Scientists Identify Birds On Magnificent Ancient Egyptian Artwork Found In Amarna

Scientists Identify Birds On Magnificent Ancient Egyptian Artwork Found In Amarna


Connie Waters This magnificent artifact was discovered in a palace in the ancient Egyptian capital of Amarna during the reign of pharaoh akhenaten (1347–1332 BC).

The ancient painting, hailed as a masterpiece of ancient Egyptian art, is so finely detailed that scientists have been able to identify the bird species it depicts.

Replica painting of the west wall from the “Green Room” in the North Palace at Amarna (public domain; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York: accession number 30.4.134). credit: antiquity

In 1924 archaeologists excavated at Amarana and uncovered a palace belonging to the pharaoh’s daughter Meritaten and Nefertiti, with several tastefully decorated rooms. One of these, the so-called Green Room, is a rare depiction of birds in a wild papyrus marsh with no signs of human activity. Beautiful images of the natural world had the potential to make the palace a place for relaxation and entertainment.

When the artifacts from the Green Room were “uncovered”, the paintings were identified as important examples of the “School of Akhenaten”, where “the innovations by which Akhenaten’s era is notably marked seem something like a culmination”. achieves. They have since come to be regarded as masterpieces of ancient Egyptian art. These paintings are some of the most skillfully rendered and naturalistic images of birds known from dynastic Egypt,” the scientists write in their study published in Antiquity.

Dr Christopher Stimpson and Professor Barry Kemp said, “These paintings are some of the most skillfully painted and naturalistic images of birds known from Dynastic Egypt.”

“The surviving art of the North Palace can be classified into two subjects. In the North-East Court, the most common subjects are bird feeding scenes. These depict human figures with ducks, cranes, storks and geese on a yellow ground. White or brown feathers dotted and scattered with large red vessels and red grains.

Scientists identify birds on spectacular ancient Egyptian artwork found at Amarna

(Top) Detail from a reconstruction of the bird-eating scene from the south wall of Room 7 of the North-East Court, North Palace, Amarna (B. Kemp); Bottom) Fragment of waterbank design from the west wall of the Green Room, Amarna, showing pied kingfisher (Ceryl rudis) and ornate niche (detail from n.d. Garris Davies, facsimile painting of the west wall from the “Green Room”) at Amarna North Palace; public domain; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York: Accession No. 30.4.134).

The second theme is the remains of the waterbank design, which was found throughout the North Palace. Unlike the bird-feeding scenes, which are presided over by humans, the waterbank design depicts birds among bushes of riverside plants, including lotuses (nymphaea caerulea) and papyrus (cypress papyrus), with a stylized river at the base. The Green Room (Room 12)—one of two smaller, interconnected rooms—was so named because of the dominant color and range of the subject,” the scientists write in their paper.

Despite the quality of the Green Room images, they have received relatively little attention. As such, not all bird species in the art were discovered in the nearly 100 years since it was found.

Dr Stimpson, Honorary Associate of the Oxford University Museum of Natural History, said, “The art of the Green Room has not received as much attention as you would probably expect. This may be because the original plaster panels did not survive well.” Efforts to preserve the painting in 1926 accidentally damaged and discolored the artwork.

Dr. Stimpson and Professor Kemp set out to identify the birds in the Green Room, and their efforts pay off.

The researchers were eventually able to identify several species, including shrikes and wagtails. These join kingfishers and pigeons identified by previous work. They also found that the artists may have included signs for ancient birdwatchers: migratory birds are annotated with a triangle, perhaps indicating a seasonal element in the art.

The artwork may also represent an ancient Egyptian pigeon problem. Rock pigeons have been depicted but are not native to the Papyrus Swamp, instead they are associated with the nearby desert rocks.

Perhaps, as in modern cities, pigeons were attracted to the area by human activity.

While the researchers cannot rule this out, they think that the artists may have included these birds instead to make the scene appear wilder and untamed – an environment that appears to have been designed to create a realistic artwork. Is. The team suggests that these images of the natural world make the Green Room a relaxing space.

Dr. Stimpson said, “No one knows for sure, although the Green Room was a place of most rest and relaxation.” Paintings in rock tombs at Amarna probably show similar settings where women rested, socialized and played music. plays.” The room, in terms of nature, was likely to have an atmosphere. The calming effects of the natural world were just as important then as they are (more than ever) today.

The study was published in the journal ancient time

written by Connie Waters staff Writer


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