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Ancient Egypt

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Survey of Ancient Egyptian culture with an emphasis on art and architecture

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Ancient Egypt

  1. 1. Ancient Egyptian Art ca. 3500 BCE-330 BCE
  2. 2. Ancient Egyptian Art Map Ancient Egypt Themes: •Like Mesopotamia, Egypt is also a river valley civilization •The Nile is the absolute basis for Egyptian civilization: transit/communication, religion, and philosophy – Flows 4,000 miles from central Africa, North to Mediterranean – Carries deceased to afterlife – Instrumental in developing calendar •The Nile River provides the natural conditions for this wealthy ancient people – Flooding brings nutrients for farming – Need develops to work together for agricultural planning
  3. 3. Ancient Egypt Dates and Places: • 3500-1000BCE • Nile River Valley Great Pyramids, ca. 2551-2528BCE. (Old Kingdom). People: • Divine rulers • Agriculture • Polytheism • Hieroglyphic writing system • Interdependent political and religious systems
  4. 4. Ancient Egypt Themes: • Gods (polytheistic) • Rulers (Divine Kingship) • Life and death • Offerings Forms: • Stone and mud brick construction • Natural and conceptual treatments of figures • Registers of space • Hierarchy of scale • Canon of Proportions Thutmose, Nefertiti, ca. 1353- 1335 BCE (Amarna period). Painted limestone, 1’ 8” high. Neues Museum Berlin.
  5. 5. Ancient Egypt Ramesses II, Herakleopolis (Temple of Harsaphes), New Kingdom, Egypt, c. 1250 B.C.E. University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology People: •The king or pharaoh (translates as “great house”) used when describing royal palace •Pharaoh is apex of society, s/he is Divine Ruler, benevolent protector of people •Pharaoh both god and man, son of sun god Ra, earthly embodiment of Horus •Gods make wishes known through Pharaoh •Power extends to all sectors of society: foreign trade, all lands owned by Pharaoh, oversees all government, supervises construction projects, infrastructure, dispenses justice
  6. 6. Ancient Egypt Religion: •Religion at center of Egyptian life influencing its art, architecture, literature, government, medicine, and astronomy •Egyptians were polytheistic, believing in more than one god •Gods manifested themselves in many ways, each associated with some aspect of nature—animals or element of nature: Nile, sun, earth, sky, or moon •Universe alive with different divinities Chart of Egyptian gods
  7. 7. Ancient Egypt • Another aspect of Egyptian religious belief was the belief in an afterlife • Initially, only Pharaohs were understood to be immortal but this changes Egyptian painted sycamore fig wood sarcophagus and mummy for Neskhons. Third Intermediate Period, Dynasty XXI, c. 990-940 BCE.
  8. 8. Ancient Egypt • Preoccupation with afterlife leads to creation of ka statues – Afterlife is experience by the ka or spirit that lives on once the corporeal body is dead • Ka lives on in body or in special statues made to house the spirit, a piggy bank of sorts • Ka statues placed throughout funeral complexes accompanied by all of earth’s necessities and pleasures deceased could want • Belief in ka and afterlife explains decoration of tombs Khafre Seated, front view, from Giza, c. 2520-2494 BCE, Diorite, 5 ft. 6 in
  9. 9. Ancient Egypt • To preserve the body for the afterlife Egyptian’s use the process of mummification • Mummification was a 10 week process • Various symbols were wrapped with the mummy, such as an image of Horus, heart scarabs and usually The Book of the Dead complete with spells to protect the mummy • Food and drink was provided – nothing that was enjoyed on earth was lacking • These practices existed for thousands of years, even when ruled by the Greeks and Romans Diagram of the mummification process.
  10. 10. Ancient Egypt • Books of the Dead were hidden within the wrappings on the bodies as “cheat sheets” to help the deceased along his/her journey to the afterlife Details from Judgment of Hunefer Before Osiris, illustration from the Book of the Dead, 19th Century, New Kingdom, 1285 BCE. Painted papyrus
  11. 11. Ancient Egypt • Architecture in Ancient Egypt primarily funerary • Tombs provide majority of our information about Egyptian civilization Pyramid complex of the Pharaoh Unis (ca.2378 - 2348 BCE)
  12. 12. Ancient Egypt Major periods of Egyptian history: •Pre-Dynastic Period 4350-3150 BCE •Early Dynastic Period 3100-2700 BCE •Old Kingdom 2700-2150 BCE •Middle Kingdom 2050-1785 BCE •New Kingdom 1575-1085 BCE – Amarna period-1370-1350 BCE
  13. 13. Example: • Unification of Upper and Lower Egypt • Divine ruler and gods • Symbols of authority • Hieroglyphs • Hierarchy of scale • Composite view • Ceremonial and practical use: to prepare eye makeup Ancient Egypt: Early Dynastic Period Palette of King Narmer, ca. 3000- 2920BCE. Slate, 2’ 1” high. (Early Dynastic period). Egyptian Museum, Cairo.
  14. 14. Palette of King Narmer, ca. 3000- 2920BCE. Slate, 2’ 1” high. (Early Dynastic period). Egyptian Museum, Cairo. Victory Stele of Naram-Sin, from Iran, ca. 2254-2218BCE. Pink sandstone, 6’ 7” high. Louvre, Paris • Similarities and differences of objects: – Importance of primary figure indicated through hieratic scale and proximity to gods – Differences Naram-sin more cohesive as narrative, bodies more 3D, Narmer more symbolic and hierarchical
  15. 15. Ancient Egyptian: Old Kingdom Example: •Portrait of the Court Official Hesira (possibly first recorded doctor in history) •Three of eleven wooden panels that originally lined the backs of wall niches in the mastaba tomb of Hesire •Rare examples of high execution of hieroglyphs on wood •bas relief and have some of the oldest forms of the Egyptian language hieroglyphs •Egyptian Canon of Proportions Panel of Hesire, from the mastaba tomb of Hesire Saqqara, c. 2675-2625 BCE. Wood, 45” high. Egyptian Museum, Cairo
  16. 16. Ancient Egyptian: Old Kingdom Egyptian Canon of Proportions •Conceptual representation of body •Body shown as it is understood, each part shown from its most distinguished view, no foreshortening needed – Head in profile, eyes frontal, torso frontal, waist down profile •All parts regularized into canon of proportions, no individualization •Width of fist standard unit of measurement – Each body 18x width of fist •Canon reflects Egyptian concern for permanence and consistency Egyptian canon of proportions
  17. 17. Egypt: Early Dynastic Period Imhotep, Stepped Pyramid and mortuary precinct of Djoser, 2630- 2611 BCE (Early Dynastic period). Polished white limestone, approximately 200’ high. Example: • Funerary precinct of numerous palaces, courtyards, and stone pyramid surrounded by 35’ high wall • Oldest stone structure in Egypt • Burial pyramid and temples • Pyramid based on mastaba • Symbol of king’s godlike power • First named artist in recorded history
  18. 18. Nanna ziggurat at Ur, modern day Iraq, ca. 2100 BCE. Imhotep, Stepped Pyramid and mortuary precinct of Djoser, 2630-2611 BCE (Early Dynastic period). Polished white limestone, approximately 200’ high. • Superficially, Djoser’s tomb and Nanna ziggurat may resemble one another but each serves completely different functions, platform for meeting place between heaven and earth versus funerary complex
  19. 19. Egypt: Early Dynastic Period Imhotep, Stepped Pyramid and mortuary precinct of Djoser, 2630-2611BCE. Polished white limestone, approximately 200’ high. (Early Dynastic period) Example: • Protection of mummified king and possessions • Oriented toward points of compass • Symbolizes king’s power • Enlarged twice before final shape • First grandiose royal tomb
  20. 20. Ancient Egypt: Early Dynastic Period • Additional buildings in complex served as recreational building’s for the ka • Mastabas began as simple constructions and grew to become more complicated in design including many underground passages, rooms, and false passages to protect the king’s ka many underground passages, rooms, and false passages to protect the king’s ka Imhotep, Diagram Stepped Pyramid and mortuary precinct of Djoser, 2630- 2611BCE. (Early Dynastic period)
  21. 21. Ancient Egypt: Old Kingdom Example: •Ti court officer in charge of protecting Egyptians from hippos, violent animals that ate crops, also believed to be in league with Seth, god of darkness •Funerary decoration •Use of hieratic scale •Composite presentation of body •Self-promotion •Use of symbolism •Naturalism of animals and servants Ti Watching Hippo Hunt, from the mastaba of Ti, Saqqara, Egypt 5th Dynasty. Painted relief on limestone, 4’ high. University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology
  22. 22. Ancient Egypt: Old Kingdom • Hunting multivalent activity used to demonstrate ability to protect community, not unlike Ashurnasirpal and Ashurbanipal Ti Watching Hippo Hunt, from the mastaba of Ti, Saqqara, Egypt 5th Dynasty. Painted relief on limestone, 4’ high. University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology King Ashurnasirpal II killing lions, from Royal Palace of King Ashurnasirpal II, Nimrud, c. 883- 859 BCE. Stone panel from the North-West Palace of Ashurnasirpal II (Room B, Panel 19) Alabaster relief, 3’3” x 8’ 4.” British Museum, London.
  23. 23. Ancient Egypt: Old Kingdom Ka-Aper, called “Sheikh el-Beled" wood, 5th Dynasty, life-size, ca.2460 BCE. Egyptian Museum, Cairo. Example: •Ka-Aper (high priest) and unknown scribe amongst other officials with burial sites at Saqqara •Traditional rigid stance •Member of royal court •Use of wood and limestone for statues of less important people •Less idealized but consistent with conventions associated with social status
  24. 24. Ancient Egypt: Old Kingdom Seated Scribe, from Saqqara, c.2551-2528 BCE. Painted limestone with rock crystal, magnesite, and copper/arsenic inlay for the eyes and wood for the nipples, 21" in height. Musée du Louvre, Paris. Example: •Member of royal court •Use of wood and limestone for statues of less important people •Less idealized but consistent with conventions associated with social position •Naturalism of face contrast to detailed body •Art as indicator
  25. 25. Ancient Egypt: Old Kingdom Great Pyramids, ca. 2520- 2494BCE, Giza, Egypt (Old Kingdom) Example: • Funerary precinct with burial pyramids and temples • Pyramid symbol of god Ra, the sun god • Testifies to king’s power • Masonry construction with internal chambers, probably created by farmers and skilled craftsman • Stone facing reflected sun • Three generations represented Khufu (c.2530 BCE), Khafre (c. 2520-2494 BCE), and Menkaure (c.2490-2472 BCE)
  26. 26. Ancient Egypt: Old Kingdom Great Pyramids, ca. 2520-2494BCE, Giza, Egypt (Old Kingdom) Example: • New style of funerary structure, the pyramid, represents new emphasis on sun god • 4 points align with compass • Limestone used quarried from cliffs East of Nile, each 2 ½ tons • Exact process of construction debated, many credible and fantastical theories presented
  27. 27. Great Sphinx, Gizeh, Egypt, c. 2520- 2494 BCE. Sandstone, 65’ high, 240’ long Ancient Egypt: Old Kingdom Example: •Sphinx- lion with human head (exactly whose still debated) guards precinct •Sphinx associated with sun god •Skilled artisans •Ashlar masonry- successive rows of carefully cut and shaped blocks •Possible statue of Khafre or Khufu •Composite form marriage between human intelligence and animal strength
  28. 28. Ancient Egypt: Old Kingdom Khafre Seated, front view, from Giza, c. 2520-2494 BCE, Diorite, 5’ 6.” Egyptian Museum, Cairo Example: •Sculpture for king’s temple •Home for king’s ka •Sustainable material to last through eternity •Symbols of rulership and stability • Pharaonic headdress and kilt • Would hold crook and flail • Royal false beard • Sits on throne decorated with papyrus and lotus, symbols of unification of Upper and Lower Egypt •Ideal proportions of godlike king •Traditional representation, Khafre is rigid and stoic, balanced and in control •Symmetry dominates, all parts perfectly aligned
  29. 29. • Side views Khafre’s ka statues reveal Horus, god of Lower Egypt protecting king’s head Ancient Egypt: Old Kingdom Khafre Seated, front view, from Giza, c. 2520-2494 BCE. Diorite, 5’ 6.” Egyptian Museum, Cairo.
  30. 30. Ancient Egypt: Old Kingdom Example: • Sculpture for king’s temple • Home for king’s ka • Symbols of rulership • Ideal body • Frontality dominates • Ideal proportions of godlike king • Timeless double portrait • Typical Egyptian pose • Queen’s pose indicates marriage, possible clue to matriarchal line • Sense of shared purpose Menkaure and His Queen, Khamerernebty(?), ca. 2490-2472BCE. Graywacke, 4’ 6 ½” high. Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
  31. 31. Ancient Egypt: Middle Kingdom • Preoccupation with afterlife maintained in Middle Kingdom • Trend to use more secure rock-cut tombs cut out of mountains, faced with shallow portico The tombs of Khety & Baket, Rock-cut tomb, Beni-Hasan, ca. 21st -19th centuries, ca.1991-1785 BCE
  32. 32. Ancient Egypt: Middle Kingdom • Interior included a columned hall and sacred burial chamber The tombs of Khety & Baket, Rock-cut tomb, Beni-Hasan, ca. 21st -19th centuries, ca.1991-1785 BCE
  33. 33. Ancient Egypt: Middle Kingdom Wrestling Scenes, Tomb of Prince Kefy, Beni-Hasan, ca. 2000 BCE Netting Waterfowl, Tomb of Khnumhotep III, Beni Hasan, 12th Dynasty. Paint on limestone. Example: •Tombs decorated with scenes to entertain and symbolically nourish the ka •Composite representation employed •Hierarchy of scale
  34. 34. Ancient Egypt: Middle Kingdom Example: •Political turbulence of First Intermediate period reflected in artwork •Expression introduced to art •Reflects new approach toward royal representation in the Middle Kingdom •“Shepherd of his People;” reflects the concern Sesostris III felt for his people •No longer image of divine, royal power •Departs from earlier conventions of royal representation and provides evidence of personality Senwosret III /(Sesostris III), ca. 1878-1841 BCE, Quartzite, 6 ½”. Metropolitan Museum of Art, NYC
  35. 35. Ancient Egypt: New Kingdom Example: •Axial alignment=symmetrically aligned along a dominant central line •Funerary structure with shrines to Hathor, Annubis, Amun, and Ra-Horakhty •Chapels dedicated to her father (Thutmose I) •Constructed throughout the reign of several rulers •Built into natural environment Funerary Complex of Hatshepsut, Deir el- Bahri, Egypt 18th Dynasty, sandstone and rock construction. Construction begun under Thutmose I and continued during the reign of his daughter, Hatshepsut.
  36. 36. Ancient Egypt: New Kingdom • To legitimize her controversial rise to power, Hatshepsut decorates her temple with frescoes confirming her divinity through her mother’s (Ahmose) relationship with Amen (King of gods/the Creative Power) Gods Khnum and Heqet leading the queen to the birthing room. Images from the Birth Colonnade, Temple of Hatshepsut. Ahmose breathing in life from the god Amen. Temple of Hatshepsut.
  37. 37. Ancient Egypt: New Kingdom • Hatshepsut also included images of her successful expedition to Punt which brought back many myrrh trees Scenes of exploits from Punt, Mortuary Temple of Hatshepsut, at Thebes (Luxor), 18th Dynasty, ca. 1479-1425 BCE.
  38. 38. Ancient Egypt: New Kingdom • Although female, Hatshepsut represented with traditional Pharaonic attributes Hatshepsut Sphinx, ca. 1472-1458 BCE. From Western Thebes,Deir el-Bahri, Red granite with traces of blue and yellow paint, 11’ 3” x 5’ 4 ½” high. Metropolitan Museum of Art, NYC Hatshepsut Wearing the White Crown, Early 18th Dynasty, joint reign of Hatshepsut and Thutmose III 1479-1458 BCE. Metropolitan Museum of Art, NYC
  39. 39. Ancient Egypt: New Kingdom • Figure of the god, Toth from a chamber the north of the shrine of Philip Arrhidaeus at Karnak. A relief shows Horus on the left and Thoth on the right. The central figure of Hatshepsut and her cartouches have been erased. • After her reign, efforts to erase Hatshepsut from history were taken Great Temple of Amun at Karnack, Egypt
  40. 40. Ancient Egypt: Amarna Period Example: •Controversial Pharaoh •Rules under “Maat” or “truth” •Overturns polytheistic belief system for monotheism •Worships Aten •Shifts capital city from Thebes to Akhetaten •Challenges representational conventions Akhenaten, from Karnak, Egypt, 1353-1350 BCE. Sandstone, approx. 13’
  41. 41. Ancient Egypt: Amarna Period Example: • Brief period of monotheism and political change • Influential queen • Named sculptor • Rejection of artistic tradition? • Ideal beauty over true likeness • Inlaid eyes • Master sculptor Thutmose (Tuthmosis), Model Bust of Queen Nefertiti, New Kingdom, 18th dynasty, c. 1340 BCE. Limestone, plaster, crystal, wax, 19 5/8” tall. Egyptian Museum, Cairo
  42. 42. Ancient Egypt: Amarna Period Example: •Egypt matrilineal society •Women enjoyed economic independence and civil rights and privileges •Women held notable positions/jobs in society •Women’s power often feared •Frescoes and works on paper document women’s roles in society Female Musicians, Tomb of Djeserkareseneb, ca. 1400–1390 BCE. Copy of original, tempera on paper, 15 9/16” x 25.” Metropolitan Museum of Art, NYC.
  43. 43. Ancient Egypt: Amarna Period • Akhenaten introduces new iconography demonstrating his role as chief divine priest and priestess • Image also establishes lineage through family portrait Akhenaten and Nefertiti and their Children, or Royal Portrait, Amarna period, 1349-1336 BCE, limestone relief 13” x 15.” Ägyptisches Museum/Neues Museum, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin King Akhenaten worshipping the sun god Aten, Amarna period, ca. 1349-1336 BCE. Limestone relief. Agyptiches Museum, Berlin
  44. 44. Ancient Egypt: New Kingdom • King Tutankhamen’s tomb discovered by Howard Carter, 1922 • Tut most likely son of Akhenaten and one of his wives • Rejects father’s legacy, changes name from Tutankhaten to Tutankhamun reinstates polytheism and returns capital to Memphis • Embraces Amun as chief god • Carter’s discovery documented in many photographs revealing the findings of a pharaoh’s tomb Mask of Tutankhamun, c. 1327 BCE, gold inlaid with enamel and semiprecious stones.
  45. 45. Howard Carter with King Tut's Sarcophagus in 1922
  46. 46. Items from Tut’s tomb.
  47. 47. King Tut’s Coffin Lid
  48. 48. King Tut’s Innermost Coffin, from his tomb at Thebes, Egypt, 18th dynasty, c. 1323 BCE. Gold with inlay of enamel and semiprecious stones, 6’ 1” long.
  49. 49. King Tut’s Innermost Coffin, from his tomb at Thebes, Egypt, 18th dynasty, c. 1323 BCE. Gold with inlay of enamel and semiprecious stones, 6’ 1” long.
  50. 50. Ancient Egypt: New Kingdom • Included amongst Carter’s findings is a throne belonging to Tut • Carved of wood, the armchair is covered in gold, and there is some silver overlay as well • Colored glass, faience, calcite, and semi-precious stones are used for the inlays • The throne and sarcophagus found by Carter attest to the wealth of the Egyptian nation Golden throne of King Tutankhamun, c.1380 BCE. Wood plated with gold and silver, inlays of glass paste, approx. 12” x 12.” Egyptian Museum, Cairo.
  51. 51. Ancient Egypt: New Kingdom Example: •Tradition of “commoners” decorating tombs continues •Tomb of Ancient Egyptian artisan •Discovered January 31, 1886 •Like Tut, Sennudjem buried with earthly possessions •Amongst items found in burial chamber were regular furniture from his home, including a stool and a bed, which he actually used when he was alive Illustration of Spell 110 from the Book of the Dead in the burial chamber of Sennudjem, c. 1279 BCE. Fresco, Deir el Medina, Egypt.
  52. 52. Ancient Egypt: New Kingdom Example: •Discovered in 1813 by the famous Swiss Orientalist and traveler Johann Ludwig Burckhardt •Abu Simbel known as an “ego cast in stone” •Ramesses II dynamic and powerful king, expands borders through military campaigns •Known as the “Great Ancestor” to subsequent kings, lived to age 90/91 •Captures might in architecture •Elaborate mountain side tombs Temple of Ramesses II, ca. 1279-1213 BCE Abu Simbel, Nubia.
  53. 53. Ancient Egypt: New Kingdom • Commemorate his victory at the Battle of Kadesh. To represent the battle, the base of the temple was carved with figures of bound captives. • Intimidate Egypt's neighbors, the Nubians. It was Ramses’ way of trying to make an impression upon Egypt’s neighbors, as well as to force Egypt’s religion upon these neighbors. • Honor Nefertari, his most beloved queen (out of his many wives) • Also dedicated to Egyptian goddess Hathor • Honor himself: The Great Temple Ramses had built to honor himself, dedicating it to the god Re-Horakhty. Temple of Ramesses II, ca. 1279-1213 BCE Abu Simbel, Nubia.
  54. 54. Ancient Egypt: New Kingdom Example: •Flanking the entrance of The Great Temple are four seated colossal figures worshiping the falcon-headed god Re- Horakhty, also known as Ra •Each towers 65 7 13/32” high •Each of these large figures is a depiction of Ramesses II, seated on his thrown, wearing his double crown •Around the figure’s knees are small carvings of some of his wives and children •Architecture in service of pharaoh, establishes family lineage and legacy Colossal Sculpture of Ramesses II, Temple of Ramsses II, ca. 1279- 1213 BCE Abu Simbel, Nubia.
  55. 55. Impacts of the Aswan High Dam • Constructed between 1960 and 1970, the Aswan High Damn caused for the relocation of the Temple of Ramses II
  56. 56. Ancient Egypt: New Kingdom The statue of Ramses the Great at the Great Temple of Abu Simbel is reassembled after having been moved in 1967 to save it from being flooded.
  57. 57. Roman Egypt Portrait of a boy, Roman Period, 2nd century A.D. Encaustic on wood, 15” high. Metropolitan Museum of Art, NYC Example: •With the defeat of Cleopatra VII and Marc Antony at the Battle of Actium in 31 B.C., Egypt became a Roman province under the direct control of the Roman emperor •Fayum portrait •Encaustic technique •Marriage of two worlds •Naturalistic portrait painted on wooden boards and attached to mummies, covering their faces during Coptic period •Date to the Roman period, from the late 1st century BCE or the early 1st century CE onwards •Derive from Graeco-Roman tradition more than Egyptian

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