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2 The Art ofAncient Egypt

Prehistoric Art
 Lascaux Cave Paintings- 15,000-11,000 B.C.
 Chauvet Cave Drawings- 28,000 B.C
 Venus of Willendorf - 25,000 B.C.
 Stonehenge - 3,000-2,000 B.C.
The Fertile Crescent- Mesopotamia
The Earliest Civilizations
 Ziggurat- a stepped mountain made of brick-covered
 Ziggurat at Ur- 2100 B.C. (reproduction shown below)
 Tower of Babel- c. 3500 B.C.
 Bull-headed lyre soundbox.
 Ur, Iraq c. 2685 B.C.
 Sumerian Votive figures
The Akkadian Period (ca. 2350–2150 B.C.)
 Sargon of Akkad-
 c. 2300 B.C.
 King Naram-Sim- c. 2230 B.C.
Celebrates military victory
The Akkadian Period (ca. 2350–2150 B.C.)
 Cuneiform; Writing with wedge-shaped characters.
 The earliest known written language
Babylonian Period
 Code of Hammurabi- 1772 BC
 a list of common sense laws etched in
 Ex. Law #196. "If a man destroy the eye of another man,
they shall destroy his eye. If one break a man's bone,
they shall break his bone. If one destroy the eye of a
freeman or break the bone of a freeman he shall pay one
mana of silver. If one destroy the eye of a man's slave or
break a bone of a man's slave he shall pay one half his
The Age
Assyrian Empire2500 BC to 605 BC
 Human-headed winged bull
and winged lion.
ca. 883–859 B.C
Empire 626 BC - 539 BC
 King Nebuchadnezzar605 BC – 562 BC
626 BC - 539 BC
 Audience Hall
of Darius and Xerxes
500 B.C.
 The Growth of Egyptian
Three major Periods of
Egyptian History
The Pyramids
Temple of Amun
Sculpture and Painting
The Great Sphinx
False Door Stela
 7,000 years ago people first settled in the Nile River
 They are the direct ancestors of most Egyptian people.
 Because of the Nile River soil deposits they became a
society of producers instead of hunters and gatherers.
 They started to build more permanent homes of mud,
wood and reeds.
 The settled existence brought increased population in
villages and towns.
Towns took over villages and formed kingdoms.
End of the prehistoric period there were only two
kingdoms in Egypt:
Lower Egypt – delta region on the Mediterranean Sea
Upper Egypt – Valley in the desert
 The Egyptian civilization emerged more than 3,000
years before the birth of Christ.
 Pharaoh – or ruler, governed with complete
 Commerce grew, art flourished and majestic
monuments were constructed.
 Each kingdom is divided into dynasties.
 Dynasty -was a period during which a single family
provided a succession of rulers.
 One reign ended with the death of a Pharaoh and
another began with the crowning of a successor from
the same royal family.
 Important to keep the family blood pure.
 Started around 3100 B.C.
 Ruled by a powerful pharaoh named Menes.
 Capitol established at Memphis and founded the first
31 Egyptian dynasties
 Lasted 500 years when a strong centralized
government was established.
 Civil war caused the power of the pharaoh to collapse.
 Lasted about 250 years
 Order and prosperity
 Followed by foreign invasion and turmoil
 Hyksos invasion and take over
 Restored independence
 Pharaoh still present but power was diminished.
 Began in 1570 B.C.
 Aka Empire
 Amenhotep III reached the peak of power and
 Thebes became on of the most magnificent
royal cities in the world.
 Went from a multiple god society to that of
one: Aton
 Egypt began to be whittled away by enemies.
 The new religion died with its founding pharaoh;
 The old religion was restored although Egypt’s power
was dwindling.
 Finally in 30 B.C. Egypt was made a province of Rome
 Resurrection of the soul of “ka”
 The ka (spirit or soul) was born with the
body and remained there until death.
 Upon the death the ka would leave
temporarily but late return to the body and
travel to the next life.
 The body would be embalmed, wrapped and
stored in the pyramids until the ka returned.
 Assurance against final death
 Ra- the sun god, represented by the falcon,
 Osiris- the god of the Nile and ruler of the
 Isis- The great mother god
 Most impressive were built for Pharaohs
 The people saw them as gods and expected to
be united with other gods
 His body was sealed in a sarcophagus or
stone coffin.
 Placed with treasures
in the center of the pyramid.
 To an Egyptian the
destruction of the body was
the most horrible for of
 In the Prehistoric Egypt, bodies were buried in deserts
because they would naturally be preserved by
 this old man from 5000 years ago was not mummified,
and yet he is perfectly preserved because he was
buried in dry sand
 The main process of mummification was preserving
the body by dehydrating it using natron, a natural
material found in Wadi Natrun which is like a
combination of baking soda and salt
 This process took 40 days
The body is drained of any liquids and left with the skin, hair and muscles preserved.[12]
This process was available for anyone who could afford it. It was believed that even those who could
not afford this process could still enjoy the afterlife with the right reciting of spells. The most classic
and common method of mummification dates back to the 18th Dynasty. The first step was to remove
the internal organs and liquid so that the body would not decay. The embalmers took out the brain by
inserting a sharp object in the nostril, breaking through it into the brain and then liquefying it. They
threw out the brain because they thought that the heart did all the thinking. The next step was to
remove the internal organs, the lungs, liver, stomach, and intestines, and place them in canopic jars
with lids shaped like the heads of the protective deities, the four sons of Horus. The heart stayed in
the body, because in the hall of judgment it would be weighed against the feather of Maat. After the
body was washed with wine, it was stuffed with bags of natron. The dehydration process took 40 days.
The second part of the process took 30 days. This was the time where the deceased turned into a semi
divine being, and all that was left in the body from the first part was removed, followed by applying
first wine and then oils. The oils were for ritual purposes, as well as preventing the limbs and bones
from breaking while being wrapped. The body was sometimes colored with a golden resin. This
protected the body from bacteria and insects. This was also based on the belief that divine beings had
flesh of gold. The body was wrapped in bandages with amulets while a priest recited prayers and
burned incense. The dressing provided physical protection and the wealthier even had a burial mask
of their head. The 70 days are connected to Osiris and the length the star Sothis was absent from the
Evolution of the Pyramid Shape
 Mastaba – a low flat
tomb made of sundried bricks.
 Step pyramidSeveral mastaba
stacked on top of
each other.
Step Pyramid of
King Zoser: 2680 b.c.
 Pyramids, built
without steps from
limestone blocks
weighing over a ton
 The largest Pyramid in the World. Covers almost 13
5 of the worlds largest cathedrals could be placed
inside its base with room to spare.
2.3 million blocks of stone
480 feet high
Equal to a 48 story building
Almost perfectly square
 Temple of the all powerful chief god of
Entranceway flanked by obelisks, four
sided pointed stone shafts.
Statues of the pharaohs and huge
banners opened onto an uncovered
Great halls lie behind the courtyard
Sanctuary was a small, dark, mysterious
chamber where only the pharaoh and
certain priests were allowed to enter
Built in new kingdom as proof of the
genius of the architects
 The Great Hypostyle Hall of Karnak was begun during the reign of King Seti I
(c.1290-1279 B.C.E.) and was completed by his son, Ramesses II (c.1279-1213
B.C.E.). The central row of 12 columns on the east-west axis are 69 feet/21
meters in height, about 33 feet/10 meters in circumference, and have open
papyrus capitals.
 Egypt’s most impressive achievements in the field of
art were the publicly visible pyramids and temples.
 Within the pyramids were sculptures and paintings.
Most have survived over the centuries.
 Pyramids were robbed despite all the precautions
 Pharaohs bodies were sometimes mutilated.
 Carved likenesses were placed within the tomb to
insure that the “ka” would still have a body to reunite
 4th Dynasty pharaoh
Khafre’s head placed
on the body of a
reclining lion.
Massive size was
intended to demonstrate the power of the pharaoh.
Carved from rock at the site.
Why do you think the pharaoh’s head was placed on the
body of a lion.
 Seated portrait carved in hard
diorite stone
Body rigid and attentive but the
head is more lifelike.
Throne is inscribed with symbols
proclaiming him the king of
Upper & Lower Egypt
Right hand forms a fist which
must have held a symbol of his
high office.
A falcon (Horus –
god of the sky) is
placed behind
Khafres head to
prove his divinity. Descendent of
Re, the sun god.
 Most of the sculpture of this period was destroyed by
invading Hyksos and by the New Kingdom rules who
 But what remains shows the pharaohs as softer more
gentler rulers.
 Features became softer and more realistic.
 This style carried into the New Kingdom.
 Sculptures depicted more
realistic features
 Elongated head, pointed chin,
Heavy lips, Long slender neck
 Shown in everyday scenes like
playing with his daughters.
 Every part of the body be shown
from the most familiar side
For this reason, the head, arms,
legs and feet were shown in profile
Eyes and shoulders were shown
from the front
Substitutes for actual bodies (“ka”)
Strict set of rules developed to
show all parts of the body
 During the Middle Kingdom painting became it own
separate art form.
Too expensive to carve stone.
Tombs were covered with plaster
Lines were drawn and characters were placed within the
lines to tell a story.
Bright colors were used to keep the walls vibrant.
This method resulted in a style similar to that of
contemporary comic strips.
 Nakht and his Wife
 The priest and his wife are much larger figures
to show that Nakht and his wife are more
 Hieroglyphics – an early form of
picture writing.
Symbols that communicated
information and were included
in wall paintings and other art
forms to help tell the story.
Created attractive patterns.
Write you name or message in
hieroglyphics using the provided
Egy pt. wma
 The Rosetta Stone is a Ptolemaic
age granodiorite stele inscribed
with a decree issued at Memphis
in 196 BC on behalf of King
Ptolemy V. The decree appears in
three scripts: the upper text is
Ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs,
the middle portion Demotic script, and the lowest
Ancient Greek. Because it presents essentially the same
text in all three scripts (with some minor differences
among them), it provided the key to the modern
understanding of Egyptian hieroglyphs.
 Painted on the walls of the tomb’s was a false door
which the ka would pass through in search of offerings.
 Servants were painted
along the side offering
food and drink for
the ka.
 Outside influences
started to encroach
on Egypt’s art and near
the end it lost its
 Getlin, M. (2010). Living with art. Opening up to the
world, pages 524 thru 531. McGraw Hill. Chicago.
 Miller, G. (2000). Art in focus. The Art of Ancient
Egypt, pages 146 thru 164. Glencoe. Chicago.