Collection Online

Head of Queen Nefertiti, from sculpture flanking Boundary Stela Q
1353 BCE-1337 BCE

Medium
limestone
Measurements
34.3 × 21.0 × 20.5 cm (approx.)
Place/s of Execution
el-Amarna, Egypt
Accession Number
616-D2
Department
Antiquities
Credit Line
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Presented by N. de Garis Davies, 1907
Gallery location
The Ancient World
Level 2, NGV International
About

This Head of Queen Nefertiti originates from one of a group of statues from Boundary Stela Q.The piece, NGV 616.2, was donated to the Gallery in 1907 by its finder, Norman de Garis Davies, along with the following: NGV 617.2, a large cartouche containing one of the names of the Aten (Davies 1908, p. 27, note 1 pl. XLIV); NGV 618.2, a fragment from a small cartouche of the Aten and NGV 620.2, a fragment of a hand. These pieces are all from boundary stela S (see fig. 11); a fragment referring to ‘… the stela …’, from stela R, NGV 619.2, was also donated. It preserves, in a badly damaged and eroded condition, an almost life-size head and neck wearing a tall flat-topped crown. When found, the piece was identified as representing Akhenaten. However, features of this piece make an identification with Nefertiti more probable. First, this piece has the elongated neck and pronounced cheek bone that characterise the famous bust of the queen. In addition, a study of the crowns worn by Akhenaten in both the sculptures and the reliefs of the boundary stelae reveals the predominant use of a crown thatis very different from the one in this piece, namely the bulbous blue crown (khepresh). On the other hand, Nefertiti is always depicted with a tall, flat-topped crown, which is her typical headgear. Only in one instance, stela P, does Akhenaten wear the crown of Lower Egypt, which is similar to this tall crown but easily distinguishable from it.

The bad state of preservation of the piece, partly resulting from the poor quality of the fossiliferous limestone from which it was carved, is mainly due to the deliberate destruction of the sculptures. This was not only the fate of these monuments, but of all of those erected during the reign of Akhenaten, which were either dismantled or destroyed.