Skip Navigation

The Aten and a Symbol of a Goddess or Queen

Egyptian, Classical, Ancient Near Eastern Art

Egyptian religion during the Amarna Period is often characterized as monotheistic, but a detail on this block found at el Amarna casts some doubt on this interpretation. At the far right is a column capital of a traditional type found in temples and shrines of Hathor, one of Egypt's major goddesses. Was Hathor worshiped at el Amarna, or could the building where this column stood have been dedicated instead to Queen Nefertiti?

MEDIUM Limestone, pigment
  • Place Excavated: Tell el-Amarna, Egypt
  • DATES ca. 1352–1336 B.C.E.
    DYNASTY late Dynasty 18
    PERIOD New Kingdom, Amarna Period
    DIMENSIONS 9 × 13 1/2 × 5 1/2 in., 36.5 lb. (22.9 × 34.3 × 14 cm, 16.56kg) mount (dimensions as installed): 10 3/4 × 16 × 7 3/4 in. (27.3 × 40.6 × 19.7 cm)  (show scale)
    CREDIT LINE Gift of the Egypt Exploration Society
    CATALOGUE DESCRIPTION White limestone block with sunken relief and inscriptions, apparently part of a large scene. Slightly to the left of the center is a very deeply sunk relief of the sun with the customary rays. On each side is a lotiform column with the royal cartouche on the outer sides. At the extreme right is a Hathor-headed column. Above these runs a plain cornice on which remain traces of a very brilliant blue paint. This fragment probably represented the facade of a temple or was at least architectural in form. Remains of tomato red paint can be found below the rays for the sun. The piece appears to have been mutilated in ancient times. Condition: The piece is very fragmentary and the surface is extensively chipped.
    MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
    CAPTION The Aten and a Symbol of a Goddess or Queen, ca. 1352–1336 B.C.E. Limestone, pigment, 9 × 13 1/2 × 5 1/2 in., 36.5 lb. (22.9 × 34.3 × 14 cm, 16.56kg). Brooklyn Museum, Gift of the Egypt Exploration Society, 36.886. Creative Commons-BY (Photo: , 36.886_PS9.jpg)
    IMAGE overall, 36.886_PS9.jpg., 2018
    "CUR" at the beginning of an image file name means that the image was created by a curatorial staff member. These study images may be digital point-and-shoot photographs, when we don\'t yet have high-quality studio photography, or they may be scans of older negatives, slides, or photographic prints, providing historical documentation of the object.
    RIGHTS STATEMENT Creative Commons-BY
    You may download and use Brooklyn Museum images of this three-dimensional work in accordance with a Creative Commons license. Fair use, as understood under the United States Copyright Act, may also apply. Please include caption information from this page and credit the Brooklyn Museum. If you need a high resolution file, please fill out our online application form (charges apply). For further information about copyright, we recommend resources at the United States Library of Congress, Cornell University, Copyright and Cultural Institutions: Guidelines for U.S. Libraries, Archives, and Museums, and Copyright Watch. For more information about the Museum's rights project, including how rights types are assigned, please see our blog posts on copyright. If you have any information regarding this work and rights to it, please contact
    Not every record you will find here is complete. More information is available for some works than for others, and some entries have been updated more recently. Records are frequently reviewed and revised, and we welcome any additional information you might have.