Talatat: River scene with royal barges and tow boats

New Kingdom, Dynasty 18, reign of Akhenaten
1349–1336 B.C.

Object Place: Egypt, Akhetaten (el-Amarna); Findspot: Egypt, Hermopolis


Height x width x depth: 23.4 x 53.1 x 3.6 cm (9 3/16 x 20 7/8 x 1 7/16 in.) - Lower Block

Accession Number


Medium or Technique

Painted Limestone

On View

Egyptian New Kingdom Gallery (Gallery 210)


The Ancient World



The Nile was Egypt’s great artery, and river pageants formed an important part of ceremonial life. Depicted on these two adjoining blocks are two royal barges. The barge on the right may be identified as Nefertiti’s by the two long steering oars that terminate in finials carved with her portrait. The queen wears the tall, flat-topped crown designed especially for her, surmounted by a sun disk and ostrich plumes.

On the walls of the kiosk at the stern of the boat is a scene unprecedented in Egyptian art. There, beneath the radiant Aten, Nefertiti appears in the age-old pose traditionally reserved for kings, that of smiting a foreign enemy. Her enemy is female - another departure from tradition. The king himself appears in a complementary scene partially preserved on the barge on the left, where the victim is male. Not again until the Meroitic Period in Nubia, thirteen hundred years later, does the queen appear in this pose.


Hermopolis (originally from el-Amarna). Excavated by the Deutschen Hermopolis-Expedition between 1929 and 1939 (Roeder, Amarna Reliefs, no. PC 150); by 1963: with Jean Vinchon & Cie.; purchased by the MFA from Jean Vinchon & Cie., March 20, 1963.

Credit Line

Helen and Alice Colburn Fund