Discovered at the Egyptian site of Amarna in 1924, the Palace of Meritaten, daughter of the pharaoh Akhenaten and Nefertiti, contains a richly decorated room with a naturalistic depiction of birds in a papyrus marsh.
Kingfishers and pigeons had previously been identified amid this scene in the palace’s so-called ‘Green Room’, but new research by Christopher Stimpson and Barry Kemp, published in Antiquity (https://doi.org/10.15184/aqy.2022.159), has offered explanations of further details.
The original plaster panels are poorly preserved after some damage from attempts to conserve them in 1926, so the researchers turned to Nina de Garis Davies’ facsimile, studying the birds to propose that other species include the red-backed shrike and white wagtail.
Stimpson and Kemp have also interpreted the trianglular tail marks shown on migrant birds as a possible indication of seasonality.
Overall, the abundance of nature – with the addition of rock pigeons, which are not native to the papyrus marshes but add to the wildness of the scene – probably means that the Green Room was a room for relaxation.