Styles & Periods

Styles & Periods

Egyptian Art

By 3000 BCE, the various prehistoric cultures that had sprung up along the banks of the Nile came together to become Egypt, the world's first nation-state. This mighty civilization had its roots in African soil, yet had access to the Near East, and became one of the most influential cultures of the ancient world. Along the stately Nile, the Egyptians erected monuments primarily designed to immortalize the dead. Since death, for the ancient Egyptians, was not the end of existence, it was crucial to preserve the bodies of the powerful dead and supply them with the proper equipment needed to traverse the underworld, including vessels to hold food and drink, cosmetic palettes and other household items. Huge tombs were erected, containing mummified corpses, statuary, painted papyrus scrolls, bronze masks, and the necessary ritual items. Like the vast majority of ancient artists, the Egyptians used composite techniques in painting, depicting humans with profiled faces and forward-facing torsos. Stylized formalism is the typical tone. Decorated tombs typically carried the name of the individual within as well as representations of food, drink, gods, goddesses and narrative hieroglyphic texts. Mirrors, suns, and animals associated with various gods and goddesses, as well as depictions of the deities themselves, are all common elements of Egyptian art. The Sphinx, the Great Pyramids, the Tomb of King Tutankhamun, and a host of other famed art works suggest that the Egyptians may have met their goal of achieving immortality.


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