1. Identify the formal and iconographic characteristics of painting and sculpture from the Early Dynastic to New Kingdom periods
2. Explain the shift in formal and iconographic characteristics in New Kingdom painting and sculpture of the Amarna Period
3. Discuss the funerary function and content of Egyptian art and architecture
4. Explain the relationship of Egyptian art and architecture and the Nile River
5. Describe the types of structures built in ancient Egypt and explain their functions
6. Identify how the Egyptian political system and their religious beliefs are reflected in works of art and architecture
7. Discuss the materials and techniques of Egyptian art
8. Explain the development and use of the Egyptian hieroglyphic writing system
9. Identify examples of intercultural contact between Egypt and other ancient civilizations

Important Dates
  • 2500 BCE First iron tools/weapons, Great Pyramids
  • 1780 BCE Stele of Hammurabi
  • 1600 BCE Stonehenge
  • 1200 BCE Fall of Troy?

Kingdoms and Dynasties

1st Dynasty (3000-2800 BCE)
2nd Dynasty (2800-2675 BCE)

3rd Dynasty (2675-2625 BCE)
4th Dynasty (2625-2500 BCE)
5th Dynasty (2500-2350 BCE)
6th Dynasty (2350-2170 BCE)
7th & 8th Dynasties (2170-2130 BCE)

(corresponds to 9th and 10th Dynasties but called 1st Intermediate)

11th Dynasty (1980-1938 BCE)
12th Dynasty (1938-1759 BCE)

(Dynasties 13-17)


Key concepts, terminology, considerations
  • Possible approach to examining Ancient Egyptian material: social and iconographic
  • Egyptian buzzwords:
    • Order
    • Predictability
    • Longevity of tradition
    • Preparation
    • Continuity
    • Durability
    • Protection
    • Enduring sameness
    • Permanence
    • Eternity
    • Immortalization
  • Geography
    • Role of the Nile
      • annual flooding / cycles allowed for the creation of an environment of timelessness
      • water: flows from the South to the North; wind: flows from the South to the North
    • Role of the Sun
    • Upper Egypt
    • Lower Egypt
    • Unification
    • An actively searching culture for resources (trading expeditions crossing through Meso. / Syria, etc.)
    • Nubia (nub means what?; modern day name?)
    • Agriculture / diet:wheat (not Barley - like the Assyrians), cattle, bread, beer, honey, figs, fish
    • Cosmetics were important (products from animal fat - baldness, underarm odor, baldness, grey hair)
    • The belief that they were the endowed civilization, highly favored by the gods (b/c sun, gold, Nile, order, etc.)
  • Gold
    • availability & status of silver
    • tomb raiders - usually peasants; if caught...
    • relates to the favoritism given to the sun and suggests that which is eternal (doesn't rust, corrupt, flesh of the gods...)
    • trade: gold <===> semi-precious beads, weapons
  • The 4 plagues: lions, snakes, crocodiles, flies
  • Economy
    • major tax on cattle
  • The Heart
    • center of one's personality
  • Leadership
    • The history of Ancient Egypt IS the history of its pharaohs
    • Concepts of kingdom, dynasty
    • Pharaoh = king; held ultimate power of the land; sole requirement - to ensure that order (not chaos) permeated the land
    • The importance of the pharaoh to the greater community
    • The association made between symbols and pharaohs (lotus, papyrus, Horus, Hathor, etc.); the notion “sameness” – that a symbol can serve as a "stand-in" for the pharaoh
    • the crowns worn by the pharaohs - tell us much
    • Other: Scribes, Vizier
  • Education
    • Role of education (c/c with Meso.)
    • The role of a scribe in Ancient Egypt
    • Hieroglyphics (hiero- means...) (glyphics- means...)
      • last known use of hieroglyphs - 394 CE
    • The ability to write = the ability to bring to live / erase from history
  • Mummification
    • process of-, ingredients involved
    • mummy - means "bitumenized thing" (Arabic word); b/c bitumen used in NK instead of natron
    • why underground?
      • protection of body (obvious reason)
      • body would be met by the sun, as it cycles through its 12 compartments of the underworld
    • what else was mummified? why?
  • The Egyptian canon; uncompromising artistic conventions
    • Reflected the concept of order found in the universe
    • Representation of the motionless human form (formulaic, predictable, clear, safe)
    • Importance of clear, concise, efficient communication
    • Optical reality vs. conceptual representation (composite / twisted perspective); incessant need for a "complete representation"
    • How does a subject’s class status determine the artistic convention with which they are rendered?
    • True exception(s) to uncompromising artistic convention comes in the New Kingdom (namely the Amarna Period).
    • Influences: Meso. to Egypt / Egypt to Meso.?
  • Craftsmen / Artists
    • lineage: (father, yourself, your sons, etc.)
    • workshops - run with extreme organization (large collective effort, no true "individual style")
    • association with a particular temple
    • PTAH - their god
    • the dignified status? - it belonged to the architect
      • moving mountains of stone with their mind
      • physical labor - done by the workers
  • Forms of art / Functions of art
    • Architecture – the one area offering room for change; revolved around the need to create a permanent site for the repose of the pharaoh’s remains.
      • The pyramid (Stepped-, Great-)
      • Mortuary temples
      • Rock-cut tombs
      • Pylon temples
      • Hypostyle halls
    • Painting
      • fresco (tomb walls)
      • role of painting – window into representations of events from tomb owners’ daily lives (recreation, business, entertainment); a means to ensure continuity into the afterlife
    • Sculpture
      • relief (tomb walls)
      • relief (objects, such as a palette)
      • special note about "sunken relief" sculpture
      • free-standing (block statues, pillar statues)
    • Other / "look for"s --
      • Narratives – several good examples in this chapter
      • Monumental art and architecture
  • Concept of life, death and the afterlife (structure of gods / goddesses)
    • The gods as advocates and judges (not exclusive to Egypt)
    • Significant differences to Meso. (gods in human form) vs. Egypt (gods – animal attributes combined with human form
    • Process of embalming the deceased
  • Patronage
    • Sponsorship of all art in this chapter comes from a sole source.
    • Art and architecture as the sole product of the pharaohs’ interest in the afterlife (enhancement of the royal afterlife)
  • Any "first"s (*)?
    • Commemorative work of art (Palette of Narmer)
    • Artist mentioned in AH = Imhotep (Step Pyramid of Zoser)
  • Note to students about “Art from beyond the European Tradition” – fair game

Other / misc (if not mentioned above)
  • Amulet
  • Ashlar masonry
  • Axial plan
  • Atlantid
  • Caryatid
  • Capital
  • Canopic jar
  • Bilateral symmetry
  • Mastaba
  • Clerestory
  • Column
  • Ben-ben
  • Colonnade
  • Course
  • Dressed masonry
  • Facade
  • Flute / fluting
  • Fresco (secco)
  • Fresco (buon)
  • Necropolis
  • Ka
  • Mummification
  • Natron
  • Nemes
  • Uraeus
  • Sunken relief
  • Pylon
  • Scarab
  • Serdab
  • Sphinx
  • Stucco
  • Subtractive sculpture
  • Valley temple
  • Ushabt
  • Wedjat
  • Lotus
  • Papyrus
  • Amarna Period

NOTE: For a link to a Menu/Page that contains larger versions of most of the following images, please click here.

Pre-Dynastic & Early Dynastic: 3000-2575 BCE

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How is this similar to / different from the cave paintings we examined in the Paleolithic unit?
How about the work found within the Ancient Near East unit?

Palette of King Narmer (front and back)
Egypt, 3000 BCE slate 2’ high
Early Dynastic
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  • How does one depict power, authority, victory / domination in Ancient Egypt?
    • The answer is found in this work
    • Furthermore, the answer extends throughout the next 3,000 years in the very same manner!
      • You depict the victor larger than others
      • one hand raised high, gripping a mace above the enemy
      • the other hand gripped around the hair of the enemy (who kneels / cowers beneath)
  • There are two sides to the object – front and back. The backside has the larger man and the front side has the two interlocking headed piece.
  • It is approx. 2 ft. high and carved out of slate.
  • What is taking place throughout this work?
    • The celebration of the “unification of Upper and Lower Egypt”
    • (*) This is the first historical monument in Egyptian history dealing with an individual. So, it is an extremely important monument.
  • Who is featured in this work?
    • King Narmer
    • We know it is Narmer because the hieroglyphs of the sheath, fish & the chisel mean “Nar” & “Mer”
    • these are found at the top on both sides; a third representation of this signature can be found on the upper register of the front side.
  • It was Narmer who was responsible for unifying Egypt (Upper- & Lower-)
  • Narmer goes by two other names –
    1. Menes (pronounced 'Many-EEEz") –or-
    2. The “Scorpion King”
    • Every pharaoh will have something like five (5) names so it can be very confusing
  • Who are the gods who protect Narmer?
    • Four (4) representations of the cow-headed goddess at the top corners = Hathor.
      • Hathor is a popular goddess of the pharaohs and is the goddess of SEX, ALCOHOL & DANCING
      • note: very open attitude towards sex in Egypt, adultery and prostitution are accepted & in the afterlife, you will meet your sexual partners; but very few examples deal with sex in art or pornography in art; they didn’t feel that it needed to be represented.
  • functional & aesthetic? So, what is the function of this palette?
    • this is a cosmetic palette
    • circular area in the interlocking heads is for cosmetics / make-up – it held kohl, which was presumably used under the eyes throughout the Old Kingdom as a substance that helps cut down the glare of the sun.
    • kohl was also thought to help keep the flies away from one's eyes.
  • it originally was green in color and later it was turned into a black substance.
  • circular form where the kohl is kept - the same shape as the sun
  • two animals with locking heads seem to by mythological creatures taken over from Sumer (cylinder seals originated in Sumer – so they probably saw a cylinder seal impression and got the idea).
  • a Pharaoh can be represented a number of ways:
    • Lion = strength, veracity
    • Bull = strength, veracity, virility... symbolic of super-human strength (toppling rebellious city)
  • What is happening in the palette?
    • Narmer is seen 2x’s on the palette..... (and quite possible a third - as a bull-?)
      • shown with the crown of Upper Egypt on the back (look at the crown); white
      • also wearing the crown of Lower Egypt on the front (look at the crown); red
      • victorious as representing Upper Egypt over Lower Egypt – size is indicative of importance.
      • he is larger in the representation of his wearing of the crown of Upper Egypt (...was from UE / defeating LE)
    • Other gods represented:
      • Horus = the distant one, the bird on the backside which is the first representation of the sun god; he appears as a falcon because falcons fly so high they look like flying into the sun (eyes are seen as the sun and moon and the breath as the north wind)
      • Horus’ role - he’s responsible for bringing to Narmer 6000 captives from Lower Egypt
      • he stands upon a head (symbolic of the captives), from which springs papyrus (symbol of LE)
      • notice the object Horus holds in his hand... an embalming stick
    • "victory pose" by Narmer – grab enemy by hair & hold club over head (this pose will be used for next 3000 years – again showing the conservationism of the work of Egypt; note this may also refer to the ritual practiced by some parallel ancient civilizations - victor king smiting the losing king (dead or alive) in an act for others to witness (?)
    • Male figure (& others) – convention is demonstrated:
      • left foot in front of right foot
      • legs & head - in profile
      • eye & torso - frontal
    • Why combination of profile and frontal in figure representation? Complete picture in the more efficient and effective manner possible.
    • servant, on both front and reverse side - holds Narmer's sandals (implying holy ground)
    • servant (on front) takes Narmer into an area in order to inspect the defeated enemies / bodies.
    • note the boat symbol placed above the defeated bodies. What might this imply?
  • Unique because?
    • work is commemorative rather than funerary (in fact, the first work in AH commemorating a single man's achievement/s)
    • first work in AH that is signed.
  • Other characteristics of Egyptian Art:
    • figures stand on a ground line
    • if someone is appearing behind another the figure rises up in space – elevated to a higher position from the ground line
    • dead enemies on front side are piled on top of one another, decapitated with heads between the legs.
    • the little guys in front of Narmer (smaller versions of him) are carrying banners / standards attesting to his might.
    • Egyptians do not try to create believable 3-D space (illusionism = unimportant; conceptual communication = important)
    • The eclipse is always seen as negative – in most cultures (Sumerians did the substitute thing) it was a period of morning, praying and then a period of rejoicing.

Some notes on the AFTERLIFE
  • concern for immortality to near obsession; a preoccupation in this life to ensure safety and happiness in next.
  • their main beliefs concerning the afterlife:
    • the imperishable / immortal KA - the life force (we all have this, accompanied at birth).
    • death of fleshly body could inhabit corpse and live on...
    • but, body had to remain as intact as possible.
    • KA could inhabit mummified corpse or a statue of the person.
    • BA - our personality; highly individualistic.
    • In the afterlife, these 2 must unite, forming the AKH.
    • Statue ensured survival for eternity, with name and titles becoming endowed with personality

  • organs are removed, embalmed, then stored in canopic jars (typically made of alabaster). Sometimes these jars had been placed underground.
  • the one organ that is not removed from the body is the heart. This is the center of the personality; the seat of intelligence.
  • liver, lungs, stomach, and intestines - the organs stored separately in the canopic jars.
  • brain - considered useless, and therefore discarded.
  • In wrappings, had charms and smaller objects
  • the Book of Dead between legs.
  • incision closed and covered with eye of Horus amulet (ward off evil and promote rebirth).
  • scarab beetles with spells to assure heart would be returned to owner if lost.
  • body soaked in brine for a month, hung out to dry.
  • treated with oils and wrapped up to 20 times in linen, stuffed, onions placed in eyes to look like sleeping, interred in nested coffins and stone sarcophagus.
  • back of tombs with false door with eyes of Horus above for ka to pass through.body is packed with natron (a desiccant; drying agent)
    • In Middle Ages, Europeans pulverized mummy remains and ingested; thought great medicinal value. Also found mummies of 100’s of 1000’s of cats.
  • body is packed with natron (a desiccant; drying agent).
    • natron (mixture of baking soda and salt, turned skin black, died red for men / yellow for women, afterward).
    • remember, you don't want moisture - it will destroy the flesh.
  • side note: Hesire had inscriptions in his tomb, attesting that he has performed MAAT, social justice.
  • embalming / mummification was a group endeavor - each person or groups of people had performed a specific duty.
  • Why underneath the ground? Mummy means "bitumenized thing", an Arabic word, not Egyptian. Because in the New Kingdom, they experimented and used bitumen instead of natron to stuff the mummies.
    • protect the body ( reason)
    • but, they would be met by the sun, as it cycles through the 12 compartments of the underworld.
  • The Egyptians mummified everything! Everything! Crocodiles, snakes, cats, etc. What is interesting is the fact that they were given the exact same care as were the humans. There are some 2,000 crocodiles in a crocodile cemetery. There are hundreds of thousands of falcons & many ibises that have been mummified.
  • Why? Because these animals had close associations to their gods -- not because they worshiped the animals, not because these animals were thought to "be" gods -- only b/c of the association w/ the gods.
  • Coffins - if you see a coffin at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, you will often times see layers of them. A series of them were created in order to prevent moisture. Eviscerating is actually a better way to mummify a body.

Typical Egyptian Mastaba
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  • mastaba - Arabic for "bench"
  • they can be extremely small or extremely large.
  • they can have toilets / urinals.
  • but, all of them are oriented in a North/South direction...always.
  • approximately 5 out of every 6 will have an entrance in the Eastern face.
  • all are carved from limestone blocks.
  • there is a tomb chamber in the southern end, in which a statue is typically placed -- the SERDAB. This area is called the serdab chamber.
  • the Egyptians had only 70 days to build one of these mastabas from the time the person died.
  • digging through hard rock to make the shaft --
    • fire could be set on the surface, then cold water poured on top to crack the rock, OR
    • you could simply dig through the hard surface using granite tools.
  • once the body has been placed, the shaft would be filled with rubble.
  • sometimes, they would build a separate door / shaft filled with rubble as a fail-safe measure. This would be trigger activated, so that when the door opens, the rubble would fall upon the robber.
  • Originally for single burials, later multiple family and became more complex.
  • Interior walls with colored relief carvings and paintings from daily life:
    • to provide food and entertainment in the hereafter
    • a continuance from their present situation into that which lies beyond death, in eternity. The expectation to be nothing short of the party, the good life they were experiencing this far.

Side note / example of importance of points above (with respect to afterlife)
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Screenshot from Mr. Walker's personal notes

Stepped Pyramid of Djoser, Imhotep
Egypt, 2630 BCE
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  • Imhotep - the first known artist in art history. He was deified by later generations. He IS the creator of the pyramidal form.
  • This appears to be a rather tentative attempt at creating a pyramid. One can tell that this was probably the first attempt. There is only one step pyramid in Egypt.

pyramids, in general...
  • The hieroglyph for pyramid means "to ascend". Q: Where? A: To the sun
  • Sometimes, a solar boat is placed next to the pyramid - for the Pharaoh to traverse in the presence of the sun god
  • Does this pyramid look familiar (to any earlier structures)? This is basically a series of mastabas stacked on top of one another. This is the genius of Imhotep.
  • The stones become much larger as time progresses (w/ respect to the building of pyramids).
  • The entrance will always be on the North side of the pyramid.
  • The ramp will always be between 1/2 --- 1/3 slant up the North side.
  • Always constructed on the West Bank of the Nile.....The "land of the dead".....The "land of the setting sun".
  • Always aligned in a North, East, South, West orientation. They had to have some knowledge of astronomy.
  • All are placed on perfectly flat, smooth bedrock.
  • In relief sculpture, how a pyramid is represented:
    • GOLD
    • RED (Granite)
    • BLACK (Granite)
  • We have no idea of how they built them!
  • Estimations have been made:
    • If you took all of the stone from the Giza Pyramids (including the other buildings, etc.), there would be enough to.....
      • Build a small stone walkway around the entire world.
      • Build a stone wall around France that is 10 feet tall (1 foot wide) >> per Napoleon' troops' calc.
      • If you removed a pyramid, the space is large enough that you could place St. Paul's, St. Peter's, and other cathedrals in its place. These pyramids were HUGE!
  • ALL FOR ONE MAN.....only the Pharaohs were buried in the pyramids.

this one...
located in Saqqara
Entire perimeter of the complex is 37 acres!

explain the purpose behind the precinct's tall protective walls, encircling the perimeter of the grounds.
what is noteworthy regarding their design, namely seen in the columns? Explain why this is significant to our understanding of the Egyptian customs.
Locate an image of the columns found on the facade of Djoser's North Palace. Hint: this palace exists within the mortuary precinct. list the term used to describe the type of columns employed.

Columns from the mortuary precinct of Djoser, Imhotep
Egypt 2630 BCE

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  • drums
  • courses
  • dressed stone
  • ashlar masonry
  • column - shafts, capitals
  • engaged columns
  • stone material fashioned into forms previously made of plants -- call it a "simulation"...
    • column shaft: papyrus stalks (or bundles of reeds) - lower Egypt
    • column capital: papyrus bloom - lower Egypt
    • these natural materials would have been common during their celebration(s) -- Sed Festial

The Old Kingdom: 2575–2134 BCE

The Great Pyramids (and section of Khufu)
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  • all 4th Dynasty pharaohs
  • Mekaure (left): 2472 BCE; Khafre (mid): 2494 BCE; Khufu (right): 2528 BCE
  • Napoleon's scholars - bricks from all 3 pyramids enough to encircle France with a wall 1 foot wide and 10 feet tall.
  • Khufu's pyramid - alone...
    • the biggest; stands at 450 feet tall
    • 2.3 million blocks of stone (each weighing avg of 2.5 ton / 5,000 lbs.)
  • West bank (sun sets here)
  • ben-ben (symbol)
  • cult of Re (Ra)
  • courses
  • ashlar masonry
  • mortuary temples
    • sit to the east of the pyramids
    • where offerings were made, ceremonies performed, worship performed
    • important jars, cloth, food, ceremonial trappings stored here also
  • causeway (leading to..); what did these signify?
  • valley temples

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The Great Sphinx
Egypt, 2520 BCE 65’ high x 240’ long
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  • subtractive sculpture (remains from quarry for the pyramid)
  • platform (Valley Temple) - approaching view from East
  • silent guardian figure (compare with Meso. lions, the Assyrian Lamassu)

Khafre seated
Egypt, 2520 BCE diorite 6’ high
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  • one of series of seated statues for his Valley Temple (near Sphinx)
  • permanence of stone (brought 700 miles down nile (from royal quarries in south)
  • nemes headdress contains ureaus cobra of kingship
  • simple kilt
  • pose: frontal, seated, rigid / stiff, frozen, bilateral symmetry
  • throne - formed of two stylized lions' bodies
  • repository for ka (insurance, in the event mummy was destroyed)
  • Horus - protective wings behind Khafre's head indicated his divine status
  • intertwined lotus and papyrus
  • idealization vs. naturalism

Menkaure and Khamerernebty
Egypt, 2490 BCE slate 5’ high
frontal sculpture
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  • traces of paint found
  • An intimate embrace, devoid of emotion (indicated marriage)
  • pose: frontal, standing, rigid / stiff, frozen, joined
  • left foot in front of the right, yet hips show no indication of a shift in weight (they are straight) = no motion
  • wedded to the stone, closed form (lack of negative space between forms)
  • despite joint nature of this double portrait, they do not acknowledge one another with gaze
  • gazes are directed straight ahead, into eternity

Seated Scribe
Egypt, 2500 BCE painted limestone 2’ high
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Q: How is the portrayal of this individual similar or different than that of the seated Khafre?
  • traces of paint remain on Menkaure and Queen; this was common, as Egyptians painted almost every sculpture.
  • sometimes stone color left exposed to reveal skin
  • here, the pose is still stiff, rigid, and frontal
  • however... this is a rare example of a sculpture which seems to indicate a degree of human sympathy.
    • here, the painted coloration lends lifelike quality to the figure
    • the head shows sensitivity (personality of individual apparent - intelligent, alert).
    • he is seated directly on the ground (no chair, no throne)
    • artist depicted the man honestly... lack of idealization (as opposed to, for example, the Seated Khafre)
      • sagging chest
      • protruding belly
      • note: such signs of age = disrespectful for pharaoh
  • not a true portrait... it is a composite of conventional types (obesity characterizes many non-royal OK male portraits

Ti Watching a Hippopotamus Hunt
Egypt, 2450 BCE relief and painted limestone 4’ high
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Q: What was the role of painted relief sculpture and wall paintings?
Q: Where would these be found?
  • Ti is larger than others (hierarchic scale), reflecting his high rank.
  • Ti seems to serve a rather passive role here (in fact, he seems literally immobile), as his men frantically hunt the fishes and hippopotami beneath the boats. Ti simply exists in the space.
  • consider Ti's rigid stance, composite rendering of his body vs. more naturalistic, relaxed, varied poses of his tiny servants
  • what's important here? clarity and the exact nature of the idea of Ti and his ka; his role here is to simply exist.
  • have we seen this pose before?
    • refer to Narmer and his "victory pose"
    • canon (or convention) of figural representation
  • in Egypt, victory in hunting = metaphor for "triumph over evil" (associated / synonymous with)

Goats Treading Seed and Cattle Fording a Canal
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  • goats - tramp on seeds (upper register)
  • cattle - ford a canal in the Nile (lower register)
  • note the charming anecdote found in the baby calf being carried away form its mother.
  • In Egypt, the fording of the Nile = metaphor for the "passage to the afterlife".
  • Egyptian artists - highly capable of capturing the subtle details they observed in daily life.
  • the suppression of such detail or anecdote here or there, when considering relief sculpture, was therefore highly intentional (a deliberate choice on their part).
  • the purpose here - to suggest the deceased individual's eternal existence in the afterlife (not to portray their activities while alive).

The First Intermediate Period: 2130-1980 BCE

The First Intermediate Period witnessed an artistic, economic, political collapse. This happened because of internal political revolutions, within Egypt. This tempestuous civil unrest was due to the fact that the middle-class citizens rose up against what we today would call the 'aristocracy'. This challenge to the pharaoh's power took place around 2150 BCE. Everyone wanted a 'piece of the pie'. All of this had a huge impact on the production of works of art, because Egypt is based on stability. There was chaos and CHAOS is the thing that they feared most.

Mentuhotep I – managed to unite Egypt again (the "new Narmer")

The Middle Kingdom: 2049–1540 BCE

Some general facts / points about the MK...
  • The MK is generally characterized as a time of considerable civil unrest.
  • The MK is also a time in which emotion (regardless of the modest degree) seems to creep into the various art forms. The emotion assumes a certain pessimism or melancholy (this can be found in the literature of the time).
  • Also, the Egyptians abandoned the massive pyramidal construction ventures in favor of the desirable rock cut tombs. Using the inherent natural mountain forms as their medium, the Egyptians engaged in subtractive sculptural techniques to refine the rock into mortuary temples for their kings.
  • MK pyramids? yes, but – much smaller (realized large scale not effective in deterring tomb raiders)
  • So then - What were their tombs like?
    • tombs to ward off thieves
    • hidden entrances
    • sliding doors
    • series of passages that would double back on themselves (like labyrinths)
    • made entirely of brick or framed with stone and brick/rubble filled
  • the sarcophagi, however, increased in size and mass.
    • sarcophagi = “flesh eaters” (sarc-; phagus)
    • granite coffins – designed like small tomb chambers
    • could weigh up to 150 tons themselves!
    • made to foil potential grave robbers

Fragmentary head of Senuret III
12th Dynasty, ca. 1860 BCE. Red quartzite, 6 ½” high. Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.
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  • We have approximately 100 statues of him, placed all over Egypt.
  • Some of them are en todo and others are in fragments.
  • We are able to place all of these statues, and they tell us a great deal about him.
  • Although the body never changes throughout the representations, his FACE does.
  • He is represented at the beginning of his reign with youthful arrogance and moves progressively towards pessimism, skepticism, and suffering. What ever it is, he is obviously not happy.
  • Why the change? There were no major wars, he experienced no personal tragedies.....this is the FIRST time that we can look into the mind of a ruler, the first time!
  • Recently, documents have been discovered that were originally sent from Sesostris to his Visier. Sesostris wanted economic reform and increased taxes were to be levied. These discovered documents state unequivocally, “in order for these people to accept this reform, they need to understand that I’m feeling their pain too”. This is a prime example of sheer, political propaganda. It was a scam! However, he did it with the interests of the country in mind, not his own. This actually gave the sculptors a chance to express themselves in a new way.

Rock-cut tomb (and interior) of Amenemhet
Beni Hasan, Egypt 1950 BCE
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  • tombs from mountainsides
  • Beni Hasan (south of Memphis)
  • shallow columnar vestibule (porch) leads into columned hall; then into a sacred chamber
  • columns in hall – no supportive function (continuous parts of the rock fabric)
    • fluting (vertical channels)
    • first used by Imhotep in 3rd century
    • similar to later Greek columns
    • resulted from “dressing” (smoothing the surface) the material… probably softwood trunks; rounding cutting edge of the adze
    • Google a picture of an adze

The Second Intermediate Period

The Second Intermediate Period, Dynasties 13-17, was a period of time when very, very, few high quality works of art were produced, just as the First Intermediate Period. Something had happened in Egypt that had lasting effects.....

The HYKSOS, (AKA Shepherd Kings)
They were not Egyptians, but came from modern day Syria and Israel. They were, in essence, foreigners, but they were foreigners in very large numbers. There was no fighting, no wars - simply a peaceful take-over. The foreigners, in effect, ruled Egypt. They took on titles of the pharaohs and assumed Egyptian personal names. They formed a strong coalition. They introduced the horse and the chariot onto Egyptian soil. The major effect that this had on the Egyptians was to their security. They felt safe before, but now they felt vulnerable.

Oh, the irony!
  • Ultimately, their innovations in weaponry and war techniques led to their downfall. The Hyksos were eventually overthrown by the native Egyptian kings ca. 1600-1550 BCE.
  • Amhose I (r. 1550-1525 BCE)
    • was the final conqueror of the Hyksos (thus, he becomes the "new Narmer", the "new Mentuhotep")
    • became the first king of the 18th Dynasty
    • ushered in the Egypt's New Kingdom

The New Kingdom: 1550-1070 BCE

Some general facts / points about the NK...
  • New Kingdom – most state to be the best / greatest of the Ancient Egyptian Kingdoms
  • capital - now Thebes
  • pylon temples were the "thing"
    • pylon means…
    • built to honor more than one god / goddess
    • large, luxurious
    • built on both sides of the Nile

Mortuary Temple of Hatshepsut
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  • rock cut tomb
  • a woman pharaoh? What the deal [her family relationship(s) / dynamics]?
  • secret passage adjacent this temple
  • formal qualities of this temple... its column:shadow rhythm (juxtaposition of the raw, horizontally oriented mountain-scape)

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  • damaged sculptures found in remote site - a mass deposit of fragments (Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY)
  • kneeling pose - meaning / significance
  • jars / votive offering
  • representation as a man (here); other representations with breasts
  • nemes headdress
  • ureaus
  • chinbeard

  • For a collection of images, reflecting the defacement of her image (by her evil stepson), click here

Smenkhkare and Meritaten
Egypt, 1300 BCE painted limestone 9”

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  • Block statue

Temple of Ramses II (and interior)
Egypt, 1290 BCE colossi are 65’ high

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  • Ramses II
    • Ruled ¾ century (an extraordinary feat, considering avg. life expect. of Egyptians)
    • Buried in tomb in Valley of the Kings (Thebes), but his temple was upstream in Abu Simbel
  • Colossal sculpture (colossi – pl.)
    • 4 seated representations of Ramses II
    • 8 times larger than life size
    • lack refinement of smaller scale sculpture (which is common throughout AH, in respect to large scale versions of a subject)

Temple of Amen-Re
Egypt, 1290 BCE

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  • hypostyle hall
  • columned courtyard
  • columns
    • the 2 central rows are taller than those on sides (raising the roof in the center)
    • size: 66 feet high (largest)
    • raising the roof - created a clerestory
      • allows for passage of light into space
      • seems to have been an Egyptian innovation (clerestory)
      • its significance cannot be overstated (as it pertains to architecture)
    • function of columns - important and structurally indispensable (unlike those in Beni Hasan)
  • capitals
    • bud-clustered (aka bell-shaped)
    • resemble lotus or papyrus (plants of Upper & Lower Egypt)
    • size: 22 feet in diameter
  • lintel
  • sunken relief
    • technique - chiseling deep outlines surrounding the form(s)
    • disguises the function of the column form as a vertical support
    • this preserves the contours of the columns
    • note: figures do not project from surface, as in other relief sculptures that rely on removing massive areas (negative space) of material surrounding the objects (positive space).

Fowling Scene
Egypt, 1400 BCE fresco secco 3’ high
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  • fresco secco vs. buon fresco (true fresco)

Amarna Period: 1353-1335 BCE
(a small aberration within the New Kingdom period)

Egypt, 1353 BCE sandstone 13’ high
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Egypt, 1353 BCE painted limestone 2’ high
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Sunken Relief
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The New Kingdom: Post-Amarna Period

Innermost coffin of Tutankhamen
Egypt, 1323 BCE gold with inlay of enamel and semiprecious stones 6’x11”
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Death Mask of Tutankhamen
Egypt, 1323 BCE gold with inlaid semiprecious stones 2’ high
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Last Judgment of Hu-Nefer
Egypt, 1290 BCE painted papyrus scroll 2’ high

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  • Anubis
  • Maat
  • Osiris
  • Isis
  • Thoth

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