The year is 1350 BCE. We are in ancient Egypt, where magic and animal deities played a crucial role in society. When the Pharaoh Akhenaten came to power, he abolished the ancient animal deities and ordained a new religion. Now, it was permitted only to worship the sun god, Aten (sometimes spelled ‘Aton’). He was depicted in the form of the solar disk, emitting rays that terminated in hands holding the hieroglyph ankh (= life) over the royal couple: Akhenaten and Queen Nefertiti. The new cult led to major social upheaval, and the royal couple decided to move and build a new place of residence: a magnificent new city, known today as Amarna.
The Glyptotek is delighted to invite visitors to a special exhibition about the rise and fall of Amarna. The newly-founded city housed temples for the new god, palaces for the royal family, residential areas, workshops and burial grounds. However, following the death of Akhenaten, Amarna was destroyed and abandoned, and Egypt turned its back on his religious reforms.
Posterity attempted to erase all traces of the period. However, the short lifespan of the city makes Amarna a goldmine for archaeology, and excavations have unearthed countless fragments of the city’s history.
In the exhibition, parts of the city are brought to life with recreations of a temple wall, a column in a chapel and a palace floor. Photos, drawings, and a 3D video will help provide insight into life in the magnificent city and the dreams of people in ancient times.
The Glyptotek has an impressive collection of artefacts from Amarna, which will bring the city and its fascinating history to life. They will be accompanied by selected loans from abroad – including museums in New York, Paris and Berlin – and from the National Museum of Denmark and the Royal Cast Collection in Copenhagen.
The exhibition will spotlight the distinctive visual style of the period, while solar anthems, the development of a new musical style and ordinary everyday objects will provide a sense of religious and secular life at the time. In other words, the exhibition and reconstructed setting will set the scene for a presentation of the protagonists of the era.
The exhibition will conclude with a special focus on the infant king Tutankhamun, son of Akhenaten, who grew up in Amarna. During Tutankhamun’s reign, the decision was made to return to the ancient deities and the former residence. So, the exhibition also commemorates the 100th anniversary of the discovery of the famous tomb of Tutankhamun on 4 November 1922.
The exhibition will be accompanied by the publication of a richly illustrated catalogue with contributions from international experts on the Amarna period.
The catalogue, posters, figurines and books about Amarna can be purchased in the museum shop or the webshop.
Music in the exhibition
The music you can listen to in the exhibition is a present-day reconstruction of the hymn to the Aten composed by professor emeritus Michael Atherton based on his knowledge of ancient Egyptian music and instruments. The composition is for solo voice and chorus, benet (a bow-shaped harp) and a sistrum (a rattle-like percussion instrument).
Listen to the music here (No 17 Shen (c) Song (hymn to Aten)).
Explore the musical compositions of Michael Atherton here.
Graphics: Rasmus Koch Studio
Lighting design: Mads Vegas
Thank you for the generous support to:
Aage & Johanne Louis-Hansens Fond
C.L. Davids Fond
Knud Højgaards Fond
See the exciting activities and events, the Glyptotek has to offer. Please note, the events in Danish will not be presented here. Go to the Danish version of the homepage to see all events.
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