Did you know that Egyptian Sculptors had to have incredible patience. Their toughest metal tools were made of bronze. They weren’t much use for carving in a very hard stone like basalt. They could spend months scraping away at a block with even harder stones. They became experts at a kind of carving called sunk Relief. Sunk relief involves cutting figures and hieroglyphs into a surface of a smooth stone block. When the bright sunlight was slanted across a relief carving, it cast sharp shadows that would make it look like a drawing. For today’s art history class we will be making our own sunk relief carving. Lets talk a little bit about Akhenaten first.
Akhenaten was a ruler in Egypt that wanted to change the religion and art of that time period. He actually outlawed all the different gods but one. He had proclaimed that there was only one called, the Aten, that meant the disk of the sun. To portray this message to the Egyptians he completely changed the traditional figures and scenes that the sculptors and painters were allowed to show. The Aten could only be shown as a circle. The circle had rays that reached out, with little hands on the end, touching the pharaoh and his family. People weren’t happy as they thought the gods would be angry. Akhenaten didn’t care as he was in charge and wanted to do things differently. He built new temples, palaces, and houses.
There was a sculptor named Thutmose, who had a workshop in the city of Akhenaten. He carved the head and shoulders of Queen Nefertiti out of a block of limestone. He made her look beautiful, with a gentle smile. She also wore an Egyptian Crown in that sculpture. Back in those times they didn’t believe in showing the Queen as en equal to the King. As you can guess that was another thing that Akhenaten had changed.
Brian Wilderman’s Art History Lab Egypt – Akheaten relief Flashcard
The Art of Amarna: Akhenaten and his life under the Sun
Akhenaten, Nefertiti, and Three Daughers (video) Khan Academy
All you need is air dry clay and some tools to carve in. What I had the kids do was flatten the clay to form a rectangle. Then they were to use one of the pictures that we had as guidance to make their own sunken relief of Akhenaten and his child. At least that is the direction my daughter went. I thought she was going to work on both the King and Queen, but she had erased hers many times. In the resource links above you will also see different pictures that you can use as your guide. The one main point I wanted them to have the sunken relief was the sun.
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