Carved limestone fragments from the Great Aten Temple

Oct 17, 2018

General view of the extra-mural are of the Workmen's Village in 1977 (Photo by The Amarna Project)

Project description

In 2012 the Amarna Project began its excavations at the Great Aten Temple in order to re-study the temple remains, and to clean the site and mark the main building outlines in fresh stonework. Since the beginning of the program, hundreds of limestone fragments have been recovered from spoil heaps left behind by the Pendlebury expedition of 1932. 

Decorative program

Most of the fragments are “the broken-off and left behind remains of carved and painted walls and other elements, most often built of talatat-blocks”. “The quality of the limestone used varies greatly, from ‘indurated’, which is almost marble-like, through a variety with an even grain to one that is very coarse and rough from local quarries.”

Documentation method

In the process of study, the limestone fragments have been categorized into 11 initial groups. “Each piece is entered into a database, and a selection is both drawn and photographed. The drawings (initially in pencil) are then rendered into ink line illustrations or into digital form.”

Visual example(s)

Figure 3. S-11092. Wooden stands with bowls.

Figure 5. S-11910. Offering-scene with trussed calf and Aten ray.

Figure 6. S-12233. Cornice with cartouches in the late form of the Aten.

Figure 7. Column fragments assembled to form a section of restored decoration.

What we like

  • The use of complex signage (dotted outline for damage, sun-shadow differentiation in most cases, color patches indicating remaining pigment) creates the sense of a serious documentation program.
  • Carved outlines reflect the unevenness of carving, dotted damage outlines remain in the background by the use of a lighter gray tone.
  • The painted decorative program is well represented - even at its mostly fragmented state - by the introduction of color as an additional visual aid.
  • Basic reconstruction drawn by light gray single-weight lines is provided to extend the context of small individual fragments.
  • Color reconstruction with basic shading indicating the column's roundness is provided in the case of various column fragments, which helps vith the visualization of its decorative program.

Additional reading

For the original context of the material appearing in this article click on the following title to download:  

Miriam Bertram and Barry Kemp – Carved limestone fragments from the Great Aten Temple in: Amarna Horizon 18 (2017) 14 – 18.

You can find more information about the Great Aten Temple excavations here.

For more information on this project and additional information about the many different endeavors carried out by the Amarna project, visit their homepage.

Précis and commentary by Júlia Schmied

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