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Egyptian Art: Old, Middle and New Kingdoms
Art historians, Egyptologists, and archeologists have made fascinating discoveries about the artifacts, pharaohs, and culture of Egypt since the discovery in 1799 of the Rosetta Stone. It led to the decoding of Egyptian hieroglyphics. Pharaonic names, dates, places, and events could then be reliably organized for linear presentation of ancient Egypt’s long 4,000 year history. Egyptian innovations in burial architecture, mummification, picture language, and huge monument building had both amazed and puzzled scholars for nearly 1,500 years. Pyramid building, obelisk lifting and colossal statue carving reveal a sophistication and simplicity which are at once both attractive and intriguing. This paper will review several specific aspects of Egyptian art ranging from 4000 to 30 B.C.E.
First will be, a brief discussion of Egyptian history, kings, geography and art. They will be followed by an examination of invention and innovation. Next, the decoding of hieroglyphics will be reviewed and followed by an overview of ancient Egyptian fascination with the afterlife. Finally, the major discovery in 1922 of King Tutankhamen’s tomb in the Valley of the Kings and its exquisite treasures will be offered.
The Old Kingdom, from about 4000 to 2280 B.C., was the age of the great pyramids such as Cheops (wonder of the ancient world), Chefren, and Mycerinus. Also on the Giza plateau is the largest freestanding statue in Egypt, the Sphinx. The Sphinx was a sculpture of a lion’s body with the face of Chefren. The statue is sixty-five feet high and about 240 feet in length, making it the largest freestanding statue in Egypt. The Nile River was key in the development of these Ancient Egyptian cities the Nile would flood in the summer which fertilized the crops and making the desert lush and fertile. Its most important role was it supplied clay for bricks and pottery for transporting water. The Nile was even an asset to the prehistorics. The Egyptians developed their agricultural economy from prehistoric communities such as Hierakonpolis. Menes, the first recorded king of early Egypt, had an architect named Imhotep. Imhotep built and constructed many types of pyramids such as the mastaba, step, bent, and smooth-sided. The next era of the Egyptian kingdom is known as the Middle Kingdom. This kingdom lasted from about 2065 to 1785 B.C. In this era, the city of Thebes was built. Thebes was known as the most influential city of the ancient world.

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