Dynasty enthusiast.

REVIEW: Fantastically comprehensive study of the Amarna period and better than anything you will find online. The images are superb and the information of great depth.

REVIEW: I really wanted to see the exhibit, but could not, so this book was the next best thing. Great pictures and good background information on Amarna.

REVIEW: I love the Amarna period and the work of Barry Kemp. It is many years since I visited Amarna and would love to go again.

REVIEW: Five stars! Interesting. Well written, with different perspectives.

REVIEW: Five stars! Excellent! A must have for anyone interested in this period in ancient history.

REVIEW: Five stars! Helped so much with succinct, discrete modules and really easy read.

REVIEW: Five stars! Amazing quality, much appreciated.

ADDITIONAL BACKGROUND:

NEFERTITI’S TOMB: Have we finally found the secret lost tomb of ancient Egypt's Queen Nefertiti? The Big Question: The discovery of a secret tomb behind Tutankhamun's is being hailed as unique by archaeologists around the world. Cambridge Egyptologist Kimberley Watt explains what's been found - and why we should all be excited.

Why are we asking this now? The tomb of Tutankhamun, the king of ancient Egypt who became famous when Howard Carter discovered his tomb nearly intact in 1922, is now a hot topic again. That's because Dr Nicholas Reeves, an eminent Egyptologist and former director of the Amarna Royal Tombs Project, published a paper demonstrating how behind the walls of this small tomb, there were more rooms as demonstrated by thin cracks in the decorative paintings. In his opinion, the rooms could contain the remains of Queen Nefertiti..

The scans of the walls were done in November 2015 but the results were only released on the 17 March 2016 by Dr Mahmoud Eldamaty, the Minister of Egyptian Antiquities since 2014. Using ground-penetrating radar (radiating electromagnetic pulses into a surface then analyZing the type of response), a team composed of the Egyptian minister and various specialists performed a scan of the walls of the burial chamber and treasury of the tomb of Tutankhamun. These scans indeed indicate that there are openings behind the West and North walls of the burial chamber.

Further examination of the resulting data indicates that there are organic and metallic remains behind each of these voids. This means that they were intentionally created and carefully concealed, with access plastered over and then decorated to hide it from view. They were so well hidden that they lay undiscovered for nearly a century after the first opening of the tomb..

Who was Tutankhamun? His tomb was discovered in 1922 by Howard Carter and Douglas Berry, and surprisingly seemed to have gone unnoticed by past and recent tomb robbers. The famous golden head mask exposed in the Egyptian Museum of Cairo is one of the most impressive pieces of its funerary goods, but the wooden panels and statues are just as unique in their designs..

Who is the mysterious Queen who might be hiding in Tutankhamun's tomb? Artists secretly scan Queen Nefertiti bust and recreate using data Tutankhamun tomb 'must not be damaged' in hunt for secret chamber Tutankhamun's golden face mask 'was actually made for his mother..

Tutankhamun was the eleventh king of the 18th dynasty (16th – 13th century BCE), who reigned for nine years and died when he was approximately 18 years old. DNA analyses indicate that he was the son of Akhenaten, the previous king, and of Akhenaten’s sister, a royal concubine. He died with no heirs, which allowed two army generals to access the throne, Ay followed by Horemheb.

After the break from orthodoxy of the Amarna period, Tutankhamun and his successors resumed the ancient form of the religion and started extensive temple constructions in the country..

What more do we want to know?

Tutankhamun’s tomb is unique not only because it was one of a few preserved from robbers, but also because its plan differs greatly from the other tombs of the period. The tombs were carved and excavated by workmen within the Theban mountain (on the opposite bank of modern Luxor), thus hiding the royal remains and funerary furniture deep into the mountain. The funerary material that was uncovered was unprecedented for any king in our records. This means that a lot of it seems unique. It is possible this new discovery will change our opinion, if it appears that another member of the royal family was buried in these hidden rooms.

AKHENATEN: Akhenaten, known as Amenhotep IV at the start of his reign, was a Pharaoh of the Eighteenth dynasty of Egypt. He is thought to have been born to Amenhotep III and his Chief Queen Tiy in the year 26 of their reign (1379 BC or 1362 BC). Amenhotep IV succeeded his father after Amenhotep III's death at the end of his 38-year reign, possibly after a co-regency between the two of up to 12 years. Suggested dates for Akhenaten's reign (subject to the debates surrounding Egyptian chronology) are from 1353 BC-1336 BC or 1351 BC-1334 BC. Akhenaten's chief wife was Nefertiti, who has been made famous by her exquisitely painted bust in the Ägyptisches Museum of Berlin.

A religious revolutionary, Amenhotep IV introduced Atenism in the first year of his reign, raising the previously obscure god Aten (sometimes spelt Aton) to the position of supreme deity. Aten was the name for the sun-disk itself — hence the fact that it is often referred to in English in the impersonal form "the Aten". The Aten was by this point in Egyptian history considered to be an aspect of the composite deity Ra-Amun-Horus. These previously separate deities had been merged with each other.

Amun was identified with Ra, who was also identified with Horus. Akhenaton simplified this syncretism by proclaiming the visible sun itself to be the sole deity, thus introducing monotheism. Some commentators interpret this as a proto-scientific naturalism, based on the observation that the sun's energy is the ultimate source of all life. Others consider it to be a way of cutting through the previously ritualistic emphasis of Egyptian religion to allow for a new "personal relationship" with God. Yet others interpret it as a political move designed to further centralise power by crushing the independent authority of the traditional priesthood.

This religious reformation appears to have begun with his decision to celebrate a Sed-festival in his third regnal year — a highly unusual step, since a Sed-festival, a sort of royal jubilee intended to reinforce the Pharaoh's divine powers of kingship, was traditionally held in the thirtieth year of a Pharaoh's reign.

Year 5 marks the beginning of his construction of a new capital, Akhetaten ('Horizon of Aten'), at the site known today as Amarna. In the same year, Amenhotep IV officially changed his name to Akhenaten ('Effective Spirit of Aten') as evidence of his new worship. Very soon afterward he moved the religious capital of Egypt from Thebes to Akhetaten, though construction of the city seems to have continued for several more years. In honor of Aten, Akhenaten also oversaw the construction of some of the most massive temple complexes in ancient Egypt, including one at Karnak, close to the old temple of Amun. In these new temples, Aten was worshipped in the open sunlight, rather than in dark temple enclosures, as the old gods had been. Akhenaten is also believed to have composed the Great Hymn to the Aten.

Initially, Akhenaten presented Aten as a variant of the familiar supreme deity Amun-Ra (itself the result of an earlier rise to prominence of the cult of Amun, resulting in Amun becoming merged with the sun god Ra), in an attempt to put his ideas in a familiar Egyptian religious context. However, by Year 9 of his reign Akhenaten declared that Aten was not merely the supreme god, but the only god, and that he, Akhenaten, was the only intermediary between Aten and his people. He even ordered the defacing of Amun's temples throughout Egypt. In a number of instances inscriptions of the plural 'gods' were also removed.

Aten's name is also written differently after Year 9, to emphasise the radicalism of the new regime, which included a ban on idols, with the exception of a rayed solar disc, in which the rays (commonly depicted ending in hands) appear to represent the unseen spirit of Aten, who by then was evidently considered not merely a sun god, but rather a universal deity. It is important to note, however, that representations of the Aten were always accompanied with a sort of hieroglyphic footnote, saying, in effect, that the representation of the sun as All-encompassing Creator was to be taken as just that: a representation of something that, by its very nature as something transcending creation, cannot be fully or adequately represented by any one part of that creation.

The early stage of Atenism appears to be a kind of henotheism familiar in Egyptian religion, but the later form suggests a proto-monotheism. The idea of Akhenaten as the pioneer of monotheistic religion was promoted by Sigmund Freud (the founder of psychoanalysis), in his book Moses and Monotheism and thereby entered popular consciousness. Recently Ahmed Osman has even claimed Moses and Akhenaten to be the same person,[1] supporting his belief by interpreting aspects of biblical and Egyptian history. Apart from the most obvious correlation (both forms of monotheism arising around the same time and geographically close), there are alleged to be others, including a ban on idol worship and the similarity of the name Aten to the Hebrew Adon. This would mesh with Osman's other claim that Akhenaten's maternal grandfather Yuya was the same person as the Biblical Joseph.

Although Ahmed Osman's hypotheses have gained acceptance in some quarters, most mainstream Egyptologists do not take them seriously, pointing out that there are direct connections between early Judaism and other Semitic religious traditions, and that the principal Judaic terms for God, Yahweh and Elohim have no connection to Aten. Furthermore abundant visual imagery was central to Atenism, which celebrated the natural world, but was proscribed in the ten commandments. It is also known that Yuya's family were part of the regional nobility of Akhmin, in Upper Egypt, which would make it very unlikely that he was an Israelite.

Immanuel Velikovsky, in Oedipus and Akhnaton, Myth and History, (Doubleday, 1960) has argued that Moses was neither Akhenaton, nor one of his followers. Instead, Velikovsky identifies Akhenaton as the history behind Oedipus and moved the setting from the Greek Thebes to the Egyptian Thebes. Velikovsky also posited that Akhenaton had elephantiasis, producing enlarged legs - Oedipus being Greek for "swollen feet."

Styles of art that flourished during this short period are markedly different from other Egyptian art, bearing a variety of affectations, from elongated heads to protruding stomachs, exaggerated ugliness and the beauty of Nefertiti. Significantly, and for the only time in the history of Egyptian royal art, Akhenaten's family was depicted in a decidedly naturalistic manner, and they are clearly shown displaying affection for each other. Nefertiti also appears beside the king in actions usually reserved for a Pharaoh, suggesting that she attained unusual power for a queen. Artistic representations of Akhenaten give him a strikingly bizarre appearance, with slender limbs, a protruding belly and wide hips, giving rise to controversial theories such as that he may have actually been a woman masquerading as a man, or that he was a hermaphrodite or had some other intersex condition. The fact that Akhenaten had several children argues against these suggestions.

However, it is also suggested by Bob Brier, in his book "The Murder of Tutankhamen", that the family suffered from Marfan's syndrome, a dominant autosomal mutation of Chromosome 15, which is known to cause elongated features, a long thin face, arachnodactyly (spider like fingers), a sunken chest and an enlarged aorta, with a proneness for heart problems. Conic shaped eyes also gives a distinctive slit eyed appearance, and may be associated with short-sightedness. Brier speculates that this may explain Akhenaten's appearance, and perhaps his fascination with the sun - since Marfan's sufferers often feel cold easily.

Marfan's Syndrome tends to be passed on to the children, usually appearing after 10 years of Age. Artists tended to show Akenaten's children as suffering the same physical character as their father. If the family did suffer from Marfan's syndrome it could help explain the high mortality rate within the family. Akhenaten, three of his daughters, and his co-regent Smenkhkare all died within a brief period of 5 years at the end of his reign. Against the Marfan's diagnosis is the fact that his successor, Tutankhamen, does not appear to have suffered from the condition. An alternative source of the elevated mortality of the Royal Family of the Amarna period is the fact that a known pandemic was sweeping the region. It is possible that the history of the royal family inbreeding could have finally taken a physical toll. This claim is countered by the fact that Akhenaten's mother Tiy was not from within the royal family, probably being the sister of Ay (Pharaoh after Tutankhamen), and High Priest Anen.

It has also been claimed that he suffered from acromegaly, a pituitary disorder that can cause longer and thicker bones, oversized jaw, dolicephaly, bilharzia and altered sex characteristics. However, other leading figures of the Amarna period, both royal and otherwise, are shown with some of these features, suggesting a possible religious connotation – though its also possible that his family and court were depicted as similarly formed to Akhenaten as a compliment to him. In addition, in Akhenaten's later reign, art becomes less idiosyncratic. Under the new chief sculptor Thutmose, Akhenaten is depicted as more normal-looking. Some claim that his earliest portraits appear the most normal, with a progression towards more elongated and feminine features later in life, suggesting an endocrine disorder of post-pubertal onset, but the earliest images of the pharaoh are in the conventional pre-Amarna style.

Until Akhenaten's mummy is located and identified, these proposals are likely to remain speculative. Crucial evidence about the latter stages of Akhenaten's reign was furnished by discovery of the so-called "Amarna Letters". These letters comprise a priceless cache of incoming clay tablets sent from imperial outposts and foreign allies. The letters suggest that Akhenaten's neglect of matters of state were causing disorder across the massive Egyptian empire. The governors and kings of subject domains wrote to beg for gold, and also complained of being snubbed and cheated. Early on in his reign, Akhenaten fell out with the king of Mitanni. He may even have concluded an alliance with the Hittites, who then attacked Mitanni and attempted to carve out their own empire. A group of Egypt's other allies who attempted to rebel against the Hittites were captured, and wrote begging Akhenaten for troops; he evidently did not respond to their pleas.

This Amarna period is also associated with a serious outbreak of a pandemic, possibly the plague, or perhaps the world's first outbreak of influenza, which came from Egypt and spread throughout the Middle East, killing Suppiluliuma I, the Hittite King. The prevailance of disease may help explain the rapidity with which the site of Akhetaten was subsequntly abandoned. It may also explain the fact that later generations considered the gods to have turned against the Amarna monarchs. Akhenaten planned to start a relocated Valley of the Kings, in the Royal Wadi in Akhetaten. His body was probably removed after the court returned to Memphis, and reburied somewhere in the Valley of the Kings. His sarcophagus was destroyed but has since been reconstructed and now sits outside in the Cairo Museum.

There is much controversy around whether Amenhotep IV succeeded to the throne on the death of his father, Amenhotep III, or whether there was a co-regency (lasting as long as 12 Years according to some Egyptologists). Current literature by Nicholas Reeves, Peter Dorman and other scholars comes out decisively against the establishment of a long coregency between the 2 rulers and in favour of either no coregency or a brief one lasting 1 to 2 years, at the most. Similarly, although it is accepted that both Smenkhkare and Akhenaten himself died in Year 17 of Akhenaten's reign, the question of whether Smenkhkare became co-regent perhaps 2 or 3 years earlier is also unclear, as is whether Smenkhkare survived Akhenaten. If Smenkhkare outlived Akhenaten, becoming sole Pharaoh, he ruled for less than a year.

The next successor was certainly Tutankhaten (later, Tutankhamun), at the age of 9, with the country perhaps being run by the chief vizier (and next Pharaoh), Ay. Tutankhamun is believed to be a younger brother of Smenkhkare and a son of Akhenaten. With Akhenaten's death, the Aten cult he had founded gradually fell out of favor. Tutankhaten changed his name to Tutankhamun in his Year 2 of his reign (1349 BC or 1332 BC) and abandoned Akhetaten, the city eventually falling into ruin. Temples Akhenaten had built, including the temple at Thebes, were disassembled by his successors Ay and Horemheb, reused as a source of easily available building materials and decorations for their own temples, and inscriptions to Aten defaced.

Finally, Akhenaten, Smenkhkare, Tutankhamun, and Ay were excised from the official lists of Pharaohs, which instead reported that Amenhotep III was immediately succeeded by Horemheb. This is thought to be part of an attempt by Horemheb to delete all trace of Atenism and the pharaohs associated with it from the historical record. Akhenaten's name never appeared on any of the king lists compiled by later Pharaohs and it was not until the late 19th century that his identity was re-discovered and the surviving traces of his reign were unearthed by archaeologists.

QUEEN NEFERTITI: It is not known who Nefertiti’s parents were. The most popular theory seems to be that Nefertiti was the daughter of the high ranking courtier Aye and his unnamed first wife. Aye’s wife Tey is known to have been Nefertiti’s wetnurse and tutor. This means that Nefertiti must have grown up with Aye and Tey. Other theories have included Nefertiti being the daughter of the Mitanni King Tushratta and his wife Yuni. But there does not appear to be much evidence to support this theory. We first see Nefertiti as the King’s Great Wife of Amenhotep IV (who would later rename himself Akhenaten). Nefertiti is known to have had six daughters: Meritaten, Meketaten, Ankhes-en-pa-aten, Neferneferuaten-tasherit, Neferneferure, and Setepenre.

Meritaten seved as Great Royal Wife towards the end of the reign of Akhenaten and into the reign of the mysterious Smenkhare. Ankes-en-pa-aten would be the longest surviving daughter of Nefertiti. She married the boy-king Tutankhamen and changed her name to Ankhesenamen. Nefertiti was the Great Royal Wife of Amenhotep IV/Akhenaten. Amenhotep IV built several structures at Karnak. The structures there include the Gempaaten which is a palace complex. It is believed that the royal family lived at the Gempaaten during the winter months (according to Aldred). One of the structures within the Gempaaten complex is the Hut-Benben (“Mansion of the Benben”). Aldred mentions that the Mansion of the Benben was a temple exclusively devoted to Nefertiti.

In year 3, Amenhotep IV and Nefertiti apparently held a great festival in the temple at Karnak. Inscriptions show the royal couple traveling by palanquin, feasting while being entertained by dancers and musicians, and appearing at the palace’s “window of appearance” waving at the crowd. Amenhotep at some point changes his name to Akhenaten, and founds a new Capital named Akhet-Aten more than a 100 miles north of Thebes. Nefertiti takes on the longer name of Neferneferuaten-Nefertiti. Several beautiful temples and palaces are built in Akhetaten and Nefertiti plays an important role in religious life as well as court life. In year 12 there is another large festival that takes place. Inscriptions in the tombs of the nobles show that there is a large tribute, and Akhenaten and Nefertiti are shown with their six daughters receiving tribute from many people.

Soon after year 12 disaster seems to strike. First Meketaten, the second eldest daugher, dies. Scenes in the royal tomb in Akhet-Aten (modern Amarna) show a grief stricken Nefertiti and Akhenaten mourning their daughter. Around roughly the same time Akhenaten’s mother Queen Tiye also dies, and several of the younger daughters of Nefertiti also disappear from the scene. It is difficult to say what exactly happened with Nefertiti towards the end of the reign of Akhenaten. For a while it was thought that Nefertiti fell into disgrace and was replaced at court by her daughter Meritaten. This theory was based on a mistaken identity however. A royal lady seems to have disappeared from the scene and her place was taken by Meritaten, but the lady in question was the secondary Queen named Kiya, not Nefertiti.

It is possible that Nefertiti became a co-regent to Akhenaten and that Nefertiti ruled alongside her husband in the latter years of his reign. There is mention of an individual named Djeserkheperure Smenkhare and it is possible that this is a king who ruled between Akhenaten and Tutankhamen. Some Egyptologists believe that Smenkhare is just another name for Nefertiti and that she became pharaoh after the death of her husband Akhenaten. Nefertiti may have been buried in the royal tomb at Amarna, but this is by no means certain. A special set of rooms appear to have been prepared for her. It is not known what happened to her after that. Some speculate that her funerary equipment was reused in the burial of King Tutankhamen. There are some statues from Tut’s tomb which appear to depict a female ruler.

People have tried to identify several mummies as being that of Nefertiti. The latest attempt was by Joanne Fletcher who claimed that a mummy in KV34 was that of Queen Nefertiti. This identification was actually first proposed by Marianne Luban. Susan James had proposed that the mummy of the “older woman” in the same tomb was actually that of Queen Nefertiti. The experts do not seem to consider any of the arguments conclusive and no mummy has been definitively identified as that of our illustrious queen. There is also a partial shabti of Queen Nefertiti found in Amarna. The experts do not agree on the implications of that find. Some think it means that Nefertiti was buried as a queen, not a pharaoh, while others think that it could have been a votive figure donated at the time of one of the other royal burials.

AKHENATEN AND NEFERTITI: The pharaoh Akhenaten’s sarcophagus informs the modern viewer of the atypical role his wife, queen Nefertiti, played in his controversial regime. Nefertiti’s regality and presumed divinity is invoked through the decorative and symbolic imagery applied to the container. The manner in which the queen is portrayed is indicative of the power she enjoyed as well as her spiritual and political responsibilities.

Akhenaten’s rule in the Eighteenth Dynasty marked a period of scorned political, religious, and artistic change (Reeves, 18). Akhenaten was intensely devoted to Aten, a mythological sun disk originally associated to the sun god, Re-Horakhty (Reeves, 18). Aten was viewed by Akhenaten as a god in its own right, leading the pharaoh to denounce the popular worship of any other Egyptian gods (Reeves, 18). The pharaoh’s religious preferences spurred the break of many ancient Egyptian conventions, including the costly destruction of evidence of past polytheistic traditions (Reeves, 18). Akhenaten’s reign was also associated with a new, stylized and somewhat strange, artistic style. The royal family was frequently depicted engaging in scenes of relaxed domesticity, a genre previously unassociated with ancient Egyptian royals. The manner in which royal individuals were rendered was also unusual, with figures sporting potbellies, wide hips, and exaggerated, elongated, facial features. The roles assigned to Akhenaten’s wife were also unorthodox, as demonstrated by the pharaoh’s sarcophagus.

Imagery related to funerary practice supports evidence of Nefertiti’s unconventional role in her husband’s regime. The ornamentation of her husband’s Aswan red granite sarcophagus from the Royal Tomb at Amarna indicates that the queen enjoyed political privilege and divine status (Arnold, 94). At each of the four corners of the intricately ornamented sarcophagus, female figures were carved in high relief. The figures were positioned with arms outstretched, enveloping the container. By encircling the container with their bodies, the figures appear to protect the contents of the sarcophagus, acting as safeguards for the king and his remains in his afterlife (Arnold, 94).

Such imagery first appeared on an object associated with an earlier 18th Dynasty ruler, Amenhotep II (Reeves, 105). Like Akhenaten’s sarcophagus, Amenhotep’s canopic box, a container designed to hold the pharaoh’s embalmed remains, was adorned with female figures at each of the box’s four corners (Reeves, 105). These forms have been identified as renderings of the tutelary deities Isis, Nephthys, Selkis, and Neith (Reeves, 105). The application of the goddesses to the container suggests that the remains of the pharaoh’s organs necessitated divine protection. In the case of Akhenaten’s sarcophagus, however, depictions of the four deities are replaced by repetitions of Nefertiti’s portrait positioned at each of the container’s four corners (Arnold, 95). The queen, identified by inscribed text on fragments related to the sarcophagus, appears wearing traditional robes and an elaborate headpiece, which incorporates sun disk imagery (Arnold, 95). Nefertiti’s appearance lacks some of the physical attributes typically correlated with the queen; here, her forehead and nose are clearly defined and her neck does not protrude forward. Art historians have also identified inconsistencies in eye shape between Nefertiti’s semblance on her husband’s sarcophagus and other renderings of the queen (Arnold, 95).

Although Arnold suggests that the queen’s appearance results from stylistic hallmarks of the workshop that produced the sarcophagus, perhaps Nefertiti’s distinct artistic representation on Akhenaten’s sarcophagus was employed to differentiate her divine, protective duties from her domestic or regal responsibilities (Arnold, 95). Through the application of Nefertiti’s portrait to her husband’s sarcophagus, the queen was assigned a tutelary role; she was to be viewed as a protector of her husband’s body and legacy after his death. Moreover, the queen’s appearance in the place of Isis, Nephthys, Selkis, and Neith likened Nefertiti to the divine, a somewhat abstract concept in ancient Egyptian culture (Arnold, 96). She was to be viewed as a manifestation of god, an attribute typically associated with those figures (Arnold, 96). Nefertiti’s status as both goddess and queen, cultivated by imagery presented by Akenaten’s sarcophagus, mirrors her husband’s self-prescribed role as dual god and king (Samson, 88).

Samson asserts that the prevalence of regal imagery of the queen suggests that Nefertiti was expected to assume the throne for a period after her husband’s death (Samson, 88). Much of the imagery that relates Nefertiti to her political responsibilities does not correspond to a funerary context, but Nefertiti’s appearance on Akhenaten’s sarcophagus directly links the queen’s political power to her husband’s death. Akhenaten’s view of Nefertiti as protector of his body suggests that the pharaoh was confident that his wife could honor his legacy through assuming his political role after his death in the absence of an immediate successor. This sentiment relates to a functionalist theory referenced by Pearson in The Archaeology of Death and Burial. Anthropologists Malinowski, Radcliffe-Brown and Evans-Pritchard state that, “the ceremonial of death, which ties the survivors to the body and rivets them to the place of death…counteracts the centrifugal forces of fear, dismay, demoralization, and provides the most powerful means of reintegration of the group’s shaken solidarity and of the re-establishment of its morale” (Pearson, 23). The integration of Nefertiti’s imagery into an object associated with funerary ritual served to promote the notion of divine protection of the deceased pharaoh’s body and defense of political stability while offsetting some of the uncertainty associated with the death of a controversial leader.

While the tradition of incorporating protective female figures into the designs of sarcophagi continued after the reign of Akhenaten, his sarcophagus was the only burial container to include imagery of Nefertiti; the sarcophagi of later rulers such as Tutankhamen, Haremhab, and Ay returned to the original model of channeling divine protection through the depiction of Isis, Nephthys, Selkis, and Neith, identified through textual inscriptions (Aldred, 32). The sarcophagus of Ramesses III only utilizes renderings of two of the goddesses, Isis and Nephthys (Barbotin). The manner in which Nefertiti’s portrait is incorporated into the design of her husband’s sarcophagus is indicative of several noteworthy aspects of her duty as wife and queen during Akhenaten’s reign. Her representation as protector of her husband’s remains and her assumption of the role of goddess in the container’s composition demonstrate the queen’s divine status and her assumed capacity to promote Akhenaten’s legacy after his death.

AMARNA AND ATEN: The ancient Egyptians aren't really known as a radical bunch. They had a good thing going, and they stuck with it. Consistency. That's what built the pyramids, and that's what kept the Egyptian empire intact for the better part of 3,000 years. Amarna, then, is a little episode that one suspects the Egyptians happily would have swept under the rug.

They did, in fact, until 100 years ago. That's when Egyptologists began piecing together the upheaval that led to the founding of the city of Amarna. The 250 artworks and artifacts included in "Pharaohs of the Sun: Akhenaten, Nefertiti, Tutankhamen" shed some light on what scholars know. The exhibition opens Sunday at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, after drawing more than 200,000 visitors in Boston.

At the heart of the Amarna experiment is the pharaoh Akhenaten, who is still the subject of much debate (see story at right). But one thing is for certain: For the 17 years he was in charge, things were really different in Egypt. Back around 1400 BC, Egypt was at the height of its imperial power. The religion was polytheistic; armchair Egyptologists may recall Osiris, Ra and Ptah, though local or household gods were worshiped as well. The god Amen had been elevated to a national deity and had a particularly powerful priesthood.

Change was brewing by about 1360 BC, when a pharaoh named Amenhotep III declared himself a god while he was still alive, even though pharaohs typically weren't deified until their death. Then, Amenhotep IV, around 1353 BC, decided everyone should worship Aten, a god represented as the sun's disk and the god most closely associated with the pharaohs.

Amenhotep IV changed his name to Akhenaten, meaning "one who is effective for Aten." He outlawed Amen and banished Amen's high priest to the quarries. Then he moved 175 miles north and built a brand-new city on the Nile dedicated to Aten. Originally called Akhetaten ("Horizon of Aten"), it is now referred to as Amarna, the name of a nearby village.

"We don't have every bit of writing, so we have to piece the history together," said Egyptologist Nancy Thomas, LACMA's deputy director of curatorial affairs. "But indications are that Akhenaten chose to worship the Aten, and to achieve that he had to relocate everything. All the temples in Thebes were dedicated to other gods . . . so he needed to build new temples and start over."

In a very short time, Amarna housed an estimated 20,000 people or more. "It's like GM moving to a new site," Thomas said. "Everyone sort of had to follow the royal court." Earlier museum shows have explored facets of Amarna. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, for instance, curated "The Royal Women of Amarna" in 1997. Others have focused on Tutankhamen or Akhenaten specifically. "Pharaohs of the Sun," curated by Rita Freed of the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, takes the largest possible view.

"It's very rare that you have an exhibition that tries to tell the whole story," said Yvonne Markowitz, a researcher at the Boston museum who worked on the exhibition. "We have these two big aspects: the personalities--which don't always stand out so uniquely in Egyptian history--and the city. "We know a lot about the city because it was abandoned, and it wasn't a continued area of settlement. Usually people build on top and top and top," Markowitz said. "Excavators were able to go back to the city and look at the layout."

Border markers were carved into the cliffs looming on either side of the Nile. Below lay a highly structured and symbolically designed city. On the eastern bank were the buildings, including the Great Temple, which covered 1.8 million square feet. "Pharaohs of the Sun" includes a scale model of Amarna and aerial photographs of the excavation. Barry Kemp, the archeologist currently working at the site, was a consultant on the model and provided details from discoveries made just last year.

The temples in Amarna were markedly different. Traditional temples had a series of chambers leading to a holy--and darkened--center where the carved statues of the gods were kept. Because the god Aten was the sun-disk, the temples dedicated to him had no roof, so the sun's rays could shine in.

All these new temples, tombs and palaces meant lots of new art. Concurrent with the religious changes--or perhaps, as with the temples, because of them--there was a dramatic shift in artistic style. The stiff, square-shouldered physiques became softened, in some cases even paunchy. Some facial features became more naturalistic--but also more stylized. Two colossal statues of Akhenaten, each about 7 feet tall, are particularly striking examples.

"You can't help but say this is a very odd physique," Markowitz said. "There's a tendency to say, 'What would make someone look this way?' . . . I think it's responding to some kind of inner psychological or spiritual motive, trying to express something different from the past. It's quite deliberate."

AMARNA AND ATENISM: In the Ancient Egyptian World men and women did not share equality in terms of their status in society. This is perhaps the reason as to why Nefertiti is admired, respected and remembered due to her sharing status and authority with her husband, Akhenaten. In the fourth year of Akhenaten's reign, Nefertiti and himself moved the capital of Thebes to Amarna, not only did the royal couple move the capital of the country but they also changed the religious tradition of polytheism (belief in multiple gods) to monotheism (belief in one god).

The one god they chose to solely worship was the sun god, The Aten also known as the Sun Disc. Once all these changes had been made to the religious life of Egypt, Akhenaten officially changed his name to Akhenaten and Nefertiti was now known as Neferneferuaten-Nefertiti. The changing of her name was a sign of the ever-increasing importance of the cult of the Aten.

This radical religious revolution increased the amount of power that Nefertiti was associated with, she was heavily involved in not only religious but also political issues, her role as a royal queen and wife of a pharaoh increased significantly when the religious revolution occurred.

Because of the royal family status, Nefertiti and her children would have lived in the Great Royal Palace in the centre of the city and perhaps also at the Northern Palace as well. Herself and the family were featured prominently in scenes at both of the palaces that they resided in and in the tombs of the nobles. Because she is shown so prominently this indicates the effect of her leadership. She had her own official named Merye II, his duties would have included all things to do with the household due to Nefertiti's busy and renowned roles. The fact that Nefertiti has her own official to keep the household intact suggests that she had a demanding role.

During the reign of her husband, Akhenaten, Nefertiti was given unprecedented rule, authority and power. The Coregency Stela is seven piece stela fragments made from limestone found in a tomb at Amarna, the stela shows the figures of Akhenaten, Nefertiti and Meritaten. On the Coregency Stela it shows Nefertiti as a co-regent with her husband. The excavations at Amarna have established conclusively that Nefertiti was eclipsed as the dominant figure beside her husband at the time after the twelfth year of his reign and is plausable she may have been given the status of co-regent, equal in status to the pharaoh.

Nefertiti was a full partner in the religious reformation, in many depictions she is shown with Akhenaten worshipping the Aten. She was involved in all the functions associated with religious and political issues. In one scene she is shown killing the enemies of Egypt, this was usually the role of a Pharaoh, thus giving more evidence that her authority and status was equal to the pharaoh. The royal women of Amarna played a large and needed role in royal and religious functions, always represented being powerful. Tiye and Nefertiti were the most prominent and significant women in the Amarna period.

AMARNA: Analysis of remains from a cemetery at the city of Amarna is painting an unsettling picture of the reign of the famously monotheistic pharaoh Akhenaten. Sometime around 1350 B.C, Akhenaten rejected the traditional pantheon of Egyptian gods and moved his capital to Amarna, some 200 miles south of modern Cairo, where he established a religion dedicated to the worship of the sun god Aten. Art from the period depicts Amarna as an idyllic city of plenty, but the cemetery tells a different story. Remains of children show they were malnourished and engaged in an unusually high degree of physical activity. Adult skeletons show evidence of hard labor and numerous injuries. "We have evidence of the most stressed and disease-ridden of the ancient skeletons of Egypt that have been reported to date," says University of Arkansas bioarchaeologist Jerome Rose. "Amarna is the capital city of the Egyptian empire. There should be plenty of food. Something seems to be amiss."

ANCIENT EGYPTIAN RELIGION: Egyptian religion was a combination of beliefs and practices which, in the modern day, would include magic, mythology, science, medicine, psychiatry, spiritualism, herbology, as well as the modern understanding of 'religion' as belief in a higher power and a life after death. Religion played a part in every aspect of the lives of the ancient Egyptians because life on earth was seen as only one part of an eternal journey, and in order to continue that journey after death, one needed to live a life worthy of continuance.

During one's life on earth, one was expected to uphold the principle of ma'at (harmony) with an understanding that one's actions in life affected not only one's self but others' lives as well, and the operation of the universe. People were expected to depend on each other to keep balance as this was the will of the gods to produce the greatest amount of pleasure and happiness for humans through a harmonious existence which also enabled the gods to better perform their tasks.

By honoring the principle of ma'at (personified as a goddess of the same name holding the white feather of truth) and living one's life in accordance with its precepts, one was aligned with the gods and the forces of light against the forces of darkness and chaos, and assured one's self of a welcome reception in the Hall of Truth after death and a gentle judgment by Osiris, the Lord of the Dead.

The underlying principle of Egyptian religion was known as heka (magic) personified in the god Heka. Heka had always existed and was present in the act of creation. He was the god of magic and medicine but was also the power which enabled the gods to perform their functions and allowed human beings to commune with their gods. He was all-pervasive and all-encompassing, imbuing the daily lives of the Egyptians with magic and meaning and sustaining the principle of ma'at upon which life depended.

Possibly the best way to understand Heka is in terms of money: one is able to purchase a particular item with a certain denomination of currency because that item's value is considered the same, or less, than that denomination. The bill in one's hand has an invisible value given it by a standard of worth (once upon a time the gold standard) which promises a merchant it will compensate for what one is buying. This is exactly the relationship of Heka to the gods and human existence: he was the standard, the foundation of power, on which everything else depended. A god or goddess was invoked for a specific purpose, was worshipped for what they had given, but it was Heka who enabled this relationship between the people and their deities.

The gods of ancient Egypt were seen as the lords of creation and custodians of order but also as familiar friends who were interested in helping and guiding the people of the land. The gods had created order out of chaos and given the people the most beautiful land on earth. Egyptians were so deeply attached to their homeland that they shunned prolonged military campaigns beyond their borders for fear they would die on foreign soil and would not be given the proper rites for their continued journey after life. Egyptian monarchs refused to give their daughters in marriage to foreign rulers for the same reason. The gods of Egypt had blessed the land with their special favor, and the people were expected to honor them as great and kindly benefactors.

The gods of ancient Egypt were seen as the lords of creation and custodians of order but also as familiar friends who were interested in helping and guiding the people of the land. Long ago, they believed, there had been nothing but the dark swirling waters of chaos stretching into eternity. Out of this chaos (Nu) rose the primordial hill, known as the Ben-Ben, upon which stood the great god Atum (some versions say the god was Ptah) in the presence of Heka. Atum looked upon the nothingness and recognized his aloneness, and so he mated with his own shadow to give birth to two children, Shu (god of air, whom Atum spat out) and Tefnut (goddess of moisture, whom Atum vomited out). Shu gave to the early world the principles of life while Tefnut contributed the principles of order. Leaving their father on the Ben-Ben, they set out to establish the world.

In time, Atum became concerned because his children were gone so long, and so he removed his eye and sent it in search of them. While his eye was gone, Atum sat alone on the hill in the midst of chaos and contemplated eternity. Shu and Tefnut returned with the eye of Atum (later associated with the Udjat eye, the Eye of Ra, or the All-Seeing Eye) and their father, grateful for their safe return, shed tears of joy. These tears, dropping onto the dark, fertile earth of the Ben-Ben, gave birth to men and women.

These humans had nowhere to live, however, and so Shu and Tefnut mated and gave birth to Geb (the earth) and Nut (the sky). Geb and Nut, though brother and sister, fell deeply in love and were inseparable. Atum found their behaviour unacceptable and pushed Nut away from Geb, high up into the heavens. The two lovers were forever able to see each other but were no longer able to touch. Nut was already pregnant by Geb, however, and eventually gave birth to Osiris, Isis, Set, Nephthys, and Horus – the five Egyptian gods most often recognized as the earliest (although Hathor is now considered to be older than Isis). These gods then gave birth to all the other gods in one form or another.

The gods each had their own area of speciality. Bastet, for example, was the goddess of the hearth, homelife, women's health and secrets, and of cats. Hathor was the goddess of kindness and love, associated with gratitude and generosity, motherhood, and compassion. According to one early story surrounding her, however, she was originally the goddess Sekhmet who became drunk on blood and almost destroyed the world until she was pacified and put to sleep by beer which the gods had dyed red to fool her. When she awoke from her sleep, she was transformed into a gentler deity. Although she was associated with beer, Tenenet was the principle goddess of beer and also presided over childbirth. Beer was considered essential for one's health in ancient Egypt and a gift from the gods, and there were many deities associated with the drink which was said to have been first brewed by Osiris.

An early myth tells of how Osiris was tricked and killed by his brother Set and how Isis brought him back to life. He was incomplete, however, as a fish had eaten a part of him, and so he could no longer rule harmoniously on earth and was made Lord of the Dead in the underworld. His son, Horus the Younger, battled Set for eighty years and finally defeated him to restore harmony to the land. Horus and Isis then ruled together, and all the other gods found their places and areas of expertise to help and encourage the people of Egypt.

Among the most important of these gods were the three who made up the Theban Triad: Amun, Mut, and Knons (also known as Khonsu). Amun was a local fertility god of Thebes until the Theban noble Menuhotep II (2061-2010 B.C.) defeated his rivals and united Egypt, elevating Thebes to the position of capital and its gods to supremacy. Amun, Mut, and Khons of Upper Egypt (where Thebes was located) took on the attributes of Ptah, Sekhment, and Khonsu of Lower Egypt who were much older deities. Amun became the supreme creator god, symbolized by the sun; Mut was his wife, symbolized by the sun's rays and the all-seeing eye; and Khons was their son, the god of healing and destroyer of evil spirits.

These three gods were associated with Ogdoad of Hermopolis, a group of eight primordial deities who "embodied the qualities of primeval matter, such as darkness, moistness, and lack of boundaries or visible powers. It usually consisted of four deities doubled to eight by including female counterparts" (Pinch, 175-176). The Ogdoad (pronounced OG-doh-ahd) represented the state of the cosmos before land rose from the waters of chaos and light broke through the primordial darkness and were also referred to as the Hehu (`the infinities'). They were Amun and Amaunet, Heh and Hauhet, Kek and Kauket, and Nun and Naunet each representing a different aspect of the formless and unknowable time before creation: Hiddenness (Amun/Amaunet), Infinity (Heh/Hauhet), Darkness (Kek/Kauket), and the Abyss (Nut/Naunet). The Ogdoad are the best example of the Egyptian's insistence on symmetry and balance in all things embodied in their male/female aspect which was thought to have engendered the principle of harmony in the cosmos before the birth of the world.

The Egyptians believed that the earth (specifically Egypt) reflected the cosmos. The stars in the night sky and the constellations they formed were thought to have a direct bearing on one's personality and future fortunes. The gods informed the night sky, even traveled through it, but were not distant deities in the heavens; the gods lived alongside the people of Egypt and interacted with them daily. Trees were considered the homes of the gods and one of the most popular of the Egyptian deities, Hathor, was sometimes known as "Mistress of the Date Palm" or "The Lady of the Sycamore" because she was thought to favor these particular trees to rest in or beneath. Scholars Oakes and Gahlin note that "Presumably because of the shade and the fruit provided by them, goddesses associated with protection, mothering, and nurturing were closely associated with [trees]. Hathor, Nut, and Isis appear frequently in the religious imagery and literature [in relation to trees]".

Plants and flowers were also associated with the gods, and the flowers of the ished tree were known as "flowers of life" for their life-giving properties. Eternity, then, was not an ethereal, nebulous concept of some 'heaven' far from the earth but a daily encounter with the gods and goddesses one would continue to have contact with forever, in life and after death. In order for one to experience this kind of bliss, however, one needed to be aware of the importance of harmony in one's life and how a lack of such harmony affected others as well as one's self. The 'gateway sin' for the ancient Egyptians was ingratitude because it threw one off balance and allowed for every other sin to take root in a person's soul. Once one lost sight of what there was to be grateful for, one's thoughts and energies were drawn toward the forces of darkness and chaos.

This belief gave rise to rituals such as The Five Gifts of Hathor in which one would consider the fingers of one's hand and name the five things in life one was most grateful for. One was encouraged to be specific in this, naming anything one held dear such as a spouse, one's children, one's dog or cat, or the tree by the stream in the yard. As one's hand was readily available at all times, it would serve as a reminder that there were always five things one should be grateful for, and this would help one to maintain a light heart in keeping with harmonious balance. This was important throughout one's life and remained equally significant after one's death since, in order to progress on toward an eternal life of bliss, one's heart needed to be lighter than a feather when one stood in judgment before Osiris.

According to the scholar Margaret Bunson: "The Egyptians feared eternal darkness and unconsciousness in the afterlife because both conditions belied the orderly transmission of light and movement evident in the universe. They understood that death was the gateway to eternity. The Egyptians thus esteemed the act of dying and venerated the structures and the rituals involved in such a human adventure." The structures of the dead can still be seen throughout Egypt in the modern day in the tombs and pyramids which still rise from the landscape. There were structures and rituals after life, however, which were just as important.

The soul was thought to consist of nine separate parts: the Khat was the physical body; the Ka one’s double-form; the Ba a human-headed bird aspect which could speed between earth and the heavens; Shuyet was the shadow self; Akh the immortal, transformed self, Sahu and Sechem aspects of the Akh; Ab was the heart, the source of good and evil; Ren was one’s secret name. All nine of these aspects were part of one's earthly existence and, at death, the Akh (with the Sahu and Sechem) appeared before the great god Osiris in the Hall of Truth and in the presence of the Forty-Two Judges to have one's heart (Ab) weighed in the balance on a golden scale against the white feather of truth.

One would need to recite the Negative Confession (a list of those sins one could honestly claim one had not committed in life) and then one's heart was placed on the scale. If one's heart was lighter than the feather, one waited while Osiris conferred with the Forty-Two Judges and the god of wisdom, Thoth, and, if considered worthy, was allowed to pass on through the hall and continue one's existence in paradise; if one's heart was heavier than the feather it was thrown to the floor where it was devoured by the monster Ammut (the gobbler), and one then ceased to exist.

Once through the Hall of Truth, one was then guided to the boat of Hraf-haf ("He Who Looks Behind Him"), an unpleasant creature, always cranky and offensive, whom one had to find some way to be kind and courteous to. By showing kindness to the unkind Hraf-haf, one showed one was worthy to be ferried across the waters of Lily Lake (also known as The Lake of Flowers) to the Field of Reeds which was a mirror image of one's life on earth except there was no disease, no disappointment, and no death. One would then continue one's existence just as before, awaiting those one loved in life to pass over themselves or meeting those who had gone on before.

Although the Greek historian Herodotus claims that only men could be priests in ancient Egypt, the Egyptian record argues otherwise. Women could be priests of the cult of their goddess from the Old Kingdom onward and were accorded the same respect as their male counterparts. Usually a member of the clergy had to be of the same sex as the deity they served. The cult of Hathor, most notably, was routinely attended to by female clergy (it should be noted that 'cult' did not have the same meaning in ancient Egypt that it does today - cults were simply sects of one religion). Priests and Priestesses could marry, have children, own land and homes and lived as anyone else except for certain ritual practices and observances regarding purification before officiating. Bunson writes: "In most periods, the priests of Egypt were members of a family long connected to a particular cult or temple. Priests recruited new members from among their own clans, generation after generation. This meant that they did not live apart from their own people and thus maintained an awareness of the state of affairs in their communities."

Priests, like scribes, went through a prolonged training period before beginning service and, once ordained, took care of the temple or temple complex, performed rituals and observances (such as marriages, blessings on a home or project, funerals), performed the duties of doctors, healers, astrologers, scientists, and psychologists, and also interpreted dreams. They blessed amulets to ward off demons or increase fertility, and also performed exorcisms and purification rites to rid a home of ghosts. Their chief duty was to the god they served and the people of the community, and an important part of that duty was their care of the temple and the statue of the god within. Priests were also doctors in the service of Heka, no matter what other deity they served directly. An example of this is how all the priests and priestesses of the goddess Serket (Selket) were doctors but their ability to heal and invoke Serket was enabled through the power of Heka.

The temples of ancient Egypt were thought to be the literal homes of the deities they honored. Every morning the head priest or priestess, after purifying themselves with a bath and dressing in clean white linen and clean sandals, would enter the temple and attend to the statue of the god as they would to a person they were charged to care for. The doors of the sanctuary were opened to let in the morning light, and the statue, which always resided in the innermost sanctuary, was cleaned, dressed, and anointed with oil; afterwards, the sanctuary doors were closed and locked. No one but the head priest was allowed such close contact with the god. Those who came to the temple to worship only were allowed in the outer areas where they were met by lesser clergy who addressed their needs and accepted their offerings.

There were no official `scriptures' used by the clergy but the concepts conveyed at the temple are thought to have been similar to those found in works such as the Pyramid Texts, the later Coffin Texts, and the spells found in the Egyptian Book of the Dead. Although the Book of the Dead is often referred to as `The Ancient Egyptian Bible' it was no such thing. The Book of the Dead is a collection of spells for the soul in the afterlife. The Pyramid Texts are the oldest religious texts in ancient Egypt dating from circa 2400-2300 B.C. The Coffin Texts were developed later from the Pyramid Texts circa 2134-2040 B.C. while the Book of the Dead (actually known as the Book on Coming Forth by Day) was set down sometime circa 1550-1070 B.C.

All three of these works deal with how the soul is to navigate the afterlife. Their titles (given by European scholars) and the number of grand tombs and statuary throughout Egypt, not to mention the elaborate burial rituals and mummies, have led many people to conclude that Egypt was a culture obsessed with death when, actually, the Egyptians were wholly concerned with life. The Book on Coming Forth by Day, as well as the earlier texts, present spiritual truths one would have heard while in life and remind the soul of how one should now act in the next phase of one's existence without a physical body or a material world. The soul of any Egyptian was expected to recall these truths from life, even if they never set foot inside a temple compound, because of the many religious festivals the Egyptians enjoyed throughout the year.

Religious festivals in Egypt integrated the sacred aspect of the gods seamlessly with the daily lives of the people. Egyptian scholar Lynn Meskell notes that "religious festivals actualized belief; they were not simply social celebrations. They acted in a multiplicity of related spheres" (Nardo, 99). There were grand festivals such as The Beautiful Festival of the Wadi in honor of the god Amun and lesser festivals for other gods or to celebrate events in the life of the community.

Bunson writes, "On certain days, in some eras several times a month, the god was carried on arks or ships into the streets or set sail on the Nile. There the oracles took place and the priests answered petitions". The statue of the god would be removed from the inner sanctuary to visit the members of the community and take part in the celebration; a custom which may have developed independently in Egypt or come from Mesopotamia where this practice had a long history. The Beautiful Festival of the Wadi was a celebration of life, wholeness, and community, and, as Meskell notes, people attended this festival and visited the shrine to "pray for bodily integrity and physical vitality" while leaving offerings to the god or goddess as a sign of gratitude for their lives and health.

Meskell writes: "One may envisage a priest or priestess coming and collecting the offerings and then replacing the baskets, some of which have been detected archaeologically. The fact that these items of jewelry were personal objects suggests a powerful and intimate link with the goddess. Moreover, at the shrine site of Timna in the Sinai, votives were ritually smashed to signify the handing over from human to deity, attesting to the range of ritual practices occurring at the time. There was a high proportion of female donors in the New Kingdom, although generally tomb paintings tend not to show the religous practices of women but rather focus on male activities".

The smashing of the votives signified one's surrender to the benevolent will of the gods. A votive was anything offered in fulfillment of a vow or in the hopes of attaining some wish. While votives were often left intact, they were sometimes ritually destroyed to signify the devotion one had to the gods; one was surrendering to them something precious which one could not take back. There was no distinction at these festivals between those acts considered 'holy' and those which a modern sensibility would label 'profane'. The whole of one's life was open for exploration during a festival, and this included sexual activity, drunkenness, prayer, blessings for one's sex life, for one's family, for one's health, and offerings made both in gratitude and thanksgiving and in supplication.

Families attended the festivals together as did teenagers and young couples and those hoping to find a mate. Elder members of the community, the wealthy, the poor, the ruling class, and the slaves were all a part of the religious life of the community because their religion and their daily lives were completely intertwined and, through that faith, they recognized their individual lives were all an interwoven tapestry with every other. [Ancient History Encyclopedia].

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ABOUT US: Prior to our retirement we used to travel to Europe and Central Asia several times a year. Most of the items we offer came from acquisitions we made in Eastern Europe, India, and from the Levant (Eastern Mediterranean/Near East) during these years from various institutions and dealers. Much of what we generate on Etsy, Amazon and goes to support The Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, as well as some other worthy institutions in Europe and Asia connected with Anthropology and Archaeology. Though we have a collection of ancient coins numbering in the tens of thousands, our primary interests are ancient jewelry and gemstones. Prior to our retirement we traveled to Russia every year seeking antique gemstones and jewelry from one of the globe’s most prolific gemstone producing and cutting centers, the area between Chelyabinsk and Yekaterinburg, Russia. From all corners of Siberia, as well as from India, Ceylon, Burma and Siam, gemstones have for centuries gone to Yekaterinburg where they have been cut and incorporated into the fabulous jewelry for which the Czars and the royal families of Europe were famous for.

My wife grew up and received a university education in the Southern Urals of Russia, just a few hours away from the mountains of Siberia, where alexandrite, diamond, emerald, sapphire, chrysoberyl, topaz, demantoid garnet, and many other rare and precious gemstones are produced. Though perhaps difficult to find in the USA, antique gemstones are commonly unmounted from old, broken settings – the gold reused – the gemstones recut and reset. Before these gorgeous antique gemstones are recut, we try to acquire the best of them in their original, antique, hand-finished state – most of them centuries old. We believe that the work created by these long-gone master artisans is worth protecting and preserving rather than destroying this heritage of antique gemstones by recutting the original work out of existence. That by preserving their work, in a sense, we are preserving their lives and the legacy they left for modern times. Far better to appreciate their craft than to destroy it with modern cutting.

Not everyone agrees – fully 95% or more of the antique gemstones which come into these marketplaces are recut, and the heritage of the past lost. But if you agree with us that the past is worth protecting, and that past lives and the produce of those lives still matters today, consider buying an antique, hand cut, natural gemstone rather than one of the mass-produced machine cut (often synthetic or “lab produced”) gemstones which dominate the market today. We can set most any antique gemstone you purchase from us in your choice of styles and metals ranging from rings to pendants to earrings and bracelets; in sterling silver, 14kt solid gold, and 14kt gold fill. When you purchase from us, you can count on quick shipping and careful, secure packaging. We would be happy to provide you with a certificate/guarantee of authenticity for any item you purchase from us. There is a $3 fee for mailing under separate cover. I will always respond to every inquiry whether via email or message, so please feel free to write.



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