Geographical Context• The Nile River, the longest river in the world(over 4000 miles), begins in the mountains ofcentral Africa, and runs northward throughEgypt, dispensing into the Mediterranean.• Sediment brought down the Nile River fromcentral Africa created rich, fertile soil.• In the rainy season, the Nile would flood,dispensing the nutrient-rich silt throughout thefarmlands, making the crops plentiful.• Because Egypt is otherwise arid (dry), mostcities developed along the Nile.• The banks of the Nile were marshy, supportingfish and amphibian life that the Egyptianshunted, as well as large amounts of papyrus.
Geological Context • Unlike Mesopotamia, Egypt had a plethora (variety) of stone to use in art and architecture, including diorite (the hardest), granite, limestone, and slate. • Between the rocky terrain and the arid climate, the Egyptian civilizations were much more defendable than their MesopotamianExamples of the rocky Egyptian landscape counterparts. This resulted in a relatively stable, unchanging culture.
Upper v. Lower Egypt• Initially, Egypt was divided in to Upper andLower regions.• Each region had a symbolic crown, shown inthe image on the right.• It may seem counter-intuitive that Lower Egyptwas actually north of Upper Egypt, but there isactually a reason for it. What is the reason? Symbolic crowns of Upper and Lower Egypt
Religious Context• Like the Mesopotamians, the Egyptians wereprimarily polytheistic, and believed strongly inan afterlife.• Believed that before the beginning of time, theprimeval waters existed alone in the dark. Then,a mound rose up out of the waters, on which the The Egyptiancreator god (Amun) appeared and brought light Pantheon (set of gods)to the world, and created the other gods.• The pyramid-shape is significant as it recallsthe mound of the creation myth.
Religious Context• Instead of making a sharp distinction betweenbody and soul, Egyptians believed each personhad a life-force known as a ka.• The ka could live on in the body after death,but to do so, the body had to remain asunchanged as possible, which is why bodieswere mummified.• In some cases, statues of the deceased werealso included in the tomb, to give the ka analternate place to live if the body disintigrated.
Funereal Customs• Because the ka was believed to continue living after aperson died, people were buried with all the things the kawould need in the afterlife, including protective amuletsand scrolls, utensils, food, drink, and figurines calledushabtis (answerers) that did any labor the deceasedneeded in the afterlife.• To ensure immortality, the mummy and the contents ofthe tomb needed to be protected, so the outer walls of thetomb were fortified with heavy stone blocks.• Because of the strong fortification of tombs, and the Hippopotamuswealth of items enclosed, much of our knowledge of From the tomb of Senbiancient Egyptian culture comes from artifacts found within Glazed ceramicthem. c. 1900 BCE
Political Context• Egyptian society was very hierarchical, with clearlydefined classes.• The ruler of Egypt was known as a pharaoh, who wasconsidered the son of a god, and was deified afterdeath.• Typically, power passed from the pharaoh to thepharaoh’s son, creating a dynasty of pharaohs from thesame family line (there are several different dynasties Burial Mask of Tutankhamunover the course of ancient Egyptian history). c. 1320 BCE• Although most pharaohs were male, there were fourfemale pharaohs (the two most important of whichwere Hatshepsut and Cleopatra).
The Rosetta Stone The Rosetta Stone• During an expedition in 1799, a small group of officers, Hieroglyphicbeing lead by Napoleon Bonaparte, discovered the RosettaStone in the delta region of Rosetta, Egypt.• The stone is made up of three registers of text. The top Demoticregister is Egyptian hieroglyphic, the second register isdemotic (a simplified, cursive form of hieroglyphics), andGreek.• Although the ancient Egyptian language had died out, itwas possible for the discoverers to read the Greek portion. Greek• By 1818, the remainder of the stone was fully deciphered,giving archaeologists a huge asset in learning about ancientEgyptian culture.
Depiction of Human Figures• Canon of proportion – artists used a system, based on agrid drawn out beforehand, to lay out an idealized figure.Distance from heel to hairline was 18 units (1 unit = width ofa fist), ankle was always on the first horizontal, knee wasalways between fifth and sixth horizontal, and so on.• Use of twisted perspective - each body part was depicted atmost characteristic angle (head in profile view, eye in frontview, torso in front view, etc.)• Depictions of royalty highly idealized – toned physiques,youthful features
back front The Palette of King Narmer• Narmer – first king to unify upper and lower Egypt• A palette was a flat stone with a circular depression on oneside, used for grinding eye-paint in. This particular palette ismuch larger than usual, because it is for ceremonial use.• Use of hieratic scale to connote divine status• Hieroglyphics in the top center spell out Narmer’s name(fish = nar, chisel = mer) The Palette of King Narmer Slate, 2’ 1” high. c. 3000 BCE Old Kingdom, Pre-dynastic Hierakonpolis, Egypt Upper Egypt Lower Egypt Unified Egypt
back front What symbols do you see represented?What might they mean?
back front Cow’s head is symbol for Fish (Nar) protective goddess Hathor Chisel (mer) On this side, Narmer is depicted wearing the On this side, Narmer is crown of Lower Egyptdepicted wearing the crown of Upper Egypt Ceremonial bull’s tail, Intertwined lioness necks symbol of strength may be another reference to Egyptian unity God Horus (falcon On both sides, Narmer is with human arm)shown as larger and more shown with a human important than other head on a tether The superhuman humans, and solely next to a stylized strength of Narmer is responsible for his papyrus plant symbolized by a great victorious triumphs. (representing lower bull knocking down a Egypt) rebellious city (seen from an aerial view)
Egyptian Burial Structures• Basic burial structure was a mastaba. Included anunderground burial chamber (shaft filled in with rocks), achapel in which food and drink were ceremonially placed forthe deceased, and sometimes a serdab (a room to house theka statue).• Originally housed single burials, but later became morecomplex to house families.• Chapel had a false door through which the ka could rejointhe world of the living to partake in the offered food.Mastaba
The Stepped Pyramid of King Djoser The Stepped Pyramid of Imhotep. 2630 BCE. 200 ft. high. Pre-dynastic. Suqqara (necropolis for Memphis) King Djoser (Zoser)• King Djoser’s burial tomb was designed by the firstrecorded artist, Imhotep.• Imhotep expanded upon the idea of a mastaba by addingmultiple layers to create a stepped pyramid, as well as amore extensive network of several hundred interior rooms.• Each face of the pyramid was oriented to the cardinalpoints of the compass.• Dual function of the temple was to protect the king and hispossessions and to symbolize, by its gigantic presence, hisabsolute and godlike power.• Earliest known use of columns. Columns were engaged(attached) to walls, and resembled papyrus stalks (symbol oflower Egypt). Capitals (tops of columns) resemble papyrus blossoms
The Great Pyramids at Giza c. 2500 BCE (Old Kingdom) The Great Pyramids at Giza Primarily limestone• Took 75 years to build.• Served as the tombs for Old Kingdom pharaohs Khufu,Khafre, and Menkaure.• New tomb shape probably reflects the influence ofHeliopolis, the seat of the powerful cult of Ra (sun deity),whose emblem was a pyramidal stone called a ben-ben.• The Great Pyramids are symbols of the sun, and the sun’srays were the ladder the pharaoh used to ascend to theheavens.• The pyramids were where Egyptian kings were reborn inthe afterlife, just as the sun is reborn each day at dawn.• The reflective, light color of the limestone would haveunderscored the connection to Ra.• The Great Sphinx is probably Khufu or Khafre depicted as asphinx, which was associated with Ra. Combines humanintelligence with strength and authority of a lion.
The Great Pyramids at Giza c. 2500 BCE. The Great Pyramids at Giza• The largest pyramid (Khufu) is 775’ wide, and 450’ tall.• Stones were cut from the ground, moved via rollers and sleds, thenchiseled and polished to a perfect fit. Building using carefully cut andregularly shaped blocks of stone used in construction and fit togetherwithout mortar is referred to as ashlar masonry.• Stones would have been moved up ramps into position.• Priests made offerings in the mortuary (or funerary) temple, whichwas located on the East side of the pyramid (side of the rising sun)• A covered causeway (an elevated road) connected the mortuarytemple to the Valley Temple, which was the main entrance to thepyramid complex, and would have connected the complex to the NileRiver via canal.• After the death of a pharaoh, his body would be ferried across theNile to the Valley Temple, where ceremonies took place. The body wasthen sent along the causeway to the funerary temple, where the familywould present it with offerings of food and drink, and priests wouldperform the “opening of the mouth” ceremony. The body was thenentombed in the burial chamber.
Seated Ka Statue of Khafrec. 2500 BCE (Old Kingdom) Seated Ka Statue of Khafre Diorite, 5’ 6” tall • From Khafre’s valley temple (one of many) • Made of diorite, imported from 400 miles away via Nile. • Sits upon a throne made of abstracted lions. • Intertwined lotus and papyrus plants (symbols of united upper and lower Egypt) between chair legs. • Falcon-god Horus protects Khafre’s head with his wings. • Idealized face and body, and shown wearing usual headdress and false beard of a pharaoh. • Serene expression and bi-laterally symmetrical pose invoke feeling of eternal stillness.
Seated Scribe Seated Scribe c. 2400 BCE• A scribe would have had a high place in Egyptian society Painted limestone 1’ 9” high(which was mostly illiterate), but not nearly as high as the Saqqara, Egyptpharaoh.• As such, it was acceptable to depict a scribe in a lessidealized way. The scribe’s physique shows signs of aging thatwould be considered disrespectful on a sculpture of apharaoh.• Although it was more realistic, the scribe was not intendedto be a portrait of a specific individual, but was rather acomposite of conventional types.
Menkaure and a Queen • Figures are carved of graywacke, a type of sandstone. Since the figures are not free-standing, this could be considered high relief. • The function of this statue is to serve as an eternal place for the ka, supported by the sense of serenity and timelessness evoked by the depiction. • The poses of both people are highly standardized, and found frequently in ka statues. • Idealized physiques and serene, youthful faces • Menkaure is stepping forward, but his hips do not turn asMenkaure and a Queen they naturally would to accommodate a stepc. 2500 BCE. 4’ 6” high. • The queen’s gesture indicates their marital status Painted graywacke Giza, Egypt
Mortuary Temple of Mortuary Temple of Queen Hatshepsut Queen Hatshepsut Deir el-Bahri. c. 1450 BCE• Hatshepsut was daughter of Thutmose I, and married her New Kingdomhalf-brother, Thutmose II, who ruled for 14 years.• Upon the death of Thutmose II, Hatshepsut was appointedregent for her underage (14 year old) son, Thutmose III.• She had herself declared king (based on the claim thatThutmose I had declared her king during his lifetime,substantiated by a relief in Thutmose I’s funerary complexdepicting him crowning her in the presence of the gods).• She ruled for 20 years, during which time she commissionedmany sculptures of herself (which were unfortunately mostlydestroyed during her son’s later rule), as well as a vast funerarytemple.• It is referred to as a funerary temple instead of tomb becauseher actual tomb (burial place) is in the nearby Valley of the Kings.
Mortuary Temple of Mortuary Temple of Queen Hatshepsut Queen Hatshepsut Deir el-Bahri. c. 1450 BCE• The temple is oriented towards the nearby Temple ofAmun at Karnak.• The complex follows an axial plan, meaning that all of itsseparate elements are symmetrically arranged along adominant center line (axis). colonnade• A causeway lined with sphinxes once ran from a valleytemple on the Nile to the first level of the complex, a hugeopen space before a long row of columns known as acolonnade.• The complex included shrines to Thutmose I, Amun, Hathor,Anubis, and of course Hatshepsut herself.• The complex contained many (over 200) statues of Hatshepsutin various poses, as well as reliefs depicting scenes from her life causewaythat underscored her divinity (such as one showing that herfather Thutmose I was in fact Amun).
Hatshepsut Kneeling• Both artworks are from the funerary temple at Deir el-Bahri• Both depict Hatshepsut wearing the false pharaoh’s beardand male headdress, as well as a man’s kilt. The inscriptionsalso refer to her as “his majesty.” Hatshepsut as Sphinx• The body of the kneeling figure is anatomically male, but Deir el-Bahri, Egypt Red granite, 5’ 4”there are other sculptures of Hatshepsut that areanatomically female.• The kneeling figure was smashed by vandals, but recentlyrestored, and depict Hatshepsut partaking in a religiousceremony in which she gives offerings to the sun god. Hatshepsut Kneeling Deir el-Bahri, Egypt Red granite, 8’ 6”
Tomb of Nebamun: Wall Paintings • Some tombs also had wall paintings, such as these from Nebamun, who was a scribe and counter of grain. • Nebamun is depicted standing on a boat, flushing birds out of the papyrus reeds, while his wife and daughter gather lotuses. This is a depiction of a recreational activity. • Animals are depicted naturalistically, realistically • This is an example of fresco secco, in which a painting is done upon a dried plaster wall (as opposed to buon fresco, in which the painting is done upon still-wet plaster). • Hunting scenes were an allegory for the myth of the god Horus hunting down his uncle Seth, god of chaos andNebamun Hunting Fowl darkness, who had murdered Osiris (Seth’s brother and Tomb of Nebamun, Horus’ father). The hunt symbolized good triumphing over Thebes evil.c. 1400 BCE. 2’ 8” high.
Funerary Banquet Scene Tomb of Nebamun: Tomb of Nebamun, Thebes Wall Paintingsc. 1400 BCE. 2’ 10” high. • This fresco secco depicts two women dancing for an audience of noble-persons at a banquet (symbolized by the vessels in the lower right). • Discuss the people depicted. Where is Nebamun? What is unusual about the figures in the bottom register?
• Nebamun is probably one of the men depictedin the top register.• The women in the bottom register break fromtraditional profile-view depictions, and showmovement in their hair.• In addition to displaying the luxury of living inthe nobility class, this banquet may also representthe yearly ceremony of the family bringing food tothe tomb for the ka to eat.• Music and dance were sacred to the goddessHathor, who aided the dead in their passage tothe afterlife.• The sensuous girls may also be symbolic offertility and rebirth.
Colossal Figure of Akhenaton Colossal Figure of Akhenaton c. 1330 BCE Temple of Aton, Karnak • Akhenaton (originally called Amenhotep IV) abandoned Sandstone, 13’ tall the worship of most of the Egyptian gods in favor ofAmarna Period, New Kingdom Aton, identified with the sun disk, whom he declared to be the universal and only god (monotheistic). • Akhenaton moved the capital from Thebes to present- day Amarna, which he called Akhetaton. • Akhenaton removed “Amen” (aka Amun) from all inscriptions (including those of his father, Amenhotep III) and emptied the old temples, infuriating the priests. • In addition to his revolutionary religious ideas, the artwork made during his rule diverges widely from the traditional. Contrast the style of his depiction with that of Menkaure.
Akhenaten and his Family••• Akhenaten and his Family
Tutankhamen Tutankhamun’s Funerary Mask••• Inner Coffin of Tutankhamun’s Sarcophogas
Temple of Amen-Re at Karnak••• Temple of Amen-Re at Karnak
Temple of Amen-Re at Karnak••• Temple of Amen-Re at Karnak
Temple at Abu Simbel (Ramses II)• Inside of temple are colossal statues of Ramses II in theguise of Osiris, carved as one with the pillars (non-loadbearing).• Pillars sculpted to resemble humans are called atlantids ifmale, and caryatids if female.• Interior of the Temple of Ramses II Abu Simbel, Egypt 65’ high. Rock-cut. 1225 BCE
Temple at Abu Simbel (Ramses II)• Temple cut out of the living rock (carved out of the side ofan existing mountain or rock).•• Façade of the Temple of Ramses II Abu Simbel, Egypt 65’ high. Rock-cut. 1225 BCE