Ancient Egyptian limestone relief of female musicians at risk of leaving UK

An ancient Egyptian limestone relief depicting a group of sleeping female musicians is at risk of leaving the UK if a domestic buyer cannot be found. The artwork shows

the musicians asleep in the palace of the ancient Egyptian pharaoh Akhenaten and is believed to have been created at some point during his reign from 1351 to 1334 BC. The

relief is particularly unique in its depiction of women as musicians, and having females as the focus of attention, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS)

said. The department said the size of the relief is also distinctive, given very few reliefs from the same period have survived in such a large single piece, with four

figures depicted on the same fragment of stone. Speaking about the relief and the risk of it leaving the UK, arts and heritage minister Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay said:

“This limestone relief offers a beguiling glimpse into daily life in the Amarna period of ancient Egypt and is hugely valuable to academics researching this fascinating period of

history. “I hope a UK buyer can come forward so this important artefact can be enjoyed and studied here by future generations for the benefit of people all over the

world.” The minister’s comment follows the advice of the Reviewing Committee on the Export of Works of Art and Objects of Cultural Interest – an independent body serviced by

Arts Council England which advises the DCMS on whether an object intended for export is of national importance.