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Here-and-Now Eternalized — Based on the “Berlin Stela of the Royal Family”

Sung Hwan Yoo 1

1서울대학교

Accredited

ABSTRACT

After his ascension to the throne, Amenhotep IV embarked on a series of radical changes in art and religion. From the beginning of his reign, Amenhotep IV founded new temples to the Aten, a relatively new deity in Egyptian history, represented with the sun-disk (but, in essence, the radiant light of the sun instead of the physical disk) and built a new capital city in Middle Egypt to further the cult of the Aten. Soon after the foundation of the capital, he changed his name to Akhenaten and promoted the Aten as the sole deity of his religion. In the regnal year of eleven, he began to proscribe other older gods, especially the former state god Amun, throughout Egypt. Along with the dramatic departures with the past during his reign, the traditional concept of time, traditionally represented with two opposing but complementary concepts of Eternal Sameness and Eternal Recurrence, also underwent revisions and modifications. As a result, (1) the emphasis was shifted from the eternity (Dt + nHH) to the concept of here-and-now with a notable preponderance of Change (xpr) and the Eternal Recurrence (nHH) over Stasis (wnn) and the Eternal Sameness (Dt); (2) the abstract mystery of mythology as an intelligible reality was superseded by the physical reality of everyday life; and (3) artists, freed from the timeless and idealized artistic style of the past, began to pay more attention to detailing of the visual reality and the concept of here-and-now. Along with this changed temporal concept and worldview, the Amarna art demonstrates distinguished features summarized as follows: (1) the primary focus on Akhenaten and his royal family that, as the Holy Family, stood between the invisible deity and their people; (2) prolific expression of immediacy and emotion to express the actuality of words and deeds of Akhenaten and his family; and (3) the three-dimensional treatment of space even on a two-dimensional surface. In order to observe the prominent features of the Amarna art, the Berlin Stela of the Royal Family is used in the paper as a primary example in addition to other closely related stelae and tomb reliefs because it employs a number of innovative artistic devices and shows the unique traits of the Amarna period, such as the lively expression of gestures, keen interest in movements, preoccupation of the present (as the time of the epiphany), and an unrelenting emphasis on visibility and frivolous details.

Citation status

* References for papers published after 2022 are currently being built.

This paper was written with support from the National Research Foundation of Korea.