Trial Piece Worked on Both Sides

c. 1391–1353 BCE
Location: 107 Egyptian
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Trial pieces were a necessity of this busy building period because new styles were continually introduced and rapid training of apprentices was needed.


This carved flake of limestone provides a fascinating glimpse of the ancient artist at work. One side, by far the better, features four studies of heads. At the upper left is an Asiatic. He has a low forehead, a prominent nose, and a long, pointed beard. To his right is a Nubian wearing the short, round headdress and large loop earring that the Egyptians usually identified with this ethnic group. The bottom row presents images from within Egypt. At the left is a stock image of a king. To his right is another Egyptian, whose clean-shaven head immediately identifies him as a priest. The rather routine, basic subjects of the other side show a far lower level of accomplishment. The sole details of any skill are the incomplete head of the god Bes at the bottom center and the human ear at the left edge. The simple neb-signs (baskets) are poorly executed, and the drawing of the hand is embarrassingly bad. At the lower right is a thickly banded human eye. Above that is the fair head of a princess wearing a short wig, wide headband, and thick sidelock. At the upper left are the beginnings (or the remains) of the bewigged head of a courtier, the face mostly obliterated.
Trial Piece Worked on Both Sides

Trial Piece Worked on Both Sides

c. 1391–1353 BCE

Egypt, probably Thebes, New Kingdom (1540–1069 BCE), Dynasty 18, reign of Amenhotep III (1390–1352 BCE)

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