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Pharaoh, kiss me quick!

1 November 2013 by Ashley Cooke

Fragment of Akhenaten's face, excavated 1931-32 (about 1352-1336 BC).

Fragment of Akhenaten’s face from the wall of a bridge, excavated 1931-32 (about 1352-1336 BC). Accession no. 1973.1.527g

Yesterday two Egyptologists from the Egyptian Museum and Papyrus Collection, Berlin, visited us at World Museum to discuss a new collaborative project to bring together objects that are now in collections all around the world.

Berlin are working with archaeologists and curators to build the ‘Amarna Digital Atlas’ – a web database of objects excavated at the city of Akhenaten at Amarna. The database will include scans of excavation archives and geographical data so the public can see how and where the objects were discovered. Liverpool houses material from Flinders Petrie’s excavations of 1891-2 and those of the Egypt Exploration Society 1921-36 so Sandro Schwarz and Anne Seiler spent the day in the gallery and storerooms to get an idea of our varied holdings.

Anne Seiler is a pottery specialist who works on many of the German Archaeological Institute’s excavations so it was great to show her the hundreds of painted sherds we have from Amarna and get her advice on how we should interpret them. Perhaps one of my favourite objects is a piece of a wall painting with the sumptuous lips of the pharaoh Akhenaten. Like much of the Amarna collection they have a specific find spot and these lips are from the painted wall of a bridge that linked the ‘Great Palace’ to the ‘King’s House’ across the 9 metres wide ‘Royal Road’.

The bridge was made of mud brick with plastered walls bearing painted scenes of the royal family that we also have other parts of, including the face of Queen Nefertiti. I look forward to this great digital resource bringing together fragments like these so we can get a better appreciation of this ancient city where excavations are still continuing.

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