Amarna Art as Propaganda Analytical Essay

Amarna Art as Propaganda
This paper discusses the art of the Amarna period from the viewpoint of propaganda and looks at what Akhenaten was selling.
# 113808 | 1,727 words | 9 sources | MLA | 2009 | NZ

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In this article, the writer discusses that the relationship between the arts and religion in Egypt was such that artists and architects were part of the bureaucracy. As employees of the state; their work became an expression of the permanency of both the state and the gods. In this essay the writer restricts considerations to relief art in both temples and tombs together with a brief discussion of architecture. The writer briefly elaborates on the function of art in Egyptian society and outlines traditional representations of Pharaoh. From here, the writer discusses the reasons why, during the Amarna period, artistic style, form and composition underwent a radical change. The writer then briefly considers the role architecture played in validating Akhenaten's unique religious role and demonstrates how art became an even more potent propagandistic weapon of state, used by Akhenaten to sell the validity of his special relationship with the god Aten to his people. This paper includes two small figures illustrating art of the time.

From the Paper:

"The change in style that was adopted by artists in the Amarna period cannot be explained, in isolation, simply by the fact that arts' religious basis had been thoroughly overturned. What does explain this change though is the nature of the monotheistic deity that was adopted, the Aten, represented as rays of sunlight emanating from the disk of the sun represented truth and reality. Ancients looking at the sun would, just as we would today, be temporarily blinded by its power, motivating the interpretation of the Aten as representative of these values. Thus, given the premise that the king was the sole mortal (along with his family) capable of worshipping this god, any representation of Pharaoh must in and of itself be portrayed accurately without taking liberties to disguise frailty or weakness. Further to this, Pharaoh was no longer a god-king in this world, for certain he held a unique spiritual relationship with the singular deity but this does not afford him god-status, similarly removing the need for stylisation and a formulaic representation."

Sample of Sources Used:

  • Grimal, Nicolas. A history of Ancient Egypt translated by Ian Shaw. Oxford: Blackwell (2003).
  • Hornung Erik. Akhenaten and the religion of light (translated by David Lorton). London: Cornell University Press, (1999).
  • Kemp, Barry J. Ancient Egypt, Anatomy of a Civilisation. London: Routledge (2007).
  • Shaw, Ian. The Oxford history of Ancient Egypt. Oxford: Oxford University Press (2000).
  • Silverman, David P. et al. Akhenaten, Tutankhamun Revolution and Restoration. Philadelphia: University of Princeton Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology (2006).

Cite this Analytical Essay:

APA Format

Amarna Art as Propaganda (2009, May 12) Retrieved October 24, 2020, from

MLA Format

"Amarna Art as Propaganda" 12 May 2009. Web. 24 October. 2020. <>