EGYPT A much more stable and hierarchical entity than Mesopotamia. Civilization lasted roughly 2500-3000 years.
Egyptian ChronologyPredynastic and Early Dynastic ca. 3500—2686 BCEOld Kingdom ca. 2686 BCE – 2181 BCEMiddle Kingdom ca. 2055—1650 BCENew Kingdom ca. 1550—1069 BCE
ManethoEgyptian High Priest of the 3rdCentury BCEChronicled Egyptian historyRecorded ―Dynasties‖ in GreekA ―Dynasty‖ is a succession ofPharaohs from the same familyRoughly 30 Dynasties total 4
Upper and Lower EgyptBefore 3100 BC, the regionswere divided into two parts ofthe NileLower Egypt: the part fromthe Nile Delta to Memphis; itwas lower in the sense that itwas the terminus of the Nile.Lower in Elevation.Upper Egypt: All points alongthe river south of Memphis toNubia, a separate kingdom.Beyond Nubia is Kush andthen Punt
The Nile ValleyThe Nile has a regular pattern ofrainfall, which floods the banks ofthe river every spring and summerfrom the rainy season further southin the Sudan and East Africa.Flooding was more regular andpredictable than the Tigris andEuphrates in Mesopotamia.Soil at either side was fertilebecause of the flooding.Egypt also had precious metals(copper), and stone that was usefulboth for tools and construction
Peoples of the NileThe population itself wasuniform, similar languages andculture.Stability was facilitated by itsrelative isolation (impassabledesert on all sides), anadvantage that Mesopotamialacked.Thus, for 3,000 years, thepolitical, religious, and culturalareas was uniform from thesouth to the delta.
An Orderly, Tight Cage Eugene Weber and others have observedthat it was lucky for the kings and laterpharaohs that the floods (unlike inMesopotamia) came so regularly, as suchknowledge enhanced the authority of rulersand their control over an uneducatedpopulace.With the desiccation trend and increasedpopulation densities along an increasinglynarrow green strip of Nile Valley, it is alsosignificant for relations of dependency andpolitical control that the people of the Niletypically had no other options for migration.The cage of the state in ancient Egypt wascertainly less escapable than most, as nearlyall surrounding territories, by at least themid-third millennium BCE, wereuninhabitable
No one is leavingNo one is coming in 10
Six Cataracts 11
Aswan High Dam1970 13
Amun(aka, Re, Ra and Aten) the god ofthe sun. He is also depicted as ascarab beetle who emerges in themorning. 14
Atenthe god of the solar disk (depictedby the disk of the sun) 15
HathorMother, wife, daughter of Ra 16
OsirisGod of the Underworld 17
Set or SethGod of chaos, storms and violence;brother of Osiris who murders him 18
IsisWife of Osiris, goddess of fertility 19
HorusSon of Osiris and Isis: God of thesky. 20
ThothGod of the scribes, Lord ofLanguage and inventor of writing.
Anubisthe god of embalmers andcemeteries (depicted as a jackal) 22
HapiHapi: the god of the Nile 23
Ma’atGoddess of truth and the universalorder; wife of ThothShe wore an ostrich featherJudges awarded the feather to thewinner of a caseHer feather was used on the scalesof judgment of the dead
TheocracyEgypt, as in many civilizations, wasa theocracy, government by thepriestsThe Pharaoh was a god; god’s willflowed through him.―charismatic authority‖
Order vs. ChaosMany authorities, have argued thatorder was the highest value inEgyptian theology. Egyptians saworder as being in constant tension withthe deeply dreaded “chaos.”Horus vs. Seth
Cult of the Dead/AfterlifeAt death, the pharaoh wasprepared for a life of eternityA detailed and complex ten-weekembalming procedure was strictlyadhered to in order to ensure safepassage to the afterlife.Pyramids themselves wereconstructed solely for entombmentof the pharaoh; they were not usedfor ritual or any other purpose.
Egyptians: Conceptions ofDeath and the SoulDeath was the doorway to a newlife..but the body had to bepreserved for this to occur.Ka: the dead person’s ―vitalessence‖ that it housed, enabledthe body to enjoy life in the afterlifeas in the earthly lifeUpraised arms above headsymbolized the kaA surrogate could act as substitutefor body this could be a sculpture oreven a hieroglyph.
Egyptians: Conceptions ofDeath and the SoulSecond aspect: the akh, or spiritualtransformation of the dead.Third aspect: the ba (soul), whichentered and exited the bodyThe ba was represented by ahuman-headed bird.
Book of the DeadThe Tibetan Book of the Deaddescribes the journey of the soulbetween one life and the next;judgment based on karmaThe Egyptian Book of the Deadprepares the soul for judgment.Here, Horus balances the heartagainst the feather of Ma’atIf the heart outweighs the feather,the animal to the right will devourthe judged
wedjat“Eye of Horus”Ward off evil, promote re-birth
ScarabSpells ensured return of the heart toits rightful owner.
The “dung” beetle
Canopic Jar Chest Canopic Jars
Hieroglyphic WritingWriting system in whichPictorial symbols (ideograms) areused to convey particular sound,object, and/or idea.
The Rosetta StoneDisc. 1799- NapoleonUnlocked the mysteries of Egypt1) Greek2) Demotic (late Egyptian)3) HieroglyphicsA decree by priests of Memphishonoring Ptolomey VCa. 196 BCE
Jean-Francois ChampollionDeduced the hieroglyphs were relatedto spoken Coptic, and broke the code.
Hieroglyphic WritingThere is some indication that earlyhieroglyphs were more importantfor recording rule and kinship thanthey were for economictransactionsOver time, hieroglyphic writingbecame more and more complexWriting was reserved for thescribes, ranked third below thepharaoh and priests
HieraticA ―Cursive‖ form of HieroglyphRead up to down/left to right
Predynastic and EarlyDynasticCa. 3500—2686 BCE
People, boats, and animals, detail of a watercolor copy of a wall painting from tomb 100 at Hierakonpolis, Egypt,Predynastic, ca. 3500–3200 BCE. Paint on plaster, entire painting 16’ 4‖ X 3’ 7 3/8‖. Egyptian Museum, Cairo. 50
Palette of King Narmer (left, back; right, front), from Hierakonpolis, Egypt, Predynastic, ca. 3000–2920 BCE. Slate,2’ 1‖ high. Egyptian Museum, Cairo. 51
A “palette” for eye makeup
Unification of EgyptAfter the conquest attributed toMenes, or Narmer,the region wasunited into one empireNarmer was the first pharaoh of afamily dynasty of 33 generationsSymbolism: a boxy Red Crown(Lower Egypt) with a curlicue;And a White Crown (Upper Egypt)After Narmer’s conquest, he wore aDouble Crown to symbolize theunification of the two Egypt’s (lowerright)
The Symbolism of the Union—And Defeat of Upper EgyptTo the right, Narmer (wearingwhite crown) subdues acaptiveHieroglyph at top writes outNarmer’s nameGod Horus (protector of allKings) holds the captive by afeatherPapyrus blossoms symbolizeLower EgyptTo the left, two long-neckedlions are entwined, suggestingunion), with lion tamers oneither side.There are the decapitatedwarriors in defeatAt the bottom is a bullsymbolizing royal power
Panofsky’s GridThe Later Canon
Mastaba (bench)The mastaba was the standard typeof tomb in pre-dynastic and earlydynastic Egypt for both for thePharaoh and the social elite.Serdab-room & chapel for effigy(statue or likeness of thedeceased)
Section (top), plan (center),andrestored view (bottom) of typicalEgyptian mastaba tombs. 59
View from the Serdab
IMHOTEP, Stepped Pyramid and mortuary precinct of Djoser, Saqqara, Egypt, Third Dynasty, ca. 2630–2611BCE. 64
Plan (top) and restored view (bottom) of the mortuary precinct of Djoser, Saqqara, Egypt, ThirdDynasty, ca. 2630–2611 BCE. 66
Sed Festival“Jubilee” to celebrate continuation ofrule.
ImhotepFirst known artist or architect inhistoryDeified as a God after death
Detail of the facade of the North Palace of themortuary precinct of Djoser, Saqqara, Egypt,Third Dynasty, ca. 2630–2611 BCE. 72
―engaged‖ columns 73
The Old Kingdom ca. 2686 BCE – 2181 BCE
Snefru (father of Khufu)Bent PyramidAs the name suggests, the angle of theinclination changes from 55° to about 43° inthe upper levels of the pyramid. It is likely thatthe pyramid initially was not designed to bebuilt this way, but was modified duringconstruction due to unstable accretion layers.As a means of stabilising the monolith, the toplayers were laid horizontally, marking theabandonment of the step pyramid concept 76
SnefruRed Pyramid 77
Great Pyramids, Gizeh, Egypt, FourthDynasty. From bottom: Pyramids ofMenkaure, ca. 2490–2472 BCE; Khafre, ca.2520–2494 BCE; and Khufu, ca. 2551–2528BCE. 78
Great Pyramids, Gizeh, 2551-2472 BCE,Khufu: Oldest and largest: 775’ long,480’ high, 13 acre areaLocation West of the Nile Sides oriented to the cardinal points( NSEW) Temples faced East (rising sun)Structure Solid limestone masonry 2.3 million blocks of stone Each weighs 2.5 tons ―Ashlar Masonry‖
Great Pyramids, Gizeh, 2551-2472 BCE,Function: Eternal resting place for Khufu, Khafre, and Menkaure ―Stairway‖ to sun Axis-MundiForm: Based on the ben-ben pyramidal shaped stone Pure white limestone casing stones with gold apex (electrum)
benbenBenben or Ben-ben, in Egyptianmythology, specifically in theHeliopolitan tradition, was the moundthat arose from the primordial waters,Nu, and on which the creator godAtum settled.In the Pyramid Texts, e.g. Atum himselfis at times referred to as "mound". Itwas said to have turned into a smallpyramid, located in Annu, which wasthe place Atum was said to dwellwithin.
Section of the Pyramid of Khufu, Gizeh, Egypt, Fourth Dynasty, ca. 2551–2528 BCE. 83
HemiunuArchitect of Khufu’s Pyramid
Model of the Fourth Dynasty pyramid complex, Gizeh, Egypt. Harvard University Semitic Museum, Cambridge. 1)Pyramid of Menkaure, 2) Pyramid of Khafre, 3) mortuary temple of Khafre, 4) causeway, 5) Great Sphinx, 6) valleytemple of Khafre, 7) Pyramid of Khufu, 8) pyramids of the royal family and mastabas of nobles. 88
Great Sphinx (with Pyramid of Khafre in the background at left), Gizeh, Egypt, Fourth Dynasty, ca. 2520–2494BCE. Sandstone, 65’ X 240’. 89
ConstructionRelied on seasonal labor force (Nileflooding)Paid workers (average citizens)NOT slavesIt took 20,000- 30,000 workers 23years to build a pyramid.Relief from the tomb ofDjehutihotep depicting 172 menpulling a statue of said pharaoh,which is estimated to weigh 58tons. The large pyramid blockswere probably pulled in a similarmanner.
Function: An abode for the KaIconography: Intertwined lotus and papyrus- united Egypt Horus-divine statusHow is Kingship shown? nemes headdress uraeus cobra flawless body perfect faceFormalism: Frontal Rigid bilaterally symmetrical suppression of movement Ideal not Real 103
Menkaure and Khamerernebty(?),from Gizeh, Egypt, Fourth Dynasty,ca. 2490–2472 BCE. Graywacke, 4’ 61/2‖ high. Museum of Fine Arts,Boston. 104
Shows the formalism of EgyptiansculptureClenched fists, rigid stance, left footforward, and beard and headdressof the PharaohSupportive stance of wife; handaround waist and on armRelief or sculpture in the round?WalkingFemale behind 105
Women Egyptians were perhaps also more“mature” in regards to the role ofwomen in society. EgyptologistMichael Rice reminds us that femaleswere “far more important than in anyother early society. Women were notconfined to the home or the harem asin many later societies… One in eightof the biographies in Who’s Who inAncient Egypt are of women; no othersociety of comparable antiquity wouldbe able to provide… anything like it” .What specifically, beyond Herodotus-like hyperbole, made ancient Egyptianwomen remarkable?
WomenEven though Egypt was a patriarchalsociety by today’s standards, womenhad a number of important rightsdenied their contemporaries (exceptapparently in Babylon, and to a lesserextent in western Anatolia and Crete).These included: marriage contracts,initiating divorce and other courtactions, remarriage, the right toinherit, own, and manage property,and the right to conduct otherbusiness, legal, and financial matters -all largely based on the larger region’sprimordial tradition of matrilinealdescent1. Rights tended to be a matterof social class, as opposed to gender,ethnicity, or nationality. Johnsonconcluded that the "affection theEgyptians were not ashamed to displaytowards their children was related tothe high status women enjoyed inEgyptian society” .
WomenWhereas most Meso-Neolithicsocieties were matrilineal; mostcivilizations, at least by the latterancient (iron age) era, werepredominantly patrilineal.Egyptian civilization was one of the(rather old-fashioned) hold-outsagainst the patrilineal trend.Anthropological literature states thatEgyptian civilization retained itsmatrilineal order of descent in theroyal family until Egypt was envelopedby the Roman Empire. Yet writers ofart history textbooks consistentlyignore this crucial piece ofinformation.
Ti watching a hippopotamus hunt,relief in the mastaba of Ti,Saqqara, Egypt, Fifth Dynasty, ca.2450–2350 BCE. Paintedlimestone, 4’ high. 110
egyptian canonIt is well known that representations of thehuman figure in ancient Egyptian art usuallyconformed to highly stylized principles inwhich the proportions between the differentparts of the human body were determined bya set of fixed laws constituting a Canon ofProportions. Egyptian artists were therebyable to make use of a conventional system ofproportion which was found to beaesthetically pleasing, while also renderingtheir subjects in idealized forms which mayor may not have been faithful to the exactproportions of the persons in question. The Egyptian Canon of Proportions wasmaintained over many centuries through themedium of the artists grid, in which thedifferent parts of the human bodycorresponded to different squares in the grid.This grid system was not merely a copyingdevice which made it possible to render aparticular scene on any chosen scale, butrather a complete system of proportions bymeans of which the human figure could intheory be correctly represented.
Goats treading seed and cattle fording a canal, reliefs in the mastaba of Ti, Saqqara,Egypt, Fifth Dynasty, ca. 2450 – 2350 BCE. Painted limestone. 112